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The News Matrix: Monday 17 December 2012

Hollande's partner: trials of First Lady

The partner of President François Hollande, Valérie Trierweiler, says acting as France's "first girlfriend" is like doing a parachute jump "without a parachute". She said she has only entered Mr Hollande's office three times. MORE

Ban plan for porn in WiFi hotspots

Access to pornography via public WiFi hotspots could be banned by next year. In a deal between the Government and internet providers, children will be protected from catching a glimpse of explicit images on a phone, laptop or tablet.

High street could cede top spot to web

The internet could overtake the high street for Christmas shopping for the first time this year, with research indicating that the proportion spent online will increase from 2011's 41 per cent. The British Retail Consortium estimate it could reach 50 per cent, while analytics company SDL put the figure at 54 per cent.

Berlusconi engaged to signorina, 27

The former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, infamous for his "bunga bunga" sex parties, has announced his engagement to his 27-year-old girlfriend Francesca Pascale. "Finally I feel less lonely," said Berlusconi, adding that she is "beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside". MORE

Angler dies after being swept away

A 33-year-old angler airlifted to hospital after being swept away in a fast-flowing stream has died. The man was rescued on Saturday after being swept out towards the sea from a stream at Becketts Bank in County Durham. A 57-year-old man, related to the victim, was released from hospital after treatment.

Unions 'must do more to save jobs'

Trade unions need to change the perception that they are only about strikes and industrial strife and create the impression that they are intent on aiding the economy to prosper, the outgoing head of the Trades Union Congress has said. Brendan Barber said unions must work more with firms to save jobs.  MORE

Blair group useless, says Palestinian

The international peace coalition fronted by Tony Blair in the Middle East should abandon its work because it has been "useless, useless, useless" according to a key aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Mohammed Shtayyeh told a gathering near Bethlehem that words from the Middle East Quartet mean "nothing".  MORE

Ritz hotel pays no corporation tax

London's Ritz hotel has failed to pay any corporation tax since it was bought by the billionaire Barclay brothers 17 years ago, a BBC Panorama documentary will claim tonight. The broadcaster said the hotel's accounts indicated it legally cut its tax bill to zero. MORE

Right returns in landslide victory

The conservative Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in a landslide election victory according to early returns. Shinzo Abe will be Japan's seventh prime minister in less than seven years. MORE

Minimum price plan attracts criticism

The Coalition's plan to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol looks to be in trouble, with ministers opposing the proposals, saying they could penalise responsible poorer drinkers. The Home Secretary Theresa May and her Lib Dem deputy Jeremy Browne are leading the opposition. MORE

'Seven-day working' plan for NHS doctors

People should be able to visit their GPs and receive routine surgery from hospitals at weekends, under plans to increase seven-day working by doctors in the NHS. The plans are driven by concerns that the health services works to the convenience of employees rather than patients. MORE

Protests 'could tear country apart'

Hundreds of demonstrators have been stopped from protesting outside the Kuwaiti parliament amid fears that the standoff between the hardline government and dissenters could become violent. The ruling emir said the country risked being torn apart.

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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003