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The News Matrix: Wednesday 10 October 2012

Few teachers back scrapping of GCSEs

Fewer than one in four teachers are in favour of the Government's plans to scrap GCSEs and replace them with a new English Baccalaureate Certificate. A YouGov Teacher Track survey questioned almost 1,000 UK teachers about the proposals. A majority were opposed to any final exam system, believing a mix of exams and coursework was the best way to monitor learning.

Up to two million paying over the odds

Two out of five people who signed up to off-peak deals in the hope of cutting energy bills could be increasing what they pay, according to a watchdog. Up to two million people could be paying over the odds, as it emerged that Britain's Big Six could hike their charges over the winter.

Nato pledges support for Turkey

Nato is ready to defend Turkey amid artillery and mortar exchanges with Syria, its top official, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said yesterday. Ankara sent additional fighter jets to reinforce an air base close to the Syria border where tensions have escalated dramatically.

Hunger increasing due to recession

Two decades of progress in reducing world hunger have come to a stop during the global recession, figures from the United Nations show. The number of people without enough to eat fell from one billion in 1990-92 to 867 million in 2007-09, but then went back up to 868 million in 2010-12.

Body of drug lord stolen by gang

The body of one of Mexico's most feared drug lords has been stolen from a funeral home by an armed gang. The theft occurred the day after Heriberto Lazcano, the head of the Zetas cartel, was fatally shot in Progeso, near the Texas border, in a gunfight with marines.

Taliban shoot girl activist, 14, in head

A girl of 14 who gained worldwide acclaim for speaking out against the Pakistani Taliban's ban on education for girls was shot in the head on her way home from school yesterday. Militants said the attack on Malala Yousafzai was a warning to other "secular" youths. MORE

Justin Lee Collins is guilty of harassment

Justin Lee Collins, left, formerly one of Channel 4's prime-time presenters, has been found guilty of harassing his former partner. Collins was sentenced to 140 hours of community service.

Berlusconi may not run in next election

Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi said yesterday that he may not stand in elections next spring and suggested that technocrat leader Mario Monti could stay on as head of a centre-right government. Mr Berlusconi's move revealed his fears that the centre-left will win the vote.

Hamza denies terrorism charges

Radical cleric Abu Hamza will face trial next year after pleading not guilty to terrorism charges in a New York court. Hamza, indicted under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, entered his plea at the Manhattan federal court yesterday.

Netanyahu calls snap election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night called a snap general election, which he hopes will cement his centre-right government's position. Facing a disjointed opposition, the vote could come as early as January.

Rothko 'vandal' in the dock today

A man accused of defacing a £50m Mark Rothko painting at the Tate Modern gallery will appear before magistrates in south London today. Wlodzimierz Umaniec, 26, alias Vladimir Umanets, is charged with causing criminal damage.

Unpleasant sounds help us to stay alive

The sounds of a knife on a bottle and a fork on a glass are even worse than nails on a blackboard, according to scientists. Volunteers were asked to compare 74 sounds, from a babbling brook to screeching tyres. Researchers said unpleasant sounds help us to survive by alerting us to danger.

President 'cures' HIV/Aids with herbs

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has repeated that he has discovered a cure for HIV/Aids and that dozens of patients in the tiny West African state have been cured using his secret concoction of boiled herbs. Mr Jammeh first announced his natural remedy to cure Aids in 2007.

Official sacked for racist Facebook rant

An ethnic-Chinese Singapore trade union executive was sacked after she posted expletive-laden comments about Malay weddings on Facebook. Amy Cheong's remarks were so offensive they prompted the Prime Minister and other politicians to complain.

Corden to star in new BBC2 series

James Corden will star in a new six-part comedy-thriller series for BBC2. Corden wrote the series The Wrong Mans with his Gavin & Stacey colleague Mathew Baynton, who will also co-star in the half-hour episodes. The new series will be filmed next year.

Prince William doll 'nothing like him'

An advert for a doll which promised an "authentic likeness" of Prince William on his wedding day has been ruled to be misleading after a buyer complained the two looked nothing alike. The Bradford Exchange Ltd brochure said the doll was "handcrafted to an unprecedented level".

Lost diaries heighten 'Mona Lisa' mystery

Diaries reputedly posted to the US in the 1960s could give a clue to the origin of a portrait presented as the original Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. But the memoirs of British art collector Hugh Blaker disappeared and the Washington DC address they were sent to has never existed.

Kidnapping was not what it seemed

Police in Zurich started a manhunt to find the victim of an armed kidnapping only to discover it was a re-enactment of detective films using replica air guns. Passers-by called the police late on Monday after seeing a man pulled into a car. A search found the car and two Airsoft guns.

Burgess gets plaque at Manchester Uni

A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess will be honoured with a blue plaque today. The tribute will be sited at the University of Manchester, where the writer studied. It joins a plaque outside his flat in Monaco, where he lived for 17 years.

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