Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 3 Jan 2018

1. Hospitals on ‘black alert’ as winter crisis bites

NHS England has told hospitals across the country to cancel all non-emergency operations, with many struggling to cope with a particularly severe winter crisis. Some have declared a “black alert”, with patients waiting as long as 12 hours to be seen in A&E. Doctors’ leaders and hospital bosses say it is the worst crisis in decades.

2. Storm Eleanor leaves 25,000 homes without power

The fifth named storm of the winter, Storm Eleanor, has hit the country, leaving 25,000 homes in Northern Ireland, the Midlands, the Southwest and Wales without power. Winds of up to 80mph have been recorded on the coast and there has been flash flooding in Ireland. Bridges in the west and south of England have been closed.

3. UK exploring joining trans-Pacific trading group

The UK is in talks to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after Brexit, newspapers say. The 11-member group, which lost the US when Donald Trump pulled out, includes Australia, Mexico, Singapore and Canada. Britain would be the first member that is not situated on the Pacific. Trade Minister Greg Hands said geography was irrelevant.

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4. Canadian Taliban hostage charged with sexual assault

Joshua Boyle, who was held hostage along with his partner and children for five years by Taliban-linked militants in Pakistan, has been arrested in Canada, months after being freed and returning home. Boyle is charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement and uttering a death threat. The incidents are alleged to have happened recently in Canada.

5. Trump boasts about size of his nuclear button

US President Donald Trump has boasted that he has a “bigger” nuclear button than North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Trump tweeted: “Will someone from [Kim’s] depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

6. Woman’s stomach pain turns out to be sauce sachet

A woman thought to have Crohn’s disease was cured by doctors who removed a Heinz sauce sachet from her intestine by keyhole surgery. The 41-year-old, who had displayed symptoms of Crohn’s for six years, had no memory of a meal involving the sachet. The surgery, at Wexham Park Hospital, in Slough, has just been reported in the BMJ.

7. Olympic cycling champion injured in road accident

Australian world cycling champion and Olympic athlete Caroline Buchanan has suffered serious injuries in a single vehicle car crash in New South Wales. The 27-year-old posted a picture of herself bruised and bloodied in hospital on Twitter, telling supporters she has a broken sternum, broken nose and two collapsed lungs.

8. Ryanair passenger leaves plane by emergency exit

A passenger on a Ryanair flight that was delayed leaving London by one hour, and then kept on the tarmac at its destination in Malaga for 30 minutes, was arrested after opening an emergency escape door and climbing out of the plane. The Polish man, in his 50s, had announced: “I’m leaving by the wing.” He then sat on the wing with his hand luggage before returning to the plane.

9. Preston North End player becomes lottery millionaire

A footballer described as a “rising Irish star” has won €1m (£886,000) on the Irish National Lottery. Kevin O’Connor, who plays for English team Preston North End, says he has “no immediate plans” for the money and will focus on his career. He was bought the ticket by his uncle as a present while visiting family at home.

10. Briefing: why Iranian unrest is spreading

Iran’s clerical and political leaders are facing the biggest challenge to their authority in almost a decade, after a fifth day of street protests.

According to state media, at least 22 people have been killed, nine of them last night, and hundreds arrested, following anti-government demonstrations in more than 40 towns and cities across Iran in the past week. A police officer was reportedly shot dead overnight in the central city of Najafabad.

Iran protests: why the unrest is spreading

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