Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 16 Aug 2012

The Week’s super-quick catch-up on the main news talking points, available from 8am daily

Assange extradition
1. ASSANGE OFFERED ASYLUM BY ECUADOR
Julian Assange has been offered political asylum by Ecuador. The announcement was made by the country's foreign minister at 1.38 pm today, British time. The Foreign Office has threatened to send police into the Ecuadorean embassy to arrest Assange, who is believed to have been sheltering there for the past eight weeks.
UK News
2. A-LEVELS: FEWER GAIN TOP MARKS
A-level results are out – and for the first time in 20 years there has been a drop in the number of students awarded top marks. Figures from the examination boards show that 26.6% of test papers were awarded A and A* grades – down from 27% last year. This follows a government crackdown on "grade inflation".
Tia Sharp murder
3. TIA SHARP: BODY IN LOFT IDENTIFIED
The body of a girl found at a house in south London last week has been formally identified as that of Tia Sharp. Her remains were found by police in the loft of her grandmother's house in New Addington. Stuart Hazell, the partner of Tia's grandmother, has been charged with murder. Details of how she died have not yet been released.
UK News
4. STOP PUSSYFOOTING, BORIS TELLS CAMERON
London Mayor Boris Johnson has told David Cameron to stop "pussyfooting around" over the need for a new airport for London. He told the London Evening Standard that the PM had delayed the decision because he is suffering from "institutional capture". Johnson did not rule out standing as an MP when his mayorship ends in 2016.
5. PRINCE PHILIP RETURNS TO HOSPITAL
The Duke of Edinburgh, 91, has been taken to hospital as a "precautionary measure" after a recurrence of a bladder infection, Buckingham Palace said last night. He was driven by ambulance to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary from Balmoral where he has been staying with the Queen. It is the third time he has been hospitalised in nine months.
6. AUSTERITY: 'TIME FOR OSBORNE U-TURN'
Nine out of 20 economists who backed the Tories' deficit reduction plans in the run-up to the 2010 general election now say Chancellor George Osborne must change his tactics and take immediate action to lift Britain out of a double-dip recession, according to a survey by the New Statesman. The Treasury should borrow to spend on infrastructure projects, they say.
World News
7. ISRAEL 'PREPARED FOR 30-DAY IRAN WAR'
Israel's outgoing home front defence minister Matan Vilnai yesterday told the Maariv newspaper that Israel was prepared for an attack on Iran which would trigger a 30-day war "on several fronts" and lead to 500 Israeli dead. His claim coincided with a reportedly leaked document describing cyber, rocket and air-to-ground attacks to stop Iran's nuclear programme.
Premier League
8. ROBIN VAN PERSIE JOINS MAN UTD
One of the longest transfer sagas of the summer has been concluded with Robin van Persie leaving Arsenal and signing for Manchester United on the eve of the new Premier League season. The deal has cost Manchester at least £22m and the Dutch striker will reportedly be paid £200,000 a week for four years.
Health & Science
9. MACH 6 HYPERSONIC PLANE FAILS AGAIN
The US Air Force last night said an attempt to fly its hypersonic aircraft Waverider at Mach 6 - or 4,300mph - had failed. A faulty control fin prevented it from starting its engine and it crashed into the Pacific. A previous test flight reached Mach 5, but two others have now failed and there is only one Waverider left.
Art
10. HOT TICKET – BRUCE LACEY REVISITED
A survey exhibition of the work and life of the eccentric British artist, comedian and actor Bruce Lacey is showing at the Camden Arts Centre. The Bruce Lacey Experience features painting, sculpture, robotised assemblages, theatrical performances, installations and a film about Lacey's life. "Riveting," says the FT.