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The News Matrix: Monday 26 December 2011

 

Putin insists he still has public mandate

Vladimir Putin's spokesman insisted the premier still has the support of most Russians, despite mass protests in Moscow. Thousands of people rallied against alleged election fraud. Former leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, urged Putin not to stand in presidential elections in February. MORE

 

Woman and four children in M6 crash

A woman and four children were taken to hospital yesterday after a crash on the M6. Two boys and a girl, aged between eight and 11, and a toddler were in one of the two cars involved. The driver of the car carrying the children, a woman in her 40s, was taken to City Hospital in Birmingham.

 

Police sell criminal assets on eBay

Hertfordshire police has opened an eBay account to sell criminals' assets. Any money raised will be used to compensate victims and help fund crime-fighting initiatives. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, offenders can be deprived of any financial benefit of their crimes.

 

100,000+ gather to support Imran Khan

More than 100,000 people rallied in support of the cricket legend and opposition politician Imran Khan in Karachi, cementing his status as a rising force in politics. His message of cracking down on corruption has found resonance with disaffected Pakistanis. MORE

 

Teen takes record with Antarctic climb

A teenager has become the youngest person to scale the tallest mountains on all seven continents. Jordan Romero, 15, reached the summit of Mount Vinson Massif in Antarctica on Saturday. MORE

 

Happy new year? Don't bet on it...

Rising unemployment, falling house prices, multiplying business failures and a double-dip recession are all in store for Britain next year, economists believe. Public spending cuts will also intensify in 2012 too, with the Chancellor due to take a further £16bn out of the economy in 2012-13. On the bright side, the Olympics will boost growth, and inflation could fall.

 

Hare coursing 'back to pre-ban levels'

Incidents of hare coursing – the illegal hunting of hares with dogs – have returned to pre-ban levels and those who try to deny coursers access to their land are being attacked, farmers have said. Meanwhile, more than 250,000 people are expected at more than 300 UK fox hunts today. MORE

 

New leader Kim has his uncle's support

North Korea has given a hint about the shape of the regime under Kim Jong-un after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. State television showed the new leader's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, standing at his side in military uniform, suggesting he will smooth the handover. MORE

 

First homes are most affordable for years

Homes bought by first-time buyers have reached their most affordable levels since 2003 – but numbers have hit a record low, Halifax has found. Houses bought by first-time buyers in November were found to be priced at "affordable" levels in 44 per cent of the UK, the highest for eight years.

 

New father blogger is finally released

A leading pro-democracy blogger in Egypt was released after nearly two months detention, during which time his son was born. Alaa Abd El Fattah was accused of inciting violence during an October demonstration by Coptic Christians in Cairo.

 

Woman in 70s lost on Christmas Eve

A woman in her 70s has gone missing while shopping with her family in London's West End on the morning of Christmas Eve. Rita Wright, of Birmingham, who police say suffers from dementia, was visiting her granddaughter in west London.

 

White Christmas? Just a pipe dream

Britons hoping for a white Christmas were left disappointed yesterday as temperatures of between 11C and 14C were seen across the country. An annual Christmas Day dip in the English Channel was cancelled by Brighton Swimming Club, however, due to high tides and strong winds.

 

Anti-whaling group uses drone aircraft

Anti-whaling activists say they have used military-style drone aircraft in an attempt to stop Japan's annual whale hunt in the Antarctic. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said it located a Japanese factory ship off Australia's western coast on Saturday using the two drones.

 

Venue naming rights up for auction

Brace yourself for the Big Mac Stadium. Olympic bosses are planning to auction off naming rights for some of the venues built to host next year's Games. Names will be up for grabs once the Games are over and it is believed major sponsors such as McDonald's have been approached.

 

Young Mandela takes third wife

Nelson Mandela's grandson has made a Swazi princess his third wife despite a legal ban obtained by his first wife. Mandla Mandela, 37, an MP, married Mbali Makhathini on Christmas Eve.

 

Thunderbirds are go says Microsoft boss

Thunderbirds-style rescue missions could soon be under way in Earth's orbit. A new spacecraft, which has been conceived by Microsoft tycoon Paul Allen, could be equipped with a special scoop to salvage faulty and ageing satellites in danger of burning up on their way down to Earth.

 

Evidence says that Romans used camels

Roman soldiers may have used camels to travel around Britain, new research has found. Belgian academics uncovered 22 specimens of camel bone close to Roman roads in northern Europe. The animals may have been used for transport or as a source of meat for hungry soldiers.

 

Michelle Obama's suprise for children

Michelle Obama surprised children by answering a Santa-tracking hotline at US air defence command HQ. Mrs Obama said: "I passed on to each child the current location of Santa and reminded them that he would come to their house only after they were in bed sleeping."

 

Fights break out at Air Jordan launches

Fights broke out across the US as Nike's latest Air Jordan basketball shoes went on sale. Police in Seattle pepper-sprayed customers who had started fighting, while a man was stabbed in New Jersey. The chaos was reminiscent of violence 20 years ago over another Air Jordan launch.

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