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The News Matrix: Saturday 19 January 2013

Councils urged to set 20mph speed limits

The Government has urged councils to cut speed limits to 20mph in residential areas and high streets in a fresh bid to reduce road fatalities. Safety campaigners said the proposals would cut child pedestrian fatalities by up to 70 per cent. MORE

Councils paid £22.8m for damaged cars

Councils in England and Wales paid £22.8m in compensation last year to drivers whose vehicles were damaged by potholes. Research by Which? showed authorities in the North-west of England alone paid out £8m. Local authorities estimated it would cost £12.93bn to clear the entire backlog.

'Very silly' professor caused £18k damage

A professor at Newcastle University has been convicted of writing polite graffiti on luxury cars. Stephen Graham, 47, caused £18,000 worth of damage by carving "very silly", "really wrong" and "arbitrary" onto Mercedes, Audi and Mitsubishi vehicles with a screwdriver.

Man jailed over sham marriages

A father-of-five who ran an international sham marriage network has been jailed. Talib Hussain was sentenced to six years for flying Eastern European women to Islamabad for bogus weddings to Pakistani men, who could then apply to live in the UK under EU border laws.

Tuition fee increases mean fewer students

Government tuition fee increases to £9,000 a year resulted in nearly half of Britain's top universities enrolling fewer students this year. Ten members of the Russell Group, which represents 24 of the most prestigious higher education research institutions, made offers to fewer students.

Charlotte Green's voice quiet… for now

Newsreader Charlotte Green has left the BBC after 25 years. The Radio 4 announcer read the 6 o'clock news for the last time yesterday, and said she felt "really quite emotional" about going freelance. Green, 56, was once voted to have the most attractive female voice.

Heavy load delays easyJet flight

An easyJet flight from Liverpool to Geneva could not take off on Thursday because it was too heavily loaded. A spokeswoman for the airline said "an exceptionally high proportion of male passengers and more hold luggage than usual" were to blame. MORE

Pakistan: Official investigating PM found hanged

An official investigating the Prime Minister of Pakistan over corruption allegations has been found dead. The body of Kamran Faisal, who was said to have been under great pressure as a result of the inquiry into Raja Pervez Ashraf, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his room.

Australia: Bushfires claim first heatwave victim

A man's body was discovered in a burned-out car near the small town of Seaton, as bushfires raged. Elsewhere, revellers packed Sydney's beaches as temperatures hit a record 45.8C. Surrounding areas were even hotter: the mercury hit 46.4C in Penrith to the west.

Russia: Bolshoi director attacked with acid

The artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi ballet could lose his eyesight after an attacker threw acid in his face. Sergei Filin had been receiving threats for months, the theatre's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, said. His emails have been hacked and his tyres slashed. MORE

USA: Obama's plea to Cameron over EU

President Barack Obama dealt David Cameron's Europe strategy yet another blow when he asked him not to sanction Britain's exit from the EU. The intervention came before the Prime Minister was due to make his landmark speech on Europe – which was postponed. MORE

USA: Prisoners claim £690m in tax rebates

American prisoners filed more than 173,000 fraudulent tax returns with the US Internal Revenue Service last year, with offenders claiming $1.1bn (£690m) in rebates from behind bars, it has emerged. The ruse was detected by the IRS, which blocked a total of $2.1bn in fraudulent refunds in 2012.

USA: Top intelligence official helped film

The director and screenwriter behind the film Zero Dark Thirty, about the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, were given a meeting with America's highest-ranking civilian intelligence official. Michael Vickers is said to have chatted with Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal. MORE

Sweden: Train cleaner's hijack case dropped

Swedish authorities have dropped an investigation against a woman suspected of stealing a commuter train, after investigators said she probably started the train by accident while cleaning it at a depot. The train jumped off the tracks and crashed into a three-story building.

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