The News Matrix: Tuesday 2 December 2014


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Cable to tackle sales of torture equipment

Vince Cable has vowed to review whether the law should be strengthened to ensure torture equipment is not advertised at arms fairs in the UK. Mr Cable told MPs he would examine whether the failure to prosecute two exhibitors who last year showed devices, including leg irons and electric shock prods, in catalogues was due to “a failure of the law or a failure of enforcement”.

Synthetic enzymes could fight disease

A breakthrough in synthetic biology could lead to new ways for treating illnesses such as cancer and Ebola, scientists have said. Researchers have produced synthetic enzymes from artificial genetic material. This milestone could lead to the development of new drugs.

US Air Force pilot killed in F-16 crash

A US Air Force pilot was killed when an F-16 crashed late Sunday night while returning to its base in the Middle East. Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the jet had a problem related to maintenance after take-off, turned around and crashed before landing.

£500m flood defence plan is revealed

Ministers will today pledge nearly £500m to improving flood defences. Plans unveiled by Danny Alexander,Chief Treasury Secretary will include some 1,400 projects for 300,000 homes in a move aimed at avoiding a voter backlash if last year’s floods recur.

Activists try to halt killer’s execution

The planned execution of a severely mentally ill man in Texas has drawn criticism from across the US. Scott Panetti, who shot dead his parents-in-law, attempted to call Jesus Christ as a witness to his trial and believes he is being executed to stop him preaching the Gospel.

Government paying for ‘ghost’ army

The Iraq Army is paying for 50,000 non-existent soldiers, the country’s prime minister has revealed. It is viewed as another sign of the level of corruption within the security forces, which are facing a battle with the Islamic State over swathes of  the country.

Soldier’s body should be exhumed, family

The body of Private Cheryl James, a soldier who died from a gunshot wound at Deepcut Barracks in 1995, should be exhumed as part of a new investigation into her death, her family said yesterday.

Newborn baby found dead in bin

The body of a newborn baby girl has been found in a wheelie bin, police said. A member of the public rang the police after discovering the infant yesterday afternoon in Richmond, North Yorkshire. Paramedics attended the communal waste area, but were unable to revive the girl.

Collector leaves 13th century scroll on train

An Italian art collector left a 13th century Chinese scroll estimated to be worth around €1m, on a train from Paris to Italy. Francesco Plateroti reportedly didn’t notice he had lost the work until the train had left the station. He has offered a reward for its return, but so far it has not resurfaced.

Dundee wins City  of Design status

Unesco has awarded Dundee City of Design status to mark its diverse contributions to the world. Only 12 other cities have won the title, which heralds contributions in medical research, comics and video games. Dundee has given comics including The Beano and Dandy, aspirin and orange marmalade.

Berlin Wall balloon makes it to Latvia

One of the balloons released to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall has turned up three weeks later in the Latvian capital of Riga. The white balloon, one of more than 7,000 released during a night time ceremony, travelled 844km. Most of the balloons have been found in northern Berlin.

Only third of schools host a nativity play

Only a third of schools still hold a traditional nativity play, according to research from parenting website Netmums. The most common Christmas celebrations is an “updated nativity”, such as an Alan Sugar-style “Lord Christmas”. Seven per cent of schools call it a “winter celebration” rather than nativity.

What are you smiling at, Mr Blair?

Tony and Cherie Blair’s Christmas card, in which the former Prime Minister stares out with a fixed grin that makes him look like a Hollywood villain, emerged online yesterday, and has been widely mocked on Twitter. “The teeth seem to follow you round the room,” is one typical response.