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The News Matrix: Wednesday 16 March 2011

Doctors demand halt to health reform

Doctors have called for Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to withdraw the Health and Social Care Bill which will see GPs handed commissioning powers. An emergency meeting of the BMA stopped short of supporting a no confidence vote in Mr Lansley. MORE

Syphilis ‘guinea pigs’ sue US over infection

Seven Guatemalans are suing the US for deliberately infecting them with syphilis in 1940s experiments linked to the use of penicillin. The action follows an apology from President Obama, who described the tests as “outrageous and abhorrent”.

University fees to be at least £7,500

Universities face more cuts because not one has proposed to introduce fees of less than £7,500 a year. Figures obtained by Labour show cuts would range from £50m to £770m as the institutions are ignoring the Coalition’s benchmark figure. MORE

Honeymoon accused admitted to Priory

Shrien Dewani, accused of arranging his wife’s death on their honeymoon in South Africa last November, has been ordered to move to the Priory hospital near his Bristol home. MORE

Midsomer Murders producer suspended

Brian True-May, the producer and co-creator of the popular whodunit series Midsomer Murders, has been suspended from his role over comments on the lack of ethnic minorities appearing in the crime-ridden fictional village. MORE

Microsoft pulls plug on iPod competitor

Mocked for its brown design and only available in North America, Microsoft’s music and video MP3 player has been a non-starter since its 2006 launch. Competing against the inexorable rise of Apple and Android devices, Microsoft has called time on the production of its competitor, the Zune.

Call for Renault to be punished

Politicians of all stripes yesterday insisted that Renault bosses must be punished for “unbelievably amateurish” conduct in bogus spying accusations. MORE

Refugees’ boat sinks, killing 35

A boat carrying Tunisian migrants bound for Italy sank in rough seas, killing 35 on board. A ferry carrying 1,800 fleeing the unrest in Libya was turned away by authorities in Malta and Italy. MORE

Nine first-timers on Orange awards list

A novel which draws on the author’s upbringing in the Balkans during the civil war has been long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Released later this month, The Tiger’s Wife, by 25-year-old Tea Obreht, is one of nine debuts to be spotlighted. MORE

Tommy Lee Jones to run for Senate?

A Texas radio host has launched a website campaigning for Hollywood actor Tommy Lee Jones to run for Senate. Geoff Berg is hoping the Men in Black star will become the state’s Democratic candidate in 2012, but admits the idea is “far-fetched”.

Lorry driver hauls in £17.8m ‘on a whim’

A £17.8m Lottery winner bought his ticket on a whim. The lorry driver from East Sussex stopped to buy a pint of milk on the way home and got four lucky dips to supplement his usual two lines. The 37-year-old plans to use his winnings to move out of his one-bedroom council flat.

Olympics clock falls at the first hurdle

The official London 2012 Olympics clock, produced by Omega, the Games’ timekeeper, broke down yesterday, hours after a TV mockumentary about the build-up to the Games depicted a similar debacle. The clock was launched on Monday. MORE

Product placement to fund Channel 4

Channel 4 has signed a deal with high-street fashion chain New Look to make its first programme funded by product placement. The store’s clothes will feature in the T4 show which will visit different towns each week and pit locals against each other in a catwalk competition. MORE

Bomb squad called to defuse sex toy

Explosives experts were called to investigate a suspicious package in a post office in north-west Russia on Monday, only to find the box contained a vibrator. Mail room workers heard the box “ticking”, but the bomb squad later explained the sex toy had managed to turn itself on.

Giant lobster is saved from the pot

A giant lobster believed to be more than 50 years old has been saved by the fisherman who caught it. The 3ft-long creature, which weighs 9lb, was landed in Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex. It was donated to an aquarium.

Authorities release impounded Bibles

The Malaysian government has agreed to release 35,000 imported Bibles seized and impounded by customs officials because the word “God” had been translated as “Allah”, angering some Muslim groups. Malaysian authorities say the word will confuse Muslims.

Pepsi makes a bottle out of plants

Pepsi’s latest weapon in its never-ending war with Coca-Cola is a bottle made of plant material. The containers are made from switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. The company also hopes to use orange peel, oat husks, potato scraps and other leftovers. It claims the innovation reduces its potential carbon footprint and will test the bottle next year.

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