Top story: End of the road for bogus self-employment
Hello, Warren Murray with the stories that matter this Wednesday morning.
Uber is to guarantee its 70,000 UK drivers a minimum hourly wage, holiday pay and pensions from today after a landmark supreme court ruling. It is a dramatic U-turn from insisting, like many delivery and courier companies, that its drivers are independent self-employed partners not entitled to basic rights enjoyed by employees. Last month the UK supreme court dismissed Ubers appeal against a 2016 landmark employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers.
Mick Rix, national officer of the GMB union, said: Other gig economy companies should take note this is the end of the road for bogus self-employment. Uber had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing, but finally theyve agreed to follow the ruling of the courts and treat their drivers as workers. The TUC general secretary, Frances OGrady, said Uber and other private hire companies now needed to recognise trade unions.
Massage parlour shootings At least eight people have been killed in the US during a series of shootings at three Atlanta area massage parlours, with a number of the victims described by authorities as women of Asian descent. A 21-year-old man, Robert Aaron Long, has been taken into custody following an hours-long manhunt as police told local media he was the suspect in all three shootings. Georgias governor, Brian Kemp, praised police for their quick apprehension of a suspect. Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence. Police in Georgia had not described a motive but in New York City the counter-terrorism bureau of the NYPD announced it had deployed officers to Asian communities.
Policing bill progresses amid outcry A government bill curtailing the ability to protest in England and Wales has passed its second reading, even as some Conservative MPs warned they might later vote to water it down. Labour MPs were going to abstain but voted against the bill after the Metropolitan police operation against a vigil for Sarah Everard. Labour and others are against allowing police leeway to stop protests on grounds including noise and disruption to the public. In the Commons, the DUPs Gavin Robinson said: Protests will be noisy, protests will disrupt and no matter how offensive we may find the issue at their heart, the right to protest should be protected. Steve Baker, the Wycombe MP, and the former attorney general Dominic Grieve wrote that the bill may give far too much discretion to the police in determining the balance between protests and disruption, while letting the government change the law by decree if it chooses.
Midweek catch-up
> Prisoners in England and Wales have an increased risk of Covid-19, with a death rate more than three times higher than the general population, and should be made a priority for vaccination, according to public health experts.
> The energy regulator may call on suppliers to hand back £1.4bn to customers who are in credit. Ofgem says some suppliers may be using the money unsustainably, to stay afloat while offering heavy discounts. Some households would be in line for up to £1,000 from their energy supplier but most would get about £65.
> A charity set up by Martin Lewis has called for radical overhaul of the governments online safety bill to protect people with mental health problems against online scams and fraud. It wants powers for Ofcom to force Facebook and Twitter to prevent user-generated scams that are made to resemble a social media post from a friend.
> Campaigners are urging the UK government to ban fur imports after an investigation appeared to show widespread animal abuse at more than a dozen fur farms in China. Videos and photos appear to show foxes and raccoon dogs packed tightly in unsanitary cages and being subjected to prolonged painful death by electrocution.
> Britons are planning a £50bn spending spree once Covid restrictions are lifted, according to the Isa provider Scottish Friendly and the CEBR consultancy. Their report says a quarter of £192bn in lockdown savings is waiting to be spent.
They did it anyways Demi Lovato has said she was raped as a teenager while working for the Disney Channel in the late 2000s by someone who faced no repercussions when she revealed what happened. We were hooking up but I said, hey, this is not going any farther And that didnt matter to them, they did it anyways.
Demi Lovato. Photograph: PR
The singer did not say who the offender was, only that she had to see this person all the time afterwards. She said the encounter, and the pressure to maintain an image of purity, contributed to her bulimia and self-harm, and that she struggled to recognise it as rape. She was speaking publicly because everyone that that happens to should absolutely speak their voice if they can and feel comfortable doing so.
More power to MSPs, says Davis Scotlands parliament has a deficit of power and needs reform to let it better investigate claims facing Nicola Sturgeons government, David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, has said. Davis, speaking in relation to the Alex Salmond controversy, told Westminster MPs: Holyrood has great difficulties exposing what went on, the inquiry has come up against endless impediments in its efforts to fulfil its remits. Davis called for the UK government to amend legislation to ensure proper separation of powers, strengthen the impartiality of the civil service and correct the fundamental power imbalance between the executive and the legislature. Scotlands rules for investigating ministers accused of sexual harassment are to be overhauled after a review found serious weaknesses in the policies used to investigate Salmond, who was cleared of all charges of sexual assault by a jury in March 2020.
