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The News Matrix: Thursday 25 July 2013

Independent schools will drop AS-levels

Independent schools will ditch the AS-level exam if Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, goes ahead with his controversial reforms. In a poll of 320 leading independent schools, only about 15 per cent think the exam will still be valuable for pupils if the reforms are introduced in September 2015. The AS-level will be purely a standalone exam, taken alongside A-levels. MORE

HIV rate rises among gay men in London

The rate of HIV among gay men in London is on the rise, with sexual-health workers warning of a link between drug use and the spread of the virus. Figures show a 20 per cent rise in infections in 2012, with charities warning that HIV still poses a serious issue for public health. MORE

Asylum-seekers 'tortured and raped'

Within days of Australia announcing that asylum-seekers who arrive by boat will be resettled in Papua New Guinea, claims have emerged of rape, torture and suicide attempts at a detention centre on Manus Island. The Immigration Minister said he would visit to investigate. MORE

Legal abortion will end 'great cruelty'

Ireland's justice minister Alan Shatter has said the country must end the "great cruelty" that requires women by law to give birth to babies who are conceived during rape or have fatal genetic defects, as the head of state was considering whether to sign the country's first-ever bill on abortion.

Fukushima disaster bill will top $50bn

Researchers say the cost of cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear disaster could top $50bn, four times the amount estimated by the government. The figure does not include compensation or the multi-billion-dollar price tag for decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Gordon 77... Football results 40

James Alexander Gordon, who has read the Saturday afternoon football scores for the past 40 years, is to retire. Gordon, 77, left, has decided that his voice is not strong enough after losing his larynx to cancer.

Man fined for calling president 'stupid'

A court in the city of Mzuzu, Malawi has convicted a 37-year-old man for calling President Joyce Banda "stupid" and a "failure". Japhet Chirwa pleaded guilty to the single charge of "conduct likely to cause breach of the peace". Magistrate Lillian Munthali found Chirwa guilty and fined him around £35.

Court computer was auctioned on eBay

A court computer server containing hundreds of thousands of files with sensitive personal information was put up for sale on eBay. The Information Commissioner's Office has been investigating the security breach at Salford magistrates' court after being alerted to the theft of the device in June 2012.

Stranded group's SOS message worked

Seven daytrippers stranded on a beach were saved when a walker on a cliff spotted their SOS message "Send for help" written in the sand. The four adults and three children had sailed around Stepper Point in Cornwall to Butter Hole for a picnic. When the tide came in they were trapped by 2m-high waves.

'Stupid' river stunt could cost $25,000

A man who wanted to prove he could swim across the Detroit river from Canada to the US after a night of drinking faces a fine of up to $25,000 (£16,000) for swimming in a shipping channel. John Morillo, who had to be rescued by two boats and a helicopter, admitted that the idea had been "really stupid".

Escaped hippo is finally captured

A young male hippo who eluded capture for weeks by setting up home in a sewage-treatment works after escaping from a nature reserve has finally been detained and taken to a private game reserve near Cape Town. It took 90 minutes for conservationists to coax the rogue hippo into a crate, to transport it to its new home.

BMW driver took 'carpooling' literally

Police in the eastern town of Eibenstock are investigating whether the driver of a BMW broke the law by converting it into a swimming pool on wheels. When an officer stopped the car, two young men were sitting inside in swimming costumes. The car had one working gear, and could travel at 25km per hour (15.5 mph).

Jane Austen is face of new tenner

A new set of faces will appear on English banknotes from 2016, with Jane Austen replacing Charles Darwin on the tenner. The decision to use the novelist was made after equality campaigners petitioned that the removal of Elizabeth Fry from the £5 note would mean only men were represented. MORE

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