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The News Matrix: Tuesday 21 May 2013

Hague warns Assad over negotiations

Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday warned Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, that “no option is off the table” over the possible arming of Syrian rebels. “If the regime does not negotiate seriously at the Geneva conference, no option is off the table,” he said. MORE

Guantanamo Bay hacking threat

The US military has shut down the wireless internet service at Guantanamo Bay because of online hacking threats. Officials have also blocked access to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter through military computer networks because of the threat.

PM offers review of civil partnerships

David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriage could result in the abolition of civil partnerships. The Government agreed to scrutinise the future of civil partnerships in an attempt to head off an amendment proposed by Tory rebels to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples.

Rebels clash with army ahead of visit

Congo’s army bombarded rebel fighters near the city of Goma in the first clashes in nearly six months – just days before a visit by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Fighting began after the Tutsi-dominated M23 rebels attacked government positions. Ban is due to arrive in Goma this week.

West End ‘doesn’t need Hollywood stars’

West End theatres no longer need the lure of Hollywood stars to ensure healthy ticket sales thanks to British talent like Tom Hiddleston, left, according to Donmar Warehouse director Josie Rourke. MORE

Briton charged with murder of children

A British father who admitted killing his two children by slitting their throats has been formally accused of murder. Julian Stevenson, 47, a heavy drinker with a history of domestic violence, made a brief appearance before an investigating magistrate at the Palais de Justice in Lyon yesterday. Officials say there is no reason at this stage to suggest the murder was pre-meditated. MORE

Car bombs kill four and injure dozens

Two car bombs killed at least four people and wounded dozens more in Dagestan, a turbulent province in Russia’s North Caucasus region where armed groups are waging an Islamist insurgency. In a separate incident in Moscow, security forces killed two suspected militants alleged to have been plotting an attack.

Afghan loses fight for asylum in UK

An illegal immigrant who was smuggled into the UK after his father and brother were murdered by militants in Afghanistan has lost his fight to remain – despite the backing of his foster family, his girlfriend and his cricket club. Najibullah Hashimi, 19, was told he must return to Kabul, but has concerns over threats to his life.

Civil servants told to ditch their socks

Amid power shortages and 40C temperatures, Pakistani civil servants have been told not to wear socks as air conditioning is turned off in government offices. The country endures blackouts of up to 20 hours a day, while power shortages have also sparked violent protests and hindered key industries. MORE

Asian fighting birds found in suitcases

Attempts to bring live fighting birds through a British airport in suitcases were “astonishing”, Border Force has said. Smugglers twice tried to get the grey francolin birds, native to South Asia, into the UK at Leeds Bradford airport. The animals had been placed in wooden cages inside cases.

Earlier diagnosis  for Alzheimer’s

Scientists from Cambridge University believe that by mapping the pathway which creates the “aberrant” proteins at the root of such neurological conditions as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, they have found a key which could help lead to an earlier diagnosis of the disorders.

G’bye, mate: Aussie expats heading home

The UK’s economic woes mean Australian expatriates are leaving Britain in their droves. Britain’s Australian population shrank by 22,000 between 2010 and 2011, according to official figures. Fewer young Australians are using the UK as a base to explore Europe, and businesses set up to cater to them are suffering. MORE

Young ‘have no grasp of the horrors of war’

Britain’s young people have little grasp of the losses and hardship suffered by our war veterans, according to BBC broadcaster Dan Snow. The historian told the Radio Times: “Throughout history we have failed to transmit the horrors of war to subsequent generations.”

Diplomatic spat with Germany over change

Tensions between Germany and Hungary have flared over a remark by Angela Merkel that she would not seek to resolve disagreements over constitutional changes by “sending cavalry”. Hungarian leader, Viktor Orban, responded by referring to German tanks that invaded Hungary in 1944.

OO7’s watch turns  up at car boot sale

James Bond’s geiger counter wristwatch from the movie Thunderball has turned up at a car boot sale. The prop was key to the plot of the 1965 film starring Sean Connery as it helped the agent locate stolen atomic weapons during underwater scenes. The Breitling watch was picked up for £25 but could now go for £60,000 at auction.

Marijuana-fed pigs  become porkers

Excess stems, roots and leaves from marijuana plants are to be fed to pigs to give them the munchies. The state of Washington is experimenting with a solution that seems to make the most of marijuana’s appetite-enhancing properties. Four pigs whose feed was supplemented with the plant ended up 20 to 30lbs heavier.

St Peter’s dome is protester’s stage

A man climbed on to the dome of St Peter’s Basilica and unfurled a banner protesting against a “political horror show”, an apparent reference to Italy’s coalition struggling with recession and unemployment. The man’s sign also asked the Pope for help.

Vaccine halts birth defects in livestock

A new vaccine is being made available to prevent a disease which causes severe birth defects and miscarriages in livestock. Schmallenberg virus, which has been seen in cattle and sheep in the UK since early 2012, has been identified on more than 1,700 farms across the country.

GCHQ warned over Assange emails

Staff at the government’s eavesdropping agency have been asked to behave more professionally after Julian Assange used the Data Protection Act to obtain internal emails saying the sexual assault charges against him may have been a “fit-up”. MORE

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