Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 24 Dec 2013

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

1. TWO DIE AS UK BATTERED BY STORMS
Yesterdays storms caused two deaths, left 27,000 homes without power and stranded travellers. Channel ferries were unable to sail and power problems at Gatwick slowed down check-in. In Dorset, around 25 people trapped in their cars by flood water had to be rescued. Homes were damaged by wind on Dartmoor.
2. TRAVEL CHAOS AS MORE STORMS LOOM
Severe weather warnings are in place for Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland today, while disruption continues to transport across England. Southern rail services are suspended, Gatwick Express is not running and many operators expect delays and cancellations with passengers advised to check services.
3. UK SOLDIER KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN
A British soldier, not yet named, has become the 447th service person to die in Afghanistan since 2001, the MoD says. The soldier was killed in action under enemy fire to the east of Kabul on 23 December. Next of kin have been informed. British combat troops are due to have left Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
4. ROYAL PARDON FOR BOFFIN ALAN TURING
Pioneer of computing and Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing has been granted a royal pardon overturning his 1952 conviction for homosexuality for which he was chemically castrated. It is thought this contributed to the mathematician’s apparent 1954 suicide by eating an apple which was laced with cyanide.
5. HAASS TALKS FAIL TO REACH ACCORD IN NI
Talks overnight at Stormont in Northern Ireland chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass ended without consensus. Dr Haass has now returned to America for Christmas. He had been trying to negotiate an agreement on contentious sectarian issues including the display of flags and the holding of parades.
6. SOUTH SUDAN: ‘MASS ETHNIC KILLINGS’ CLAIM
Reporters in South Sudan say the violence there over the past weeks involved mass killings on ethnic lines, with at least 200 people, mostly from of Nuer ethnicity shot by security forces. Another source in the capital, Juba, also said gunmen from the majority Dinka ethnic group were killing people in Nuer areas.
7. EGYPT: 14 DEAD IN POLICE HQ BOMB BLAST
Egyptian officials are blaming the Muslim Brotherhood political movement after at least 14 people were killed by a powerful blast at a police headquarters in the city of Mansoura. Around 100 people were injured by the explosion, thought to have been a car bomb. It was the first major terror attack so close to the capital, Cairo.
8. GUN INVENTOR KALASHNIKOV DIES
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the assault rifle that bears his name, has died at the age of 94. The AK-47, or Avtomat Kalashnikov 1947, has become the world’s most widely-used gun, selling 100 million worldwide since its creation two years after the end of WWII. He was decorated by Lenin, Stalin and feted by Putin.
9. CHURCH SELLS SILVER CHALICE FOR £1.3M
A church in Lacock, Wiltshire, has sold a silver chalice donated to it 400 years ago and made in the 15th century for £1.3m to help pay for maintenance work. The sale had been opposed by one local resident but a church court overruled him. It has been bought by the British Museum and a museum in Devizes.
10. HOT TICKET: DONMAR REVIVES CORIOLANUS
A new production of Shakespeare's political tragedy Coriolanus, starring Tom Hiddleston, has opened at the Donmar Theatre, London. Hiddleston plays the heroic but arrogant general who returns to Rome to find the realities of political life harsher than any battlefield. Hiddleston is "magnificent", says The Independent. Until 8 February.