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The News Matrix: Monday 17 October 2011

Victims’ families try to halt prisoner swap

Bereaved relatives of those killed in terror attacks yesterday petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to stop a prisoner exchange. But their objections are not expected to delay the deal, which will see a total of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners freed in exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Only 12 babies adopted last year

Only 12 Scottish babies were adopted last year, despite hundreds languishing in care. Figures show that, of the 23 children under the age of one who were adopted last year, 11 were taken on by their parent’s partner. But during 2010 there were 373 children in that age group in care.

Rail passenger numbers on the rise

The number of rail passengers in Britain increased by 5.3 per cent between June and September compared with the same period last year. It is the third quarterly rise this year despite rising rail prices, according to figures from the Association of Train Operating Companies. MORE

Obama opens Luther King memorial

President Barack Obama described Martin Luther King as “the man who stirred our conscience” at the opening of a memorial to the civil rights leader in Washington DC, at a ceremony attended by 10,000 people. MORE

Security firm uses taxis for prisoners

Serco, the firm responsible for transferring prisoners in the UK, has come under fire as it emerged it has been using taxis to support their fleet, raising concerns over security and costs. The contract for transferring prisoners is worth £42m a year to the company.

Hollande wins battle to face Sarkozy

The former Socialist leader François Hollande appears to have scored a comfortable victory in France’s first “open” presidential primary of the Left. Last night he had a 56 to 44 per cent lead in the contest to become the main challenger to President Nicolas Sarkozy next spring. MORE

Foreign students in UK have doubled

The number of students coming from outside the EU to study at universities in the UK has more than doubled in the last decade, according to new research. India and China have supplied the largest influx, with more than 280,000 foreign students studying in the UK 2009-10.

Army begins assault on Somali group

Kenyan tanks, troops and trucks, together with air support, crossed the country’s northern border into Somalia yesterday to pursue al-Shabaab, which Kenya blames for kidnappings in its territory. Kenya’s Internal Security Minister has labelled the militant group as “the enemy” and has vowed to set up a “buffer zone” north of the Kenyan border. MORE

Two men held over stabbing of woman

Police have launched a murder inquiry into the death of a woman found in Nottingham early on Saturday morning. A post-mortem examination revealed that Leighann Wightman, 24, who had a five-year-old daughter, died from stab wounds. Two men are in police custody.

Asda takes on rivals by slashing prices

The price war between supermarkets has taken another turn, after Asda announced it would be cutting the cost of 3,000 products. The supermarket will also introduce a £5 thank you voucher for customers who spend more than £40 during this week, to redeem against their next £40 shop. The move comes after Sainsbury’s and Tesco announced their own price schemes.

Hundreds take part in big splash

Hundreds of swimmers took part in Hong Kong’s historic cross-harbour race, which had been suspended for 33 years because of concerns over water pollution. The tradition began in 1906,while Hong Kong was under British rule, but was suspended in 1978 as increased port traffic and raw sewage deemed it unsafe.

Bookshops angry at British Library deal

The British Library has been accused by high street and independent retailers of undermining the country’s bookshops. The institution is piloting an initiative where visitors to its website are directed to Amazon, the online retailer, to buy books.The library says it makes no revenue from the service. MORE

Brothers’ theft a bridge too far

Two brothers have been charged with stealing a 50ft-long bridge in western Pennsylvania – carving it up and selling the 15.5 tons of scrap metal for $5,000 (£3,160). Benjamin Jones, 24, and Alexander Jones, 25, used a blowtorch to dismantle the bridge, police said. MORE