The News Matrix: Friday 28 January 2011

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Gove unveils new academy reforms

Sponsors of academies will be barred from running schools if they fail to raise standards, Education Secretary Michael Gove said. The proposal is in the Education Bill published yesterday, which will also lead to pupil referral units for excluded children being turned into academies. MORE

Store censors Elton family picture

Grocery chain Harps distanced itself from an Arkansas store which censored copies of the magazine Us Weekly, which showed Elton John, David Furnish and son Zachary, to "protect young shoppers". Harps' boss Kim Eskew called it an individual response to complaints. MORE

Gay activist killed after paper exposure

David Kato, a prominent gay rights activist whose photo was printed on the front page of a Ugandan newspaper that called for homosexuals to be hanged, was bludgeoned to death at his home after death threats and harassment, colleagues said. MORE

Islam convert named in Moscow bombing

Security sources have named an ethnic Russian Christian who converted to Islam as the prime suspect involved in Monday's deadly suicide bombing at a Moscow airport. Authorities are looking for Vitaly Razdobudko, a 32-year-old from the southern city of Stavropol. MORE

Safety failures led to jouster's death

A man died during a jousting re-enactment because of failures to ensure the correct helmet was worn, and that his shield was appropriately assembled, a coroner has ruled. Paul Anthony Allen, of Cambridgeshire, died after a splinter went through his helmet. MORE

Most state-owned forests to be sold

England's public forests are to be sold off to the private sector for up to £250m, the Government announced yesterday. Most of the 637,000 acres of state-owned woodland in England, currently owned and maintained by the Forestry Commission, will be sold off over the next decade. MORE

Paratrooper killed helping comrade

Private Martin Bell, 24, from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, who was the UK's 350th military fatality in Afghanistan, died after disobeying a direct order by going to give first aid to a friend.

Hobbit director treated in hospital

Filming of the latest JRR Tolkien blockbuster, The Hobbit, has been delayed again as director Sir Peter Jackson is treated in hospital for a perforated ulcer. It is the latest in a series of set-backs for the film, which has had financial difficulties. page 17

Fox TV denounced over 'Holocaust slur'

Jewish leaders have called on Rupert Murdoch to punish two key employees at Fox News for allegedly desecrating the memory of the Holocaust and trivialising the use of the word "Nazi". They accuse Glenn Beck, a Fox TV host, and his boss, Roger Ailes, of "completely unacceptable" slurs against Jews. MORE

Booker judges to be given e-readers

Judges at this year's Man Booker Prize will no longer have to take delivery of scores of heavy books after organisers issued them with e-readers. Last year, judges read 138 books before they gave the award to Howard Jacobson for his novel The Finkler Question.

Miranda has a lot of rabbit

A 4ft animatronic hare is set to be the "star" of a new BBC1 Saturday night game show, Don't Scare the Hare, in which two teams will have to compete against each other as well as the robot hare to win a potential £15,000. The show will be narrated by comedy star Miranda Hart.

Catapults all the rage for drug smugglers

Smugglers have found a novel method of launching drugs across the US-Mexico border – a 3ft catapult. US National Guard troops saw the device through night-time video surveillance. They alerted Mexican police, who seized the catapult and 35lb of marijuana.

Student left piano on Miami sandbank

A 16-year-old student says he is responsible for the grand piano that mysteriously appeared on a sandbar in Miami's Biscayne Bay. Nicholas Harrington planned to make a video using the piano. But partygoers lowered it into a canal and set it on fire, so the family towed it to the sandbar.

Blind orang-utans give birth to twins

Twin orang-utans born in an Indonesian rescue centre to two blind parents are doing well and their mother appears to be able to care for the youngsters herself, zoo keepers said. The mother suffered from cataracts while the father was blinded by air rifle pellets just outside a national park.