Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 15 Feb 2014

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

1. TWO DEAD AS UK STORMS RAGE ON
Two people died as gusts of up to 80mph battered the south of England last night. The Met Office has severe weather warnings in place for several parts of Britain as strong winds and heavy rain continue to lash the country. The Environment Agency has 22 severe flood warnings in place, with 200 flood warnings and more than 300 flood alerts.
2. CARDINAL: WELFARE REFORMS ‘DISGRACE’
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has described the government’s social welfare reforms as a “disgrace” which leaves people facing “destitution”. Arguing that there is a “real dramatic crisis”, the Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols told the Daily Telegraph the "basic safety net" for the poorest families has been "torn apart".
3. COWELL BABY THROUGH TO BOOT CAMP
Simon Cowell has become a father after Lauren Silverman gave birth yesterday. A baby boy weighing 6lbs 7oz was born in New York City at 17.45 EST. Cowell has revealed they have named the child Eric, named after his father who died in 1999. The music and television mogul described his first child as “healthy and handsome”.
4. MUSLIM CONVERT GIVEN ASBO
A Muslim convert, who took part in vigilante patrols and targeted Londoners as part of a campaign for a sharia state, has been given an unprecedented asbo. In a legal first, 20-year-old Jordan Horner has been ordered to stop preaching in public. Horner took part in street protests in east London to promote extreme versions of Islam.
5. LIZZY YARNOLD WINS FIRST GB GOLD
Lizzy Yarnold won Great Britain’s first gold of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics yesterday. The 25-year-old bossed the women’s skeleton, describing her own victory as “unexplainable”. She added: “I am sure it won’t sink in for another few days.” She broke the track record with her third run of 57.91 seconds. Her medal will be presented this afternoon.
6. TORY IN-FIGHTING AFTER DEFEAT
The Conservative Party headquarters has been accused of abandoning blue-collar voters during an “embarrassing” by-election campaign. Stephen Woods, the incoming head of the Conservative association in Wythenshawe and Sale East, tells The Times he is at “loggerheads” with the party headquarters and that he was “embarrassed” by the campaign’s failure to address key issues.
7. CALIFORNIA FACES ‘EPOCHAL’ DROUGHT
As England fights floods, California is facing a drought – the worst the state has endured since the 16th century. Climatologists are describing the drought as “epochal”. Farming communities are being hit hard by the conditions, with unemployment surging from 34% towards 50% in some areas. "This is a big economic disaster, it just happens to be slow moving,” said one farmer.
8. HESTON BLAMED FOR KITCHEN FIRE RISE
A surge in kitchen fires has been blamed on the rising popularity of Heston Blumenthal’s triple-cooked chips. The London Fire Brigade says fires from deep-frying pans rose 14% between 2012 and 2013. One firefighter, Dave Brown, tells the Daily Mail that “posh chips” as endorsed by “celebrity chefs” have created a “really dangerous” trend.
9. LEGEND SIR TOM FINNEY DIES
English football legend Sir Tom Finney has died at the age of 91. The winger, who made more than 400 league appearances for Preston North End between the 1940s and 1960s, won 76 caps for England, scoring 30 goals for the national team. "Sir Tom was the greatest player to ever play for Preston North End and one of the all time greats for England,” said a club statement.
10. CHINA PLANS LONGEST TUNNEL
China is planning to build the world’s longest undersea tunnel, a construction that will be more than twice the length of the Channel Tunnel. Work on the 76-mile tunnel could begin as early as next year. The ambitious project will create a tunnel that will run between the northern city of Dalian and Yantai, on the east coast.