The News Matrix: Friday 19 April 2013


Sabbath, not Cliff, helps plants thrive

The BBC gardening guru Chris Beardshaw has recommended a new technique for bigger blooms – blast plants with heavy metal. The broadcaster said a constant diet of Black Sabbath, below, worked wonders on greenhouse plants, but told the audience of Gardeners' Question Time that exposure to Sir Cliff Richard killed every plant in a horticultural experiment.

Ministers will write to brightest students

Bright teenagers are set to get messages from the Government urging them to go to university. David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said letters sent via schools would offer ministers' congratulations to poorer students who scored top grades in their GCSEs, and offer tips on finding out more about higher education.

President's cab ride turns out to be hoax

A report that President Xi Jinping, who strives to portray himself as a down-to-earth man, had hailed a cab for a 26-minute ride in Beijing fuelled a storm of online rumours – only for the story to be revealed as a hoax. Chinese state media agency Xinhua, which broke the "exclusive" tale was forced to admit its error yesterday.

App helps avoid incest by accident

A new smartphone application is helping Icelanders to avoid committing incest by accident. The app lets users "bump" phones, and emits a warning alarm if they are closely related. The app, called App of Icelanders, was welcomed by many as most of the 320,0000 population are distantly related. MORE

Surfer survives more than 27 hours in sea

A surfer has survived for more than 27 hours in the Indian Ocean despite being stung by jellyfish, bitten by fish and attacked by seagulls after falling overboard from a private charter boat. South African Brett Archibald tumbled into the sea off the coast of Sumatra near Pedang in northern Indonesia. MORE

Migrant workers shot in pay dispute

A group of migrant farm workers was shot and wounded for demanding back pay. A manhunt was under way in the western Peloponnese last night for three men wanted over the attack on 28 Bangladeshi strawberry-pickers who protested over unpaid wages. The three foremen have been accused of opening fire on the unarmed immigrant workers after they refused to return to work. MORE

Obama vows to find Boston bombers

"We will find you. We will hold you accountable," President Obama warned the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings at a service for the victims yesterday, as police studying video footage from the blast focused on two men they want to speak to over the attacks. MORE

Rapist jailed for life for attacking girl, 11

A man faces a life sentence for subjecting an 11-year-old girl to a three-hour rape ordeal. Opemipo Jaji, 18, was under a supervision order when he dragged the girl to a park in north London. A search of his bedroom uncovered an article about April Jones, who disappeared last year. MORE

Mandarins' tribute to Thatcher criticised

The two most senior civil servants in Britain have been accused of "prostituting" themselves by writing a "sycophantic" tribute to Baroness Thatcher in The Daily Telegraph. MPs rounded on Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, and Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service. MORE

GM crops help feed planet, says adviser

Genetically modified crops are an important "technology" in the battle to feed the global population, the Government's chief scientific adviser has said. Sir Mark Walport said that while Europe "grows remarkably little" GM food, the crops are "inexorably rising up the agenda". MORE

Ricci resigns in Barclays shake-up

The head of Barclays' investment banking business, Rich Ricci has resigned under a management shake-up by new chief executive Antony Jenkins. Mr Ricci, 49, will leave the bank at the end of June. MORE

Musharraf on the run from arrest

Former leader Pervez Musharraf is facing disgrace after fleeing from an Islamabad court that ordered his arrest. Reports suggested that the farmhouse to which he fled had already been declared a "sub-jail". Earlier, judges at Islamabad High Court ordered that police should take him into custody. MORE

Dalai Lama leads walk for peace

The Dalai Lama visited Londonderry yesterday to lead Protestant and Roman Catholic children in a symbolic walk across a peace bridge, delivering a message of hope and support for the peace process. The Tibetan leader addressed a crowd of around 2,500 people, undaunted by sharp showers of rain.