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The News Matrix: Tuesday 5 July 2011

Exxon under fire over oil spill claim

The oil company Exxon Mobil faced a mixture of scepticism and hostility yesterday after its president claimed that no wildlife had been harmed in an accident that saw 1,000 barrels of oil spilled directly into the Yellowstone River, Montana. MORE

Emergency law will close bail loophole

Emergency laws to avert a meltdown in the bail system are to be rushed through the Commons on Thursday. The move follows a court ruling that police can no longer bail suspects for more than four days without charging or releasing them. MORE

Heropilot dies after mid-air collision

A pilot involved in a mid-air collision died despite managing to steer his aircraft into a recreation ground, avoiding nearby houses. The second aircraft landed safely after the incident, which occurred near Shoreham Airport in West Sussex.

Man apologises for ‘unintended killing’

Tatsuya Ichihashi, the Japanese man accused of murdering Lindsay Hawker, 22, apologised to her family for raping and strangling her. But he denied intending to kill the British teacher at the start of his trial outside Tokyo yesterday.

Miliband ‘short on time’ to win election

Time is running out for Ed Miliband to turn around his personal ratings if Labour is to win the next general election, according to the latest “poll of polls”. After nine months as Labour leader, Mr Miliband is more unpopular than Iain Duncan Smith was at the same stage of his leadership of the Conservative Party in 2002. MORE

Chavez makes surprise return

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba yesterday, after several weeks in the country being treated for a cancerous tumour. Looking thinner but energetic, Mr Chavez strode across the tarmac, raised a fist, waved and blew a kiss. MORE

Queen cuts her costs by £1.8m

The Queen reduced her cost to the British taxpayer by £1.8m last year despite a £2.1m rise in the amount spent on royal travel – mainly due to the cost of leasing the royal helicopter, said the Palace. MORE

Protesters with cameras targeted

Syrians who film protests and government shootings on mobile phones and cameras are now being targeted directly, as the regime steps up efforts to limit negative press coverage overseas, a leading activist said yesterday. MORE

Neo-Nazis ditching skinhead look

Germany’s secret service has warned that the country’s neo-Nazis are ditching their skinhead image and increasingly blending into society in an effort to attract voters to the far-right NPD party. MORE

Charlene ‘tried to flee three times’

As Princess Charlene of Monaco prepares to depart for her honeymoon, there have been fresh claims that the newlywed royal had tried to flee three times in the run-up to her marriage to Prince Albert II. MORE

Smashing time to get a divorce

Ceremonies to celebrate divorces have gained momentum in Japan after the massive March earthquake and tsunami, followed by a nuclear crisis, caused unhappy couples to reassess their lives. Requests have tripled according to Hiroki Terio, who pioneered the ceremony, which costs £423, includes a buffet meal and culminates with the ritual smashing of wedding rings with a gavel.

Twitter changes messaging rules

Public figures and celebrities lost another vestige of their privacy yesterday after Twitter changed its rules, allowing all users to send private messages to anyone with a large number of followers. Previously the “direct message” function was only available to users who gave permission by following each other.

Prisoner sues for sex and sensibility

A Michigan prisoner is suing his jail, saying that he’s being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he can’t have pornography. Kyle Richards, 21, claims his civil rights are being violated because of “sexual and sensory deprivation” inflicted on him. MORE

Unexploded bomb used as school bell

A group visiting a Ugandan school to raise awareness of how to spot mines were shocked to find an unexploded bomb being used as a bell. Teachers would bang stones against the bomb, which was still active and could have exploded if hit with force. MORE

Rickshaws to get GPS devices

Rickshaws in New Delhi are to be fitted with GPS devices to ensure that drivers can no longer take convoluted routes to jack up the fare. Next week, 250 of the devices will be installed as part of a trial project. They will be connected to a central-government server and allow clients to monitor drivers.

Parents of Newquay teens are criticised

Parents of teenagers heading to the Cornish resort of Newquay after their exams have been criticised after five girls aged 16 were found “drunk and incapable” at the weekend. Police confiscated 433 containers of alcohol from minors in two days.

‘Tractor rampage’ farmer spared jail

A farmer who went on a “rampage” in his tractor, wrecking two cars, walked free from court with a suspended sentence. Paul Newton, 60, from Ware, Hertfordshire, had previously claimed his tractor had been stolen but was convicted of dangerous driving.

Man cleared of rape had ‘sexsomnia'

A man accused of raping a teenage girl walked free from court today after arguing he suffered from sexsomnia. Stephen Lee Davies, 43, of Pembroke Dock, Wales, claimed he could not stop himself from having sex while asleep.

BBC commentators annoy viewers

The BBC has apologised after viewers complained about “over-talking” by its commentary team at Wimbledon. The corporation said its commentators “added balance and insight where necessary”, but admitted some viewers were “unhappy”.