The News Matrix: Wednesday 30 May 2012


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The Independent Online

Most Houla victims were stabbed or shot

The majority of the 108 victims of the Houla massacre were executed at point-blank range and fewer than 20 were killed by shell fire, the UN human rights office said yesterday. Survivors say the slaughter was carried out a by a pro-government militia called the Shabiha. MORE

Prime Minister calls abortion 'murder'

The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked a furious response from women's rights groups after comparing abortions to botched air strikes that last year led to the death of Kurdish civilians. He publicly voiced his opposition to the procedure, comparing it to "murder". MORE

Ofsted in U-turn over notifying schools

Ofsted's controversial chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has backed down on plans to give schools no notice ahead of inspections, saying they will instead be notified the afternoon before. But proposals to scrap the "satisfactory" grade were given the go-ahead.

At least 15 die as new earthquake strikes

An earthquake killed at least 15 people in the northern Emilia-Romagna region yesterday, reducing buildings to rubble and spreading fear among thousands of residents already living in tents after a similarly strong tremor flattened their homes nine days ago. MORE

Passenger jailed for racist rant on Tube

A drunken passenger who hurled racist abuse at fellow Tube travellers in a tirade that became an internet sensation has been jailed for a total of 21 weeks. Jacqueline Woodhouse, 42, had ranted on the Central line. MORE

Tories call for U-turn on charity tax relief

George Osborne is preparing for a climbdown on his "charity tax" proposals amid claims from Labour that his March Budget has descended into "a total and utter shambles". Tory MPs, emboldened by U-turns over Budget moves to impose VAT on pasties and static caravans, stepped up calls yesterday for the Chancellor to scrap plans to limit tax relief on large charity donations. MORE

Secret courts plan under attack

Moves to allow some courts to sit behind closed doors to hear evidence from spies will "throw a cloak of secrecy" over the country's judicial system, human-rights campaigners warned. The original plans have been scaled back, but the Justice and Security Bill still faces widespread criticism. MORE

Woman sued for fall with granddaughter

A woman who fell down stairs while carrying her baby granddaughter has been sued by her own family for causing head injuries that left the girl severely disabled. The judge ruled Hannalore Hoffmann was negligent when taking five-month-old Molly Boland down darkly-lit stairs. MORE

Jewish state blamed for computer virus

A top Israeli minister yesterday fed speculation that the Jewish state could be responsible for a powerful new virus said to have been used in a fresh attack on computers in the Middle East. The virus, dubbed "Flame", can turn infected computers into listening devices.

Energy bills set to top £1,500 by 2015

Household energy bills will top £1,500 within three years, forcing millions to ration their heating, according to comparison site uSwitch. Its report suggests that by 2015 six in ten households will go without adequate heating.

Rodman charged over lack of support

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been sentenced to 104 hours of community service after being found guilty of contempt for failing to pay child support. A California family court commissioner also sentenced Rodman to three years of informal probation.

Obama honours icons at White House

President Barack Obama honoured political and cultural icons – including the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, astronaut John Glenn, Israeli President Shimon Peres and rock legend Bob Dylan – with the Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony yesterday.

Vandals smash up ancient mosaic

Vandals have badly damaged a 1,600-year-old mosaic in Israel's northern city of Tiberias, the country's antiquity authority said. Gilad Kinamon, an archaeologist, said the mosaic once formed the floor of a 4th-century synagogue. Vandals smashed parts of the mosaic, grinding it to a fine powder.

Sherlock bears fruit on BBC's iPlayer

An episode of Sherlock in which actress Lara Pulver stripped nude is the most-watched programme on the BBC's iPlayer so far this year. "A Scandal in Belgravia" was viewed 2.53 million times, with the two other episodes in the series locking out the top three.

Opera house stars mourn funding cut

A Polish opera house performed Mozart's Requiem yesterday in front of the Culture Ministry in Warsaw as a protest against budget cuts. The orchestra, choir and soloists of Warsaw Opera, famous for its summer Mozart programme, were applauded enthusiastically by hundreds of fans.

Angry Birds migrate to credit cards

Russian fans of the videogame Angry Birds will soon be able to get special debit cards – or "Angry Cards" – giving them discounts on the game's products. Moscow-based Promsvyazbank said yesterday it will start issuing the new MasterCards on June 4.

William's sadness at Diana absence

The Duke of Cambridge has spoken of his sadness that his mother was not at his wedding. He told US television it was the "one time" since his mother's death he wished she could have been alive to bear witness.

Solidarity emblem placed over gate

Police are looking for suspects who broke the law by placing the Solidarity emblem over the equally famous gate of the Gdansk Shipyard, where the first non-Communist trade union was born in 1980. A police official in Gdansk, on the Baltic Sea, said the culprits should be fined.

Pratchett wins Comic fiction prize

Sir Terry Pratchett has won the 25th annual Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. The fantasy writer's win comes just days after he accepted a Bafta for his television documentary Choosing To Die. Previous winners of the prize include Ian McEwan and Gary Shteyngart.

BBC eyes children's version of The Voice

A performance by Cheryl Cole failed to revive The Voice's flagging ratings this weekend, but despite the talent show's poor performance in the UK, its Dutch creator, John de Mol, claims the BBC could create a children's version following the success of "The Voice Kids" in Holland.

Value of Buckingham Palace soars

Buckingham Palace has gone up in value by 9,000 per cent since the Queen came to the throne, according to an analysis of property prices. Nationwide Building Society has calcuated that back in 1952 the Palace was worth £11m, while today it is worth around £1bn.