The Saturday Matrix: Saturday 30 July 2011

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The Independent Online

12,000 A* students rejected by Oxbridge

More than 12,000 young people with at least one A* grade at A-level have been turned away from Oxford and Cambridge this year. It raises doubts over whether the grade, introduced last year, is helping elite universities select the brightest candidates for popular courses. MORE

MoD under fire for axing 7,000 jobs

Plans by the Ministry of Defence to cut a further 7,000 civilian posts have been described as “shameful”. The Public and Commercial Services union said it was unreasonable for the MoD to cut so many posts while efforts were being made to reduce a previous cull of 25,000 jobs. MORE

Pilot errors ‘helped to cause’ 2009 crash

Inadequate pilot training by Air France and mistakes by a young co-pilot contributed to the Rio-Paris Airbus disaster which killed 228 people in June 2009, an official report said yesterday. The crew also responded incorrectly to defective speed recorders. MORE

Feud fears as rebel chief is assassinated

The credibility of the British-backed rebel forces has been thrown into doubt after the assassination of a top military commander led to claims of a bloody internal feud. Evidence has begun to emerge that General Abdel Fatah Younes may have been killed by his own side. MORE

Two hurt as plane crashes into homes

Two men were seriously injured when their light aircraft crashed into two houses in Salford. It came down at 12.20pm after taking off from Barton Aerodrome in Irlam. The men were airlifted to Wythenshawe Hospital with serious burns. A man in one of the houses was unhurt. MORE

Aid agencies fear ‘hidden famine’

Concerns are mounting of a possible hidden famine in Eritrea, with aid agencies scrambling to fill a “black hole” in information coming out of the east African nation. Eritrea has denied there are food shortages and accused the international community of crying “crocodile tears”. MORE

Therapy may have worsened trauma

A report for next month’s American Psychologist, marking 10 years since 9/11, suggests that in their eagerness to help survivors cope with the trauma, some mental health professionals may have exacerbated it by making people relive their experiences by talking about them. MORE

O2 to become a dome with a view

Visitors to the O2 will get a bird’s eye view across London after a scheme to build a 190m walkway across its roof was granted planning permission. The structure, which will be suspended from the yellow masts of the building in Greenwich, will be 60m high and hold 90 people.

Rolling Stone Wood gets own music show

Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood has been given his own TV show after the success of his award-winning DJ slot on Absolute Radio. Wood, 64, will play and invite friends to perform on the programme, which will also feature interviews. It starts on Sky Arts next February. MORE

Islamists stage mass rally in Cairo

Tens of thousands of ultra-conservative Muslims filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday, in one of the biggest protests since Hosni Mubarakwas ousted. They urged strict Islamic law, triggering claims they had broken a deal to keep rallies free from divisive issues. MORE

Winehouse poised to dominate charts

Amy Winehouse could join other musical greats and achieve massive posthumous chart success. The singer, who died a week ago aged 27, could have up to seven singles in the Top 40 this weekend. Her Grammy-winning 2006 CD Back To Black is at No2 in the album charts. MORE

UK to extradite spy master to Germany

A Mongolian spy chief has lost his appeal against extradition from the UK to Germany. Bat Khurts is said to have been involved in the abduction from Germany of Enkhbat Damiran, who was being sought in connection with the murder of a Mongolian government official.

Student must repay profit on bird skins

A student who stole 299 rare bird skins from the Natural History Museum at Tring must pay back £125,000. Edwin Rist, 22, was given a suspended sentence in April after admitting to the burglary in June 2009. The amount is estimated to be what he made by selling the skins.

Outcry over surf wear firm’s claim

The surf wear company Mambo has sparked outcry by opposing the trademark application of a clothing range by Malcolm Mabo, son of Australian land rights activist Eddie Mabo. Mambo has promoted indigenous causes but says the Mabo name is too similar to its brand. MORE

Ostrich eggs prove a cracking success

They take almost an hour to boil and need soldiers the size of baguettes but ostrich eggs are flying off the shelves at supermarkets. Waitrose has seen a 16 per cent surge in sales of the eggs, which are the largest in the natural world and presently retail for £19.99 each in selected stores.

High Court appoints first Sikh judge

Rabinder Singh QC has become the first Sikh to be made a judge in the High Court, and will wear a turban rather than the traditional judicial wig when he takes up the appointment later this year. Mr Singh, 47, has forged a name for himself as a dogged human rights lawyer.

Beached penguin fit to return to the wild

An emperor penguin which was found on a New Zealand beach more than 2,000 miles from its Antarctic home last month will be returned to the wild in the next few weeks. The penguin has been recuperating at a Wellington zoo after eating sand, thinking it was snow. MORE

Explorers begin row to North Pole

Six British explorers have set off on their bid to become the first to row to the North Pole. The trip will take four to six weeks and is possible only because so much of the Arctic ice has melted in recent years. One of the team, BBC cameraman Mark Beaumont, will film the expedition.

Cannabis crop was growing in the street

Police in Vienna have shut down an unusual drugs “ring” – cannabis growing along Ring Street, which encircles the centre of the capital. Alerted by a news article about the illegal crop, officers yesterday pulled the offending plants from a 200m stretch of roadside green space.

Actor avoids prison after sex actontrain

A dwarf who appeared in a Star Wars and a Harry Potter film has been given a suspended jail term for indecent exposure on a train. Nicholas Read, 40 – an Ewok in the sci-fi epic – was convicted after Leicester Crown Court heard he performed a sex act under a juggler’s hat.

Fugitive caught after Facebook taunts

A fugitive who taunted police on his Facebook page to “catch me if you can – I’m in Brooklyn” has been arrested. Detectives tracked Victor Burgos, wanted for domestic violence, to an apartment in Brooklyn, where he was found sitting at a computer with his Facebook page open.