The News Matrix: Thursday 3 May 2012


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The Independent Online

US State Department counters Chen claim

The US State Department last night attempted to counter claims that the Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng may have left the US embassy in Beijing because of physical or legal threats to his family, saying that it never discussed any such threats with him. MORE

UN backs sanctions if violence escalates

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution yesterday threatening non-military sanctions against Sudan and South Sudan if they don't halt escalating violence and return to negotiations. China and Russia, who traditionally oppose santions, voted in favour. AP

Trump's wind farm warning to Salmond

US business tycoon Donald Trump has warned First Minister Alex Salmond that Scotland can "never" become independent under his leadership because wind farms will destroy tourism. Mr Trump opposes plans for an offshore wind farm close to his golf resort near Aberdeen.

Abu Qatada takes case to Strasbourg

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, will meet on Wednesday to consider whether Jordanian cleric Abu Qatada can fight deportation from Britain. They will decide whether the case should go to the court's highest body, but a decision may not be announced immediately.

Cardinal refusing to resign over cover-up

Cardinal Sean Brady, leader of Ireland Catholics, said he would not resign after a BBC documentary accused him of helping cover up 1970s child abuse by Brendan Smyth, a paedophile priest who went on to assault other children.

Murdoch has backing of board

The board of News Corp said it had "full confidence" in Rupert Murdoch, a day after a report by the Commons Media Select Committee concluded he was "not a fit person" to run a company. A motion asking MPs to endorse the report's findings will be tabled for debate in Parliament in the next few days, creating a potential political headache for David Cameron. MORE

Candidates pull out after 20 die in attack

Two candidates have suspended their campaigns after an attack on anti-military protesters left at least 20 people dead ahead of Egypt's first free presidential elections this month. Armed men ambushed a sit-in close to the Ministry of Defence in eastern Cairo. MORE

Gingrich formally quits presidency bid

Newt Gingrich formally ended his presidential campaign last night and endorsed the Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. Mr Gingrich, a former House Speaker, won primaries in just two states in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination – South Carolina and Georgia.

Fines handed down for penguin-nappers

Two Welshmen were fined A$1,000 (£637) each yesterday for nabbing a fairy penguin named Dirk during a drunken escapade through a theme park in Australia last month. Rhys Owne Jones and Keri Mules broke into Sea World on Queensland's Gold Coast after attending a beach party. They have since apologised to the park and the Australian public.

Elephant with an ear for a swinging tune

An elephant named Shanthi at the National Zoo in Washington is developing her musical talents by playing a harmonica with her trunk. Video released by the zoo shows the 36-year-old Asian elephant playing tunes even when no humans are around. Keeper Debbie Flinkman said Shanthi plays her own songs that always have a big crescendo at the end.

Bomb dogs used to sniff out pythons

Bomb-sniffing dogs are turning their olfactory attention toward a different scourge: Burmese pythons which have taken up residence in Florida's Everglades National Park. In a test in the south Florida conservation zone, biologists said the dogs could cover a search area 2.5 times faster than a person.

Unusual weather starts to bear fruit

A bumper crop of British strawberries will soon be on shop shelves despite last month's heavy rainfall, say growers. According to the industry body, British Summer Fruits, the combination of an unseasonably warm March and cool April has delivered "sweet and flavourful" berries.