Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 1 Apr 2011

Ivory Coast civil war gunmen in Abidjan

Our popular news catch-up service is posted Monday to Friday at 8.0am. You can rely on it to keep you up to date through the working day with the main news talking points. IVORY COAST REGIME TO FALL 'WITHIN HOURS'Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to quit despite losing the presidential election, is expected to be removed from power in the Ivory Coast "within hours" after the  presidential residence in Abidjan has come under siege. Gbagbo's military chief of staff, Gen Philippe Mangou, fled to the home of the South African ambassador as troops loyal to the winner of last year's election, Alassane Ouattara, entered the city. In pictures: Siege of Abidjan DO 'DEFECTORS' SIGNAL GADDAFI'S END? YES AND NOThe Gaddafi family has secretly sent trusted envoy Mohammed Ismail to London to negotiate an exit strategy. And a rush of defectors following foreign minister Moussa Koussa suggests that Gaddafi's regime could be crumbling. But US military commanders say he is "not about to break" and has 10 times the rebels' firepower. Meanwhile it has been reported that seven civilians were killed by an allied airstrike near Brega. EVACUATE VILLAGE, JAPAN IS TOLDAtomic energy officials are urging the Japanese government to abandon the village of Iitate where radiation in the soil is double the level set for evacuation, even though it is well outside the 20km evacuation zone. The government is refusing. Radiation levels in the sea reached new highs as relatives of the 'Fukushima 50' trying to control the reactors said that they "expected to die." NEW FLAT-RATE PENSION TO BE £155 A WEEKThe new flat-rate pension promised in the government overhaul of the state pension system will be at least £155 a week. It offers an increase over today's full pension of £97.65, but will apply only to those retiring after 2015 or 2016. Women who currently get reduced pensions if they have taken time out of work to raise families will benefit most from the flat rate system. NEW WAVE OF PROTESTS IN SYRIA A new wave of protests has reportedly begun in Syria after Friday prayers. Hundreds have gathered in the southern city of Deraa and demonstrations have taken place in in Qamishli and Hassakeh in the north-east. Activists branded Friday a Day of Martyrs in honour of those killed by security forces during the recent uprisings. Earlier in the week President Bashar al-Assad said the protests were a foreign plot, but lifted long-standing emergency laws. OFFICIAL: BRITISH WOMEN ARE GETTING BOOZIEROne in five British women now drink more than their medically-approved limit of 14 units of alcohol a week, about a dozen glasses of wine. This is 20 per cent more than ten years ago. One in 20 drinks more than double that. Figures come from the Office of National Statistics show men's rate of drinking more than the doctor orderered has remained constant. MAD MEN SAVED, will air in 2012Mad Men will be back for two more series - and possibly another one on top of that - after the drama's creator Matthew Weiner finally signed a $130m contract with US TV network AMC. The fifth series will air in early 2012 and the contract reportedly stipulates characters cannot be written out for commercial reasons - although some stars may still be dispensed with on creative grounds. VIDEO GAME CALL OF DUTY OUTSELLS AVATARThe rise of the video game continues. It has been announced that the most popular entertainment title of 2010 was Call of Duty: Black Ops, which outsold all music titles, both physical and digital, and DVDs, according to figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association. It sold 3.27 million copies between its release in November and the end of the year, beating even Avatar, the futuristic film, which sold 3 million. BERLINERS PROTEST AT THE STUFFING OF KNUTA plan by the Berlin Zoo to mount and display the carcass of Knut, the celebrity polar bear who died on March 19 aged four, has been met with fury. Activists have collected thousands of signatures from Berliners who believe the zoo, which made millions from Knut's fame, is trying to exploit him in death as in life. An online condolence book is filled with angry messages, including: "Knut cannot be stuffed!" WALKERS TEAR DOWN CLARKSON'S FENCEThe long-running battle between Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and the protesters who claim the right to walk over his Isle of Man property took an ugly turn when vandals demolished part of his fence and threw it over a cliff. Police are investigating. Ramblers and dog walkers claim the right to use a path leading to the beach. Both sides are waiting for a High Court date for a judge's ruling.

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