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The News Matrix: Friday 7 March 2014

Cable attacks Tory EU policy

Vince Cable has lashed out at the Conservatives’ promise of a Europe referendum in 2017, saying it is already causing a “blight” on foreign investment in Britain. Speaking to i, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary called the promise “seriously irresponsible”, saying it is delaying the economic recovery and putting 3.5 million jobs at risk. MORE

Yakuza membership falls to record low

The number of people belonging to Japan’s notorious yakuza crime groups fell to an all-time low in 2013, police said. Crediting its crackdown on the organised crime syndicates, the National Police Agency said membership fell to 58,600 last year, down from about 63,200 in 2012.

38,000 households hit by benefits cap

More than 38,000 households have had benefits capped under reforms introduced by the Government last year, new figures show. The Government introduced the £26,000-a-year limit on the benefit a household can receive to ensure claimants did not exceed the national average wage.

Students expelled for cricket cheers

Dozens of Muslim students from the disputed territory of Kashmir have been expelled from their university and threatened with sedition charges because they cheered for the Pakistani cricket team during a match against archrival India, police said yesterday.

Clifford ‘asked girls: look at my tiny penis’

Celebrity publicist Max Clifford used his London office like a “sexual fiefdom”, a court heard yesterday on the opening day of his trial. He denies molesting seven teenagers between 1966 and 1984. Several of the women said Clifford asked them to look at his “tiny penis”. MORE

Gaddafi’s son sent back to Libya

Niger has extradited one of Muammar Gaddafi’s eight sons, Saadi, who fled when his father’s regime crumbled in 2011, to face charges of embezzlement and intimidation in Libya.  MORE

Army general’s sex crimes trial starts

A US Army general has pleaded guilty to military crimes of having an adulterous affair, seeking nude photos of junior officers and possessing pornography while in Afghanistan. Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, 51, will fight charges that he sexually assaulted a captain during a three-year affair.

26 more killed after a year of carnage

At least 26 people were killed in Iraq yesterday as insurgents set off roadside bombs and detonated explosives-packed cars in Baghdad and elsewhere, police said. The deaths brought to 48 the number of fatalities in the last two days. Levels of violence rose to their highest in years in 2013, with nearly 8,000 civilian deaths.

War ‘battlefield’ found in Hampshire

A previously unknown First World War ‘battlefield’ of huge historical significance has been discovered by archaeologists in an unexpected location on the south coast of England. The site, near Gosport in Hampshire, appears to have been used for mock battles. MORE

Alcohol ban hits parliament

Parliament banned the sale of alcohol during sessions of the lower house yesterday. The ban was promoted by the new ANO (Yes) movement following October’s election, which argued that most people can’t drink at work, so there was no reason why MPs should.

‘Radioactive’ sub will get £120m refit

A nuclear submarine will be fitted with a £120m core after low levels of radioactivity were found in its test reactor cooling waters at Dounreay in 2012, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said. Labour said the matter of “national importance” should have been revealed sooner.

Minister’s son stops plane from landing

Lebanon’s national airline says Iraqi authorities denied permission for its plane to land in Baghdad after the son of Iraq’s transport minister missed the flight. During the flight, Baghdad airport called the airline to tell them there was no clearance to land so the plane had to return to Beirut.

£1m boost for Harry’s paralympic games

The first international sporting championship for injured servicemen and servicewomen has received a £1m boost from the Chancellor, paid out from Libor bank fines. The Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style contest supported by Prince Harry, will be held in September at the former Olympic Park. MORE

Warm spring weekend on way

Spring has officially sprung, according to the Met Office. The highest temperature recorded yesterday was in Gravesend, Kent, where the mercury reached an impressive 15.5C, making it the hottest day of the year so far. Temperatures are set to hit 17C by the weekend.

An alternative thought for the day 

Dawn French will play the Vicar of Dibley to offer an alternative Thought for the Day as part of a series of special programmes on BBC Radio 4. Her appearance on the Today programme is part of the station’s study of fictional characters. Big Bird from Sesame Street will also appear.

Female astronaut advised Bullock

The female astronaut who advised Sandra Bullock on how to portray movements in space for her role in Gravity says her male crewmates were jealous of her chats with the star. The space traveller Cady Coleman gave tips directly from the International Space Station.

Police hunt public  enemy ‘number one’

Police are searching for a man who has been urinating on people near the University of Florida campus. Victims told police they were standing with their backs turned to the man when they felt themselves being urinated upon. When they confronted the man, he ran away.

‘Birds of a Feather’ to air again on ITV

Birds of a Feather is returning for a second series after the ITV remake of the comedy proved a hit. The show – in which Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson play sisters sharing a home in the posh Essex town of Chigwell after their husbands are jailed – was launched 25 years ago.

Mozart may not be music to these ears

New research has found that not everyone enjoys listening to music as much as others. Scientists from the University of Barcelona say they have tuned into a condition called specific musical anhedonia – or the specific inability to experience pleasure from music.

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Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

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Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

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But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor