The News Matrix: Saturday 3 September 2011

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The Independent Online

Brown challenges ‘Sunday Times’

Gordon Brown has sent tapes to the Metropolitan Police which challenge The Sunday Times’s assurance it broke no laws when investigating his financial affairs. The tapes allegedly include evidence a private investigator impersonated him in a call to Abbey National. MORE

Hospital deaths nurse case dropped

Prosecutors investigating the deaths of patients whose saline medical bags were contaminated have dropped charges against the nurse arrested in connection with the deaths. Rebecca Leighton, 27, was released after prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence for the case to go ahead. MORE

UN warns of water and food shortages

United Nations officials warned yesterday that Libya faced critical shortages of food and drinking water. While fighting has subsided in much of the country, the six-month civil war had disrupted supply lines and damaged infrastructure, leaving many people in need of help.

Two held in online hacking inquiry

Two men who are allegedly members of the online activism groups Anonymous and LulzSec have been arrested in a joint investigation by British police and the FBI. The Metropolitan Police confirmed the arrests of two men, aged 24 and 20, who are suspected of computer hacking.

Turkey expels the Israeli ambassador

Turkey has expelled the Israeli ambassador and is cutting military ties over Israel’s refusal to apologise for last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine people. The move came before the publication of a UN report on a Gaza-bound protest flotilla, when eight Turks died. MORE

Censors cut essay by dissident artist Ai

Chinese censors have removed pages of Newsweek magazine containing an essay by Ai Weiwei in which the country’s most famous dissenting artist slams the repressive environment in Beijing. “Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare,” Mr Ai writes. MORE

Prime minister puts on her flak jacket

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was firmly on the defensive yesterday, as newspapers reported rifts in the government ranks and she tried to recover from a High Court ruling that scuttled the government’s plan to send 800 asylum seekers to Kuala Lumpur. MORE

EU imposes oil ban to squeeze Assad

The European Union imposed a blanket ban on Syrian oil imports yesterday, but faced accusations that its embargo would still allow oil companies to fund the Assad regime into the New Year. The ban is designed to cut off one of the regime’s main sources of income. MORE

Fewer people using narcotics – survey

The number of heroin and crack cocaine users is down and the average age of users is rising, according to researchers. A survey by the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow found that there were 25,000 fewer addicts in 2009-10 than six years ago. MORE

Obama relinquishes air quality plans

President Barack Obama is giving up on his plans to impose stricter air quality regulations for fear it would add to the country's economic woes. The move waves the white flag to the business lobby and to Republicans who had vowed to make the ozone rule a litmus-test issue in 2012. MORE

BBC ‘bowed to the drug industry’

The BBC has been accused of bowing to pharmaceutical industry propaganda after an episode of medical drama Holby City featured an expensive drug that is widely regarded as “ineffective and unsafe”. Surgeons say Factor Vlla has no proven record of saving lives in trauma injuries. MORE

Fire at Ned Kelly judge’s old mansion

One day after officials identified the bones of 19th-century bank robber Ned Kelly, police announced that they are investigating a fire at a mansion once owned by the judge who sentenced him to death. There seems to be no link, but it is the latest in a series of Kelly mysteries.

Band’s lyrics are deemed not so Dire

Censors in Canada have lifted the ban on a Dire Straits song that features the word “faggot”. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) pulled the 1985 hit “Money For Nothing” in January. The ban was lifted after it later ruled that the word was used satirically.

Conservation boost for bittern numbers

One of the UK’s rarest birds – the bittern – has had its best year on record, with numbers of breeding males topping 100 for the first time since it came back from extinction. The RSPB said that the population increase was down to focused conservation efforts.

Woman loses leg after alligator attack

A 90-year-old woman’s leg had to be amputated after she was attacked by an alligator. Florida wildlife officials say an 8ft alligator lunged out of a canal and tried to drag Margaret Webb into the water, but a man helped to free her. Ms Webb remains in a critical condition.

Tower reaches new heights of approval

A much-maligned £19.6m steel sculpture in Stratford’s Olympic Park has an admirer. The ArcelorMittal Orbit tower, designed by Anish Kapoor, was dubbed “Meccano on crack”, but has now been called “a marvel of mathematics” by New Scientist magazine. MORE

Boy, 11, loses $50,000 prize

An 11-year-old who hit an ice hockey puck into a tiny hole from the rink’s centre-line 27m away has been denied $50,000 prize money by a firm that insured the event in Minnesota because his twin brother bought the ticket that allowed the buyer to take the shot. MORE

Professor ‘dealt drugs’ for biker gang

A Californian university professor believed to be the leader of a motorcycle gang has gone on the run after being charged with operating a methamphetamine drug ring. Stephen Kinzey, 43, of California State University, is wanted for supplying the banned stimulant to dealers. MORE

Students sent batty in Transylvania

There was no sign of Dracula, but students in Transylvania did get a visit from dozens of bats flapping through their classroom. The students at Csiky Gergely school in Arad city were about to take an exam yesterday morning when they found bats flying around the room.

South of England is a much better read

Nine in 10 of the UK’s most well-read towns are in the South of England, a study of book sales on amazon.co.uk has revealed. Huntingdon, in Cambridgeshire, carries the title of the country’s reading capital, while nearby university town Cambridge is second.

Lenny Henry debut at National Theatre

Lenny Henry will make his debut at the National Theatre in London later this year in William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. The comedian, who was acclaimed for his 2009 performance as Othello, will play Antipholus of Syracuse at the central London theatre in November.

No joke as comedian Davidson is banned

Comedian Jim Davidson has been banned from performing at a theatre for “rude and unacceptable behaviour”. Mr Davidson published an email from the chief executive of the Theatre Royal, Norwich, accusing him of rude behaviour, arguing over drinks and unacceptable personal comments.

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