Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 21 Aug 2014

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

Islamic State
1. SPECIAL FORCES TRIED TO FREE JAMES FOLEY
The US has revealed special forces fought Islamic State militants during a raid to try to rescue the kidnapped journalist James Foley, since beheaded, and other hostages but could not locate them. Counter-terrorism police in the UK are combing the video of his murder for clues to the British-accented killer's identity.
World News
2. US CONTINUES AIR STRIKES IN IRAQ
The US has launched fresh air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq, despite threats from the group to kill another American hostage following the execution of James Foley. US Navy fighters and drones provided air cover to Kurdish and Iraqi forces battling IS near the city of Mosul, destroying IS targets near a strategic dam.
3. TOP GCSE GRADES UP, BUT PASS RATE DOWN
This year's GCSE results show an overall increase in top grades, with 68.8% of entries getting a C or above. However, the overall pass rate was down fractionally at 98.5% and there was a 1.9% drop in English grades above C. Northern Ireland was the best performing region and once again girls outperformed boys by almost 9%.
4. BBC CHIEF DEFENDS CLIFF RICHARD COVERAGE
BBC journalists "acted appropriately" in their coverage of a police raid on the home of Sir Cliff Richard, says the corporation's director general Tony Hall. He told Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz that "the media has a right to report on matters of public interest". South Yorkshire police had complained over the BBC coverage.
5. HAMAS COMMANDERS KILLED IN AIR STRIKE
Hamas says an Israeli air strike on a house in Rafa, Gaza, has killed three of its senior military commanders, Mohammed Abu Shamala, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Atta. According to the BBC, the three men were key to operations including smuggling, tunnel-building and capturing soldier Gilad Shalit.
6. BANK OF AMERICA IN AGREES $16.7BN SETTLEMENT
Bank of America has agreed a $16.7bn settlement with the US government over claims it misled investors over the quality of mortgage securities it sold them. The case relates to loans in brought in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. The bank will pay $9.6bn to the authoritues and $7bn will go towards struggling homeowners.
7. FORMER IRISH PM ALBERT REYNOLDS DIES
Albert Reynolds, former taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, has died at the age of 81 after suffering for many years from Alzheimer’s disease. Reynolds played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process, signing the Downing Street declaration in 1993 and helping establish the IRA ceasefire of 1994.
Premier League
8. MARIO BALOTELLI TO JOIN LIVERPOOL
Controversial striker Mario Balotelli is poised for a return to the Premier League after Liverpool agreed a deal to buy the player from AC Milan for £16m. Balotelli, who spent a turbulent two-and-a-half seasons with Manchester City before leaving in 2013, confirmed he was quitting Italy. "This is my last day in Milan," he said.
9. MCDONALD’S SHUT IN RUSSIAN REVENGE
In an example of tit-for-tat Big Mac diplomacy, food standards authorities in Moscow have closed four branches of the US-based McDonald’s burger restaurant chain for “numerous violations of sanitary legislation requirements”, including the first to open in 1990. McDonald’s has 430 branches in Russia.
Hot Ticket
10. HOT TICKET: MEN IN THE CITIES
Men in the Cities, a one-man show on the state of masculinity, has opened in Edinburgh. With a mix of fictional and real characters, Chris Goode explores themes of sex and violence to discover what it is like to be a man in modern Britain. "Beautifully and often vigorously written," says The Guardian. Until 24 August.