Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 15 Mar 2017

1. Donald Trump paid $38m in tax in 2005

A leaked copy of Donald Trump's 2005 tax return shows he paid $38m (£31m) in tax on more than $150m (£123m) income. Around 82% of the amount paid was through a tax on the super-rich he has now pledged to abolish. The US President has consistently refused to make his tax return public and the White House said it was against the law to publish the leaked document.

Fact Check: The truth behind Donald Trump's net worth

2. Government drops national insurance increase

The government has dropped plans for a national insurance increase for the self-employed. Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government will not proceed with move, announced in last week's Budget, which was criticised for breaking a 2015 manifesto pledge not to raise NI or other taxes. Labour claimed the u-turn showed that the government was in "chaos".

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3. Pressure grows on Tories over election spending

Pressure is growing on senior Tories to answer questions on election expenses, leaked emails reveal. A message from Karl McCartney, one of several Conservative MPs under investigation over claims of over-spending during the 2015 campaign, accuses high-ranking Conservatives of "covering their own backsides", says Sky News.

4. Pirates hold oil tanker to ransom off Somali coast

Armed men are demanding a ransom for the release of an oil tanker hijacked off the coast of Somalia on Monday, the EU anti-piracy force announced yesterday. It is the first such seizure of a commercial vessel since 2012, since when piracy has been controlled by international efforts. The UN warned in October that hijackings might resume.

5. Anti-Semitic road sign erected near London synagogue

A road sign appearing to warn people to "beware of Jews" has been discovered just yards from a synagogue in the largely orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Stamford Hill in London. The triangular sign, bearing the silhouette of a man wearing a tradtional fedora hat, is expected to be dismantled today. Police are investigating.

'Beware of Jews' sign appears on London street

6. Support for Scottish independence at 'highest level ever'

Support for Scottish Independence is at its highest recorded level, according to a study by ScotCen Social Research, although the popularity of the European Union has fallen in Scotland, which voted against Brexit last year. Researchers say this suggests focusing on EU membership may not be the best way to persuade voters to choose to leave the UK..

IndyRef2 polls: Support for Scottish independence at all-time high

7. Turkey row boosts Netherlands PM Rutte

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte goes into his country's general election today with a boost in support after his country's diplomatic spat with Turkey. Polls give his centre-right VVD party its clearest lead yet over far-right Geert Wilders following his decision to ban Turkish ministers from speaking in the Netherlands.

Europe watches on as Dutch voters go to the polls

8. Charities win legal case over woman's will

Three charities have won a case at the Supreme Court against a woman cut out of her mother's will. When Melita Jackson died in 2004 she left most of her £500,000 estate to charities and none to daighter Heather Ilott. She was awarded £50,000 by a judge but when the figure was tripled on appeal the charities launched their own case. Ilott will now receive the original amount.

9. Spiders eat 787 million tonnes of insects a year

Spiders eat up to 787 million tonnes of insects every year, as much weight as humans consume of meat and fish every year, says a study published in the Science of Nature. Researchers also used previous studies to estimate the world's spider population weighs a collective 25 million tonnes.

10. Briefing: The economics of Scottish independence

Scotland's nationalist leaders will face tough questions over how the country's economy could withstand independence following Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second referendum on leaving the UK.

Scotland's First Minister said yesterday she would seek permission to hold a second independence referendum in either 2018 or 2019, once the terms of Brexit become clear.

Some limited polling evidence that support for independence is edging up, albeit still stuck at around 50 per cent. But the economic case for going it alone looks like a harder sell.

Scottish independence: The economic challenge

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