Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

The News Matrix: Thursday 21 July 2011

Army pulls out of peaceful province

International military forces in Afghanistan yesterday handed over control of a peaceful Bamiyan province in the centre of the country to Afghan police, taking another step in a transition that will allow foreign troops to withdraw in full by the end of 2014. MORE

Brain-damaged woman shows ‘smile’

A “profoundly” brain-damaged woman who relatives say should be allowed to die sometimes displays a “bit of a smile” when carers tease her about men, the High Court heard. The 51-year-old woman sometimes made a different sound if carers joked about a man being good looking. MORE

Olympic velodrome favourite for prize

The shortlist for British architecture’s most prestigious award, the Stirling Prize, was announced yesterday, but the award is almost certain to go to the Olympic Velodrome, designed by Hopkins Architects. MORE

Number of new cancer cases rises

Almost 265,000 new cancer cases were registered in England in 2009 – a 20 per cent rise over the past decade, according to the Office for National Statistics. Skin cancer diagnoses doubled to nearly 10,000 – suggesting the message about sunbeds and sunburn is failing to get through. MORE

Briton died while taking on robbers

Tributes were paid to a British holidaymaker who took on a gang of robbers and was shot dead at a Margarita Island hotel in Venezuela on Monday. Thomas Ossel, 28, from Bedfordshire, was shot in the jaw, while his brother Jack was stabbed in the back but survived. MORE

Drought puts 3.7m at risk of starvation

The United Nations said yesterday that two regions of southern Somalia had been hit by the worst famine in the area for 20 years and that 3.7 million people in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation risked starvation. Years of drought have hit harvests and conflict has made it extremely difficult for aid agencies to operate. MORE

Last remaining war crimes suspect held

The last fugitive sought by the UN’s Balkan war crimes tribunal was seized yesterday in a remote mountain forest. Goran Hadzic, former leader of Croatia’s ethnic Serbs, had been secretly watched by Serbian secret police chasing a money trail that began with a photograph of a Modigliani painting. MORE

That’s a very Big Mac...

Fast-food chain McDonald’s is building its biggest-ever restaurant in London’s Olympic Park in time for the 2012 Games. The two-storey building will employ 470 people and seat 1,500.

Lions attack when moon is on the wane

A study of 500 lion attacks on Tanzanian villagers has shown that the predator is most likely to hunt and kill its victims on nights when the moon is not full. Lions use darkness to surprise their prey, and the majority of successful attacks took place between dusk and 10pm on nights when moonlight was waning.

Gervais looks to the heavens in new show

Ricky Gervais is following up The Office and Extras with a new sitcom about an atheist who dies and finds himself in heaven, called Afterlife. Gervais will work with Clyde Phillips, producer of the US serial killer series Dexter, which he said had been his “favourite show of the last five years”.

Spanish man guilty of $13bn Yukos theft

A Moscow court has convicted a Spanish citizen in absentia on charges of embezzling $13bn from a subsidiary of the now-defunct Yukos oil company. The conviction of Antonio Valdes-Garcia on Monday came despite imprisoned Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s testimony that he didn’t know of any such embezzlement.

Rogue leopard dies of knife wounds

A leopard that mauled 11 people in a fierce showdown with Indian villagers has died of knife wounds after being captured. The snarling adult male leopard leapt at locals and forest officials as they tried to drive it back toward a wildlife sanctuary in West Bengal state.