Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 19 Jun 2019

1. Johnson softens no-deal stance during TV debate

Conservative leadership front-runner Boris Johnson last night refused to guarantee that he would take the UK out of the EU by 31 October, during a live BBC debate with his four remaining rivals for the top job. Johnson also downgraded his proposal to reduce tax for higher earners to an “ambition”. Rory Stewart, the rank outsider in the contest, said the other contenders were in denial about Brexit.

BBC Tory leadership debate: who won?

2. Woman in 80s injured by royal motorcycle escort

An 83-year-old woman is in a serious condition in hospital following an accident involving a police motorcyclist who was escorting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge through the London borough of Richmond on Monday. The royal couple are said to be “deeply concerned and saddened” and have been in touch with the victim.

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3. MH17 shooting: investigators to name suspects

International investigators will launch criminal proceedings today against suspects in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The Dutch-led investigation team have already said they believe Russia-backed separatists brought down the jet, killing all 298 people on board, using a Russian-made missile.

Flight MH17: Eight other commercial passenger planes shot down

4. Trump launches 2020 presidential campaign

Incumbent Donald Trump launched his 2020 US presidential election campaign last night at a rally for supporters in Florida. Trump accused Democrats of trying to “rip your country apart” and said they would “flood the country with illegal immigrants in the hopes it will expand their political base” if they won the election.

How did Donald Trump win the presidency?

5. Anti-vaccination prejudice ‘is a global crisis’

High levels of public mistrust of vaccines is threatening efforts to combat deadly but preventable infectious diseases, a new study has found. A survey of 140,000 people in more than 140 countries by the Wellcome Trust found that only 79% believe vaccination to be safe, while 7% disagreed and 14% remained neutral.

6. Record £150m donation for Oxford University

Oxford University is to receive a £150m gift from US private equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, the biggest donation in UK history. The 72-year-old founder of Blackstone, who is close to Donald Trump, is funding a new centre for humanities that will also house an institute to study the ethics of artificial intelligence.

7. Scotland: alcohol sales drop in wake of price controls

Sales of alcohol in Scotland have fallen to their lowest level in 25 years after the government introduced a mandatory minimum price of 50p per alcohol unit. The Scottish health secretary, Jeane Freeman, has welcomed the new figures, which also show a 3% fall in the consumption of alcohol last year. However, data from NHS Scotland shows that Scots still buy 9% more alcohol than the English and Welsh.

Does minimum alcohol pricing work?

8. Woman hit by bike while on phone wins compensation

A yoga teacher who was hit by a bike while looking at her phone as she crossed a road in London is to receive compensation despite a judge ruling that she and the cyclist were equally to blame. Both Gemma Brushett and Robert Hazeldean were knocked unconscious in the accident. However, a judge at Central London County Court said Hazeldean is liable to pay out because “cyclists must be prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways”.

9. UK river more polluted than Great Pacific Garbage Patch, study finds

The Mersey River is more polluted with microplastic than the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Greenpeace is warning. The campaign group says scientists from the University of Exeter found 875 pieces in the Liverpool river within just half an hour. All 13 UK rivers surveyed, including the Clyde, Conwy and Derwent, were found to contain microplastics.

10. Briefing: how did the Gulf War start?

The US is sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East as hostilities continue to escalate between Washington and Iran. The US and its regional allies have accused Tehran of two recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

As tensions rise in the region The Week explores why Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait nearly 30 years ago.

How did the Gulf War start?

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