NEWS: 9 things you need to know today.

We’re trying out something new this morning. Below, you’ll find nine bite-size pieces of news that you need to know today. This post will give you something to chat about at the watercooler, or at the supermarket check-out, or really anywhere you need to make small talk.

So this is what’s been happening around the world today…

1. There has been another shooting incident in the United States, this time at a university campus in Texas. Three people have reportedly been wounded and one suspect has already been detained by police. The shooting comes as the United States continues to grapple with the issue of gun control reform, following mass public shootings in Colorado and Connecticut in the past 6 months.

2. Young single people in China have found the ultimate solution to avoid incessant questioning from parents over why they haven’t gotten married and started a family yet. A new website has been developed  that offers over 260 ‘fake boyfriends’ who can be rented out for an evening to accompany young women to their Chinese New Year celebrations.

Beyonce performing at President Obama’s second inauguration

3. Beyonce’s widely praised performance of the American National Anthem at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration yesterday… was lip synced. According to a  spokesperson from the US Marine Band (who accompanied Beyonce’s performance), the musicians were told just before the song that Beyonce would use a pre-recorded tape. (You can see the video of her performance here.)

4. Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova have both advanced to the semi finals following their matches at the Australian Open last night.

5. Lady Gaga is no longer the most followed Twitter user in the world. Canadian teenage pop star Justin Bieber has taken over  the top spot with a massive 33.33 million followers. Lady Gaga has held the number one position since late 2010 when she bumped Britney Spears.

6. An UK man has been cleared of assault charges after a court found that his partner had consented to the ‘master slave’ sex session in which the two acted out scenes from best selling erotic fiction novel 50 Shades of Grey. The prosecution alleged that the accused man had chained his partner to his bedroom floor and whipped her with a rope.

7. Former Hockeyroo and Olympic Gold Medalist Nova Peris will seek election to the Senate as a representative for the Labor Party. Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced yesterday that she and the National Executive would confirm Ms Peris’ (who is yet to officially join the Labor Party) candidacy over the top of current ALP Senator Trish Crossin, who has been a member of Parliament since 1998.

Kochie on Sunrise

8. Sunrise host David Koch has drawn extensive criticism in recent days for his comments encouraging breastfeeding mother’s not to feed their babies in public. But now claims are emerging that the comments were a pre-meditated plan to drum up publicity for Sunrise as the show continues to battle it out in the fierce breakfast television ratings war.

9. A British grandma has been sentenced to death by firing squad in Indonesia. Lindsay Sandiford was found to have smuggled almost 5 kilograms of cocaine into Bali last year. She has not made any comment to the media following what was a surprisingly severe sentence.