The News Matrix: Monday 2 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Lib Dems face a huge loss of seats

The Liberal Democrats are braced for the loss of hundreds of town hall seats on Thursday as voters take revenge for the party’s decision to go into Government with the Conservatives, party sources acknowledged yesterday. MORE

Space shuttle launch postponed yet again

Nasa again yesterday delayed the launch of space shuttle Endeavour after failing to solve a technical problem that scuttled Friday’s planned blast-off. Mark Kelly was to lead the mission; his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, had recovered enough from a near fatal shooting to attend. MORE

Head teachers vote for strike action

Head teachers have voted for strike action in protest at the threat to their pensions and the prospect of their retirement age rising to 68. They have also warned that they may boycott national curriculum exams for 11-year-olds next year. MORE

Sony set to offer compensation

PlayStation Network customers who have been unable to access the service since it was shut down by a security breach last month may be offered compensation by Sony. MORE

Fire destroys Oxfam clothing donations

Thousands of items of clothing donated to Oxfam have been destroyed by a fire at one of the charity’s warehouses. The blaze on Saturday at an industrial estate in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, has left the building in danger of collapsing. It is not known what started the fire. MORE

Air France black box found in Atlantic

After a search lasting nearly two years, French investigators have finally found the missing black box flight recorder that could explain why an Air France jet crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing all 228 people on board. MORE

Missing woman’s credit card used

Mystery surrounds the search for a British cruise-line worker who vanished while at sea, after her bank reported activity on her credit card. Rebecca Coriam, 24, disappeared after the Disney Wonder sailed from Los Angeles on 22 March. MORE

Lifting of radiation limit enrages parents

A Japanese government plan to lift radiation limits for schools near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant has sparked fury among local parents. The move, which prompted the resignation of a government adviser, has been criticised as based on hazy scientific evidence. MORE

UK prisoners denied diplomatic support

Concern surrounding the fate of four British citizens being held prisoner in Eritrea is increasing after the country’s president refused to say whether they would be granted consular access. The contractors were captured after a gun battle in the Indian Ocean in December and have been refused diplomatic help by the authorities in Asmara. MORE

‘Whispering’ Ted Lowe dies, aged 90

Much-loved snooker commentator Ted Lowe, known as “whispering Ted”, has died at the age of 90. He worked for the BBC for five decades, covering the sport during its heyday of TV-ratings dominance in the 1980s, and adapted his vocal style to avoid distracting the players. MORE

Pet owners struggle with vet and food bills

Thousands of pet owners say they can no longer pay for food and vets bills. One in five says they are dropping visits to the vet in a bid to bring the weekly pet bill to under £5, blaming high food prices and insurance premiums, according to animal welfare charity The Blue Cross. MORE

Early rules to go on sale

A hand-written pamphlet outlining the rules of club football is being sold as part of a collection expected to fetch up to £1.2m at auction in London in July. The archive belongs to the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield FC.

Flat-rate tax for rich stays

Residents of a Swiss canton used an ancient voting method – a show of hands – yesterday to retain a flat tax rate that has attracted the likes of Michael Schumacher and Tina Turner to the country. The controversial proposal to abolish the tax was shot down by the narrowest of margins.

Red kites are now prevalent

Red kites, which 20 years ago were one of Britain’s rarest creatures and confined to the Welsh mountains, are being seen regularly in gardens around Britain. A record number were spotted during this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, suggesting the re-introduction programme was successful.

Badminton drops its ‘sexing-up’ plans

Leading female badminton players have forced the sport’s world federation to drop plans to “sex up” its image. They will not need to wear skirts in major tournaments after plans to reform regulations were deferred due to complaints from Chinese and Indonesian players. MORE

April sunshine gives way to May showers

Last month was the hottest April on record in central England. The average temperature of 11.9C was 3.9C higher than the long-term average. But May is expected to be rainy, with Atlantic weather fronts sweeping across the country from the Southwest. MORE

Anti-smoking effort is ‘bound to fail’

The government’s latest effort to curtail the habit of its 350 million smokers looks set to fall short because a new ban fails to bring in any penalties for smoking in public venues. Critics say that the ban is bound to fail because it lacks teeth and few people have heard about it.

Paparazzi hungry for Kate and Pippa

Photo agencies have promised to respect Kate Middleton’s “honeymoon period” of privacy, but she and her sister Pippa are already being seen as more attractive targets for the paparazzi than ever. The first images of Prince William and his new wife since their wedding are expected to fetch tens of thousands of pounds. MORE

Oxford bridge jumpers thwarted

Heavy security prevented May Day revellers in Oxford from taking part in a traditional activity – jumping from Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell. The practice has been actively discouraged following a spate of injuries.