The News Matrix: Friday 19 September 2014


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Alice suspect is a convicted murderer

A suspect in the disappearance of London schoolgirl Alice Gross is a convicted murderer who has also been arrested on suspicion of indecently assaulting a teenager. Builder Arnis Zalkalns came to Britain in 2007 after serving a seven-year prison sentence in his native Latvia for killing his wife in 1998. Alice, 14, was last seen on 28 August.

Healthcare workers vote for strike action

Healthcare workers in England have voted to strike over pay in a decision that could herald the biggest wave of industrial action in the NHS for decades. Members of Unite voted to strike over the denial of a  1 per cent pay rise, with nine other unions also set to ballot for action.

Isis fighters capture 21 Kurdish villages

Isis fighters have captured 21 Kurdish villages over the past day  in northern Syria, prompting civilians to flee their homes amid fears of retribution by extremists. Isis appears to have gained the upper hand in Syria’s northern Kurdish region of Kobani.

DNA samples do not match 12 suspects

DNA from the British victims in Thailand did not match samples from 12 suspects, including two UK holidaymakers. A post mortem showed Hannah Witheridge died from severe head wounds while David Miller had head injuries and then drowned in the sea.

Bid to overturn UK killer’s conviction

Krishna Maharaj, a British businessman who has been in a Florida jail since 1987, hopes to have his murder conviction overturned. His lawyers say they have proof that his two business associates were murdered by the Colombian Medellin drug cartel.

Ebola victims pay for survivors’ blood

The blood of Ebola survivors is being sold on the black market at the epicentre of the outbreak in West Africa. Blood from Ebola survivors is rich with antibodies against the virus, and some victims are resorting to desperate measures to secure a serum produced from it.  

President asks for US military help

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has urged the US to provide him with military assistance.  In an address to Congress he said Ukrainian servicemen were fighting a “war for the free world”.

Nursery school plan is ‘nonsensical’

Plans to expand nurseries to take two-year-olds have been dismissed as “nonsensical” after official figures showed most schools did not plan to take part. Department of Education statistics showed only 12 per cent of schools plan to offer funded places to two-year-olds.

Villagers terrorised by ‘Crazy Crow’

The village of Tullyallen in Co Louth is being terrorised by a mad crow, which pecks loudly at windows and tries to attack dogs and children. Witnesses have reported seeing the bird (nicknamed the Crazy Crow) waiting by the gates of the local school, then chasing schoolchildren down the road.

Fairness is a factor for humans and apes

A sense of fairness separates apes and humans from other animals, experts claim. Two US scientists came to the conclusion after a 10-year study which showed monkeys and dogs became upset when treated unfairly. Humans and apes let themselves be disadvantaged in the interest of fairness.

Jilted man jailed for barrage of texts

A jilted French man has been jailed after barraging his ex-girlfriend with 21,807 phone calls and texts demanding she thank him for fixing their flat. The unnamed defendant from Rhone was given a 10-month sentence, six months of which was suspended, a £793  fine and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment.

‘Braveheart’ sales boosted by vote

Mel Gibson has found himself a surprise beneficiary of the Scottish referendum, as the wave of patriotism generated by the debate saw sales of Braveheart soar. The 1995 film, which was largely shot in Ireland for tax reasons, has shot from 1,074th in the Amazon charts to 454th, and was still rising last night.

Plastered polecat puzzles police

A skunk found with a beer can stuck on its head outside a fraternity house in Ohio has been rescued. Police responded to the unusual call to find the mammal blindly banging into shrubs. A picture posted on the Oxford Police Facebook page showed the worse-for-wear critter . “He was ‘drunk as a skunk’”, the post read.