The News Matrix: Wednesday 01 February 2012


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Water rates to rise by £20 on average

The average household will pay £20 more on water this year, with typical yearly bills rising 5.7 per cent to £376. There's regional variation in how much extra will be charged, says watchdog Ofwat. Those living in the south-east will pay £31 more, while Welsh Water has decided on a 3.8 per cent rise.

Users will be able to avoid web tracking

Internet users will be able to avoid tracking devices from June in a clampdown on advertising. Adverts generated by cookies are used to target products at individuals who have visited websites suggesting they may buy something. But soon, they will need to carry an "i" warning symbol. MORE

Search for cruise ship survivors is called off

The hunt for people in the submerged part of the cruise ship which ran aground off the Italian coast has been called off. Officials said the deformed hull of the Costa Concordia was unsafe for search teams. MORE

Man charged over lewd acts on children

A school teacher bound and gagged children, put cockroaches on some of their faces and posed in photos with them, possibly in a classroom, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said yesterday. Mark Berndt has been charged with committing lewd acts with 23 boys and girls. AP

Obama admits use of drones in Pakistan

President Barack Obama has for the first time admitted that the CIA deployed drones to conduct "precision strikes" on al-Qa'ida in Pakistan. While American officials view the strikes as an important tool, Washington's use of drones has long been a source of anger for Pakistanis. MORE

Gunman injures police officer in seige

A small village in Lincolnshire was hit by an armed siege yesterday after a police officer was left with what one onlooker described as "facial injuries". Police negotiators were locked in a stand-off with a gunman at a house in Sutton St James. A "sterile cordon" has been imposed in "four or five" streets close by, leaving residents housebound or unable to return to their homes.

Armenian genocide law faces challenge

A group of 130 French politicians have approached the country's highest court to overturn a law that makes it illegal to deny that the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago was genocide. The Turkish Prime Minister, who opposed the legislation, welcomed the move.

'Blasphemous' 1989 film available in UK

A 19-minute short film which sparked a political furore when it was banned by censors in 1989 is set to become available to the British public. But Visions of Ecstasy contains no violent scenes of particular depravity. Instead, it shows St Teresa caressing Jesus on the cross in a scene that could have violated an old libel law on blasphemy.

Warm weather halts falling beer sales

A steady slide in beer consumption in Germany was stopped cold last year thanks to warmer weather, according to the country's federal statistics office. German brewers sold 98.2 million hectolitres of beer last year, down by just 0.1 per cent in 2011 after dropping by an average of two per cent every year since 2006.

Toddlers' palms 'can reveal intelligence'

Several kindergartens in the Chinese province of Shanxi are charging parents 1,200 yuan (£120) for a palm-reading test that they claim can predict toddlers' intelligence, state news agency Xinhua said. The company behind the tests, Shanxi Daomeng Culture Communication Co, says the exercise helps determine their "innate intelligence and potential".

Prayer celebrates Queen's Jubilee

The Church of England has penned a new prayer giving thanks for the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The Diamond Jubilee Prayer, written by the chapter of St Paul's Cathedral with the Queen's blessing, will be used at the Jubilee Thanksgiving Service on 5 June and introduced across local parishes. Other denominations have been invited to share the prayer.

Adele to come back after operation

Just two months after an operation to fix a vocal cord haemorrhage, "Someone Like You" singer Adele has confirmed that she is ready to make her live comeback at next month's Grammys ceremony. "It's been so long I started to forget I was a singer!" she said.