The News Matrix: Thursday 15 March 2012


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Neville Thurlbeck arrested again

Police investigating the News of the World phone-hacking scandal have arrested the former chief reporter of the now-defunct tabloid for a second time. Neville Thurlbeck, 51, was detained by appointment by police in London on suspicion of attempting to intimidate a witness. MORE

Imran Khan snubs Salman Rushdie

Imran Khan, the cricketer-cum-politician, yesterday withdrew as the keynote speaker at a media conference in India after learning that the author Salman Rushdie was also to appear at the event. Mr Khan said that the writer had "caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims". MORE

Literacy standards are falling in Britain

Levels of literacy in Britain are falling further behind other developed nations, the chief inspector of the schools watchdog Ofsted will warn today. Sir Michael Wilshaw will say that one in five children do not reach the expected standard of literacy by the end of primary school. MORE

Rebel leader guilty of war crimes

After six years of hearings and £600m of funding, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has delivered its first conviction and found the former rebel leader Thomas Lubanga guilty of war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ruling was hailed as a landmark. MORE

Assad's emails released by hackers

Emails by Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his British-born wife, Asma have been hacked into and released by opposition groups. The messages vary from advice on a speech to orders for luxury goods. MORE

Inquiry into horror coach crash begins

An investigation into how a Belgian bus came to crash into the wall of a tunnel in Switzerland , killing 22 children and six adults, was under way last night. More than half the occupants of the coach died in the horrific accident, which occurred on Tuesday night. One official described the scene of the crash as looking "like a war". MORE

UK rating is at risk from downgrading

Britain's triple-A credit rating is increasingly at risk, a leading agency indicated, as it downgraded the economy's outlook from stable to negative. Fitch said it was more likely than not the UK would lose its rating given its limited ability to absorb shocks from the eurozone crisis.

Gingrich defiant in wake of losses

Newt Gingrich resisted growing demands to drop out of the Republican presidential race yesterday, after his fellow conservative Rick Santorum took victories in Mr Gingrich's political home region, Alabama and Mississippi. MORE

Prince Harry wishes he was 'normal'

Prince Harry has claimed being a member of the royal family has made him unlucky in love. In a recent interview he was asked if royalty lived up to the fairytale. "No, not at all," he said, "As any girl would ever tell you." He said he and his brother William often wish they were "completely normal".

Salem witch trials document up for sale

A document from the Salem witch trials is expected to fetch as much as $35,000 (£22,000) when it is put up for sale today. The original court indictment of Margaret Scott, a Rowley widow in her 70s and one of the last people hanged during the 1692 hysteria in colonial Massachusetts, is part of a private collection. AP

Edinburgh Festival goes big on the Bard

Extra funding has helped the Edinburgh International Festival put on three big theatre shows for its 2012 programme including a multimedia production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. This year the festival is partnered with the Olympic Games, leading to a rise in sponsor donations and income from public sector bodies.

Robotic foursome's endurance swim

Four robots have swum almost 6,000km across the Pacific Ocean, setting a new distance world record. The PacX Wave Gliders were built by a US firm in the hope of collecting data on water acidity and fish stocks. Their voyage from San Francisco to Hawaii took four months.

White Cliffs of Dover collapse

Tonnes of chalk from the White Cliffs of Dover has fallen into the English Channel. No one was injured at the incident in Crab Bay, Kent. It is thought the fall was due to rainwater freezing then expanding.

Ground control, we have a strange smell

Passengers on a Pluna airlines flight in Uruguay had to be evacuated twice on the same trip yesterday. First their international flight from Montevideo was cancelled because of a technical problem. Then the pilot of a replacement plane aborted his takeoff because of a strange smell. AP

Children identify alcohol over food

Children as young as 10 are more familiar with top alcohol brands than popular foods and snacks, according to Alcohol Concern. Almost eight out of 10 recognised Carlsberg and Smirnoff vodka as alcoholic drinks, but just 74 per cent knew that Ben & Jerry's ice cream was a food.

Heart attacks 'did not spike' after the crash

The 2008 stock market crash caused a lot of stress – but did not trigger a spike in heart attacks, according to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology. The findings contrast with an earlier study from Shanghai, in which the financial crisis was tied to a sudden rise in deaths.

Third horse dies on Hoffman film set

Cable channel HBO has suspended the use of horses on the set of Dustin Hoffman's TV series Luck after the death of a third horse. The animal was put down after it reared, fell over, and hit its head. MORE