Netizen 24 GBR: Thursday briefing: Syria decision time for May

By On April 11, 2018

Thursday briefing: Syria decision time for May

Top story: Trump escalates war of words with Russia

Good morning. This is Martin Farrer. If you’re just getting up, or have been on the go for hours, the morning briefing is just for you.

Theresa May will discuss possible British military action against Syria with her cabinet today after summoning ministers for an emergency meeting. She has not ruled out committing Britain to joining the US and France in a show of force without consulting MPs, but says the weekend chemical attack on Douma “cannot go unchallenged”. The standoff between the western allies and Russia worsened yesterday after the US president, Donald Trump, ramped up the rhetoric by tweeting that Russia should expect an American missile attack on Syria. “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ ” he said. Russia responded by saying it does not conduct diplomacy by Twitter.

Our diplomatic editor, Julian Borger, says that Trump’s remarks are a dangerous development and “unlike anything seen from a US president in modern history”. In another possible escalation, Mike Pompeo, the CIA director set to become the next US secretary of state, will signal later today that years of soft US policy toward Russia are “now over”. In prepared remarks to the Senate, he will say the Trump administration considers Russia “a danger to our country”.

Back in Syria, our correspondent Martin Chulov reports that US intelligence operatives have been racing to smuggle corpses out of Douma in order to establish what kind of chemical agent was used along with chlorine in the attack which killed 45 people.

Brexit housing woe â€" The fall in the housing market could hurt the wider economy and influence the Bank of England to hold off on increasing interest rates, according to the latest survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors . In its gloomiest assessment for five years, the estate agents’ group says demand from buyers fell for the 12th month in a row and the national price balance was the lowest since 2013. One agent said “stamp duty and Brexit” had killed fluidity in the London market, while another said the rental market was also suffering from a glut of properties.

‘Thanks but no thanks’ â€" Yulia Skripal, the Russian woman targeted in a poison attack in Salisbury, has said she doesn’t need any help from her country’s embassy in the UK. Skripal, who was poisoned with her father, a former double agent, made the comments in a statement issued through the police as she continues to recover from the attack last month. She also asked her cousin, Viktoria, not to try to visit her after the woman indicated in the Russian media that she might travel to the UK. The political dimension of the case will take another step today when a summary of a report into the case by the international chemical weapons watchdog will be published.

Zuckerberg on the back foot â€" US congressmen and women must have had the Capitol Hill equivalent of Alex Ferguson’s halftime hairdryer treatment after they dropped Tuesday’s softly-softly approach and started asking Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg much more searching questions on the second day of his grilling in Washington. Although the billionaire founder remained evasive â€" at one point claiming he didn’t understand a straightforward question about his business model â€" he was put on the spot about privacy and forced to admit that his personal information was among that farmed by Cambridge Analytica. He was also compared to the notorious FBI boss, J Edgar Hoover, who spent decades spying on American politicians, celebrities and ordinary citizens.

Susan Fowler

‘Stop the harassment’ â€" Susan Fowler, the former Uber software engineer whose blogpost about sexual harassment sparked a wider movement for gender equality, is using her accidental cachet to campaign against a practice known as “forced arbitration”. This allows companies to push employee complaints into secretive hearings about workplace disputes, silence victims and often protect serial offenders. In an interview with the Guardian, Fowler, whose fame extended to featuring on the cover of Time magazine, says: “This would be the biggest thing you could do to stop the cycle of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.”

Miracle baby â€" A remarkable story from China where a baby boy has been born four years after his parents died in a car crash. Shen Jie and Liu Xi were in the middle of IVF treatment wh en they were killed, leaving their parents to fight a long legal battle for the custody of the remaining embryos. They won and the boy, Tiantian, was born to a surrogate mother.

Lunchtime read: why the cold war offers a lesson for capitalism

The last decade has been tough for ordinary families.

Our economics editor, Larry Eliiott, has a tour d’horizon this morning on the rightward shift in the post-cold war world and what it all means for the alignment of politics across the west. The centre left’s decision to embrace the discipline of the global marketplace since 1990 has been “disastrous”, he writes, leading to an “intellectual vacuum” when the global financial crisis struck. Voters have been left to cope with the harsh e ffects of austerity while the financiers who created the crisis continue as before. The cold war years showed that managed capitalism did a better job of providing people with hope and the things they want: a job, a pension, a home and a future. In the cold war years the mainstream parties made sure to provide these things, but no longer. The result is that they are turning to populism.


A late penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid prevented a remarkable comeback by Juventus in their Champions League quarter-final, the Spanish giants going through 4-3 on aggregate over their old rivals after almost blowing a 3-0 lead from the first leg. An equally fierce rivalry has seen Sunderland decide to have no cash turnstiles for their remaining home fixtures in order to prevent Newcastle fans filling the Stadium of Light to gloat at the old enemy’s expected relegation to League One. Catch up with the Commonwealth Games where heptathlon hope Katarina Johnson- Thompson is competing. Our live blog is here.


A cheap treatment for hepatitis C has proved to be just as effective as medicine costing 160 times more. In an exclusive story, our business reporter Julia Kollewe reveals that trials of the combined pill treatment worked in 97% of cases. It will cost $300 for a 12-week course compared with $48,000 for the branded drug Harvoni.

The pound is down slightly at $1.417 but up a smidgen at €1.147.

The papers

There’s no doubt about the main story today with most leading on the Syria crisis. The Telegraph has an extravagant display of Trump’s missile tweet and the splash headline “Trump warns missiles are coming”. The Times â€" “May prepares Britain to launch assault on Assad” â€" and the Mail â€" “May’s great gamble” â€" both focus on the domestic angle to the story.

Guardian front page, Thursday 12 Apr   il 2018.

The Guardian reports that the Met has run out of leads in the Stephen Lawrence case, but its main story is also the Middle East under the headline “Trump warns Russia to get ready for US missile strike on Syria”. The Express reckons we’re “One tweet from war” while the Mirror thinks we’re “On Brink”.

The FT goes with “Tesco seals comeback with profits topping £1bn”.

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