Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 1 Feb 2014

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

1. MILIBAND TO STRIP TRADE UNIONS POWER
Trade unions will have their influence in Labour leadership elections reduced under plans announced by Ed Miliband. Future leadership elections will be decided by a one member, one vote election. This means the influence of MPs and MEPs on the vote will also be reduced. Miliband described the changes as “probably” the biggest since the Labour Party was founded.
2. PRINCE CHARLES ON 'HEADLESS CHICKENS'
Prince Charles has referred to climate change deniers as the “headless chicken brigade”. In a frank speech, he railed against the “barrage of sheer intimidation” from “powerful groups of deniers”. The heir to the throne was speaking to an audience of young environmental entrepreneurs. He told them he has a habit of “sticking my head above the parapet”.
3. NEW MISERY FOR FLOOD-HIT AREAS?
Flood hit areas could face more misery as high tides and gale force winds bring more chaos to the south-west of England and the Midlands. The Environment Agency has warned that a dangerous combination of a low pressure system and high tides brings the risk of coastal flooding. Cobra, the government’s emergency committee, met last night to discuss the crisis.
4. ENGLISH DECLINING AT UK SCHOOLS
English is no longer the first language for the majority of pupils in more than one in nine schools, according to a new report. Last year, most children in 1,755 primary and secondary schools spoke another language at home. In more than 200 schools that majority was as high as 90%. Across the country, the number of pupils for whom English is a second language has risen to almost 1.1m.
5. EXPERT DOUBTS ‘PACIFIC PI’ STORY
A man who claims he survived 16 months adrift in the Pacific, living off a diet of turtles, birds and fish, has had his story questioned by an expert. Jose Ivan was washed up on a remote Pacific atoll this week, in an emaciated state. But a yachting instructor tells The Guardian there are “1,001 hazards that would make his survival for so long very unlikely”.
6. CHINA/USA SURROGACY SOARING
Wealthy Chinese couples are hiring the wombs of working-class American women in a booming new surrogacy trade. Soaring levels of infertility, blamed on China’s pollution, are fuelling the practice, with American women hiring out their wombs for $120,000 per baby. Chinese inquiries to agencies have risen tenfold since 2012 and are expected to double again over the next two years.
7. SUPER BOWL WHITE POWDER SCARE
Suspicious white powder has been posted to five hotels near the Super Bowl stadium and to the office of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The FBI are investigating the suspicious substance that was sent to New Jersey hotels near the MetLife Stadium, where more than 80,000 NFL fans are expected for Sunday’s big game.
8. STOCKS’ WORST JAN SINCE 2010
Stocks have suffered their worst January since 2010 as turmoil in emerging markets left nervy investors preferring the safer terrain of government bonds, the dollar and the yen. Last night, the FTSE All-World equity index was down 4.1% since the start of 2014, its worst January performance since a 4.4% slide four years ago.
9. BACK TO THE FUTURE PLAY ANNOUNCED
A stage musical of the film Back To The Future has been announced. The writing team behind the time travel film have reunited to write the book for the adaptation which will debut in London’s West End in 2015. One of the writers, Bob Gale, said the musical will be "true to the spirit of the film without being a slavish remake".
10. PREMIER LEAGUE SETS SPENDING RECORD
Premier League spending on transfers has set a new record this season, despite a fairly tame deadline day. English top-flight sides have spent £760m since the summer window opened in July, breaking the previous record by £90m. Arsenal snapped up Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom, with Chelsea buying Kurt Zouma from St Etienne before immediately loaning him back.