The Roundup – Wednesday 18 July 2012

Hitting the headlines today…

Half Hour Cuts Made to Olympic Opening Ceremony

Approximately half an hour of cuts have been made to the London 2012 opening ceremony in order to ensure that spectators are able to travel home hassle free on public transport.

A four minute stunt bike show is among the cuts which aim to help the show finish between midnight and half past.

The £27 million production involving 10,000 people and directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle has been told it needs “tightening” since it ran over by at least half an hour when it was strung together for the first time.

A spokeswoman from Locog, the Olympic organising committee said that no more cuts are likely to be made.

PM Visits British Troops in Afghanistan

David Cameron has made his first visit to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan in over a year.

The prime minister’s trip comes months before troops begin to withdraw from their decade long campaign in the Middle Eastern country.

Details of the withdrawal are yet to be fleshed out but about 500 of the 9,500 British troops will be pulled out towards the end of the year.

The Treasury want the withdrawal date to be moved forward to 2013 since it costs £3 billion a year to maintain the troops in Afghanistan. However, military sources claim that it will be detrimental to let the Treasury dictate the strategic aspects of the withdrawal.

Syrian Rebels Kill Major Government Figures

Syrian rebels have carried out a major attack that hit the elite core of President Assad’s regime.

Defence Minister Gen Daoud Rajha and Assad’s brother-in-law Gen Assef Shawkat were killed in a possible suicide bombing to the control room of the National Security building during an emergency meeting.  Gen Hassan Turkomani was the assistant to the vice president and another casualty in the attack.

The Free Syrian Army has claimed responsibility.

The bombing comes as the UN security council prepare to vote on a ‘Chapter 7’ resolution which would impose global sanctions on the Assad regime if it failed to implement the Annan peace plan.

British Banking In Another Blunder

British banks have received another kick in the teeth after American politicians accused HSBC of facilitating money laundering to illegal organisations.

The UK’s largest bank has been accused of allowing Mexican drug cartels, al-Qaeda and dangerous regimes such as Iran and North Korea, to move money around the world without being monitored closely by HSBC.

One accusation claims that HSBC provided nearly $1 billion to the Al Rajhi Bank in Saudi Arabia despite the latter’s link with terrorist groups.

HSBC is being investigated by the US Department of Justice and a fine of more than $1 billion could be issued.

Olympic Football Tickets Axed

The Olympics suffers another embarrassment as organisers have been forced to withdraw 500,000 football tickets from public sale after they failed to sell.

Bigger venues like the Millennium Stadium will have their top tiers curtained off to make the stadiums appear fuller.

Locog, the organising committee behind the Games has already sold about half of the two million tickets, which is more than is sold at the World Cup or at any previous Games.

Some feel the tickets were overpriced for a tournament that was not showcasing a large number of international stars.

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