The News Matrix: Friday 18 February 2011

Investigation into child sex abuse ring

A major child abuse investigation is underway in Devon after police identified more than 20 children who have fallen victim to an alleged paedophile ring. A 19-year-old man was arrested yesterday in connection with the allegations. MORE

Briton among 12 dead in boat tragedy

Twelve people, most of them tourists, died yesterday when a boat moored in Vietnam’s Halong Bay sank. The dead included a British man named as Stuart McCormick, 30. It was the worst tour boat accident in the Southeast Asian nation in 25 years. MORE

The bear necessities for space travel

An unprecedented investigation into hibernating bears has provided scientists with vital insight into the state of “suspended animation”, which might one day allow space travellers to sleep for months at a time. MORE

Moldovans biggest drinkers of alcohol

Citizens of the small post-Soviet republic of Moldova are the world’s biggest drinkers, knocking back the equivalent of more than 18 litres of pure alcohol per year, according to a report released by the World Health Organisation. MORE

Obamas planning state visit to Britain

US President Barack Obama is to make a state visit to the UK in May after accepting an invitation from the Queen. President Obama will be joined by his wife Michelle for the three-day trip, which comes ahead of the G8 summit of world leaders in France. MORE

Spelman shelves plans to sell forests

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman issued an apology yesterday as she scrapped plans to sell off England’s forests, telling MPs: “I’m sorry, we got this one wrong.” She said she would set up a panel to look into future forestry policy instead. MORE

Accusations from Miller’s stepmother

A News of the World journalist allegedly hacked into the phone messages of Sienna Miller’s stepmother shortly before the paper’s editor told MPs “rigorous new safeguards” had been introduced. Kelly Hoppen, 51, has accused Dan Evans, a feature writer for the Sunday tabloid, of attempting to access her voicemail messages in June 2009. MORE

Poll tips 25-year ruler

Ugandans go to the polls today and are expected to re-elect President Yoweri Museveni. He has already been in power for 25 years, during which time the population has doubled in size. MORE

Amish elder ‘wiped out’ £20m

Monroe Beachy, a 77-year-old Amish elder, has been accused of taking £20m from fellow members of his community in a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme. More than 2,600 investors have seen their savings wiped out. MORE

Rod Stewart has eighth child at 66

Veteran rocker Rod Stewart has become a father again at the age of 66 – to a baby boy named Aiden. The singer’s wife, Penny Lancaster, gave birth to their second child yesterday. The boy, who weighed in at 7lb 12oz, is Stewart’s eighth child.

Circus lions start new life in sanctuary

Twenty-five lions rescued from Bolivian circuses have been transported to Denver to begin a new life in a wildlife sanctuary. The 13 males and 12 females escaped a life of misery and illness in the circuses after their home country passed a new law banning the use of performing animals.

Size 21 basketball shoes handed in

Police in Derbyshire are looking for the owner of a pair of size 21 trainers, after they were handed in by a member of the public. The huge red and white Nike basketball shoes were found in a shoe box at a petrol station in Long Eaton.

Clown in Congress makes vote gaffe

A clown who won a seat in Brazil’s Congress by a landslide has stayed true to his former profession by accidentally messing up his first vote. “Tiririca” the clown pledged to back the government’s austerity proposal, but pressed the wrong button on the computerised system and voted for an opposition proposal. MORE

Small Scots brewery comes out on top

A Scottish brewery that employs just seven people has shown the likes of Guinness, Cadbury and Procter & Gamble how to create a successful brand. Fyne Ales, which brews a range of speciality beers, won Gold at the Design Business Association’s Design Effectiveness awards, after a rebranding exercise brought a 49 per cent increase in sales.

Judge delighted he got to the bottom of it

A judge reacted with delight after being told how Zak, a German Shepherd police dog, bit 35-year-old John Davies on the bottom when he was caught trying to steal a bronze statue from a park in Cheltenham. Judge Julian Lambert said: “Good! I hope it hurt. Well done, Zak!”

‘Anti-laser’ created to cancel out beams

Scientists have built the world’s first “anti-laser”, which has the ability to cancel out traditional laser beams. The team of physicists from Yale University who created the device said the technology could be used in next-generation super computers.

Robot to tweet back from outer space

Japan’s space agency is considering putting a talking humanoid robot on the International Space Station to watch the mission while astronauts are asleep and monitor their health and stress levels. And for the people back home, the astronauts’ android friend will communicate through the microblogging site Twitter, beaming pictures back to Earth.