Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Sunday 29 Jul 2012

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

1. SYRIAN CALLS ON WORLD TO ARM REBELS
The head of the Syrian opposition has called for foreign states to arm the rebel fighters with tanks and jets. Abdulbaset Sayda, of the Syrian National Council, also called for President Bashar al-Assad to be tried for "massacres". Thousands of Syrians fled from fierce clashes in Aleppo yesterday.
2. LOCOG PROBES EMPTY OLYMPIC SEATS
London 2012 organisers have launched an investigation after banks of empty seats were seen on the opening day, despite the events being officially sold out. A Locog spokesman said: "We are in the process of finding out who should have been in the seats and why they weren’t there."
3. CALLS FOR INTEREST RATE SLASH
Economists are urging the Bank of England to cut interest rates to nearly zero per cent after figures showed the economy has shrunk for three successive quarters. The British Chambers of Commerce and the Ernst & Young Item Club believe the move could launch an economic recovery.
4. OSBORNE FACES NEW QUESTIONS
Campaigners are asking whether George Osborne's energy policies are influenced by his father-in-law Lord Howell of Guildford, a head lobbyist for oil and gas firms. Greenpeace asked whether his plan to make Britain the hub for fossil fuels originated "over claret and duck chez Osborne".
5. PRESCOTT'S 'THAI BRIDES' OWN GOAL
John Prescott accused Tory minister Grant Shapps of advertising 'Thai brides' on his website, only to be told ads on the site are based on visitors' browser history. Shapps told Prescott on Twitter: ‘Ads are rendered based on previous browser use – found a bride yet John? Wouldn’t mention to your Mrs.’
6. EMBATTLED ROMNEY ARRIVES IN ISRAEL
Mitt Romney is in Israel praying for “a miracle in the Holy Land”, in the words of one his advisers. Following his gaffe-strewn visit to Britain, he arrived in Israel on the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’av and had to move an extravagant fundraising dinner to a breakfast event the following day.
7. HSBC-OWNED BANK 'AIDS £200M TAX DODGE'
Britons have evaded paying up to £200m in tax with the help of a private Swiss bank owned by HSBC, reports The Observer. The revelation heightens pressure on trade minister Lord Green, who was chair of HSBC's private banking division during the period under investigation.
8. FARMER PROTEST TARGETS COFFEE CHAINS
Farmers could be losing £18m a year from the failure of high street coffee chains to pay a fair price for milk. The National Farmers Union says it costs farmers 9p to produce the milk used in a typical latte, for which they receive only 7.5p. Coffee chains use an estimated 615m pints of milk a year.
9. SOAP AND COMEDY ACTOR DIES
Actor Geoffrey Hughes, who appeared in Coronation Street, Keeping Up Appearances and The Royle Family, has died following a long battle with prostate cancer. Hughes, who was 68, died "peacefully in his sleep" on Friday night, said his agent. He played Eddie Yeats in Coronation Street.
10. ADLINGTON LEADS GB MEDAL HOPES
Rebecca Adlington is Team GB's leading medal hope on day two of the Olympic Games. The swimmer, who won two golds at the 2008 Olympics, is hoping to defend her 400m freestyle title. Ben Ainslie is also going for gold in the sailing, while Nicole Cooke is fancied in the women's cycling gold race.