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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 20 Aug 2019

EU chiefs ‘unconvinced’ by Johnson backstop letter

The Guardian asserts that EU chiefs are “unconvinced” by a letter sent by Boris Johnson in which he suggests an alternative could be found for the Irish backstop. The paper says the letter “appears intended to portray Johnson as willing to negotiate with Brussels, even though he is making a demand … they have repeatedly rebuffed”.

Man charged with murder of just-married policeman

A man has been charged with murdering PC Andrew Harper, the 28-year-old officer who died when he investigated a burglary in Berkshire just four weeks after his wedding. Jed Foster, 20 and from Reading, has been charged with murder and the theft of a quad bike. Nine other men and boys have been released on bail until 13 September.

Jeffrey Epstein ‘made will days before his suicide’

The US financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in his prison cell on 10 August, made a will just days before his death, it has emerged. Epstein could have been sentenced to 45 years in jail if found guilty of sexually abusing underage girls and trafficking them. Questions have been asked about how he was able to kill himself.

Boy ‘thrown’ from Tate balcony ‘struggling’ for life

A six-year-old boy who was allegedly thrown off a balcony at the Tate Modern gallery in London by a 17-year-old is still “struggling with all his strength”, his parents have said. They added he has had “two long and difficult operations” and they still do not know “the full extent and severity of his injuries”. The teenager will be tried next year.

Shoppers click but don’t collect goods worth £228m

There is worrying news for retailers hoping that click-and-collect will bring customers into their shops: a new survey for Barclaycard and sports retailer Decathlon found shoppers often decided not to collect goods bought this way because of queues and “hassle”. The poll suggested that £228m-worth of goods was abandoned in the last year. 

London skyscraper rules tackle wind-tunnel effect

The City of London, the borough within Greater London that houses the capital’s financial district, has drawn up tougher new rules for developers designed to stop the construction of skyscrapers creating a wind-tunnel effect on pavements. Plans will have to take into account the effect of construction on pedestrians and cyclists.

Edinburgh comic rebuked for Tourette’s broccoli gag

The comic judged to have the best one-liner at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been rebuked by the charity Tourettes Action, as has the TV channel behind the contest, Dave. The charity says the joke is “not funny” and brings “shame on Dave”. It goes: “I keep randomly shouting out ‘broccoli’ and ‘cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets.”

Elton John defends Harry and Meghan on jet flights

Elton John has issued a furious statement to the press defending Prince Harry and Meghan from “relentless and untrue assassinations on their character” and saying he paid for a private flight that provoked media interest. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have spoken out on green issues yet used four private jets in 11 days.

Great British Bake Off contestants for 2019 revealed

Channel 4 has unveiled the new batch of contestants for The Great British Bake Off – and they include a geography teacher, a vet and a fashion designer. The judges and presenters are unchanged: Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. The oldest contestant is 56-year-old Phil, an HGV driver from Essex.

Briefing: who are Ebola’s ‘lullaby singers’?

The latest Ebola outbreak has seen grieving mothers and orphaned babies come together in a mutual soothing of the pain the disease spreads.

Known as the “lullaby singers”, groups of women who have lost children to Ebola are caring for orphaned and sick babies at treatment centres in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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