Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 17 Aug 2017

1. Slight rise in A-level top grades

The proportion of students awarded A and A* grades at A-level has risen by 0.5 per cent – the first increase in six years – but dropped slightly in 13 subjects trialling a new exam system. Boys overtook girls in top grades with 26.6% of boys getting these results compared with 26.1% of girls, reversing a 0.3% gap last year. 416,000 university places have so far been confirmed - down 2% on the same point last year.

A-level results: How the goalposts have moved

2. Next phase of Brexit talks 'put off to December'

According to Sky News, cabinet ministers are saying privately the next phase of Brexit talks may not happen until Christmas. Negotiations had been expected to resume in October but look likely to be delayed because of Germany's general election. The new timing would mean less than a year left for talks on future trading with the EU.

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Brexit: Lords force Theresa May to give MPs single market vote

3. Republicans condemn fascists but stay quiet on Trump

The Washington Post collected the reactions of 55 US politicians to President Trump's latest comments on white supremacist violence. Only one supported his statements – a Republican, Kayleigh McEnany. However, while Republican congressmen have condemned neo-Nazis, they have mostly avoided criticising Trump directly.

Donald Trump scraps business councils as executives resign

4. Shale gas reserves overhyped, academic warns

A geology professor, John Underhill of Heriot-Watt University, has told the BBC the debate over fracking is not "paying enough attention to the geology". His research has led him to conclude that UK shale deposits were formed too late to trap substantial amounts of gas. Underhill warned that "the opportunity has been hyped".

5. Van crashes into crowds in Barcelona's Ramblas tourist area

A van has ploughed into crowds on the Ramblas tourist area in Barcelona. Spanish police have characterised the incident as a terrorist attack, and local media say two people were killed. Emergency services are urging people to stay away from the area around Placa Catalunya.

6. Grace Mugabe claims diplomatic immunity

Grace Mugabe, the wife of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, has asked for diplomatic immunity in South Africa after allegations that she was involved in the assault of a 20-year-old model in an upmarket Johannesburg hotel. She is accused of attacking Gabriella Engels with an electrical extension cord after she went to see her sons Robert and Chatunga.

Robert Mugabe's wife seeks diplomatic immunity

7. Far-right Australian politician wears burqa

A far-right Australian politician, Pauline Hanson, has provoked outrage by attending a debate wearing a burqa. The One Nation party leader had planned to call for a ban on the garment. Senate leader George Brandis advised Hanson to be "very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians".

Pauline Hanson stuns Australian Senate with burka stunt

8. Guide ranks UK's best restaurants – with new winner

A Cornish fish restaurant is the best in the UK, according to the Good Food Guide. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac pushed Cumbria's L'Enclume out of the top spot after five years. Other new entries in the top 50 include Stark, which seats just 12 in Broadstairs, and a restaurant housed in an ex-strip club in Leeds, Vice & Virtue.

9. Mission: Impossible filming halted as Cruise injured

Filming of the sixth Mission: Impossible film has had to be suspended after actor Tom Cruise broke his ankle while performing a stunt, producers say. Paramount Pictures insists the film is still on schedule for its July release, however. A video from the set shows Cruise crashing into a wall between two London high-rise buildings.

Why have film stunts become so dangerous?

10. Briefing: How the EU customs deal might work

The government is at last offering some clarity over its Brexit plans, and the Cabinet hostilities that have raged all summer appear to have ceased.

When senior Brexiters and Remainers agreed last month on the need for a transitional arrangement when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, they kicked off a further round of squabbling about what the temporary rules ought to cover and how long they should remain in force.

This week, the government seeks to settle some of those disputes, providing more detail of its negotiating goals for the proposed interim deal. The first in a series of papers, published today, focuses on the EU customs union.

Brexit: How a 'temporary customs union' might work

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