Top story: ‘Has to happen’, says Joe Biden
Good morning and welcome to the Briefing – I’m Warren Murray and I’ll be your guide.
The US Senate has received the article of impeachment against Donald Trump, setting the stage for its first ever trial of a president who is no longer in office. For the second time in just over a year, nine House impeachment managers carried the charge in a ceremonial procession across the US Capitol, recently invaded with fatal consequences by a violent mob urged on by Trump. Senate leaders agreed last week to delay the trial for two weeks, allowing time to deal with coronavirus, install Joe Biden’s cabinet and let Trump prepare a defence.
The trial of Trump “has to happen”, Biden has told CNN. While acknowledging the effect on his agenda, the president said there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen”. Biden said he did not think enough Republican senators would vote for impeachment to convict – which would allow Trump to be disqualified from ever holding office again. Donald Trump’s campaign has meanwhile sought to distance him from efforts to create a “Patriot party”, an idea the former president has reportedly toyed with since his election defeat.
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‘Phase vulnerable children back into class’ – Schools should let teachers select additional vulnerable pupils for an early return to classrooms, the head of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has said. When safe to do so, vulnerable children could be prioritised for a return to the classroom, rather than the reintroduction of entire year groups, Prof Russell Viner said. The children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has urged Boris Johnson to set out “a clear roadmap” for letting all pupils back. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has responded to Tory MPs who are calling for a roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions. Hancock said the need to “look at the facts on the ground” and respond accordingly meant it was not possible to lay down a timeline. The European Union has threatened to block exports of vaccine to outside countries such as Britain, after AstraZeneca was accused of failing to satisfactorily explain a shortfall of promised doses to members of the EU. It is feared they may receive only half the 100m shots ordered for the first quarter of 2021. AstraZeneca has said it is “doing everything it can” about the situation. Joe Biden has predicted the US could hit 600,000 deaths before it turns the corner – this and other coronavirus developments at our live blog.
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‘Bags for life’ not enough – UK supermarkets are still putting nearly 900,000 tonnes of plastic packaging a year into circulation and selling billions of plastic bags, Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency say. Their report, Checking Out on Plastics, says plastic bag use remains “incredibly high” and offering reusable “bags for life” is not working. Plastic cutlery sold or given away has risen sharply, from 143m items in 2017 to 195.5m in 2019. The report says supermarkets need to press suppliers of their products to reduce plastic. Check out how the supermarkets were rated, and their responses, in our story.
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‘Hand on tiller’ in rape cases – Rape victims today begin a legal challenge to how the crime is charged and prosecuted. The case comes with rape prosecutions in England and Wales at a record low. Reports of rape have increased by almost a third in the four years to March 2020. In that same time the number of rape prosecutions has fallen 60% to the lowest figure on record. The judicial review mounted against the Crown Prosecution Service by the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) and End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition will hear that a more cautious approach has led to a collapse in rape prosecutions. The Guardian has reported that CPS prosecutors were being trained to put a “touch on the tiller” and weed “the weak cases out of the system”. The CPS has denied any change in approach.
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Death in the bad old days – A friar crushed by a cart, another killed by bandits: according to new research, some of the possible misfortunes to have befallen those in centuries past. An analysis of bones from 314 individuals aged 12 or older, dating from around 1100 to the 1530s, and found in three different sites across Cambridge, reveals that bone fractures were common among those buried in a parish cemetery – where many ordinary workers would have been laid to rest.
But the team also found evidence of horrific injuries among those buried in an Augustinian friary, suggesting the clergy were not protected against violent events. A friar’s skeleton showed a broken neck and legs – with one possibility that he was run over by a cart. “Medieval life was difficult for everyone,” said Dr Jenna Dittmar, study lead author from the University of Cambridge.
