Your morning briefing: What you should know for Wednesday, August 21st

Jason Collie


PM talks up backstop solution ahead of visits to Merkel and Macron

The Prime Minister has said he will enter talks with EU leaders with "a lot of oomph" as differences between the UK and EU over the Withdrawal Agreement remain.

Boris Johnson will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin this evening and then French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris tomorrow.

Mr Johnson has reiterated his opposition to a backstop over the Irish border but believes there are plenty of what he termed creative solutions to explore with the two leaders.

However, the European Commission says Mr Johnson had failed to put forward a legal and operational solution, and that even if one could be found, it might not be ready in time.


Trump pulls out of Denmark trip over snub to buying Greenland

US president Donald Trump has said he is postponing an upcoming meeting with Denmark's prime minister because she is not interested in discussing a proposed sale of Greenland.

Mr Trump recently floated the idea of purchasing the island, which is owned by Denmark, but said as recently as Sunday that such a transaction was not a top priority.

Denmark had scoffed at the idea, saying Greenland was not for sale and even Mr Trump joked about not building a replica of Trump Tower there.

But overnight the US President has declared Denmark’s comments mean his scheduled visit to the nation is off.


Pell abuse conviction upheld

An Australian court has upheld convictions against the most senior Catholic to be found guilty of child sex abuse.

George Pell, who was Pope Francis' former finance minister, was found guilty of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996 and 1997 last December.

The Victoria state Court of Appeal has rejected Pell's appeal by 2-1 and his lawyers are now expected to appeal the decision in the High Court, which is Australia's final arbiter.

Pell was sentenced to six years in prison in March.


'Damning' report says thousands of children living in shipping containers

Thousands of children are growing up in dangerous converted shipping containers and office blocks in cramped conditions, a report has found.

The Bleak Houses report by the Children's Commissioner for England estimates there could be more than 210,000 children without a permanent home in England.

It warns that temporary accommodation is frequently not fit to live in, with shipping containers, office blocks and warehouses being re-purposed for use as temporary accommodation.

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter called the analysis damning and said homelessness was robbing children of a decent childhood.


'Funniest fart' formula found

The world's funniest fart has been revealed by scientists in a specially commissioned study.

The Flatulence Report has worked out a mathematical formula that was tested for 176 different noises ranging from low to high pitch, short to long, dry to wet and from loud to squeaking.

The actual 'winner' is described as long, loud and ever so slightly wet, according to the report.

The study was commissioned, unsurprisingly, by iconic children’s comic The Beano.


On this day…

1765: William IV, known as the "sailor king" for his service in the Royal Navy, was born. His numerous affairs were legendary - he had 10 illegitimate children by Irish actress Dorothy Jordan.

1911: Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (La Gioconda) was stolen from the Louvre in Paris. The thief was Italian waiter Vicenzo Perruggia who, posing as an official photographer, walked off with it under his arm. It was recovered in 1913 from where he had hidden it, under a bed in a hotel.

1959: Hawaii became the 50th state of the USA.

1965: Keith Peacock became the first substitute to be called on in a Football League match.

1976: Mary Langdon, 25, joined East Sussex Fire Brigade to become Britain's first female firefighter.

1988: Amended British licensing laws allowing more flexible pub opening hours came into force at midnight. Pubs could now stay open 12 hours in the day, except on Sunday.