The News Matrix: Monday 30 December 2014


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The Independent Online

Tories ‘facing two years of civil war’

The Conservative Party faces more than two years of civil war over Europe if David Cameron wins next year’s general election, senior party figures are warning. There is dismay over Mr Cameron’s decision to set a rigid 2017 deadline for an EU referendum. One Cabinet minister told i: “We have the prospect in the two years after the election of our party tearing itself in two.”

Scheme aims to cut prescription fraud

The Coalition has launched a drive to save £150m by cracking down on prescription fraud. Chemists will gain access to Department for Work and Pensions records, letting them see if individuals are entitled to free prescriptions. Pharmacists say the scheme means more red tape.

Ten bodies found after ferry disaster

The bodies of 10 people who were travelling on the ferry Norman Atlantic, which caught fire off the Greek coast, have been recovered, as Italian prosecutors opened a criminal investigation. Rescue teams yesterday evacuated 427 people from the vessel.

Free online courses attract 800,000

Almost 800,000 people have signed up to take free online courses offered by leading UK universities, figures show. Business, health and language are among the most popular subject areas for the courses, “and women are more likely to join than men”, according to provider FutureLearn

Isis may have killed 200 of its militants

Isis could have executed 200 of its own militants in the past few months, the majority of whom were foreign fighters trying to return home from Syria. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it could not confirm the ages or nationalities of the fighters.

Bomber’s lawyers request trial delay

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a judge yesterday to delay his trial because they need more time to prepare. Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 charges connected to the two April 15, 2013, explosions at the marathon’s finish line.

Thatcher considered  buying nerve agents

Margaret Thatcher considered buying stockpiles of chemical weapons in order to match the Soviet Union’s capability, newly released secret documents from 1984 reveal.

Mumbai terror suspect may be freed

A court suspended a detention order yesterday keeping the alleged planner of the Mumbai terror attacks in jail, possibly paving the way for his release. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is one of seven men on trial in Pakistan in connection with the 2008 attack that killed 166 people.

Lost seal recovering from pneumonia

A lost seal which was discovered in a farmer’s field has been diagnosed with pneumonia but is recovering. The adult grey seal, now named Dumbledore, was found in a field at Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside on 22 December and taken to the RSPCA’s specialist seal facility in East Winch, Norfolk.

Police use toilet roll to catch robber

Police say they matched a would-be pizza shop raider to a roll of toilet paper in his Pennsylvania home. Uniontown police say 29-year-old Eric Frey tried to rob Michael Maria’s Pizza on Saturday by handing an employee a note written on toilet paper that read: “I have a gun. Give me $300.”

‘Big Ben’ £100 coins to mark start of 2015

The Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales, has produced a limited edition £100 coin to mark the start of the new year. The run of 50,000 commemorative coins feature Big Ben, chosen because its chimes mark the turn of the year. They will be available at the face value of £100 and contain two ounces of silver.

Ice-cream record holder forced to shut

An ice-cream store listed in the Guinness World Records book for its 863 different flavours has become the latest victim of Venezuela’s economic crisis. “We are closed during the season due to shortage of milk,” the Coromoto ice-cream store in the town of Merida announced on its Facebook page.

‘Gobstopper tree’ a sweet discovery

Experts from Kew Gardens discovered a plant this year in the coastal region of the Republic of Congo that has been dubbed the “gobstopper tree”. Its bright orange fruit takes so long for chimps to suck that the seeds get dispersed across large areas of land, long distances from the parent plant.