Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 6 Jan 2020

1

Johnson and Merkel call for Iran restraint

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined German and French leaders Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron in a plea for all sides to show restraint following the US assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. In a joint statement, the trio say the current cycle of violence “must be stopped”. Tens of thousands of mourners packed the streets of Tehran to see the general’s funeral procession on Saturday.

2

Australia fears ‘mega-blaze’ despite rainfall

Rains have eased the bushfires that have been raging in southeastern Australia since September – but the blazes are expected to worsen as temperatures rise once again later this week. Officials are warning that vast fires in Victoria and New South Wales may join forces to create a “mega-blaze”. The bushfires have turned the sky bright orange over Auckland in New Zealand, more than 1,200 miles away.

3

Colman and Waller-Bridge win Golden Globes

UK stars won big at the Golden Globes last night, in what has been dubbed a British invasion of the US awards. Olivia Colman was recognised for her portrayal of the Queen in The Crown, while Phoebe Waller-Bridge won two prizes for her sitcom Fleabag. Director Sam Mendes also took home two of the statuettes, for his First World War epic 1917.

4

Labour to decide rules for leadership election

Labour’s National Executive Committee is meeting today to decide the rules for the upcoming election to replace leader Jeremy Corbyn. The BBC’s Iain Watson predicts that the left-leaning committee will try to stop an “invasion of the centrists” by making it harder for new members to vote.

5

Three Americans killed by Kenyan terrorists

A US soldier and two Defence Department contractors have been killed in Kenya by terror group al-Shabab. The Somalia-based militants attacked a military base used by Kenyan and US troops in the eastern coastal region of Lamu on Sunday. Two other US contractors were wounded.

6

Trump defends threat to target Iranian cultural sites

US President Donald Trump yesterday refused to roll back his threat to commit war crimes in Iran. The US leader had earlier tweeted that he would “HIT” Iran with attacks on sites “important to Iran & Iranian culture” - despite the targeting of cultural sites being prohibited by international conventions. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Trump said: “They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”

7

Burger King’s meat-free burger ‘not vegan’

Burger King has launched its first meat-free burger in the UK. The Rebel Whopper is made from soy but is not pitched at vegetarians or vegans, because it will be cooked on the same grills as beef burgers. The fast-food giants says the new burger is instead aimed at “flexitarians” - people who eat meat but are cutting down on consuming animal products.

8

British astronaut: aliens may be living among us

The first Briton to go into space has claimed that “aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it”. Speaking to The Observer, Dr Helen Sharman, now a chemistry academic in London, added: “It’s possible they’re here right now and we simply can’t see them.” 

9

Churchgoers ‘less likely to be cat people’

Regular churchgoers are less likely to own cats than atheists, a new US study has found. The poll of 2,000 people by University of Oklahoma academic Professor Samuel Perry found that the average non-worshipper owns two cats, while those who attend church more than once a week own an average of 1.4. Perry suggests that cats are “very godlike” and may act as a substitute for religion and the social interaction gained through churchgoing.

10

Briefing: Labour leadership election - how it works

Labour’s disastrous 2019 general election result was the beginning of the end for Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.

The Islington North MP - who also led Labour to defeat in 2017 - said he would be stepping down from the leadership after Labour won its lowest number of seats since 1935.

With debate about Labour’s future direction, Corbyn’s successor will face a tough challenge to unite the embattled party.

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