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The News Matrix: Monday 10 December 2012

Smoking linked to infant meningitis

Smoking when pregnant can triple the risk of a child succumbing to a major cause of meningitis, research has shown. Inhaling tobacco smoke in the home also made young children vulnerable to invasive meningococcal infection.

'Wow' says stunned X Factor winner

James Arthur was named The X Factor winner last night. The 24-year-old from Saltburn, near Middlesbrough, beat Jahmene Douglas in front of a 10,000-strong audience at Manchester Arena, with millions more watching the ITV show at home. Arthur looked stunned, saying only "wow" when asked how he felt.

Ann Summers sales enhanced by novel

Jacqueline Gold, the woman behind the lingerie chain Ann Summers, has said the success of Fifty Shades of Grey has led to sales at her chain going through the roof. She told Hello! magazine: "Not only have we sold out of handcuffs, jiggle balls and blindfolds, but it's opened up a lot of new doors on a business level." MORE

Regime troops in strategic withdrawal

Diplomats say withdrawals by government forces may have given the false impression that Assad's military position is weaker than it really is. The government claims to have made a strategic choice not to defend smaller outposts in order to concentrate on Damascus. MORE

Concession fails to satisfy opposition

A concession offered by President Mohamed Morsi, left, failed to placate opponents who accused him of plunging Egypt deeper into crisis by refusing to postpone a vote on a constitution shaped by Islamists. MORE

Parents urged to watch their drinking

Parents should drink less in front of their children if they want to prevent them becoming binge drinkers, a report suggests today. The authors of research by the think-tank Demos said it was "not enough" for parents to wait until their children were in bed before opening the bottle, because their interviews suggested "children are more aware than they are often given credit for".

BBC forecasts the hit-makers of 2013

The BBC has published its list of musicians it believes could hit the big time next year. The Sound of 2013 long list, which features a country-rock band and a Native American rapper, is compiled by industry experts. The first award – for the Sound of 2003 – went to US rapper 50 Cent. MORE

Sparkling result for home-grown bubbly

Sales figures from the UK's largest independent wine merchant, Bibendum Wine, show that 25 per cent more wine from English vineyards is being consumed in bars and restaurants than last year. For English sparkling wine the figure is even more impressive – a 55 per cent increase.

Many war refugees on Britain's streets

Thousands of people who have fled some of the world's most dangerous countries including Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are being forced into destitution, begging and prostitution on British streets because they cannot be sent back, the Home Office is warned. MORE

Will it be Monti versus Berlusconi?

Italy and the rest of Europe anxiously awaited the reaction of financial markets yesterday to Prime Minister Mario Monti's surprise decision to resign and set the stage for an early vote, as speculation abounded over whether he might dive into politics and challenge Silvio Berlusconi in the election. MORE

Teenager held over death of boy, seven

Police questioning a teenager who was allegedly at the wheel of a car which killed a young child at a caravan site have been given an extra 12 hours to hold him. A seven-year-old boy was knocked down and later died from his injuries in hospital after the accident at around 3pm yesterday.

Jazz landmark closes down

The Lenox Lounge, a historic Harlem jazz club that has hosted greats including Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, will close its doors on New Year's Eve. The Lounge was founded in 1939. But owner Alvin Reed said with rents on the rise he can no longer afford the lease on the jazz landmark. MORE

Romney tops quotes of the year list

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comments about 47 per cent of the population dependent on the government and "binders full of women" topped this year's best quotes, according to Yale University librarian Fred Shapiro's annual quotes list.

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Day In a Page

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Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

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Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor