The News Matrix: Monday 21 February 2011

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Clarke defends European rights

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has criticised those on the right of his party who have called for the UK to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights. He has instead said the Government will aim to redefine the court’s remit. MORE

Rattle rolls into town

Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker – often acclaimed as the best orchestra in the world – opened their London season at the South Bank Centre last night. The programme included Schubert, Schoenberg and Mahler.

Protest by 70,000 over benefit cuts

A budget battle in the US state of Wisconsin has led to street protests by 70,000 people against benefits cuts and anti-union laws. The controversy has sparked a political firestorm. MORE

Keep on reading to help children learn

It may be boring for parents, but reading the same book over and over again to children is the best way to develop their vocabulary, researchers at Sussex University have found. MORE

Lord Winston’s class under microscope

Fertility expert Lord Winston has hit out at criticism of his teaching methods in Jamie’s Dream School to be broadcast on Channel 4 next month. He had allowed students to look at the semen samples of two classmates under a microscope.

Ian McEwan accepts top award in Israel

The novelist Ian McEwan has accepted a top Israeli literary prize from the mayor of Jerusalem – in spite of his opposition to Israel’s expanding settlements in Arab districts of the city. MORE

Tourists killed by Islamist rebels

Three tourists were shot dead this weekend by Islamist rebels in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region. The continuing violence in the region, which borders Chechnya, has thrown into doubt plans to develop a world class ski resort in the area ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics. MORE

Boys warned of oral sex virus danger

All boys should be considered for vaccination against a virus transmitted by oral sex, which is strongly linked to throat and mouth cancers, a leading cancer specialist has said. MORE

Call to change clocks to double time

A Government tourism strategy is this week expected to boost calls for a change to Britain’s clocks. It will say a switch to double summertime would increase UK visitor numbers. This would mean switching clocks forward an hour in winter and then another hour in summer.

Rapping ruler hopes history will repeat

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said he is considering releasing a rap album. The 67- year-old president has a history of chart success: last year a hip-hop remix of him singing traditional folk songs was a surprise hit across the country.

Make whoopies, not war

Two American states are at war over whoopie pies. The confectionery, which caused a huge buzz when they first came over from the US, are at the centre of a row between two American states who both claim they invented them.

National Christmas tree felled by winds

The United States’ national Christmas tree in Washington, DC has been toppled by high winds. The tree had been in place for more than 30 years. The tradition of national Christmas trees, lit personally by the President during the festive season, goes back to the 1920s.

Milky Way ‘has 50 billion planets’

A study by Nasa has shown there could be as many as 50 billion planets in the Milky Way, with 500 million of them the right distance from their star to support life. Scientists studied a small portion of our galaxy for evidence of orbiting planets and then extrapolated a figure for the whole Milky Way.