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News Daily: Trump's big speech, BBC licence fee and business diversity

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Trump speech

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It's always a moment of political theatre, but this year's State of the Union address had more moments of drama than most.

US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the nation to hail the "great American comeback" - as compared with his lament of "American carnage" in his 2017 inaugural address. He pointed to economic success, especially a "blue-collar boom", and claimed to have taken millions out of poverty.

This is, of course, an election year and Mr Trump made sure to appeal to his Republican base. He gave an award to right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh, vowed to protect gun rights and promised a ban on what he called "late-term abortion". The environment was barely mentioned, while the threat Mr Trump says "socialists" pose to "American healthcare" came up several times.

As he entered the room, the president refused to shake the outstretched hand of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of his fiercest critics. She, in turn, skipped the tradition of welcoming him as a "distinct honour". She could be seen twice mouthing "not true" during the speech, and at the end, America's most powerful elected Democrat ripped up a copy of the president's remarks.

The setting for all of this was the US House of Representatives, where President Trump was impeached in December. On Wednesday he will almost certainly be cleared of corruption charges in a party-line vote. Read more on what that means here. You can also read our fact-check on the whole speech.

For more on US politics, check out our new podcast, Americast. The first episode covers the still-to-be resolved chaos in Iowa.

Licence fee move

The government is launching a public consultation on whether failure to pay the TV licence fee should no longer be a criminal offence. Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan will say in a speech later it's time to think about keeping the fee "relevant" in a "changing media landscape". She'll also announce a new way of paying the licence fee in instalments to help those struggling, including the over-75s.

The BBC's media editor, Amol Rajan, says the PM and his allies believe the system is unjust and a waste of court time. But decriminalisation would have a considerable impact on BBC funding, and the corporation argues the enforcement system is an important part of making its public service model work. Last week, the BBC News announced 450 job cuts as part of an £80m savings drive.

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'Many barriers'

About a third of the 100 largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange have no ethnic minority representation on their boards, a report has revealed. Representation is even worse in the next 250 firms, where 119 out of 173 (69%) had no ethnic diversity. Lawyer and diversity campaigner Funke Abimbola told the BBC the figures came as no surprise given the "many barriers" people of colour face. "You are far more likely to have negative judgements made about you," she said.

The Parker report has recommended ways to improve things, including making more effort to develop a pool of high potential, ethnic minority leaders and senior managers.

17 quirky facts about this year's Oscars

By Steven McIntosh, BBC Entertainment reporter

The short gap between the Baftas and the Oscars this year has barely left Joaquin Phoenix enough time to wash his multi-use tux. The Joker star is just one Hollywood actor currently hot-footing it from London to Los Angeles in time for the Academy Awards on Sunday. This year's ceremony is being held earlier than usual in an attempt to combat falling ratings. The slew of other awards ceremonies over several months was thought to be damaging interest in the Oscars, which mark the conclusion of awards season. Oscar-ologists have been closely studying the nominations list for trends, patterns, quirks and clues about who might win what.

Read the full article

What the papers say

A mixed bag of headlines on Wednesday. Several papers react to the independent inquiry into the actions of jailed breast surgeon Ian Paterson. The Times says victims were "failed" by those in charge to investigate him, while the Daily Mirror warns "fresh horrors may be discovered" when the cases of 11,000 patients he treated are recalled for assessment. The Sun and the Daily Mail lead with a security alert on board a transatlantic flight, reportedly caused by David Cameron's bodyguard, who left his gun in the toilet. The Mail describes the incident as a "major embarrassment" for the police. The new chief executive of the Premier League has told the Guardian clubs will resist attempts to ban adverts for betting companies on their shirts. Richard Masters argues sport and betting "have a long association" and the Premier League is "not sniffy or judgemental" about gambling.

Daily digest

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How the McDonald's model revolutionised business

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Lookahead

Today The families of severely epileptic children begin legal action against the NHS and health regulator NICE for failing to prescribe medical cannabis.

14:00 The Duke of Cambridge launches the Heads Up Weekends campaign, billed as the biggest ever conversation around mental health through football.

On this day

2004 Twenty-three Chinese cockle pickers drown in Morecambe Bay, in Lancashire.

From elsewhere

Inside China's mission to create an all-powerful cryptocurrency (Wired)

Can the world's strongest mammal survive? (New York Times)

Why can't Britain build its own 5G network? (Politics.co.uk)

Is Venice at war with itself? (CNN)

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