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The News Matrix: Tuesday 25 January 2011

BBC axes 360 staff as websites are closed

The BBC is to shed 360 staff and close hundreds of websites after the corporation’s online budget was cut by 25 per cent. The director-general, Mark Thompson, said the changes would be “painful” but insisted BBC Online “lies at the heart” of the broadcaster’s digital future. Read more

Taliban ‘godfather’ dies held by militants

The godfather of the Taliban, one of Pakistan’s most prominent retired spies, has died of a heart attack in Waziristan. Sultan Amir Tarar, better known as “Colonel Imam”, had been held captive for 10 months by Islamist militants he helped to spawn. Read more

Study backs GM food to avert hunger crisis

Urgent action is needed to tackle world food shortages and genetically-modified crops could be used to boost production, says a Government study. Nearly a billion people are going hungry and another billion suffer dietary deficiencies, the report warns.

Palestinians hit back over leaked papers

Palestinian officials were scrambling yesterday to head off a political crisis by claiming that leaked documents showing concessions in favour of Israel were fabrications and distortions. About 1,700 leaked communiqués offer a glimpse of backroom peace talks with Israel. Read more

Yeates’ neighbour in the dock

Joanna Yeates’ neighbour Vincent Tabak appeared in court yesterday accused of her murder. The 32-year-old Dutch engineer was remanded in custody at Bristol Magistrates’ Court. Read more

Woman charged over stolen baby

A woman who raised a child stolen 23 years ago from a New York hospital is due to appear in court on kidnapping charges. The young women she had brought up as a daughter solved the mystery of her own kidnapping on the internet. Read more

Gunman dies after stand-off in park

Aman died last night after apparently shooting himself in the head in a park in broad daylight after a 16-hour stand-off with police. Paramedics spent more than three hours trying to save the man on Leagrave Common in Luton. Witnesses said the man had a sawn-off shotgun. Read more

Sri Lankan army accused of making landmines

Activists have accused the military of making components for landmines while the government was involved in a ceasefire with Tamil rebels and receiving millions in aid for de-mining projects. The military say the leaked papers are faked. Read more

Nobel laureate wins TS Eliot poetry prize

St Lucia poet Derek Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992, was honoured with Britain’s most prestigious award for poetry last night when he won the TS Eliot prize for his 2010 collection White Egrets. Hewas chosen from a shortlist of 10 authors including Seamus Heaney and Simon Armitage. Read more

Pope gives blessing to social networks

Pope Benedict gave a qualified blessing to social networking yesterday, praising its potential but warning that online friendships are no substitute for real human contact. The pontiff cautioned against alienation and retreating from the world. Read more

Football boss Ashley loses £1m in casino

Newcastle United’s owner, the sportswear retailer Mike Ashley, lost £1m in two hours of gambling at Aspers’ casino in Newcastle. Ashley was on a night out with the team manager, Alan Pardew, and after hitting a winning streak earning £130,000 on craps, things turned sour.

Crocodile snaps up a mobile phone

A crocodile at an aquarium in the Ukraine surprised its keepers when it started ringing: 14-year-old Gena had swallowed a mobile phone which a visitor dropped into his enclosure when trying to snap a picture. Vets are now trying to feed the croc laxatives to help remove the phone.

More women taking to a wee whisky

Women are becoming increasingly fond of whisky, according to a survey published today. More than one-third (35 per cent) would choose whisky over any other tipple. Some 60 per cent of female respondents developed a taste for the drink because their partner kept it in the house.

Lady Gaga dress divides opinion

Lady Gaga’s outlandish dress sense has proved to be divisive after she was shortlisted for both most and least stylish star in this year’s NMEAwards. The singer, whose outfits last year included her meat frock, is joined on both lists by Oasis star Liam Gallagher. Read more