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The News Matrix: Tuesday 24 June 2014

Senior diplomats  call for Blair to resign

Tony Blair is facing calls to step down from his role as Middle East envoy, following a letter signed by former British ambassadors and senior politicians. It accuses him of trying to “absolve himself” from responsibility for the crisis in Iraq. The letter’s signatories include his former ambassador to Iran Sir Richard Dalton and the former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Companies flouting law on personal data

Google is one of many organisations found to be defying the public’s right to access personal data being held on them. Almost half of data holders either did not disclose the private information they stored on people or did not give a legitimate reason for not doing so when asked. MORE

22,000 kids taken into care since 2007

In the past seven years, 7,143 mothers have had more than one of their children removed by the family courts, English records show. Some 22,790 children have been affected. Half were 24 or under at the time of the first care application, with the youngest just 14 years old.

Mis-selling scandal could affect Lloyds

The Government’s plan to return all of Lloyds Banking Group to private ownership before next year’s election could be derailed. An i investigation of potential liabilities from the mis-selling of interest-rate protection has found payouts could match the PPI scandal. MORE

Israel detains 37 more Palestinians

Israel’s army said yesterday it had detained another 37 Palestinians overnight as it searched for three missing teenagers and extended a crackdown on the Hamas Islamist group it accuses of kidnapping them. There were no reports of clashes during the raids in the West Bank.

Kerry promises ‘intense support’

US Secretary of State John Kerry promised “intense and sustained” support for Iraq yesterday, and urged its leaders to save their beleaguered country from break-up. MORE

Blast at medical school kills eight

An explosion at a medical school in the northern city of Kano killed eight people and wounded 12, according to police who blamed Islamic extremists. The Kano state police Commissioner Adenrele Shinaba said one suspect was detained and his vehicle seized for investigation.

Shooting suspect  to plead insanity

The lawyer representing the man charged with killing one student and wounding two others at a Seattle university says she is planning to pursue an insanity defence for her client.  Aaron Rey Ybarra pleaded not guilty to premeditated first-degree murder yesterday morning.

Man denies murder of pregnant partner

A violent boyfriend murdered Jayden Parkinson, 17, a day after finding out she was pregnant with his child, Oxford Crown Court heard. Ben Blakeley, 22, of Reading, denies murdering Jayden – but has admitted her manslaughter and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

First solar-powered crossing of Channel

Simon Milward, 38, has become the first person to cross the English Channel on a boat powered directly by the sun. He set off from Dungeness in Kent at 8.30am in his 15ft catamaran, equipped with six AKT solar panels, and reached Boulogne-sur-Mer after more than six hours.

Children ‘cope with unhappy endings’

Young readers “don’t need happy endings”, two leading children’s authors have claimed. Kevin  Brooks, winner of the Cilip Carnegie Medal, and Jon Klassen, who has scooped the Cilip Kate Greenaway Medal, both said that children “benefit” from books without happy endings.  MORE

Three arrested over World Cup video

Iranian police have arrested three people who appeared in an online video of young men and women singing and dancing in support of the country’s World Cup football team. The video shows young people, including women not wearing the mandatory headscarf, interspersed with footage from matches.

Official sacked for piggyback in flood

An official from Guixi in Jiangxi province has been sacked after a picture of him being given a piggyback across a flooded path during a search for missing children went viral and sparked outrage. The official was being carried on another man’s back through ankle-deep water to keep his shoes dry.

McQueen’s Porsche up for record sale

The 1969 Porsche 917K that featured prominently in Steve McQueen’s 1971 film Le Mans is to be sold at auction. The car, one of just 25 of its kind, is expected to fetch up to $20m (£11.8m) when it goes under the hammer in Santa Monica in August, making it the most expensive Porsche ever sold at auction.

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Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?