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The News Matrix: Friday 14 September 2012

Costa 'at fault' in Concordia disaster

A report has squarely blamed the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship for the disaster in January when 32 people died, and also found fault with the crew and ship owners for blunders, delays and safety breaches after the ship ran aground off Italy. MORE

Crackdown boosts dissident blogs

An official crackdown on three dissident blogs appeared to backfire yesterday as record numbers of people visited the sites. Danlambao, or "Citizens' Journalism," has attracted thousands of users for its reporting on suspected power struggles that may have been behind the arrest of a banking tycoon last month.

Call to release land for 8 million homes

The Government should build on green belt land to meet the needs of Britain's housing shortage, a right-wing think tank said yesterday. Policy Exchange claimed that releasing 2% of English land would allow the construction of 8 million more family homes. MORE

Ofqual faces legal threat over GCSEs

The exams regulator Ofqual is being threatened with legal action by the Welsh government over the fiasco of this year's GCSE English exam results. Welsh Assembly sources said yesterday that if the watchdog tried to refuse its exam board permission to compete with other examiners in England the matter would end up in the courts. MORE

Thousands flee as volcano erupts

More than 33,000 people were told to leave their homes last night after the "Volcano of Fire" erupted. Clouds of ash were blown almost two miles into the atmosphere and lava spewed nearly 2,000 feet down the volcano's sides. Toxic gases also threatened people living in the area.

Madsen 'caught drunk in his car'

Actor Michael Madsen has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving. The Reservoir Dogs star had to spend a night in hospital after he was pulled over on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu by officers who saw him driving erratically in a Pontiac GTO.

Millican spurns theatres over prices

Comedian Sarah Millican has decided to boycott a group of theatres on her latest tour because they charge too much in booking fees. The star will not perform at venues run by Britain's largest theatre operator, the Ambassador Theatre Group, she announced on her website yesterday. MORE

Child mortality halves in 20 years

Child mortality has nearly halved in the past two decades thanks to a mixture of better aid and economic growth in poorer countries, according to a UN report. Research shows fewer than 7 million children under five died last year, compared with nearly 12 million in 1990. MORE

Police working with MI6 over spy death

The police investigation into the death of a spy whose body was found in a holdall has opened a "very good line of communication" with MI6, a senior officer has said. Gareth Williams was found in the bath at his flat in central London in August 2010, and to date no significant progress with the case has been made.

Pope arrives for mission of peace

The Pope begins a trip to Lebanon today, as the country struggles to avoid being dragged into the violence in neighbouring Syria. Pope Benedict XVI has said he will travel "under the sign of peace". MORE

New York City bans super-size sodas

New York City has passed America's first law banning sales of large-size sodas and other sugary drinks in restaurants and other eateries. The Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, called for the ban as a way to cut obesity and other health problems. His opponents vowed to fight the law in court.

Nissan recalls cars over steering fault

Japanese car company Nissan has been forced to recall thousands of vehicles due to a possible steering wheel malfunction. The recall, which includes around 7,000 models sold in the UK, affects the 2012 model of the five-door hatchback Nissan Qashqai. The company said around 600 vehicles might need attention.

Moyles reaches the end of the tracks

Radio 1 breakfast host Chris Moyles will bid farewell to the airwaves today. Celebrity pals Ant and Dec, James Corden, Gary Barlow and Billie Piper joined an audience of more than 200 fans for his penultimate show yesterday. The broadcaster has hosted the show for more than eight years.

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Day In a Page

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A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

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Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

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Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

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Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

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New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
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Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

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Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
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Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

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A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
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Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice