Hello, Warren Murray setting you up to prevail this Tuesday.
Northern Ireland’s government has suspended Brexit checks on animal and food products arriving into Belfast and Larne ports after “sinister and menacing behaviour” towards staff led to fears for their safety. Since checks were introduced on goods from Great Britain, tensions have surfaced in loyalist communities – graffiti has appeared on a wall near Larne port that warned all border officials were targets. Other graffiti has threatened Leo Varadkar, the former Republic of Ireland taoiseach.
Mid and East Antrim council on Monday night removed 12 of its staff at Larne port with immediate effect. One diplomatic source told the Guardian: “Where is the flexibility and the creative solutions that the EU called for during the Brexit negotiations? Every day there are new twists and complications and these are touching the notions of identity and sovereignty, which are hugely sensitive and were the cause of past conflicts.”
Myanmar crisis – The military appears in firm control of Myanmar one day after launching a coup and detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other lawmakers. There has been widespread international condemnation with the US president, Joe Biden, threatening sanctions and calling for governments to press for the military to release detainees. The UN security council will discuss the matter today. Hundreds of members of Myanmar’s parliament remain confined inside their government housing in the capital, according to reports by Associated Press. The military has claimed its actions are in line with Myanmar’s constitution but has offered little response to the flood of foreign criticism.
Natural failings of economics – The world is being put at “extreme risk” by the failure of economics to take account of the rapid depletion of the natural world, a landmark review for the UK Treasury concludes. Radical global changes to production, consumption, finance and education are urgently needed to alleviate the “devastating cost” to ecosystems that provide food, water and clean air, writes the review’s author, Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge University. He urges the world’s governments to come up with a different form of national accounting from GDP to include depletion of natural resources. The report says almost all governments are actually paying people more to exploit nature than to protect it, with subsidies costing £2.9-£4.4tn a year. In a foreword, Sir David Attenborough writes: “If we continue this damage, whole ecosystems will collapse. That is now a real risk.”
‘What many animals have’ – The Conservative former immigration minister Caroline Nokes has accused the Home Office of using barracks to accommodate asylum seekers so Britain appears to them “as difficult and inhospitable as possible”. She is among backbench Tory MPs with barracks in their constituencies who have raised concerns. There is growing concern about conditions, with occupants saying they are freezing cold and filthy, while there have beenCovid outbreaks, hunger strikes and suicide attempts.
At least five legal challenges are under way: two relating to Penally barracks in Wales, two about Napier barracks in Folkestone, and one about Yarl’s Wood. “We as a nation can do better than this,” said Nokes. The immigration compliance minister, Chris Philp, said: “These sites were previously used to house military personnel – to suggest they are not good enough for asylum seekers is an insult.” Matin, 26, from Iran, said of the Napier barracks: “It’s true we have a roof above our heads … but this is what many animals have.”
Dead man ‘tied to sunken yacht’ – Greek authorities have launched an investigation into the “perplexing” death of a man described locally as an “eccentric Englishman” whose body was found reportedly tied to the deck of a partially sunken luxury yacht off Crete. The 74-year-old was identified as Hugh Kerr Bradley Roberts, who retired to the island more than a decade ago and also had a villa on shore. Crew on a fishing boat alerted the authorities after spotting the wreck with Roberts’ frightened dog, Tuck, scrabbling to stay on the part of the deck still above water. Roberts had reported being the victim of a robbery on board the yacht two years ago during which his assailants left him tied up inside. Foul play has not been ruled out – “nothing can be excluded at this stage”, said one coastguard official.
Well travelled – From majestic landscapes, intimate animal portraits and intriguing night-time views beneath the ocean’s surface, to glimpses of cultures across the world, the winning images from Travel Photographer of the Year 2020 present a view of life on our planet at a time in which travel has been difficult or impossible.
The winning images will go on display in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London, in May and in other TPOTY exhibitions, including Chester Cathedral, during 2021.
Today in Focus podcast: A Covid case every six seconds
Asia-Pacific markets have extended gains on increased optimism about stimulus packages and global economic recovery, while retail investors retreated from GameStop and their new-found interest in silver. A key gauge of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan was up 1.25% mid-morning. The Hang Seng, China’s CSI300, Japan’s Nikkei 225, Australia and South Korea’s Kospi have gained. The FTSE looks like opening in the order of 40 points higher. The pound is worth $1.368 and €1.133 at time of writing.
“Race to trace mutant strain” says the Mail and the Times reports that “Sage warned No 10 over mutant virus weeks ago”. The Telegraph says “PM pushes to reopen schools as cases fall”. The Sun mixes together lower Covid case rates, vaccination statistics and the South African variant to come up with “The good, the jab and the ugly” – it also covers Rita Ora turning up in a quarantine hotel in Australia closely tailed by her lockdown birthday party disgrace.
The i has “Vaccine gets boost to beat new strain”, which is about how second doses will likely be “tweaked” by the time people get them. The shameless vaccine nationalists at the Express say “What a result! British vaccines lined up until 2025”. The FT offers a diversion: “Trading frenzy forces Robinhood to raise $2.4bn in fresh injection” – something to do with something called GameStop – and also tells of George Osborne’s full-time move into banking.
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