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The News Matrix: Wednesday 18 June 2014

Passport Office boss says sorry for delays

Paul Pugh, the head of the Passport Office, has apologised to applicants who have suffered delays, but only after a grilling by Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr Pugh also confirmed that about 480,000 passport applications were logged as work in progress. This has surged from around 290,000 in March. MORE

British girl, five, dies in swimming pool

A five-year-old British girl has drowned in a swimming pool in Cypus, police said yesterday. The girl died on Monday at a hotel in Protaras on the south-east coast of the island. Police confirmed the girl was “spotted floating unconscious in the swimming pool” by a tourist.

US seizes Benghazi attack suspect

US Special Operations Forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in 2012 in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend. Ahmed Abu Khattala was in US custody “in a secure location outside Libya”, according to US officials. MORE

Offshore wind farm gets the go ahead

An offshore wind farm, which will be one of the largest in the world, has been given the go ahead by the Government. The East Anglia One wind farm, off the coast of Suffolk, will have up to 240 turbines and generate enough electricity to power about 820,000 homes.

Forty Palestinians held in hunt for teens

Israeli soldiers arrested more than 40 Palestinians yesterday, while the government imposed new punishments on Hamas prisoners, as the search continued for three missing teenagers who Israel believes Hamas operatives abducted in the West Bank. MORE

Ferry crew: rescues were not up to us

The crew members of a ferry that sank with the loss of almost 300 lives argued it was up to the coastguard to rescue the passengers, not them. The crew face charges of homicide and negligence.

Doctors told to lose aspirin smokescreen

Doctors should prescribe newer medications rather than using the “smokescreen” of aspirin to treat a common heart condition, new guidance advises. Aspirin had commonly been used to treat atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder, which affects 1.5 per cent of people.

Four family members killed in car crash

Two men and two women died in a collision involving a tanker, car and van on the A44 near Aberystwyth, police said last night. The four are from the same family. An infant girl was in a serious condition at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

Scot vote means ‘life or death’ for Labour

Keeping Scotland in the UK is “life or death” for Labour, while the Tories would benefit enormously if there is a Yes vote for independence, Sir John Major, a former PM, said. that the Tories would “likely win most elections at Westminster”.

Grandmother, 99, passes school exams

A 99-year-old Sardinian grandmother, who left school to work in her family’s olive groves, has finally passed her middle-school exam. Francesca Careddu was given the exam certificate during a ceremony at the Maccioni middle school in Nuoro by Mayor Alessandro Bianchi.

Developer consults the wrong village

Developers blamed “administrative error” after a consultation on plans to build 500 homes was held in the wrong village. Robert Hitchins was due to unveil its proposals in Langley Burrell, Wiltshire, but consulted people two miles away in Kington Langley. It has offered to answer questions at a public briefing later.

Dog butchered in military classroom

Animal rights activists demanded that a military college fire an instructor who butchered a live dog before his students and then smeared its blood on their faces. Students at La Paz’s School of Military Engineering reported that the incident occurred on Saturday during a class for new cadets.

Brave police horses and dog honoured

Ten police horses and one dog have been honoured with the animal equivalent of an OBE. They received the PDSA Order of Merit for their work during the 2011 London riots. The horses were pelted with bricks after being called to protect emergency services and the public in Tottenham, north London.

Secret of Picasso’s hidden portrait

Art experts have revealed how they found a hidden painting beneath one of Pablo Picasso’s masterpieces, The Blue Room. Using infrared imagery, they were able to show an image of a man wearing a bow tie, resting his face on his hand. Staff at The Phillips Collection in Washington are trying to discover his identity. MORE

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