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The News Matrix: Monday 20 January 2014

Shoplifting climbs to nine-year high

Britain’s retailers are experiencing an epidemic of shoplifting fuelled by the economic downturn and criminal gangs stealing to order, research by the British Retail Consortium has found. Theft from shops climbed to a nine-year high last year costing retailers £511m.

Hollande: I need time to think

French President François Hollande has told his partner, Valérie Trierweiler, that he needs “more time” to think about the future of the relationship after allegations of an affair between him and actress Julie Gayet,  the magazine Paris Match has reported. MORE

Putin: ‘Some of my friends are gay’

President Vladimir Putin has defended Russia’s law on “gay propaganda” saying he is on “friendly terms” with some homosexuals and that there was “no danger” for visitors to the Winter Olympics. He denied any corruption surrounded the Sochi Games. MORE

Sleep may prevent prostate cancer

Sleeping well may help protect men from prostate cancer, scientists say. Researchers linked higher levels of the night-time hormone melatonin with a 75 per cent reduced risk of advanced disease. Low levels of the hormone are typically associated with disrupted sleep.

Clashes in Kiev after protests restricted

Demonstators clashed with riot police in Kiev yesterday after tough anti-protest legislation was rushed through parliament. Police were attacked despite pleas for no violence from opposition leaders. MORE

Islamist rebel group rejects peace talks

A powerful alliance of Syrian Islamist rebels, the Islamic Front, has rejected the upcoming Geneva peace talks, meaning that even if they reach an unlikely breakthrough in the civil war, it will be harder to implement it on the ground. Syria’s main political opposition group in exile, the National Coalition, agreed on Saturday to attend the talks which begin on Wednesday.

Tidal power could fuel half of Scotland

Enough renewable energy to power half of Scotland could be harnessed from the tides in a stretch of water off the north coast, research has suggested. Some 1.9 gigawatts of clean energy could be generated by turbines placed in the Pentland Firth between mainland Scotland and Orkney.

New trial sought for boy executed in 1944

Attorneys in South Carolina say they have fresh evidence in the case of a 14-year-old black boy put to death in 1944 for the murders of two white girls, and will argue it warrants a new trial in a hearing on Tuesday. George Stinney Jr was the youngest person to be executed in the United States in the last century.

99-year-old man  baptised in Essex

A man has been baptised and confirmed at the age of 99. Norman Machin, from Brentwood, Essex, is a parishioner at the Anglican church St Thomas of Canterbury. Mr Machin said: “I’ve been thinking about this for a year or two.”

£3,000 eBay buy  is worth £250,000

An online art lover paid £3,000 on eBay eight years ago for a painting that has since been revealed as an Impressionist masterpiece by Édouard Vuillard worth around £250,000. The search is now on to find the successful bidder.

Red wine protects against diabetes

Compounds found in red wine may protect against diabetes, a study has shown. High intakes of the flavonoids are linked to lower insulin resistance and better control of blood sugar, helping reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Schoolchildren watch the birdies

About 75,000 students and teachers in 2,000 schools will be counting the birds that visit their school grounds this week for the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch. The findings will be part of the Big Garden Birdwatch next weekend.

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