Top story: Call to promote BAME vaccinations
Hello, Warren Murray marking out the trail to Tuesday’s must-read news.
Young people are in danger of giving up on their futures and on themselves amid the coronavirus pandemic, a Prince’s Trust survey has found. More than one in four said they had felt unable to cope with life since the start of the pandemic, increasing to 40% of those not in work, education or training. Half of 16- to 25-year-olds said their mental health had worsened since the start of the pandemic. They are the survey’s worst findings in its 12-year history. Jonathan Townsend, the trust’s UK chief executive, said: “Many believe they are missing out on being young, and sadly we know that the impact of the pandemic on their employment prospects and overall wellbeing could continue far into their futures.”
Overnight, Donald Trump has moved to rescind Covid entry bans on most non-US citizens arriving from Brazil and much of Europe, including the UK, effective from 26 January. But a spokesperson for Joe Biden, who will become president on Wednesday, said the new administration “does not intend to lift these restrictions … In fact,” wrote Jen Psaki, “we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”
In the UK, people in black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities must be prioritised for Covid immunisations, experts and politicians say. There are fears people at high risk of harm from coronavirus are falling victim to misinformation. Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, said: “We need to be clear to our communities that there is no meat or meat products in the vaccine. There is no pork, there is no alcohol and it has been endorsed by religious leaders and religious councils.” And the rationale of Lord Sumption – the retired supreme court judge who said in the context of Covid that some lives are less valuable than others – is being knocked down this morning by medical and legal experts. “It is confused to think that if somebody is going to live for a short period of time then it’s not worth helping them,” said Dr Alexis Paton, chair of the Royal College of Physicians’ ethical issues committee. Keep on top of further coronavirus developments at our live blog.
* * *
Date claimer – Joe Biden is to be inaugurated tomorrow as the US president and the FBI is taking few chances, vetting thousands of national guard troops who are being brought in as security, in case they have far-right sympathies. At least two active-duty service members or national guard members have been arrested in connection with the Capitol assault in Washington DC.
Before flying to Mar-a-Lago on Air Force One for the last time, Donald Trump is planning an early Wednesday morning sendoff for himself at a military airfield in Maryland. Invitees are being asked to bring four other guests. There is talk of Donald Trump issuing up to 100 pardons in his final hours, though he may not try to pardon himself or immediate family, it is being reported. Our This is Europe series reports this morning that a majority of Europeans believe America’s political system is broken, China will be the biggest power within a decade and Joe Biden will be unable to halt the decline of the US on the world stage.
* * *
Covid panel raps China, WHO – An independent panel on the Covid-19 pandemic has said Chinese officials could have applied public health measures more forcefully in January 2020 and criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not declaring an international emergency until 30 January. Their interim report was published hours after the WHO’s top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, said that global deaths from Covid were expected to top 100,000 a week “very soon”. The panel says that as evidence emerged of human-to-human transmission, “in far too many countries this signal was ignored”; and questions why the WHO did not declare a pandemic sooner. The panel will make final recommendations in May on what it has called a “global reset” of the WHO and pandemic preparedness.
* * *
‘Nothing is impossible’ – A vegan restaurant in south-west France has won a Michelin star, the first in France for a place serving only animal-free products. Claire Vallee started ONA – which stands for Origine Non Animale – in the city of Ares, near Bordeaux. ONA is currently closed because of Covid-19 restrictions but Vallee’s favourite combinations involve pine, boletus mushroom and sake, or celery, tonka and amber ale. The restaurant was founded using crowdfunding and lending from an alternative bank after regular institutions turned up their noses. “This goes to show that nothing is impossible,” Vallee said.
* * *
Kickback case against ex-PM – The former French prime minister Édouard Balladur will go on trial today accused of financing his failed 1995 presidential campaign with illegal kickbacks from international arms deals. Balladur has denied any wrongdoing, saying he was not responsible for the details of his campaign’s finances and thought a massive cash injection came from the sale of T-shirts. Three former government officials were among six people found guilty in June over kickbacks from the sale of submarines to Pakistan and frigates to Saudi Arabia. The payoffs are estimated at around 13m francs, worth almost €2m today, 10m francs of which went to Balladur’s campaign.
