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by Euro Reporter
2009-09-12 09:39:25
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UK soldier dies in Afghan rescue

A UK paratrooper has died in a raid to free a captive reporter in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. He was killed in a bid to rescue New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell. Journalist Sultan Munadi and two other Afghan civilians also died in the raid.

Mr Farrell, who holds British and Irish nationality, was "extracted" by "a lot of soldiers", the New York Times said.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown praised the "breathtaking heroism" of those involved in the rescue operation.  The soldier's next of kin have been informed, the MoD said, and the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 is now 213.


A film 'inspired' accused

A teenager accused of plotting a Columbine school-style massacre said his interest in the killings was sparked by a Michael Moore documentary. Matthew Swift, 18, began imitating killer Eric Harris - whom he believed was "misunderstood" - after watching the film Bowling for Columbine.

But he told Manchester Crown Court his massacre plot was just a "fantasy".  Mr Swift and his friend Ross McKnight, aged 16, deny conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.  Mr Swift, a former pupil at Audenshaw High School in Greater Manchester, and McKnight, who still attended, are accused of plotting the attack on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

The prosecution claim Mr Swift became obsessed with the US school shootings - carried out by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris - who murdered 12 students and a teacher on 20 April 1999. Giving evidence on Wednesday, he said his interest in the killings began while studying in his first year of A-levels.  "We were shown a film called Bowling for Columbine, a documentary about that," he said. "I sort of was interested in it after I watched that.  "At the time I felt that maybe the lads were misunderstood or some other reason.  "I started reading about it more and more and got very interested in Eric Harris's character."


Student loans

Ministers are keeping a close eye on the student finance system as it struggles to deal with a record number of applications for grants and loans. Higher Education Minister David Lammy contacted the Student Loans Company after numerous complaints about delays.

The firm, which this year took over the processing of maintenance grants and tuition fee loans from local councils, said applications were up 17% on 2008.

It pledged that everyone who had applied on time would be paid on time.

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