The News Matrix: Tuesday 29 January 2013


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The Independent Online

Sharon shows signs of brain activity

Seven years after a stroke left him in a vegetative state, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is able to process information and has exhibited "robust activity" in his brain, according to doctors. MORE

Cambridge examines change in tests

Cambridge University could set new entrance tests in the wake of Education Secretary Michael Gove's decision to scrap AS-levels. Top universities use AS-level marks to distinguish between the best candidates and assess the students' likelihood of getting top A-level grades. MORE

Timbuktu retaken by French troops

The Saharan town of Timbuktu has been retaken by French and Malian troops, but Islamic insurgents burnt a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts as they fled. The French intervention in Mali is aimed at removing the threat of jihadists using the country. MORE

Fatal fire: Nightclub owners arrested

Brazil police have arrested the owners of the nightclub where 231 people died in a fire, as well as two band members whose pyrotechnics are believed to have triggered the blaze on Sunday morning, which engulfed the club in toxic fumes. The four men could be held for up to five days.

Murdoch sorry for anti-Semitic cartoon

Rupert Murdoch has apologised for a "grotesque, offensive" cartoon in the Sunday Times which provoked protests from Jewish organisations. The drawing by Gerald Scarfe depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall from the blood of Palestinians.

Morsi imposes three states of emergency

Violent political uprisings have continued for a fifth day. President Mohammed Morsi imposed a state of emergency in three provinces as protesters and riot police clashed in Cairo and Port Said, where military forces have been deployed. At least 56 people have died. MORE

Claimants described as 'lying thieves'

Benefit claimants, including disabled people, were referred to as "LTB" – code for "lying, thieving bastards" – by staff at Triage, a firm responsible for delivering the Government's £5bn Work Programme, a BBC documentary alleged.  MORE

Poll: vote would be bad for economy

The delayed referendum on Europe promised by David Cameron will harm the economy, a majority of Conservative and Labour voters believe. A ComRes poll for i showed that it made three out of 10 people more likely to vote Tory, but 49 per cent of people thought announcing the referendum could hurt the economy. MORE

Designers pay for Fountain refurb

Fashion house Fendi will fund a £1.9m restoration of Rome's Trevi Fountain. Designers Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi combine a love of Rome's past and the need to preserve its future. The fountains "glorify water... the most important thing in life," Mr Lagerfeld gushed. MORE

Sea burials continue to be performed

There were just four sea burials last year, but the tradition shows no sign of slowing as it was confirmed there has already been a burial off the British coast this year. Since 2001, 140 people have been laid to rest in watery graves in the UK. There are three designated sites. MORE

Is this the worst film ever made?

It may boast an ensemble cast including Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet, but Movie 43 has been derided by critics as one of the worst films in history. Dubbed the "Citizen Kane of awful", the comedy earned just $5m at the US box office this weekend. MORE

Boomtown Rats to play Isle of Wight

Bob Geldof will reunite with The Boomtown Rats for the first time since 1986 when the group perform at the Isle of Wight Festival this summer. "Playing again with the Rats and doing those great songs again will be exciting afresh," Geldof said.

Qatar puts a hold on Chelsea Barracks

Qatar has put its £3bn Chelsea Barracks housing development on hold, citing "the prevailing economic environment" as a concern. The plans to build 600 homes were described by Prince Charles as a "gigantic experiment with the very soul of this city". MORE

Possible return for games consoles

The Chinese government could scrap its 13-year ban on the sale of video-game consoles. Consoles were banned in 2000 over fears that they could harm the physical and mental development of children, but the rise of online gaming has made the legislation redundant. MORE

Boy Scouts may end ban on gay members

The Boy Scouts of America is considering a dramatic change in its controversial policy of excluding gays as leaders and youth members. The different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units may be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue.

Palin leaves her $1m-a-year job at Fox

Sarah Palin has left her lucrative role as a contributor at Fox News Channel after three years. The former Republican vice-presidential candidate's last appearance on the cable network was on 19 December. She was signed up in 2010 for a rumoured $1m per year. MORE