News Daily: HS2 go-ahead, egg freezing limit and coronavirus

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News Daily: HS2 go-ahead, egg freezing limit and coronavirus

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HS2 approval

. HS2 Ltd

It’s behind schedule and over budget, but the entire High Speed 2 rail line will get the final go-ahead from the government. HS2 will link London to the Midlands and North, and its supporters promise it will cut journey times, increase capacity and boost employment and economic growth. Detractors argue it is environmentally destructive and the benefits don’t outweigh the spiralling costs.

The Conservatives won swathes of new seats in the Midlands and northern England at December’s election and the victorious PM promised to “level up” the UK by investing more in those areas. Cancelling the biggest shovel-ready project designed to do that was no doubt an unpalatable prospect. And indeed, Boris Johnson is also expected to announce a series of other transport projects on Tuesday, some of those in the regions.

The green light means construction of the London to Birmingham phase of HS2 will begin relatively soon. It’s also expected that work on the section between Birmingham and Crewe will be brought forward. The government says it will review the final stages to Manchester and Leeds in the hope of identifying cost savings and other improvements.

Why will HS2 cost so much? £106bn at the latest forecast – up from an initial estimate of £56bn. Well, here are six reasons.

Elsewhere today, the government is also pledging to spend £5bn over the next five years to improve bus and cycling services in England. More frequent services, simpler, more affordable fares and greener vehicles are all promised. Labour, though, is unimpressed.

Fertility rules

Freezing eggs – for medical and social reasons – is growing in popularity, although the numbers doing it are still small. Now, the 10-year limit on storage of frozen eggs – as well as sperm and embryos – could be extended.

The government is launching a consultation following efforts by campaigners to bring about a change in the rules. They say women are being faced with the choice of having to destroy their frozen eggs or have a child before they are ready. Experts also say the time limit encourages women to leave freezing later and later, when the quality of their eggs has declined. Watch one woman’s egg freezing journey here.

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‘Super-spreaders’

China has “removed” several senior officials and the deputy director of the local Red Cross in the worst-hit province Hubei over their handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The demotions came after the death toll passed 1,000 on Monday. The number of new infections, however, dropped 20% from the day before, from 3,062 to 2,478.

In the UK, four new cases were announced on Monday – taking the total to eight – and powers were introduced to allow authorities to forcibly quarantine anyone suspected of having the disease. It follows reports of a so-called “super-spreader” at the centre of the UK’s outbreak. Why are super-spreaders important? Let us explain. And what steps can we all take to reduce transmission? This piece has everything you need to know.

World’s biggest humanitarian emergency nears breaking point

By Lyse Doucet, BBC chief international correspondent

Major donors and some of the world’s biggest aid agencies will meet in Brussels on Thursday in an effort to forge a collective response to what is being widely described as unprecedented and unacceptable obstruction by Houthi authorities who hold sway over large swathes of northern Yemen. The lives of millions of Yemenis depend on it. “Humanitarian agencies must operate in an environment where they can uphold humanitarian principles,” says Lise Grande, the UN’s Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.

Read the full article

What the papers say

Several front pages feature today’s big transport announcements from the government. “4,000 new buses to get Britain moving” is the approving headline in the Daily Express. The Guardian suggests the bid to “improve transport outside London” will help the PM “fend off” criticism over his expected approval for HS2. Elsewhere, the Daily Mirror front page features a photograph of flooded homes in West Yorkshire after Storm Ciara. It says families in the north of England are “fuming” at the failure of the Conservatives to stop their homes being inundated for the third time since 2012. The president of Universities UK has told the Daily Telegraph universities should not be ranked by graduate income any more because “young people are more interested in wellbeing than salaries.” And finally, the Sun reports that the Queen has been “hit by a split” – another one – in a royal relationship.

Daily digest

Home-schooled Eight-year-old unable to find a school with disabled toilets

Brexit latest Frictionless trade with the EU will end in 2020, businesses told

Irish election Talks begin after Sinn Féin breakthrough

Ben Nevis Four ill-equipped climbers rescued

If you see one thing today

. Quincy is all-in for Bernie Sanders and that’s put

A family split over the Democratic race

If you listen to one thing today

. .

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If you read one thing today

. .

Oscars 2020: Next moves for the winning stars

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Lookahead

Today Government will introduce emergency legislation to prevent the automatic release of terrorist offenders.

Today Supreme Court hears two cases at the centre of a long-running fight over how much care workers should be paid for sleep-in shifts. If care providers lose, they may be liable for millions in back pay.

On this day

1990 Anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela is freed from prison in South Africa after 27 years.

From elsewhere

Three things historical literature can teach us about the climate crisis (The Conversation)

Schofield coming out revealed a generational gulf in the gay community (Politics.co.uk)

Dubai’s jobs vanish at the fastest pace in a decade (Bloomberg)

Joking about my excessive sweating online made me feel less ‘other’ (Refinery 29)

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