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The News Matrix: Wednesday 19 September 2012

Cut in joint patrols won't limit operation

Reducing the number of joint patrols by international troops with Afghan soldiers will have a "minimal" impact on British operations in the war-torn country, the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, told MPs yesterday. Nato is cutting back following a series of "green-on-blue" killings, in which Afghan forces turn their guns on their foreign mentors.

Chancellor plans to freeze benefits

Benefits could be frozen for two years under plans by George Osborne. The Chancellor, who wants to cut another £10bn from the welfare budget, argued handouts have risen at a faster rate than wages and have reduced the incentive for the jobless to find work. Campaigners said the vulnerable would be worst affected. MORE

Gove wants schools to ditch GCSEs

Michael Gove is encouraging schools to get rid of GCSEs before the introduction of his new English Baccalaureate in three years' time. The Education Secretary believes schools should consider taking up the IGCSE exam – a favourite of many independent schools – in the interim. MORE

Japanese expats avoid angry protests

Japanese expatriates stayed indoors yesterday as the anniversary of the incident that sparked the occupation of China prompted more angry Chinese to protest against Tokyo's purchase of islands claimed by Beijing. Thousands filled the streets, smashing Japanese-made cars and vandalising sushi bars. MORE

Striking miners to return to work

Striking South African platinum miners last night agreed to go back to work, ending a six-week dispute that claimed 43 lives. The workers at the Marikana mine accepted a 22 per cent pay increase – far short of the 12,500 rand (£932) monthly minimum wage they had been demanding.

Romney campaign suffers video blow

Mitt Romney's election campaign was hit yesterday after a leaked video showed him disdaining half the country as lay-about loafers and writing off the search for Middle East peace as a fool's errand. MORE

Firm to get £30m for tracking immigrants

A firm could earn a £30m payment if it tracks down 174,000 illegal immigrants, the UK Border Agency has revealed. Capita will establish their whereabouts and give them advice on departure. UKBA does not know how many of the immigrants are still in the country, it said. MORE

Boyfriend charged over murder

The boyfriend of a woman who was found dead inside her burning car was last night charged with conspiracy to murder her. Rafal Nowak, 31, will appear before Bristol magistrates to face charges relating to the death of 23-year-old business graduate Catherine Wells-Burr.

Germany leads calls for foreign ministry

Five of the EU's six biggest countries, not including Britain, have called for a new pan-European foreign ministry. The German-led initiative, backed by 11 of 27 countries, would allow voting on common foreign policies to bypass a British veto, and could result in a European army.

GCHQ wants to find hackers – for hire

The Government's electronic intelligence unit GCHQ is holding a competition to find talented hacking experts with a view to taking them on. The agency has set up a series of drills replicating cyber attacks on a government network and challenged tech-savvy people to test their skills. MORE

Barlow on War of the Worlds album

Gary Barlow will take the lead role in a new remake of the War Of The Worlds album. The Take That singer will tackle "Forever Autumn" and "The Eve Of The War". Joss Stone and Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson will also feature, while Liam Neeson will narrate.

Dog shoots man in hunting accident

A French man was shot in the hand by his dog during a hunting expedition in the Dordogne at the weekend. The blue Gascony basset hound caught the trigger of the man's gun when it leapt up to him during the hunt. The man's right hand has since been amputated, but he said he did not blame the dog.

Woman sues after $100 notes ripped up

A woman from Texas is launching a lawsuit against employees of the department store giant Wal-Mart after they tore up two of her $100 notes, mistakenly believing they were counterfeit, according to the Los Angeles Times. The woman said that she had been humiliated by the incident.

British firm to bring 3D shopping to web

Internet users could soon browse 3D aisles in virtual supermarkets thanks to a British software company. Keytree said Amazon, eBay and Tesco have expressed interest in its new technology. A video sample of the software will be exhibited next month. MORE

World's first liliger earns her stripes

The world's first liliger has been born at a Siberian zoo. Kiara's father is an African lion and her mother is a liger, a cross between a lion and a tiger. Kiara has faint stripes, but closely resembles a lion cub. Mother Zita was unable to provide enough milk so the one-month-old liliger is being looked after by the zoo's domestic cats.

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