Top story: ‘Immense risks, potential loss of life’
Hello, I’m Warren Murray presenting this morning’s essential stories.
Many economic assessments of the climate crisis “grossly undervalue the lives of young people and future generations”, Prof Nicholas Stern has warned ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow. Research shows people born today will suffer many times more extreme heatwaves and other climate disasters over their lifetimes than their grandparents.
Stern said forthcoming generations were made victims of “discrimination by date of birth” through flawed economic modelling. Economists had failed to consider the “immense risks and potential loss of life” from the climate crisis. They badly underestimated the speed at which the costs of clean technologies such as solar and wind have fallen, and that net zero can drive growth that is “more resource-efficient, more productive, and healthier, and will offer greater protection to our biodiversity”.
Meanwhile the Net Zero Diaries, a project run by the consultancy Britain Thinks, has found that ministers face expectations to tackle the climate crisis with the same urgency seen at the start of the Covid pandemic. It found support for strong tactics from the government even among those who said they had low engagement with environmental issues. “When the government wanted to be proactive with getting Covid deaths down … they took a proactive and committed [approach]. Who paid for it? The government,” one participant in the research observed.
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Pay freeze to thaw – Rishi Sunak will end the public sector pay freeze for 2.6 million teachers, police and civil servants, and increase the national minimum wage from £8.91 to £9.50 an hour for workers aged 23 and over from next April. The announcements expected in Wednesday’s budget mean about 7.5 million people could see their pay rise – about 5.7 million working in the public sector and 2 million on minimum wage. Treasury has said the minimum wage increase represents a hike of about £1,000 a year for a full-time worker. But calculations by Labour found that those affected by the £1,000-a-year cut in universal credit, the rise in national insurance and the freeze in the income tax personal allowance will still be £807 worse off from April.
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‘Widespread’ abuse in military – Women are enduring physical and mental health problems from “widespread” bullying, sexual harassment and physical assault in the UK military, research reveals. According to findings published in BMJ Military Health, of 750 female veterans surveyed, 22.5% said they had been sexually harassed, while 5.1% said they had been sexually assaulted, 22.7% emotionally bullied, and 3.3% physically assaulted. Such treatment left them at higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder and other adverse effects. About 16,500 women comprise 11% of UK military personnel. The Ministry of Defence has said it is taking steps to “improve the experiences of women in our armed forces”, including a 24/7 confidential and independent whole-force bullying, harassment and discrimination helpline, with “unlawful behaviour investigated by the relevant police service as necessary”.
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‘Scared and intimidated’ – Headteachers have described “sinister” intimidation tactics being used against the vaccination of teenagers in schools. “It started with a few emails from a group calling itself Lawyers for Freedom,” the Guardian was told by a Liverpool headteacher. The protests escalated with “aggressive” leafleting as pupils left school. “We know there was at least one student who came back into school and was quite upset by what was going on.” A small group of protesters also got into the school and demanded to meet the head. Elsewhere, pupils at St Thomas More Catholic School in Blaydon, Gateshead, were distraught after being shown pictures by anti-vaxxers of what appeared to be dead children. Paul Whiteman from the National Association of Head Teachers said: “Whatever your views on vaccination, it is never OK to make children feel scared and intimidated as they arrive at school.”
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Facebook revelations – Facebook’s profit topped $9bn during its most recent financial quarter, even as it faces negative publicity over a major release of whistleblower documents. Addressing British MPs, the whistleblower Frances Haugen has called for urgent external regulation to reduce the harm being done by Facebook and Instagram to society: “Until we bring in a counterweight, these things will be operated for the shareholders’ interest and not the public interest.” Dan Sabbagh explains the effects on young people’s mental health, sowing of division and detrimental impact on democracy that Haugen has described. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have said the company is being misrepresented.
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Double shot latte on spud – It is tipped as a challenger to big-selling alt-milks made from oats, almonds and soy, with the supermarket Waitrose predicting consumers will soon be adding potato milk to their trolleys. In recent years the buzz has been around oat milk, but in its annual food and drink report Waitrose predicts that “now it is the turn of the potato”. In February, Waitrose will start stocking the Swedish potato milk brand Dug, which claims to be the most sustainable alt-milk on the market. It says the potato milk tastes delicious and creamy, and it has also created a foaming barista version that “won’t ever separate in your coffee or tea”. The obvious question of course is who milks the potatoes and how is it done …
Today in Focus podcast: Spy cops target BLM
When anti-racism activist Lowri Davies got a call from a covert officer in Swansea, she played along. But she was recording the conversation – and what she learned sheds new light on how progressive movements are monitored by the state.
