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The News Matrix: Thursday 11 October 2012


Fighter jets force down Syrian plane

Fighter planes were scrambled yesterday to force a Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to land in Ankara. Some Turkish media reports said the plane had been forced to land because it was suspected of carrying weapons to Syria. Tensions between Turkey and Syria are running high, after recent gunfire and shelling from northern Syria across the border.

Fury over Facebook tax avoidance

Facebook has been accused of "disingenuous and immoral" tax avoidance after an analysis of its UK business suggested that it paid just £238,000 in corporation tax last year. Facebook is able to avoid paying millions in tax by diverting most of its sales through Ireland. MORE

Obama attacked over deaths in Benghazi

Republicans yesterday attacked the Obama administration over its handling of the assault on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, saying at a hearing on Capitol Hill that officials failed to heed security warnings. MORE

Watchdog launches exam marks inquiry

Ofqual is to mount an investigation into A-level and GCSE marking following claims from independent school heads that up to one in four papers is incorrectly marked every year. The move was announced after a report highlighted "shocking failings" in the marking system. MORE

One Pussy Rioter is released from jail

A Moscow appeal court has freed one member of the punk group Pussy Riot, but has ruled that the other two women must complete the remainder of their two-year prison sentences. Yekaterina Samutsevich had her term commuted to a suspended sentence. MORE

Briton held over Syria kidnapping

Two Britons, one believed to be an NHS doctor, have been detained as they flew into Heathrow from Egypt. They are being questioned, it is believed, over suspected terrorist activities including the kidnapping of a British and a Dutch photographer in Syria.

Teenage activist still in critical condition

Doctors have removed a bullet from the head of activist Malala Yousafzai, 14, who was shot by the Taliban, but must wait before deciding whether she needs to go abroad for specialist treatment.

Rapist's whole life term 'was wrong'

A serial rapist who terrorised elderly women in a London suburb for more than a decade should not have been sentenced to a "whole life" tariff, prosecutors admitted yesterday. Jailing Michael Roberts without prospect of release was "wrong in principle", they said. MORE

BBC to say sorry for role in Savile abuse

The BBC Director-General George Entwistle will be required to make an on-screen apology for the corporation's role in facilitating Sir Jimmy Savile's predatory abuse of young girls. Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman, confirmed the intervention as inquiries continue. MORE

Biden and Ryan go head-to-head

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will square off tonight in a vice-presidential debate that offers Democrats a chance to regain momentum after President Obama's limp showing last week. Polls show Mitt Romney has wiped out Mr Obama's previous lead. MORE

Immigration curbs hit overseas students

Overseas students are spurning the UK's top universities because of immigration curbs. For some courses at universities in the Russell Group, which includes Oxbridge, applications from Indian students have dropped by 30 per cent. MORE

Bambi bandits cost Yeovil farmer deer

A police investigation has been launched after six large deer were stolen from a farm near Yeovil, Somerset, some time between Thursday and Friday last week. It is believed the thieves cut a gap in the boundary fence, allowing the animals to be transported away.

Kids taught how to make petrol bombs

A Tunisian children's magazine is to face prosecution for telling its young readers how to make a petrol bomb. Qaws Quzah featured the history of petrol bombs in its "Knowledge Corner", including detailed instructions and a diagram. The magazine is aimed at boys and girls aged 5 to 15.

Pope reaches out to the Middle East

Arabic made its debut as one of the official languages at Pope Benedict's weekly audiences yesterday as part of a Vatican attempt to reach out more to Christians in the Middle East. They now comprise five per cent of the population of the region, down from 20 per cent a century ago.

Giant star weaves strange red spiral

A stunning image of a spiral shell of cosmic dust and gas around a red giant star has been captured by astronomers 5,000m above sea level in the Chilean Andes using the world's highest terrestrial telescope. The ALMA has 66 antennas, each the size of a house.

Medics win Nobel chemistry prize

Two US doctors have won the Nobel prize in chemistry for their work on hormones. Professor Robert Lefkowitz, from Duke University, and Professor Brian Kobilka, from Stanford University, identified a group of cell molecules that allow hormones and drugs to alter body function.

Search on for culprit in macaque attack

Officials in Florida are hot on the tail of a monkey on the rampage in the Tampa Bay area. The wild rhesus macaque – which has a Facebook page and has been featured on TV chat shows – bit a woman in St Petersburg. Officials believe the monkey was cast out of a colony in a zoo.

Minister lays down law for holiday

Ahead of tomorrow's Independence Day, Interior Minister Engonga Nguema Onguene has said: "To ensure the smooth running of the national holiday... using mobile phones, wearing cropped trousers and flip-flops, carrying knives and drinking alcoholic beverages are banned."

A million homes taking in lodgers

The number of people taking in lodgers has doubled to almost a million this year as home-owners seek to boost their income, according to new research. In a study of 2,000 adults, a third of them said they were renting out rooms for financial reasons.