Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 17 Jan 2020

1

British teen launches Cyprus rape claim appeal

A British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has launched an appeal against her conviction for public mischief, saying she made her confession under duress from police. The 19-year-old woman flew back to the UK last week after being handed a four-month suspended jail term. Her lawyers filed the grounds for the appeal at the Supreme Court of Cyprus yesterday.

2

Johnson cools on Big Ben Brexit bong

Boris Johnson appears to be backing away from plans to persuade the public to donate the money needed to ensure Big Ben chimes when the UK leaves the EU at 11pm on 31 January, with No 10 citing “potential difficulties”. The Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben, is currently being restored and works to allow the bell to be rung during the renovations would cost between £320,000 and £500,000.

3

Iran missile strike: US troops were injured

The US military has rowed back on its claims that no American personnel were injured when Iranian missiles hit two air bases in Iraq earlier this month, and now says 11 troops were treated for concussion. Following the attack, on 8 January, US President Donald Trump suggested the alleged lack of casualties showed that Iran wanted to de-escalate the stand-off with his nation.

4

Brexit day ‘will not hit overseas hols’

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) is reassuring travellers that their holiday plans will not be affected by Britain’s official exit from the EU at the end of this month. The trade body organisation says the 11-month transition period means changes to visas, passports and flights when travelling to the Continent are unlikely to happen as a deal is negotiated. Abta research shows that 31% of Brits are still confused about how Brexit will affect their holidays.

5

Mass grave in Panama linked to ‘cult exorcism’

The authorities in Panama say they believe seven people found dead in a mass grave – including a pregnant woman and her five children – were killed during an exorcism ritual carried out by a religious sect. Ten people have been charged with murder following the discovery in the indigenous area of Ngabe-Bugle, home to a cult called the New Light of God. A further 15 people have been freed from alleged captivity.

6

Graduate died following underwater ‘party trick’

A 24-year-old man died while doing a “party trick” at his brother’s 21st birthday party that he had been performing since childhood, an inquest has heard. Cambridge University graduate Dominic Hamlyn became unresponsive after swimming two-and-a-half lengths underwater in the pool at his family’s home in Crundale, Kent, on 28 July. A coroner ruled that he had a pre-existing heart condition and died from “sudden adult death syndrome”.

7

EU plans to make Apple drop Lightning connector

Apple may be forced to stop using its proprietary Lightning cable in Europe amid proposals being considered by EU lawmakers to force all tech companies to stick to two standard connections – micro USB and USB C. The US firm has already dropped the Lightning connector in favour of USB C on the 2019 version of its iPad tablet.

8

US ambassador’s moustache angers Koreans

The recently appointed US ambassador to South Korea is facing criticism within the East Asian nation for growing a moustache. Harry Harris’s facial hair is said to be disrespectful as it reminds his hosts of the sort worn by Japanese officers during the Second World War. Harris claims he is being singled out because of his Japanese-American ethnic heritage.

9

Edward VIII gold sovereign sold for £1m

A new UK record has been set for the sale of a rare coin. An Edward VIII gold sovereign made as a test before he abdicated the throne in December 1936 was bought in the US by a UK collector for £1m. The coin is special because the young king insisted that, contrary to convention, it features his left profile, because he preferred that side of his face.

10

Briefing: have scientists found the origin of life on Earth?

A chemical element fundamental to all life on Earth may have arrived from deep space carried on comets, scientists say.

Phosphorus is present in the DNA and cell membranes of all living organisms, but is extremely rare in the universe. The “question of how it actually got to the early Earth has remained a mystery”, The Independent says. Until now.

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