The News Matrix: Wednesday 10 August 2011

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The Independent Online

Life sentence for ‘church’ polygamist

Warren Jeffs, the polygamist who last week was convicted of sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what his church deemed “spiritual marriages”, has been sentenced to life imprisonment. During the trial he promised a “whirlwind of judgment” on the world.

Prisoners banned from using Facebook

Their victims may like to poke them, often with a big stick, but inmates in California jails have been banned from using Facebook and other social networking sites. The authorities have asked Facebook to close sites of prisoners who could update their statuses on contraband phones.

Television chef held at knife-point in raid

Celebrity chef Simon Rimmer has been threatened by robbers at his Manchester restaurant. The star of the BBC’s Something For The Weekend was forced to lie on the floor and his head chef held at knife-point during the incident on Monday. The thieves fled empty-handed.

Rebels open their embassy in London

William Hague welcomed the reopening of the Libyan embassy in London yesterday, now under control of the rebels in the country, after the UK recognised the administration in Benghazi as the country’s legitimate government. The administration is still struggling to maintain control.

Turkey piles more pressure on Assad

Turkey’s foreign minister heaped further pressure on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad yesterday. Relations between the two countries have soured, as the crackdown on protesters has intensified. Turkey’s criticism follows the withdrawal of the Saudi, Kuwaiti and Bahraini ambassadors.

Virgin pilots vote to call off strike

The threat of strike action by Virgin Atlantic pilots has been averted after they voted to accept a new pay offer. The pilots’ union Balpa said the deal included a profit-share scheme, a programme to review pilots’ lifestyles, and a commitment to improving workforce relations.

Perry ready to enter race for White House

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is set to join the race for the White House and shake up the Republican field. Perry, a devout and vocal Christian is expected to be one of the main contenders next year. MORE

Criminals treated to theme park outing

A council has ordered a review after five young criminals enjoyed an all-expenses-paid trip to Alton Towers. The theme park outing was part of an intensive supervision and surveillance programme, and according to reports the party included a knife robber and burglars.

School rebuked for lax internet security

A Hampshire school has been criticised for lax internet security after the private details of 20,000 pupils, parents and teachers was exposed by a hacker. The Information Commissioner’s Office rebuked Bay House School for having the same password for its website and its internal data system. A pupil hacked the site in March.

Markets show slight improvements

Markets struggled to reverse losses of the past week yesterday, making only tepid gains. France appeared to be the latest eurozone country to have its creditworthiness questioned, as Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chair, came under pressure to resolve the financial crisis in the US.

Victim’s forensics skills caught rapist

A rape victim used her knowledge of forensic science to make sure her attacker was caught. The 18-year-old pulled out strands of her hair and spat on the man’s car seat to leave DNA evidence that led to the conviction of Jonathan Haynes, 30, a serial rapist, who was jailed yesterday.

Lack of specialists for mothers-to-be

Women are dying from conditions that develop or worsen during pregnancy because of a lack of specialist doctors, experts have warned. Increasing numbers of obese women and women in their 30s and 40s are becoming pregnant. Both groups are more susceptible to health problems.

Stingrays take their time giving birth

Stingrays at Sea Life’s London Aquarium have given birth to seven babies – despite the mothers not having contact with male stingrays for two years. Paul Hale, curator at the aquarium, said: “Rays have been known to store sperm and not give birth until they decide the timing is right.”

The wonder of who kissed Elvis is solved

Vanity Fair has identified the mystery woman seen kissing singer Elvis Presley in a backstage theatre stairwell in an iconic 1956 photograph. Barbara Gray, now 75 and living in Charleston, South Carolina, told the magazine that she didn’t reveal her identity for the money or fame.

WW2 hand grenade dug up at Gatwick

A suspected Second World War hand grenade has been found by workers digging near Gatwick Airport. Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion on the device close to the railway station of the West Sussex airport. Planes were grounded temporarily.

Lucy fans have a Ball in her honour

915 fans of US comic Lucille Ball gathered in Jamestown, New York to celebrate what would have been the star’s 100th birthday, creating a world record for the most Lucy lookalikes ever gathered together.

Briton finishes 3,100-mile run

A man from County Durham has completed a 3,100-mile run across the US in memory of his father and brother. Mark Allison, lost five stone on the 100-day marathon, which began in California and ended at Coney Island pier in New York. He has raised £55,000 for charity.

Island blast was exploding meteor

An exploding meteor was believed to be responsible for a huge bang that reverberated around the Pacific island nation of Niue. Police chief Mark Chenery said the bang last Wednesday night woke the island’s 1,200 residents. He initially thought a boat had exploded in the harbour.

Mars rover nears destination, at last

Nasa’s Mars rover Opportunity is approaching its destination – one year late. The vehicle has had to drive backwards on its three-year journey to stop its front wheel wearing out. It is now nearing the vast Endeavour crater, where it will search for early microbial life on Mars. MORE

Struggle to set up an elephant sperm bank

Officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, who are trying to establish North America’s first ever elephant sperm bank, have had difficulty getting export and import permits for 16 litres of semen which is currently being stored in the National Zoo’s BioBank in South Africa.