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News in brief: Beat that! Calm music ‘makes us work faster’

LISTENING to music at work can improve productivity by 15 per cent, an experiment shows. Four office workers transcribed 600 words of music lyrics, once in silence and once with classical music playing. In silence, it took an average of 20 minutes and 59 seconds, but with music on it took 17 minutes and 42 seconds. ‘When people listen to relaxing music it stimulates the brain and we become bored less easily and stay focused,’ said psychologist Dr Becky Spelman, who teamed up with classical station Scala Radio for the research.

Captain in dock after his ferry hit motor yacht

A PASSENGER ferry ploughed into a motor yacht with four people on board because its captain failed to keep a ‘proper’ lookout, a court heard. Skipper Ian Drummond, 62, only found out his 305ft Red Falcon had hit the 32ft Phoenix in the Solent just before running aground at Cowes, Isle of Wight. Drummond, of Southampton, denies misconduct likely to endanger ships and contravening merchant shipping regulations on September 29 last year. The trial at Southampton magistrates’ court continues.

More sentences can be challenged by victims

VICTIMS of stalking, harassment, child sexual abuse and other sex crimes can now appeal against their perpetrator’s sentence if they think it is too lenient. The offences are among 14 that have been added to the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme which allows victims, members of the public and prosecutors to challenge a jail term they feel is not tough enough. Murder, robbery and terror offences are already part of the scheme. Last year 99 criminals had their sentences increased in this way, the Ministry of Justice said.

Global court considers UK ‘war crimes’ probe

BRITAIN’S military could for the first time be investigated by the International Criminal Court after allegations of war crimes. A case will begin if the ICC decides there is evidence that soldiers were shielded from prosecution by the government, the BBC reported. The court was said to be taking ‘very seriously’ claims by the BBC and The Sunday Times that killings of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq were covered up. UK investigations into alleged offences were wrapped up with no prosecutions brought.

Study: Health scheme wasn’t useful exercise

A PIONEERING treatment, in which exercise was prescribed by doctors, may not yield the benefits for patients that were hoped for, researchers found. Exercise referral schemes, called ‘social prescribing’, were introduced in the 1990s for GPs to boost activity in people with long-term conditions, or at risk of developing them, to save the NHS £1.2billion. But a study of 23,731 patients by researchers in London, Sheffield and Southampton found that, although mental health improved, there was little impact on heart rate and blood pressure.

Prison computer ‘not suitable’ for Assange

JULIAN ASSANGE cannot work on his extradition case because the computer he has been given in prison is unsuitable, a court heard. The 48-year-old WikiLeaks founder, accused of leaking US government secrets, appeared via video-link at Westminster magistrates’ court yesterday. Gareth Peirce, representing Assange, said an unsuitable computer meant he was unable to prepare for the extradition proceedings in February. Outside court, one of Assange’s team said the computer was unlikely to have internet access.

NEWS BITES

■ A WOMAN who flouted a ten-year order against keeping guinea pigs got a life ban after buying two more. The RSPCA used breathing gear last year to rescue 29 animals from the Cardiff home of Barbara Herbert, 71.

■ A POLICE force has raised nearly £850,000 for local charities by selling seized items on eBay. Sussex police has sold 29,000 items, including clothes, bicycles and a £5,000 Cartier watch, over the past ten years.

■ A FRAUDSTER ran up a £12,000 bill for a four-month stay at Guernsey’s La Trelade Hotel while claiming he was going to buy it for £1m. John Tomlin, 64, was jailed for six months after admitting false representation.

■ A ROAD was blocked when hundreds of red cabbages spilled from a lorry. A police tweet about the mishap on the A52 at Donington in Lincolnshire sparked ‘dual cabbageway’ jokes online.

■ AN ID badge from the taxi Eddie Cochran was in when he died aged 21 in a crash is tipped to fetch £800 at auction in Bristol. A teen fan of the rocker retrieved it after the 1960 accident in Chippenham, Wiltshire.

■ WOMEN splash out £700 during pregnancy on maternity wear. The clothes are seen as ‘fast fashion’ as they are worn for just months, found maternity brand Isabella Oliver, which is launching a Pre-Loved initiative.

WORLD BITES

■ A VAN carrying 52 migrants smashed through the border from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The Moroccan driver was detained and four passengers treated for minor injuries. The migrants, all from sub-Saharan countries, were expected to apply for asylum.

■ DICTATOR Kim Jong-un has vowed to build up an ‘invincible army’ in North Korea as he supervised a military drill. This is despite the US and South Korea’s ‘act of goodwill’ in calling off military exercises and plans for a further North Korea-US summit.

■ SRI LANKA’S new president has appealed to minority Tamils and Muslims who voted against him to give him their support. Gotabaya Rajapaksa won Saturday’s election with votes from the majority Sinhala population but is accused of human rights violations against minorities in the civil war he helped to end.

■ YEMEN’S government returned yesterday after being forced out by separatists last summer. Prime minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed landed in Aden with five other ministers, fulfilling a key point in a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia.