Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 5 Jan 2014

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

1. CAMERON MAKES STATE PENSION PLEDGE
David Cameron has pledged to extend rises to the state pension until at least 2020. In an interview with the Sunday Times, the prime minister also hinted at tax cuts for middle and top earners. Cameron’s approach is seen as evidence of further confidence that the worst days of the recession and low economic growth are over.
2. UK & US FACING EXTREME WEATHER
Nearly 100 flood warnings remain in place in England and Wales, as the Environment Agency warns many areas could be at risk into next week. Flooding that has hit coastal areas is expected to move inland on Sunday. Meanwhile, parts of the United States are braced for record-breaking low temperatures. Forecasters say the mid-west could feel as cold as -58F (-50C).
3. CATHOLIC EXORCISTS ON THE RISE
The number of exorcists in the Catholic Church is on the rise, says the Sunday Telegraph. Dioceses across Italy, Spain and other countries are increasing the number of priests trained in the rite of exorcism. The Church says a rise in demand for exorcists is part of growing interest in related practices such as black magic, paganism and Satanic rites.
4. AUSSIES COMPLETE ASHES WHITEWASH
England collapsed to lose the fifth test within three days, sealing a 5-0 whitewash for the Australians. Alastair Cook's side, who were bowled out for just 166 inside 32 overs, were thrashed by 281 runs in Sydney. At one stage England lost four wickets in 11 balls. "I have never seen an England team throw in the towel, but they did this afternoon,” ex-England captain Michael Vaughan tells the BBC.
5. BLAIR ENJOYS BUMPER £13M YEAR
Tony Blair made more than £13m during his most commercially successful year since leaving Downing Street. The former prime minister’s business interests are booming, with one company producing profits of almost £2m last year. Blair’s overall personal wealth, including a London townhouse, a country estate and other properties, is estimated at £70m.
6. GOVE ACCUSED OF WW1 POINT-SCORING
Michael Gove is abusing the centenary of the first world war to “sow political division”, says a Labour shadow minister. Writing in The Observer, Tristram Hunt accuses the education secretary of a “shocking” attempt to score political points. Gove had earlier criticised “left-wing academics” for pushing unpatriotic “myths” about the role of British forces in the war.
7. BBC’S ‘TERRIBLE MISTAKE’ ON MIGRATION
The BBC made a “terrible mistake” by censoring concerns over immigration, says its own political editor Nick Robinson. Speaking to the Sunday Times, Robinson said senior figures at the corporation believe that an unrestricted debate about immigration would “unleash some terrible side of the British public”. As a result, he says, some public concerns were not reflected by the BBC.
8. MORRISSEY COMPARES MEAT TO PAEDOPHILIA
Morrissey has sparked controversy by comparing the eating of meat to paedophilia and claiming there is “no difference” between abattoirs and the Auschwitz Nazi death camp. During an online Q&A session, the former Smiths singer said: “I see no difference between eating animals and paedophilia. They are both rape, violence, murder.”
9. POPE’S SURPRISE VOICEMAIL MESSAGE
Pope Francis surprised Spanish nuns by leaving them an answerphone message wishing them a happy new year. The Pope hoped to speak with the nuns, but found himself talking to their answering machine. "What are the nuns doing that they can't answer the phone?" he asked. “This is Pope Francis. I wanted to offer you greetings for the end of the year. Maybe I'll try to call again later.”
10. WENGER DEFENDS SMILING WALCOTT
Arsene Wenger has defended Theo Walcott after the striker signalled the 2-0 scoreline to Spurs supporters as he was stretchered off during the north London derby yesterday. "I don't think he will be in trouble, he was not aggressive and he was smiling," said Wenger after the win. He added that coins had been thrown at Walcott.