The News Matrix: Thursday 17 March 2011

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The Independent Online

UK unemployment surges above 2.5m

Unemployment has risen to more than 2.5 million, its highest since the early 1990s, with the rate of youth unemployment soaring to a 20-year plus peak. Female unemployment, at just over 1 million, is now at its highest level since 1988. MORE

Cuts hit hardest at newer universities

All bar one of England’s 130 universities have had their spending slashed for the next academic year. Hardest hit by the funding cut were the newer universities, while institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge escaped lightly. MORE

Breakthrough in Parkinson’s research

New research has proven for the first time that gene therapy is an effective treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. Scientists say the advance demonstrated that the therapy could also work in a range of neurological disorders. MORE

‘Blood money’ deal frees US agent

An American spy who killed two Pakistanis in Lahore has been freed after paying “blood money” to the families of his victims. Raymond Davis, who was in the country without permission, was flown back to the US last night. MORE

120 arrests made in paedophile swoop

More than 120 people aged from 17 to 82 have been arrested in Britain as part of a massive global child abuse investigation. The probe, which has run for more than three years, saw 670 people targeted across the globe. MORE

Georgia seizes out of date execution drugs

Georgia has seized drugs used in lethal executions over claims that supplies of sodium thiopental may be out of date, or fake. The Southern Centre for Human Rights says one supplier of the chemicals was Dream Pharma, from London. MORE

PM Silvio Berlusconi ‘paid for sex 13 times’

Prosecutors in Italy say that Silvio Berlusconi paid for sex with Karima “Ruby” El Mahroug 13 times last year, in a report published ahead of the Italian prime minister’s trial for paying for sex with a minor, and corruption. Mr Berlusconi said: “I’m 75 years old and although I’m naughty, 33 girls in two months seems a bit much even for a 30-year-old.” MORE

Christchurch loses out as rugby host

After last month’s earthquake, the people of Christchurch received more bad news yesterday. Officials stripped the city of its 2011 Rugby World Cup matches over fears it will not recover in time. MORE

Bryan Robson has throat cancer op

The former England captain Bryan Robson has undergone surgery in Thailand for throat cancer. He is in Bangkok coaching the Thai national team. Consultants are relatively optimistic about his prospects of recovery. MORE

Calls for shadow minister to resign

The Labour shadow Work and Pensions minister Karen Buck was facing calls for her dismissal after she was recorded saying that the Government “don’t want black women, ethnic minority women and Muslim women living in central London”.

NI may be absorbed into income tax

Income tax and national insurance could be merged to simplify the tax system. Abolishing NI could be seen as a tax hike, taking the basic rate from 20p to 32p and the higher rate from 40p to 52p in the pound. MORE

Vevo online video site to cross the pond

The world’s leading online music video site plans to launch in the UK in the next few weeks. Vevo, which launched in the US two years ago, carries 30,000 music videos which are syndicated to sites such as YouTube on a free-to-view basis.

FarmVille recreates English countryside

The Facebook game FarmVille, whose 45 million players around the world create virtual farms, has a new level recreating the English countryside, featuring redcurrants, King Edward potatoes, cottages, traditional police call boxes, Shorthorn cows, Shire horses and Dorking chickens.

Bank robber held after bus getaway

Police in Ohio say a man robbed a bank and then tried to flee on board a bus, where officers eventually caught up with him. Dayton police said the suspect got away with cash from a KeyBank branch yesterday. Officers followed the route of the bus and pulled it over less than a mile away.

Facebook bans Zuckerberg dolls

Lawyers have stopped the manufacture of dolls designed to look like Facebook’s founder. A Chinese company, MIC Gadget, was selling the dolls for $69.90 (£43.68) but was ordered to stop and issued an apology after Facebook said it had infringed Mr Zuckerberg’s rights.

Feeling like a million dollars is not enough

A million dollars ain’t what it used to be. More than four out of 10 American millionaires say they do not feel rich. Indeed, many would need to have at least $7.5m (£4.7m) in order to feel they were truly wealthy, according to a Fidelity Investments survey.

‘Archers’ gets its own spin-off show

The Archers is to get a spin-off show, to be called Ambridge Extra, which will delve into the lives of the fictional village’s more obscure inhabitants. It will air on the new digital station Radio 4 Extra. MORE

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