The News Matrix: Wednesday 18 April 2012


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Tanker drivers mull improved pay deal

Union leaders representing fuel tanker drivers will gather today to decide whether to accept a deal aimed at averting industrial action. Talks between fuel tanker driver leaders, employers and conciliation service Acas ended on Friday, but no details have thus far been released.

Mississippi gets hard on anti-abortion law

Mississippi has become the latest US state to bring in tough anti-abortion legislation, which could shut down its one remaining clinic offering the procedure. Governor Phil Bryant called it a major step to "ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected". MORE

Chirac moves his support to Hollande

The former President, Jacques Chirac, will abandon his estranged protégé Nicolas Sarkozy and cast his ballot in favour of the Socialist candidate François Hollande in the French election this weekend. MORE

Teenager avoids jail over pellet attack

A 16-year-old boy who shot a 9-year-old girl in the face with a pellet gun has avoided being sent into custody. The boy, who was attempting to rob the girl of her bike and money in Richmond, North Yorkshire, was handed a six month rehabilitation order at Teesside Crown Court.

Blood test identifies teenage depression

Scientists have developed a blood test that identifies whether teenagers are suffering from depression. The test also distinguishes an individual's anxiety disorder. The authors of the American study claim between 10 and 20 per cent of teenagers suffer from major depression.

Britons £411 short of living comfortably

Britons claim they need £411 per month more than they currently earn in order to live comfortably, a report by Aviva has suggested. People aged between 25 and 34, who have an average monthly net income of £2,287, said they needed an extra £627 in take home pay. The figures come as unemployment statistics look set to reveal further concern for the UK's workforce today. MORE

Bahrain: Rulers consider release of activist

The royal family is divided over whether to release a leading human-rights leader who has been on hunger strike for over 60 days. The strike by Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has revived opposition to the Khalifas. MORE

Spain hopes to raise billions in debt sale

After watching its borrowing costs jump recently, the Spanish government faces an important test tomorrow, when it attempts to raise €2.5bn. If investors refuse to lend to Madrid, or only do so at high interest rates, the panic surrounding the Spanish economy threatens to escalate. MORE

Washington eases financial sanctions

The US eased sanctions against Burma, enabling US-based groups to do charity work in the country. This is the first reward from Washington in response to by-elections that were won by the party of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Physics A-levels must be 'compulsory'

Physics A-Level should be made prerequisite for students who want to be doctors, a leading scientist has said. Professor Sir Peter Knight, president of the Institute of Physics, said the subject underpins many techniques used to diagnose illness and disease.

Barlow signs deal to reprise 'X Factor' role

Take That lead singer Gary Barlow has signed up to be a judge for a second series of The X Factor. Simon Cowell said: "Gary has earned his place and I'm excited to be working with him again." Fellow judge Louis Walsh has also agreed a new X Factor contract.

And the award goes to... none of the above

The publishing world's search for this year's "great American novel" is over – and there will be no Pulitzer Prize for fiction for the first time in 35 years. The board presiding over the awards failed to reach a majority when voting on which of the three shortlisted titles deserved to win. MORE

Flour power at No 10 as bakers protest tax

Hundreds of bakers are planning to march on Downing Street next week to protest the so-called pasty tax. Greggs and the National Association of Master Bakers object to the proposed 20 per cent VAT on hot foods in the Budget. The march will begin at Pudding Lane.

Julian Assange hosts talk show

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, currently under house arrest, has become an unlikely talk-show host for Russia Today. He says he aims to speak to "people who normally don't get a voice".

Will insect muffins be love at first bite?

Need more protein in your diet? Try adding worms to chocolate muffins. The Insect Cookbook, which came out in the Netherlands yesterday, contains this and other weird recipes. "It is the next step towards the introduction of insects on restaurant menus," said an academic at Wageningen University.

Lydon doesn't want to be No 1 for Jubilee

Efforts to get the Sex Pistols' punk anthem "God Save the Queen" to No 1 in Jubilee week have been snubbed by the band's lead singer. John Lydon said he wanted "no part in the circus", claiming: "It is certainly not my personal aim... This campaign undermines what the Pistols stood for."

Pilot's sudden dive injures passengers

A sleepy Air Canada pilot whose wild manoeuvrings left numerous passengers hurt last year first mistook the planet Venus for an aircraft and then sent his airliner diving toward the Atlantic to prevent an imaginary collision with another plane, an official report said this week. AP