The News Matrix: Saturday 14 February 2015


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The Independent Online

New light treatment hope for arrhythmia 

People who suffer arrhythmia after a heart attack could benefit from revolutionary pacemakers with fibre-optic lights. When the lights are applied in sequence, a natural heartbeat is mimicked. A method of stem-cell generated heart cells that may repair a damaged area is also being explored.

Sharp decline in language students

The number of students taking foreign languages at university has fallen by 16 per cent since 2007-08. Vicky Gough at the British Council said: “If we are to compete in a global economy, we need more of our young people to be able to understand and embrace other languages…”

Hindu group tackles Valentine’s vulgarity

Volunteers from a right-wing Hindu group will offer white roses, free counselling and a chance to get married to couples caught kissing or hugging in public places on Valentine’s Day. The All-India Hindu Assembly says it is “against any vulgarity, not against love”.

Talbot convicted of sex assaults on boys

Former TV weatherman Fred Talbot has been convicted of indecently assaulting two teenage boys on canal boat trips while working as a teacher in the 1970s. The 65-year-old was cleared of eight other charges of indecent assault at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester.

Militants launch cross-border attack

Suspected Boko Haram militants staged their first attack in Chad yesterday. The assault by the Nigeria-based group took place in the village of Ngouboua on the shore of Lake Chad, and left a community leader, one Chadian soldier and at least two militants dead.

Teacher shortlisted for global award

Richard Spencer, a science teacher at Middlesbrough College, Teesside, is one of 10 candidates up for a Nobel Prize-style award for teaching, which is worth up to $1m (£650,000). The winner of the Global Teacher Prize will be announced next month.

Mad cow case will not hit beef exports

The first case of mad cow disease since 2011 was confirmed on  Friday but authorities are confident the discovery will not hit the  C$2bn-a-year beef export sector. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said no part of the animal had reached the human or animal food chain.

Property investor who got off tax free

Panorama has seen papers showing property investor Paul Bloomfield was not prosecuted in 2011 despite not submitting tax returns or paying tax for 24 years. On the list of HSBC clients with Swiss accounts, he claimed offshore firms paid his rent – and for his boat and helicopter.

24 whales left dead in mass stranding

A mass whale stranding on a  beach in New Zealand has left  24 of the animals dead, and the  death toll is expected to rise. Yesterday, volunteers worked to  help get nearly 200 pilot whales  back into the sea after they washed up on shore.

Jailed Al Jazeera journalists freed

Two Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were released from prison yesterday pending a retrial, after spending more than a year behind bars on terror-related charges in a case denounced as a sham by rights groups.

Programmer sent to jail for web piracy

A former programmer for defunct website Megaupload has pleaded guilty in what prosecutors say was a huge copyright-piracy scheme run through the site. Andrus Nomm, 36, was sentenced in Virginia to a year and a day in jail for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.

Jailed leaker to get hormone therapy  

The commandant of a US military prison says convicted document leaker Chelsea, formerly Bradley, Manning can get hormone therapy for her gender identity disorder – but she can’t grow out her hair, according to a memo.  It is the military’s first approval of such treatment for an active service member.

Claims over new Sun trial judge ‘absurd’

Mr Justice Sweeney called claims from defence lawyers that there was “something going on behind the scenes” following the introduction of a new judge for the retrial of four Sun newspaper employees “absurd”. The four are accused of paying officials for stories, but deny misconduct in a public office.

M25 killer Noye given parole hearing

Kenneth Noye, who was jailed for life for murdering Stephen Cameron in 1996 in a fight on an M25 slip road in Kent, has been given a parole hearing. A decision will be made in April. The mother of Cameron said: “We’re absolutely devastated. Life should mean life.”

Fighting escalates ahead of truce

As the countdown to ceasefire began yesterday, Russian-backed rebels launched an attempt to take more territory, including a strategic railway hub. The town of Debaltseve was on the receiving end of artillery and rocket salvos. The shelling left at least 25 dead.

The truth about pies, Chevys and levees

The meaning behind “American Pie” by Don McLean will be revealed when the original manuscript is sold at auction in April. Speaking of the 1972 song, McLean told Reuters: “The writing and the lyrics will divulge everything there is to divulge.”

‘Fifty Shades’ puzzle given to pupils

An education chief admitted five middle-school students were handed word-search puzzles based on Fifty Shades of Grey with such terms as “leather cuffs” and “spanking”. Leanne Spazak said the puzzles were “mistakenly” put in worksheets at the school in Monessen, Pennsylvania.

Hundred on shortlist to settle on Mars

A shortlist of 100 people competing to take part in a one-way mission to Mars will be announced on Monday. People have applied to take part in the mission, which plans to create a human settlement on Mars. Chosen candidates will take part in a  nine-year training process.