Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 13 Apr 2019

1. Home Secretary urged to focus on Assange rape allegations

Sajid Javid and Dianne Abbott are under pressure to focus on action that would allow Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden, amid concerns that US charges relating to Wikileaks’ activities risked overshadowing allegations of rape. More than 70 MPs and peers have written to the home secretary and shadow home secretary urging them to focus attention on the earlier Swedish investigations.

2. Council tax debts soar as authorities offset austerity cuts

Council tax debts have soared by nearly 40% in six years, reports The Guardian. Households face a fourth consecutive year of above-inflation council tax rises as local authorities attempt to recoup money cut from their budgets by central government austerity. The annual band D bill will rise by an average of £75.60. Charities warn that council tax arrears now rival credit card debts as their biggest concern.

3. Protestors party in streets as Sudan leader steps down

The protest movement in Sudan was celebrating last night when the military moved to replace the country’s transitional leader after a single day. Thousands of jubilant protesters took to the streets in celebration after the defence minister, Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was named de facto leader after overthrowing Omar al-Bashir on Thursday, announced he was stepping down as transitional leader. He named his successor as Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.

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4. Kim Jong-un says he would talk to Donald Trump again

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says he would take part in a third summit with Donald Trump provided the US brought the “right attitude”. In a speech, he has encouraged the US President to pursue a deal that was “fair” and “mutually acceptable”. The two leaders met for the first time in Singapore last year but a second summit in Hanoi in February ended in failure when it broke down over denuclearisation steps.

5. DWP restores benefits to woman it called ‘lying bitch’

The Department of Work and Pensions has offered to restore the benefits of a woman whom it called a “lying bitch” after she appealed against the decision to strip her of some of her disability entitlements. The DWP has apologised to the woman and is considering offering a “consolatory payment”, issued in exceptional cases where claimants have suffered “gross embarrassment, humiliation, unnecessary personal intrusion and … severe distress”.

6. Pro-EU parties will not form pact at European elections

Pro-EU parties hope to use the forthcoming European elections as a “soft referendum” to show a surge in support for remain. The parties, including the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Independent Group, will not form pacts or alliances at the forthcoming EU elections, as they prefer to attempt to use the poll to try and halt the Brexit process.

7. Earthquake hits near Indonesian island of Sulawesi

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake has hit near Indonesia's Sulawesi island, which was struck by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in September. Last year’s twin natural disasters killed more than 4,400 people when it struck the coastal city of Palu. There were no immediate reports of deaths or damage following the most recent quake but it caused panic.

8. Facebook spent $22.6m on security for Zuckerberg

Facebook spent $22.6m on personal security for Mark Zuckerberg in 2018, more than doubling the sum of the previous year. Regulatory filings show that Zuckerberg received $2.6m for personal use of private jets, which the company said was part of his overall security program. Facebook has been at the centre of numerous controversies in recent years over data breaches and privacy concerns.

9. Judge spares drink driver jail because she is a woman

A judge has given a repeated drink-driver a chance to avoid jail because she is a woman. Victoria Parry crashed into three other cars after drinking a bottle of wine. Judge Sarah Buckingham said Parry, an alcoholic who had escaped an abusive relationship, would have gone “straight down the stairs” to jail if she were a man. The judge added that although Parry “deserved” a prison term, she would be granted three months to address her issues.

10. Title of next Star Wars movie is revealed by filmmakers

The next Star Wars movie will be titled The Rise of Skywalker, it has been revealed. The news was announced at a Star Wars celebration event in Chicago. A trailer was also been released online with the words: “Every generation has a legend.” Fans have been thrilled by the news. The Rise of Skywalker is due to be released later this year.

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