Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 10 Jan 2020

1

Ukraine jet ‘shot down by Iran missile’

Evidence suggests that a Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed near Tehran on Wednesday was downed by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, possibly in error, according to Canadian leader Justin Trudeau. Donald Trump has also said that the US suspects the downing of the plane was the result of “a mistake on the other side”. The crash, which killed all 176 people on board, came hours after Iran carried out missile strikes on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq.

2

Meghan returns to Canada after quitting royal life

The Duchess of Sussex flew back to Canada yesterday amid ongoing discussions over the future role for her and husband Harry in the Royal Family. The couple spent the Christmas break in North America, where they left baby son Archie with a nanny before returning to the UK to announce they are stepping back as senior royals. The Times says one of the major issues now being ironed out is who will fund the couple’s protection officers, at an annual six-figure cost.

3

Beheading plot prisoner accused of prison attack

An inmate serving time for planning to behead a soldier is alleged to be one of two prisoners who attacked prison staff at a maximum security jail yesterday morning, according to reports. Brusthom Ziamani and another inmate are said to have been wearing fake bomb vests and carrying bladed weapons when they carried out the attack at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire. Five prison staff were injured and taken to hospital.

4

Trident programme £1.35bn over budget following ‘mistakes’

The cost of maintaining the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent has spiralled by £1.35bn as a result of poor management by the Ministry of Defence, the National Audit Office has found. The government spending watchdog says the department’s failures also mean that projects to upgrade the infrastructure supporting the Trident fleet’s warheads and power plants have been hit by delays of up to six years.

5

Leading ballet dancer accused of groping students

One of the UK’s leading ballet dancers appeared in court yesterday accused of molesting pupils while working as a dance teacher in London. Cuba-born Yat-Sen Chang, 48, is facing 14 charges of sexual assault over alleged incidents involving three young women between 2014 and 2016. The former English National Ballet principal is expected to plead not guilty to all charges when he appears at Isleworth Crown Court next month.

6

Woman urges men to give blood to save her sight

A 39-year-old woman with a medical condition that can cause her to go blind unless treated with a serum made from male blood is urging more men to become donors. Jo Daniels, from Bristol, has autoimmune disease Sjorgen's syndrome, which attacks her tear glands but can be treated with a serum made from blood high in iron levels - as is that of men. She is speaking out as part of an NHS blood donor drive.

7

Fat tongues ‘main cause of sleep apnoea’

The main cause of sleep apnoea, a disorder that leaves sufferers gasping for breath while unconscious, could be having a fat tongue, US research suggests. A study at the University of Pennsylvania found that obese people were particularly at risk of building up fat on their tongues – and that the symptoms of apnoea reduced when they lost weight.

8

Diabetes pill found to prevent recurrent miscarriage

Diabetes drug sitagliptin could be used to help prevent repeated miscarriages, UK scientists say. A clinical trial at Warwick University involving 38 women who had each suffered at least three miscarriages found that the £1 pill improved the ability of the womb lining to protect an embryo. One woman who took part in the tests after suffering five miscarriages has since had a son.

9

Segway wheelchair crashes during demo

A prototype self-balancing wheelchair being developed by Segway was left out of action when a journalist testing it at the CES tech show this week crashed into a wall. The S-Pod has a top speed of 24mph and is intended to be used with a safety belt – though the prototype at the expo, in Las Vegas, did not have one. The journalist was not injured.

10

In depth: can a US president decide to take America to war?

In a televised address from the White House on Wednesday, the US president claimed that Iran appeared to be “standing down” after launching missile strikes on two US military bases in Iraq hours earlier.

But Iranian military leaders have warned that a “harsher revenge” against the US may follow if tensions continue to escalate. Although Trump appears to have ruled out a military response to the air strikes, the US leader is imposing further economic sanctions on Iran.

As the stand-off continues, debate is growing over the extend of Trump’s war powers in his role as commander in chief of the US forces - and whether they could be curbed.

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