The News Matrix: Friday 4 May 2012


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The Independent Online

Clarke wants shops to hire ex-prisoners

Major high-street chains will be urged by the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, to recruit former prisoners as he tries to drive down reoffending rates. He will tell high-profile retailers, such as Marks & Spencer and Virgin, they can hire ex-offenders without harming their image. MORE

Facebook flotation will dwarf Google's

Facebook has set the share price for its upcoming initial public offering at between $28 and $35 per share – a move which values the company at between $85bn and $95bn. The launch will dwarf net rival Google's valuation of $23bn in 2004. Some reports say shares will start trading on 18 May.

Activist stokes tensions with US

Chen Guangcheng, the human rights activist at the centre of a diplomatic row between Beijing and Washington, announced that he wants to leave China for the US. Mr Chen said his "fervent hope" would be to leave on the same plane as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in China. MORE

Calls for fresh probe into Bank of England

MPs want a parliamentary inquiry into the Bank of England's performance during the financial crisis, after the Bank's governor Sir Mervyn King said he would be happy to co-operate. "If it was felt there should be another general review of the crisis, we'd welcome that..." he said. MORE

Rain, wind and snow to hit bank holiday

Britain's weather misery is set to continue, with snow predicted for some areas over the bank holiday. Temperatures could plummet to as low as -7C in places as the wet weather looks to worsen over the weekend.

Sarkozy 'loses' TV debate to Hollande

President Nicolas Sarkozy was widely judged yesterday to have "lost" his bad-tempered television debate with his Socialist challenger, François Hollande, just before the final round of the presidential election. In an opinion poll for Paris Match, 42 per cent of voters said that Mr Hollande had been the "more convincing" performer, compared to 34 per cent for the President. MORE

Netanyahu to bring forward elections

The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will go into the next elections with a virtually unassailable lead amid reports that polls will be brought forward. Mr Netanyahu is expected to announce elections will be held on 4 September, more than a year ahead of the scheduled date. MORE

Eye implant trials exceed expectations

The first British trials of an electronic eye implant designed to restore the sight of blind people have "exceeded expectations". Experts said the first British patients to receive the microchips were regaining "useful vision" weeks after surgery.

Army chief threatens missile strike on Nato

Russia's top military officer threatened to carry out a pre-emptive strike on US-led Nato missile bases in eastern Europe if Washington went ahead with plans to build a missile shield – one of the touchiest subjects in US-Russian relations for years. MORE

Royal pair stay at an inn on anniversary

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent the morning of their first wedding anniversary eating a bacon and egg breakfast in a country inn, it has been revealed. William and Kate stayed the night in a four-poster bed at the Westleton Crown in Westleton, Suffolk, to the amazement of staff who only knew "special guests" were due.

Chance to guess what antiques are worth

Antiques Roadshow viewers will be able to test their knowledge against the experts with an interactive game where they guess the value of objects on the show. Fans of the long-running programme will have to say how much they think the antiques are worth online before the show's experts give their verdict.

Lost parakeet tells police where it lives

An owner has been reunited with a parakeet lost in the maze of Tokyo's streets after the bird told police where it lived. The parakeet's 64-year-old owner had coaxed the bird into reciting the address after a previous escape bid. The lessons paid off last weekend, after the bird turned up in a hotel after another escape.

Hey, buddy, can you spare an asparagus?

The recent rain and flooding has forced organisers of the annual British Asparagus Festival to cancel due to of a lack of asparagus. Organisers said that the flooding that followed heavy rain and cool temperatures in April had left the seasonal vegetable "almost completely dormant".

'Racist' Ashton ads pulled from web

An online advert featuring Ashton Kutcher as an Indian man has been pulled from Facebook and Twitter after viewers called it racist. The images and video for Popchips feature the 34-year-old Two and a Half Men star in brown makeup portraying a Bollywood producer named Raj who is "looking for love".