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The News Matrix: Tuesday 20 March 2012

Chemicals in plastic may cause obesity

Man-made chemicals in plastics such as food containers are probably contributing to the sharp rise in obesity and cases of diabetes in the Western world, according to a review of 240 scientific papers. The authors believe chemicals play an important and avoidable role. MORE

Spate of bombings kills at least three

Bombers struck five times in a province north of Baghdad yesterday evening, killing at least three people and wounding more than 30. Diyala province, a fertile agricultural region where Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds live side by side, has long been one of the most volatile areas in Iraq.

Lawyers see soldier accused of massacre

The US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians two Sundays ago was set to meet his defence team for first time last night. Sergeant Robert Bales is in solitary confinement at a military maximum security unit at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas after being flown from Afghanistan.

Brain surgeon saves two boys together

A neurosurgeon performed simultaneous brain surgery on two boys, aged 12 and eight, saving both their lives. Saurabh Sinha performed the surgery in the same theatre at Sheffield Children's Hospital last year. Caroline Wilkinson, mum of Owen, then aged eight, thanked him.

Kate gives her first public speech

The Duchess of Cambridge overcame self-confessed nerves to give her first public speech today as she granted the wish of a terminally-ill child's family and posed for a picture. She described it as "nerve-wracking".

Weapons amassed before uprising

President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on weapons since 2007, according to new figures published yesterday. Arms deliveries to Damascus surged by nearly 600 per cent bcompared to the previous five-year period, with the majority of shipments coming from Russia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. MORE

'We fear Iran more than anyone else'

Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, yesterday said it views the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran with more urgency than the rest of the world, and repeated its assessment that Tehran's nuclear programme was close to becoming immune to military strikes.

Man jailed for life after beheading

A 33-year-old man has been jailed for life after beheading a restaurant manager at a golf club in Thame, Oxfordshire. Jonathan Limani pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility at Oxford Crown Court. The court heard he had a history of mental ill health.

Suspect in court over New York fire bombs

Federal and state grand juries have indicted a New York man on suspicion of hate crimes in connection with five New Year's Day Molotov cocktail attacks, including one against a mosque. The suspect, Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, confessed to all five fire-bombings.

State is owed £2bnin fines and orders

Almost £2bn is owed in unpaid court fines and confiscation orders. Officials chasing criminal assets worth £1.3bn expect £750m never to be paid because they are abroad or well-hidden, a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee said.

Two Britons held in fake drugs probe

Two Britons have been arrested in the UK, along with four other individuals in Spain, on suspicion of importing and selling counterfeit drugs including fake Viagra. Around 300,000 doses of fake drugs were seized in the UK, Cyprus and Spain.

Marmite makers warn of shortage

New Zealand's Marmite lovers have been told to spread sparingly as manufacturers warn of a shortage of the yeast extract. Marmite production has been suspended since November after the Christchurch factory that produces it was forced to close because of structural damage caused by last year's earthquake.

Nice touch as iPods boost school results

Gadgets have helped Bolton's Essa Academy to boost exam results. Every pupil was given an iPod Touch to help with homework and email questions to teachers, while staff were given iPads to prepare lessons. Last year, every pupil gained five GCSEs at grade A* to C last year, compared to 40 per cent previously. MORE

Facebook hunt for party vandals

Police in Canada are using social networking websites to identify young vandals and bring them to justice, after a raucous St Patrick's Day celebration turned into a five-hour pitched battle. The city of London, Ontario, was still clearing up yesterday after a crowd of about 1,000 bombarded emergency services.

Manchester take home quiz trophy

Manchester University have become champions of University Challenge for the third time in seven years. Despite their lowest score of the series they overcame Pembroke College, Cambridge by 180 to 135 points in the final. They become only the second institution, after Magdalen College, to win it more than twice.

Nicholson tops the bill with critics

Jack Nicholson's compelling portrayal of the mental patient RP McMurphy in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest has been voted the best movie performance in history. Nicholson was placed top by screen experts from Total Film magazine. Robert De Niro in Raging Bull was second, with Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood third.

Farmer jailed for Forbidden City theft

A "spur of the moment" theft has cost a Chinese man more than a decade behind bars. A Beijing court sentenced the farmer to 13 years for stealing art pieces from the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace. Shi Baikui, 27, stole nine items of gold and jewellery last May.

Bus driver rues syndicate pullout

A bus driver pulled out of the syndicate that scooped £38m in the EuroMillions draw six months before it hit the jackpot on Friday. The unknown – and unlucky – driver, a former part of the 12-strong group based in Corby, Northamptonshire, had been replaced with another.

Most expensive tea grown in panda poo

Businessman An Yanshi claims he has made the world's most expensive tea – it is grown using the excrement of China's giant pandas. The first batch of 50 gram tea will cost 22,000 yuan (£2,100) each.

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