Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 14 Nov 2012

1

EUROPEAN CITIES HIT BY STRIKES AND RALLIES

Workers across the European Union staged a series of strikes and street protests today against austerity measures which, they say, are only causing unemployment and social anxiety. There were general strikes in Spain and Portugal and widespread protests in Italy, Belgium, France and Greece. Spanish and Portugese airlines cancelled hundreds of flights.

2

ABU QATADA RELEASE: CAMERON 'FED UP'

David Cameron said last night that he was "completely fed up" about the release on bail of Abu Qatada after the Muslim cleric won his appeal against deportation to Jordan. "He has no right to be here," said the PM, and the government would "move heaven and earth" to deport him. A smiling Qatada arrived back at his London home yesterday.

3

GOV'T POWERLESS TO REVEW DG'S PAY-OFF

The government's public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, is powerless to review former BBC director-general George Entwistle's £450,000 pay-off, it transpires. Despite assurances from Culture Secretary Maria Miller, the NAO is prevented from stepping in by rules intended to protect the BBC from political interference.

4

HALF OF ALL UK MAIL IS NOW JUNK

Nearly half of all mail handled by the Royal Mail is now junk – or 'direct marketing'. The increase comes after a cap on three junk letters per household per day was removed a year ago. It partly explains why Royal Mail's operating profits in the six months to September were £144m, compared with £12m in the same period last year.

5

ISRAEL KILLS HAMAS MILITARY CHIEF

Hamas has said Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of its military wing, has been killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City. Jabari was reportedly travelling in his car when it suddenly exploded. The assassination follows threats from Israel in recent days that they were considering hitting top Hamas officials in retaliation for wave of cross-border rocket attacks.

6

GOVE: EXAMS 'MAKE CHILDREN HAPPY'

Exam success makes children happy and encourages them to learn, Education Secretary Michael Gove told the Independent Academies Association today. He backs "rigorous testing" and says that easy exams are worse than no exams at all. "Exams matter because motivation matters," he claims. "Humans are hard-wired to seek out challenges."

7

DNA SEQUENCING HALTS MRSA SPREAD

Doctors claimed yesterday to have halted an outbreak of the 'superbug' MRSA at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge by cracking the bacterium's genetic code, which enabled them to trace the outbreak to a single staff member who spread the infection. Dr Julian Parkhill said: "We think this is the first case where whole genome sequencing has led to an actual clinical intervention".

8

UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS TO ONE-YEAR LOW

Unemployment fell 49,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to September - the lowest figure since last summer. The jobless rate is now at 7.8%. However, the number of people claiming the dole increased by 10,100 last month to 1.58 million - the highest since July.

9

CHELSEA AND FA IN RACE CASE 'COVER-UP'

Chelsea and the FA were last night accused of a "cover-up" after the Met Police dropped its investigation into allegations that referee Mark Clattenburg used racist language to two Chelsea players because the club refused to make a formal complaint. "It sounds remarkably like a football cover-up," said Society of Black Lawyers chairman Peter Herbert.

10

HOT TICKET: POLLOCK JOINS HOCKNEY AT TATE

Tate Modern's major autumn show, 'A Bigger Splash: Painting After Performance', opens today. The show looks at the links between painting and performance art since 1950, and features key works by over 40 artists including David Hockney, Yves Klein, Jackson Pollock and Cindy Sherman. "Fascinating and entertaining," says The Daily Telegraph.

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