The News Matrix: Friday 24 February 2012

 

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Rough sleeping rises by 23 per cent

The number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England has soared by almost a quarter in a year. Figures from local authorities for a single night last autumn suggested there were 2,181 rough sleepers, up 413 from 1,768 the previous year, a rise of 23 per cent.

Desecration of Koran leads to 11 deaths

The fallout from the burning of the Koran at a Nato base in Afghanistan continues, with President Karzai blaming a US soldier for acting out of "ignorance and poor understanding". Demonstrations against the incident have sparked violence that has killed 11 people. MORE

Gillard announces leadership vote

Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has announced a leadership ballot in a bid to quash a comeback by Kevin Rudd, who she ousted in a Labor Party coup. Mr Rudd resigned his post as Foreign Minister this week. The fight could lead to the collapse of the government. MORE

15-year-old girl was 'grabbed by throat'

A 15-year-old girl was "grabbed by the throat" and called a "white bitch" when she refused to have sex, a court heard. The trial of 11 alleged members of a child exploitation ring continued at Liverpool Crown Court, where jurors heard police interviews with one of the alleged victims.

Manning defers plea in WikiLeaks trial

Bradley Manning, the US Army private accused of giving documents to WikiLeaks, deferred his plea yesterday. He faces 22 counts, including aiding the enemy, a charge that carries a penalty of life in prison. AP

Christian loses fight over dismissal

A Christian woman who refused to work on Sundays has lost her case for constructive dismissal against Merton Council. Celestina Mba, 57, who helped children with severe learning disabilities, claimed she was forced to leave her job because she was made to work on Sundays. An employment tribunal ruled that having Sundays off is not a "core component" of the Christian faith.

Chavez needs more surgery for cancer

The ailing socialist leader Hugo Chavez will fly to Cuba today for an unknown period to undergo new cancer surgery before an October presidential election. After two operations in Cuba last year, Mr Chavez said he needed more surgery to remove a "lesion" in the pelvic area. Reuters

NHS reforms 'would put children at risk'

The controversial Health and Social Care Bill "carries risk for children and young people" and should be withdrawn, says the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. It also noted the "deep concern" among the public and health professionals over the impact of the NHS reforms.

Pawn brokers accept clients' liquid assets

With the US economy still in the doldrums, pawn brokers have started accepting liquid assets – literally – to help ease the strain on their customers. Along with gold and other staples of the trade, brokers, including the online firm USgoldbuyers.com, are taking fine wine as collateral to help with cast shortages. Reuters

Princess Anne opens Blue Peter garden

The Princess Royal has opened the new Blue Peter garden at the BBC's northern base in Greater Manchester. The landscaped area at the MediaCityUK complex features an ornamental fishpond and a bronze statue of Petra the dog. Princess Anne also planted a tree at the site.

Gay sex debate turns into farce

A debate over gay sex in India was thrown into farce after a government lawyer urged the Supreme Court to ban it – only for the government to contradict him by saying it was legal. The lawyer may have read out the wrong statement. AP

Ambulances fitted to take 50-stone patient

In a sign of Britain's growing obesity crisis, an ambulance service has spent £400,000 on three vehicles designed to carry patients weighing up to 50 stones. The equipment, on vehicles based at stations in West Sussex and Surrey, will help ambulance workers avoid injury while dealing with larger patients.

Take a virtual tour of Great Barrier Reef

Finding Nemo is about to get a lot easier with a study allowing anyone to take a virtual tour of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Using high-tech underwater cameras, scientists will carry out one of the most intensive studies of the reef up to a depth of 100m, with the public watching every move online. Reuters

Ski staff stage a sit-in over unpaid wages

British staff at a ski resort in the French Alps have started an Occupy-style sit-in at a luxury chalet after claiming they are owed £4,000 in unpaid wages. The group, who said they were fired on Monday, stocked up on provisions and changed the entry code to chalet Georgina, a £20,000-a-week lodge. MORE

Chance to check out Peel's collection

The legendary music collection of the late John Peel will be available to the public in an "online museum". The DJ's 25,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and thousands of CDs can be trawled by his fans. MORE

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