The News Matrix: Wednesday 27 July 2011

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The Independent Online

Murdoch’s people met Cabinet 60 times

More than two dozen private meetings have taken place between the Murdoch family and senior members of the Government in the past 15 months. In total, Cabinet ministers have met with Murdoch executives more than 60 times, according to records released yesterday. MORE

Thalidomide used to treat bone cancer

Thalidomide, the cause of the biggest medical scandal of the last century, is being recommended for use across the NHS. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has approved the drug for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. MORE

Taxidermist to film industry faces charge

A taxidermist who supplied stuffed animals to Hollywood was yesterday accused of trading in endangered species. Simon Wilson, 49, was arrested in March after allegedly trying to sell a stuffed tiger. MORE

Thatcher talks to be published

The Government has been ordered to publish documents recording the talks held by Margaret Thatcher about the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. The Cabinet Office has 35 days to comply. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham ruled the release is in the public interest.

Rise in child labour after monsoon flood

Child labour has surged in Pakistan in the year since floods devastated much of the country, as some families continue to be deprived of their livelihoods. Save the Children warns that the number of children forced to work has risen by up to a third in areas worst hit by the floods. MORE

‘Insane’ killer sees himself as war hero

Self-confessed killer Anders Breivik displays symptoms of insanity and sees himself as a heroic warrior who has launched a war destined to last for 60 years, his lawyer said. The disclosures about the 32-year-old, who killed 76 people in the bombing and shooting on Friday, came as prosecutors said they aimed to charge him with crimes against humanity so that he spent the maximum time in prison. MORE

Students urged to gain degrees abroad

More British students should study abroad for their degrees, the Universities minister said yesterday. David Willetts added that he wanted to see more “mutual recognition” for qualifications gained around the globe, as many UK students prepare to head overseas to beat rising tuition fees.

Military transport plane crash kills 78

At least 78 people were killed when a Moroccan military transport plane crashed into a mountain in bad weather. The military said there were three injured survivors so far from the crash, which happened when a Hercules C-130 aircraft was trying to land in Guelmim. MORE

Amnesty’s website blocked after leak

Amnesty International said its website had been blocked in Saudi Arabia after it published a leaked draft of an anti-terror law that would allow Saudi Arabia to detain suspects without charge, and jail people for 10 years or more for criticising the king.

German men charged after Dover arrest

Two German men have been charged with terrorism offences after being arrested in Dover. Christian David Erkart Heinz Emde, 28, and Robert Baum, 23, were arrested by officers from the South East Counter Terrorism Unit on 15 July.

Florence to vote on Michelangelo work

The Mayor of Florence wants a referendum to decide if the city should build a major work by Michelangelo that was shelved in the year 1515 because of the huge cost. Michelangelo produced sketches and models for a white marble facade for the city’s mighty San Lorenzo Basilica.

Domingo out of tune with music piracy

Placido Domingo, one of the “three tenors”, has called for “young people” who repeatedly download pirated music to be stopped from using the internet. He said global piracy of music was threatening the livelihoods of “not only the artists but also the engineers, the producers and everyone else” involved in the industry.

Rogue kangaroo attacks woman, 94

Two police officers were forced to use pepper spray to fight off a rogue kangaroo that attacked an elderly woman in her backyard as she hung out her washing. Phyllis Johnson, 94, was cut and bruised as she tried to fight off the animal with a broom. “I thought it was going to kill me,” she said.

‘Toxic’ seaweed kills wild boars on beach

The carcasses of five wild boars were discovered on a beach in Brittany yesterday, reigniting fears that “toxic” seaweed, generated by farm pollution, could pose a threat to human health on the Breton coast this summer. The five dead animals bring to a total of 15 the number found on the same beach in the past three weeks.

Book review leads to £65,000 libel payout

A book review by Lynn Barber has cost The Daily Telegraph £65,000 after Telegraph Media Group was ordered to pay damages in the High Court. Dr Sarah Thornton claimed for libel and malicious falsehood, relating to a 2008 review of her book Seven Days in the Art World.

Health drive for Happy Meals

McDonald’s stores in the US have announced plans to halve the amount of French fries served in their Happy Meals to try to make children’s meals healthier. The new-look food boxes will contain 1.1 ounces of French fries instead of the current 2.4 ounces. The chain has long been criticised for serving kids’ meals with high sugar and fat content. MORE

Identity thief jailed for benefits fraud

A fraudster who stole a woman’s identity and invented four children to claim £90,000 in benefits has been jailed for two years. Emily Barrass, a call centre adviser at a Dundee tax office, claimed the benefits of stranger Susan Lindsay, after moving into her former home, and made up the children to boost the amount.

Man uses butter knife for DIY surgery

A California man stuck a butter knife into his belly in a failed bid at self-surgery to remove a painful hernia. Paramedics found the 63-year-old man naked on a lounge chair with a six-inch butter knife sticking out of his stomach. “What he was thinking, I don’t know,” said police sergeant Tom Lorenz.

Hull appeals for return of 6ft statue

Hull City Council has appealed for information on the whereabouts of a 6ft bronze statue that was taken from its Humber-side plinth on Sunday night. The statue commemorates the city’s links to the Icelandic town of Vik. The Lord Mayor said it would be “difficult to hide”.