The News Matrix: Thursday 5 February 2015


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TV debate ‘can help Labour defeat SNP’

The Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy, believes one-on-one televised debates between Ed Miliband and David Cameron will narrow the polling gap between his party and the SNP. Mr Murphy told the BBC’s Newsnight that the “authenticity” of Ed Miliband versus David Cameron’s “superficiality” would help change the unfavourable polls Labour faces in Scotland.

Anti-Semitism  hits record high

Anti-Semitism reported in the UK reached a record high in 2014, research published today suggests. The Community Security Trust said 1,168 cases of abuse had taken place nationally – more than double the 535 in 2013, and the highest since records began in 1984.

26 killed as airliner plunges into river

At least 26 people have died in another crash involving an Asian airline. A TransAsia Airways jet crashed shortly after take-off from Taipei. It cartwheeled across an elevated highway before it came to rest in a river, where rescuers tried to free passengers.

High cost of heating ‘is causing deaths’

Rising heating bills could be partly to blame for higher than average death rates, a health expert said. There were 45,037 deaths in England and Wales in the first three weeks of 2015. Dr John Middleton, of the Faculty of Public Health, said soaring fuel bills may have played a role.

Black bears may be hunted in Florida

After a 20-year ban, Florida may bring back bear hunts to control a growing population of black bears menacing suburbs. Four people have been injured in attacks since 2012, mostly in the part of the state built on former bear habitat near Ocala National Forest. Reuters

Britons honoured for Ebola effort

At least 2,000 Britons who risked their lives in the fight against Ebola in West Africa are to receive a medal. David Cameron said the honour would recognise the “immense debt of gratitude” owed  to NHS medics, the armed forces, civil servants and aid workers.

Military patrols on streets to continue

Military anti-terror patrols involving 10,500 French troops will continue despite a knife attack on three soldiers in Nice on Tuesday, President François Hollande insisted yesterday.

Litvinenko ‘foamed at the mouth’

Alexander Litvinenko told police he knew he had been poisoned when he started “foaming at the mouth”, an inquiry heard. The former KGB agent met Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun on 1 November 2006 at a London hotel, where he drank tea laced with polonium-210.

Rotherham council ‘not fit for purpose’

Fresh prosecutions could be brought after a report found Rotherham Council “not fit for purpose”, the National Crime Agency said. The authority’s leaders resigned after the report accused it of being in denial about paedophile gangs operating in the Yorkshire borough.

Dieudonné: I am being persecuted

The anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné claimed yesterday he was a victim of double standards on freedom of speech as he appeared in court for the third time in a week. The comedian was on trial for “apology for terrorism”.

Doctor cleared after  UK’s first FGM trial

Prosecutors have been accused of staging a female genital mutliation “show trial”  after a doctor was cleared in the first such case brought before UK courts. It took jurors  less than half an hour to acquit  Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena.

Queen guitarist May hints at election run

Brian May could stand as an independent MP at the election. The Queen guitarist, 67, is considering standing out of “frustration at a system he sees as failing the electorate”. The musician owns a wildlife sanctuary in Dorset but has no firm plans to stand in a particular constituency, his agent said.

Open-air toilets for Parisian women

Authorities in Paris are considering a proposal to install a dozen public open-air urinals for women. The urinals, which would serve females who are enjoying an al fresco drink near the Saint Martin canal in the centre of the city, can be used in  “a semi-squat stance that requires no touching”.

Wiki pedant alters 47,000 entries

A US software developer has been unmasked as a grammar pedant who has apparently made amendments to some 47,000  entries on Wikipedia that included the phrase “comprised of”.  Bryan Henderson, 51, insisted it was grammatically incorrect to say “comprised of”.

Donations halted for mugging victim

A fund launched to help a frail pensioner has been halted after donations reached £330,000.  Katie Cutler set up an online donations page after Alan Barnes was mugged in Low Fell, Gateshead. Ms Cutler said yesterday that Mr Barnes had asked her to ensure that no more donations were made.

Concern over ‘lost’ Harper Lee novel

Amid excitement at the discovery of a “lost” work by Harper Lee, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill A Mockingbird, there are concerns that the 88-year-old novelist may have been pressured into publishing it. The new book, Go Set A Watchman, will be released on  14 July.