Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 31 Dec 2013

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

1. NEW YEAR’S HONOURS: WOMEN LEAD FIELD
Actors Angela Lansbury and Penelope Keith - both made dames - are among the women who dominate the New Year’s Honours list released today. It is the first time the majority of royal recognition has gone to women, with a 51% female list. Token men featured include sculptor Antony Gormley, who gets a knighthood.
2. NI: HAASS TALKS END WITHOUT AGREEMENT
Talks chaired by former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass have ended without agreement in Northern Ireland. Dr Haass said there had however been “significant progress” and he believed some parties might still sign the accord. The talks addressed the most divisive issues in the region: flags, parades and the past.
3. GUITARIST BRIAN MAY FACES CANCER SCARE
Rock star and astrophysicist Brian May underwent “urgent” cancer tests over Christmas, he has said. The Queen guitarist had experienced pain standing up and an MRI scan revealed “abnormalities in the bones”. He is preparing to tour while he awaits the results of “blood tests, ultrasounds, and various kinds of scans”
4. SIX INJURED IN ‘FRENZIED’ STABBING
Six people were hospitalised after a “frenzied” stabbing at a house in County Antrim, yesterday afternoon. Two have since been discharged but one woman has received surgery and another two men and a woman remain in hospital, said to be “stable”. Police are not looking for anyone other than the six injured people.
5. SCHUMACHER FAMILY KEEP BEDSIDE VIGIL
The family of seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher are keeping a vigil by the hospital bed in Grenoble where he is in a medically-induced coma. The German suffered serious trauma after banging his head on a rock while skiing off-piste with his son. Doctors say he survived because he was wearing a helmet.
6. LIBEL LAW CHANGES COME INTO FORCE
Changes to the law of England and Wales designed to make it harder to sue for libel come into force on 1 January. The Defamation Act 2013 is aimed at stopping ‘libel tourism’ under which the UK is seen as an easier place to prove libel. The government says the new law will encourage freedom of expression.
7. ISRAEL FREES 26 PALESTINIAN PRISONERS
Israel has released a further 26 Palestinian prisoners to the West Bank and Gaza as part of US-brokered deal to resume direct peace talks. The inmates released have served between 19 and 28 years for murder or attempted murder. They were greeted by cheering crowds as they returned. Relatives of victims staged protests.
8. HELICOPTER RESCUE FOR ANTARCTIC SHIP
Many of the passengers and crew of a ship carrying an Antarctic expedition stuck in thick sea ice are to be rescued by helicopter after a series of icebreakers failed to cut a path to it. The MV Akademik Shokalskiy has been trapped since Christmas Eve. It is not clear what will happen to the remaining passengers.
9. SINKHOLE OPENS IN DERBYSHIRE VILLAGE
A large hole has appeared in a field near the Derbyshire village of Foolow, in the Peak District. The sinkhole, first noticed on Christmas Day but thought to have opened the day before, is 160ft wide and has increased in size since it first appeared. Old lead mines under the village are thought to be the cause.
10. HOT TICKET: NT’S EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES
The National Theatre's Christmas show is a stage adaptation of children’s classic Emil and the Detectives. Set in 1920s Berlin, it follows Emil’s attempts to track down a thief with the aid of a gang of streetwise kids. “Exhilarating,” says the Financial Times. Until 18 March.