FOUR TESTS AND A ROADMAP TO FREEDOM
The Guardian reports: Social contacts will take precedence over the reopening of shops and hospitality when Boris Johnson sets out his roadmap for lifting restrictions in England today with school sports and family picnics offered as a trade-off for a longer closure of retail and restaurants. Johnson will order the reopening of all schools on 8 March and pledge that two families or a group of six friends will be allowed to meet outdoors three weeks later, school sports and activity clubs to resume outside when schools reopen.Six friends – or two households – can meet outside from Easter. Sports such as tennis and basketball will resume from 29 March.
BORIS JOHNSON NOT TRUSTED TO SAFELY LIFT LOCKDOWN
The Independent reports that Boris Johnson has failed to win voters’ trust that he can take England safely out of the coronavirus lockdown. The Savanta ComRes survey for The Independent found that fewer than a quarter (24 per cent) of people in England trust the prime minister to lift restrictions in a safe way, against 31 per cent that do not. 26 percent agreed that children should go back to school in early March , 26 percent said he should wait until after the Easter holidays and 38 percent later. 8 percent of English voters said they trust Mr Johnson completely to take the country out of lockdown in a safe way, 16 percent who trust him a lot and 17 per cent said they did not trust him much with 14 percent saying they did not trust him at all, with 37 percent said they were somewhere in the middle and 8 percent did not know.
NEXT WINTER FLU WORRIES
The Daily Mail reports: Social distancing measures put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic may trigger a resurgence of flu cases next winter, scientists have warned. Experts fear we are likely to face a severe epidemic in the coming months’ once restrictions are fully lifted as levels of immunity are less than they would be typically. It comes after figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last year revealed that deaths from pneumonia and influenza were seven times below the average 100,000 deaths they cause each year. Professor John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told The Telegraph “If I had to gamble on it, then I would guess that we are likely to get a more severe epidemic in the coming winter – assuming restrictions are fully lifted by then.”
LEGAL CHALLENGE TO NI PROTOCOL
The Independent reports that DUP leader Arlene Foster has launched legal action to challenge the Northern Ireland Protocol amid unionist anger over post-brexit trade disruption. The judicial review proceedings will argue that the new checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland were imposed without the consent of the public. She said: Fundamental to the Act of Union is unfettered trade throughout the UK. At the core of the Belfast Agreement was the principle of consent yet the Northern Ireland protocol has driven a coach and horses through both the Act of Union and the Belfast Agreement. Neither the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Northern Ireland Executive nor the people of Northern Ireland consented to the protocol being put in place or the flow of goods from GB to NI being impeded by checks. They certainly did not consent to the arrangements for those checks being determined by a power over which we have no democratic say.”
BBC COUNTRYFILE SLAMMED BY VIEWERS
From The Express: Countryfile viewers were left furious with the BBC as Charlotte Smith investigated the impact Brexit has had on the UK fishing industry. Countryfile presenter Charlotte Smith spoke to several UK fishermen and women on the BBC show to find out whether leaving the European Union had positively impacted the country’s fishing industry and provided them with the outcome they had hoped for. However, viewers took to Twitter to slam the broadcaster for its negative coverage of Brexit. Countryfile viewers were infuriated by the segment as one angry fan tweeted: BBC Countryfile doing what it does best by saying Brexit was a bad thing.
BORIS IS A FERVENT SINOPHILE
The Guardian reports that the UK is seeking to strengthen its economic and trade links with China after Boris Johnson stated he was fervently Sinophile and determined to improve ties whatever the occasional political difficulties”. The prime minister’s remarks at a Downing Street roundtable with Chinese businesses are likely to infuriate backbenchers in his Conservative party who want the government to take a tougher approach to Beijing’s human rights abuses. Johnson also signalled that he wanted a resumption of formal trade discussions between the two countries by reactivating two forums – the Economic and Financial Dialogue, an annual discussion between the two countries, and the China-UK Joint Trade and Economic Commission (Jetco). Both had been suspended in response to China’s repression of civil rights in the former UK colony of Hong Kong.
