The News Matrix: Friday 4 February 2011

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The Independent Online

Queensland counts cost of Cyclone Yasi

Mass evacuations and good luck helped Queensland evade the catastrophic impact feared from one of Australia’s most powerful cyclones, but authorities warn fatalities could not be ruled out in smaller communities worst hit by the storm. MORE

Off-duty PC fatally shoots armed robber

A suspected armed robber was shot dead by an off-duty police officer during a raid at a petrol station last night. It is believed the dead man had brandished a knife as he tried to rob a filling station in Belfast. No one else was hurt and police are investigating.

All schools need Oxbridge teachers

Every state secondary school should have teachers who attended an elite university such as Oxford or Cambridge, Lord Adonis said yesterday. The former Labour Schools Minister said this was essential for schools to be successful.

Senior MP hits out at expenses watchdog

The leader of the House of Commons has released a damning critique of the parliamentary expenses watchdog, as the authority named and shamed more than 100 MPs whose claims it had rejected. Sir George Young said the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was “failing” MPs and its regime must be radically reformed. MORE

Bullish Rumsfeld turns on colleagues

Donald Rumsfeld, US Defense Secretary under President George W Bush, takes aim at former colleagues Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice in new memoirs. MORE

Court setback for BP over claims fund

BP’s attempts to quickly resolve compensation claims from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have been undercut by a court ruling which questioned the independence of the $20bn claims fund. The ruling raises the possibility of court action. MORE

Nanny tried to poison boss of Ann Summers

A nanny employed by one of Britain’s richest women admitted trying to poison her with screen wash. Allison Cox, 33, worked for Jacqueline Gold, head of the Ann Summers lingerie firm. She tried to poison Ms Gold after falling out with the cook – whom she hoped would be blamed.

Tens of thousands march in Day of Rage

The nation viewed as the second most important battleground after Afghanistan in the “war on terror”, saw tens of thousands demonstrate in yesterday’s “Day of Rage”, inspired by events in Egypt. Police opened fire to disperse protesters against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. MORE

Overseas trips dip by 15% as recession hits

Britons made 15 per cent fewer trips abroad in 2009 than they did the year before as the country was gripped by recession, figures show. Business and holiday flights declined dramatically, as did travelling by sea and through the Channel Tunnel. Domestic commuters also made fewer journeys.

Man held over fake Churchill signatures

A 65-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of faking the signature of Winston Churchill in books and memorabilia put up for sale on eBay. Officers held the man in Hampshire on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation. It was claimed the signatures would increase the items’ value by up to 1,000 per cent.

Farrah’s swimsuit given to the people

Farrah Fawcett’s red swimsuit has been donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. The actress, who died in 2009, wore it for a photo shoot shortly before her 1976 debut in Charlie’s Angels and the image became one of the best-selling posters of all time. MORE

Left-wing parrots discovered

Parrots don’t just mimic human speech – researchers in Australia have found the birds can also be lefthanded or left-footed. The study by Macquarie University in Sydney found that parrots use one side of their body more than the other.

Giant snails used to sniff out pollution

Giant African snails are to be deployed to sniff out air pollution at a waterworks plant in St Petersburg. Six gastropods, which can grow as big as a rat, will be exposed to emissions from a sewage incinerator while workers will monitor their health. Environmentalists have panned the move as a publicity stunt.

Fry’s Japan TV idea bombs after ‘QI’ row

Stephen Fry has dropped plans to film in Japan for a new BBC series because of the backlash created by a light-hearted discussion on QI of dropping atomic bombswhich prompted a BBC apology. MORE

Through (economic) sickness and health

A protection scheme for brides which guarantees the money back on their wedding dress if the retailer goes bust has been launched. The Retail Bridalwear Association said it offered reassurance to women worried about losing money on their dress in the current economic climate.