The News Matrix: Saturday 31 December 2011


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The Independent Online

Poll lead sees Tories end 2011 on a high

The Conservatives have moved ahead of Labour in the polls for the first time in 14 months. An average of this month's polls shows the Tories on 39 per cent, Labour on 38 and the Liberal Democrats on 12. At the beginning of this year, Labour held a seven-point advantage. MORE

Tube drivers call off planned strikes

Tube drivers have called off planned stoppages for 16 January and 3 and 13 February after talks between London Underground and the Aslef union paved the way for "meaningful" discussions next week to solve a long-running dispute over working on Boxing Day.

Beijing aims to put man on the moon

China has released plans for a five-year space programme, ambitions which reflect those of the US more than 40 decades ago, and have similar goals. Details of the programme include building space labs, launching high-tech satellites and putting an astronaut on the moon. MORE

2011 second warmest year on record

Despite a cool, damp summer in many regions across the UK, 2011 has been the second warmest year on record. The Met Office said that unusually warm spring and autumn months lifted the mean temperature to 49.3F, a fraction cooler than a record high of 49.5F in 2006. MORE

Kurds buried after air strike 'mistake'

Thousands of mourners attended the funerals of some of the 35 Turkish Kurds killed in a Turkish air strike, an "unfortunate" mistake, according to the government. The coffins draped in the red, yellow and green Kurdish colours were carried to mountain graves near the Iraq border.

Islamic militants kill four in mosque blast

A blast near a mosque in the restive north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri killed four people yesterday, according to witnesses. The incident was blamed on the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, which attacked several churches on Christmas Day, killing at least 42 people.

Lawrence trial jury – verdicts in New Year

The jury in the Stephen Lawrence murder trial has failed to reach verdicts on Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, who are accused of stabbing the teenager in a racist attack in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993. Jurors will continue their deliberations on Tuesday.  MORE

Man, 28, held over death of baby girl

Police are investigating the death of a 10-month-old girl who died after being admitted to hospital on Boxing Day. Devon and Cornwall Police said they had arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of GBH in connection with the "unexplained" death of the infant in Ottery St Mary, Devon. MORE

Family heard of son's death on Facebook

A police chief has apologised to the family of 23-year-old Anuj Bidve, who was shot dead in Salford on Boxing Day. Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said the student's father, Subhash Bidve, read about the "despicable" murder on Facebook before he was contacted by police.  MORE

Scheme gives more choice on doctors

Patients will have greater freedom to choose which GP practice to register with, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced yesterday. A year-long trial will run in London, Manchester and Nottingham from April. It could benefit commuters who want a doctor nearer to work. MORE

US sells 84 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia

The US has signed a $29.4bn (£19bn) deal to sell 84 F-15SA fighter jets to Saudi Arabia as tension with Iran mounts in the Gulf. The deal is the priciest US arms sale to a foreign country, dwarfing previous sales to Saudi Arabia, for years the biggest buyer for American arms.

Thousands demand Saleh faces trial

Tens of thousands of protesters demanded their president face trial for the killings of protesters in the pro-democracy uprising. President Ali Abdullah Saleh has signed a deal that gives him immunity from prosecution if he steps down, but activists oppose the deal.

UN troops try to stop 'cattle clashes'

The United Nations has sent troops to South Sudan to quell inter-ethnic "cattle clashes". They arrived as about 6,000 men from the Lou Nuer group marched through the state burning homes and seizing cattle. Tens of thousands from the rival Murle community fled their homes.

Three out of four will stay in for Hogmanay

Three in four people are spending New Year's Eve at home rather than heading out to celebrate, according to a Post Office survey. The cost was cited in the poll of more than 2,000 adults. However, the average spend on a night in (£95) dwarfs the £48 it costs to dine out.

Thieves overcome by festive remorse

A sack of presents stolen from a Father Christmas in Rome has been returned, along with a written apology after the victim made an impassioned plea. "We're sorry. We made a mistake. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" read the apologetic note left with the presents, still in their wrapping paper, that were pinched on Christmas Eve.

Phrases that made university blacklist

"Baby bump", "occupy", "amazing" and the "new normal" are among phrases nominated for banning in Michigan's Lake Superior State University yearly list. The university had nominations from across the globe for its yearly List of Words Banished from the Queen's English.

Man called 999 over defrosting turkey

A man dialled 999 to ask Greater Manchester Police how long it would take to defrost his Christmas turkey. The disgruntled call handler told the man that they would arrange to have his phone blocked before asking if he had a "genuine emergency". The man replied: "It is an emergency."

Lookalike mourns death of his career

Kim Jong-Il's death could spell the end of an illustrious career for the dictator's leading look-alike. Kim Young-Sik, below, a star of Japanese TV, said: "People try to comfort me, saying some figures are more famous when they're dead, but I don't think it will be the case with Kim."