Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 21 Mar 2013
PKK LEADER CALLS FOR PEACE IN TURKEY
After 30 years of Kurdish insurgency, the jailed leader of the PKK rebels, Abdullah Ocalan, has called for a truce with the Turkish government and urged his fighters to withdraw from the country. His message from jail was read out in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyaarbakir. Previous ceasefires have failed, but observers are optimistic a truce could hold.
OBAMA: US 'COMMITTED' TO PALESTINIAN STATE
Meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today, Barack Obama said the US was "deeply committed" to the creation of a sovereign state of Palestine. Yesterday, he was said by commentators to have bowed to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's aggressive stance towards Iran's nuclear ambitions in Tel Aviv, agreeing that Israel has the "right to defend itself by itself".
JULIA GILLARD STILL PM AFTER BALLOT FARCE
Julia Gillard remains Australian prime minister after a day of farce in Canberra. Responding to calls to deal with disunity in the Labor Party, Gillard called a leadership ballot which it was assumed would be won by her predecessor, Kevin Rudd. But 11 minutes before the ballot was due to take place Rudd pulled out. Gillard was duly declared the winner.
POLICE RAID IMF CHIEF LAGARDE'S PARIS FLAT
French police yesterday searched the Paris apartment of IMF chief Christine Lagarde as they investigated her role in awarding financial compensation to a businessman, Bernard Tapie, in a deal alleged to have been a pay-off for his support for President Sarkozy. As finance minister, she referred his dispute with Credit Lyonnais to an arbitration panel, which awarded him €400m.
WELBY SPEAKS OF SAME-SEX 'CHALLENGE'
Justin Welby, speaking before his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury today, has told the BBC that he is deeply challenged by the Church's position on same sex relationships – it remains officially opposed to active homosexuality - because he knows that some gay partnerships "are just stunning in the quality of the relationship".
SCOTLAND D-DAY SET: 18 SEPTEMBER 2014
The Scottish independence referendum will be held on 18 September, 2014, the country's First Minister, Alex Salmond, announced in Edinburgh this afternoon. Voters will be asked the simple Yes/No question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" Recent polls show a majority rejecting independence in favour of keeping the status quo.
MORTGAGE SCHEME 'WILL SUBSIDISE RICH'
Labour says a Budget initiative designed to help homebuyers get mortgages amounts to a "spare homes subsidy" for the better-off. Chancellor George Osborne said the £130bn Help-to-Buy scheme will get people on the housing ladder or help them move to a larger home, but Labour says it could be used by the wealthy to buy second homes.
SURVEY: MOST GPS PRESCRIBE PLACEBOS
New research by Oxford University suggests family doctors routinely prescribe unnecessary treatments to "calm down" patients - and the researchers are calling for the placebo effect to be studied by UK health regulators. Ninety-seven per cent of the GPs surveyed said they prescribed scans, blood tests or antibiotics for no reason.
GREG DYKE NAMED AS FA CHAIRMAN
Former BBC director-general Greg Dyke has been named as the new chairman of the Football Association. He will give up the chairmanship of Brentford, his childhood club, who currently play in League One. "Obviously it is imperative that I am neutral," he said. Dyke, 65, remains chancellor of York University and chairman of the BFI.
HOT TICKET: DAVID BOWIE AT THE V&A
A retrospective of David Bowie's music career told in his famous stage outfits, album cover art, photography and video clips opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Saturday. "A grand stage for an inspirational artist who reshaped a generation," says the Daily Telegraph. Until 11 August.