Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 24 Oct 2018

1. Trump accuses Saudis of ‘worst cover-up ever’

US President Donald Trump has accused Saudi Arabia of the “worst cover-up ever” in its handling of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi officials initially denied having any knowledge about the dissident journalist’s disappearance before admitting this week that he had been killed during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. The US is under pressure to do more to punish its key ally diplomatically.

2. US confirms withdrawal from anti-nuclear treaty

US national security adviser John Bolton yesterday confirmed that the US will withdraw from the historic 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty, which prevents the proliferation of weapons, following a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Bolton to respond when asked if the US would move more missiles into Europe.

3. Cabinet warned Brexit transition could take years

Leaked papers show that the Cabinet has been warned the Brexit transition period could last for years rather than the few months suggested by Theresa May, The Times reports. The newspaper says the transition could continue for many years on a “rolling” basis, with a decision made by the EU annually on whether it can be ended.

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4. Young couples ‘trapped in car dependency’

Town planners are forcing young couples into their cars by building new estates miles from amenities such as shops or NHS services, according to a report from campaign group Transport for New Homes. The RAC is backing the study and says that careless planning is leading to increased traffic on the roads.

5. Rogue landlords exploit loopholes – and tenants

Loopholes in legislation mean landlords convicted of housing offences or ruled unfit to rent property are still in business, a joint investigation by The Guardian and ITV has found. Landlords banned in one borough can still operate in others, while some use proxies to collect rent from their exploited tenants.

6. Escalator severs man’s foot

A man lost his foot and 19 other people were injured when an escalator accelerated to high speed and then collapsed at an underground station in Rome yesterday, leaving several victims trapped for hours between its metal plates. Some media reports say the accident was caused by Russian football fans jumping on the machine.

7. First UK operations to repair babies’ spines in womb

Surgeons have carried out operations on babies in the womb to repair their spines as they develop, in a UK first. Two unborn babies found to have gaps in their spinal cords, known as spina bifida, were operated on by a team of 30 doctors at University College Hospital in London this summer, it has emerged. The surgery is risky because it can cause premature labour.

8. Fijians disappointed as Meghan is whisked away

Kensington Palace has blamed “crowd management issues” after Meghan Markle was whisked away from a busy market in Fiji where she was due to meet female stallholders involved in a UN project. The Times says the women were left disappointed but the Palace insists the pregnant Duchess met everyone she was scheduled to meet.

9. Blackpool police hunt ‘Ross from Friends’ thief

Police in Blackpool have caused amusement by releasing a CCTV image of a man suspected of theft who bears a striking resemblance to the US actor David Schwimmer, best known as Ross in the sitcom Friends. The image has been the subject of many jokes on social media. Police say Schwimmer was in the US at the time of the alleged offence.

10. Briefing: what are NPCs?

Twitter has banned more than 1,500 spoof accounts featuring NPCs - grey, expressionless avatars who tweet bland, politically correct messages intended to mimic and provoke liberal pronouncements.

The social media giant’s decision has triggered accusations of censorship and prompted questions about how this seemingly harmless phenomenon has become the latest front in a culture war engulfing the US.

What are NPCs and why has Twitter banned them?

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