Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 21 Aug 2013

1. NO 10 INTERVENED ON WHISTLEBLOWER

David Cameron ordered Britain’s top civil servant to contact The Guardian over material it had received from the American whistleblower, Edward Snowden. Editor Alan Rusbridger said yesterday the PM ordered “a very senior official” to speak with him. Overnight, it emerged that official was Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood.

Edward Snowden joins Twitter with jokes aplenty

2. PERU PAIR CHARGED WITH SMUGGLING

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid, the two women from the UK arrested in Peru on suspicion of drug smuggling, have been formally charged with attempting to take £1.5m of cocaine out the country. Peter Madden, a lawyer representing one of the women, said both would plead not guilty. He said the conditions the women were being kept in were “pretty grim”.

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3. UK POSTS SHOCK £62M DEFICIT FOR JULY

Despite signs of the economy is strengthening, Britain recorded a “small, but unexpected” deficit of £62m for July. The shortfall is in stark contrast to the £800m surplus posted in July last year and appears to have surprised the City, where a a £2.5bn surplus had been expected. Treasury sources blamed a change in the timing of departmental payments.

Shock for City as Britain posts £62 million deficit for July

4. ASHES: SHANE WATSON REACHES 100

Shane Watson scored a maiden Ashes century for Australia on the first day of the fifth Test at the Oval as the tourists passed 200 with just three wickets down against an England line-up featuring debutants Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan. Earlier coach Darren Lehmann caused controversy by calling Stuart Broad a "cheat".

5. 35 YEARS FOR LEAKER BRADLEY MANNING

Bradley Manning, the US soldier who leaked more than 700,000 classified documents, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. The 25-year-old was convicted last month of multiple charges, including violations of the Espionage Act for copying and disseminating the documents while serving as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq.

Chelsea Manning to be released early by Barack Obama

6. SYRIA: ‘POISON GAS ATTACK ON DAMASCUS’

Syrian regime rockets carrying toxic gas have killed hundreds of people in the rebel-held areas of East and West Ghouta on the southern outskirts of Damascus, according to reports from opposition activists early today. The alleged attack comes three days after UN inspectors arrived in Syria to check earlier chemical weapons claims.

Syria: hundreds feared dead in Damascus 'poison gas attack'

7. FUKUSHIMA: NUCLEAR LEAK UPGRADED

Japan's nuclear agency has upgraded the severity level of a radioactive water leak at the Fukushima plant from one to three on a seven-point international scale. Highly radioactive water was found to be leaking from a storage tank on Monday. The upgrade is a provisional move that has yet to be confirmed with the IAEA, the UN's nuclear agency.

Worst radioactive water leak yet at Fukushima plant

8. EGYPT: COURT SETS MUBARAK FREE

Former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was expected to leave prison today after a court ordered his release. The 85-year-old is being retried on charges of ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that led to his downfall. However, he has already served the maximum amount of pretrial detention permitted in that case.

9. 'PINK PANTHER JEWEL THIEF' ARRESTED

A man believed to be a member of the Pink Panthers, a notorious gang of jewel thieves, has been arrested in France. The former French legionnaire from Montenegro was found in Montpellier. He is one of five men who broke out of prison in Switzerland in May. The Pink Panthers are thought to be behind heists worth £215m over the past ten years.

10. HOT TICKET: DAMON’S SCI-FI FILM ELYSIUM

Science-fiction action thriller Elysium opens at UK cinemas today. In a dystopian future, a factory worker dying of radiation poisoning (Matt Damon), defies brutal anti-immigration forces to get medical treatment on Elysium, a luxury space station for the rich. With Jodie Foster. “Stunning,” says Den of Geek.

'Extraordinary' Elysium mixes sci-fi thrills and social message

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