Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 25 Nov 2010

Our popular news catch-up service is posted Monday to Friday at 8.0 am. You can rely on it to keep you up to date through the working day with the main news talking points. Earliest widespread snow in UK for 17 years The earliest widespread snow in 17 years is causing problems across Britain - and forecasters say the big chill will last for the best part of a fortnight. Scotland and the northeast were hardest hit with up to six inches of snow falling overnight, although problems were also reported in Wales and Northern Ireland. Snow is expected to spread to southern English counties next week. THE ASHES: ENGLAND MAKE DISASTROUS START England made a horrible start to their Ashes campaign early today with captain Andrew Strauss caught in the gully off the third ball of the first over at Brisbane. Later, with the score standing at 197-4, England lost the wickets of Cook, Prior and Broad to a Peter Siddle hat-trick. The visitors were eventually all out for 260 with only Alastair Cook (67) and Ian Bell (76) making any impact. Australia, supposedly the underdogs, were jubilant. In pictures: England's Ashes disaster 'OUR NORTH KOREA ALLIES': ANOTHER PALIN GAFFE Sarah Palin has handed another gift to those Americans who feel she's ill-quipped to run for the presidency. Discussing the tensions on the Korean border, she said during a radio interview: "We've got to stand with our North Korean allies - we're bound by treat to - ". The show's host, Glenn Beck, quickly interjected: "South Korea". Palin went on: "Yes, and we're also bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes." Sarah Palin: my next bad career move STUDENT PROTEST: 'KETTLING' OPERATION CRITICISED London police were criticised by parents for surrounding hundreds of students and schoolchildren protesting in central London yesterday at government proposals to treble tuition fees. Some protestors were still trapped in the 'kettling' operation at midnight. 'Day X' saw marches and occupations at universities across the country, with isolated outbreaks of violence mainly in London. A police van was attacked and a bus shelter set alight. In pictures: Students' Day X protests UK-BASED AFGHANS 'TAKE COMBAT HOLIDAYS WITH TALIBAN'The Guardian claims to have interviewed UK-based Afghans who take months off to join the Taliban fighting Nato troops in Afghanistan before returning home to Britain. One Taliban fighter told the paper he works as a minicab driver in London. "I make good money there [in the UK], you know. But these people are my friends and my family and it's my duty to come to fight the jihad with them. £8 billion to be spent on railways The government has announced plans to invest £8bn in Britain's railways. The plans include 2,100 new carriages to tackle overcrowding and electrification of routes between London and Oxford, and Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool. However, the investment will be paid for by increases in fares, which will go up by an average of 6.2 per cent in the new year. Overcrowded railways to get £8bn investment NEW ZEALAND MOURNS LOST COALMINERSThe people of New Zealand are in mourning for the 29 coalminers now presumed dead following yesterday's second gas explosion at the Pike River mine near Greymouth on the South Island. St Paul's Cathedral in Wellington has been holding services every hour for those seeking comfort. According to Bloomberg, Pike River Coal Company faces an indefinite production shutdown. LISA SNOWDON HAS VIRAL MENINGITISThe model and breakfast radio DJ Lisa Snowdon is in hospital with viral meningitis after falling ill at the end of last week. Snowdon, 38, who features in the current M&S Christmas TV commercial, developed severe flu-like symptoms after turning on the Bond Street Christmas lights. The Saturdays singer Frankie Sandford is standing in for Snowdon at Capital Radio while she recovers. PHILIP LAWRENCE'S KILLER RE-ARRESTEDJust four months after he was controversially freed on parole after serving 14 years for murdering the London headmaster Philip Lawrence, Learco Chindamo has been arrested for an alleged violent mugging. He is expected to be recalled to prison. Frances Lawrence, widow of the headmaster stabbed through the heart by Chindamo, told the Daily Telegraph: "It appears Mr Chindamo is being given every help, while my family is being hung out to dry." SPURS AND MAN UTD THROUGH IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United both qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League with a game to spare on Wednesday night. United beat Rangers 1-0 at Ibrox thanks to a late Wayne Rooney penalty, which knocked the Scottish side out of the competition. At White Hart Lane, Spurs enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over Werder Bremen. Rooney penalty sends United through

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Jack Bremer is a London-based reporter, attached to The Week.co.uk. He has reported regularly from the United States and France.