£1bn spend to cut emissions The government is to spend more than £1bn to help schools, hospitals and industry reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage new low-carbon technologies. Plans announced today will include an industrial decarbonisation fund for projects including hydrogen gas production and carbon capture and storage. About £932m will be spent on heat pumps, solar panels and insulation for public buildings including schools and hospitals. Ed Mathew from the green thinktank E3G called for corresponding long-term funding of household energy efficiency measures, after recent cuts to green homes grants. Separately, the increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in England during the first six months of the pandemic has added 1% to the carbon burden, analysis suggests. Between February and August 2020 about 3bn items of PPE were utilised equating to nearly 600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents a day.
Today in Focus podcast: Why femicide must end
Police response to the death of Sarah Everard reminds reporter Yvonne Roberts of the Yorkshire Ripper killings; Helen Pidd reports on the murder of the Afghanistan veteran Amy-Leanne Stringfellow, which has also put the spotlight on cycle of women being killed by men.
Lunchtime read: Not all men? What all men can do
Over the past week, women have shared their stories of abuse, harassment and assault. Is it time for men to join the fight to dismantle the culture that allows this violence to flourish? A panel of male experts on masculinity and violence against women explain the vital steps men can take.
Flowers left on Clapham Common after the death of Sarah Everard. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters
A Kevin De Bruyne rocket helped Manchester City beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 in the second leg of their Champions League tie to move into the quarter-finals 4-0 on aggregate. They will be joined by Real Madrid after goals from Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Marco Asensio knocked out Atalanta 4-1 on aggregate. Tiger Woods has revealed he will continue to recover from last months horrific car crash at home after announcing his departure from hospital. England convincingly won the third T20 international in Ahmedabad, crushing India by eight wickets to take a 2-1 series lead. Rugby World Cup organisers say they stand by their 2023 ticketing strategy despite the widespread frustrations experienced by many fans eager to purchase seats for the tournament in France.
Manchester Uniteds womens team will play at Old Trafford for the first time when they host West Ham on Saturday 27 March, with the manager, Casey Stoney, saying the game would be a special moment in the history of the team. LeBron James has become a partner in Fenway Sports Group, meaning he is now a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC and US sports network NESN. The former Oldham and Lincoln forward Maheta Molango has been chosen as the next chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, replacing Gordon Taylor who is to step down after 40 years in the role. A 19-year-old Russian hockey player has died after being hit in the head by the puck during a game, his club and the league said on Tuesday. And Team New Zealand have retained the Americas Cup of sailing.
The pandemics impact on the global economy has seen online payments replace physical transactions, and has propelled the Collison brothers from Tipperary into the top ranks of millennial billionaires. Their online payment platform Stripe has just tapped $600m in new funding and boosted the companys valuation to $95bn, making it the most valuable private company in Silicon Valley. The FTSE100 is flat today, as is the pound at $1.389 and 1.167.
The papers
We need to know. A full front page of the Guardian is dedicated today to calls for Boris Johnson to hold an inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic response in the UK. Senior doctors, government scientific advisers and a former head of the civil service have spoken out in favour of a public inquiry as the UKs coronavirus fatalities rose to almost 126,000. It could examine issues such as Britains overall preparedness, lockdowns, effects in BAME communities, testing, and border control measures such as quarantine. Medics, care workers and grieving relatives have told the Guardian of the questions they want answered, while Rafael Behr writes this morning: Too many people have died who might have lived if different decisions had been taken, or had the same decisions been taken without procrastination.
Guardian front page, Wednesday 17 March 2021. Photograph: Guardian
The Metro marks Prince Philips return home with Duke out of hospital so, did I miss anything? The latter part is in reference to alleged feuding between the Cambridges and the Sussexes, which sets the Mail and the Express front pages on fire. Their headlines, respectively: Betrayal of trust and Blow to royal peace summit. Our story about Michelle Obama mentions what the US television host Gayle King said, about what Harry and Meghan said to her, about what Charles and William said to Harry.
The Times leads with PM attacked for pushing trade links with China, which is about intra-Tory fallout concerning the foreign policy and defence review. It also says Europe backs down after safety concerns about the Oxford vaccine were allayed. On that one, the i has AstraZeneca jab is being weaponised by EU leaders. The Telegraph says EU leaders turn on each other in jab row while the FT has Raab trade revelations raise heat on No 10s soft line towards China the foreign secretary has suggested trade deals with Beijing are not dependent on human rights. The Mirror seeks to cheer hearts: At last some good news coronavirus on the run as it reports Deaths plummet by 86% in the over-80s after vaccine success.
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