Lunchtime read: China’s repressive overseas reach
In the past nine years under Xi Jinping’s leadership, the Chinese Communist party (CCP) has thrown itself into what the human rights NGO Freedom House calls “transnational repression”. Every arm of the PRC government has been called upon to join in the work of influencing opinions, stifling speech and controlling dissent within and beyond its borders. In a tally of direct physical attacks originating from China since 2014, a recent Freedom House report uncovered 214 incidents in 36 different countries, from abductions in Thailand to physical assaults in Canada.
Chinese students studying in the UK and Australia have reported being threatened and harassed if they criticise the PRC. In California a man was apprehended driving a Chinese police car replica through an immigrant neighbourhood. Police officers in the PRC make menacing calls to exiles using their relative’s phones. “China conducts the most sophisticated, global, and comprehensive campaign of transnational repression in the world,” says Freedom House. And of the groups targeted for repression, Tibetans in exile have long been the object of special attention.
Antonio Conte would be open to discussing taking over at Manchester United if Ole Gunnar Solskjær were sacked, while it emerged that several players are questioning whether the Norwegian can take the team any further. The addition of Ben Stokes to England’s Ashes squad will lift Joe Root’s men and cause even the most confident of Australians to endure a few sleepless nights, writes Tanya Aldred, even though the all-rounder’s return has been met with enthusiasm by several former Australia Test players. US Open champion Emma Raducanu knows she must “not expect too much” from herself as she prepares for the Transylvania Open, while Andy Murray dug in to beat world No 10 Hubert Hurkacz in three gruelling sets at the Erste Bank Open in Austria.
The Scotland head coach, Shane Burger, said a 130‑run defeat against Afghanistan was “a tough pill to swallow” but now expects his side to show their character in the rest of the T20 World Cup. The odds on Wales ending their 68-year wait for a win against the All Blacks in Cardiff on Saturday are slim, with the head coach, Wayne Pivac, missing an entire side because of injuries and player unavailability. Latvia may be ranked 102nd in the world and England’s women’s team are expected to win by a heavy scoreline but Tuesday night in Riga will be a gala evening for Fran Kirby as she wins her 50th cap. And the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, has called for calm after Lewis Hamilton’s title ambitions were dented by Max Verstappen’s victory in the US Grand Prix.
Sara Blakely, the chief executive and founder of the shapewear company Spanx, has surprised employees with two first-class plane tickets and $10,000 each to celebrate winning funding from the investment firm Blackstone. Also in the US, the value of carmaker Tesla has broken through the $1tn mark for the first time after the US electric car pioneer received an order for 100,000 of its vehicles from the rental company Hertz. The FTSE100 is set to open flat this morning. The pound is on $1.376 and €1.186.
The Guardian leads with “Sunak to scrap public sector pay freeze amid cost of living crisis”. Also on the front: “Tories on back foot over river sewage row”. There has been a furious backlash online after Conservative MPs rejected putting a legal duty on water companies not to pump waste into rivers. Government insiders have insisted that it would have added a huge cost to water companies that would became a “blank cheque” passed on to consumers. Joan Edwards from the Wildlife Trusts said “chemicals, sewage and manure continue to pour almost unabated into our already polluted waterways”. The vote came seven weeks after wastewater plants were given permission by the government to dispose of sewage not fully treated because of a shortage of chemicals resulting from a lack of HGV drivers.
Quite the outpouring about that in the Mirror: “As MPs block sewage curb, the filth and the fury”. The environment also leads the Metro: “Recycling trashed by Boris” – the prime minister has said it “isn’t the answer” (what he seems to have meant is that we should be making and using less plastic etc in the first place). The i says “Sunak warned on lack of cash for schools” as the chancellor gets his budget ready. The Telegraph hails “Pay rise for 5m public sector workers” – the Express and the Mail welcome that as well, though the latter asks: “How WILL we pay for it?”
The Financial Times has as its lead “Spy agencies recruit Amazon to host top secret intelligence files” – available soon on Kindle? The Sun’s top story is “Crown to recreate Bashir, Di interview” and its accompanying bit of wordplay is “The Frown” because Prince William never wanted the interview broadcast again. The Times says “Brace for a winter of rising costs, drivers told” – it reports petrol has hit a record of nearly 143p a litre.
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