The News Matrix: Friday 7 December 2012


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The Independent Online

Rescue dogs learn how to drive cars

Rescue dogs in New Zealand are being taught to drive. An animal welfare group is training three dogs – a whippet cross, a giant schnauzer and a beardie cross – how to steer, change gear and break. It is hoped that more owners will be encouraged to come forward on seeing the animals' skills.

Driver hands in cash windfall left on bus

A kind-hearted Vienna bus driver handed a bag containing €390,000 (£315,000) in to the police after it was left behind by a passenger. The money, which has been reunited with its owner, came in neatly stacked 500-euro bills. The unidentified elderly woman has not contacted the driver to offer a reward. It was unclear why she was carrying so much cash.

Anti-virus guru faces return to Belize

John McAfee, the anti-virus software designer wanted for questioning in connection with a murder in Belize, has been detained in Guatemala. Officials said he would not be granted political asylum. A lawyer for Mr McAfee claimed his client faced being returned to Belize, where he fears he will be persecuted. MORE

Grumpy Santa's present is the sack

A US mall has sacked a grumpy Santa following complaints from parents. Officials at the Maine Mall in South Portland said they wanted a more cheery employee after their Santa refused to let a six-year-old sit on his lap. When a toddler asked for an American Girl doll, he said she would get an American football.

PM prepares for zombie apocalypse

The Mayans were right and the apocalypse is near, according to the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. She has recorded a spoof video for a radio station addressing her "remaining fellow Australians". Deadpan she added that the end of the world could result from "flesh-eating zombies, demonic hell beasts" or "K-Pop".

900 staff at risk in Remploy closures

Almost 900 workers face losing their jobs as ministers seek to close or sell 15 Remploy plants. Among the 875 staff who could be made redundant are 682 disabled people, some of whom learnt the news by email yesterday. The Government announced this year that 36 of its factories were to close, with more than 1,000 redundancies. Only 6 per cent have since found jobs. MORE

Reasons for Virgin trains fiasco exposed

Government mistakes led to the fiasco over who should run the West Coast Mainline, according to two independent reviews. Cost-cutting and the reorganisation of the Department of Transport contributed to "unacceptable flaws" in the decision to strip Virgin Trains of the contract.

Ex-soldiers set to visit classrooms

Former soldiers will be sent into classrooms to teach troubled children the "military ethos". The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, said ex-servicemen will visit schools to help instil teamwork, discipline and leadership skills in a planned £1.9m scheme. MORE

US and Russia hold surprise talks

The United States and Russia have held surprise talks on Syria. The meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Dublin suggest the countries could put aside their differences amid allegations that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons.

Plans to combat ash dieback announced

The Government has unveiled plans for controlling ash dieback. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced funding for research on the production of spores at infected sites, and will work with other European countries to develop resistant trees.

Alleged rape victim up on a drink charge

United Arab Emirates' archaic legal system has again come under scrutiny after a British woman who was allegedly gang-raped in Dubai was prosecuted for drinking without a licence. This is technically illegal in Dubai, although the documentation is very rarely asked for in bars and hotels. MORE

'Song' bird numbers dwindling, says RSPB

The number of doves and grey partridges in the UK are dwindling closer to the figures mentioned in "The Twelve Days of Christmas", the RSPB has warned, with almost 60 per cent lost in the five years to 2010. MORE