News Daily: Police 'may become irrelevant' and US mail bombs

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'Dire consequences'

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Policing is at risk of becoming "irrelevant" as the number of officers on the beat is slashed and huge numbers of crimes go unsolved. That's the stark warning being made by MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee. It found that while recorded crime is up by a third in England and Wales, the number of charges, summons and arrests have fallen. The Home Office has also shown "a complete failure of leadership", it added.

The timing of the MPs' report is significant. It's the Budget next week, the time when the government sets out its spending plans, and they say policing must be prioritised - or there could be "dire consequences" for public safety. In particular, they warn tackling terrorism and gang crime will become harder if neighbourhood policing is cut back further. The Home Office says it's determined to ensure forces get the resources they need.

Speaking of the Budget, what can we expect? The BBC's editors give their predictions. We've also heard from young people about what they want the chancellor to do. And BBC Reality Check has picked apart the numbers on police funding for you too.

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'More civility'

Six suspected explosive devices are now known to have been sent to high-profile US figures. They include Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan and financier George Soros. The FBI has launched a hunt for their sender. None of the pipe bombs exploded, but the developments have pushed up the temperature further in the already overheated world of American politics.

Why is this so political? Because all the apparent targets are regularly criticised by conservatives - especially by the president.

Donald Trump called on Wednesday for more civility in politics, but his critics say that's hypocritical, given the aggressive language he often uses against his opponents and the press.

BBC criticised

Women at the BBC are still being paid "far less" than men for comparable jobs, a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee says. Its inquiry was sparked by presenter Carrie Gracie, who accused the corporation of pay discrimination. The committee said the BBC must introduce "a more transparent" pay structure to restore its reputation and win back the trust of staff. BBC Women, a group representing female journalists and producers, threw its weight behind the conclusions.

The BBC said much of the report was out of date and its gender pay gap was among the smallest in the media sphere. But it acknowledged there was more to do. BBC media editor Amol Rajan said that while the report has no legislative implications, the strength and depth of the criticism is striking.

The day the fossil feathers flew

By Jonathan Amos, BBC Science correspondent

There is no greater insult you can hurl at a museum than to suggest its prize fossil is a fake. But that's what the esteemed astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle did in 1985 when he doubted the authenticity of arguably the most priceless possession in the collections of what is now London's Natural History Museum. All hell broke loose as the claim made headlines around the world... if the idea of fakery in a transitional fossil went unchallenged, Archaeopteryx would quickly become a cause célèbre for the anti-evolution movement.

Read the full article

What the papers say

Image copyright Daily Telegraph, Sun

More on the "leading British businessman" who has obtained an injunction preventing the publication of his identity after claims of sexual harassment were made against him. The Daily Telegraph, which broke the story, hears from a "well-known socialite" who says a man she suspects of being the executive put his hand up her skirt. The Sun says MPs have expressed fury at the story, with Labour's Jess Phillips questioning a legal system which allows the wealthy to "buy silence". The i says she is threatening to unmask the businessman in the House of Commons. Elsewhere, many papers describe the "overwhelming support" received by Theresa May when she addressed her backbenchers on Wednesday. The Daily Mail says she was met with "loud cheers and banging of desks" before she made an emotional plea for them to back her to deliver Brexit. The Daily Mirror, finally, says Prince Harry is likely to demand an explanation for why his wife's official visit to a Fiji market was cut short.

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10:00 Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will give a pre-Budget speech, followed by a Q&A, setting out Labour's demands

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