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The News Matrix: Tuesday 22 January 2013

Merkel's party loses in bellwether state

Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union party was defeated in a key state vote. Ms Merkel's conservatives and their Free Democrat coalition partners were ousted in Lower Saxony.

Student, 19, wakes up paralysed

A 19-year-old student is recovering in hospital after going to bed with a cold and waking up paralysed. Alistair Summers, a student at the University of Hull, was diagnosed with the rare Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which causes the arms and legs to stop working.

For sale: 10,000 Armstrong DVDs

Karl Baxter, the owner of Wholesale Clearance UK in Poole, made a costly mistake when he bought 10,000 Lance Armstrong DVDs prior to the cyclist's drug confession. Mr Baxter says he may now have to make a mosaic out of them – or use them as coasters and beer mats. MORE

Convicted paparazzo flees the authorities

Italy's most notorious paparazzo has gone on the run after being given a five-year jail term for blackmailing French footballer David Trezeguet. Fabrizio Corona fled on Friday and is now being hunted across Europe. He wanted €25,000 from Trezeguet to stop sensitive images being printed.

Another string to Vanessa Mae's bow

Vanessa-Mae has hung up her violin for a year as she rehearses a new role – skiing for Thailand at the 2014 Winter Olympics. The 34-year-old aims to compete in the giant slalom and slalom in Sochi.

People of faith can be just as selfish

Religious people are as selfish and uncooperative as non-believers, unless they are dealing with others of the same faith, according to research by Nottingham University. It showed that believers are no more likely to be generous or helpful when interacting with strangers. MORE

200 complaints over 'Savile' on Tweenies

The BBC has received more than 200 complaints following a repeat episode of children's TV programme The Tweenies in which a character was dressed up as Jimmy Savile. It was shown on CBeebies on Sunday morning. The BBC apologised for any offence caused.

Haircut price disparity is illegal

Hairdressers have warned of "pricing chaos" after the Board of Equal Treatment ruled differences in the price for men's and women's haircuts were illegal. "It takes, quite simply, longer time with women," said Connie Mikkelsen, who represents hairdressers and cosmeticians.

Allotment sabotage linked to waiting lists

Increasing waiting lists for allotments are believed to have led to a rise in shed burglaries. One prize-winning grower claimed his plot was damaged in an "inside job" days before a prestigious competition. Nearly 100,000 people are on waiting lists for allotments in Britain. MORE

Sex gang victim 'told she would be shot'

A vulnerable 14-year-old girl was told she would be shot if she did not have sex with a man in a car park, the Old Bailey heard yesterday. The woman, now in her 20s, is the alleged victim of a child-trafficking ring in Oxford. She said she was plied with drugs and alcohol and raped.  MORE

PM ready for speech on EU referendum

The Prime Minister will make his delayed speech on Britain's place in Europe tomorrow. David Cameron will warn Britain could "drift towards the exit" of the EU unless there is real change in Brussels. He was forced to postpone the speech in the wake of the Algerian hostage crisis. MORE

Soldiers demand release of prisoners

Eritrean soldiers with tanks laid siege to the information ministry yesterday, a senior intelligence official said. The renegade soldiers are believed to have forced state media to call for political prisoners to be freed. The UN says between 5,000 and 10,000 political prisoners are held.

Assad's mother flees country for Dubai

Bashar al-Assad's mother's departure from Syria for Dubai has shown that her son's regime is under increasing pressure from rebels, according to members of the Syrian community. Anisa Makhlouf is believed to have arrived in Dubai around a fortnight ago. MORE

More heavy snow set to batter Britain

Britain will be battered by heavy snow once again today, according to forecasters. Blizzard conditions have claimed numerous lives, closed thousands of schools and caused disruption to transport. Reports emerged yesterday that a woman apparently froze to death in Kent. MORE

Driver charged with murder of activists

A 30-year-old man has been charged with the murder of three Kurdish women activists in Paris two weeks ago. The Kurdish man, who was a driver for one of the women, is now under formal investigation. Another suspect held for questioning was freed without charge.

Yard takes new look at MacShane 'abuses'

Police have re-opened an inquiry into parliamentary expenses claimed by the former MP Denis MacShane. Scotland Yard said it would look again at his claims in the wake of a damning report last year by the Commons standards watchdog. Police began examining the former MP for Rotherham more than two years ago after allegations about abuses surfaced.

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