Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Saturday 19 Jan 2013

The Week’s super-quick catch-up on the main news talking points, available from 8am daily

1. SAS ON STANDBY FOR ALGERIA SIEGE
David Cameron has put the SAS on standby as terrorists connected to al-Qaeda threatened to blow up the BP gas plant in which hostages are being held in Algeria. At least 10 British workers are feared to be dead or still trapped at the plant. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the situation as "extremely difficult and dangerous".
2. COLD SNAP COULD COST BRITAIN £11BN
Economists fear a prolonged cold spell could cost the British economy as much as £11bn. Further snow fell in parts of the UK overnight as the cold snap continues. Freezing temperatures could cause dangerous icy conditions on Saturday. Thousands of schools closed yesterday and the heavy snowfall also caused chaos across all traffic networks.
3. GUN FOUND IN SCHOOLBAG OF BOY, 7
A mother has been arrested in America after her seven-year-old son went to school with a handgun and live ammunition in his bag. A news channel in America reports that Deborah Farley, 53, claims she put the gun in her son's bag and forgot about it. However, the boy's father says his son may have taken the gun to the school in Queens, New York, to deter classmates who had bullied him.
4. GOVT BOUGHT 8,600 OLYMPIC TICKETS
The government has admitted that it bought more than 8,600 tickets for the London Olympics. The total cost of the tickets, charged to the taxpayer, was £1.17 million. Ministers used 60 of the tickets, including a £725 seat at an athletics event. Labour MP John Mann accused the government of "burying bad news" by revealing the figure during the Algerian hostage crisis.
5. LANCE: 'I DON'T DESERVE DEATH PENALTY'
Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong says his lifelong ban from sport is unfair. In the second part of his interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong, who now admits to doping, said: "I deserve to be punished. I'm not sure I deserve a death penalty." He also spoke of the impact of the saga on his family, describing his mother as a "wreck".
6. OUTGOING COUNCIL WORKER'S FUMING EMAILS
An angry council worker sent furious emails to thousands of colleagues telling them: "F**k off, the lot of you", after she was refused voluntary redundancy. Jennifer Barkess quit Derby City Council and sent the emails to the council's global address book. Her second message described a colleague as "a lump of canine excrement".
7. FERGIE: DIVING 'LINKED TO FOREIGNERS'
Foreign footballers are to blame for the rise in diving in the game, says Sir Alex Ferguson. Discussing the recent row over Luis Suarez's dive against Stoke, the Manchester United chief said: “It’s a different world these days [to when he was a player]. There is obviously a connection to foreign players coming into our game. I don’t think there is any doubt about that.”
8. GOOGLE BOSS ATTACKS FACEBOOK
Google chief executive Larry Page has slammed Facebook, accusing the social networking giant of "doing a really bad job on their products". Tensions have grown after Facebook announced a new tool called Graph Search, which is seen as a potential threat to Google. Page denied the firms are at direct loggerheads. "For us to succeed, is it necessary for some other company to fail? No."
9. MAN JAILED OVER BEHEADING VIDEOS
A "fantasist" who posted videos of gruesome beheadings on Facebook has been jailed for five years. Craig Slee, of Preston, pleaded guilty to four offences under the 2006 terrorism act and admitted possessing a prohibited weapon. Slee had set up an alter ego named Hashim X Shakur on the social networking site where he posted videos of Al-Qaeda beheadings.
10. PROFESSOR GUILTY OF ECCENTRIC GRAFFITI
A university professor has been convicted of scratching peculiar graffiti messages on expensive cars. Stephen Graham, of Newcastle University, used a screwdriver to scrawl statements such as "very silly", "really wrong" and "arbitrary" on cars in the city. It is estimated that he caused £18,000 worth of damage. He will be sentenced next month.