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The 9 at 9 Nine things you should know this morning…

EVERY MORNING, brings you the nine things you need to know as you start your day.

1. #BUDGET2012: Yesterday, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, announced the spending cuts detailed in the Budget for coming year. Today, Finance Minister Michael Noonan will announce a further €1.6bn of taxation measures – including an increase in the VAT rate and changes to property-related tax. Read our run-down of what to expect this afternoon here.

2. #ECB: As many as half a million homeowners could benefit from a cut of up to 0.5 per cent in European Central Bank interest rates this Thursday, according to the Irish Independent. While the exact figure has not yet been revealed, it is expected that the interest rate cut will be between 0.25 per cent and 0.5 per cent.

3. #HEALTH: Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said this morning that “nobody is going to die” because of cuts to the health service. Speaking on RTÉ One’s Morning Ireland today, Reilly said that health service professionals would work hard to deliver a good standard of patient care despite fewer resources.

4. #WEATHER WATCH: Motorists have been warned that road conditions remain icy in parts of the country this morning, after temperatures dipped below zero overnight. Drivers in the midlands and north-west have been urged to be particularly careful on the roads. Met Éireann says the weather will be generally showery today, with rain falling as sleet on high ground in Ulster.

5. #FRACKING: Northern Ireland’s Enterprise Minister Arlenene Foster has admitted that fracking – the controversial method of extracting gas from shale rock – causes “minor earthquakes”, The Irish News reports. Meanwhile, another four Co Fermanagh doctors have added their voices to concerns raised about the awarding of a fracking licence to an Australian firm in the area – saying that full environmental and health assessments should have first been carried out.

6. #MURDER INQUIRY: An investigation into the deaths of Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell, who were wrongly presumed to have taken their own lives in 1991, by the then-RUC was “deeply flawed” according to Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman. For 20 years, it was thought that the pair had chosen to end their lives – however their respective spouses, Hazel Stewart and Colin Howell, were recently found guilty of their murders.

7. #RUSSIA: Riots have broken out in central Moscow following yesterday’s Duma election results, which paved the way for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to once again run for the presidency. Concerns have been raised about the legitimacy of the elections, which saw Putin’s United Russia party hold on to a slim majority in the lower chamber of parliament.

8. #DURBAN: China has said it would be willing to sign a legally binding agreement aimed at tackling global warming during the UN-led Durban conference, the Washington Post reports. China’s approach to any global agreement on climate change is significant not only because it is one of the world’s worst polluters, but also because the United States and Canada have refused to enter any agreement to which China is not also legally bound.

9. #NEW EARTH: Nasa’s Kelper space telescope has discovered a ‘new Earth’ outside of our solar system – with the catchy name “Kepler 22b”. Conditions are just about right to support human life, with both land and water present, temperatures of 22C and a year being made-up of 290 days, reports the Telegraph.

One catch is that it’s 600 light years from here… still, there’s always Gliese 581g – a slightly more convenient 20 light years from Earth.

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