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The News Matrix: Monday 30 January 2012

Hotel room blunder 'will cost billions'

Hotel rooms needlessly reserved for dignitaries by Olympics organisers are a key cause of the tourism slump that could cost Britain billions this summer, the travel industry has warned. Organisers admitted they had overestimated the number of rooms needed by 25 per cent. MORE

FA warned it must support gay players

The former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas has warned the Football Association it must support gay footballers publicly to combat homophobia in the sport. In a BBC documentary, Thomas says young players will be deterred unless the sport becomes more welcoming. MORE

Crowds line streets to welcome Suu Kyi

Thousands lined the streets to greet democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the southern city of Dawei ahead of by-elections. Her National League for Democracy will compete for the 48 seats in the April poll. MORE

New £483m defence system to guard ships

Britain will invest £483m in a state-of-the-art air defence to protect ships that blows missiles out of the air at more than 2,000mph. The Ministry of Defence will announce today it has awarded the contract to develop the Sea Ceptor to the British wing of European missile firm MBDA. MORE

Deadly crossing claims fourth life

A deadly railway crossing has claimed its fourth life in a decade after a 15-year-old schoolgirl was hit by a train on Saturday. The victim was walking over the Johnson's footpath crossing near Cannons Close in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, at about 11.45am. MORE

Assad regime bids to flush out rebels

More than 50 tanks and personnel carriers, packed with 2,000 soldiers, rolled into the suburbs of Damascus at dawn as the Assad regime tried to flush out rebels who have holed up in Sunni areas and set up checkpoints in the past week within striking district of its seat of power. At least 19 people were killed in the area in some of the fiercest fighting of the nearly 11-month uprising. MORE

Tension as UN starts nuclear inspection

A United Nations inspection mission into Iran's nuclear programme, the outcome of which is likely to play a critical part in whether or not military strikes are carried out against the regime in Tehran, got under way yesterday amid acrimony and tension. MORE

Crackdown on nuisance neighbours

Communities will be able to force an investigation into nuisance neighbours under plans to be announced today by the Home Secretary, Theresa May. A "community trigger" scheme to be piloted this summer will force authorities to act if five people complain. MORE

Del and Rodney go to Hollywood

The US network ABC is planning to remake Only Fools and Horses, chronicling the "misadventures of two streetwise brothers and their grandfather as they concoct morally questionable get-rich-quick schemes". The pilot is being made by the team behind the hit show Scrubs.

UK zoos warned on thefts of rhino horn

Zoos have been warned gangs could poach their rhinos to sell the horns in the Asian medicine market. Rhino horn soared to more than $40,000 (£25,000) a kilo after rumours spread suggesting they cure cancer. Auction rooms and museums across Europe have been targeted and it is feared that zoos could be next. MORE

Making a noise about contraception

A blast of high-frequency sound waves to a man's vulnerable area might be the most effective male contraceptive, a new study suggests. Scientists conducted experiments which showed that ultrasound cut sperm counts in rats. The equivalent outcome would result in reversible infertility in humans.

Toddler enjoys alive snake snack

A 12-inch snake that slithered into a toddler's room in Haifa got more than it bargained for when the 18-month-old picked it up and began chewing its head. His mother, Ghadir Aleeyan, said: "I nearly died of fright." A neighbour pulled the half-dead snake from the child's mouth, and described it as "very badly chewed".

You can't buy it, but people keep trying

All you need is love – and a thousand-pound budget, according to a new survey of British singletons. Lonely hearts spend an estimated £3.4bn on dating each year, including food, drink and dressing to impress. It isn't clear how much of this – such as £100 for haircuts – would be saved by those in a relationship.

Britain freezes as big chill settles in

Parts of Britain have entered what forecasters predict will be the longest cold snap of the winter so far, with as many as 10cm of snow forecast to fall on high ground in Wales last night. Snow is also set to blanket parts of South-west England in a chilly period that could last until at least Thursday.

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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor