Britain’s decision on EU membership draws ever closer
- A UN legal panel has declared Julian Assange’s detention to be a “deprivation of liberty”. A panel of 5, of which three voted in favour of Assange, stated that his detainment “should be brought to an end” and that his “physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected”. The 44-year-old Wikileaks founder claimed asylum in London’s Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 but is now facing extradition to Sweden over a rape claim. Assange said the ruling was “vindication” but the UK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, called the decision “ridiculous”,
- Organisations that are given government grants have been banned from using the money for lobbying the government. The new clause will apply to new and renewed grant agreements from May. Cabinet office minister, Matthew Hancock, speaking to the BBC said that they had to end “the farce of government lobbying government”.
- Cameron’s EU renegotiation has received Denmark’s backing. Danish PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen said that the plan to restrict benefit payments for migrants was “understandable and acceptable”. Cameron now plans to hold the EU referendum in June of this year. However, first ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have asked the PM not to hold the vote in June as it will shift focus from the devolved elections in May.
- Health care professionals in England are to be given training in how to deal with the psychological effects of female genital mutilation (FGM). The decision was announced on Saturday, the International Day of Zero tolerance for FGM.
- Matt LeBlanc has been announced as new co-host for Top Gear. The 48-year-old actor, famous for his ten year stint as Joey Tribbiani in Friends, will co-host the new version of the long-running car series with Chris Evans. LeBlanc has spoken out about the generous reaction from fans since the announcement. On Chris Evans’ Radio 2 Breakfast Show he said: “I knew Top Gear was a big show” but, “wow, I was on the front page of the New York Times”. LeBlanc still holds the fastest record for the popular segment, “star in a reasonably priced car”.
- An Earthquake in Taiwan has killed at least eleven people. The 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Tainan on Saturday. In addition to the eleven reported deaths, thirty people have been reported missing. Amongst the damage was a high-rise building which collapsed with at least 100 homes inside. President Ma Ying-jeou promised shelters would be set up across the city. Speaking to the BBC, one Tainan resident said: “My home completely turned into debris. I didn’t know what was happening. I was really frightened as I have never seen such an earthquake.” There have been at least five aftershocks.
- Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton emerged victorious from the Iowa caucuses. Last week the first vote in the primary elections took place in Iowa. In a surprise win for the Republican Texas Senator, Ted Cruz beat Donald Trump with 26% of the Republican vote to Trump’s 23%. Cruz said: “Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives”. Clinton’s win in the Democrat vote was extremely close. She received 49.8% of the vote whilst Bernie Sanders won 49.6%. Clinton’s victory was secured by coin tosses in several precincts where the vote was tied.
- US astronaut Edgar Mitchell has died at the age of 85. Mitchell was the sixth man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971.
- The Zika virus crisis has deteriorated further. Colombia has reported 3 people have died after contracting the virus and developing a rare nervous disorder. Martha Lucia Ospina, head of Colombia’s National Health Institute, stated: “We have confirmed and attributed three deaths to Zika”. The disease is borne by mosquitoes but scientists are investigating other means of transmission. Scientists in Brazil have found the disease in urine and saliva whilst in Texas it has been reported that the virus might be transmitted through sex after a patient in Dallas has been diagnosed with the disease despite never visiting an infected area. The patient’s partner had, however, been to Venezuela. Two cases have been confirmed in Australia in people who had been to the Caribbean whilst the UK has announced those returning from countries affected by the Virus cannot donate blood for 28 days.
- At least one person died after a New York crane collapsed in lower Manhattan on Friday morning. Two others have been injured on West Broadway after high winds caused the crane to fall whilst workers were in the process of lowering it.