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The News Matrix: Saturday 7 April 2012

Troops go on attack ahead of ceasefire

Syrian troops shelled suburbs of Damascus yesterday and sent tanks and snipers to attack rebels in a bid to crush pockets of opposition before an internationally sponsored cease-fire begins. The numbers fleeing to neighbouring Turkey have risen considerably in the past fortnight. MORE

Santorum battles to stay in the race

The Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum has been in discussions with supporters about how to rescue his campaign and unite conservatives behind his cause to defeat Mitt Romney. Yet Santorum looks unlikely to win even his home state, Pennsylvania. MORE

Met leaders blamed for endemic racism

Racism is endemic in Scotland Yard, a former member of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry panel has alleged. In a letter to Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, Dr Richard Stone said officers "have no fear of being reported" and that the blame for racism lies with senior officers. MORE

Christians mark Christ's crucifixion

Roman Catholics and Protestants commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus yesterday in Jerusalem's Old City. Meanwhile the Israeli army closed the West Bank border for the first two days of the Passover holiday. No Palestinians are allowed to cross into Israel except for medical care.

Man arrested over teenager's death

Police in Sussex have arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of murdering a 17-year-old boy found stabbed to death near a pub in Hastings. The teenager, named by locals as Jacob Woudstra, was attacked on Thursday. Another man, aged 41, is currently being held in custody over the attack.

President Mutharika dies at the age of 78

President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi has died after a heart attack, it was announced yesterday, although few of his countrymen mourned a leader widely seen as an autocrat responsible for a stunning economic collapse. The 78-year-old collapsed and died on Thursday. MORE

Navy jet crash leaves everyone unscathed

A US F/A-18 Hornet navy jet crashed in Virginia yesterday, with the two pilots aboard believed to have ejected safely before the impact. A picture from the scene, above, showed black smoke billowing from near some buildings but there were no reports of any injuries on the ground.

Clegg warned over 'Big Brother' plan

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has been warned he could destroy his party's identity if he backs the Government's controversial "Big Brother" plans on internet surveillance. More than 150 Liberal Democrats signed a protest letter to the party's president Tim Farron. MORE

Shops banned from showing cigarettes

A ban on displaying cigarettes and tobacco products in large shops and supermarkets has come into force in England, a move intended to discourage young people from taking up the habit. The Health Secretary said he wanted to ensure that "we no longer see smoking as a part of life".

Committee warned over challenges

Members of the Commons select committee into phone hacking have been reportedly warned that challenging News International witnesses could lead to the collapse of a trial. James Murdoch's resignation from BSkyB has prompted speculation that he would receive a severe rebuke in the report.

Fabrice Muamba celebrates birthday

Footballer Fabrice Muamba was said to be making "strong and steady improvements" as he celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday. The Bolton Wanderers midfielder collapsed during an FA cup tie with Tottenham on March 17 after suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch.

Jail term for arms dealer Bout 'biased'

Moscow declared the US conviction of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as both the "Merchant of Death" and "Lord of War", a "groundless and biased" decision yesterday, following his 25-year prison sentence. The Kremlin maintains he is a victim of a smear campaign. MORE

Tuareg rebels declare north independent

Mali's Tuareg rebels, who seized control of the country's northern regions in the aftermath of a coup, declared their Azawad region an independent nation yesterday. Military chiefs from Mali's neighbours met yesterday to decide how to defeat the rebels and restore constitutional rule. MORE

Nicole Kidman to play Grace Kelly

The Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman is in talks to play Grace Kelly in a film helmed by Olivier Dahan, the director of the Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose. The film featured on a 2011 "Black List" of the best scripts circulating in Hollywood, and competition for the coveted lead role is thought to have been fierce. It will be set in 1962.

Wyoming town sold for $900,000

The town of Buford , Wyoming – population, 1 – has been sold for $900,000 (£570,000) to an unidentified buyer from Vietnam after an 11-minute internet auction. The tiny Western town attracted bidders from 46 countries for the sale of 10-plus acres (4 hectares) with a convenience store, gas station and house.

Russia fills Nasa's gap in Mars mission

Russia will join the European Space Agency to launch a mission to Mars to sample dirt for signs of life, stepping in after Nasa pulled out, the Russian space agency said yesterday. Despite describing the $1.3bn ExoMars project as the "Holy Grail of Mars exploration", Nasa abandoned it in February due to budget restrictions.

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