Five things you need to know today

Your Wednesday briefing on the stories that matter

A female swan with her six cygnet  that hatched recently  in Father Collins Park, Clongriffin, Dublin. Photograph: Padraig O’Reilly

A female swan with her six cygnet that hatched recently in Father Collins Park, Clongriffin, Dublin. Photograph: Padraig O’Reilly


1 - ‘Your strategy is to tell a lot of lies’ - Le Pen and Macron

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the finalists in Sunday’s French presidential election, attacked one another from the first moments of their television debate on Wednesday night.

Calling herself “the candidate of the people of France as we love it”, Ms Le Pen, the leader of the extreme right wing Front National, accused the outgoing administration, which Mr Macron served, for having chosen what she called “savage globalisation, Uberisation, precariousness and the war of all against all”.

A snap opinion poll by Elabe for BFMTV showed 63 per cent of viewers found Mr Macron more convincing than Le Pen in the debate.

2 - A revolutionary bionic hand

A revolutionary bionic hand that “sees” objects and instantly decides what kind of grip to adopt has been developed by scientists.

The device could lead to a new generation of prosthetic limbs giving the wearer the ability to reach for objects without thinking, researchers say.

A camera fitted to the hand rapidly takes a picture of the object in front of it and feeds the information to an electronic “brain”.

3 - Mortgages approvals surge but draw downs lag behind

The number of mortgages approved in the first three months of 2017 was up 62.1 per cent versus the same quarter in 2016 as new figures show the number of property loans drawn down rose 27.4 per cent year-on-year. However, the number of loans actually drawn down to close home purchases in the same period was just 27.4 per cent up year on year. The gap between approvals and draw downs illustrates the pressure in the housing market with significantly more money approved for home purchase than has been actually spent in the period.

4 - Armed raid on south Dublin pub

Two armed and masked men tied up a bar manager and a customer in a south Dublin pub during a raid on Wednesday morning. The men, one armed with a handgun and another with a large knife, are believed to have climbed over a security barrier and burst through the front door of Bar 51 on on Haddington Road at 1am on Wednesday.

5 - The Queen’s husband is NOT dead

Britain’s Duke of Edinburgh has announced his retirement from public engagements from autumn this year, Buckingham Palace has announced. The 95-year-old Prince Philip has the full support of the Queen. The announcement was made after all members of the Queen’s household were gathered at Buckingham Palace for a highly unusual staff meeting.

And finally...The tricks Uber uses to win at the expense of its drivers: The ride-sharing service uses psychological tricks and data to stack the odds in its favour, writes John Holden.