BORIS SAYS NEW MILITARY KIT WILL MAKE ARMED FORCES MORE LETHAL

The Guardian reports that Britain’s army, navy and air force will all be cut back over this parliament despite promises made by Boris Johnson during the election campaign not to be cutting the armed services in any form. A five-year defence review, published on Monday, confirms the army target size will be cut by 9,500 to 72,500 by 2025, its lowest level since 1714. The number of navy frigates and destroyers will drop from 19 to 17 in the next 18 months. A third of the army’s Challenger tanks will be scrapped, while 148 will be upgraded, at a cost of £1.3bn. A string of ageing RAF planes will be retired in the next couple of years, including 24 first-generation Typhoon bombers, as well as nine chinook helicopters, 14 Hercules transporter aircraft and 20 Puma support helicopters. Navy warship numbers are not expected to reach 20 until the end of the decade, as new type 26 and 31 frigates are built. An emphasis on countering the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific region will be achieved by basing two small patrol vessels in the region from 2021 and a Royal Marine unit from 2023. The plan is to concentrate investment in replacing Trident and other hi-tech rearmament – which Johnson said earlier on Monday “would give the military the kit to make them all the more useful, all the more, I’m afraid, lethal, and effective around the world”.

 

DISTURBANCES  CONTINUE IN BRISTOL

The Daily Mail reports that Police Officers with riot shields and helmets were called in to clear College Green in the centre Bristol at 10pm Tuesday evening. Around 150 protesters had earlier erected tents on the green in a protest at how the police crime sentencing and courts bill will impact on travellers, squatters and the homeless. They had ignored calls to comply with Covid regulations and to go home. Around 100 riot police were then called in to force crowds away from the tents and move them further back with dogs and officers on horseback. As of 11pm, there was a sit in protest by some 30 protesters who crouched down in front of a line of officers and refused to move. Two female protesters told how they were sitting down on the green when police came in with force. Police were seen wrenching tents away from people as they forced them back. The protesters were chanting slogans like Whose streets? Our streets! and ‘Kill the Bill’ but officers didn’t appear to have been pelted with any missiles like at Sunday’s protest. Shortly before 11pm, police said protesters had been moved off College Green but that a ‘significant number’ remained on Deanery Road ‘and continued to refuse to leave the area’.

 

REPORT SUGGESTS PROBLEMS AHEAD

The Daily Mail reports that Britain faces a Covid decade with the profound social damage caused by the pandemic set to dog the country. A grim report urges a major policy overhaul to help the country recover from the impact of coronavirus on health, education and economic prospects. The assessment from the British Academy – funded by the government but independent – was launched on the anniversary of the first lockdown. It warns significant intervention will be needed to avoid more extreme inequality and ongoing misery for swathes of the population.The report  highlights a number of interconnected trends which include low and unstable levels of trust in the national government that undermine the ability to mobilise public behaviour, widening geographic inequalities in health and wellbeing, local economic risk and resilience, and poverty and worsening social development, relationships and mental health and cautions that following a short-lived initial increase, faith the UK government and feelings of national unity are in decline.

 

ANOTHER COVID SURGE IS INEVITABLE SAYS PROFESSOR CHRIS WHITTY

The Telegraph reports that another surge in coronavirus cases is inevitable Professor Chris Whitty warned, as the country marked a year since the first lockdown began. England’s chief medical officer said there would be bumps and twists on the road possibly including the emergence of new variants and shortages in vaccine supplies. Speaking at a public health conference organised by the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Public Health, Prof Whitty said: This is a sad day, really. The path from here on in does look better than last year but there are going to be lots of bumps and twists on the road from here on in. There will definitely be another surge at some point, whether it’s before winter or in the next winter, we don’t know. Variants are going to cause problems, there will be stock-outs of vaccines and no doubt there will be multiple problems at a national level but also at a local level – school outbreaks, prison outbreaks, all the things that people are dealing with on a daily basis.”

 

BORIS WANTS ANOTHER THREE MONTHS OF CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS

The Times reports that Boris Johnson will address Tory MPs  as he attempts to persuade them to back another three months of coronavirus restrictions amid warnings that further delay will not be tolerated. The prime minister will attend the 1922 Committee of backbenchers before a vote on coronavirus regulations on Thursday amid a backlash over the pace at which the lockdown is being eased.

 

MANDATORY JAB FOR CARE WORKERS DISCRIMINATORY

The London Evening Standard reports that care groups and unions have said they do not think vaccinations should become mandatory for care home staff after the Government confirmed it is looking into the option. Care home workers in England could be legally required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 under plans being considered by the Government, according to the Health Secretary. Matt Hancock said that no final decision has been taken amid a review into vaccination passports, which is considering a range of issues. The National Care Forum, Independent Care Group, Four Seasons Health Care, Unison and the GMB union all expressed concern over compulsory vaccination.  The plans have emerged amid concerns of low uptake of staff in care homes looking after those who are among the most vulnerable to the virus. But it would prove controversial, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman previously accepting it would be discriminatory to force people to be vaccinated. Mr Hancock said that there was still further to go in vaccine uptake in care staff, with around 76% of workers in elderly care homes vaccinated, and more than 90% of residents.

 

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT COULD RISE TO  OVER ONE MILLION

The Guardian reports: Numbers of young people out of work in the UK have reached new highs – with young people accounting for nearly two-thirds of job losses since the pandemic, according to official figures. The regional employment figures from the Office for National Statistics show that long-term unemployment has risen 40% over the same period to 215,000 young people out of work for six months or more. Of all 16- to 24-year-olds who are currently unemployed, 74% have been unemployed for at least six months. It comes as a report published on Tuesday by the National Youth Agency and Youth Employment UK, seen exclusively by the Guardian, says without a fundamental change in how young people are supported, far too many will be left behind. The government needs to be honest with young people: we simply cannot create enough job opportunities,said Leigh Middleton, the chief executive of National Youth Agency. Without concerted action, we fear youth unemployment could rise to over 1 million when furlough ends.

 

STURGEON SURVIVES NO CONFIDENCE VOTE

The Telegraph reports that Nicola Sturgeon has comfortably survived a vote of no-confidence in Holyrood, hours after it was confirmed that she had been found to have misled a parliamentary inquiry. A motion brought by the Scottish Tories was defeated by 65 votes to 31, in what was the first ever no-confidence motion in a sitting First Minister in the 22-year history of the devolved parliament.

 

BILL GATES SUPPORTS  CHALK DUST PLAN TO HALT GLOBAL WARMING

From the Express: Plans have been drawn up to release a large balloon containing chalk this summer in a bid to slow down climate change. The project, which will be trialled in near the Arctic town of Kiruna, has received the tech magnate’s support. Sir David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the UK Government, said there should be a moratorium on rolling the technique out. Mr Gates, a long-standing advocate for climate change solutions, has recently published a new book where he outlines ideas for fighting global warming. In ‘’How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”, the billionaire highlights the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

 

AND FINALLY

From the Independent: Residents of New South Wales in Australia, coping with the worst floods in 50 years, had another problem to deal with: swarms of wolf spiders seeking shelter in their homes to escape the deluge. Residents of NSW shared pictures of clusters and thousands of spiders trying to escape the floodwaters on social media, prompting comments from horrified users. Ms Williams also photographed the spiders carrying their egg sacks to drier areas to protect their babies. The spiders were later identified to be wolf spiders. Experts told local media that wolf spiders typically live underground in burrows but floodwaters have forced them out of their homes.

 

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