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The News Matrix: Friday 27 December 2013
Yasser Arafat 'not killed by radiation'
A Russian investigation into the death of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2004 has found it wasn't caused by radiation – after a French inquiry is also said to have found he was not a victim of poisoning.
Army distributes aid to flood victims
Troops have been deployed in Espirito Santo state to help distribute food, water and medicine to victims of the floods and mudslides that have punished south eastern Brazil for more than 10 days, killing at least 39 people. Army engineers were due to help repair roads and bridges.
Labour would axe Serco contracts
Controversial public sector outsourcing firms such as Serco and G4S could face having their contracts terminated if Labour wins the next general election. Senior party sources revealed they would have a "long, hard look" at the contracts. MORE
Hollande hit by high jobless figures
President François Hollande suffered a blow to what remains of his credibility with news he had failed to deliver his promise to reduce unemployment by the end of this year. Figures for November showed the number of people without employment in France had increased by 17,500.
Santas go on a robbing spree
Four robbers armed with Kalashnikov rifles and dressed in Father Christmas's familiar red-and-white garb made off with jewellery worth a reported £250,000 after holding up a store in Albania's capital Tirana on Christmas Eve. An onlooker filmed the heist.
Admin staff scoop most jackpot wins
Administrative staff have been crowned the luckiest profession, producing the most lottery winners, The National Lottery Review of the Year has reported. Admin staff, manufacturing employees, managers, charity sector workers and builders comprised the top five professions for winning big.
Ni hao? Schools turn to Mandarin
Children as young as five are now learning Mandarin at school. With David Cameron pushing for the language to replace French and German in the classroom, the number of pupils taking up Mandarin in the new year is set to swell as schools make it the main foreign language taught. MORE
Living standards 'won't win election'
Ed Miliband has been warned that his campaign on the living standards crisis will not win Labour the next election because the party lacks credibility on the economy. Patrick Diamond, a former policy adviser to Tony Blair, said Britain's return to growth and an expected rise in wages next year would hand George Osborne the "trump card" unless Labour acts quickly. MORE
Mr Currie grows the hottest peppers
The Guinness Book of World Records has decided that peppers grown in South Carolina in the US by a man called Ed Currie are the hottest in the world, ending a more than four-year drive to prove no one grows a more scorching chilli. The heat of Mr Currie's peppers was certified by students at Winthrop University.
The Pope highlights modern persecution
In his Angelus address in St Peter's Square yesterday, Pope Francis denounced discrimination against Christians. Francis said he was sure that Christians suffering from either discrimination or violence were "more numerous today than in the early times of the Church".
Coalition blamed for fall in prosecutions
Labour has accused the Coalition of failing victims of rape, domestic violence and child sex abuse by "hollowing out" the police service. The number of offences referred to the Crown Prosecution Service has been falling since the last election despite a rise in recorded crime.
Tattoos could last more than a lifetime
Two years ago Floris Hirschfeld had a portrait of his late mother tattooed on his back. Now the Dutch man hopes the image will one day adorn the wall of an art collector's home, with the help of an entrepreneur who has set up a business to preserve the tattoos of the dead.
- 1 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 4 Russell Crowe's Noah banned in three Arab countries before worldwide premiere
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow