Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 13 Dec 2013

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

North Korea
1. KIM JONG-UN KILLS ‘TRAITOR’ UNCLE
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has executed his uncle, Chang Song-thaek, accusing him of “acts of treachery”. NK’s state news agency dubbed him “worse than a dog” and “human scum”. One theory is Chang sought to take over from his nephew, another that his visits to China made him into an economic reformist.
2. FIRST FREE SCHOOL CLOSED BY GOVT
The Discovery New School in West Sussex has been closed by ministers after it failed to raise education standards. The Montessori primary school was judged inadequate when it was inspected in June. A re-inspection found it had failed to improve standards. The school was one of the first to open under England's free school programme.
Nigella Lawson
3. ‘SIGNS OF DRUG USE’ IN NIGELLA HOME
Elisabetta Grillo, one of the sisters accused of defrauding £685,000 from TV chef Nigella Lawson, has said she saw signs of regular cocaine and cannabis use in her home - while admitting she had never actually seen Lawson take drugs. She said she found rolled-up banknotes and credit cards with white powder on them.
4. RIGBY SUSPECT WON'T GIVE EVIDENCE
One of the men accused of murdering the soldier Lee Rigby has chosen not to give evidence in his trial, the Old Bailey has heard. Jurors were told not to draw any adverse inference from the decision of Michael Adebowale, 22, not to testify in his defence.
Syria
5. AMNESTY: EU IS FAILING SYRIA REFUGEES
European leaders should be ashamed by the pitiful numbers of Syrian refugees they have agreed to accommodate, says human rights group Amnesty. Only ten member states have offered to take in a total of just 12,000 refugees, says the group. The UK has not offered to take any. A hard winter is expected as snow falls.
HS2
6. HS2 IS ‘ESSENTIAL’ TO THE UK’S FUTURE
MPs say the high speed rail link from London to the north is “essential” for the future prosperity of the country - and that the gains “significantly outweigh” the risks of the vast project. The Commons Transport Committee also said the £50m costs had been exaggerated, in a report dubbed “cheerleading” by opponents.
Nelson Mandela
7. TRADITIONAL TRIBAL FUNERAL FOR MANDELA
Nelson Mandela’s funeral will include traditional Xhosa rituals carried out by elders from the tribe to which he belonged - at the insistence of the former president’s family. The ritual killing of two oxen will be woven into the formal military and state funeral on Sunday. Preparations for the huge event are said to be going well.
Film
8. JAMES BOND ‘IS AN IMPOTENT DRUNK’
Fictional spy James Bond drinks the equivalent of 1.5 bottles of wine a day - enough to leave him impotent and unable to carry out delicate tasks like bomb defusing, doctors say. The experts counted every shaken-not-stirred vodka martini - and other drinks - in the 14 novels. He downs 1,150 units of alcohol in 88 days.
9. PRINCE HARRY REACHES SOUTH POLE
Prince Harry and a trekking team made up of servicemen and women reached the South Pole today, organizers for the Walking With The Wounded charity said. Three teams of seven participants each, representing the United Kingdom, United States and the Commonwealth, took part in the charity event.
Film
10. HOT TICKET: HOBBIT RETURNS WITH SMAUG
The second instalment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, opens in UK cinemas today. Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, Wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves, set out on a quest to recapture a lost dwarf kingdom and vanquish the dragon Smaug. “Exhilarating,” says The Guardian.