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The News Matrix: Saturday 7 December 2013

Pickles unveils parking fine reforms

A crackdown on councils profiteering from parking fines was announced last night by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary. Ministers are also considering outlawing the use of CCTV cameras and allowing motorists a "grace period" before they are fined.

Prince Charles visits helicopter crash pub

The Prince of Wales has visited the Clutha bar in Glasgow, the site of a police helicopter crash which killed nine people. Prince Charles met members of the emergency services and was told about the complex rescue operation before later signing a book of condolence.

Hobbit weather is like Leicestershire's

Scientists have identified weather conditions in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings – with the Shire found to be like Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. They used a climate model similar to those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to investigate Middle Earth.

Commercial streets hit by bomb attacks

Two separate bombings targeting commercial streets in Baghdad killed five people yesterday. Police officials said a bomb went off on Friday night in the western district of Ghazaliyah, killing two people. Later, three people were killed in a bomb blast in a northeastern suburb.

Jordan elected to Security Council

The UN General Assembly elected Jordan to the Security Council seat turned down by Saudi Arabia. Jordan was elected to the two-year term with 178 "yes" votes in the 193-member assembly yesterday. Saudi Arabia stunned the diplomatic world when it rejected its seat in October.

Life term for Marine who killed captive

A Royal Marine who was caught on helmet-camera killing an injured Taliban captive was jailed for life yesterday. Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 39, was told he had disgraced the armed forces by murdering the Afghan fighter and had put other soldiers' lives at risk. MORE

Porpoises move in to central London

A pod of porpoises has swum up the River Thames to central London. The Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit tweeted that they "seem happy enough". Initially the team reported a dolphin sighting at Tower Bridge but later discovered the creatures to be harbour porpoises.

Radcliffe and Grint on awards shortlist

Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint have been nominated for prestigious What's On Stage theatre awards – Radcliffe for best actor for his role in The Cripple of Inishmaan, Grint for newcomer of the year after his stage debut in a revival of Jez Butterworth's Mojo.

Tory MPs accused of sexist 'gesticulating'

Tory MPs have been accused of making sexist gestures while female opponents are speaking in the House of Commons. Labour MP Sarah Champion told BBC Radio Sheffield of an "insidious" culture in which "some Tories are very good at gesticulating about females' assets".

Stan Tracey, jazz great, dies aged 86

British jazz pianist Stan Tracey has died aged 86. Tracey, whose career spanned 70 years, was widely acknowledged as one of the greats in his field. The winner of the first Ivor Novello award for jazz in 2012 made numerous recordings and was resident pianist at Ronnie Scott's jazz club from 1959-66.

Apple co-founder passed up billions

Ron Wayne was the third man in the room on the day Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple Computers. If he hadn't quit 12 days later, he could be worth more than $50bn. "I didn't want to spend the next 20 years shuffling papers," he said of his decision to quit Apple. MORE

Donor offers $5m to protect Detroit art

A local entrepreneur has offered to donate $5m to help protect the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts from being sold as part of the city's bankruptcy. A Paul Schaap told the Detroit Free Press he was planning to meet government officials to discuss the donation.

Elton John gigs in Russia to go ahead

Two Elton John shows "will go ahead as planned" despite concerns over Russia's stance on gay rights. In June, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the "propaganda of homosexuality" to minors. Sir Elton vowed to raise the issue at the sold-out concert in Moscow.

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A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried