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The News Matrix: Tuesday 3 September 2013

Graft crackdown hits demand for shark fin

Conservationists have attributed a dwindling demand for shark fins to China’s crackdown on corruption which has forced a decline in lavish banquets. An anti-graft campaign by the Chinese government has seen a cutbacks in the amount of money politicians spend on official dinners. This in turn has led to a cutback on dinners where the expensive shark-fin soup is on the menu. MORE

NSA spied on Latin American leaders

The US National Security Agency spied on e-mails, phone calls and text messages of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, a Brazilian news programme reported. The report late Sunday on Globo was based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Use of top-rate phone lines to be reviewed

The Government’s use of premium-rate phone lines is to be be reviewed, after it was revealed that they cost callers £56m last year. Cabinet Office permanent secretary Richard Heaton said it was “inappropriate” for vulnerable people to be hit with high phone bills for accessing vital public services.

Poet Seamus Heaney is laid to rest

The Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney was buried in Co Londonderry yesterday following his funeral service in Dublin. Mourners included Bono, other members of U2, the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and the Irish President Michael D Higgins. MORE

Rapist sentenced,  but victim had HIV

A convicted rapist is waiting to find out whether he contracted HIV from his victim. Richard Thomas knew the woman was ill but was unaware she was HIV positive and collapsed when police told him. He was sentenced to five years and four months after the attack in Leigh, Greater Manchester.

Coal soot blamed for glacier melting

Glaciers in the European Alps started melting in the 19th Century because of soot from coal burning, according to scientists. Dr Thomas Painter said: “Snow without soot is the brightest surface on the planet. When soot is deposited on snow it absorbs sunlight”. MORE

Downing Street stays firm on lobbying Bill

Downing Street has rejected warnings from charity bosses about new lobbying legislation. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations met with ministers ahead of today’s second reading of the Lobbying Bill, but refused to make changes. MORE

Merkel’s rival rises to occasion on TV

A televised debate between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her centre-left rival has fired up a slow campaign three weeks before elections, but few saw it as a game-changer. Observers gave points to challenger Peer Steinbrueck for reinvigorating a campaign thus far hobbled by gaffes. MORE

Presenter David Jacobs dies at 87

The broadcaster David Jacobs, known for hosting TV and radio shows including Juke Box Jury and Any Questions?, has died at the age of 87. Jacobs, who started at the BBC in 1945, only stepped down last month because of ill health.

Glare from tower melts cars below

Parking bays have been suspended beneath London’s newest skyscraper after complaints that the glare from its windows had melted parts of cars. The “Walkie Talkie” tower, which has now been nicknamed the “Walkie Scorchie”, is believed to magnify the sun’s rays because of its unusual shape. MORE

Which comes first, chicken or the rock?

A woman was faced with a dilemma when her pet chicken ate her £300 diamond earring – “retrieve” it now or wait up to eight years for the bird to die naturally. But Claire Lennon, 38, of Newbury, Berkshire, vowed that the bird would live its full innings, saying her daughter would otherwise be “heartbroken”.

Explaining the birds and the bees

Chessington World of Adventures has appointed a “birds and bees consultant” to help explain to children the mating activities of animals at the attraction’s zoo. Primate specialist Lisa Britton, 32, says honesty is the best approach to her new job, dismissing the “silly” explanations of some parents. MORE

Crocodile provides real water hazard

A man from New York has filed suit against a Mexican golf resort after he lost two fingers to a crocodile after chipping out of a sand trap. Edward Lunger, 50, from Holtsville, said he was grabbed by a crocodile that had been hiding in the nearby bushes and clamped down on his arm, according to the New York Post.

Woman swims across from Cuba

Looking dazed and sunburnt, the endurance swimmer Diana Nyad walked on to the Key West shore yesterday, becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage. Nyad, pictured, arrived at the beach about 53 hours after she began her swim in Havana on Saturday. It was her fifth try to complete the 110-mile crossing.

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