Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 8 Jan 2020

1

Iran fires missiles at US forces in Iraq

Iran has launched missile strikes against two Iraqi air bases used by US troops, after vowing to avenge the US assassination of top military commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week. However, the strikes appear to have been “carefully calibrated to avoid US casualties”, according to The Guardian, which suggests the crisis may now de-escalate following Tehran’s show of force.

2

Raab warning to Tehran following air base strikes 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last night condemned Iranian strikes on air bases in Iraq as “reckless and dangerous” and warned Tehran not to launch further attacks. Earlier in the Commons, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he could not “rule out” a British strike on Iran and confirmed that non-essential personnel have been evacuated from Baghdad.

3

Ukrainian passenger jet crashes in Iran

A Ukrainian jet carrying more than 170 passengers and crew has crashed just minutes after taking off from an airport in Tehran. The Iranian branch of the Red Crescent medical charity said it was “impossible” that there would be any survivors on the downed Boeing-737, operated by Ukraine International Airlines. Ukraine’s embassy in the Iranian capital said the crash was the result of engine failure and has ruled out links to terrorism.

4

Johnson set to axe hundreds of ‘wasteful’ government projects

Boris Johnson yesterday launched a review of government spending - and warned his cabinet that it is “time for the slaughtering of sacred cows” as he vowed to cull the pet projects of his predecessors Theresa May and David Cameron. The review, expected to take between six and nine months, will examine hundreds of schemes in a bid to ensure that “every penny” is justified as the prime minister seeks to keep spending in line with the priorities of his new majority administration.

5

Father of rapist Sinaga says life sentence ‘fits crimes’

The father of the worst multiple rapist in British legal history has welcomed his son’s life sentence, saying the punishment “fits his crimes”. Indonesian student Reynhard Sinaga, 36, will serve a minimum term of 30 years after being convicted of drugging and raping 48 men at his flat in Manchester. Police believe Sinaga assaulted a total of at least 195 men. 

6

British teenager convicted in Cyprus flies home

A 19-year-old British woman convicted in Cyprus of lying about a gang rape by Israeli tourists has flown back to the UK after being given a four-month suspended sentence. The teenager, who has not been named, says she was coerced by police to confess to lying about the attack and has vowed to appeal her conviction.

7

HMRC catching just one in eight minimum wage offenders

The tax authorities are catching only 13% of companies breaking the law by paying employees less than the minimum wage, according to research by the Resolution Foundation. The think-tank estimates that some 11,000 firms paid their workers below the legal minimum in 2018-19, but HMRC identified only 1,456 law-breaking companies.

8

Food ‘made from thin air’ to compete with soy

A new protein made from soil bacteria fed on hydrogen split from water by electricity will become a serious rival to soy for human consumption, Finnish researchers say. The team are aiming to produce their protein flour, called Solein, using solar and wind power, with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions - or as they put it, from “thin air”.

9

Instagram post by ‘influencer’ Molly Mae banned

An Instagram post by Love Island reality TV star Molly Mae has been retrospectively banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. The watchdog upheld a complaint after a post on her account about an outfit from online retailer Pretty Little Thing was ruled as being not identifiable as an advert. Mae is the latest in a string of reality stars to fall foul of advertising rules.

10

Crossrail: when will the Elizabeth Line open and how far over budget is it?

London’s Crossrail project could be further delayed until the autumn of 2021, according to the Transport for London (TfL) commissioner.

The cost of the project is now predicted to reach £18.25bn, more than £2bn over the original £15.9bn.

The Berkshire to Essex link – to be known as the Elizabeth Line – was originally scheduled for completion in December 2018, but has been repeatedly delayed.

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