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10 October 2019

Five things you need to know today: Pompeo on Turkey, and rugby rained off

Also, food on public transport could be banned.

By New Statesman

US denies approving Turkey’s Syria offensive

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has said the US did not “green light” Turkey’s latest offensive in northern Syria. 

Pompeo was defending President Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from the border, which has come in for significant international criticism. The move has allowed Turksih forces to launch an assault against territory held by the Kurds – an attempt, President Erdogan has said, “to prevent the creation of a terror corridor”.

Trump told a news conference yesterday: “With all of that being said, we like the Kurds.”

Varadkar and Johnson to meet again

Boris Johnson is to meet his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar again today for “detailed discussions” on the government’s Brexit proposals. (The word “deal” would imply that these proposals have been accepted, which they haven’t.) 

The two leaders will meet later in the north west of England – but Varadkar warned yesterday that it would be “very difficult” for the UK and EU to reach an agreement before Brexit is due to take lace on 31 October.

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Chief medical officer calls for public transport snack ban

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the government’s outgoing chief medical officer, has called for food to be banned from public transport and the sugar tax extended to cover more types of products. Her final such report before leaving the role argues that radical action is the only way to tackle the rising obesity crisis. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has in the past attacked such initiatives as “the continuing creep of the nanny state”.

Rugby rained off

England’s next Rugby World Cup match against France, due to take place in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday evening, has been cancelled because of the arrival of Super Typhoon Hagibis. The cancelled match will be treated as a 0-0 draw, meaning that both teams will go through to the quarter finals.

Italy is not so lucky: the cancellation of its match against New Zealand means its elimination from the tournament.

Filipino spokesman gridlocked

The official spokesman for the president of the Philippines has come under fire, after telling angry commuters that the solution to Manila’s transport crisis was to leave home earlier. “What do they mean by transportation crisis? I just see traffic,” Salvador Panelo told the Philippine Star. “There is a solution here, if you want to arrive early then you go there earlier.”

Commutes in Manila can take up to three hours. On the upside, Panelo’s boss, President Duterte, will benefit from the use of his £32m new private jet.