The News Matrix: Wednesday 20 July 2011

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The Independent Online

Power plant protest convictions quashed

Climate change activists who planned to close down the coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Soar power plant have had their conspiracy convictions quashed at the Court of Appeal. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, ruled that evidence at their trial had been withheld.

High-speed rail link ‘just political vanity’

Plans for a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham have been derided in a report as “economically flawed” and a “political vanity project” by the Institute of Economic Affairs. But supporters of the £32bn HS2 project dismissed the report as regurgitated misinformation.

Bennett leads library closures challenge

The first High Court challenge to library closures has been launched by a group led by playwright Alan Bennett. They are seeking a judicial review to stop Brent council in London closing half of the area’s 12 libraries.

Accuser’s mother admits sex with DSK

The mother of the French woman who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape has told police she also had a “violent” sexual encounter with him. Anne Mansouret, 65, a Socialist politician in Normandy, said she had sex with the former French finance minister in 2000. MORE

Alzheimer’s cut by a fit body and mind

Exercises for the body and mind have been identified as the best measures that can be taken to ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, doctors have said. Playing chess and swimming are among exercises that contribute to the mental and physical fitness found to reduce dementia. MORE

British man shot dead by robbers

A Briton was shot dead and his brother wounded when robbers opened fire on them in Venezuela. Thomas Ossel, from Bedfordshire, died on Monday after being shot in the jaw. He and his brother, Jack, were said to have been on their way home from Margarita Island when they were waylaid. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is assisting the family.

Charlie Sheen plans TV comeback

Charlie Sheen, who was fired from Two and a Half Men in March, aims to launch another sitcom, this time on his terms. The tempestuous star is planning a perhaps ironic return in Anger Management, based on the 2003 Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson film of the same name. MORE

Suu Kyi leads 3,000 on democracy march

Aung San Suu Kyi led more than 3,000 democracy supporters on a march in Yangon, Burma’s biggest city, yesterday in honour of her father General Aung San, the nation’s independence hero. It was the biggest public demonstration since 2007, when the military junta launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Fifth of museums have budgets slashed

One in five museums have had their budgets slashed by more than 25 per cent, a study by the Museums Association shows. Opening times, staff levels and the ability to put on events have been affected. The level of cuts identified in the report on 140 museums was said to be “teetering on the edge of catastrophe”. MORE

Man walked much earlier than thought

Man has been walking upright for almost twice as long as previously thought. Footprints preserved in rock sediment in Laetoli, Tanzania, date back 3.7 million years, compared to the 1.9 million years suggested by the next oldest evidence. Modern man’s ancestor, Australopithecus afarensis, is thought to have made the prints.

Half of Britons skip lunch

Britons are so overworked that 51 per cent claim they usually have to skip lunch and 78 per cent wished they had more time in the day to enjoy a meal, a poll for a cheese company found.

Boy’s 999 call after Xbox telling off

Hoax, silent and frivolous 999 calls made to Durham Police included one from a 13-year-old boy whose parents had told him off for playing on his Xbox. “I took him off his Xbox, it was 11 o’clock and it was time for him to go to bed,” his apologetic father said. Police said 999 should be for emergencies only.

Great white shark jumps on board boat

Marine researchers in South Africa had a narrow escape yesterday when a 3m-long great white shark leapt from the water into their boat. Six researchers were collecting data on sharks near Seal Island, in Mossel Bay, when the 500kg animal landed in the boat, where it became trapped for an hour. No one was injured.

Osprey chicks hatch again in England

Kielder Water and Forest park in Northumberland has become the first place in England in the last 170 years to boast two breeding osprey pairs. One chick is in the first eyries and two more were discovered yesterday in the second. The birds are slowly re-colonising England from Scotland.

60,000 register for Olympic jobs

About 60,000 people have registered an interest in getting jobs related to the 2012 London Olympics, a report shows. The figure illustrates the need for firms to plan ahead if they aren’t to find themselves short-staffed next year, warned Steve Girdler of recruitment firm Adecco.

French complaint over ban on foie gras

The French agriculture minister has written to his German counterpart to complain about a ban on foie gras at a food fair in Cologne, threatening to boycott the event’s opening ceremony. The organisers claim that production of the French delicacy, which is made from the liver of fattened wildfowl, is cruel.

Cheap Trick escape injury as stage falls

Veteran US rockers Cheap Trick escaped unharmed when a storm blew down much of the stage on which they were performing at a major concert in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, late on Sunday. The band members were about 20 minutes into their set at the Ottawa Bluesfest when the storm struck.