Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 11 Jun 2019

1. Leadership rivals attack Johnson’s tax pledge

Several candidates to be the next leader of the Conservatives – and the UK’s next prime minister – have attacked rival Boris Johnson’s pledge to cut tax for higher earners. Rory Stewart warned against “cheap electoral bribes”, while Michael Gove said he would never “give the already wealthy another tax cut” if he were PM.

2. MPs call for ban on legal ‘gagging clauses’

The cross-party Women and Equalities Select Committee has called for a ban on legal “gagging clauses”, used by companies to silence employees who make allegations of discrimination and harassment. The MPs said the agreements can have a “destructive effect on people’s lives” and are being used to “cover up unlawful and criminal behaviour”.

3. Murdered Kim Jong-nam ‘was CIA informant’

The half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un who was murdered in Malaysia in 2017 was a CIA informant, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper cites a “person knowledgeable about the matter” who said that Kim Jong Nam met with operatives from the US intelligence agency. Two women charged with his killing were freed earlier this year.

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4. Torrential rain opens up sinkhole on M25

London’s orbital motorway, the M25, was closed in both directions last night after torrential rain caused two sinkholes to open up on its central reservation. The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for heavy rain over the next few days, saying that flooding and travel disruption are likely in the Midlands and the North.

5. Nicola Sturgeon to hold talks with EU leaders

Nicola Sturgeon is to hold talks with EU leaders as she makes a cultural visit to Belgium. Scotland’s First Minister will make a speech on her policy towards Europe before meeting EU President Jean-Claude Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. She said she would re-state her backing for continued EU membership.

6. British teenagers killed in car crash in Bolivia

Two young British tourists have died in Bolivia after their car flipped over on the world’s largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni. George Joseph Atkins and Freddie Michael McLennan, both 19, were killed along with the Bolivian driver, 22-year-old Alberto Barco, who is believed to have been going over the speed limit. Local authorities said four other people were injured in the crash.

7. Hundreds of execution sites ‘found in North Korea’

A human rights group based in South Korea says it has identified 323 sites for public executions in neighbouring North Korea. The Transitional Justice Working Group interviewed more than 600 North Korean defectors and pored over aerial photos of the country, led by a dynastic totalitarian dictatorship. It also identified ten sites for disposal of bodies.

8. Fatal helicopter crash in NYC

The pilot of a helicopter was killed after crashing into the top of a 54-storey skyscraper in Manhattan on Monday. The aircraft burst into flames after smashing into the Axa Equitable Center, on Seventh Avenue, which shook from the impact. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the tragedy had brought back terrible memories for the city’s people, who have “a level of PTSD from 9/11”.

9. Amazon: we will always need human staff

Online retailer Amazon has insisted it will always need human staff, despite the firm’s increasing reliance on sophisticated robotics. Chief robotics technologist Tye Brady said he aimed for a “symphony of humans and machines working together”, adding that “you need both”. Amazon has been criticised repeatedly over working conditions at its warehouses.

10. Briefing: how big is England’s North-South divide?

More than 30 local and regional newspapers from across northern England have launched a campaign to narrow the country’s North-South divide.

The media outlets, including titles run by JPIMedia, Newsquest and Reach, are calling on the main political parties and Tory leadership contenders to spell out how they intend to bridge the gap as part of Power Up The North. So how wide is the divide?

Power Up The North: how big is England’s North-South divide?

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