Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 20 Jan 2018

1. US government shuts down after Senate vote

The US government has begun a federal shutdown after the Senate failed to agree on a new budget. On a night of drama in Washington, Republican leaders fell short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass a spending bill. The White House has accused Democrats of holding "lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands". It is the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency.

2. Britain could rejoin EU within 10 years, says May deputy

Britain could rejoin a reformed European Union, Theresa May’s de facto deputy prime minister has hinted. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, David Lidington, the new Cabinet Office Minister, said it was impossible to predict what the EU will look like in "10 or 20 years’ time". He added that rejoining the bloc would be "something for future parliaments to consider".

3. Facebook to ask its users to rank news sites

Facebook says it will fight the spread of 'fake news' by allowing users to rank trustworthy media outlets. Founder Mark Zuckerberg said his social network will survey users to identify "high quality" news in a bid to tackle deliberate misinformation. Facebook, which has more than two billion monthly users, has faced a tidal wave of 'fake news' and hoaxes over the past two years.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

4. Insurers 'deny cover' to those with mental health issues

Insurers have been accused of denying cover to people with mental health issues, says The Guardian. In news that charities and campaigners have described as "extremely worrying", people who have suffered even mild mental health conditions or one-off episodes say they have been refused life insurance altogether. One was a victim of the July 7 London bombings who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder.

5. Family says Tom Petty died of accidental overdose

Rock star Tom Petty died last year from an accidental drug overdose, his family have revealed. The singer suffered a fatal cardiac arrest in October, a matter of days after completing a 40th anniversary tour. He was 66. On his official Facebook page, Petty's widow Dana and daughter Adria revealed that he "passed away due to an accidental drug overdose as a result of taking a variety of medications".

6. Macron says Britain could get special EU trade deal

The French President has hinted that the UK could get a special trade deal with the European Union after Brexit. However, speaking to the BBC, Emmanuel Macron warned that Britain would not have full access to the single market without accepting its rules, adding that London could not simply "cherry-pick" the elements it liked.

7. Four-year-olds targeted with 'addictive' casino game

Children as young as four are being offered "highly addictive", free-to-play, casino-style games by Apple, Google and Facebook. One game, which is billed as the most "addictive coin pusher game ever", includes roulette and slot machines, and is rated as suitable for four-year-olds. The Gambling Commission says the availability of the games risks "normalising" gambling for a generation of children.

8. China birth-rate drops despite one-child policy reform

Births in China fell last year even though the country has relaxed its infamous one-child policy. China saw 17.23m births in 2017, compared with 17.86m the previous year. Analysts say the fall was caused by the declining population of women of childbearing age and couples having children later in life. The 1.39 billion-strong nation began to phase out its one-child policy in 2015.

9. Gaza family kills own relative on suspicion of informing

A family in Gaza has killed one of its own members for allegedly acting as an Israeli informant. The Hamas regime held Ahmad Said Barhoum for several months without trial, suspecting he passed on information to Israel that led to the deaths of three militants. Witnesses said Barhoum was shot dead in an open area of Rafah in southern Gaza shortly after he was handed over to his family.

10. Europe and Moscow suffer historically dark winter

Parts of Europe have endured one of the darkest winters since records began. Brussels had less than 11 hours of sun last month, while Lille has had less than three in January. Meanwhile, over in Russia, Moscow recorded just six minutes of direct sunshine in the whole of December, demolishing the previous record low of three hours, set in 2000.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.