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The News Matrix: Monday 24 December 2012

Homeless families in B&Bs doubles in year

The number of homeless families with dependent children or a pregnant woman staying in bed-and-breakfast accommodation has doubled in a year from 1,230 to 2,460, according to data from the Department for Communities.

Dawn French: I didn't think vicar was funny

Dawn French has revealed she almost turned down her starring role in The Vicar Of Dibley as she didn't think it was funny enough and that she wanted the role of the dopey verger, Alice.

NRA stands by call for armed guards

The largest US gun rights lobbying organisation yesterday forcefully stuck to its call for placing armed police officers and security guards in every school as the best way to avoid mass shootings. Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA), said his organisation would co-ordinate a national effort to put former military and police offers in schools as volunteer guards. MORE

Emperor's sympathy for the elderly

Japan's Emperor Akihito, celebrating his 79th birthday, says he's concerned about the country's ageing population. He sympathised with the elderly in the northern region facing their second winter since the 2011 tsunami.

Violent clashes over gang rape on bus

Police in Delhi have used water cannon for a second day to break up protests against the gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus. The Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promised to consider demands for death penalties for the suspects. MORE

Briton who fought Franco dies at 94

David Lomon, the last surviving British-based member of the International Brigades, who fought General Franco's Fascists in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, has died at 94. He was 19 and living in east London when he joined up.

Osborne's childcare tax breaks 'aid rich'

George Osborne will announce tax breaks for childcare next month to benefit better-off families more than low income ones, according to a study by the Resolution Foundation for i. Other measures are likely to include allowing child-minders to care for five under-fives rather than three. MORE

Even royalty needs to wear 3D glasses

The Queen will don 3D glasses for the first Royal Christmas message to be broadcast in 3D. Behind-the-scenes footage shows the Queen wearing crystal-encrusted specs as she watches part of the broadcast. MORE

Rihanna donates $1.75m to hospital

Rihanna has given $1.75m to a hospital in Barbados in memory of her late grandmother. The donation was her way of "giving back to Barbados".

Salmon leaps ahead in first GM food race

The US Food and Drug Administration has found no valid scientific, health or environmental reasons to ban the production of GM salmon, which grows twice as fast as ordinary fish and could now become the first genetically modified animal declared officially safe to eat. MORE

Swans fly in — with plenty of juveniles

Threatened Bewick's swans are arriving from their Russian breeding grounds with the largest number of youngsters for more than a decade: almost 18 per cent of the flock, compared with an average of 10 per cent.

'Dozens killed' in air strike on bakery

Dozens of people were killed in a government air strike that hit a bakery in Halfaya where a crowd was queuing for bread yesterday, activists said. If confirmed, the attack on the town, seized by rebels last week, would be one of the deadliest air strikes of Syria's civil war. MORE

First some duty-free, then spiritual duties

Citizens of the Vatican City have been enjoying a last-minute Christmas shopping splurge at the Holy See's own department store. Somehow the tax-free emporium remains one of the Vatican's best-kept secrets.

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