Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 16 Feb 2020

1

Tributes and anger after Caroline Flack is found dead

There have been tributes and anger after former Love Island host Caroline Flack was found dead in her London flat after taking her own life. The 40-year-old was charged with assaulting her partner in December and was due to stand trial next month. However, her partner had not supported the prosecution. There has been anger on social media over how the media handled the case.

2

Army deployed as Storm Dennis hits the UK

Storm Dennis is lashing large parts of the UK, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. Two people had to be rescued after their car was swept off the road near Newcastleton, in the Scottish Borders. The army has been deployed to help with flood preparations in parts of West Yorkshire. Forecasters say the “perfect storm” could bring a month's rainfall in one day.

3

Downing Street tells Beeb it will scrap the licence fee

Downing Street has the BBC it will scrap the television licence fee and make viewers pay a subscription. According to The Sunday Times, the corporation could also be forced to downsize and sell off most of its radio stations. Last week, Sir David Clementi, the BBC chairman, launched an outspoken defence of the licence fee as tensions rose between the government and the national broadcaster.

4

UN denounces Saudi air strikes which killed 31 people

The United Nations says 31 people were killed in air strikes on Yemen yesterday. The Observer says the dead were victims of an apparent Saudi-led retaliation after Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed to have shot down one of Riyadh’s jets. There has been an upsurge in fighting in northern Yemen between the warring parties. Lise Grande, the UN coordinator, condemned the “terrible strikes”.

5

China says coronavirus is controllable as deaths drop

China has announced a drop in new cases from the coronavirus outbreak for a third consecutive day. The authorities have reported 2,009 new cases and 142 more deaths nationwide. Announcing the drop, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said it showed that “overall the epidemic is controllable”. In total, more than 68,000 people have been infected in China, 1,665 of them have died.

6

New attorney general member of controversial Buddhist sect

The new attorney general is a member of a controversial religious sect, reports The Observer. Suella Braverman belongs to the Triratna order, one of Buddhism’s largest cults, which continues to worship its founder despite supported claims that he was a serial sexual predator. It is understood that Braverman attends the London Buddhist Centre once or twice a month.

7

Lisa Nandy once questioned existence of a gay society

Lisa Nandy, one of the three candidates in the race for the Labour leadership, once queried the right of gay students to have their own society at her university. In an article, Nandy had cited the gay students’ club at Newcastle as an example of a “controversial” group with “views some might find offensive”. She asked whether the group should be stripped of its funding.

8

Rockets land near the US embassy in Iraqi capital

Rockets struck near the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday, according to an American military source. Although warning sirens blared across the diplomatic compound in Iraq’s capital city, there were no casualties and only minor damage, a US military spokesman said. The attack came hours after an Iran-backed faction, Harakat al-Nujaba, announced a “countdown” to ejecting American forces from the country.

9

Sacked aide launches legal claim against unfair dismissal

A former aide who was fired and frogmarched out of Downing Street on Dominic Cummings’ orders has launched a claim for unfair dismissal. The legal action by Sonia Khan could trigger a significant payout by the government. She strongly denies the allegation behind her sacking – that she passed information to Philip Hammond, the former chancellor.

10

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will accept state regulation

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook must accept state regulation, acknowledging its status as a content provider somewhere between a newspaper and a telephone company. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, the co-founder also said the social network is now employing 35,000 staff to work on monitoring content and security.

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