The News Matrix: Friday 16 December 2011

 

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The Independent Online

 

Troops will help to guard Olympic sites

Up to 13,500 military personnel will help to provide security during next summer's Olympics. The Ministry of Defence said servicemen and women would be on hand to protect 150 venues and training sites. HMS Ocean and HMS Bulwark will also be based at Greenwich and Weymouth Bay.

Ofqual rejects calls for single board

Demands for a single national exam board for GCSEs and A-levels were rejected yesterday by Ofqual. The exams watchdog said it would not necessarily solve what MPs claim is a crisis of confidence in exam boards after examiners allegedly primed teachers on questions. MORE

Putin blasts McCain over Arab Spring jibe

In a bizarre rant, Russia's Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, accused John McCain of being "nuts" and having "civilian blood on his hands" from the Vietnam war. The US Senator felt the force of the premier's ire after tweeting that the Arab Spring was spreading to Russia. MORE

Cash squeeze threat to families plan

David Cameron has been accused of failing to put enough money behind a £1.1bn programme to "get to grips" with 120,000 families linked with high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour. Critics said the spending squeeze would undermine local attempts to fund the scheme. MORE

Case against Knox 'just didn't hold up'

The Italian appeals court which overturned Amanda Knox's murder conviction in the slaying of her British flatmate gave the reasons for its ruling, saying the evidence against the American, left, didn't add up. MORE

Britain invited to attend treaty talks

The UK has been invited to take part in negotiations on a new EU treaty, despite David Cameron's rejection of the pact at a high-level summit in Brussels last week. Britain will probably only be allowed to sit in as an observer but it will allow London to keep tabs on developments in the treaty, which will govern the region's national economies.

US troops withdraw after eight years

Eight years after "liberating Iraq ", the US has ended its war there. The colours of the US forces were lowered and the "Last Post" was played in a short ceremony where Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the mission had brought "hope for prosperity and peace". MORE

Man used lightsabre to fend off Taser

A man who went on a rampage with a lightsabre at a Toys R Us in Portland, Oregon, managed to use the Star Wars weapon to fend of a police Taser. The 33-year-old man, who had allegedly assaulted three people with the toy, then managed to knock the wires of a second Taser away with his lightsabre, before being arrested.

Brontë manuscript sells for record total

An unpublished Charlotte Brontë manuscript sold for £690,850 at auction yesterday. The Young Men's Magazine, Number 2, was written when Brontë was 14. Sotheby's had estimated it would sell for £200,000 to £300,000, but it sold for more than double the estimate, setting a new record for a Brontë work.

Holly bushes needed for food and shelter

A charity has warned against decking the halls with too much holly this Christmas – because it leaves wildlife without bush for habitat. The RSPB says the plant is a valuable source of food and shelter for birds, mammals and insects because it is slow-growing and its berries stay fresh even through very cold weather.

Mothers in breast-feeding flash mob

A breast-feeding flash mob was held in Brighton as women defended their right to feed their babies in public. Dozens of mothers gathered in the city centre to feed their children. Claire Jones-Hughes, 38, organised the demonstration after she was criticised by customers in a cafe for breastfeeding one of her daughters.

Banksy's Cardinal Sin sculpture

A sculpture of a priest by Banksy has gone on display next to 17th-century old masters in Liverpool. The artist's Cardinal Sin is a replica of an 18th-century stone bust with the face sawn off and replaced with a mosaic of bathroom tiles, as though it's pixellated.

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