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The News Matrix: Wednesday 22 May 2013

Yemenis executed for crime gang role

Saudi Arabia has executed five Yemenis convicted of crimes and displayed their bodies in public as a deterrent for future criminals. The Interior Ministry says the five were convicted of setting up a gang that carried out several crimes, including the murder of a Saudi man.

Water at UK beaches among worst in EU

Water off UK beaches is among the worst in Europe, according to the European Environment Agency. Six per cent of beaches and other swimming spots fail to meet minimum EU standards. A total of 55 beaches achieved a “blue flag” status for 2013, down from 79 last year. MORE

Prosecutor appeals over suspect naming

Britain’s leading prosecutor has called for more “wiggle room” over new plans to protect the identity of suspects arrested by the police. But Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said there could be no “blanket rule” that nobody is named at the point of arrest. MORE

Power failure hits eight million people

A power failure has affected more than eight million people in Thailand’s 14 southern provinces, including tourist areas such as Koh Samui and Phuket. The blackout was triggered by the failure of the main high-voltage transmission line connecting the south to the central region.

Pope Francis  ‘exorcises’ invalid

Pope Francis has been captured on film apparently performing an exorcism on Sunday. The footage shows Francis gripping the top of the wheelchair-bound subject’s head while reciting a prayer. MORE

Mother’s iodine level related to child’s IQ

The children of women with an  iodine deficiency have a lower  IQ and reading ability, a report has claimed. A study of 1,000 pregnant women found that two-thirds of them had iodine levels below  recommended levels and that their children had a 60 per cent higher risk of having a low IQ. The best  dietary sources of iodine are milk and fish. MORE

Scotland ‘can afford independence’

Scotland can “more than afford” to function as an independent country, says Alex Salmond. The First Minister said, at the launch of his government’s case for independence, Scottish citizens had paid more tax per head than the rest of the UK for 30 years. Ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling slammed his “flimsy economic plan”.

Former president barred from election

One of Iran’s most reform-minded presidential candidates has been barred from standing in next month’s presidential ballot. The country’s former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was blocked yesterday along with 678 other candidates who had initially put their names forward.

Fire crews rescue bear from tree

Firefighters in Colorado Springs were called to rescue a bear from a tree. After the 200lb creature was tranquilised it climbed even higher before falling asleep in a crook in the tree. Fire crews used a ladder truck to reach the snoozing bear and attach a harness before lowering it to the ground.

Forgers had £50,000 in fake £1 coins

Three forgers have been jailed for what police believe is the largest ever plot to make fake £1 coins – some of which may still be in circulation. A 40-foot container with 1,600,000 metal discs and £20,000 of fake coins was found in Waltham Abbey, Essex, last May. There was also £30,000 in fake coins in a car.

Dating site cracks down on pests

Women who use the most popular internet dating website in Britain are being harassed for sex by men sending them photos of their penises. “At first I was really shocked by it but it happened so often it just became laughable,” one user said. Plenty of Fish has now scrapped its ‘Intimate Encounters’ option. MORE

Racing pigeon sold for  record £264k

A Chinese businessman has paid a world record €310,000 (£264,000) for a Belgian racing pigeon. The one-year-old award-winner, named Bolt, was bred by well-known Belgian pigeon fancier Leo Heremans, who sold his entire collection of 530 birds for €4.3m (£3.7m) at an auction over the weekend.

Everest climber tops UK record

Britain’s most successful mountaineer, from Gloucestershire, has become the first person to scale the three peaks of Mount Everest and two of its sister peaks in one climb. Kenton Cool, 39, and his climbing partner Sherpa Dorje Gylgen reached the summits of Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse. He holds a British record after 11 Everest climbs.

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Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
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'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

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Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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A shot in the dark

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His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

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Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
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Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam