BBC news 2013-10-28

BBC News with Jerry Smit.

The American singer, guitarist and songwriter Lou Reed has died at the age of 71. His agent said he died at home in Long Island of complications from a recent liver transplant. In a career spanning nearly five decades, Lou Reed had a huge influence from the shape of rock music. Born in New York, he was a founder of the seminal 1960s band of Velvet Underground. Anthony Burch looks back on his life. “It was once said that the Velvet Underground had very few fans at the time, but everyone who ever heard them went on to start a group of their own. Lou Reed's songs read the heart of their music, he saw himself as a musician working in a tradition of early Rock and Roll. Lou Reed's melodies were spare but lyrical. Working with world's musician John Cale as protégés of Andy Warhol, he invented a new song for rock one which merits simple memorable tunes with the most challenging of avant-garde music. His songs drew on the grieved street life of New York and delt with subjects such as drug abuse, extremes of sexual experience and despair. Lou Reed who died today.”

Syria has submitted a declaration of its chemical weapons and its plans to destroy them meeting the first key deadline of a program for their total elimination. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which is overseeing the process said the documents were handed over on Thursday. Here's Paul Wood. “Syria has now told the international inspectors exactly how it intends to destroy the more than 1,000 tons of sarin, VX, chlorine and other chemical agents said to have in its possession. Around 60 international inspectors have already visited some 19 of the 23 chemical sites declared by the regime. Very little has been said publicly, but so far the inspectors do seem satisfied. The regime is cooperating.”

A former US marine held by Farc rebels in Colombia has been released to the International Red Cross. The American, Kevin Scott Sutay is said to be in good health. Sarah Rainsford reports from the Cuban capital Havana. “Kevin Scott Sutay arrived in Colombia in June. The 27-year-old headed to the jungle and was probably captured by militants from the Farc. According to local media reports, he was armed only with the machete and GPS and claimed he was simply testing his survival techniques. Colombia's government called to his immediate release that the case threatened to damage historic peace talks with the Farc that help in progressing slowly here in Havana for the past year. The Farc has described his release as a humanitarian gesture.”

World News from the BBC

A series of attacks including a wave of car bombings in Iraq has killed at least 65 people and wounded many others. Most of the victims died in a series of coordinated blasts in predominantly Shia districts of the capital Baghdad. A busy market and a bus station were among the targets. The single deadliest attack took place in the northern city of Mosul when a car bomb exploded outside a bank where soldiers were queuing to collect their wages.

The Israeli government says it will release another 26 Palestinian prisoners as a part of a deal brokered by the United States earlier this year for the resumption of peace talks. It will be the second batch of prisoners to be freed under the agreement. A statement from the office of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says those to be released had all been jailed for violence committed before a 1993 interim accord.

The US National Security Agency has denied German press reports that President Obama was told in 2010 that Chancellor Angela Merkel's phones were being tapped. Katy Watson reports from Washington. “The leaks in German newspapers have continued over the weekend and with them the outrage over the scope of US spy agencies has grown. But the National Security Agency has hit back, in a statement it said its boss Gen Keith Alexander did not have a discussion with the President in 2010 over an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving the German leader, nor did he discuss any other alleged operations involving Ms. Merkel.”

People across central and southern Britain have been warned to prepare for one of the most violent storms to hit the country for many years. Heavy rain and winds of more than 130km/h have been forecasted overnight and into Monday morning. The National Weather Center is warning that the storm could blow down trees, knock out power supplies, damage building and cause flooding. People have been advised not to travel and many train services have already been cancelled.