News Daily: Pakistan 'downs Indian jets' and Labour MP in anti-Semitism row

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Kashmir tensions escalate as Pakistan 'shoots down Indian jets'

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The Pakistani military says it has shot down two Indian Air Force jets inside their airspace in what looks to be a major escalation of recent tensions between the two countries. India has not confirmed whether any of its aircraft have been lost, and has itself claimed to have shot down a Pakistani jet. The latest development comes after Pakistan earlier said it had hit Indian targets, a day after Indian jets struck militants in Pakistan.

What lies behind this escalation in military tensions between the two nuclear powers? Ajai Shukla has more here, while you can learn about the Kashmir issue by clicking here.

Labour MP criticised over 'inflammatory' remarks

Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North, has come in for criticism after footage emerged of him saying the party had been "too apologetic" over anti-Semitism. The Yorkshire Post has obtained a video of Mr Williamson telling a meeting of activists from the left-wing Momentum group in Sheffield that Labour was being "demonised as a racist, bigoted party". "We have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic," he goes on to say. His comments have been criticised by the party's deputy leader, Tom Watson, who described them as "deliberately inflammatory". The BBC has asked Mr Williamson, who is a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for a response. Labour has also been asked to comment, while Momentum has not responded.

The Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who quit the party last week to form The Independent Group with other disaffected backbenchers, described the video as "toxic". Her former colleague, Labour MP Stephen Doughty, said Mr Williamson's words were "unacceptable".

As concerns over anti-Semitism in Labour continue, you can read more about the issue here.

Language learning at 18-year low

The BBC's education editor Branwen Jeffreys reports that there has been a 30 to 50% drop in the number of UK children studying a foreign language at school. French and German have seen the biggest falls, while a third of schools have dropped at least one language GCSE. BBC News attempted to contact all of the 4,000 secondary schools in the UK as part of its survey of language teaching, While French and German appear to be in decline, the BBC found there has been a surge in the number of pupils studying Spanish and Mandarin. Despite that, business groups are worried, with the CBI saying the decline has to be reversed or the UK will be less competitive globally. Nick Gibb, Education minister for England, told the BBC there had been an overall rise in the number of students taking a language and that 5,000 children were "on track to fluency" in Mandarin by 2020.

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Firefighters tackle large moorland fire

As parts of the UK experienced record-breaking February temperatures on Tuesday, firefighters are tackling what one witness described as an "apocalyptic" fire on Saddleworth Moor in West Yorkshire. Approximately 1.5 sq km of moorland is on fire, leading the local fire brigade to describe it as one of the biggest fires it had dealt with. BBC Yorkshire climate correspondent Paul Hudson said the region saw temperatures on Tuesday of 18 or 19C, similar to what would be expected in June, while the area has also experienced a prolonged dry spell. Fires also broke out on Tuesday at Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex.

Brexit warning over UK global university ranking

By Sean Coughlan, education correspondent

The compilers of university rankings have warned that the UK's strong performance in international league tables could be adversely affected by Brexit, if access is disrupted to European funding and research partnerships. The latest QS World University Rankings have been published - showing the top-rated universities in individual subjects. UK universities are in first place in 13 out of 48 subject rankings, three more than last year. And the UK is second, behind the United States, in the number of universities ranked highest in their specialist area.

Read the full article

What the papers say

Theresa May's announcement on Tuesday that MPs will get to vote on whether to delay Brexit beyond the scheduled departure date of 29 March leads all bar two of the papers. The prime minister has written an article for the Daily Mail, in which she called on Parliament to "do its duty" and back the withdrawal deal she has hammered out with the EU. But the paper notes she was put in the position of having to offer a potential delay to Brexit after facing possible resignations from Remain-supporting ministers. The FT agrees, saying the prime minister's gambit was done to "appease" pro-EU Conservatives. Elsewhere, other papers pick up on Mrs May's use of the word "simples" in the Commons on Tuesday - where she mimicked the catchphrase of a character from a long-running series of TV adverts. "Theresa Meerkat" is the headline in Metro. Take a look inside Tuesday's papers in our full review here.

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