News Daily: US backs UK against Russia and chemical defence centre planned

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US backs UK over spy retaliation

The White House is supporting the UK's decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats in the wake of the chemical attack in Salisbury. Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the US stood "in solidarity" with the UK and called Theresa May's move "a just response".

Former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain critically ill in hospital after being exposed to a nerve agent. On Wednesday, the prime minister said Russia was "culpable" for the attack, but it denies responsibility.

So, how is the UK responding to the attack? And what do we know so far about the case?

UK planning new chemical defence centre

The UK will build a £48m chemical weapons centre to protect itself from growing threats from Russia, North Korea and other countries, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is to announce. In a speech later, he'll also denounce the "shocking and reckless" attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

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MPs' warning over UK air quality

MPs are demanding a faster phase-out of diesel cars, as they call for an end to the UK's "poisonous" air. Four separate Commons committees are asking for a new Clean Air Act and a clean air fund, financed by the motor industry. Their joint report says pollution costs 40,000 UK lives a year.

Review as plastic found in bottled water

What's the risk of drinking water from plastic bottles? The World Health Organization has launched a review into the health effects of "microplastics" - particles small enough to be ingested. There's currently no evidence that they can undermine human health but the WHO wants to assess the state of knowledge.

The trouble telling aid workers and jihadists apart

By Rodger Shanahan, Lowy Institute

A desire to ease the suffering of ordinary Syrians during its years of civil war has been shared by many people around the world. But getting aid into Syria and making sure it reaches the right people is extremely difficult. The conflict is complex and jihadists took advantage of the ensuing confusion - particularly at the start of the war - with some aid money diverted and foreign fighters entering the country by posing as aid workers. Charities and aid have been exploited by extremists in previous conflicts - in countries from Bosnia to Afghanistan. So, how can they be stopped from doing so in future?

Read the full article

What the papers say

Theresa May's decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats dominates the front pages. Metro goes for the headline "Push offski", while the Guardian says the UK is "braced for retaliation" by Moscow. The Financial Times says the row could "spiral into a wider stand-off". The Daily Mirror calls the crisis "Cold War II". Tributes are also paid to physicist Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76. The i calls him "Britain's master of the universe".

Daily digest

Pupil absences Parents in England and Wales fined £24m for truancy and term-time holidays, BBC finds

YouTube stunt Prankster jailed for shooting boyfriend dead

Brexit David Davis "can live with" shorter transition period

Pierce Brosnan Ex-Bond star says India mouth freshener brand "cheated" him

If you see one thing today

Dodging bullets to deliver a baby

If you listen to one thing today

Jim Reeves, we love you because...

If you read one thing today

Nine suicide attempts in 10 days


Today The Creative Industries Federation holds a conference on Brexit at London's National Gallery.

13:30 England men's rugby union coach Eddie Jones announces his team for Saturday's Six Nations match against Ireland.

15:00 United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura briefs the organisation's Security Council in New York.

On this day

1962 The Liberal Party enjoys a famous by-election win, seizing the Orpington seat from the Conservatives. This brings its number of MPs to seven.

From elsewhere

Isolated and vulnerable: A look at Ghouta (Washington Post)

How psychopaths see the world (The Atlantic)

How audio is changing the way we use books (Independent)

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