The News Matrix: Saturday 20 December 2014

 

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The Independent Online

Thames cable car has no regular users

The number of commuters who regularly use a £60m cable car across the Thames, opened in 2012, has been found to stand at zero. The Emirates Air Line, linking the Greenwich peninsula with the Royal Docks, was opened to much fanfare.

Former CEO arrested in Dragon firm probe

A second arrest has been made over an alleged multi-million-pound fraud at Dragon’s Den’s Duncan Bannatyne’s business empire. The arrest of Graham Armstrong, 43, once chief executive, follows that of finance director Christopher Watson, 45, last week.

250 illegal exotic animals seized

Authorities have seized some 250 exotic animals they say were  bound to be sold illegally on the island. The animals seized include a pink tarantula, an albino python, several red-eyed frogs and 242 aquatic turtles. Some of the animals died in transit after being shipped from Miami.

Quangoes to spend thousands on parties

Three health quangos expect to spend more than £7,400 of taxpayers’ cash on Christmas parties, official figures show. Regulator Monitor’s £4,695.50 earmarked for parties was the highest among the figures provided by Health Minister Dan Poulter.

Russians beat rouble fall-out in London

Wealthy Russians in London are buying up jewellery, art and diamonds to protect their riches. Investments in luxury items have shot up in the wake of Russian currency’s troubles, as the goods are priced on the global markets in pounds, dollars and euros.

Miliband ‘doesn’t care’ about Wales

Ed Miliband “doesn’t give a toss” about Wales because Labour has become “elitist” and “metropolitan”, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has claimed. Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith defended Mr Miliband, saying the problem was the “cost of living crisis” caused by the Tories.

77 dead as military hit back at Taliban

The Pakistani military has hit  back, three days after the massacre of 132 schoolchildren, one of the country’s biggest tragedies at the hands of the Taliban. Jets hit militant targets as troops fought on the ground, reportedly killing 77.

Former aide to PM pleads not guilty

A former aide to David Cameron has pleaded not guilty at Southwark Crown Court to child indecency offences. Patrick Rock, 63, who was deputy head of the PM’s policy unit, denies six counts of making indecent photographs and one of possessing indecent images of children.

Phelps pleads guilty to drink driving

The Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps pleaded guilty to drink driving yesterday, almost three months after he was arrested leaving a Baltimore casino. Police say Phelps, 29, registered almost double the legal blood alcohol limit. He was sentenced to a year in prison, suspended.

Home Office ‘run as rogue department’

The Home Office is being run as a rogue department, senior Government sources have told the i. Home Secretary Theresa May is wilfully ignoring instructions from Downing Street and allowing her advisers to engage in feuds with David Cameron’s officials.

Activists ‘damaged Nazca lines’

A prosecutor is investigating the suspected involvement of a Greenpeace activist in a stunt that allegedly damaged the Nazca lines. Authorities said the site was damaged when activists sneaked in on 8 December to coincide with a UN conference on climate change.

Gas firms urged to provide free alarms

Gas companies should give free carbon monoxide alarms to all households, councils have said. Carbon monoxide, which is hard to detect as it has no smell, taste or colour, kills 40 people a year and can be emitted by wrongly installed appliances and blocked chimneys.

Human taxidermist to open museum

Human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens is set open a museum in Berlin after a judge ruled over objections. Judge Björn Schaefer ruled that Dr von Hagens’ technique of preserving bodies, called “plastination”, means they are not legally “human remains”.

White Christmas? Dream on...

A white Christmas across the UK is looking unlikely for now, but severe weather warnings are in place over the weekend. Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson  said that any snow that falls  would be restricted to high ground in the north.

Chocolate-loving monkey captured

French authorities have caught a chocolate-loving monkey that had been terrorising Marseille residents for a week. It had been living off chocolates given by children, according to local media, but had also scratched children when it broke into a school. The monkey is to be sent to a local zoo.

Magistrate quits after googling own case

A magistrate in Australia has resigned after she was taken off a case because she googled the accused. Magistrate Barbara Lane, 59, told the defendants during the trial that she had “googled them”.  “I thought that would be useful,” she reportedly told the court.

Hart and soul: area tops life quality poll

The tranquil district of Hart, in north-east Hampshire, has been named as the place with the best quality of life in the UK for the fourth year in a row. Elmbridge, in Surrey, came second on the annual “top 50” list compiled by Halifax.

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