Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 17 Jan 2013

1. HEAVY SNOW TO FALL OVERNIGHT

Heavy snow was expected to fall across UK overnight as the winter weather worsens. The snow, combined with strong winds, will make the morning rush hour difficult for many drivers and temperatures will stay below zero degrees. The Met Office says Wales is likely to be hardest hit and and 12 inches of snow is forecast in some places.

Britain under snow - pictures

2. HOSTAGES DIE AT ALGERIAN GAS PLANT

As many as 34 hostages may have died when Algerian forces attacked the gas plant where they were being held by militants with links to al-Qaeda. It is believed two French citizens are among the captives who escaped, but there are fears a second Briton may be dead. Algerian helicopters attacked the plant this morning and there are reports that some hostages were killed as their captors tried to move them away from the facility in cars.

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Bloodbath in the Algerian desert: what was kidnapping all about?

3. OBAMA UNVEILS GUN CONTROL PLANS

President Obama yesterday unveiled his promised attempt at new gun controls in America, calling for a reinstatement of the ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, and for wider background checks on buyers. He signed 23 "executive orders" but admitted that getting laws passed in Congress "will be difficult".

Obama's gun reform plans could define his second term

4. COPTER CRASH: CRANE DRIVERS OVER-SLEPT

Crane drivers Richard Moule and Nicki Biagioni attributed their survival of yesterday’s London helicopter crash to "divine intervention". Both men should have been in the cab when the helicopter struck their crane at 8 am but had overslept and were late for work. Helicopter pilot Pete Barnes and commuter Matt Wood both died.

Vauxhall helicopter crash - in pictures

5. BIG WIN FOR LAURA ROBSON IN AUSTRALIA

Laura Robson became the third Briton to book a place in the third round of the Australian Open after an epic triumph over former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. The 18-year-old triumphed 11-9 in the third set of a match that ended at 12.30am. She joins Heather Watson in the last 32. Earlier in the day men's third seed Andy Murray demolished Joao Sousa in straight sets.

Robson arrives as a contender after 'wild' win over Kvitova

6. US AND INDIA GROUND BOEING DREAMLINERS

United Airlines was forced to ground its six Boeing Dreamliners yesterday on orders from the US Federal Aviation Administration. Indian regulators have also grounded the country's fleet following the latest emergency landing in Japan yesterday. Boeing shares fell two per cent in after-hours trading on Wall Street.

Passenger and crew safety is our top priority, Boeing vows

7. SYRIA ‘MAY HAVE USED POISONED GAS’

A leaked cable from US diplomats in Istanbul suggests that the Syrian regime has used the poison gas Agent 15 against rebels in their stronghold at Homs, The Times reports. Israeli officials said the 23 December incident was a test to gauge the reaction of the US, which had warned that their use would cross a "red line" for intervention.

Assad 'may have used gas' against Syrian rebels

8. PEP GUARDIOLA SNUBS PREMIER LEAGUE

Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona coach and the most wanted manager in world football, has snubbed the English Premier League by signing on as manager at Bayern Munich. Recent rumours had suggested he wanted a job in England. He was a favourite to take over at Manchester City or to replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Guardiola snub could spark 'insane' scramble for Mourinho

9. UK CHILDREN LEFT 'PHYSICALLY ILLITERATE'

Baroness Campbell, head of UK Sport, said yesterday that lack of sports coaching in primary schools was leaving children "physically illiterate" and unable to run, jump or throw, while rising numbers "can hardly move". Speaking to the Evening Standard, she warned that the Olympic legacy was being wasted.

10. HOT TICKET: SILENCE OF THE SEA

A stage adaptation of French resistance novel, 'The Silence of the Sea', has opened at Donmar's Trafalgar Studios. Simon Evans directs the story of an old man and his niece who use silence to undermine a German soldier billeted in their home. "Beautifully played," says The Times. Until 2 February.

Leo Bill 'electrifying' in Donmar's Silence of the Sea

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