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Builders lack supplies – A shortage of construction materials could delay housebuilding in the UK this year. One builders’ merchant said they were being given an August delivery date for roofing materials compared with the usual three-month wait. DIY stores have enjoyed a sales bonanza over the past year as Britons spent lockdowns renovating their homes. But the building industry continues to be affected by shortages of power tools, screws and fixings. The implications of the Brexit deal have bubbled away in the background but for builders the major concern has been getting their hands on enough materials to keep working, writes Zoe Wood. Companies face increased shipping costs because of a global shortage of empty containers. Timber prices are up by a fifth, and ports are struggling to cope with high container volumes and coronavirus restrictions.
Today in Focus podcast: BAME communities’ vaccine doubts
Several national surveys suggest people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are far more likely to reject having the Covid-19 vaccine than their white counterparts. Nazia Parveen and Annabel Sowemimo explain the root causes of this hesitancy.
Lunchtime read: ‘Cancer made me pull my life together’
Zandra Rhodes, one of Britain’s greatest designers, has dressed everyone from Princess Diana to Diana Ross. She discusses punk, pink hair and staying creative after serious illness.
Chelsea are set to appoint Thomas Tuchel as their new manager after the ruthless dismissal of Frank Lampard, who was sacked less than 24 hours after watching his side beat Luton Town in the FA Cup fourth round. Joe Root claimed his England team “could not be in a better place” to take on India in their own backyard provided they continue to show the attitude and character witnessed during their two Test victories in Sri Lanka. Late goals from Harry Winks and two from Tanguy Ndombele, after Gareth Bale’s leveller, ensured Tottenham avoided an FA Cup upset with a 4-1 win over Wycombe at Adams Park. The former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman was working with “sleepers” in the organisations, who had previously used banned drugs, when buying testosterone to boost the performance of an unnamed rider, his medical tribunal has heard.
Controversial tennis great Margaret Court has revealed she was not invited to this year’s Australian Open, and says her Order of Australia award was a long time coming. Spanish player Paula Badosa has described her extended period of quarantine ahead of the year’s first grand slam in Melbourne following a positive Covid-19 test as the worst moment of her tennis career, adding she felt abandoned by organisers. Children and the most disadvantaged in society have been put at the heart of a “golden reset” for sport and activity, with Sport England announcing a new 10-year strategy to transform fitness levels and tackle obesity. And more insight into the weird world of football behind closed doors has arrived from Austria, where research into Red Bull Salzburg matches found a lack of fans off the pitch coincided with a lack of arguments on it.
Shares have fallen in Asia after a choppy session on Wall Street. Hong Kong led other regional markets lower, including Japan, Shanghai and South Korea. Markets in Australia and India are closed for holidays. The FTSE looks like opening flat to a few points up, while sterling is worth $1.365 and €1.125 at time of writing.
“PM to impose airport quarantine despite pressure to ease lockdown” – the Guardian follows up on yesterday’s report of this possibility. The i’s version is “UK to set up quarantine hotels … in two weeks” – the ellipsis is telling. “Looks like it’s Bognor again, dear” – the Sun is mostly worried that “foreign hols [are] under threat”.
The Mirror thought of the children and they said “We just want to go back to school” in answer to its poll. “Double your money!” – the Mail says its laptops-for-kids campaign has raised £750,000 after companies matched readers’ contributions. “The NHS plays a blinder on jabs” – that’s the Metro punning away, after a Peaky Blinders setting in the form of the Black Country Museum was turned into a vaccination centre.
“No option but to hold our nerve” – the Express is as one with Matt Hancock. “Brussels threatens to block vaccine”, says the Telegraph, of the Oxford-AstraZeneca story, a version of which is also the splash in the Times: “Warn us before jabs go to Britain, EU tells Pfizer” – hinting at a tit-for-tat retaliation, as the Pfizer-Moderna injection is made on the continent. The Telegraph also has a full-page portrait picture for Hélène Darroze of the Connaught restaurant in Mayfair, who along with Clare Smyth of Core in Notting Hill has just won three Michelin stars. The FT’s splash is “Moderna launches vaccine trials to tackle new coronavirus strain” – it is certainly the day for vaccine news.
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