Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 18 Apr 2013

1

15 FEARED DEAD AFTER BLAST NEAR WACO

As many as 15 people are feared dead and 160 are injured after a massive explosion flattened buildings in the Texas town of West last night. "It was like a nuclear bomb went off," said the mayor. Early reports suggest the blast may be linked to anhydrous ammonia stored at the fertilizer plant where the explosion occurred.

2

THATCHER CREMATED AT MORTLAKE

Margaret Thatcher was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium in south-west London yesterday following her ceremonial funeral procession and service at St Paul's Cathedral. Twins Carol and Mark Thatcher were reportedly overcome with emotion during the short final service. Her ashes will be buried next to those of her husband Denis in the Royal Hospital Chelsea cemetery.

3

SOME TRUTH IN ASSAD'S AL-QAEDA CLAIM

There is a "kernel of truth" in the Syrian president's assertion that the rebels trying to unseat him are a front for al-Qaeda, experts have said. In a TV interview, Bashar al-Assad compared Western support for the Syrian rebels with US support for Islamists in Afghanistan which led to the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

4

PUTIN VS NAVALNY: 'WORLD IS WATCHING'

President Putin's arch-opponent, the anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, has been accused of fraud dating back to 2008 – a day after he appeared in court in Kirov on another charge. Navalny and supporters worldwide say both accusations are fabricated. The Times calls it a "depressing throwback to the Soviet dark age" and warns Putin: "The world is watching."

5

GUN CONTROLS SHOT DOWN IN US SENATE

President Obama's initiative to strengthen gun controls after the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Newtown, Connecticut, in December were shot down in the US Senate yesterday as votes went against proposals to ban assault rifles and large magazines, and to widen background checks. An angry Obama described it as "a pretty shameful day for Washington."

6

BRIGHTON LOOKS AT 'DRUG-USE ROOMS'

Brighton could become the first city in the UK to provide 'drug-use' rooms where people would be able to use illegal drugs with medical help at hand and without fear of prosecution. The idea, already implemented in Holland, is recommended by the Independent Drugs Commission for Brighton and Hove to reduce drug-use deaths and get addicts off the streets.

7

APPLE NO LONGER NO 1 IN THE WORLD

Apple yesterday lost its title as the world's most valuable company after its shares tumbled $23.44, or 5.5pc, to $402.80, the lowest level in a year and a half. The figures mean that the tech giant now has a capital value of $378bn, putting it in second place to Exxon Mobil at $385bn. Analysts attributed the fall to reports of dwindling iPad and iPhone production.

8

BOMB SUSPECTS CAUGHT ON CAMERA

Authorities have clear video images of two separate suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings carrying black bags at each explosion site. They were planning to release the images today and in a bid to identify them, the Boston Globe reports. President Obama was scheduled to visit the city today for the first time since three people died in explosions near the marathon's finishing line.

9

CHELSEA THIRD AFTER BEATING FULHAM 3-0

Chelsea beat Fulham 3-0 in the local London derby to move into third spot in the Premier League table and revive their hopes of a top four finish to the season. John Terry, benched during Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final defeat at the weekend, headed in two of the goals. In last night's other big game, West Ham held Manchester United to a 2-2 draw.

10

HOT TICKET: DOMINGO AT COVENT GARDEN

Special performances of Giuseppe Verdi's opera 'Nabucco', featuring legendary Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo, have begun at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Domingo sings the title role of the Old Testament king who exiled the Jews from their homeland. "Astonishing," says the Financial Times. Until 26 April, and in cinemas on 29 April.

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