Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 28 Jan 2020

1

Coronavirus death toll hits 106 as first Beijing reports first fatality

The coronavirus epidemic spreading across China has claimed its first life in capital Beijing. The Sars-like virus has now killed a total of at least 106 people and infected more than 4,500. Travel restrictions imposed on a number of Chinese cities have been strengthened, with citizens ordered to wear surgical masks in public spaces in a bid to reduce the risk of further infections.  

2

EU demands right to rule on post-Brexit trade agreements

The EU has told the UK government that the European Court of Justice should have the final say on any post-Brexit trade deals with Britain. According to an internal diplomatic document seen by The Times, Brussels will insists that its judges be able to enforce the terms of a trade, fishing and security agreement. Tory Brexiteers have reportedly told Boris Johnson to walk away from negotiations rather than agree to the demands.

3

Government to decide on Huawei 5G plan

Boris Johnson is chairing a meeting of the National Security Council today at which a decision is expected to be made on whether to accede to US requests that technology made be Huawei be banned from the UK’s 5G network. The US is lobbying Britain to exclude the Chinese tech giant on the grounds of national security, but Huawei insists the firm would never take orders from China’s government.

4

Prince giving ‘zero cooperation’ in Epstein case, says prosecutor

Prince Andrew has offered “zero cooperation” in the enquiry into late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the US prosecutor in charge of the investigation. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said prosecutors and the FBI have contacted the British royal’s lawyers but have not had any reply. Buckingham Palace said Andrew’s legal team was dealing with the issue, but made no further comment.

5

Lineker: BBC licence fee should be voluntary

BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker has broken ranks to criticise the licence fee. The national broadcaster’s highest-paid star told The Guardian that the annual charge is a “fundamental problem”. He added: “I would make the licence fee voluntary. If you put it up, you could help older people, or those that can’t afford it.”

6

Pink slug survives Australian bush fires

A giant fluorescent-pink slug that lives only on one Australian mountain top has survived the bush fires that have devastated the area, local rangers have reported. Around 60 Mount Kaputar slugs have been counted recently at the national park after which it is named, in New South Wales. However, around 90% of the slug population is believed to have been killed in fires that burnt through much of the species’ alpine habitat.

7

Sumo wrestler delights Japan with tears

A Sumo wrestler has pulled off an unheard-of victory in Japan – and won hearts among the sport’s fans by bursting into tears afterwards. Tokushoryu, who weighs almost 30st, won the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo despite being the lowest-ranked wrestler in the top Makuuchi pro sumo division. He told reporters: “It feels like a dream.”

8

Former Belgian king admits fathering love child

The former king of Belgium has admitted being the father of a daughter born from an affair in the 1960s, after being forced to take a DNA test. Albert II, now 85, accepts that artist Delphine Boel, 51, is his child after the test came back positive, and will end a paternity legal battle that began in 2013, the year he abdicated and lost his immunity. 

9

Aviva sorry for calling everyone ‘Michael’

Insurer Aviva has apologised to several thousand customers after wrongly addressing them all as “Michael” in an email. The firm blamed a “temporary technical error”, but some of the so-called Michaels said they worried about what else the firm might get wrong.

10

Briefing: who owns Antarctica?

The climate crisis is threatening Antarctica’s status as the last great wilderness - and with it, a Cold War-era treaty on how the region is governed, according to a leading expert.

Klaus Dodds, a professor of geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London, says that Earth’s southernmost continent faces a growing danger from fishing and mining as its ice melts and the global population swells.

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