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The News Matrix: Thursday 3 April 2014

New super-grade for top GCSE scorers

Plans to introduce a new super-grade for “really exceptional” students at GCSE are to be unveiled by the exams regulator, Ofqual, today. Only half the number of pupils who currently reach A* grades in the exam are expected to achieve the new “Grade 9”. From 2017 GCSEs will no longer be graded from A* to G but from nine to one, with nine being the top mark. MORE

Moderate fights alongside al-Qa’ida

The leader of a group of moderate rebels, backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States as they battle the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, has said he has no problem fighting alongside the al-Qa’ida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, and sharing weapons if required. MORE

Coal mines to shut down in 18 months

Two of the last deep coal mines in Britain will close in the next 18 months. UK Coal said there would be a “managed rundown” of Kellingley in Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire – if an investor could be found to inject between £10m and £20m. MORE

Voters engaged ahead of elections

The use of devices like mass political rallies and televised debates is allowing millions of voters to hear the views of the 11 candidates for president of Afghanistan ahead of the vote on Saturday. The level of political participation is in marked contrast to previous elections. MORE

Student loses appeal against deportation

A judge yesterday rejected a final appeal against the deportation of a 19-year-old Mauritian student, hours before she was due to depart Heathrow. Yashika Bageerathi’s mother could barely speak through her tears as she begged the authorities to allow Yashika to stay just long enough to finish her A-levels.

Yanukovych: I was wrong over Crimea

Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian President, admitted he was “wrong” to invite Russian troops into Crimea and vowed to try to persuade Russia to return the Black Sea peninsula.

i commended in Newspaper Awards

i was commended in the National Newspaper of the Year category at the 2014 Newspaper Awards. i’s sister paper The Independent on Sunday won Weekend Newspaper of the Year, while independent.co.uk was commended by judges for Digital News Service.

i’s Science Editor Steve Connor was highly commended in the Science and Health Reporter of the Year category at the separate British Press Awards, where i’s sister title, the London Evening Standard, won the Cudlipp Award for its investigation and campaigning work on gangs.

Wales eyes plan to ban e-cigarettes

Wales could be the first part of the UK to ban smoking e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces. The Welsh Health minister Professor Mark Drakeford has said that officials are considering a ban amid concerns the products could “re-normalise” the use of cigarettes.

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