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US calls for urgent action on south-east Asian migrants

An abandoned migrant boat Credit: REUTERS/Beawiharta

American authorities have said that the thousands of migrants adrift in Southeast Asian seas are in need of urgent rescue, as countries gathered in Bangkok to discuss a crisis that's overwhelming the region.

"We have to save lives urgently," US Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard told reporters on her way into the meeting.

Thousands of migrants are adrift, abandoned by traffickers on overcrowded boats after a Thai crackdown made it too risky for them to continue using trafficking routes through Thailand.

The United States has asked Thailand to fly surveillance flights from Thai bases to identify boats carrying migrants, Richard said, but has yet to get the nod from Thai authorities. The U.S. is operating similar flights from Malaysia, she said.

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Andy Burnham to criticise 'politics of envy'

Labour's Andy Burnham (left) Credit: PAUL HACKETT / WPA Rota

Andy Burnham is to argue that wealth-creators must be valued as highly as NHS staff today.

In a speech to senior business figures, the frontrunner in the Labour leadership fight will claim to be on the side of those who "put in the hours, the sweat and the hard graft".

He will also attack Labour's management of the economy when it was last in power, saying it had allowed a "significant" deficit.

Apparently conceding that Tory jibes about the "party of welfare" have stuck, he will add: "I have never believed in levelling down, denigrating success or the politics of envy.

"Nor have I believed that people should be handed everything on a plate."

David Cameron to hold crunch talks with Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel meets David Cameron in January Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga / PA Wire

David Cameron is to round off his whirlwind tour of major European leaders with a crucial meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Prime Minister is looking to build support for his plans to renegotiate the terms of the UK's membership of the EU, and he'll need the agreement of the German premier if he is to have any hope of success.

However, there has been little sign of enthusiasm for treaty change. France and Germany have reportedly agreed that closer integration of the eurozone countries can be achieved without altering treaties - potentially reducing Britain's leverage.

This morning Mr Cameron will be in Warsaw for talks with Polish counterpart Ewa Kopacz, before heading for Berlin to see Mrs Merkel.

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Smoking ban saves 'thousands of children' from illness

The smoking ban has been hailed as a success Credit: NIKKI SHORT / AAP

Tens of thousands of children have been spared illness and lung infections as a result of the smoking band in England.

The 2007 law that made it illegal to smoke indoors in public places has meant that 11,000 fewer children are hospitalised each year, according to a study. The sharpest falls were seen in the most deprived children

Dr Carlos Jimenez-Ruiz, from the European Respiratory Society, said: "The findings of this new study add more weight to the argument that smoke-free legislation is a valuable tool in reducing the health harms of smoking, particularly in children."

Fifa presidential election: How the voting will work

Sepp Blatter is favourite to win Credit: Patrick Seeger / DPA

Fifa's presidential election will be held in Zurich today, despite the spectre of corruption hanging over the organisation. This is how the voting procedure will work.

Sepp Blatter and Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein will both have opportunities to address the Fifa Congress.

Each of Fifa's 209 associations should have a vote, in secret, although a few can face disqualification for reasons such as not playing in competitions.

If either candidate achieves two thirds of the eligible vote in the first round then he wins outright - if there are 209 votes that means 139 is needed to win outright.

If there is no outright victory, the winner will simply be whoever gains more votes in the second round.

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