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The News Matrix: Monday 28 February 2011

New standards for nursing homes

Nursing homes must submit to new “excellence tests” or risk losing funding, under plans announced today. Homes will be assessed on staff training and turnover, daily activities for residents, and the quality of care they offer. MORE

Coalition led by Fine Gael to take power

Fine Gael and Labour are expected to open talks this week on agreeing a formal coalition after a landmark election decimated Fianna Fail, which has dominated Irish politics. Voters punished the party for presiding over the collapse of the economy. MORE

Ethical produce soars to £1bn

Sales of Fairtrade products rose by 40 per cent last year to more than £1bn in the UK, up from £836m in 2009. Harriet Lamb of The Fairtrade Foundation says she hopes that sales will double this year to £2bn.

Funding sought to make Chernobyl safe

Concerns that the Chernobyl nuclear reactor could collapse and again leak deadly radiation have prompted European agencies to seek hundreds of millions of pounds to build a steel shelter around the site. MORE

Four Britons among dead as city empties

Four Britons are believed to have died in last Tuesday’s earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand. The death toll stood at 147 last night, with more than 50 people unaccounted for. Thousands of the city’s 350,000 residents have left since the quake, more than 50,000 through the airport alone. MORE

Spending cuts force review of priorities

Several countries which have been receiving aid from the UK, including Kosovo and Vietnam, are to have their funding stopped as part of government spending cuts. MORE

Impresario’s boat sunk in ‘arson’ attack

A boat belonging to Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the West End producer of musicals including Cats and Les Misérables has been destroyed in a suspected arson attack. MORE

‘Shampanskoye’ bubble set to burst

Ukrainian vineyards producing the syrupy sparkling wine called “shampanskoye” will be forced to change the name as part of a free trade agreement with the EU due to be signed later this year. Brandy known as “konyak” and cheese marketed as feta will also be affected. MORE

Is it the final curtain for interval drinks?

Half-time pots of ice cream and a quick drink to steady you for the second half could be on the way out of British theatre. A raft of recent productions have sidestepped theatre tradition and done away with any form of interval. MORE

Hip-hop star too blinged up for flight

American hip-hop star Kanye West’s jewellery-heavy look proved impractical for travelling as he set off airport metal detectors. The singer, proud of the weight of his swag, tweeted a picture of the jewels he needed to shed before passing through security.

Officers to tweet before kettling

Police will be communicating a new “softly, softly” approach to protesters via Twitter. In a friendlier approach to policing demonstrations, tweets will warn when groups are about to be kettled and a brochure will explain how police are committed to the rights of democratic protest.

Team repeats Shackleton epic

Lt Col. Henry Worsley travelled 900 miles over 66 days to follow in the footsteps of his relative Frank Worsley, skipper to Ernest Shackleton on his unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole. His new book, In Shackleton’s Footsteps, traces the journey he made a century after his relative.

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