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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 21 Dec 2019


Brexit obstacle cleared as withdrawal bill passes

Brexit has come one step closer after Boris Johnson was rewarded for the Conservatives’ comfortable general election victory with a majority of 124 for his Brexit deal in the House of Commons. After passing its second reading by 358 votes to 234, the withdrawal agreement bill is set to complete its passage through both houses of parliament in time to allow Brexit to happen on January 31.


Prince Philip taken to hospital over pre-existing condition

Buckingham Palace says the Duke of Edinburgh has been admitted to hospital as a “precautionary measure”. In a planned admission, Prince Philip travelled from the Queen's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk to the King Edward VII Hospital in London on Friday morning. The palace said it was for treatment in relation to a pre-existing condition.


Donald Trump announces launch of US Space Force

Donald Trump has officially funded a Pentagon force focused on warfare in space, named the US Space Force. Speaking at an army base near Washington, the US president described space as “the world's newest war-fighting domain”. He said of the US military: “We're leading, but we're not leading by enough, but very shortly we'll be leading by a lot.”


Six dead on bloodiest day of India bill protests

Six people died and dozens were injured in India in the deadliest day of protests over a new bill. Protesters say the new law discriminates against Muslims. At least six people died and 32 were injured in clashes between police and protesters, Uttar Pradesh police chief OP Singh said. The bill offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.


New allegations over Bank of England press conferences

A new banking scandal has emerged as it is alleged that one of the firms embroiled in the Bank of England audio-tapping scandal attended a press conference given by Mark Carney and asked him questions at the request of a trader. Earlier this week, it was revealed that traders have bragged of making “plenty” of “pips” (percentage points) as a result of getting information early from Bank press conferences.


ICC to probe Israel over war crimes in Gaza and West Bank

Israel will be investigated for war crimes in Palestinian Territories, says the International Criminal Court. Chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said: “I am satisfied that ... war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.” Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “This is a dark day for truth and justice. It is a baseless and outrageous decision.”


Johnson ‘rewarded racism’ by appointing Goldsmith to Lords

Boris Johnson has been accused of rewarding racism with the appointment of Zac Goldsmith to the House of Lords and the decision to keep him on as environment minister. The Muslim Council of Britain says Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign in 2016 smeared Sadiq Khan and therefore handing the Tory a lifetime peerage raises “serious questions” about the party’s attitude to Islamophobia.


Flooding fears nearly halve tourism in Venice

Fears over flooding in Venice has brought hotel reservations down by 45%, a tourist chief has announced. The northern Italian city was hit by the highest tide in more than 50 years in November. “We recorded a peak of 45% cancellations (in the last 30 days) and had to cancel events, conferences and major initiatives planned for next year,” said Vittorio Bonacini, of the Association of Venetian Hoteliers.


Civil servant describes his London Bridge tusk moment

A civil servant has described for the first time the moment he confronted the London Bridge terrorist last month. South African Darryn Frost, who works in the Ministry of Justice, said: “I took a narwhal tusk from the wall and used it to defend myself and others from the attacker. Another man was holding the attacker at bay with a wooden chair.”


Woman dies after waiting six hours for an ambulance

A woman died after waiting six hours on a cold pavement for an ambulance in Cwmaman, near Aberdare. Donna Gilby fell outside her home and broke her foot, leaving her unable to move. Emergency service operators told her family they were dealing with a heavy number of calls. The Welsh Ambulance Service has apologised for the delay.

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