10 things you need to know today: July 24, 2012

The Week

Charges coming in Britain's phone-hacking scandal, Syria's regime makes WMD threats, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. SYRIAN REGIME TALKS OF WMDS
At a press conference Monday, a spokesman for the Syrian regime, Jihad Makdissi, made comments about the country's weapons of mass destruction: "Any stocks of WMD or any unconventional weapon that the Syrian Arab Republic possesses would never be used against civilians or against the Syrian people during this crisis at any circumstances, no matter how the crisis would evolve," he said in English, directing his comments at Western media. "These weapons are meant to be used only and strictly in the event of external aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic." Officials in Washington say the statement is the most "direct confirmation" yet that Syria has an arsenal of unconventional arms. On Tuesday, the Syrian regime said that foreign media had misinterpreted Makdissi's comments, and that they were not meant as a "declaration of possessing non-traditional weapons." According to the rebel Free Syrian Army, regime forces recently moved their stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. [CNN]
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2. OFFICIAL: 30 GRENADES IN HOLMES' APARTMENT
A law enforcement official says the apartment of Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes was rigged with more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline to "enhance the thermal effect of the explosion." The official says the setup resembled those found in Afghanistan and Iraq. [CNN]
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3. EX-NEWS OF THE WORLD EDITORS FACE CHARGES
British prosecutors are set to charge Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks, and six others for their involvement in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Coulson is a former News of the World editor who went on to serve as an aide to Prime Minister David Cameron. Brooks is the former chief executive of News International. [Associated PressGuardian]
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4. ASTRONAUT SALLY RIDE DIES
Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, passed away Monday at her California home after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Ride flew on two missions of the shuttle Challenger, in 1983 and 1984, and later served on panels investigating both the 1986 Challenger disaster and the 2003 crash of the space shuttle Columbia. "She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools," President Obama said in a statement. "Sally's life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve." Ride was 61. [New York Times]
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SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: July 19, 2012

5. MOODY'S LOWERS GERMANY'S RATINGS OUTLOOK
Moody's Investor Services announced late Monday that it is lowering the outlook for the AAA credit ratings of Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to "negative." The credit rating agency said it was doing so because of the increased likelihood that those countries will have to suffer the costs of keeping Italy and Spain afloat. Moody's also cited the increasing risk of Greece leaving the euro and "set[ting] a chain of financial-sector shocks." [New York Times]
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6. ETHNIC VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN INDIA
At least 19 people have been killed and tens of thousands have fled their homes as violence between Muslim settlers and indigenous people erupts in the northwestern state of Assam in India. "It's total madness going on here," says a police officer. "People have lost their senses." [Reuters]
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SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: July 15, 2012

7. REPORTS: BEIJING RAIN DEATH TOLL NEARS 100
According to the latest reports, 95 people have died in the storms that have ravaged Beijing and another 45 are still missing. The city's government, however, maintains that just 37 people have died, despite reports from various blogs tha that the death toll is much higher and is being falsely reported by Beijing officials. [Associated Press]
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8. MARIAH CAREY TO JOIN IDOL
Mariah Carey will be replacing Jennifer Lopez as a judge on American Idol next season. Carey reportedly be paid between $12 million and $15 million. [Chicago Sun-Times]
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SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: July 11, 2012

9. POLL: OBAMA ATTACKS ON ROMNEY WORKING
According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, President Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney for his work at Bain Capital, and his refusal to release additional tax records, are proving effective. More than one third of registered voters surveyed said they had heard about Romney's taxes and Bain tenure, and that what they've learned has negatively impacted their impression of the GOP candidate. [Reuters]
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10. BRITAIN DEPLOYS TROOPS FOR OLYMPIC SECURITY
In advance of Friday's opening ceremony, the British government has decided to deploy an additional 1,200 troops to protect Olympic venues because, it says, the security contractor has failed to supply an adequate number of guards. That brings the grand total of British military personnel involved in Olympic security to 18,200. By comparison, there are 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan. [Associated Press]

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: July 21, 2012

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