The Saturday Matrix: Saturday 13 August 2011

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The Independent Online

Weaker criminal check slammed

A planned reduction in the level of criminal background checks for taxi drivers has been condemned by council leaders and safety campaigners. Cabbies must pass an enhanced criminal record bureau (CRB) check but the Home Office plans to replace this with a standard CRB. MORE

Republican hopefuls start to fight it out

The eight Republicans who have so far joined the race for the right to challenge Barack Obama in next year’s presidential election met for their first meaningful debate on Thursday night in Iowa. During the sometimes heated debate, much of the focus was on the economy. MORE

End of the PC is nigh, says its inventor

The PC is dead, according to one of its designers, Dr Mark Dean. On the 30th anniversary of the first PC, he said: “They’re going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs”. He added smartphones and tablets are now taking over. MORE

Berlin marks 50th anniversary of Wall

A ceremony will be held today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall. On 13 August 1961, Berliners woke to the sounds of the barrier being started. A total of 136 people died trying to get across before the wall was knocked down in 1989. MORE

Walkers crisps at top of children’s list

Walkers is the most recognised household brand among British children, according to a survey for PR Week. McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are also in the top five of brands assessed by 4,000 children. Health experts are concerned that many brands in the top 20 are “junk” foods. MORE

Qatari royal family buys Games village

The London 2012 Olympic Village has been sold to Qatar’s royal family and British developer Delancey for £557m. Qatari Diar and Delancey will jointly own the athletes’ village as private housing after the Games, taking over 1,439 of the 2,818 new homes on the site. MORE

Killer on video gets death sentence

A Pakistani soldier who was filmed shooting an unarmed man in the street and leaving him to die of his wound has been sentenced to death. The video, seen around the world on the internet, showed Shahid Zafar shoot Sarfraz Shah, 18, in the leg after pointing his gun in his face. MORE

Clinton urges others to cut links to Assad

Hillary Clinton is urging countries to cut trade links with the Syrian government, adding that the country would be better off without President Bashar al-Assad. The US Secretary of State said countries still dealing with the regime should “get on the right side of history”. MORE

Thames rescue mission called off

A search-and-rescue operation for a missing crew member from a tug boat capsized on the River Thames has been called off. The Chieftain went down off Greenwich Pier in south-east London at 11am yesterday. Two other crew members were rescued. MORE

Hypersonic plane crashes into Pacific

A hypersonic jet, which is designed to travel at 20 times the speed of sound, has crashed into the Pacific Ocean just 20 minutes into its flight. It the second Falcon HTV-2, above, to be lost, but US officials insist that invaluable data has been gathered on both occasions. MORE

A* grades predicted to rise by 10%

A 10 per cent rise in the number of of A* grades at A level is predicted for next Thursday, when results will be announced. The new top grade was introduced last year. Teachers are said to be pushing students harder as universities increase admission requirements. MORE

Coldplay album title is a poser for fans

Coldplay have sparked a debate over the title of their new album, Mylo Xyloto. The band offered no explanation for the obscure title, pronounced my-lo-zy-letoe, which will be released on 24 October. Ricky Wilson, Kaiser Chiefs singer, tweeted: “Mylo Xyloto is the active ingredient in Actimel.”

Scare as a tarantula takes the train

A tarantula gave officials at a crowded railway station in Berlin a scare when it crawled out of a bag left on a train. A police spokesman said a 20-year-old German man had forgotten the bag when he arrived at Ostbahnhof from the airport after returning from a trip to Mali and Mozambique.

Supergene makes mimics of butterflies

A single “supergene” allows butterflies to perform feats of mimicry that confused Charles Darwin, research has shown. Many butterflies adopt wing patterns that are similar to species that taste bad to birds, and thereby avoid being eaten. But how this evolutionary conjuring trick – known as “Mullerian mimicry” – occurs has long been a mystery.

Meteorite sale could turn out a thriller

Part of a meteorite half-owned by Michael Jackson is to be auctioned off next week. The late pop star bought half of the meteorite in 2003 and the second piece is now up for sale. Auctioneers say it spent four-and-a-half billion years in outer space; it is thought to have been found in the Sahara desert by a nomad.

Cheryl Cole ‘to play talent show judge’

Cheryl Cole has landed her first movie role, in a film starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez. She has been given a part in What To Expect When You’re Expecting, just weeks after her US XFactor dreams fell apart. It has been claimed her movie debut could see her playing a judge on a TV talent show.

Easiest escape for most wanted man

One of South Africa’s most wanted criminals appears to have made a mundane escape from police custody by walking out of a Pretoria court along with the public. Bongani Moyo, arrested this year after a much publicised manhunt, was due at a hearing related to the armed robbery of nearly three dozen banks.

Wife set to divorce top divorce judge

A top British divorce judge is set to be divorced by his wife over his affair with the wife of Mark Saunders, a barrister shot dead by police in London in 2008. Sir Nicholas Mostyn was named ‘Mr Payout’ for settlements he won for divorced wives before he was a judge. MORE

Repairman charged over alleged theft

A Chicago-area home repairman was charged with theft this week after he allegedly tried to hide the evidence by gulping it down. Prosecutors say Wilfredo Gonzalez, 30, was helping remodel a home in Cicero, Illinois, last Friday when he allegedly stole a diamond ring left in the bathroom.

Ruling is sour grapes for prisoner

A US federal judge has ruled that a Jewish inmate in a New York jail has no constitutionally protected right to matzoh and grape juice. Christopher Henry, who was convicted of first-degree sodomy, claimed permanent trauma and malnourishment and wanted nearly $10bn (£6bn) damages.

From dental records to criminal record

Brazilian police were left an obvious clue at a crime scene this week, when the suspect left his false teeth at the scene. The robber grabbed a woman’s handbag in the small town of Severina, but left behind his dentures, leading local police to a man known for his missing front teeth.