Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 20 Feb 2013

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

1. JURY DISCHARGED IN VICKY PRYCE TRIAL
The jury in the trial of Vicky Pryce, ex-wife of disgraced Cabinet mister Chris Huhne, has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict. Pryce, like Huhne, was charged with seeking to pervert the course of justice by taking his speeding points. Her defence was that she did so only under pressure. A retrial will start on Monday.
Oscar Pistorius
2. PISTORIUS AWAITS BAIL DECISION
On the second day of Oscar Pistorius's bail hearing in Pretoria, prosecutors gave further details of their premeditated murder case, including evidence that neighbours heard the athlete and his girlfriend arguing before she was shot. Pistorius will discover tomorrow whether he will be granted bail. If he is not, he faces months in custody before the murder trial begins.
Politics
3. 4G SALE BRINGS £1BN LESS THAN EXPECTED
The Treasury will receive about £1bn less than expected from the sale of 4G spectrum, following this morning's announcement of the auction result. The winners are Everything Everywhere, Hutchison 3G UK, Niche Spectrum Ventures (a BT subsidiary), Telefonica, and Vodafone. Between them, they will pay £2.34bn.
Health & Science
4. HOUSEHOLD PLASTICS PROVE DEADLY
The World Health Organisation has warned that chemicals used in everyday products ranging from children's toys to car dashboards, cosmetics and credit cards might have to be banned "to protect future generations". A WHO study has linked phthalates, found in plastics, to childhood leukemia, breast cancer, asthma, infertility and infant deformities.
Business
5. POUND FALLS AGAINST DOLLAR AND EURO
The pound fell today to its lowest level for more than a year against the dollar and the euro following the revelation that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee was split on whether to restart quantitative easing. One analyst said: "This continues the snowball of gloominess which has been gathering pace against sterling.”
China
6. CHINESE MILITARY BLAMED FOR HACKING
A secretive branch of China's military based in a Shanghai office block was identified yesterday as one of the world's "most prolific cyber espionage groups" by the leading US cyber security firm Mandiant. Its report said Unit 61398 had "systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data" from at least 141 organisations around the world.
Music
7. SOFT MACHINE'S KEVIN AYERS DIES
Kevin Ayers, the founder of the influential 1960s group Soft Machine and a leading light in the English psychedelic rock movement, has died at his home in France at the age of 68. Ayers’ talent was “so acute you could perform major eye surgery with it,” the BBC DJ John Peel wrote in his autobiography.”
8. IVF TREATMENT LIMIT RAISED TO 42
The NHS should in future offer IVF fertility treatment to women as old as 42, up from 38, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which sets the official guidelines, recommended yesterday. The NHS should also offer IVF to all couples struggling with fertility after two years of failed attempts, down from three.
Business
9. US TYCOON ATTACKS LAZY FRENCH WORKERS
The chief executive of the US tyre-maker Titan International has refused the chance to take over a Goodyear factory in France because, he says, French employees only work three hours a day. Maurice Taylor said his company would be better off buying a Chinese or Indian factory and shipping the tyres to Europe.
Art
10. HOT TICKET: WHAAM! LICHTENSTEIN IS BACK
An exhibition of one of America's best-known 20th Century artists, Roy Lichtenstein, opens to the public at London's Tate Modern today. 'Lichtenstein: A Retrospective' showcases 125 works, including Pop Art icons 'Whaam!' and 'Drowning Girl'. "Magnificent", says the Daily Telegraph. Until 27 May.