The News Matrix: Thursday 26 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Truancy sees a dramatic rise

Record numbers of pupils skipped lessons last autumn, Department for Education figures reveal. The truancy rate rose to 1.04 per cent for the autumn term of 2010, an 11.8 per cent increase from 0.93 per cent for the same term in 2009.

Doctors ‘prescribing water’ for the elderly

A damning report from the Care Quality Commission Doctors of 12 NHS trusts found that doctors caring for elderly patients in hospital are being forced to prescribe water for them in order to ensure they have enough to drink. MORE

French minister vies to become IMF head

Christine Lagarde, the French Finance minister, is to seek the nomination to become next head of the International Monetary Fund, to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn. MORE

Flights resume as ash cloud dissipates

British Airline passengers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as a gap in the ash cloud from Iceland’s volcanic eruption allowed almost disruption-free travel. But there were warnings that clouds of ash could return to Britain tomorrow. MORE

Edwards faces charge over mistress

John Edwards, the disgraced former Democratic presidential hopeful, is to be charged with using campaign funds to cover up the existence of a mistress and child. Edwards had been trying to quash the case, but will now accept a plea bargain. MORE

Bribe claims plunge Fifa into civil war

Mohamed Bin Hammam, who is a candidate in Fifa’s presidential election, and Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, have been charged by football’s governing body with offering bribes for votes. The pair will face Fifa’s ethics committee on Sunday. Bin Hamman claimed the charge was a tactic by Sepp Blatter – his opponent in next week’s Fifa election. MORE

Kennels are waiting for the dogs of war

Dependability, loyalty and a promise that it won’t destroy the family are usually what people look for when adopting a dog. Now, after US Navy Seals were joined on the mission that killed Osama bin Laden were joined by canines, those with a service career are in high demand. MORE

Austen manuscript set to fetch £300,000

The only major Jane Austen manuscript still in private hands comes up for auction on 14 July. The Watsons, an 1804 work by the author of Sense and Sensibility, is estimated by Sotheby’s at £200,000 to £300,000.

Drug party report is all a big con...diment

German insurance group Munich Re unit Ergo has said that sales agents who were pictured in German tabloid Bild snorting white powder at a company-sponsored party were inhaling salt rather than drugs, just as the insurer has been struggling to shake a tarnished image.

Wanted man calls police accidentally

Police say a man wanted for failing to pay fines accidentally helped officers find him when he repeatedly “pocket-dialled” the emergency hotline 911 while doing yard work. James Green, 29, was using a backpack leaf blower in Bangor, Maine, on Saturday when he kept calling 911 without realising it.

Gazza bankruptcy case dismissed

A bankruptcy petition against former football star Paul Gascoigne was dismissed at the High Court yesterday. The 43-year-old owes the taxman £32,000 and had faced a petition, but a hearing heard that Gascoigne had reached agreement with his creditors and the case was dismissed.

Britain’s beaches getting cleaner

Many of Britain’s beaches are the cleanest they have been in 25 years, the Marine Conservation Society said yesterday. Across the UK, 461 beaches were given the top award for water quality, a significant increase on last year. But 46 still failed to meet even basic standards.

Hundreds injured during driving tests

Driving tests resulted in more than 300 learners and examiners being injured in Britain last year, figures have revealed. The Driving Standards Agency recorded 147 major injuries which required medical attention from a GP or in hospital. Five examiners were also attacked.

‘A Clockwork Orange’ revisited

Stanley Kubrick’s classic film A Clockwork Orange is to be given a one-off 40th anniversary screening in the lecture theatre at west London’s Brunel University – the room where the famous scene was shot in which lead character Alex received “aversion therapy” to stem his bloodthirsty urges.

Nazi torture hotel’s ‘prison parties’

Historians have expressed outrage after it was revealed that a hotel in the German town of Hamelin which had been used as a torture centre by the Nazis offers “prison parties”. Partygoers must wear prison uniforms, while bosses are forced into “solitary confinement”.

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