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The News Matrix: Friday 23 March 2012

70,000 children miss out on chosen school

More than 70,000 children failed to get into their first-choice secondary school this year, admissions statistics have revealed. Almost 15 per cent of 11-year-olds missed out on their parents' preferred school, but the figures marked a small improvement on 2011.

Purge sees officials 'executed by mortar'

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has carried out a purge of high-ranking military officers using "barbaric methods" including execution by mortar, a South Korean newspaper has claimed. He was said to have targeted one army official, saying he wanted to leave "no trace of him behind". MORE

Clashes despite UN call for ceasefire

Syrian troops shelled opposition areas and clashed with rebel fighters yesterday despite UN efforts to allow aid to reach suffering civilians. Activists cited the fresh violence in dismissing a UN Security Council statement calling for a ceasefire to allow for dialogue between all sides. MORE

Men arrested for grooming girls

Police in Oxfordshire have arrested 12 men allegedly in the "business of selling young girls for sex". The men, aged between 21 and 37, are accused of grooming 24 girls over a period of six years. Detectives believe the gang targeted children who were in the care system or sleeping rough. MORE

Soldiers declare coup live on TV

Soldiers in Mali went on television yesterday and declared the takeover of the government after seizing the presidential palace, closing the country's borders, and storming the state broadcaster. MORE

'M25 rapist' found guilty of 1987 attack

Police have urged victims of the "M25 rapist" to come forward. Antoni Imiela appeared at the Old Bailey yesterday, where he was found guilty of raping a woman in 1987. Imiela became infamous in 2001-2 for his attacks on victims as young as 10. Detective Inspector John Foulkes said: "It's likely the police are unaware of all his offending."

Houston drowned, coroner confirms

Whitney Houston died from drowning in a hotel bathtub, but LA County coroner's officials said last night that heart disease and chronic cocaine use contributed to the singer's death. The release of the autopsy findings ends weeks of speculation about what killed the star on the eve of the Grammys.

Document suggests 'fraud at A4e'

Welfare-to-work company A4e knew of potential fraud for three years, a leaked document suggests. BBC Newsnight has obtained the results of a confidential 2009 internal audit of work by A4e's top recruiters. A4e has responded by saying it was a draft document only.

Beckham's father takes on NOTW

David Beckham's father has launched legal action against former News of the World private detective Glenn Mulcaire. David Edward Alan Beckham, 62, claimed he was a victim of illegal phone hacking. MORE

Locator chips keep track of students

School students in a Brazilian city are being issued with uniforms embedded with computer chips to alert parents if they're bunking from classes. About 20,000 students in 25 schools in Vitoria da Conquista began wearing T-shirts with the chips earlier this week. By 2013, all of the city's 43,000 public schools will be using them.

And the award goes to... the judges

The seven-strong judging panel at the British Institute of Professional Photography competition prides itself on recognising the best artistic pictures. This year, they decided the best entries were their own. Four of the seven judges took home prizes. Following complaints, the organisation may now ban judges from entering.

MPs accused of watching porn

India's right-wing Bharatiya Janta Party is known for its staunch conservatism and religious views. But it has an image problem after two of its lawmakers were accused of viewing pornography in the Gujarat state assembly, weeks after two BJP ministers in another state quit after watching x-rated videos on a mobile phone. MORE

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A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

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Why do we have blood types?

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All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

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Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

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Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

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A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn