The News Matrix: Monday 13 June 2011

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The Independent Online

Government forces storm protest city

Syrian forces yesterday stormed Jisr al-Shughour, the city that has become a symbol of militant opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Defiant protests – and the regime’s brutal response to them – continued to rock the city. MORE

Ministers consider admissions change

University admissions may be changed so students are accepted on their actual rather than predicted grades, i has learnt. Ministers want to look at whether the UK could change to a system where grades are assigned before places are offered. MORE

First pictures show a smiling Giffords

The US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has released the first pictures of herself since she nearly died after being shot in the head by a gunman five months ago. MORE

Hackers in attack on IMF’s systems

The International Monetary Fund has become the latest, and also potentially the most serious, victim of an attack by computer hackers. There are concerns that hackers might have obtained highly sensitive IMF information. MORE

Caravan fire kills father and son

Authorities are still establishing the cause of a caravan fire which killed a father, 58, and his son, 26. The blaze started on Saturday morning at Sunnysands caravan park, Tal-y-Bont, North Wales. The father’s wife, 50, and his granddaughter were rescued.

United front for modified proposals

The Coalition’s watered-down NHS reforms are due to be finally put forward this week, with both parties claiming credit. David Cameron and Nick Clegg will put on a united front as they outline the changes made. But both are hoping to paint the final package, endorsed by the Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams in today’s i, as their own. MORE

Northern troops agree to pull out

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al- Bashir has agreed to pull northern troops out of the disputed Abyei border region before 9 July, when the south becomes independent. The delineation of the border had been a flashpoint between the two sides.

‘Tortured’ poet jailed for a year

The 20-year-old Bahraini poet Ayat al-Gormezi, who has become a symbol of resistance, was sentenced to one year in prison yesterday. According to her family, she was tortured during her detention. MORE

Investigative journalist shot dead

A well-known investigative journalist who covered Mumbai’s criminal underworld, was killed by armed gunmen this weekend. Jay Dey, who wrote for Mid Day newspaper, was shot five times at point blank range before the killers escaped. MORE

Darters flying high again in Cumbria

Rare white-faced darter flies have hatched for the first time in 13 years at Foulshaw Moss nature reserve, near Kendal. The insects were lost to the Cumbria Wildlife Trust site after their moss habitat was disturbed by forest planting and drainage.

Dealer cleans up on Van Dyck portrait

A masterpiece by Anthony Van Dyck, rediscovered by an art dealer after it had been hidden beneath layers of dirt, has been put on show in London. Philip Mould bought A Portrait of a Young Girl by the Flemish master last year after realising its true worth. He paid €1.01m (£899,000), 50 times the top estimate, but the picture is now valued far higher.

New land of plenty thanks to drilling

New drilling technology that uses pressured liquids to blast oil out of a vast table-top layer of rock 10,000ft underground means that the North Dakota town of Williston State is in the middle of a modern-day gold rush. MORE

Postage stamps feature Thomas

One of the nation’s best loved children’s characters, Thomas the Tank Engine, will appear on a new set of stamps. The collection, issued by the Royal Mail and featuring Thomas and Friends, celebrates the centenary of the birth of the author, the Rev Wilbert Awdry, on Wednesday.

World’s shortest man is 2ft tall

A Filipino blacksmith’s son who stands less than 2ft (60cm) tall was declared the world’s shortest man by Guinness World Records on his 18th birthday yesterday. Junrey Balawing from Sindangan in the southern Philippines stopped growing two months after his birth, his father said.

‘Sexting’ politician to have treatment

Anthony Weiner, the congressman embroiled in a “sexting” scandal, has sidestepped requests to resign in favour of a temporary leave of absence to undergo treatment. The news came as photos of him shirtless, with a towel around his waist and his hand on his crotch, emerged.

Brad Pitt cabinet valued at £12,000

A 19th-century cabinet once owned by star Brad Pitt will go under the hammer on 15 June. The beech cabinet, dated from 1896 and valued at £12,000, will be sold by Lyon & Turnbull auctioneers in Edinburgh.

Atheists sue bus firm in God-free ad row

A group of atheists are suing a bus company in Little Rock, Arkansas, claiming it is violating their right to free speech by obstructing their efforts to promote a God-free lifestyle by placing ads on the city’s buses.