Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 5 Dec 2012

1

SYRIA: 'ALLIES READY TO INTERVENE'

The US is ready to lead an allied military intervention – including British forces - "within days", The Times has learned, if President Assad of Syria mobilises chemical weapons to stop rebel forces seizing Damascus. "It won't require major movement to make action happen," said a US official. "The muscle is already there to be flexed."

2

AUTUMN STATEMENT: UK IN BAD SHAPE

The British economy is in a worse state than forecast and is now expected to shrink by 0.1 per cent his year. As a result, Chancellor George Osborne was forced to revise his targets in today's Autumn Statement and extend austerity measures to 2018. Labour said Osborne's credibility was "in tatters".

3

FUGITIVE JOHN MCAFEE SEEKS ASYLUM

John McAfee, the anti-virus software entrepreneur wanted for questioning by police in Belize following the murder of his neighbour Gregory Faull four weeks ago, has crossed into Guatemala to seek political asylum. The 67-year-old American continues to protest his innocence and says he fears for his safety at the hands of the Belize police.

4

KATE: HOAX CALLERS GET HOSPITAL BULLETIN

A spokesman for the King Edward VII hospital in London said today it "deeply regrets" having given an update on the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge to hoax callers from the 2Day FM radio station in Sydney, Australia. Two DJs posing as the Queen and Prince Charles managed to get through to the duchess's nurse.

5

BBC VETERAN STUART HALL ARRESTED

The veteran BBC presenter Stuart Hall, who once hosted It's a Knockout and A Question of Sport and at the age of 82 still covers football for BBC Radio 5, has been arrested on suspicion of historic allegations of rape and sexual assault. Lancashire police have been searching his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire for evidence.

6

ANNA WINTOUR 'COULD BE MADE US ENVOY'

British-born Anna Wintour, the US Vogue editor nicknamed 'Nuclear Wintour' for her frosty demeanor, is being considered by President Obama as a possible US ambassador to London or Paris, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. The post would be a reward for her raising at least $500,000 towards Obama's re-election in November.

7

MP: 'MY HUSBAND DIED LIKE A BATTERY HEN'

Ann Clwyd, Labour MP for Cynon Valley, said yesterday that her husband Owen Roberts had been treated with "coldness, resentment, indifference and even contempt" as he lay dying "like a battery hen" in the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. She fears a "normalisation of cruelty" among nurses. Roberts died on October 23 from "hospital-acquired pneumonia".

8

ENGLAND MAKE GOOD START AGAINST INDIA

England got the better of India on the first day of the third Test in Kolkata despite losing the toss. India elected to bat but James Anderson took three wickets and Monty Panesar grabbed two as England reduced the hosts to 273-7 at the close. At one point India were 136-4 but Sachin Tendulkar helped the recovery with an innings of 76.

9

'FIFTY SHADES' WINS NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

EL James's erotic bestseller 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was last night named popular fiction book of the year at the Specsavers National Book Awards in London. Hilary Mantel won the UK author of the year prize for the second time. Meanwhile, James was spared the annual Bad Sex award, which went to Canadian novelist Nancy Huston for 'Infrared'.

10

HOT TICKET: MARTHA WAINWRIGHT TOUR

Canadian-American singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright is on tour in the UK, promoting her new album 'Come Home to Mama'. The daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle has received rave reviews so far. "Faultless", says the Evening Standard.

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