Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 22, 2012

Pakistan investigates a plane crash, U.N. monitors enter the Syrian city of Homs, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. PAKISTAN BEGINS INVESTIGATION INTO PLANE CRASHAccording to Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik, a committee has been set up to investigate the Bhoja Air crash that killed all 127 people on board on Friday. Authorities have recovered the plane's flight data recorder, which will be sent abroad for analysis. Bhoja Air chief Farooq Bhoja has also been put on an "exit control list," banning him from leaving Pakistan while the investigation is underway. Determining the cause of the crash could take up to a year, Malik told reporters. Meanwhile, families of crash victims began burying their relatives in Islamabad and Karachi. [AFP]………………………………………………………………………………

2. U.N. MONITORS VISIT RESTIVE SYRIAN CITYFor the first time, U.N. monitors were allowed to visit Syria's city of Homs, where a large portion of the fighting has taken place. The Saturday visit came amid a lull in fighting, which rebels said was simply created when regime tanks were temporarily hidden while observers were present. On the same day, the U.N. voted to send more envoys — up to 300 — to monitor the ceasefire that had already been broken in several cities, including in Douma, a suburb of the capital, Damascus, where two people were killed. [BBC]………………………………………………………………………………

3. POLLS OPEN IN FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONFrench voters cast ballots on Sunday in the first round of a closely watched presidential election. Opinion polls have suggested for months that the incumbent president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, will emerge as the finalists in a field of 10 candidates. The two would then face a run-off on May 6. [New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

4. NIXON POLITICAL OPERATIVE DIESCharles W. Colson, the Republican political operative who boasted that he would "walk over my own grandmother" to ensure the re-election of President Richard Nixon and who was convicted of obstruction of justice for helping to orchestrate illegal activities to discredit former Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg, died Saturday at age 80. Colson had targeted Ellsberg because he was suspected of leaking a top-secret history of the Vietnam War to The New York Times and The Washington Post. [Washington Post]………………………………………………………………………………

5. JAPAN PLANT EXPLOSION KILLS 1, INJURES 16One person was killed and 16 others were injured Sunday when two explosions rocked the Mitsui Chemicals' Iwakuni-Ohtake facility in western Japan. Mitsui Chemicals said the explosions happened during a halt in operations that was initiated after problems at a different plant on Saturday. [UPI]………………………………………………………………………………

6. TIMES REVEALS WALMART BRIBERY COVERUPIn an exclusive investigative report, The New York Times said that Walmart executives covered up a bribery case that had been brought to their attention regarding the company's Mexican subsidiary Walmart de Mexico. Executives in the company's Arkansas headquarters apparently shut down an investigation into some $24 million in bribes that was paid to assure Walmart de Mexico's dominance, even though the lead investigator recommended that the probe be expanded. [New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

7. DUTCH TRAIN CRASH INJURES 42Investigators on Sunday were trying to determine the cause of a head-on collision between two packed passenger trains near a park in Amsterdam that left 42 people seriously injured. Dozens more travelers escaped with minor injuries when the trains slammed into one another, throwing passengers around carriages. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

8. WHITE SOX'S HUMBER PITCHES PERFECT GAMEChicago White Sox pitcher Phil Humber threw a perfect game against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday, making him the 21st player in MLB history to do so. "I don't know what Philip Humber is doing on this list. No idea what my name is doing there, but I'm thankful," Humber said. [Associated Press]………………………………………………………………………………

9. FDA DRAFTS NANOTECHNOLOGY GUIDELINESThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two draft guidance documents that address the use of nanotechnology by the food and cosmetics industries. Nanotechnology allows scientists to create and manipulate materials on a scale measured in nanometers — particles that can not even be seen with a regular microscope. The drafts describe the factors manufacturers should consider when determining whether nanotechnology can create a significant change that may affect the identity of the food substance; affect the safety of the use of the food substance; affect the regulatory status of the use of the food substance; or warrant a regulatory submission to FDA. [Daily Disruption………………………………………………………………………………

10. BEE GEES SINGER ROBIN GIBB OUT OF COMABee Gees singer Robin Gibb awoke from a coma on Saturday after being unconscious for more than a week, said spokesman Doug Wright. Gibb was able to nod and communicate with his family from his bed in a central London hospital. The 62-year-old fell into a coma after contracting pneumonia in his battle against colon and liver cancer. [BBC]

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