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The News Matrix: Friday 29 March 2013

New Cumnock voted 'most dismal town'

A former pit community, New Cumnock, was yesterday named Scotland's "most dismal town". Urban Realm gave the East Ayrshire town its annual Carbuncle award, citing the "haemorrhaging of shops" and "absence of maintenance on derelict properties". The town was hit by the decline of coal mining in the 1980s.

Astronauts head to ISS via shortcut

A Russian spacecraft has blasted off from a launch-pad in the steppes of Kazakhstan. The three men on board the Soyuz will be the first to take a shorter path to the International Space Station, reducing the journey time from two days to six hours. It is hoped the shorter flight time will reduce the crew's fatigue.

Eyeballs found in bin probably from a pig

Police say a pair of eyeballs found in a medical box in a Kansas City petrol station's trash bin aren't human. Police said yesterday that the police lab examined the eyeballs and determined they probably came from a pig. A worker at the Conoco petrol station called the police after finding the box on Wednesday.

Getting the rubber hose treatment

A man accused of using a prosthetic penis to try to pass a drug test has been arrested in Missouri. Sydney Levin, 34, was submitting a urine sample as part of his probation when an officer allegedly spotted him using a prosthetic known as a Whizzinator. The prosthetic contains synthetic "medical grade urine".

Tate and Walliams set to join forces

The comic talents of two of the most popular sketch shows of recent years are to star together in a new BBC One sitcom. David Walliams and Catherine Tate will both play teachers in Big School, the Little Britain star's new small-screen creation. Filming will begin in the next few weeks.

Mandela back in hospital for infection

Nelson Mandela was back in hospital for the third time in four months yesterday. The 94-year-old former President was reported to be responding well to treatment for a chronic lung infection. MORE

Army veteran faces al-Qa'ida charge

A US Army veteran has been charged with conspiring with an al-Qa'ida group to wage war against the Syrian regime. Eric Harroun, of Phoenix, was charged yesterday with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the US. An affidavit states he has sided with rebel forces against Syria's regime.

Death threats for judge in Sarkozy case

Paris prosecutors began an anti-terrorism inquiry yesterday into death threats against a judge who put ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy under investigation over party funding Jean-Michel Gentil's decision angered the political right, which doubts judges' impartiality. MORE

Cut-price phone deal for Met officers

Metropolitan Police has handed its officers an appealing mobile-phone deal, but admitted that the discounted price relies on moderate use. Officers will be able to make personal calls on their work mobiles at a rate of £50 per year. The average 12-month mobile bill is £450.

Gove: way forward is 'fixed' for teachers

Michael Gove threw down the gauntlet last night to teachers' leaders over their threats to strike over pay and pensions – provoking fury on the eve of their annual conferences. The Education Secretary said he would meet the unions but warned: "The direction of travel is now fixed."

Doctor suspected of killing 300 patients

A doctor who was charged with killing seven patients to free up beds at a hospital intensive-care unit may have been responsible for as many as 300 deaths, a Health Ministry investigator said. Prosecutors said Dr Virginia Soares de Souza and her team caused patients to die of asphyxia. MORE

Hospital puts a hold on heart surgeries

A hospital at the centre of a row over the future of its children's heart services has suspended all congenital cardiac surgery. Leeds General Infirmary said the temporary measure was to allow an internal review to take place. Families of some ill children have claimed the hospital failed to send them to another centre for life-saving surgery, instead offering only palliative care.

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