Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 21 Feb 2011

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

David Cameron and Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik

Our popular news catch-up service is posted Monday to Friday at 8.00 am. You can rely on it to keep you up to date through the working day with the main news talking points.

Cameron visits Egypt David Cameron has become the first world leader to visit Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak was deposed 10 days ago. The British prime minister's five-hour stopover was tagged on to the beginning of his Middle East tour. He met Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik (above) and spoke about the wave of protests in neighbouring Libya, urging the government there to meet them with "reform not repression". 

IRISH TERRORIST CELL 'AT LARGE IN UK'Counter-terrorism teams in southern England have been diverted from tracking Islamist cells to tackling the potential threat of a dissident Irish republican terror cell operating on the mainland, according to the Times. Such is the threat that Cobra, the national emergency committee, is meeting three times a week, sometimes chaired by the Prime Minister.

LIBYA: PROTESTORS 'TAKE BANGHAZI' The regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi appears to be teetering after reports that protestors have taken control of the city of Benghazi. In Tripoli the People's Hall, where parliament sits, was set ablaze and more marches are planned for Monday night. Senior diplomats serving overseas have defected from Gaddafi's administration and the Libyan leader's whereabouts are unknown. So far more than 200 people have been killed in the protests.
Libya protests - pictures
Are these the death throes of Col Gaddafi's regime?

107 whales die on New Zealand beachAn entire pod of 107 whales, which washed up on a beach in New Zealand, have died. The pilot whales were discovered yesterday on Stewart Island off South Island. By the time rescuers arrived, the tide was receding, which meant the 48 whales that weren't already dead could not be refloated and had to be euthanised.

COWELL AND COLE 'QUIT THE X FACTOR'ITV bosses have been thrown into disarray by the decision of Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole to quit as judges of The X Factor to focus on the launch of a US version of the show, according to the News of the World. First names being talked about as replacement judges include British pop stars Robbie Williams and Adele.

Aaron Porter quits as Nus president NUS president Aaron Porter has quit, finally succumbing to months of pressure over his handling of the government's tuition fees hike. According to the Guardian, he had been facing too much personal abuse for his soft stance. Porter had distanced himself and the NUS from tuition fees protests in the autumn that turned to violence. In December, activists accused him of "politely requesting an explanation of how tuition fees will only be doubled rather than tripled".

CAMERON PROMISES PUBLIC SERVICE REVOLUTION David Cameron has promised to release public services from "the grip of state control" and allow private companies, voluntary groups and charities the right to run schools, hospitals and council services. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister pledges to end the era of "old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you're-given" public services.

ORAL SEX THROAT CANCER SCAREResearchers in the US claim the human papilloma virus (HPV), spread during unprotected sex, is now a bigger cause of throat cancer than smoking among people under 50. HPV is better known as the cause of around 70 per cent of cervical cancers. Prof Maura Gillison of Ohio State University in Columbus says boys should be vaccinated against HPV, just as teenage girls are.

TODAY PRESENTERS TAKE SALARY CUTSThree presenters of Radio 4's flagship news programme Today employed on freelance contracts - John Humphrys, James Naughtie and Sarah Montague - are to take pay cuts averaging 20 per cent, according to the Sunday Telegraph. Humphrys, the highest paid of the trio, will earn £375,000 a year, down £75,000. The move is part of the BBC's attempt to "rein in" the salaries of its best-known presenters.

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX CALLED OFFThe season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix has been called off because of political unrest in the country. The race was supposed to be held on March 13, but was thrown into doubt after anti-government violence in the kingdom last week. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa said Bahrain had to "focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting to a later date". The Formula 1 season will now start a on March 27 in Australia.