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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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam