The News Matrix: Tuesday 30 August 2011

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The Independent Online

Calls for changes to abortion counselling

Ministers will change rules on abortion so women are offered counselling independently of abortion services. The move comes after pressure from anti-abortion lobbyists who say services are biased. Pro-choice campaigners say the move will limit women’s access to impartial advice. MORE

Lennon says attack was ‘tipping point’

Celtic football club manager Neil Lennon told a court yesterday that an alleged religiously motivated attack on him was the “tipping point” of a tough season. Mr Lennon was giving evidence in the trial of John Wilson, 26, who is accused of assaulting him during a match in May. MORE

Irene leaves serious flooding in her wake

As commuters trickled into a mostly unscathed New York City yesterday in the wake of Hurricane Irene, raging rivers continued to cause record flooding across the north-eastern US and electricity companies struggled to restore power to five million darkened homes and businesses. MORE

UN warns over new strain of bird flu

A resurgence of the deadly bird flu virus is possible, the UN said yesterday, after it confirmed that a mutant strain, immune to existing vaccines, is spreading in Asia. Eight people have died of the new strain in Cambodia, according to the World Health Organisation. MORE

Ai Wei wei criticises state repression

Dissident artist Ai Weiwei has attacked repression in China via the Newsweek website, in a clear rebuke to the regime which tried to secure his silence by detaining him for nearly three months. MORE

Challenging job for new prime minister

A hawkish fiscal and foreign policy conservative who supports the use of nuclear power will be sworn in today as Japan’s sixth prime minister in five years. Currently the Finance Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, 54, faces the huge task of clearing up after the March earthquake and tsunami, ending the nuclear crisis in Fukushima and tackling the country’s enormous public debt. MORE

UK couple killed in holiday homes falls

The family of a couple who died in separate falls from apartments while holidaying in Morocco with their four sons have denied the pair had a “furious argument”. Roger and Mathilde Lamb, from Pensham in Worcestershire, are said to have died days apart from each other.

Oil exploration threatens coastline

Sicily’s coastline is threatened by the rush to plunder its oil resources, environment campaigners said yesterday. They were angered by news that Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo, who will vet drilling applications, has financial interests in a firm working with oil prospectors. MORE

Chinese tycoon to buy chunk of island

A Chinese property tycoon and former government official is planning to buy a 186 sq mile stretch of land in north-east Iceland land for a $100m (£61m) tourism project. Critics have questioned the venture, saying it could be a cover for plans to extend China’s North Atlantic strategic interests.

Oligarch describes Siberian prison hell

Oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has written a graphic account of life in Siberian prison camps, including one stomach-churning tale in which he claims that an inmate cut himself open then threw his intestines at one of the prison’s guards. MORE

Ex-MI5 boss says Iraq was ‘not a threat’

Former MI5 chief Dame Eliza Manningham- Buller has said that Iraq “did not present a threat to the UK” when Tony Blair went to war in 2003. In an interview to be broadcast on Radio 4, she said the agency advised the Government not to go to war.

Obama’s uncle faces drink-driving charge

President Barack Obama’s uncle has been charged with drunken driving in Massachusetts and is being held by immigration officials. Onyango Obama was arrested last week after police said he made a rolling stop and nearly caused a collision. He said: “I think I will call the White House.”

Motorists scramble for flying banknotes

The sight of banknotes fluttering from the sky triggered a dangerous scramble among Dutch motorists on Monday after a package containing cash apparently fell from a bank transport truck. Motorists parked their cars and ran to scoop up the euro bills on the A2 highway near Maastricht. MORE

Heinar the stork targets neo-Nazis

Storch Heinar, an anti-Nazi cartoon stork has ruffled the feathers of the far right. More than 5,000 Heinar posters have appeared in north-eastern Germany, where state elections will be held on Sunday. MORE

Walliams to swim length of the Thames

Comedian David Walliams is to swim the entire 140-mile length of the Thames to raise money for Sport Relief. Setting off on 5 September he will swim over eight days to reach Big Ben through the river’s 39 million cubic metres of raw sewage and deadly bacteria such as E.coli.

Palestinians ready for seat at the table

The Palestinian Authority is hoping to secure a seat at the United Nations next month – and it already has the chair. Activists said they would take the wooden chair, upholstered and featuring a Palestinian flag, on an international tour to publicise their quest for UN recognition as a state.

Rivers at healthiest state for 20 years

The Environment Agency has published a list of the 10 most improved rivers, and says Britain’s rivers are the healthiest in 20 years. Waterways are being transformed by habitat improvement and work with businesses and farmers to cut pollution and improve water quality. MORE

Security officers put tag on man’s false leg

Security firm G4S has sacked two members of staff who tagged a man’s false leg, allowing him to take it off to break a curfew imposed for drugs and weapons offences. Christopher Lowcock, 29, from Manchester fooled the two workers by bandaging his leg. MORE

Israel attempts to lure film producers

Israel is tired of Hollywood filming the crucifixion of Jesus in Italy and the Crusader invasion of the Holy Land in Morocco. So Israeli officials are promising better tax breaks, terror-attack insurance and cash to lure international movie producers to the holy city of Jerusalem.

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