The News Matrix: Friday 23 December 2011


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Huhne urges PM to fight Eurosceptics

Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne urged David Cameron to stand up to Tory Euro-sceptics to prevent Britain sleepwalking towards the exit door of the EU. He accused Tory right-wingers of plotting to make the UK a "semi-detached" member of the EU.  MORE

Duo jailed for killing man with screwdriver

Two men who stole a man's iPhone before stabbing him in the head with a screwdriver and leaving him to die have been jailed for life. Richard Smith, 27, was told he will stay in jail for at least 28 years. His accomplice, Michael Sexton, 28, was told he will serve a minimum of 25 years.

Florence sings her way to the sales

Singer Florence Welch is to open this year's Harrods sale and will play for shoppers, it was announced yesterday. The singer, who fronts Florence + The Machine, will perform as the doors to the sale are flung open. She will play acoustic versions of tracks from her chart-topping new album Ceremonials on December 27 at the store in Knightsbridge.

Putin's salary is '£90,000 a year'

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earns just £90,000 a year and owns only one home – a small apartment in his home town – an official income statement claims. The salary details, published in the government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, put his earnings over the past four years at £360,0000.

Bigger discounts for tenants to buy homes

Council tenants in England will be offered discounts of up to £50,000 to buy their homes under plans to extend the Right to Buy Scheme, the Government has said. This could treble existing discounts in parts of the country, easing the buying process for some of England's two million council tenants.

Tiny town parties after £600m win

Residents in the tiny Spanish town of Granen – population 2,000 – have been celebrating their €720m (£600m) win in Spain's El Gordo lottery, having bought all 1,800 tickets for the top-paying number. It runs a share-the-wealth system and thousands of numbers yield a return. People often club together and buy shares of tickets, and multiple wins in the same town are common.

'Cannibal' TV hosts not to be prosecuted

Prosecutors said yesterday they had no plans to investigate a show in which the hosts appeared to eat small pieces of each others' flesh. The Guinea Pigs programme was screened on Wednesday on the Dutch BNN channel. MORE

Vatican 'porn' web address snapped up

The Vatican has said a mystery buyer has snapped up a new internet address called "", which is designed to host pornography. "This domain is not available because it has been acquired by someone else," a Vatican spokesman said.

Fury as France votes for 'genocide' bill

French parliamentarians provoked fury in Ankara yesterday by approving a law that would make it a crime to deny slaughter or "genocide" of Armenians within Turkey in 1915. The vote provoked an angry demonstration by hundreds of Turks outside the National Assembly, while Turkey recalled its ambassador to Paris.  MORE

US accepts blame for deaths of 24 troops

A lack of trust, poor coordination and inaccurate maps led to the Nato strike that left 24 Pakistani troops dead, a report has found. The US investigation apparently accepts that American and Afghan commandos were both wrong when they concluded there were no Pakistani troops in the area. MORE

Three Teenors set to conquer the UK

A trio of teenage pop-opera performers are poised to take over the UK after success in the US and Europe. Il Volo make their debut on the ITV1 Jonathan Ross Show Christmas Special tonight and are Simon Cowell's latest bid to dominate the UK charts. The band hail from Italy and have sold 27 million albums since 2004.  MORE

Firms drop challenge to shop display ban

Four tobacco giants have dropped their legal challenge to a ban on displaying tobacco products in shops, the Government said yesterday. The Department of Health confirmed the companies, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris, are withdrawing their challenge against the new laws.

Arab League team arrives after killings

A team from the Arab League arrived in Syria yesterday to organise for foreign observers amid mounting international outcry over a "bloodbath" in which more than 200 were killed in two days. On one day President Bashar al-Assad's troops surrounded a village and massacred all those present. MORE

Balls's sideswipe on photoshoots

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls, below, has expressed distaste at politicians doing photoshoots with their children, the day after Ed Miliband was pictured at home with his family. In an interview, Mr Balls said he would never let such images be used, no matter how "short-term, tactical and tempting" it might be.  MORE