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The News Matrix: Thursday 31 January 2013

Israel 'bombs' military centre in Damascus

Israeli forces have reportedly bombed a military research centre in Damascus over concerns that groups such as Hezbollah could get hold of a stockpile of chemical weapons. The attack followed a period of 36 hours when at least 12 Israeli warplanes crossed into Lebanon's airspace. MORE

Police considering recruitment reform

The practice of hiring all new police recruits as constables could cease. Policing minister Damian Green said the system puts off applicants who don't want to wait 25 years to reach top ranks. But the Association of Chief Police Officers said such reform may anger existing officers. MORE

Ecstasy could be decriminalised

The possession of ecstasy for personal use could be decriminalised in Colombia in an attempt to curb drug trafficking. Justice Minister Ruth Stella has introduced a Bill which would put synthetic drugs in the same category as cannabis, meaning those carrying small amounts would not be prosecuted.

UK exit would be a 'mistake', says Clarke

Leaving the European Union would be a "fatal mistake", Ken Clarke has warned. The Tory grandee urged the Prime Minister to be "positive" in negotiations with fellow EU leaders. "It is in our vital national interest that we avoid the fatal mistake that would be a No vote if a referendum is held in the next few years," he said. MORE

New BlackBerry phone launched

The new BlackBerry 10 smartphone has been unveiled, and it bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple's iPhone. Its latest offering boasts flashy graphics, better cameras and an improved app store. MORE

Polish becomes UK's second language

Polish is now the most commonly spoken non-native language in England and Wales, with more than half a million people in this country speaking it as a first language. Almost 140,000 people in England and Wales can't speak any English, while 726,000 can only summon basic phrases. In 2001, Polish wasn't in the top 12. MORE

Cats and dogs react to 'pleasure pulses'

Scientists may have discovered why cats and dogs never seem to tire of being petted. Areas of hairy skin contain specialised nerve cells that send "pleasure pulses" to the brain when stimulated. A study of laboratory mice showed that the nerve endings in their hairy back legs respond well to rubbing, but not to pain. MORE

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