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The News Matrix: Wednesday 12 February 2014

TV weatherman in court on sex charges

Former TV weatherman Fred Talbot appeared in court in Manchester yesterday accused of historical sex offences allegedly committed while he was a teacher . Mr Talbot, 64, of Bowdon, Cheshire, is alleged to have committed the offences between 1968 and 1983.

Extremists threaten cultural heritage

The destruction of cultural artefacts in Syria, through a combination of Islamist groups who say they offend their religion and looters looking to take treasured items, is increasing. There are fears that if the trend continues Syria could lose much of its cultural heritage. MORE

Deaths from legal highs soar in Britain

Deaths linked to “legal highs” have surged in Britain, a report showed yesterday. Instances in which psychoactive substances were identified as the cause of death rose from 10 in 2009 to 68 in 2012, said researchers at St George’s Hospital, University of London.

Broadcasts to North Korea ‘not feasible’

The head of the BBC World Service has told a committee of MPs it would broadcast to North Korea “if there was a practical way of doing it”. Peter Horrocks, director of global news at the BBC, told members of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee that the secretive state used “extremely repressive techniques” to stop its citizens listening to broadcasts.

First talks with Taiwan since 1949

China and Taiwan have held their first high-level talks since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Top officials from each side attended the four-day talks in Nanjing. No official agenda was released for the talks, which are widely seen as a confidence-building exercise. MORE

M2 closed after sinkhole opens up

A 15ft-deep sinkhole yesterday closed the M2. Engineers have been examining the hole near Sittingbourne in Kent but the Highways Agency refused to reveal when the motorway could reopen.

Roll-ups as bad for you as cigarettes

Smokers of roll-up cigarettes are being “mis-sold” products just as unhealthy as manufactured cigarettes, experts warn. Hand-rolled cigarettes are “at least as hazardous as any other type of cigarette”, Richard Edwards, professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand, wrote in the British Medical Journal.

Obama pays tribute to French President 

The Presidents of both the United States and France used a press conference yesterday to highlight the improving relations between the two nations as part of a state visit by Francois Hollande, which also saw a star-studded dinner hosted by Barack Obama at the White House last night. MORE

Exploding dough bin goes viral

A recycling point allegedly being used by the Papa John’s pizza chain has been left to overflow with dough. A passer-by posted a photo on Twitter of the dough, which appeared to be rising up and out of the bin. Papa John’s blamed an inexperienced employee for the incident.

German man’s extra art haul discovered

A German man who was found  with 1,400 artworks hidden in his Munich flat kept a further 60  paintings in his home in Salzburg, the Austrian media reported yesterday. The Salzburg haul includes works by artists such as Monet, Renoir and Picasso, the Austria Press Agency reported.

Rock back to the top of the charts again

Rock music is the UK’s best-selling album genre again. Music industry body the BPI said last year rock overtook pop for the first time since 2010 in terms of album sales. Rock claimed 33.8 per cent of UK album sales in 2013, up from 31.3 per cent in 2012, while pop accounted for 31 per cent, down from 33.5 per cent.

Few people knew their role in life at 16

Less than a third of adults knew what they wanted to achieve at 16. Dr David Hemery CBE, Olympic gold medallist and founder of the charity 21st Century Legacy, said: “The survey results reveal how important it is for young people to be supported and encouraged to discover their unique potential.”

Bid to close spoof Jobcentre account

A spoof Twitter account for Jobcentre Plus has been reactivated after the Government failed in its bid to shut it down. The satirical @UKJCP account prompted complaints from the Department for Work and Pensions after tweets mocking boss Iain Duncain Smith were posted. MORE

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Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

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Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

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The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor