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News in brief: Husband begs UK to help ‘hostage’ Nazanin

THE husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has urged UK officials to attend her ‘illegal’ trial in Iran on Sunday to protect her from ‘hostage diplomacy’. Richard Ratcliffe (pictured) confirmed his British-Iranian wife faces new charges of spreading propaganda as she nears the end of a five-year sentence for spying, which she denies. Talks are being held over about £400million paid by Iran’s Shah for tanks that Britain did not deliver after he was toppled in the 1979 coup. And Mr Ratcliffe said: ‘It has become increasingly clear that Nazanin is a hostage, held as leverage against a UK debt.’ Boris Johnson said the new trial was ‘indefensible’ and British officials were raising the case with Iran ‘at the highest levels’.

Just 8 drinks a week raises blood pressure

MORE than one alcoholic drink a day raises the risk of high blood pressure for people with type 2 diabetes, a new study has warned. The more drinks, the greater the risk of hypertension, found US and Canadian research of 10,000 adults with the disease. Having seven drinks a week or fewer was not found to elevate blood pressure — but having eight to 14 increased the odds by nearly 80 per cent, and drinking 15 or more upped the risk by 90 per cent. ‘Previous studies have suggested that heavy alcohol consumption was associated with high blood pressure, however, the association of moderate alcohol consumption with high blood pressure was unclear,’ said study author Dr Matthew Singleton, of Wake Forest University in North Carolina. ‘Tempering alcohol consumption may be considered in patients.’

Vice president convoy in Kabul bomb ambush

AT LEAST ten people have died after a convoy carrying the Afghanistan vice president and one of his children was ambushed in Kabul. Amrullah Saleh suffered ‘slight’ burns to his hands — but several bodyguards were killed and dozens of civilians injured. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bomb attack and the Taliban quickly denied it was behind it. Mr Saleh said in a televised address: ‘Me and my younger son are fine.’ The blast happened as the convoy passed through a section of the capital full of shops selling gas cylinders for heating and cooking. It left behind a scene of destruction, with burnt-out buildings, wrecked cars and debris everywhere.

Stalker called cops on victim and posed as her online

AN OBSESSED stalker who lied about his victim to police, posed as her on social media and tampered with her car was given a five-year restraining order. Alan Woods told officers his colleague had driven on drugs, and falsely claimed she was having an affair with a co-worker in messages sent under her name. The 51-year-old, who worked with his victim in Romford, east London, must do 200 hours of unpaid work after admitting stalking at Barkingside magistrates’ court.

Outrage over students’ vile ‘sex dare’ shared online

MESSAGES about spiking women’s drinks and a ‘competition to have sex with the poorest female student’ are being investigated by Durham University. The Facebook posts, apparently written by male students, were spotted and shared more widely by concerned social media users. Female undergraduates are now worried they will be targeted. Durham’s pro-vice-chancellor Jeremy Cook said those responsible ‘will have no place’ at the university.

NEWS BITES

ENDURANCE swimmer Neil Brinkworth has become just the fourth person to complete the 14-mile open sea challenge from Eddystone Lighthouse to Plymouth Hoe in Devon. He said: ‘I have dreamt of swimming this ever since I was a young boy.’ The last person to complete the swim was Sharon Miller in 1987.

WORLD BITES

■ TESTS are being carried out to see if a dead tiger shark caught in a net off an Australian beach killed a surfer. Nick Slater, 46, was attacked at Greenmount Beach on the Gold Coast. A tooth almost two inches long was found in his board, along with a ‘good size’ bite mark.

■ MORE than 300 groups, including Amnesty International, have sent an open letter to the UN, urging it to set up a watchdog to address China’s ‘sweeping violations’ of human rights, including the torture and imprisonment of protesters.

■ A COW born with two heads has enticed worshippers to a farm in India. The calves are joined at the neck and have two eyes each but share three ears. Crowds flocked to Rajnandgaon’s Panega village, in Chhattisgarh state, to leave it gifts.

■ RESCUERS were scrambled to save 151 migrants from a yacht in distress when it was caught in gale force winds off the Greek island of Amorgos on Tuesday. The refugees were picked up by a cargo ship and taken to Turkey.

■ A FIREFIGHTER was critically injured and two others were taken to hospital after wildfires overran their station in California. It came as 200 people were airlifted to safety while more than 20 blazes ripped through the US state.

■ WILDLIFE populations globally have collapsed by more than two-thirds in less than 50 years, due mainly to intensive agriculture, warns conservation charity WWF. Food production has destroyed habitats such as forests, it adds.

■ YOU can put a price on creating childhood memories… parents typically spend £2,327-a-year on treats such as birthday parties and zoo outings. It includes £727 on activities at Christmas, Easter and Halloween, an Asda poll found.

■ A MAN has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a 66-year-old woman was found collapsed at a property in Bexley, south-east London. The suspect is believed to have known his alleged victim. Her family have been informed.

■ ARTIFICIAL intelligence could help diagnose Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s using eye scans taken by opticians. AI can analyse the retina images to detect early signs, a Newcastle University team says.