The News Matrix: Thursday 26 September 2013


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The Independent Online

Setback for women cocaine smugglers

Prosecutors have rejected the guilty pleas of two British women who attempted to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine out of Peru. Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid, both 20, pleaded guilty on Tuesday. But state prosecutors said they wanted to know where the drugs came from, who supplied them and why the women said they had been forced to carry them by an armed gang.

BT's £1.2bn subsidy for internet roll-out

British Telecom has been handed a taxpayer "subsidy" of almost £1.2bn because the Government "mismanaged" its superfast broadband. Figures released today reveal that the company is expected to invest only £356m rolling out fast internet access to rural areas. MORE

Anti-fascist march turns violent

Greek police fired tear gas at a gathering of thousands of anti-fascist protesters who hurled petrol bombs and stones near the Athens headquarters of Golden Dawn yesterday, following the killing of an anti-racism rapper by a supporter of the far-right party. MORE

Computer games exploiting children

Computer games manufacturers are exploiting children through "freemium" games, which encourage them to spend money on extras while playing, the consumer watchdog has warned. The Office of Fair Trading has told firms to obey a new set of principles or face fines. MORE

US signs up to global arms dealing treaty

The US, the world's largest arms dealer, has joined more than 90 other nations in signing a treaty that regulates global arms trading. But there will be strong resistance in the US Senate, which must ratify it. The treaty will not take effect until 50 nations ratify it. Only four had yesterday.

Grim milestone for citizens of Homs

The siege of Homs has lasted for more than 500 days – a grim milestone serving as a reminder of the suffering its civilians have endured. Syrians are not only suffering from gunfire and bombing, but are also being "massacred by hunger" as food supplies dwindle. MORE

Mandela responding to treatment at home

Nelson Mandela is continuing to respond to treatment at his home in Houghton, President Jacob Zuma said yesterday. Mr Mandela, 95, spent three months in hospital with a lung condition earlier this year.

Gender equality at work has stalled

Progress towards an equal workplace has slowed in the past two decades, according to new figures. Research by the Office for National Statistics shows around 67 per cent of women are employed, up from 53 per cent in 1971. Of the 13.4 million women in work, 42 per cent were part-timers. MORE

Ivory poachers devastate huge herd

Ivory poachers have killed more than 80 elephants, endangering one of the world's biggest herds. The elephants died in the last few weeks in Hwange national park, while security forces were preoccupied with the country's general election in July.

Omega-3 may not be so great for the brain

Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may not protect against cognitive decline among older people, as was previously hoped. New research by the University of Iowa shows omega-3 has little impact on cognitive ability.

Jackson family in $290m claim

Michael Jackson's family is asking for a total of $290m (£180m) in personal damages from the promotional firm AEG Live, following the King of Pop's death in 2009 in the run-up to a series of comeback concerts. MORE

Oompa-Loompa brawlers sentenced

Two men have been sentenced after admitting their part in a street brawl while in fancy dress as the peace-loving Oompa-Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Louis Gelinas and Matthew Wright picked a fight with two men during a night out.

Factory workers to tour with 'Jesus fish'

Fish-factory workers who discovered a perfectly shaped cross on a Norwegian salmon's belly last week have now decided to take the "Jesus fish" on a tour of the country. One of the workers from Gothenburg had taken it home for a "blessed dinner", but later decided to put it on show.

Oldest newspaper turns page on print

Lloyd's List, the world's oldest newspaper, it to go digital-only after a survey it carried out revealed only 25 of its readers used the print edition alone. Lloyd's List was founded by Edward Lloyd in 1734; he would post the details of shipping on the wall of his coffee shop in London. MORE

I chased him, says Silvio's girlfriend

Silvio Berlusconi's 27-year-old girlfriend says she courted the 76-year-old former Italian premier relentlessly until he finally said he would go out with her. Francesca Pascale's comments to a magazine have been seen as an attempt for some positive PR for Berlusconi. MORE

A bear walks into a bar… no, really

A bartender in an Alaskan hotel received a double surprise this week after a black bear walked into the hotel bar, and actually obeyed her when she told it to "get out!" Ariel Svetlik-McCarthy, who works in Juneau, said the bear left within seconds.

Burns theatre to get £2m overhaul

A project to overhaul the oldest working theatre in Scotland has secured planning permission. The Theatre Royal in Dumfries will be given £2m to provide better facilities, including a rehearsal area . The theatre was built in 1792 and Robert Burns was among its original patrons.

Doctor saves life with a penknife

Armed with just a pocket knife and a pen, a noted California doctor has performed an emergency life-saving tracheotomy on a choking diner in Bakersfield. Dr Royce Johnson cleared the airway of Pauline Larwood on Tuesday after she began choking on a piece of meat.

Bear Grylls stunt sparks fire alert

A stunt to launch a new Bear Grylls TV show prompted fears that a London landmark was on fire. Firefighters arrived at Battersea Power Station after receiving a call that the building was alight. But flames had been projected onto the landmark to launch Bear Grylls: Escape From Hell.

Historic comedy pub may be demolished

A London pub that became a "Mecca for comedy" as a favourite haunt of Tommy Cooper, Tony Hancock and Sid James faces demolition as a hotel group plans to raze a huge part of Leicester Square's conservation area. The Hand & Racquet may be no more if plans are passed.