Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 21 Jul 2012

The Week’s super-quick catch-up on the main news talking points, available from 8am daily

1. DEATH OF ALEXANDER COCKBURN AT 71
The journalist Alexander Cockburn, whose weekly columns from America for The First Post and latterly The Week were regularly among the most popular articles we posted, has died from complications with cancer at a clinic in Germany. He was 71. The son of Claud Cockburn, he had been a US resident since 1973. A tribute will be posted here on Sunday.
2. CAMERON TOLD: STOP COPYING BLAIR
David Cameron should stop "modelling himself on" Tony Blair, says former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson. He told the BBC that Blair is a "bad role model" and the Prime Minister should try and emulate Margaret Thatcher instead. Lawson also called for George Osborne to quit his role as an election strategist and concentrate on the economy.
3. COLORADO KILLER: 'I'M THE JOKER'
The man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 during a Colorado screening of the new Batman film, told police who arrested him: “I’m The Joker.” At least six of those injured are in a critical condition. Hundreds of mourners gathered in Aurora for a candlelit vigil last night. Bag checks were carried out at several UK cinemas last night, in response to the Colorado massacre.
4. SUMMER EXPECTED TO ARRIVE IN UK
Summer is set to finally arrive in Britain today with a heatwave replacing months of rainy weather. Temperatures could reach 82F (28C) on Saturday after the Atlantic jet plume finally moved north. Temperatures could soar even higher on Tuesday, though forecasters are unsure whether the warmer weather will remain for the opening of the Olympics.
5. BORIS TALKS OLYMPIC BRANDING 'INSANITY'
Boris Johnson has warned against “insanity” in policing of Olympic brands, which has seen the organisers clamp down on the use of words and images associated with the games. “If someone’s got an Olympic Café, good luck to them,” he said. Meanwhile, the man who introduced sponsorship to the Olympics tells The Independent the clampdown has gone "too far".
6. ASSAD FORCES HIT BACK IN DAMASCUS
Syrian government forces say they fought back yesterday to drive rebels out of the central district of Damascus. There was also fighting in Syria’s second city of Aleppo, where rebels have cut off the main roads to the city. Meanwhile, the United Nations has voted unanimously to extend its observer mission in Syria for a "final" 30 days.
7. COUPLE JAILED FOR JEWISH TERROR PLOT
A couple from Oldham have been jailed over a plot to launch a deadly attack on the Jewish community. Mohammed Sajid Khan was given an indeterminate sentence of a minimum of seven years and his wife Shasta was jailed for eight years. The couple had bought bomb-making equipment and driven around Jewish neighbourhoods in Manchester, seeking targets.
8. DOCTORS TOLD TO DELAY NHS WORK
A private hospital which also offers NHS work has told its doctors to delay treatment on non-paying patients to encourage them to go private, reports The Independent. An executive director at the BMI Meriden Hospital in Coventry wrote to hospital consultants ordering the postponements and saying "other aspects of differentiation" would be introduced to encourage patients to pay.
9. KAHN: DRONES ARE 'IMMORAL AND ILLEGAL'
The drone strikes used by America against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan are " immoral" and "insane,” says politician and former cricketer Imran Khan. He also argued that the strikes, which he believes constitute a "war crime", are counterproductive as the "beneficiaries of this insanity are the militants".
10. COCKBURN MEMOIR IN THE PIPELINE
Amid the tributes to columnist Alexander Cockburn, who died on Friday after two years of cancer treatment, comes the news from his co-editor at CounterPunch, Jeffrey St Clair, that Cockburn has left a small book, ‘Guillotine’, and a completed memoir, ‘A Colossal Wreck’, both of which will be published in the coming year.