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The News Matrix: Wednesday 9 January 2013

Starved girl's siblings sue city's council

The surviving siblings of a seven-year-old girl who was starved to death by her mother and father are suing Birmingham City Council, claiming her death could have been prevented. Khyra Ishaq died in May 2008 following months of cruelty at the hands of her parents, who were both jailed in 2010. Despite having a fully stocked kitchen, their children went hungry.

Spiritual leader blames rape victim

A spiritual leader sparked outrage across the country by saying that the 23-year-old woman who was gang-raped and murdered in Delhi was "as guilty as her rapists". Asaram Bapu told followers in Rajasthan that she should have "begged" the attackers to stop. MORE

Care home patients report a lack of trust

Care home patients and their families do not trust the body charged with ensuring decent standards following a series of high-profile scandals, the Health Select Committee said. It reported a "disconnect" between official inspections and the standards experienced by patients. MORE

Flag-waving for Kate may prolong rioting

Violent disturbances looked set to continue in Belfast last night, with the Union Flag due to fly over City Hall today to mark the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday. Petrol bombs and masonry have been thrown at police in the east of the city for five nights by loyalists.

Second Tory minister quits the Coalition

Lord Marland of Odstock, a junior trade minister at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, became the second Conservative minister to leave the Government in as many days last night. It follows the surprise resignation on Monday of Lord Strathclyde.

Most-scathing book reviews honoured

The shortlist for the Hatchet Job of the Year – celebrating the most scathing book reviews of 2012 – was announced, with some of the world's most respected authors among the subjects of derision. The nominated reviews include Ron Charles's take on Martin Amis's Lionel Asbo.

Girl who died in police car crash is named

A 13-year-old killed when a car being pursued by police hit her family's vehicle was named as Wiktoria Was. She was described as a "highly valued member of our community" by Alison Garner, head of Goffs School, in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.

Record year for Tate Modern

Critics doubted whether the 2012 Olympics would provide any real benefit for London's cultural institutions, but the Tate Modern has revealed it had a record year. The gallery welcomed 5.3 million visitors, up 9.5 per cent on 2011.

Minister raising tax is accused of evasion

The minister charged with enforcing controversial new taxes on the rich is to be investigated for tax evasion. The chief prosecutor of Paris has started an investigation into allegations that Jérome Cahuzac hid money in an undeclared Swiss bank account until two years ago.

Farmers are excused 655-year-old debt

A court has wiped out an annual debt that farmers have had to pay the Catholic Church to atone for a crime 655 years ago. The payments had been a tradition since 1357 as compensation for a man's murder. But farmers no longer have to pay 70 Swiss francs each year, a court ruled.

A gripping reason for wrinkly fingers

Scientists claim to have found a reason why fingers submerged in water develop wrinkles – it improves your grip on wet objects. "This wrinkling could have helped with gathering food from wet vegetation or streams," according to the Newcastle University study, published in Biology Letters.

Politician quits over racist football chant

A politician in the far-right Northern League party has quit after being accused of chanting the racist comments that led AC Milan footballers to walk off the pitch last week. Riccardo Grittini, 21, a councillor for sport in Corbetta, near Milan, is under investigation by prosecutors.

Michael McIntyre nets £21m in year

Comedy has been touted as the new rock'n'roll since the 1990s, but Michael McIntyre has proved the point by taking £21m – nearly as much as the Rolling Stones – from his latest tour. Some 639,000 fans flocked to see his show. He was the only stand-up in the top 50 touring acts.

Chavez to miss his swearing-in

President Hugo Chavez will miss tomorrow's scheduled swearing-in ceremony for his third term in office because of health problems, the Government confirmed in a letter to Congress yesterday. Mr Chavez has not been heard from since having his fourth operation for cancer.

Conflict has left one million hungry

About one million Syrians are going hungry because of the difficulty in getting supplies into conflict zones, the United Nations warned yesterday. Government-approved aid agencies are said to be stretched to the limit, with bread and fuel in particularly short supply.

Lottery winner in cyanide poisoning

Police in Chicago are investigating the murder of a man who died of cyanide poisoning just a day after he accepted a lottery cheque for $425,000 (£264,000). Urooj Khan, 46, was about to cash in his prize from a scratchcard win when he died suddenly last July. MORE

Phone company ditches Lenin ad

A mobile phone operator that used a cartoon image of Lenin and the slogan "Keep Talking" in its adverts has pulled the campaign following complaints. The Russian revolutionary's communist regime killed millions of people and imposed mass terror on the Soviet Union.

Career Services

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Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor