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The News Matrix: Tuesday 28 January 2014

Teachers at free school to strike

Teachers at a free school have voted for strike action over what they claim are “zero-hour” contracts. From Thursday, a series of walk-outs will take place at the sixth-form academy in Islington, north London, in what will be the first action of this kind at a free school. MORE

Government woos Mugabe allies

The British Government is being criticised for hosting Zimbabwean businessmen in London, including some with close links to Robert Mugabe. They are meeting officials and business leaders at the Foreign Office this afternoon to discuss ways of improving trade. MORE

Missing terror suspect’s appeal

A terror suspect who went missing after changing into a burka at a mosque is appealing measures taken against him “to protect the public”. Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, 27, who is said to have received al-Qaida-linked terrorist training, disappeared last November.

State of Nation: Obama’s last hurrah

President Barack Obama will be hoping to use the annual State of the Union address tonight to persuade America he still has what it takes to realise his faltering social and economic initiatives, none of which has been achieved since he stood at the podium last year. MORE

UN chief says state’s security worsening

The security situation in the Central African Republic is getting worse despite the inauguration of a new leader, the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay says. Muslim and Christian leaders have just met British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby for more assistance.

Sportsmen dropping the Tuf guy act

Former England cricketer Phil Tufnell says his decision to have a hair transplant demonstrates the increasing acceptability of cosmetic treatments among men. “The team’s bags are full of moisturisers,” he said.

Roache cleared  of one sex charge

Coronation Street actor William Roache has been cleared of one of the seven sex allegations against him. Mr Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, remains on trial on two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault involving five girls 16 or younger. He denies all charges.

Ministers play down emergency threat

Ukraine’s government has played down threats from its Justice Minister to declare a state of emergency, amid fears that authorities will end protests by force. Elena Lukash said she would call for the declaration if protesters occupying her ministry refused to leave. MORE

Pesticide exposure linked to dementia

Past exposure to the banned pesticide DDT is “strikingly” linked to the development of Alzheimer’s in later life, a study has shown. People with the highest levels of DDT residue in their blood were four times more likely to succumb to the disease.

Arab Spring hotbed passes constitution

Leaders signed a new, modern constitution yesterday – a key goal of the revolution three years ago that touched off the Arab Spring. “With the birth of this text, we confirm our victory over dictatorship,” President Moncef Marzouki said.

Brokeback cowboy tale is set to music

The tragic tale of two cowboys in love is being reinvented as Brokeback Mountain – the Opera. The premiere is due to be held in Madrid today. Author Annie Proulx said opera explored the tale in a new way.

Yoga helps breast cancer side effects

Yoga can help to alleviate the side effects of treatment for breast cancer, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found. Practising yoga for just three months reduced symptoms of fatigue and inflammation that followed radiotherapy.

Smoking claims fifth Marlboro Man

An American actor has become the fifth former “Marlboro Man” from the famous cigarette advertisements to die from a smoking-related disease. Eric Lawson modelled as the cowboy character during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was 72.

Let’s hear it for bubble wrap

An air ambulance charity which uses bubble wrap to help patients yesterday marked Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust said the wrapping “helps save lives” as part of the strategy for reducing blood loss.

Relic with Pope John Paul’s blood stolen

Police are searching an Italian mountain area beloved by Pope John Paul II for a stolen relic bearing his blood. Vatican Radio decried the “sacrilegious theft” from San Pietro della Ienca church near the Gran Sasso part of the Apennine mountains, where John Paul used to ski. MORE

Mackintosh in  NY’s Hall of Fame

Sir Cameron Mackintosh has become the first British producer to be inducted into the Broadway Theatre Hall of Fame. Productions he has worked on include Les Misérables and Cats. Sir Cameron said that he was “deeply honoured”.

Tarantino sues over script leak

Quentin Tarantino is reportedly suing US company Gawker Media after a draft script of his new project The Hateful Eight appeared on Gawker’s Defamer blog. The film-maker claimed he was “very, very depressed” at the “betrayal”. He has suspended work on the film.

Daft Punk clean up at Grammys

French dance duo Daft Punk have won five Grammy Awards, including Album and Record of the Year. Pharrell Williams, who is featured on the outfit’s “Get Lucky” track, delivered the thank-you speech to the musicians – real names Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

Parliament’s game of cat and mouse

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has compiled a shortlist of three cats, Jill, Ginger and Bloom, which it thinks could help tackle a mouse problem at the Palace of Westminster. The buildings are said to be infested with the mice, which have nibbled on important documents.

Flatulent cow burnt in shed explosion

Methane gas from 90 flatulent cows exploded in a German farm shed on Monday, damaging the roof and injuring one of the animals. The gas had built up in the structure in the town of Rasdorf, then “a static electric charge caused the gas to explode”. One cow was treated for burns.

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