1. Johnson ‘to apologise’
Boris Johnson will apologise to the Covid Inquiry next week and acknowledge the government did not get everything right during the pandemic, said the BBC. However, the former prime minister will also “argue robustly” that his government got “many of the big calls right”, added the broadcaster. Appearing at the inquiry yesterday, former health secretary Matt Hancock claimed that discharging patients into care homes saved lives.
2. ‘Year-long’ Gaza war
Israel is planning a military campaign in Gaza that will “stretch for a year or more”, with the most intensive phase of the ground offensive continuing into early 2024, sources have told the Financial Times. “This will be a very long war,” said one source. ”We’re currently not near halfway to achieving our objectives,” said one person familiar with the Israeli war plans. Gaza’s health ministry said more than 14,800 people have been killed in Israel’s campaign, including about 6,000 children.
3. ‘Big tobacco’ lobbies MPs
Tobacco giants have been heavily lobbying ministers, civil servants and MPs in a bid to influence Westminster ahead of the proposed ban on smoking. “Big Tobacco” is doing its “level best” to prevent Rishi Sunak’s administration from introducing its plan to phase out smoking over a generation, campaigners told the inews site. The UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index, led by the University of Bath, said Tory MPs are routinely lobbied or acting on behalf of tobacco companies or firms that are financed by the industry.
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4. UAE ‘oil surge plan’
The UAE, which is hosting COP28 climate talks aimed at cutting fossil fuel emissions, is “massively ramping” up its own oil production, said the BBC. The nation’s state oil firm, Adnoc, may drill 42% more by 2030, according to analysts considered the international gold standard in oil market intelligence. Adnoc insists the projections show capacity to produce oil, not actual production. Meanwhile, King Charles gave a “call to arms” in his Cop28 climate summit opening statement yesterday, said The Guardian.
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5. Judge blocks Trump bid
A judge has dismissed Donald Trump’s attempt to throw out charges of election interference on the basis of “presidential immunity”. Although Trump’s legal team had argued his attempts to reject the 2020 results fell within his duties as president, Judge Tanya Chutkan found no legal basis for concluding presidents cannot face criminal charges once they are no longer in office. The former US president is accused of unlawfully trying to overturn his election defeat. CNN said the issue will probably be settled by an appeals courts before Trump’s criminal trial.
6. Labour plans walk-in hubs
Labour is planning GP hubs where patients can walk in at evenings and weekends in a bid to “fix the NHS”. Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said that the party would conduct a shake-up of GP services, with “neighbourhood health centres” bringing together doctors, dentists and treatment of minor injuries. The centres would also aim to treat millions of patients currently seen in overloaded A&E units.
7. Quiz episode axed
The BBC has dropped a Christmas episode of University Challenge, after complaints from two contestants that their disabilities had not been accommodated. Following filming of the episode in November, one contestant, who is blind, said that competing in the show had been “distressing” as they had not been provided with audio description, despite being told it would be made available. Another, who said they were neurodivergent, had made a request for subtitles to be made available, but this did not happen.
8. New weather warnings
Sporting events across the UK have been cancelled because of snowfall and icy conditions. Crewe’s FA Cup tie with Bristol Rovers has been called off because of an unsafe playing surface, along with several Scottish Professional Football League games. A racing fixture at Newcastle, which was due to stage the return of the Constitution Hill, has been abandoned due to snow on the track. The London Fire Brigade has advised taking “extra care” while out and about “as conditions could be icy”, and warned people to “keep well away from water”.
9. Booster uptake down
Scientists have warned that lower uptake in Covid booster jabs could put vulnerable people at risk over Christmas. Government data suggested that 59% of 65- to 70-year-olds have had the booster so far, compared with 70% at the same stage in last year’s booster push. Although it is “difficult to be precise about the prevalence of Covid at the moment because surveillance has been greatly reduced”, said the inews site, “the data we do have suggests cases are lower than they have been for much of the pandemic and are falling”.
10. Chauvin stabbing charge
A prisoner in the US has been charged with attempted murder after stabbing Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted in the death of George Floyd. According to prosecutors, John Turscak used an improvised blade to knife Chauvin 22 times on 24 November at a federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. Chauvin survived the attack and was said to be in a stable condition. Turscak is serving a 30-year sentence for crimes that were committed when he was a member of the Mexican Mafia gang, noted Reuters.