The News Matrix: Monday 21 March 2011

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The Independent Online

Osborne to close VAT loophole for DVDs

A tax loophole allowing people to import cheap goods from the Channel Islands without paying VAT is due to be closed in the Budget this week. George Osborne has also promised no tax increases or further cuts than already announced. MORE

£738 train ticket is anything but fare

Passengers are being charged up to £738 for a train ticket in the UK. A first-class open return from Penzance to Wickes via London was priced at £738, more expensive than a return ticket to New York, Sydney and the Maldives, C4’s Dispatches will reveal tonight.

Blood test predicts onset of diabetes

US scientists believe they may have found a way to identify people who will suffer from type-2 diabetes up to 10 years before they start experiencing symptoms. Type-2 diabetes is one of the UK’s fastest-growing health problems. MORE

Retired Salvation Army officer ‘killed’

Major Janet Gilson, 64, was found dead on holiday at her niece’s home in Lamma. The retiree, from Leigh-on-Sea, had been missing for three days. Police arrested a suspect. MORE

Police plea over murdered graduate

Detectives investigating the murder of a 25-year-old graduate want to speak to anyone who was in Sleetmoor Woods, Derbyshire, where her bodywas found on 13 March. Jia Ashton, who worked for the chocolate-maker Thorntons, was last seen alive on 10 March.

Doctors’ ‘loyalty’ leads to deaths

The failure of doctors to report substandard practice among colleagues leads to lives being lost, a report will say today. It comes a decade after a probe into a children’s surgery disaster at Bristol Royal Infirmary said that doctors had closed ranks. MORE

Aborigine leader’s grave found

The grave of an aboriginal leader, Woollarawarre Bennelong, has been discovered in a suburban front garden in Sydney. Bennelong was brought to the UK by a governor. When he returned he was ostracised. MORE

Cheese producers want EU protection

Two Scottish cheese companies have launched a case to protect their products from copycat versions. According to makers of Orkney Island Cheddar and Traditional Ayrshire Dunlop, producers are cashing in by passing off fake versions of the Scottish cheese. MORE

New kettling plan for anti-cuts protests

As preparations are finalised for the protests against Government cuts on Saturday, Scotland Yard has revealed it is yet to test its new plans to control crowds. More than 100,000 people are expected to join the rally. Police are set to appoint a “containment manager”, in charge of the controversial kettling tactic, to monitor the practice. MORE

Celebrity polar bear dies

The death of four-year-old Knut, the only polar bear ever raised by humans, highlights his strange case of global fame. Knut, who appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, died unexpectedly on Saturday at Berlin Zoo. MORE

Another scalp for WikiLeaks

After a months-long campaign, the Mexican president, Felipe Calderon, has secured the resignation of the US ambassador. Mr Calderon labelled Carlos Pascual “ignorant” after WikiLeaks revealed Mr Pascual’s criticism of Mexico’s efforts to tackle drug-related violence. MORE

Humiliate to motivate

A mother in Florida has found an unusual way to motivate her 15- year-old son to do better at school. After James Mond III failed to achieve good grades this month, his mother, Ronda, sent him to stand on a nearby street corner with a sign around his neck that said: “Honk if I need an education.”

Tinted glasses fall off 3D films

Consumers have been left angry over the surcharge for experiencing the extra dimension – especially when the films turn out to be flops. Director Ben Stassen, whose 3D film Sammy’s Adventure opens this month, said: “People might reject 3D as a whole.” MORE

Cowell commends internet ‘flop star’

Internet pop star (or should that be flop star) Rebecca Black, has won the attention of Simon Cowell for her single “Friday”. The 13-year-old has become an online sensation for the song most people have reviewed as terrible. Mr Cowell commended her for creating controversy.

Agatha Christie for amodern age

Julian Fellowes is to work on a film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Crooked House with American director Neil LaBute. He said: “I love the period, I love Agatha Christie and it will be very exciting to work with a really vivid, contemporary director.” MORE

Adele knocked off number one spot

Adele has finally been forced out of her domination of the top of the charts, by Nicole Scherzinger. Someone Like You has been number one on the singles chart for four weeks, but was pushed out yesterday by the solo single by the Pussycat Doll – Don’t Hold Your Breath.

Police not be liking sexy fun auto plate

Traffic police in a southern Kazakhstan city have complained of a rising tide of motorists replacing their licence plates with signs reading: “I Love Sex”. A 19-year old motorist in Kyzyl-Orda was fined around £600 for having the plate on his vehicle.

Play that half the audience can’t see

Louis de Bernières’ only play, Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World, is being performed for the first time on condition half the audience are blindfolded. The Southwark Playhouse production will allow it to be experienced as intended – a radio play. MORE

Unicyclist wants to go on the pavement

New York is fighting a $3m (£1.9m) lawsuit brought by a Brooklyn unicyclist who says he should be allowed to ride on the pavement. Circus performer Kyle Peterson was issued a ticket in 2007 for violating the ordinance.

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