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The News Matrix: Thursday 5 January 2012

Higher tax plans for the very rich

The Government plans to force higher taxes on the very rich to allay fears that its public sector cuts have hit those on lower incomes the hardest. Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander said "those with the broadest shoulders" would "bear the greatest share of the burden". MORE

UK's rating worsens in child labour index

The UK's record on protecting children from exploitation worsened last year, with Britain rated "medium risk" in Maplecroft analysts' annual child labour index. Britain rose 12 places to 142nd out of 197; France was 160th. The rise was due to high child trafficking figures.

Romney damaged as he staves off defeat

Mitt Romney's march towards the Republican presidential nomination suffered a blow yesterday when he was almost beaten in the first serious test of his candidacy. The social conservative, Rick Santorum, finished only eight votes behind Mr Romney in the Iowa caucus. MORE

Landmark backing for terminally ill

A landmark report has backed those suffering from a terminal illness who wish to have an assisted death. The privately organised inquiry said it should be an available option for a person of sound mind who is likely to die within 12 months and is unwavering in their desire for their life to end. MORE

James Franco signs a deal with Amazon

Oscar-nominated actor James Franco has signed a deal to write his first novel with the online retailer Amazon. It could be an ominous development for the traditional publishing houses. MORE

10,000 swim tickets sold by mistake

Thousands of Olympics synchronised swimming ticket holders have been asked to return the tickets or swap them for alternate events after organisers mistakenly sold double the 10,000 that were left. Some ticket holders who swapped their tickets for entry to more sought-after events voiced their delight on Twitter. MORE

Adviser: Miliband has no strategy adviser

Ed Miliband appears to have "no strategy, no narrative and little energy" as leader of the Labour Party, says one of his closest political advisers. Writing in the New Statesman, Lord Glasman said that "faces from the Brown era" still dominated the shadow cabinet.

Call for banker's head after 'dodgy' deal

Switzerland's top banker is under pressure to resign after allegations that he used insider information to help his wife reap huge profits from a foreign exchange deal. Philipp Hildebrand, head of the Swiss National Bank, and his wife Kashya, insist they have done nothing wrong. MORE

New armed forces chief appointed

Libya has named a new head of the country's armed forces as part of a bid to get a grip on the country's militias and reform the national military. Yousef al-Manqoush will be tasked with persuading local militia leaders to cede their authority to the country's transitional government. MORE

Experts say Breivik is not psychotic

A team of experts who have been monitoring the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik in prison say he is not psychotic. If the fresh opinion is followed by the court, he would go to prison rather than into psychiatric care if found guilty.

Twins are born five years apart

A couple are celebrating the birth of their second twin – five years after the arrival of their first. Despite the age gap, Reuben and Floren Blake are technically twins because they were born from the same batch of frozen embryos. MORE

Family of murdered Indian man to see MP

The family of the Indian student shot dead in Salford on Boxing Day will visit Parliament tomorrow. The parents of 23-year-old Anuj Bidve found out about their son's death on Facebook, prompting an apology from the police. They will meet Labour MP for Leicester East, Keith Vaz, tomorrow.

Prime minister cuts pay to just £1 million

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his colleagues have cut their pay by 36 per cent to allay public discontent over their high salaries. Lee is the best-paid world leader, and will still earn more than £1m per year – down from £1.47m – under the new guidelines. MORE

Chinese flock to the Las Vegas of the East

A flood of Chinese gamblers propelled casino revenue in Macau to a record $33.5bn (£21.5bn) last year, a 42 per cent increase on 2010. The former Portuguese colony, the only place in China where gambling is legal, has a revenue five times larger than that of Las Vegas.

Kate volunteers for the Scouts

The Duchess of Cambridge has volunteered to help make fires and tie knots by becoming a patron of The Scout Association. She announced her first patronages of charitable organisations.

Did poisoned cat stew kill billionaire?

Police are investigating reports that Chinese billionaire Long Liyuan was killed by a slow-boiled cat meat stew. Huang Guang, who shared the dish with Long on December 23, has been arrested by police on suspicion of poisoning the southern China delicacy with a toxic herb.

Hope of vaccine against hepatitis C

Scientists at Oxford University have found what could be an effective vaccine against the chronic liver disease hepatitis C. The potential cure comes in the form of a virus similar to the common cold, though the research warns that a fully approved vaccine could still be years away.

Court upholds $18bn oil pollution fine

The oil company Chevron yesterday denounced a court in Ecuador for upholding an $18bn (£11.5bn) ruling over a two-decades old claim of oil pollution in the Amazon rainforest. The ruling said the rights of local communities had been violated by poisoning their water supply. MORE

Cornwall revives bid for independence

A campaign for Cornwall to be recognised as an independent Celtic nation within the UK has been revived. Ten years ago, 10 per cent of the Cornwall population signed a petition in support of devolved powers from Westminster. The bid is now backed by Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards.

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