Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 26 Jan 2018

1. Four BBC men agree to take pay cut

Four of the BBC’s top-paid news presenters – all men – have agreed to take pay cuts so that female colleagues can be paid more. The corporation says Jeremy Vine, John Humphrys, Huw Edwards and Jon Sopel have all agreed, “either formally or in principle”, to reduced their salaries. Carrie Gracie resigned as China editor earlier this month over unequal pay.

2. Trump ‘did not know’ Britain First ‘was racist’

US President Donald Trump has said he did not know far-right party Britain First were “horrible, racist people” when he retweeted their bogus videos about terrorism. Interviewed at Davos by Piers Morgan for ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Trump said: “I would certainly apologise [for re-tweeting the group], if you’d like me to do that.”

3. May forced to disown Hammond on Brexit

Theresa May has disowned remarks made by Chancellor Philip Hammond at the World Economic Forum in Davos, to avoid upsetting Europhobes in her party. Hammond said that the purpose of Brexit trade negotiations was to change regulation, “hopefully, very modestly”. Downing Street said the changes would not be “modest”.

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4. Casey Affleck pulls out of presenting Oscar

US actor Casey Affleck has pulled out of presenting the Best Actress award at this year’s Oscars following accusations against him of past sexual harassment, which he denies. Casey won Best Actor last year for Manchester By The Sea – and the winner of that award traditionally presents the Best Actress honour at the next ceremony.

5. Shape Of Water director accused of plagiarism

The estate of the late playwright Paul Zindel has said that director Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-nominated film, The Shape Of Water, is “obviously derived” from Zindel’s 1960s play Let Me Hear You Whisper – but that no permission was sought to use the rights. Fox Searchlight is insisting Del Toro and his co-writer had never read nor seen Zindel’s play.

6. Defence Secretary warns of Russian energy ‘plot’

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the “real threat” faced by Britain is that Russia is spying on undersea electricity cables and gas pipelines leading to the UK that could cause “total chaos” if cut. Williamson told The Daily Telegraph that Russia would be willing to take action “any other nation would see as completely unacceptable”.

7. At least 41 dead in South Korean hospital fire

At least 41 people have been killed, and 79 injured, by a fire at a hospital in South Korea. The fire is thought to have started in the A&E ward of Sejong Hospital in the southern city of Miryang this morning. The hospital also contains a care home for the elderly. Authorities say the victims appeared to have died from smoke inhalation.

8. New Zealand firm accused of ‘space graffiti’

Space exploration start-up Rocket Lab has been accused of “space graffiti” following its launch of satellites into orbit from a remote New Zealand cattle farm last week. One of the objects sent up was an artwork, the Humanity Star. The reflective geodesic sphere is designed to look like a “new star” in the night sky and is expected to orbit the Earth for nine months - to the dismay of some astronomers.

9. Police called as ‘Nutella riots’ hit France

A 70% discount on Italian chocolate spread Nutella has prompted a series of near-riots in branches of French supermarket Intermarche, with police called to stop customers fighting and pushing each other. One customer told French media that shoppers were behaving “like animals” and that she had seen an old woman hit on the head with a box.

10. Briefing: the ethical dilemma behind the miracle monkeys

Chinese researchers have cloned two monkeys using the same method that birthed Dolly the sheep - a technique that raises moral and ethical questions about the possibility of cloning humans.

Chinese researchers created two identical long-tailed macaques, who have been called Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, born eight and six weeks ago respectively, according to the journal Cell. Since Dolly was created in an Edinburgh lab in 1996, scientists have cloned almost two dozen kinds of mammals, including dogs and cats using this method - and have also created human embryos.

Cloning monkeys: the ethical dilemma behind the miracle

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