Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 24 Jan 2014

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

1. SYRIAN REGIME THREATENS WALK-OUT
The Syrian government says its delegation will walk out of peace negotiations in Geneva if “serious talks” do not start by tomorrow. “If no serious work sessions are held by [Saturday], the official Syrian delegation will leave Geneva due to the other side’s lack of seriousness or preparedness,” Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told state TV.
2. POPE SAYS INTERNET IS 'GIFT FROM GOD'
Pope Francis has described the Internet as a "gift from god" which offers "immense possibilities" for solidarity. Describing the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet, the pontiff called it "something truly good". In particular he hailed the ability of the Internet to resolve differences between human groups through communication.
3. LARGE CAR BOMB HITS CENTRE OF CAIRO
A large car bomb has been exploded outside the police HQ in central Cairo, killing at least six and wounding a further 100, Egyptian officials say. Gunfire and a second explosion were heard after the blast, which came ahead of the anniversary of the uprising against Hosni Mubarak. No one has claimed responsibility.
UK News
4. GOVERNMENT SAYS TAKE HOME PAY ON RISE
The Coalition says most British workers have seen their take-home pay rise in real terms over the past year. New figures show all but the richest 10% saw wages rise 2.5% once tax cuts were taken into account, more than the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation. But Labour says the figures were “highly selective”.
5. SOMERSET BRACED FOR MORE FLOODS
A "major incident" has been declared in Somerset already hit by floods as the region braces itself for more rain over the weekend. Sedgemoor District Council declared a major incident in order to mobilise extra support. Local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger warned that there was a danger of "catastrophic flooding on a scale not seen for more than a century".
World News
6. BRITON TO DIE FOR 'BLASPHEMY'
Pakistan has handed a death sentence for blasphemy to Muhammad Asghar, a 68yr-old from Edinburgh, even though he has a history of mental illness. Asghar was arrested in 2010 after writing letters to a lawyer and politician claiming to be a prophet. Though he did not post the letters, a disgruntled tenant whom he was in the process of evicting took them to police.
7. ENGLAND WIN IN AUSTRALIA SHOCK
England's cricketers finally had something to celebrate as they won the fourth one-day international against Australia in Perth by 57 runs. Having lost all five Tests and the first three limited overs matches England ended their losing streak as they posted 316-8 and then bowled out Australia for 259. Ben Stokes, with 70 runs and four wickets, was man of the match.
Transport
8. TUBE LINE REOPENS AFTER CONCRETE SPILL
The Victoria Line of the London Underground is open again today after a flood of concrete into a control room left commuters stranded last night. A spokesman for the Tube said contractors were using the concrete to “fill voids” during upgrade work at Victoria station. The liquid ran out of control, damaging signals.
US
9. BIEBER LEAVES JAIL AFTER DUI CHARGE
Canadian singer Justin Bieber has left a Florida jail after being charged with driving under the influence of drink or drugs and resisting arrest. The teenager was stopped by police in Miami for apparently drag racing in a yellow Lamborghini he had rented. Arresting officers said he was doing twice the 30mph speed limit.
Theatre
10. HOT TICKET: BLURRED LINES AT THE SHED
Nick Payne's new play about sexism, Blurred Lines, has opened at The Shed, National Theatre, London. An all-female cast explores ideas of gender inequality in popular culture, from pornography to Robin Thicke's controversial number one hit. "Brave, clever, funny," says Theatre Cat. Until 22 February.