* * *
Five minutes into the future – Batteries that fully charge in five minutes have been produced in a factory for the first time, marking a step towards electric cars becoming as fast to charge as filling up petrol or diesel vehicles. The lithium-ion batteries were developed by Israeli company StoreDot and manufactured in China on standard production lines. In practice, to reach full capacity they would require higher-powered chargers than used today, though StoreDot says that by 2025 it aims to add 100 miles of driving in five minutes using available charging systems. The battery uses semiconductor nanoparticles instead of the graphite electrodes that are mostly used today.
Today in Focus podcast: Bit dodgy
The Guardian’s UK technology editor, Alex Hern, looks at the rise of bitcoin and whether it should be banned.
Lunchtime read: ‘This was our Chernobyl’
James Comey was sickened and angered by the Capitol attack incited by the president. But has he come to terms with his part in getting him elected? The former FBI director on on Trump, the “pee tape” and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a Bukayo Saka effort saw off struggling Newcastle as Arsenal returned to the top half of the Premier League table. The Spanish world No 13, Roberto Bautista Agut, has likened the hotel quarantine situation he and his fellow Australian Open contenders are facing to being in prison, but “with wifi”. Nick Kyrgios has criticised Novak Djokovic, calling the world No 1 “a tool” after he reportedly wrote to tournament organisers asking them to ease restrictions for players. The Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, has castigated an “absolute barrage of hypocrisy” he believes is attached to criticism of his club’s ill-fated training trip to Dubai.
Phil Neville has been appointed head coach of Inter Miami, leaving his role as England Women manager early and throwing the Football Association’s plans for the summer Olympic Games up in the air. Chris Froome has revealed that a 20% strength deficit in his right quad – which was only discovered after he left Ineos – and an “inexplicable pain” from a surgical screw were factors in his disappointing comeback season. Eddie Jones’s plan to use the Six Nations to sharpen England’s attack needs to be revised because the Covid-19 lockdown has left his skills coach, Jason Ryles, stranded in Australia and unable to join the squad until at least the summer. And Greece’s president, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, has praised the Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou for dissolving a potential “conspiracy of silence” by reporting a historic allegation of sexual assault by a sports official.
Asian shares have climbed as data confirmed the Chinese economy was one of the few to grow over 2020 and picked up speed as the year closed. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan firmed by 1.61%, to be just off record highs. The Nikkei bounced 1.5%, recovering Monday’s losses, while Australian shares climbed 1.19%. Chinese blue-chips have declined while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 2.1%. The pound is worth $1.360 and €1.124 while the FTSE is trending towards a 0.4% higher open.
“Call to target BAME groups for jabs amid fears over scare stories” – the lead story today on our Guardian front page, which also covers an expected presidential pardon flurry and those fast-charging car batteries. “Getting jab could prompt public to abandon rules” – that’s a paper from the Sage group of scientists paraphrased in the Telegraph. And more jabs in the Times as well, which says they will be “diverted to over-80s in vaccination blackspots”.
“Precarious … but very different by spring” – the Express gives Boris Johnson his regular booster shot. The Sun sends “50,000 thank yous” to its “Jabs Army” after exhorting readers to volunteer as vaccination helpers. The i has “Universal credit: PM considers delaying cut to benefits”, which might seem an unduly charitable way of looking at it.
The FT has “Kremlin defies western opinion” – whatever next! – “by putting Putin critic Navalny in jail”. The Guardian’s editorial on that subject here. The Metro leads with “Work from home spies alert”, saying one in five employers may be snooping on staff. The Mail is the paper that gives most prominence to safety concerns about smart motorways where you can drive on the hard shoulder – they have been “condemned as death traps” by a coroner. The Mirror brightens the day with “Evie, 8, gets life-saving transplant after donor miracle” – the story’s smiling subject received vital stem cells to treat her rare blood disorder.
The Guardian Morning Briefing is delivered to thousands of inboxes bright and early every weekday. If you are not already receiving it by email, you can sign up here.
For more news: www.theguardian.com