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Friday briefing: May heads to talks in Austria with customs deal in tatters

Posted by On July 27, 2018

Friday briefing: May heads to talks in Austria with customs deal in tatters

Top story: PM digs in with pre-holiday Brexit push

This is Alison Rourke bringing you the top stories at the end of this scorching summer week.

Michel Barnier has warned that attempts to appeal to EU leaders over his head are a waste of time as he rejects Theresa May’s proposals on customs after Brexit, in effect killing off the Chequers plan. On Friday, the PM travels to Austria to meet Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis, in an attempt to get support for her Brexit plan, before heading off on her summer holiday. The talks follow a news conference in Brussels on Thursday in which Barnier said the EU would not delegate the application of its customs policy to a non-member that would not be subject to EU governance, effectively sounding the knell of the Chequers customs proposal. “Anyone who wants to find a sliver of difference between my mandate and what the heads of government say they want are wasting their time, quite frankly,” he said.

Imran Khan coalition â€" Imran Khan won Pakistan’s election but will have to seek out allies to form government, official results show. After an exceptionally slow count, Pakistan election officials on Friday announced the cricket star’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party won 109 of the 269 seats being contested in the National Assembly. His nearest rival, Shahbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz party won 63 seats. Sharif, who heads the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has rejected the results, alleging widespread fraud and manipulation.

Probation shake-up â€" The monitoring of offenders in the community faces another shake-up after reforms introduced by Chris Grayling forced the government to bail out failing private probation companies by more than half a billion pounds. David Gauke, the justice secretary, has announced that eight private firms that run 21 “community rehabilitation companies” in England and Wales are to have their contracts terminated in 2020, two years earlier than agreed. Under proposals being announced today, offenders may no longer face a minimum 12 months’ supervision on release from prison and probation officers will have to meet a minimum requirement of offering monthly face-to-face contact.

North Korea returns remains â€" Kim Jong-un has returned the remains of an unknown number of US soldiers killed in the Korean war, a commitment he made to Donald Trump at his Singapore summit. The White House hailed it as a significant step: “We are encouraged by North Korea’s actions and the momentum for positive change,” it said. About 7,700 US soldiers are listed as missing from the 1950-53 Korean war, and the remains of 5,300 are believed to still be in North Korea.

Blood moon spoiler â€" Torrential rain and thunderstorms could hinder skygazers from seeing the “blood moon” lunar eclipse in some parts of the country tonight as forecasters warn of heavy downpours across eastern parts of Great Britain. The Met Office issued a warning for a thunderstorm from this afternoon, due to last until just before midnight. It could spoil your chance of seeing the longest lunar eclipse of the century â€" which will start at 8.49pm â€" and has dampened the record heat predictions for today (but for those who have loved the heat, you can look at how the newspapers’ pun-loving headline-writers have marked this week’s scorcher here). If the skies happen to be clear above you, the moon will rise with a deep, rusty red colour as it is totally eclipsed by the earth. About half an hour later, Mars will rise in the same place, brighter than usual in an astronomical coincidence that places it closer to us than at any time in the past 15 years. Both should be visible to the naked eye.

The 99% waxing gibbous moon over Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, ahead of tonight’s blood moon

IVF at 40 â€" Six million IVF babies have been born since 1978, but should we be concerned with the rising numbers of fertility treatments? As our weekly Science podcast hears, 42% of the UK’s IVF cycles in 2016 were in couples aged under 35, and the most common reason cited was male infertility. Some scientific studies suggest that male infertility problems are on the rise â€" and nobody knows why.

Lunchtime read: Violent thriller or romantic fiction?

Does your postcode tell you something about the books you like to read? Thrillers â€" in particular those by the US author James Patterson (most borrowed for t he 11th year in a row with Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train topping UK authors) â€" continue to exert an inexorable pull for the majority of the UK’s library users, according to figures from Public Lending Right, part of the Department of Digital, Culture Media and Sport. But thrillers are particularly popular in the north-east, with seven of the top 10 books borrowed from libraries coming from the crime/thriller genre. In the north-west and Merseyside, nine of the top 10 books were from this genre and in Wales it was 10 out of 10.

Emily Blunt starred in the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train

But the figures show that in England’s eastern counties, readers made Milly Johnson’s novel Sunshine over Wildflowe r Cottage their top read, and in the south-east, Jojo Moyes’s sequel to Me Before You, After You, topped the charts, with Maeve Binchy also riding high. In the south-west, meanwhile, the top nine titles borrowed from libraries were all by Roald Dahl, while in Northern Ireland, Jeff Kinney and other children’s authors filled out the top 10.

Sport

Geraint Thomas will avoid riding close to the crowds lining the route during today’s key Tour de France mountain stage after a spectator deliberately grabbed him and nearly caused him to crash on stage 17, which was won by Arnaud Démare. It has been a niggly Tour so far, and the roots of the spectator unrest could lie in the lack of swift communication over Chris Froome’s salbutamol finding.

Ed Smith has defended his controversial decision to call up Adil Rashid for England’s first Test against India following a fiery response from Yorkshire over the legâ€'spinner’s refusal to play first-class cricke t for the club this season.

The independent inquiry into football’s sexual abuse scandal is expected to report back to the FA that there is no evidence of an institutional cover-up at the top of the sport or of a paedophile ring operating within the game.

Lewis Hamilton believes he will be able to thrive on the intense fight he faces with Sebastian Vettel for the Formula One world championship.

And tributes have been paid to one of the “country’s best up-and-coming snowboarders”, Ellie Soutter, after she died on her 18th birthday.

Business

Market watchers will be keeping an eye on Facebook shares today after the internet giant had £90.8bn wiped off its market value on Thursday. Facebook’s plunge came as Amazon posted a record profit of $2.5bn in the second quarter of 2018, thanks to a strong performance in the retail giant’s non-retail divisions â€" advertising and cloud-computing. Revenue grew 39% year over year to $52.89bn, whic h was slightly below analyst expectations. But any disappointment was tempered by the profit result, which was a 1,286% increase from the second quarter of 2017.

The pound is buying $1.311 and €1.125.

The papers

The Guardian splashes with “Billions wiped off Facebook value as it pays for data scandal”. The FT leads with the same story: “Facebook sheds $120bn in value as ‘bombshells’ spark record sell-off”. The Times’ main story is also about Facebook, but takes a different angle: “Antisemitic posts allowed by Facebook”.

The i’s lead story is about “Cannabis medicine on the NHS”, the Daily Express reports on a “‘Spectacular’ Alzheimer’s breakthrough” and the Daily Mirror has Sir Alex Ferguson praising hospital staff who tended to him after his brain haemorrhage: “Fergie: Thank you for saving my life”.

The < strong>Daily Telegraph reports comments from Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey, with the headline: “Teenagers told to get jobs for the summer”. The Daily Mail reports we are “Living beyond our means” and the Sun’s front page is about the weather, with the headline “Bake to the future”.

For more news: www.theguardian.com

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Source: Google News Austria | Netizen 24 Austria

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