The News Matrix: Friday 18 March 2011

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The Independent Online

‘Suicide squads’ sent in to halt meltdown

Army helicopters and police water cannon manned by what the media are calling “suicide squads” were used yesterday to try to cool overheating fuel rods and prevent meltdown at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. MORE

Murdoch is sued over ‘nepotism’ row

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is being sued by shareholders for “nepotism” in buying his daughter Elisabeth’s television production company for more than £400m. The shareholders say the media mogul treats the business “like a wholly owned family candy store”. MORE

British evacuation flight leaves empty

The first British Government charter flight out of Bahrain, where there have been fatal clashes between protesters and security forces, left without a single passenger on board after nobody requested a seat on the service.

Peace campaigner is evicted – slightly

Almost 10 years after he started his 24-hour Parliament Square Peace Campaign, Brian Haw has lost his legal battle against eviction. But he is only banned from camping on the grass and could move his protest to the pavement. MORE

Another MP may be hacking victim

The former cabinet minister Tessa Jowell has begun legal proceedings which could see her name added to the list of public figures suing the News of the World for alleged phone hacking. She has applied to the High Court for the disclosure of documents seized by the police.

PM urged to quit after bribery claim

The Indian Prime Minister came under pressure to resign yesterday over a WikiLeaks report suggesting his party paid bribes to win a confidence vote in 2008. It is a fresh blow to the scandal-tainted coalition. MORE

Danny Glover brings exiled Aristide home

The American actor and political activist Danny Glover, star of the Lethal Weapon films, arrived in South Africa yesterday to escort the former president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, back home after a seven year exile. MORE

Cash points were ‘two hours from empty’

Cash machines were two hours away from running empty during the financial crisis, the former Chancellor Alistair Darling will reveal in a new book, the first insider’s account of the near-collapse of British banks. He also raises the possibility of his returning to frontline politics. MORE

Flexi-time scrapped to help recovery

Plans to give employees new rights to take paid time off for training or to work “flexi-hours” are to be scrapped. Firms with fewer than 250 staff are to be exempt from rules that allow employees to request days off for training courses, with the Government arguing that the priority has to be helping companies to recover from the recession.

700,000 missing condoms retrieved

Malaysian police have recovered tens of thousands of condoms that went missing en route to Japan two months ago. Six men have been arrested on suspicion of stealing the condoms – worth an estimated worth £1m – with a view to selling them.

Urban foxes can’t hack country life

The practice of collecting foxes from city streets and dumping them in the countryside should stop, the Government has said, because it is “very cruel” and leaves urban foxes “somewhat dazed” and hungry, as they can’t find rubbish bags from which to eat.

Stray dog survives euthanasia attempt

Dog lovers in Oklahoma City are clamouring to adopt a stray dog which survived an attempt by a vet to put him to sleep. Wall-E was abandoned and went under the needle due to overcrowding, but somehow survived and has become a local celebrity.

Lady Gaga’s gay anthem censored

Some broadcasters in Malaysia have refused to play Lady Gaga’s new song, “Born This Way”, in full because it advocates public acceptance of homosexuality. The editing of the lyrics has been heavily criticised.

Forthright estate agent causes upset

An estate agent has upset people in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, after advertising a terrace house with the promise that it offered new owners the chance of “gazing at pond life”, “being scruffy” and “taking in new smells”.

Kate’s St Andrews dress fetches £78k

The knitted see-through dress which sparked Prince William’s interest in Kate Middleton when they were at St Andrews University was bought last night for £78,000 by a mystery bidder in his mid-30s who wore a quilted jacket and glasses, and who was acting for a fashion collector in Jersey identified only as “Nick”. The dress’s delighted designer, Charlotte Todd, 31, from Bristol, plans to use the money for a deposit on her first house.

‘Worst pop song of all time’ is a sensation

A 13-year-old girl has become a global sensation for recording what has already been recognised as one of the worst pop songs of all time. Rebecca Black’s “Friday” has become a YouTube sensation, receiving 10 million views and leaping into the official iTunes download chart.

Cumberland sausage wins protected status

Cumberland sausages have won protected status from the EU, joining foods which must come from a specific area to use the name. The list includes Cornish pasties, Parma ham and Champagne. The Cumberland sausage is thought to have been created by 16th-century German miners. MORE