BIDEN TO FIRE STARTING GUN ON TALKS WITH IRAN
The Times writes that the Biden administration is considering offering Iran sanctions relief as America seeks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. President Biden fired the starting gun on re-entering the deal, known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), on Thursday with a statement declaring that America is willing to sit down for an informal meeting with the Iranians, which would be hosted by the EU and also attended by Britain, Russia and China. The Iranians have demanded relief from crippling Trump-era sanctions — which they claim have cost them more than $150 billion — as a price for returning to negotiations. There are indications that sanctions relief is on the way, though the Biden administration insists it wants a sit-down first.
NEW EVIDENCE CLAIMS NYPD AND FBI IMPLICATED IN ASSINATION
From the Guardian: Almost 56 years since the day Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City, lawyers and family members of the late civil rights and Black nationalist leader released new evidence they claim shows the NYPD and FBI conspired in his murder. It comes in the form of a deathbed letter attributed to a former undercover NYPD officer who claimed he was pressured by supervisors to lure two of Malcolm X’s security men into committing crimes, a few days before the assassination on 21 February 1965 The arrests kept the two men from managing door security at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights on the day of the shooting, according to the letter.
WOKE HEADMASTER STARTS THE NEW TERM WITH NEW HOUSE NAMES
From The SUN: A school has replaced its house names honouring national heroes with ultra woke icons after a plea from an ex-pupil. Head Lee Hill dropped Admiral Nelson, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. The school now uses the names of eco teen Greta Thunberg, human rights activist Malala Yousafzai, footie star and school meals campaigner Marcus Rashford — and even US President Joe Biden’s inauguration poet Amanda Gorman. Mr Hill, the heavily tattooed head of Howden Junior School, East Yorks, tells his 16,000 Twitter followers of the courage of the child who made a stand. He wrote: During the Black Lives Matter protests, I received a passionate and brave email from a former pupil. This pupil not only educated me about the history of the three house names . . . but also explained the impact of seeing these figures — who have links to slavery, oppression and racism – had on her during her time at our school. Not only a brave email to send to a white male in a position of power but also an email that set off a chain of events.
SANDHURST STAFF BAFFLED BY NEW ABLUTIONS
From The Mirror: Defence chiefs have spent £1.3million upgrading showers and toilets at Sandhurst as part of a programme of bringing in gender-neutral facilities. Six blocks at the world famous Royal Military Academy – just 36 toilets in total – have been converted to single-sex.
Documents revealing the cost said the Sandhurst blocks, some more than a century old, were refurbished and converted to unisex ablution areas, including toilets, to ensure they were fit-for-purpose. All platoons at the academy, where both Prince William and Harry trained, are mixed gender. But one former instructor claimed staff were baffled and said: “Sandhurst functioned perfectly well with single-sex toilets. Spending over £1million is crazy. We constantly cut budgets, yet there’s always cash when political correctness is the issue.”
MUPPET SHOW OFFENSIVE ALERT
The SUN reports that Disney has slapped an offensive content warning on The Muppet Show preventing it from being watched by young kids. Anyone watching the adventures of Kermit the Frog and Missy Piggy on Disney+ will now see an alert about the show’s stereotypes and mistreatment of people or cultures. As the show begins, a disclai:mer appears which reads “This programme includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.” It also means the show can only be viewed from an adult account.
MORE RETAIL JOBS WOES
From the Evening Standard: John Lewis could close another eight department stores as the pandemic continues to cause turmoil for the retail industry. Chairwoman Dame Sharon White is said to be considering the closure of up to eight of its surviving 42 stores. The closures come on top of eight closures last July resulting in 1,300 job losses.The John Lewis Partnership, which also owns supermarket chain Waitrose, is also in the process of cutting a further 1.500 head office jobs.
Reuters reports that after some lean months during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fat Thursday finally brought some cheer to Polish confectioners as their sweet-toothed customers feasted on doughnuts. On the last Thursday before Lent, the period when Christians traditionally fast before Easter, Poles stuff their faces with doughnuts in a festival of calorific indulgence. The pandemic has obviously had an effect on our sales, a negative effect of course, Pawel Sypniewski, owner of the Sucre Patisserie in Warsaw, told Reuters. Poles will consume almost 100 million doughnuts worth up to 250 million zlotys ($67 million) on Fat Thursday, according to analysts at the BNP Paribas bank.