Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 24 Jul 2017

1. New electricity rules 'will save £40bn'

New rules coming into force in the next year mean consumers could save a total of £17bn to £40bn on energy bills by 2050, according to the government. Among other changes, the rules scrap tariffs charged to those who generate their own electricity at home and support those who agree to have their freezers turned off at peak times.

2. IMF downgrades US and UK growth

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the economies of Britain and the US will grow more slowly this year than it had predicted. The UK forecast has been lowered from 2% to 1.7%; the US forecast from 2.3% to 2.1%. However, economic growth will be better than expected in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and elsewhere.

IMF cuts UK growth forecast citing 'tepid' economy and Brexit concerns

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3. Doctors urge minimum alcohol price

Warning that 63,000 people will die of the effects of heavy drinking in the next five years, senior doctors and medical charities are today urging the government to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. Research suggests treating those suffering liver cancer and liver disease over the next five years will cost the NHS £16.74bn.

Alcohol to kill 63,000 in England over next five years

4. Taliban kill 24 in Kabul bombing

At least 24 people are dead, and dozens more wounded, after a suicide bombing on a bus carrying government employees in Kabul, carried out by the Taliban. The bomb went off during rush hour in the western part of the Afghan capital. A popular demonstration planned for today was cancelled over fears of an attack.

Should the UK and US send more troops into Afghanistan?

5. German IS teen: 'I want to go home'

A German teenager who joined Islamic State and is now in detention in Iraq after being found alive in Mosul has said she wants to go home. Believed to be Linda Wenzel, 16, the girl said: "I just want to get away from here. I want to get away from the war, from the many weapons, from the noise. I just want to go home to my family."

6. Johnson jokes about Maori greeting

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson joked yesterday in New Zealand that a traditional Maori greeting could be misinterpreted as a headbutt "in a pub in Glasgow". Johnson was taught the nose-pressing hongi greeting as he visited the South Island tourist town of Kaikoura where a huge earthquake killed two people in November.

Boris Johnson likens Irish border issue to congestion charge - and other gaffes

7. Ben Needham: Blood sent for analysis

Police hunting for Ben Needham, who went missing in Greece as a toddler in 1991, found signs of blood on items uncovered by a forensic search on the island of Kos last autumn. The samples are being analysed for DNA. Police say the discovery of bloodstains "corroborates and strengthens" the theory Ben died in a digger accident.

8. Jared Kushner denies colluding with Russia

Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has insisted he did not collude with Russia during the US election. In a statement issued before his appearance at a Senate panel Kushner said there had been "hardly any" contact with Russia and said his businesses did not rely on Russian finance. "I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded," he said.

9. Alice Cooper finds forgotten Warhol

Rock singer Alice Cooper has unearthed a masterpiece by Andy Warhol, rolled up in a tube in a warehouse. The silkscreen print of an electric chair from the Death and Disaster series could be worth millions. Cooper said he thinks he remembers a conversation with Warhol about the print but, as this was 1972, cannot be certain.

10. Briefing: Is Poland drifting towards totalitarianism?

Poland is in uproar over sweeping reforms that threaten to give politicians unprecedented powers including control over the judiciary.

The battle for the courts has been "one of the biggest political standoffs in Poland since communism fell in 1989," says Bloomberg.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has vowed to veto two legislative bills that would have allowed the ruling party to fire and replace Supreme Court judges, reports the BBC, but judicial reform is just one plank of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party's remodelling of Polish institutions, which critics have called a threat to Poland's youthful democracy - and even the stability of the EU.

So is the country drifting towards totalitarianism? The Week investigates.

Is Poland drifting towards totalitarianism?

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