The News Matrix: Saturday 4 October 2014


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The Independent Online

Despairing father begs for son’s release

The elderly father of the British journalist being held hostage by Islamic State militants has made a plea from his hospital bed to have his son released. Paul Cantlie spoke of his family’s “despair and helplessness” after a video of their son John was posted online.

Father denies killing his young daughter

The father of a girl of six who died of head injuries has denied her murder. Ben Butler, 34, pleaded not guilty to killing Ellie Butler at the family home in Sutton, south-west London, last October. With Ellie’s mother Jennie Gray, 34, he also denied a charge of child cruelty.

President’s former guard convicted

A former bodyguard of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame was sentenced to life yesterday for plotting to kill the President, but he complained that he had been kidnapped and said he would appeal. Joel Mutabazi was also convicted of being an accomplice in grenade attacks that killed two people in a Kigali market.

Lib Dems pull out of Commissioner poll

The Lib Dems have followed up their pledge to scrap crime commissioners by not putting up a candidate for the vacant South Yorkshire post. Nominations closed today for the by-election triggered by the resignation of Shaun Wright in the wake of the Rotherham sexual abuse scandal.

Operation to recover stolen land begins

Officials have begun efforts to take over about 25,000 acres of land stolen by some of the country’s most notorious paramilitary groups. The man in charge of the operation,  Ricardo Sabogal, said 300 properties had been traced to the notorious Castano Gil brothers.

Arson condemned by McGuinness 

Martin McGuinness has called the suspected torching of an Orange hall in the Irish Republic disgusting – the second such attack in weeks. The Stormont Deputy First Minister said there was nothing political or republican about the apparent arson attack in Convoy, Co Donegal.

Divorce case wife’s 1,000 pairs of shoes

The estranged wife of a millionaire Laura Ashley boss told a judge she owned 1,000 pairs of shoes. Former beauty queen Pauline Chai, 67, said her collection had “added up” over the years. Ms Chai was giving evidence in  a divorce battle with estranged husband Khoo Kay Peng.

MI6 picks career spy as new boss

Alex Younger has been announced as the new head of MI6, codename C. Having successfully run the anti-terror operation surrounding the London 2012 Olympics, he was yesterday given the position of the country’s top spy, replacing Sir John Sawyers.

Hindu festival stampede kills 32

At least 32 people were killed in a stampede during a Hindu festival in the state of Bihar yesterday, most of them women, the state police chief said. A huge crowd had gathered at an outdoor venue in the state capital, Patna, for the burning of effigies at dusk, part of the Dussehra festival.

Tax cuts ‘before UK is back in black’

Top rate tax cuts will kick in before Britain is “back in the black”, the Prime Minister said yesterday. Speaking during a trip to Afghanistan, Mr Cameron said there was no need to eliminate the deficit before starting to raise the threshold in 2016.

UN peacekeepers killed in ambush

Men on motorbikes ambushed a convoy of UN peacekeepers in the north of the country yesterday, killing nine. It was the latest in a string of attacks on the peacekeeping force tasked with bringing stability to the West African country following a coup and jihadist offensive.

Melting ice caps ‘weaken gravity’

The ice in West Antarctica has melted in such huge quantities in recent years that it has weakened gravity in the region, the European Space Agency has said. The findings come from four years of research by the agency’s Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite.

Cobra may be reason behind missing cats

A king cobra may be behind the disappearance of a number of cats in a West Sussex town. After residents in East Grinstead reported a sharp increase in the number of cats that have vanished, Trevor Gamble, 49, came forward to say he had recently called 999 after seeing the serpent.

Hyenas have  the last laugh

A zoo in Japan has abandoned a four-year attempt to have two spotted hyenas mate and reproduce after both turned out to be male. The Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo said this week that it was given the animals as a “male and female couple” in 2010 from a zoo in South Korea.

Cannabis plant found growing wild

A cannabis plant has been found growing wild on a sandbank at the mouth of the River Doon, Ayr – and Max Coleman, of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh has said there could be more out there. It is thought the 2ft plant could have grown from a seed dropped by a bird.

Victoria’s secret? Bloomers up for sale

A pair of bloomers belonging to Queen Victoria are expected to fetch £2,000 at auction in Stamford, Kent, on 12 October. The 52-inch silk underwear is reportedly in very good condition having been kept folded neatly in a drawer for the past 75 years.

Cannibal bullfrogs invade US river

An invasion of American bullfrogs that eat almost anything, including each other, is spreading down Montana’s Yellowstone River posing a threat to native frogs. “They are going to eat anything they can fit into their mouths,” said Adam Sepulveda, co-author of a study on the bullfrogs.