Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 29 Jan 2016

1. Storm Gertude batters Scotland with high winds

The seventh named storm of the season, Gertrude, is hitting Scotland today with very high winds. Gusts of 90mph have been recorded in the Outer Hebrides. Schools have been shut, ferries and trains cancelled and homes left without power. The Forth Road Bridge, Tay Road Bridge and Kessock Bridge are all closed to vehicles.

UK weather: Storm to batter Britain this weekend

2. EU benefits deal 'not good enough'

David Cameron is said to be closing in on a deal as he attempts to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU, but has said initial plans for a deal were "not good enough". The PM wants a deal that would allow the UK to deny in-work benefits to people from other parts of the union for up to four years. The UK would have to show its welfare system was overwhelmed first.

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Remain-voting City lobby group calls for 'dramatic Brexit U-turn'

3. Republican candidates mock absent Trump

Would-be Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was mocked roundly by his rivals last night at a TV debate he refused to attend after falling out with the host, Megyn Kelly. Trump held his own rally nearby with war veterans. The other candidates first joked about his absence then focused their attentions on Ted Cruz instead.

Trump travel ban: Judge expands definition of relatives

4. A&E under pressure as patient numbers rise

A "sharp rise" in A&E visits has put hospitals around the country "on the edge", with 45 temporary closures of units over the past fortnight. At some hospitals all routine operations have been cancelled, GPs told not to refer patients and ambulances sent to other emergency units. The number of A&E patients was 340,000 last week, well above average.

5. Maoist cult leader jailed for 23 years

Maoist cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan, who held his daughter captive for three decades and committed a string of sex offences against his followers, has been jailed for 23 years. The 75-year-old brainwashed members of his Brixton-based cult into thinking he had supernatural powers. He was brought to justice after his daughter escaped the cult in 2013.

6. Japan surprises with negative interest rate

Japan has shocked financial analysts by introducing a negative interest rate. A benchmark rate of -0.1 per cent has been set, meaning commercial banks will be charged 0.1 per cent on some deposits. It is hoped this will encourage them to lend and do something to address the ongoing downturn in the world's third-largest economy.

Pound plunges after Bank of England's dovish rates signal

7. British woman guilty of IS membership

A British woman who ran away to Syria with her toddler son has been found guilty of being a member of terror organisation Islamic State. Tareena Shakil told Birmingham Crown Court that she travelled to Syria as she wished to live under Sharia law. She returned to the UK in January last year. She was also convicted to encouraging acts of terrorism on social media.

8. Andy Murray scrapes into Australian Open final

Andy Murray will face Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open on Sunday after the British number one scraped past Milos Raonic of Canada in the semi finals. The Scot triumphed 4-6 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2 in just over four hours in Melbourne. Raonic had seemed on course for victory until a leg injury in the fourth set gave Murray hope.

Australian Open: torrid two weeks ends badly for Andy Murray

9. Daniel Pelka killer found dead in jail

The stepfather of murdered Daniel Pelka has died in prison. Mariusz Krezolek was found dead in his cell at Full Sutton prison. He was jailed for a minimum of 30 years in 2013 over the death of four-year-old Daniel who was starved and beaten. Daniel's mother, Magdalena Luczak, was also convicted over his death. She was found hanging in her cell in July 2015.

10. Briefing: the world's most corrupt countries

More than two-thirds of countries across the world have a serious problem with public sector corruption, new research suggests. Tying at the bottom of the list are Somalia and North Korea, followed by Afghanistan, Sudan, Angola and South Sudan, according to the research by Transparency International. There is a hopeful note, however: more countries improved their corruption rankings than saw it declined.

PM's corruption gaffe: Which countries have the biggest problem?

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