The Express reports: Israel’s  military has confirmed a missile exploded in the south of the country today, causing sirens to trigger near the Dimona nuclear reactor. The Israel Defence Force (IDF) said the missile was a Syrian surface-to-air rocket and exploded in the Negev region in the south of the country. There were no immediate reports of any injuries or damage in Israel. In response to the missile launch, the IDF said they have attacked several missile batteries in Syria including the one which fired the projectile. Israel’s Army Radio also reported a missile had been fired at Israeli aircraft during an earlier strike, and overshot its target.


The Express reports that former veterans minister Johnny Mercer has sensationally hit out at the Government after being sacked from his position yesterday evening.  Describing his colleagues as cowards and children, he attacked ministers for letting down the Armed Services. He added politics was “a bit of a cesspit”.  Mr Mercer was told to quit after expressing frustration at a lack of progress over legislation to protect British veterans who served during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Mr Mercer has been replaced as veterans minister by Leo Docherty, a former Scots Guards.


The Express reports: Domonic Raab  has slashed the foreign aid to China by a whopping 95 percent, with the UK sending just £900,000 to Beijing. The announcement was made by the Foreign Secretary after the UK said it was calling back its aid budget in light of the pandemic. Britain is committed by law to spending 0.7 percent of GDP on international aid, but announced last year it would be lowering the amount to 0.5 percent to claw back historic spending levels following the coronavirus crisis.


The Daily Mail reports that breweries are telling struggling pubs to ‘sneak prices up by 40p-a-pint’ to claw back losses after lockdown ‘because people who pay by cards won’t notice the hike’.  Star Pubs and Bars, which is owned by Heineken UK and supports 2,500 pubs nationwide, advised bosses to ‘consider reviewing’ price increases. The group also cited a study conducted by market research companies KAM Media and CGA between May and June last year, finding almost two thirds of pub-goers ‘expected’ price rises following the first lockdown.  One publican revealed they had recommended increases in the region of 10 per cent, meaning a pint of Peroni that once cost £4 would now cost £4.40.  Drinkers have taken to social media to complain that a single pint has rocked from £3.20 to £4.70 in the South West and of prices climbing by 40p in Walsall.


The Daily Mail reports that Gavin Williamson said secondary school pupils will not have to wear face masks under rule changes expected on May 17. Students in year seven and above have to wear masks in communal areas and classrooms where one-metre social distancing cannot be maintained. Now, the Education Secretary revealed the face coverings rule will be partially lifted no earlier than May 17 – with pupils still expected to wear masks in corridors and on school buses. The mask rule – while not a legal requirement – proved controversial among parents. Children were told if they refuse to wear masks when schools reopened on March 8, they may be kept apart from their friends – with one parent branding it ‘mask apartheid.


The SUN reports that a surge in coronavirus cases could delay Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown, one expert has warned. Under the PM’s plan, the next set of restrictions will be lifted on May 17.  Professor Adam Finn, from the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), today warned that as lockdown is relaxed, cases would naturally rise.  Speaking on BBC Breakfast he said: ‘The models that we’ve seen on JCVI clearly point to a summer surge in cases as the lockdown is relaxed, because there are still many people in the adult population who’ve not been immunised and who will therefore start to transmit the infection between each other.’


The SUN reports that  a furious Vladimir Putin has threatened the West with a fast and tough response if it crosses his red lines over Ukraine. The Russian president said Moscow will respond “swiftly and harshly to provocation as tensions continue to escalate on the border with Ukraine. Putin issued the blunt warning as he delivered his annual state-of-the-nation speech on Wednesday to both houses of parliament: “We want good relations with all participants of the international dialogue. And really, we don’t want to burn bridges,  But if someone mistakes our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intends to burn or even blow up these bridges themselves, they should know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift and harsh.”


The Telegraph reports that a drastic new pledge to reduce UK carbon emissions by 78 per cent, compared to 1990 levels, announced by Boris Johnson  ahead of the climate summit with the US.  The Prime Minister has committed the UK to cutting carbon emissions by 78 percent by 2035, compared to 1990 levels, as recommended by the Government’s climate advisory body. It means a 58 per cent cut over the next 15 years, according to analysis by the website Carbon Brief, and will require changes to the way we heat our homes and travel, and what we eat. For the first time, the UK will also include emissions from international aviation, which could cause a rise in air fares.


The Telegraph reports that the new training comes amid a rise in ransomware attacks against education establishments. Schools have been urged to boost their online defences as the security services launch their first ever cyber security training programme for teachers. Headteachers have been told they must take action to protect children and their families from having personal and sensitive information falling into the wrong hands and the new training comes amid a rise in ransomware attacks against education establishments which prompted the NCSC to publish an alert to schools and universities last month, warning of the dangers.  Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said: “It is vital that schools have robust cyber security in place, and these new resources and training will help staff to increase protection from attacks.


Reuters reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is setting up a new unit to deliver on his policies, his spokesman said on Wednesday, underlining the British leader’s focus on honouring promises he made to non-traditional Conservative voters at the last election. Johnson won a large majority in the 2019 election, winning over voters who had never voted for his Conservative Party by promising to deliver Brexit quickly and also to “level up” Britain to bring investment to less well off towns. His advisers have often complained that bureaucracy slows the delivery of many policies and the new delivery unit is seen as key to try to make good on promises to build schools, hospitals and create jobs before the next election in 2024. This new unit will be small and will have a great deal of authority. It will ensure we have the strongest possible approach to support the successful delivery of the government’s agenda.  He said it would be lead by Emily Lawson, who spearheaded England’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.


From the Daily Mail: Parents have slammed a new parking permit scheme which affects them  on the school run  and traumatises kids forced to walk to school. They claim the initiative is creating even more stress as they try to drop off and pick up their kids.  Nottingham City Council has introduced it across the village of Wilford and It has been introduced after a lengthy consultation which started in 2019. The aim of the scheme was to deter commuters from parking on the narrow streets and walking into the city.  One parent said: ‘They are expecting parents to make the one or two mile journey on foot, child in tow, come rain or shine. It is ludicrous.’


From the  BBC: A man has spent lockdown restoring his father’s 1930s motorbike after it had lain in parts for decades.  Ralph Goodson, from Derby, said prior to the coronavirus lockdown, he had struggled to find the time to carry out the restoration and it had become a bit of a standing joke with friends and family. He said his father Douglas bought the Rudge Special in 1937 but it was dismantled in the 1950s:  “We’ve moved house about five times and every time the boxes have moved with us. Of course, lockdown came along and that’s given us the time and wherewithal to actually start restoring my dad’s motorbike”, he went on, “I think he’d be amazed that I finally got round to doing it.”


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