Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 5 Jan 2020

1

Trump warns US ready to strike 52 Iranian sites

Donald Trump has warned the US is “targeting” 52 Iranian sites and will strike “very fast and very hard” if Tehran responds to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani by attacking Americans or US assets. After Iran vowed to avenge the killing, the US president wrote on Twitter that “Iran itself” would be among Washington’s targets.

2

Eleven million wait more than three weeks to see GP

Eleven million patients have had to wait more than three weeks to see a GP since Boris Johnson pledged to eliminate such delays. The Sunday Times reports that in the four months for which figures are available since the prime minister made his promise, 11.3m patients have waited longer than three weeks. Of those, 5.6m waited more than a month.

3

Labour leadership candidates launch their campaigns

Labour hopefuls have begun delivering their pitches to become the party's next leader. Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said he is standing to “restore trust in our party as a force for good”. Jess Phillips insisted her “big personality” can help the party attract lost voters. Emily Thornberry, Clive Lewis and Lisa Nandy have also thrown their hats into the ring.

4

Firefighters hampered by change of wind in Australia

The efforts of firefighters in Australia have been hampered after strong winds changed direction. The development forced thousands to flee as flames reached the suburban fringes of Sydney. Comedian Celeste Barber has helped raise more than $20m to help the New South Wales Rural Fire Service fight the devastating bushfires. Since September, the fires have killed at least 23 people.

5

HMV and Debenhams will close some stores

HMV and Debenhams have announced they are closing stores on UK high streets. Debenhams, which entered administration last year, said it was due to close 19 of its stores between 11 and 25 January. Meanwhile, the music retailer HMV has announced three of its stores will shut at the end of the month. It blamed “extortionate” business rates in certain locations.

6

Cambridge Analytica leak to expose ‘a global industry’

A new leak from Cambridge Analytica is set to expose the worldwide infrastructure of an operation used to manipulate voters on “an industrial scale”. More than 100,000 documents relating to work in 68 countries will be released in the coming months. Emma Briant, an academic at Bard College, New York, said: “This is an entire global industry that’s out of control.”

7

Most Haunted star Derek Acorah dies at the age of 69

The celebrity psychic Derek Acorah has died aged 69, his wife has announced. Announcing the death on the TV medium’s Facebook page, Gwen Acorah Johnson said her “beloved” husband had passed away after a “very brief illness”. Acorah was famed for his role on Living TV's Most Haunted, a reality TV series that followed a squad of experts as they probed haunted locations.

8

Police seal off street after man ‘ingests ricin’

Police have sealed off a Manchester street after a man ingested an “unknown substance” believed to be ricin. Greater Manchester Police said officers were called to a house in Wythenshawe just before 9am yesterday following concerns about a man’s welfare. “It was established that the man had consumed an at-this-time unknown substance,” said a spokesman.

9

HS2 budget is out of control says review deputy chair

HS2’s costs are out of control, says the deputy chair of its review panel. Lord Berkeley said the high-speed rail line, linking London and northern England, is likely to cost over £108bn and MPs have been "misled" about the price, which was set at £55bn in 2015. Trains are due to start running on HS2 between London and Birmingham in 2029.

10

Zaghari-Ratcliffe fears longer sentence after Soleimani killing

The British-Iranian mother wrongly imprisoned in Tehran fears that she will be kept in jail for her full five-year term, or even dealt a longer sentence, after the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said that she and other western prisoners believe that they will be used as hostage pawns. She is more than halfway through a five-year sentence.

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