The five things you need to know on Friday 11 October 2013...
1) PROVE IT
Gay and lesbian people seeking asylum in the UK from persecution abroad are being ordered to "prove" their sexuality, MPs have said. The BBC reports on the Commons home affairs committee report that claimants are going to extreme lengths to meet the new demands of the assessment, including handing over photographic and video evidence of "highly personal sexual activity" to caseworkers.
The report also warned that Britain is at risk of harbouring war criminals and terrorists due to poor decisions made by border officials.
In 2012, there were 21,955 applications for asylum in the UK. As of September 19 this year, of those 21,955 cases, 18,423 have received an initial decision and 12,632 have been concluded. This means that 3,523 people who applied for asylum in 2012 have yet to receive an initial decision.
Committee chair Keith Vaz said: "The asylum system is overburdened and under severe pressure. The backlog of asylum cases that should have been cleared by 2011 has reached 32,600, with some people waiting up to 16 years for a decision."
This morning's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan has become a victim of the US government shutdown.
2) WE DON'T NEED TO BE FRIENDS
The former Tory minister who called John Bercow a "stupid, sanctimonious dwarf" has tried to reassure MPs that his poor relationship with the Speaker would not affect the smooth running of parliament should he be elected to the role of deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. In a letter sent to all MPs, seen by The Huffington Post UK, Burns admits with some understatement: "It is no secret that the Speaker and I are not the closest of friends." He adds: "But you do not need to be close friends to carry out the job successfully." You can also read the letters sent by candidates Eleanor Laing, Brian Binley, Gary Streeter and Nadine Dorries here.
3) 'UNCONSCIOUS SLIGHTS TO WOMEN
Male Tory MPs were lambasted by one of their own on Thursday, with Bernard Jenkin, the chair of the Public Administration Select Committee, bemoaning attitudes towards women within Conservative ranks, which he warned could harm the party at the next election. Jenkin even accused David Cameron of "unconscious slights to women". Writing in The House magazine, the MP said that many within the party think women should be given lesser jobs, so that men can "get on with running the country".
Jenkin wrote: "The Quad are all men. The National Security Council is overwhelmingly men. The Tory high command are all men. Only three out of 25 on the party board are women. Most of the advisers and policy wonks are men. And of course, most MPs will continue to be men. It is going to take a long time to change all this, so what else must we change?
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...: Latest Updates On The US Shutdown
4) ROYAL MAIL SHARES SOAR
Shares in Royal Mail rose by more than a third when they began trading on the stock market today, increasing the value of the business by more than £1 billion.
The sharp rise of 36% from the 330p offer price to as much as 450p meant 690,000 ordinary investors who have each bought around £750-worth of stock gained more than £270 each. The Government announced yesterday that 95% of all applicants for the heavily-oversubscribed offer had picked up stock.
5) PRESS REGULATION PLANS DUE TODAY
Culture Secretary Maria Miller is "still on track" to publish a final version of plans for press regulation today, officials have said.
A second round of talks aimed at reaching cross-party agreement on a revised royal charter was held yesterday after industry proposals were rejected earlier this week. Conservatives had previously indicated they were open to changes on some areas of concern for the press but Labour and the Liberal Democrats were less keen to make the charter "more workable for the industry''.
The outcome of the discussions between Mrs Miller, her Labour counterpart Harriet Harman and Liberal Democrat Lord Wallace of Tankerness is expected to be revealed later today. A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: "We are still on track to be publishing the final version on Friday."
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@patrickwintour Cable on NSA leaks "the guardian has done a very considerable public service".
@OllyGrender Just now on Today we learn there is an expert on locating missing tv programmes - brilliant job!
@MattChorley Wow. Royal Mail shares have risen 36% to 450p at the start of conditional dealings on the London Stock Exchange
900 WORDS OR MORE
Philip Collins in The Times: Forget Blairite v Brownite. We’ve moved on
Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph: Look, David Cameron – when capitalism’s done properly it’s wildly popular
Mehdi Hasan in The Huffington Post UK: Who Needs Tommy Robinson and the EDL, When Islamophobia Has Gone Mainstream?
Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ned Simons (email@example.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol