The News Matrix: Wednesday 2 November 2011


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Damascus linked to nuclear scientist

Pressure was piled on the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, yesterday when reports suggested Damascus may have collaborated with the Pakistani nuclear weapons scientist AQ Khan over plans for a covert weapons programme. The UN possesses correspondence between the two. MORE

Dear Leader bans Arab Spring expats

King Jong-il, the reclusive leader of North Korea, has banned expats from returning from countries affected by this year’s Arab uprising, lest they get any ideas for change at home. Thousands of North Korean nurses and construction workers live and work in the Middle East. MORE

Abramovich accused of ‘smears’ in hearing

Roman Abramovich was yesterday accused of “trying to smear” his former business partner Boris Berezovsky during an extraordinary day of evidence in court. He faced questions suggesting he had sought to falsely portray Mr Berezovsky as little more than a gangster. MORE

Tabak viewed child porn on his laptop

Vincent Tabak, the killer of Joanna Yeates, had images of children being sexually abused on his laptop and may face further prosecution, it was revealed yesterday. The 33-year-old Dutch engineer, who was jailed for life on Friday, was in possession of 30 explicit images of children. MORE

Artist told to pay vast tax bill or face prison

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artists who was held for several months this year, has been ordered to pay about £1.5m in what Beijing says are unpaid taxes. Ai says the bill is the response to his dissident views. MORE

Gaddafi was my pen-pal, says florist

It started not long after Libya’s now-deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi took power in Tripoli in 1969, and lasted until not long before his death two weeks ago. A retired New York florist had been pen pals with the man known as “the Mad Dog of the Middle East” for almost 40 years, and is now upset that the dictator didn’t write to say goodbye. MORE

Overseas students banned in visa scare

The Home Office has banned more than 450 colleges from taking overseas students amid fears the visa system is being abused. Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “Only first-class education providers should be given licences to sponsor international students.”

Fuel poverty will affect more this year

More people will struggle to heat their homes this winter, according to the Government’s inaugural Cold Weather Plan. The Department of Health announced £30m to help vulnerable people insulate their homes in an effort to cut the 30,000 needless deaths that occurred during the last cold snap.

Lebedev legal threat over TV punch

Alexander Lebedev, financial backer of i and The Independent, says he has been threatened with legal action by real estate tycoon Sergei Polonsky, whom he punched on a Russian TV show last month. Mr Lebedev told The Guardian: “If they want to send me a writ, they can. I’ll pick it up.”

Minister takes a gulp of Fukushima water

Japan’s Cabinet Office spokesman Yasuhiro Sonoda yesterday nervously gulped a glass of decontaminated water taken from a puddle near the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant to prove that the station was safe to surrounding inhabitants. MORE

French magazine risks Muslim wrath

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will stoke tensions between the ideals of free speech and religion today when it publishes its latest edition, with a cartoon of its “guest editor,” the Prophet Mohamed. MORE

New £50 note sports state-of-art security

The Bank of England’s new £50 note came into circulation today with a distinct security feature. A green ‘motion thread’ woven into the note contains five windows, each displaying the pound symbol and the number 50. The symbols move up and down when the note is tilted.

Naked driver gives Muscovites a fright

A naked, drunk motorist sped through central Moscow, crashing into 17 cars before being stopped by police who had chased him across the capital. “When police made him open his door, it became clear he was completely naked,” said a report on the state television channel yesterday.

Cop served with body-hair bagel sues

A police officer is suing a New Jersey delicatessen and its cook, who admitted stuffing body hair into the officer’s bagel sandwich in revenge for a traffic arrest. The lawsuit filed by Patrolman Jeremy Merck seeks unspecified damages from Good Foods to Go and cook, Ryan Burke.

Smurf originals to go under hammer

Rare original drawings of the Smurfs, the blue-skinned cartoon characters created by Belgian artist Peyo, are set to fetch up to €120,000 each on Saturday in the first auction of the late artist’s work.

Iconic Wembley gates go up for sale

Two huge timber gates belonging to the original Wembley Stadium are expected to fetch up to £10,000 at auction at Sotheby’s next week. Football players would be driven through the Royal Tunnel Gates, which measure 16ft by 16ft, when the original stadium was built in 1923.

Savile fans get chance to say their farewells

Fans of Sir Jimmy Savile will be able to pay their respects to the DJ and television presenter ahead of his funeral next week. His body will be taken to a The Queens Hotel, Leeds, next Tuesday before a requiem mass the day after. He will be buried in the seaside town of Scarborough. MORE

Men stay hirsute and happy for charity

Men across the country laid down their razors yesterday as the month of “Movember” began. A portmanteau of “Moustache” and “ November”, the annual event encourages men to grow interesting facial hair to raise money for health charities. Last year, they donated £11.7m to worthy causes.

Police sacked for private Paris job

Protecting Paris Hilton on the side could put you in danger of losing your real job. Three Polish police commandos will lose their posts in an elite anti-terrorist unit for serving as bodyguards for the controversial celebrity and heiress during her recent visit to Poland.