Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 18 Jan 2010

Chemical Ali

Slept through the Today programme? Never read the Sunday papers? Missed Andrew Marr? Not sure what happened to all that snow? The First Post's Monday morning service, posted at 8.0 am, is designed to help... UN LABELS HAITI ITS 'WORST EVER DISASTER'UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has described the situation in Haiti as "one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades". He said: "The damage, destruction, loss of life is just overwhelming." Rescue workers are struggling to help survivors because of the collapsed infrastructure. The appearance on the streets of armed gangs has made the situation even more fragile. More...   MORE HEDGE-FUNDERS FLEE TO GENEVABluecrest, one of Britain's biggest hedge funds, is to move 50 of its traders from London to Geneva before the new 50 per cent income tax bracket is introduced on April 6.  Income tax in Switzerland is closer to 25 per cent. According to a report in the Sunday Times, up to 150 hedge funds will have left London by April.  BROWN WANTS BLAIR TO HELP IN ELECTIONGordon Brown, having given up on his "class war" tactics to win the election and decided to present himself instead as a champion of middle-class Britain, could even invite his predecessor Tony Blair to help campaign for Labour in a last-ditch effort to keep David Cameron's Tories out of Number Ten. According to reports, Blair is willing to help if asked. AVATAR SCOOPS GOLDEN GLOBESJames Cameron's sci-fi blockbuster Avatar won best drama and best director awards at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles last night, making the film front-runner for the best picture Oscar. Jeff Bridges was named best actor and Sandra Bullock best actress for two films yet to be released in the UK - Crazy Heart and The Blind Side. The big losers were Up in the Air - a surprise - and the musical Nine - not a surprise. More... OSAMA BIN LADEN IMAGES WITHDRAWNTwo digitally enhanced photos depicting how Osama bin Laden might look today, issued last week by the FBI, have been withdrawn after the bureau admitted that one of its technicians had used a photograph of a left-wing Spanish MP, Gaspar Llamazares, to help create the images. Llamazares, who recognised himself in the pictures, said he would no longer feel safe travelling to the US. FRED GOODWIN MAKES A COMEBACKSir Fred Goodwin, the chief executive who took the Royal Bank of Scotland to the wall and then walked off with a massive pension to the disgust of shareholders and taxpayers, has been given a new job - as an advisor to the architectural practice RMJM. He is an old friend of Sir Fraser Morrison, whose son is CEO of the Edinburgh-based group. More... KENNEDY SENATE SEAT COULD GO REPUBLICANPresident Barack Obama faces a humiliating result in the election on Tuesday of a new senator to replace the late Ted Kennedy in the state of Massachusetts. Both Obama and former president Bill Clinton have had to visit the state in an effort to shore up support for Democrat Martha Coakley in the face of a surge by Republican candidate Scott Brown, a former nude male model. More... DEATH SENTENCE FOR 'CHEMICAL ALI' Saddam Hussein's cousin and defence minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known by his nickname 'Chemical Ali', has been sentenced to death for ordering the gassing of Kurds in the town of Halabja in 1988. As many as 5,000 people died, mainly women and children, when Iraqi jets sprayed the town with mustard gas and the nerve agents Tabun, Sarin and VX. Like Saddam, he has been ordered to be hanged - but he has the right to appeal. YVES SAINT LAURENT - IMAGE MAKEOVER Yves Saint Laurent, the Algerian boy who grew up to become one of France's greatest fashion designers, was a tyrant who drank to excess, took cocaine and amphetamines, and suffered badly from depression, according to a biography being published in France this week. Marie-Dominique Lelievre, author of Saint Laurent, mauvais garcon - Bad Boy - claims he could never get over his homosexuality, even asking a top model to sleep with him. GLACIER MELTDOWN WARNING WAS SPECULATIONA UN warning issued in 2007 that most of the Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 as a result of climate change is likely to be retracted after scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admitted their claim was based not on new scientific research but on an old report in the journal New Scientist. It has further emerged that the NS report was based only on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist, who has admitted that he was merely speculating.

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