We’ve summarised the 15 key stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
- Millions of Texans have been left without power after a severe winter storm hit the state. Temperatures plummeted far below freezing, forcing power stations in the state to close. The outages have sparked fierce political debate, while the senator for Texas, Ted Cruz, was scorned for leaving the state and flying to Mexico.
- The High Court has ruled that Matt Hancock acted unlawfully by failing to publish “redacted contracts in accordance with the transparency policy”. Billions of pounds of Covid-19 PPE contracts were published after the 30 day deadline within which they must be published.
- President Biden’s nomination for the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, is likely to be rejected by the Senate after a Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, announced that he would not vote for her. Tanden has a history of tweeting attacks at both Republicans and Democrats, which Manchin described as “toxic”.
- The UK and EU have become embroiled in a row over shellfish, after the EU announced a ban on the export of live clams, mussels, oysters and scallops from British waters. The move took UK ministers by surprise and they have now threatened to retaliate by blocking the import of mineral water and seed potatoes.
- At least two Burmese protestors have been killed after the Burmese military opened fire on anti-coup protestors in Mandalay in northern Burma. The protests against the coup that overthrew the democratically elected government have gathered steam in recent weeks, causing the military increasing concern.
- The G7 met for the first time under the presidency of the UK, discussing issues such as the distribution of vaccines to developing countries and climate change. The virtual meeting was held ahead of the summit due to be held this summer in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
- Facebook has blocked news content in Australia in protest of a new law that would force it to pay to host news content. Several government health and emergency sites were also accidentally blocked and politicians around the world have condemned the “bullying” behaviour.
- The leader of the Russian opposition, Alexei Navalny, has lost an appeal against his sentence of two and a half years. The news came despite a ruling by the European court of human rights that said he should be released immediately, as his life would not be adequately safeguarded in prison.
Business & Economics
- The Supreme Court has ruled that Uber workers are not self-employed and should be treated as employees of Uber. Uber could be forced to pay drivers a minimum wage and holiday pay and the ruling is likely to have broader consequences on the gig economy.
- In contrast to Facebook’s approach to Australia’s new publishing law, Google have agreed a deal with News Corp, the owner of papers including the Wall Street Journal, the Times and the Australian, to pay for their journalism. News Corp will receive “significant payments”, while Google will be able to feature its content on its News Showcase.
- The WTO has formally confirmed that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will be its next director. She is a Nigerian economist and the former finance minister of the country. Her appointment was delayed after the Trump administration refused to back her, but Biden was keen to support her.
- China replaced America as the European Union’s largest trading partner in 2020. Trade with China was worth $709 billion, in contrast to the $671 billion with the US. The EU tightened ties with China in 2020, whereas the US and EU were involved in a number of disputes that have resulted in tariffs.
- Jaguar Land Rover and Ford have both announced this week that by 2030 they will produce only electric cars. Furthermore, by 2026 Ford will only produce electric or plug-in hybrid passenger vehicles, while Jaguar, part of JLR, will be all electric as soon as 2025.
- There is hope that the UK economy is doing better than expected after a “flash” Purchasing Managers Index for February rose to 49.8, up from 41.2 and significantly higher than economists’ expectations of 42.2. However, the figure is still below 50, which signals that the economy is contracting rather than growing.
- Bitcoin’s record rally has continued this week as it hit $57000, almost double the roughly $29000 that it started at in 2021. Bitcoin’s market cap is now worth more than $1 trillion, despite the cryptocurrency being worth only $6000 a year ago.
Written by Milo Dennison and Ed Hilditch