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The News Matrix: Friday 8 November 2013

Prep-school pupils dominate grammars

England’s remaining state grammar schools are dominated by children who attended private prep schools, according to a new report. Only 2.7 per cent of entrants are entitled to free school meals, compared with a national average of 16 per cent.  The report recommends free tuition for poorer students who take the 11-plus.

Debate urged on DNA breakthrough

Scientists are calling for a wider debate on a genetic breakthrough that could revolutionise human gene therapy. The technique, known as Crispr and revealed yesterday by i, has the potential to open the gateway to techniques such as the engineering of human embryos. MORE

Widow demands justice for Arafat

The Palestinian leadership must seek justice for Yasser Arafat after scientists found evidence suggesting he may have been poisoned by polonium, his widow said. Suha Arafat did not mention Israel, but argued that only countries with nuclear capabilities have access to polonium. MORE

Calls to stand down UK’s teen army

The Army’s recruitment of young soldiers needs urgent review, according to leading members of the military. Calls to raise the minimum enlistment age to 18 come as figures reveal rising drop-out rates amongst under-18s. Britain is the only European country to enlist minors.

Taliban elect new hardline leader

The Pakistani Taliban chose the commander who planned the attack on the activist Malala Yousafzai as the group’s new leader yesterday, and it ruled out holding peace talks with the government. Mullah Fazlullah was appointed the new chief by the Taliban’s leadership council. MORE

Polio outbreak may spread to Europe

An outbreak of polio in Syria represents a public health threat to Europe, experts have warned. Countries in Europe with relatively poor vaccine coverage – including Austria, Ukraine and Bosnia – may be at particular risk, according to an article in The Lancet. MORE

Mayor of Toronto in new video storm

A video has surfaced showing the Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) in a rage, using threatening words including “kill” and “murder”. He told reporters that he was “extremely, extremely inebriated” in it.

Hollande’s ratings  hit a record low

French President François Hollande is battling record low approval ratings after a year of blunders at home and abroad. The blow comes just as the beleaguered Socialist government was forced to make its second tax climbdown in one week following street protests in Brittany. MORE

Maze closed due  to naked revellers

A community maze is to be locked at night after dozens of naked revellers were caught using it as a party venue. The decision to close the “novelty labyrinth” in Aberystwyth after dark followed residents’ complaints of drunken, naked  people – believed to be students – running amok.

I’m dreaming of a purple Christmas 

Cadbury’s first Christmas advert in its 189-year history will air for the first time tonight. The chocolate-maker wrapped a whole London street in “Cadbury purple” paper for the commercial. It comes as major brands compete for a market share of what they hope will be a bumper festive sales season.

Bullfighting lobby’s line in the sand

Spanish legislators have passed a law that aims to enshrine bullfighting as part of the nation’s cultural heritage. The measure would, in theory, trump regional legislation – the sport is banned in the northeastern region of Catalonia. But any attempt to roll back the Catalonian ban would likely be challenged in court.

Dog ‘victim’ of car crash was stuffed toy

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  was called to rescue a dog which had been hit by a car, only to discover it was a stuffed toy. A spokesperson said: “We do occasionally receive call-outs of this nature from people with genuine concerns for animals, only to find a toy or an ornament.”

€1m a year? Hardly a king’s pension

In these times of financial crisis, is €923,000 a year enough for a retired king to make ends meet?  Belgium’s King Albert stepped down last summer, seeing his funding fall from €11.5m. Newspapers said the king had sent out feelers for more funds to meet costs, and the government had been quick to say “Non”. MORE

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