Officials publicly rebuke each other in first major talks under Biden … the best time for a Covid test … the joy of ‘wee trees’
Extraordinary scenes have played out in Alaska where senior officials from the US and China have rebuked each other in front of the cameras during their first face-to-face talks since Joe Biden took office. The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said bluntly at the outset of the Anchorage meeting that “we will … discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber-attacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies … Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability.”
China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, responded with a 15-minute speech, parts of which translated as: “The United States uses its military force and financial hegemony to carry out long-arm jurisdiction and suppress other countries … The US side was not even qualified to say such things, even 20 years or 30 years back, because this is not the way to deal with the Chinese people.”
One senior US official, who did not want to be identified by name, told reporters: “The Chinese delegation … seems to have arrived intent on grandstanding … Exaggerated diplomatic presentations often are aimed at a domestic audience.” On the eve of the talks, the US moved to begin revoking Chinese telecoms licences, subpoena Chinese IT companies over national security concerns, and update sanctions against Beijing over the rollback of freedoms in Hong Kong. Canada has criticised China after it swiftly wrapped up its secret trial of Michael Spavor, one of two Canadians detained more than two years ago on accusations of espionage that are seen as retaliation for Canada detaining the Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant.
‘Get tested in afternoon’ – Infected people may give off more of the coronavirus in the afternoon, suggesting it could be the best time to be tested. Daily “circadian” fluctuations in how our immune cells and our noses work may be involved in the higher “shedding” of viruses later in the day, according to researchers – which tallies with previous findings about other viruses, such as influenza. “If I wanted to get the most accurate test possible, I would show up for my test during the early afternoon,” said Candace McNaughton, one of the US researchers involved. Separate UK research indicates the reopening of schools has a minimal impact on serious Covid-19 infections, with adults in households where there are children facing no greater risk of serious illness or death.
Sturgeon accused of misleading MSPs – Nicola Sturgeon misled the Scottish parliament over the Alex Salmond crisis, a Holyrood inquiry is understood to have concluded. It amounts to an accusation Sturgeon misled parliament – but stops short of ruling she did so “knowingly”, which would be a breach of the ministerial code and a resignation matter. Sturgeon said last night: “Opposition members of this committee made their minds up before I uttered a single word of evidence. So this very partisan leak tonight before they’ve actually finalised the report is not that surprising. Let’s wait and see the final report, but more important the question of whether or not I breached the ministerial code is being considered independently by [former director of public prosecutions in Ireland] James Hamilton and I hope and expect he will publish that report soon.”
System ‘not working’ for Send pupils – Children with special needs in England are less likely to receive support if they are in disadvantaged areas or attend academy schools, according to a study. Primary schoolchildren who reached year six faced inconsistent approaches to how schools and regions identify special education needs and disabilities (Send). Those least likely to be identified included those abused or neglected, frequently absent from school, or who had moved around a lot, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) observed. Its report calls for reforms to improve the way Send is assessed within schools. A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The system is not working for every pupil – that’s why our Send review is looking at how to make sure it is consistent all over the country, high quality, and integrated across education, health and care.”
Fast-forward rewild – Water buffalo in Suffolk, waist-high “wee trees” on Scottish mountains and lynx roaming Northumberland: just some of the rewilding projects being pushed for the first Global Rewilding Day, taking place on the spring equinox on Saturday.
With organisations in more than 70 countries taking part, the day will be celebrated with virtual events to share knowledge, skills and connections, while the hashtag #ReadyToRewild is going round on social media. Here are some of the places in the UK taking strides to rewild while offering tourist experiences.
