The News Matrix: Saturday 01 October 2011

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The Independent Online

US withdraws aid over statehood bid

The US Congress has blocked nearly $200m (£128m) in aid to the Palestinians in response to the Palestinian President’s bid for official UN recognition. The move theatens projects including food aid, healthcare, and support for building a state.

Reporter in warning to Rupert Murdoch

Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter of the News of the World dismissed by News International, turned on his old employer, warning that there was much that he could say “to the detriment” of Rupert Murdoch’s corporation. MORE

Government halts work on dam project

Burma has halted work on a multibillion-dollar dam project on the Irrawaddy river that activists claimed would harm the ecology of a major water system. Opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, also expressed her concerns. MORE

Slovakia under bailout pressure

Pressure was mounting yesterday on Slovakia to drop opposition to the expanded EU bailout fund. The country looked set to be the main obstacle in the way of final ratification of the €440bn (£379bn) package. Only three Euro governments are still to ratify the expanded fund. MORE

Late trains thanks to wrong sort of thieves

Train punctuality has fallen, according to figures released by Network Rail. Trains ran on time 92.4 per cent of the time between 21 August and 17 September, compared to 93.5 per cent last year. Cable theft has become a serious problem, say operators.

Military fires on support rallies

Security forces opened fire yesterday as protesters rallied in support of Rastan, the besieged town where army defectors are waging a fierce battle against the regime. Gunmen attacked civilians in Hama, Homs and Damascus. MORE

Prison numbers hit record high again

The prison population in England andWales rose by almost 300 this week to reach a new high for the fourth week running. Fuelled by tough sentencing after August’s riots, prisoner numbers hit 87,501, only about 1,000 short of capacity, Ministry of Justice figures showed.