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The News Matrix: Thursday 7 February 2013

Farage is a Stalinist dictator, says MEP

An MEP from the UK Independence Party has threatened to quit after accusing its leader, Nigel Farage, of being a "Stalinist dictator". Marta Andreasen, who represents South-east England, claimed that Mr Farage did not want "intelligent, professional" women in senior party positions. Mr Farage described the accusations as "laughable nonsense".

OAPs arrested over child abuse claims

Two elderly men have been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences as part of an investigation into allegations that MPs belonged to a paedophile ring in the 1980s. Scotland Yard said a 70-year-old from East Sussex and a 66-year-old in Norfolk were held in dawn raids. MORE

Rebels try to take back Damascus

Rebels launched an operation to "liberate" Damascus yesterday. Six of the organisations fighting President Bashar al-Assad took to Twitter to announce the start of "Operation Epic". The city came to a standstill as the rebels attacked roadblocks and army fortifications. MORE

Solar superstorm to hit Earth soon

An extreme solar storm could knock out Earth's communications satellites and disrupt aircraft avionics, a report has warned. A "superstorm", caused by the Sun ejecting billions of tons of matter at a million miles per hour, is set to hit the Earth in the near future. MORE

Date set for Huhne by-election

The by-election triggered by the resignation of the former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne as MP for Eastleigh will take place on 28 February. The Liberal Democrats, who hold all 36 council seats in the Hampshire constituency, said they would "throw the kitchen sink at it".

i columnist is named young writer of year

The i columnist Owen Jones was named Young Writer of the Year at the Political Book Awards last night. Jones, 28, was recognised for his ability to cover a range of topics and making a "significant contribution" to political debate.

Shooting prompts political crisis

The government of Tunisia was dissolved last night after the assassination of a liberal opposition politician set off violent protests. The Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali, took the decision to install an administration of technocrats until elections can be held after Chokri Belaid was shot dead in the capital, Tunis. MORE

Former conservative leader booed at court

Demonstrators booed the former treasurer of conservative party Partido Popular as he left court yesterday. Luis Bárcenas, a former banker, was questioned over corruption. He is accused of helping to channel payments from construction firm managers to party leaders, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. MORE

Largest prime number discovered

A US mathematician has discovered the largest known prime number. The number – two raised to the 57,885,161 power minus one – is composed of 17 million digits and yet can only be divided by itself and one. Curtis Cooper, of the University of Central Missouri, found the number using a large network of computers.

Monopoly voters decide on fur trade

The Monopoly iron token will be replaced with a cat after an international vote by fans. Toy maker Hasbro said the cat received 31 per cent of a Facebook vote, beating the robot, guitar, helicopter and diamond ring. The iron lost out after just 8 per cent of voters said they wanted to keep it.

6ft Komodo dragon goes on rampage

Two people needed hospital treatment after a Komodo dragon went on the rampage at a wildlife sanctuary. The 6ft-long reptile attacked a ranger at Komodo National Park, in the Lesser Sunda Islands, and another worker who came to help him. Both were badly bitten and were evacuated to a hospital on Bali island.

Crumbs! Bahlsen biscuit is returned

A large golden emblem stolen from one of Germany's most famous biscuit companies by a thief dressed as the Cookie Monster has reappeared. Bahlsen's 20kg cookie, which once adorned the entrance of its Hanover headquarters, was found hanging on a statue of a horse. The plain butter biscuit was stolen last month.

Out-of-this-world tweet for Sir David

Sir David Attenborough made his debut on Twitter yesterday – and got a message from space. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted from the International Space Station: "If you had an evening to spend here... how would you spend it?" Sir David said: "I'd just sit and watch the Earth go by."

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