‘Not super-practical’ – English Heritage has revealed some of its best historical cleaning tips – and the worst. Skimmed milk works on a flagstone floor, or fresh white bread to wipe down dirty wallpaper, experts advise. Don’t try potatoes to clean oil paintings, though, or Worcestershire sauce to polish the silver. “Although we may not recommend some of the more bizarre tips, housekeepers of the past were often spot-on with their methods, despite relatively little scientific knowledge,” said Amber Xavier-Rowe, head of collections conservation at English Heritage. Other tips include using a soft chamois leather to shine mirrors rather than glass cleaner, and rejuvenating waxed timber floors with a mixture of beeswax and turpentine. As for the wallpaper-bread method: “You do get crumbs so it’s not super-practical for us, to be honest.” Maybe put that and the milk into a bread pudding instead …
Jonathan Freedland looks at whether fallout from the Oprah Winfrey interview with Harry and Meghan has moved the monarchy closer to collapse.
Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen https://audio.guim.co.uk/2020/05/05-61553-gnl.fw.200505.jf.ch7DW.mp3
Promising Young Woman’s five nods include the first for a female British director. Its star and writer-director discuss telling women’s stories, tackling difficult subjects – and feeling shellshocked.
José Mourinho lambasted the attitude of his players and apologised to fans after Tottenham were dumped out of the Europa League in humiliating fashion by Dinamo Zagreb. Manchester United squeezed into the quarter-finals the hard way after earning a 1-0 win in Milan, while Arsenal’s progress was far less straightforward than it should have been against Olympiakos. Slavia Prague’s comprehensive dismissal of nine-man Rangers at Ibrox was overshadowed by a racism allegation. Eddie Jones has made the bizarre claim that his England players’ heads have been infected with “rat poison” in a remarkable outburst directed at media critics, insisting he is constantly having to protect his squad.
At Cheltenham today, Al Boum Photo could become the fifth name to join one of the sport’s most exclusive lists by winning a third Gold Cup, yet his fame scarcely seems to extend beyond his own stable door. Birmingham City have expressed “great disappointment” that Tottenham have been awarded the win and three points after the Midlands club pulled out of their Women’s Super League meeting scheduled for 10 January. The Gambling Commission was warned in January 2020 that the betting firm Football Index was “an exceptionally dangerous pyramid scheme under the guise of a ‘football stock market’”. Jofra Archer came close to snatching victory for England with late runs but India held on to win the fourth T20 in Ahmedabad by eight runs. And the former British Cycling and Team Sky chief doctor Richard Freeman’s fitness to practise medicine is impaired, a Medical Practitioners Tribunal has ruled.
Asian stock markets have followed Wall Street lower after rising US bond yields dampened buying enthusiasm driven by the Federal Reserve’s promise of low interest rates. Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney have retreated. The FTSE is set to open lower as well, while the pound is worth $1.391 and €1.167 at time of writing.
“PM backs jab as row grows over ‘boasts’ about rollout” – our Guardian print edition leads today with reassurances of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine’s safety, mixed with anger from within the NHS about ministers piling pressure on the health service to deliver on their political boasts about still meeting targets despite shortages. The latter point doesn’t attract much sympathy in the Mail – “Jab IS safe and NO delay to freedom”, it credits Boris Johnson as declaring – and the Express has an almost identical treatment: “Vaccine IS safe … AND we’re on track to freedom” (capitals used here, in both cases, in lieu of italics).
The Mirror sides with the NHS, though, to rain on the PM’s parade: “EXPLOITED”, adding “300,000 staff did unpaid overtime in crisis” and “More pressure on PM over shabby 1% nurses’ pay offer”. “Health chiefs confirm Oxford jab safe to use” says the Times along with “Sturgeon ‘guilty’ of misleading parliament”, while William and Kate are shown looking at things while under an umbrella. “Sturgeon in peril” says the i. The Metro has “EU verdict on Oxford jab: Safe and effective”.
The Telegraph’s version is “The jab is safe. The thing that isn’t safe is catching Covid” with a rumpled PM gesticulating. The FT chases up the supply-chain finance controversy with “Cameron lobbied for Greensill access to Covid-19 loan schemes”.
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News – Friday briefing: US and China share no love in cold climate of Alaska