The News Matrix: Wednesday 19 February 2014


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The Independent Online

Opposition leader turns himself in

The hardline opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez surrendered to security forces on Tuesday to face charges of fomenting unrest against President Nicolas Maduro's government during which four people have died. The economist made a defiant speech to an opposition rally. MORE

Pussy Riot members arrested in Sochi

Two members of the anti-government punk rock group, Pussy Riot, were briefly detained in Sochi yesterday, accused, the Russian authorities said, of stealing a handbag. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were later photographed in the Olympics host city wearing their trademark balaclavas.

Forces have 20 war pregnancies a year

In the past decade only 20 servicewomen per year were sent home from Afghanistan or Iraq on the grounds that they were pregnant. Officials are understood to regard this as too small an issue to warrant introducing compulsory pregnancy tests. MORE

Poundland reveals expansion plans

The discount chain Poundland has announced it aspires to have more UK stores than Sainsbury's and Starbucks. It has also revealed plans to join the stock market with a value of around £700m. The firm's management said it wants 1,000 stores across the UK. MORE

Inmate killed in detention centre riot

One asylum-seeker died and 77 were injured during a night of violence allegedly involving locals and police at an Australian detention centre. Asylum-seekers said gangs of police and villagers stormed the centre, wielding guns, knives and machetes, and "hunted them down". MORE

Pending ban on synthetic lingerie

New regulations in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are imposing a ban on synthetic lingerie beginning this summer. The ban is aimed at protecting consumers from poor-quality materials. The new ban will go into effect in July, but several female protesters have been arrested in Kazakhstan. MORE

PM denies being an extra-terrestrial

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key recently denied claims that he is a shape-shifting alien, after a freedom of information request was filed to disclaim the rumours. Mr Key went on to hold a press conference in which he told reporters he had seen both a doctor and a vet to set things straight.

One in six GPs sent patient to food bank

One in six family doctors has been asked to refer a patient to a food bank in the past year a survey of 522 GPs has found. Food poverty in the UK has been described as an emerging "public health emergency" by academics, and evidence from GP surgeries is matched by hospital diagnoses of malnutrition.

Insurers fail to rule out rise in premiums

Insurance chiefs have refused to rule out dearer premiums as a result of the floods. Homeowners in areas of high flood risk were disappointed yesterday when the Association of British Insurers said no decision had yet been made on potential added costs to consumers. Asked if premiums would rise, the ABI's head of property, Aidan Kerr, said it was still "too early to say".

Two cows rescued – but still go to abattoir

A pair of cows had to be rescued after an accident left them upside down en route to an abattoir. The trailer ended up on its roof following a crash in Althorne, Essex. The road was closed and the RSPCA and Essex Police were called in to help. Essex Fire and Rescue Service said the cows were freed and put on another trailer.

Pinocchio returns after 63 years

A book borrowed 63 years ago has been returned during a fines amnesty. The Adventures of Pinocchio had a return date of New Year's Eve 1950. Librarian Joanna Grindle of Rugby Library, in Warwickshire, said: "We wanted to use the amnesty to welcome people back. We hope the borrower is enjoying our services again."

Posh: US welcomes successful women

Victoria Beckham has said she loved living in the US as it is more accepting of successful women. The fashion designer, now residing in the UK again, said: "Living in America for six years was the happiest I think I've ever been." She said it felt more acceptable for women to enjoy successful careers in the US.

Man arrested over al-Hilli killings

Police arrested a 48-year-old man yesterday – the first French arrest linked to the grisly shooting deaths of Saad al-Hilli and his family in the French Alps nearly 18 months ago. MORE