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NATIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP: Britain in talks with Taliban AND Premier League transfer window spending drops


Let's take a look now at your national headlines latest including representatives from Britain attempt to get British and Afghan nationals to the UK safely, Premier League spending hits £1bn for the summer transfer window, and thirty percent of the world’s trees are in danger. 

AFGHANISTAN LATEST: First - Britain is in talks with the Taliban to bring home Afghan and British citizens still left stranded in Afghanistan, its been reported. According to the Times newspaper, the prime ministers representative for Afghanistan transition, Sir Simon Gass is attempting to secure safe passage for those eligible to come to the UK.

The news emerged as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced 15 crisis response specialists are being deployed to Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to assist British diplomats in their work to allow people to escape Afghanistan over land borders and reach the UK.

The officials are expected to arrive within the next 48 hours, with the focus on helping UK nationals, interpreters and other Afghans who were employed by the UK, and those Afghans judged most at risk.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has described the continuing evacuation efforts as “Dunkirk by WhatsApp”, with officials scrambling to contact Afghans who worked with the British military effort to help relocate them and their families.

Afghan resettlement minister Victoria Atkins gave few details away about the talks in Doha when asked if Sir Simon was yet to receive any assurance from the Taliban over guaranteeing safe passage for the Afghans left behind by Britain.

PREMIER LEAGUE SPENDING: Next - the Premier League transfer window has officially closed for the summer - with spending topping one point one billion pounds this year. Overall though, spending by top clubs has dropped this year for the second year in a row. According to a financial services group, its the lowest Premier league spend since 2015.

The figure marked an 11% drop on last summer, which was 9% down on 2019, effecting the first consecutive decline in gross expenditure since the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2010, according to Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.

The analysis showed the continuing impact on football finances of Covid-19. Not only did spending decrease, the proportion of players acquired on free transfers rose from 20% to 22%, although the number of players signed by clubs increased from 132 last summer to 148.

Only four Premier League clubs did not acquire a player on a free transfer this year, compared with eight last year.

Despite the drop in overall spending, deadline day business of £150million pushed the summer’s expenditure beyond the £1billion mark for the sixth summer in a row.

TREES IN DANGER: And finally - a new report suggests one in three wild trees face extinction across the globe. Experts claim that thirty percent of the world's tree species - up to seventeen and a half thousand varieties - are at risk due to threats such as deforestation, logging and climate change. However, the State of the World's Trees report suggests conservation action provides hope for the future.

The Menai whitebeam, which has just 30 trees growing in its North Wales home, is one of hundreds of tree species which are on the brink of vanishing altogether, the first “state of the world’s trees” report warns.

The assessment of how the world’s nearly 60,000 tree species are faring has found 30%, or 17,500, of them are at risk of extinction, with well-known species such as magnolia among the most threatened.

Oaks, maple and ebonies are also at risk, according to the report published by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).

The study compiles work from the Global Tree Assessment over the last five years, which has seen more than 60 institutions and some 500 experts examine the extinction risk for the world’s 58,497 tree species.

One in five tree species is directly used by humans for food, fuel, timber, medicines, horticulture and other uses.

But despite trees’ value to people, at least 142 species are recorded as extinct and many more face extinction because of over-exploitation and mismanagement.

The top threats are clearances for agricultural crops, logging for timber, and clearing forest for livestock, the assessment warns.

Climate change is also a rising threat, with many trees at risk of losing areas of suitable habitat as the temperatures increase and weather changes, with cloud forest species in Central America being at particular risk.

There are also at least 180 tree species directly threatened by sea level rise and severe weather, including magnolias in the Caribbean, while increasing risks of fire are a major threat to trees in Madagascar, and a risk to US oak species.

The report warns that more than 440 tree species are on the brink of extinction, as they have fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild, including the Menai whitebeam and the Mulanje cedar in Malawi, with just a few remaining individuals on Mulanje Mountain.

Islands have the highest proportion of threatened trees, with 69% of trees on the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena at risk of extinction, and 59% of those found in Madagascar.

In Europe, 58% of native European trees are threatened with extinction in the wild, with whitebeams and rowan the most at risk, while Brazil has the highest number of threatened tree species.

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