The News Matrix: Tuesday 17 April 2012


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The Independent Online

Lord Blencathra in lobbying storm

The peer and former Conservative minister Lord Blencathra has worked as a lobbyist for the Cayman Islands tax haven while claiming up to £5,500 a month in House of Lords attendance allowances. He said he had ensured "there was no conflict of interest". MORE

Man admits attack on police station

A teenager from Nottingham has admitted trying to burn down a police station in the city during last summer's riots. Curtis Dejean, 19, pleaded guilty to charges of arson and carrying explosives with intent to endanger life or property. He will be sentenced later.

Bo's wife 'killed Briton over finances'

The British businessman Neil Heywood, whose murder has sparked political upheaval in China, is alleged to have been poisoned after he threatened to expose a plan by the wife of Bo Xilai, a leading populist politician, to move money abroad. MORE

Met chief questioned by MPs over leaks

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe will be questioned by MPs about a secret report which detailed allegations that the former Commissioner Ian Blair was undermined by a senior manager through a succession of leaks to the media. MORE

Protesters target London embassy

Protesters scaled the top of the Bahraini embassy in London and unfurled a banner in protest against the Gulf island state's violent clampdown of a popular uprising. Activists posted photos through Twitter.

Cameron's U-turn over carrier planes

David Cameron is preparing a U-turn over the choice of warplanes for Britain's two new aircraft carriers, due to technical issues that have sent costs rocketing upwards. The PM scrapped orders of a jump jet version of the F-35 Strike Fighter in favour of the conventional version in 2010. But the £1.8bn extra cost now appears to have forced him to reverse his decision.

Shelling continues despite UN observers

Shells continued to hit the embattled opposition stronghold of Homs yesterday despite the arrival of a group of UN observers charged with monitoring the ceasefire between government and rebel forces. Amateur footage cast renewed doubt over the feasibility of the four-day-old truce. MORE

Minimum wage is losing its value

The minimum wage is now worth less in real terms than it was eight years ago, thanks to multiple below-inflation increases, a report claims. The Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank, calls for a higher rate for workers aged over 25, and for those in London. MORE

Prisoners to launch mass hunger strike

More than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners will launch a hunger strike today in protest at Israel's administrative detention laws that allow it to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge. Two prisoners recently were released after weeks without food but Israel averted a policy shift. MORE

Support pours in for sick Bee Gees singer

Fans of the stricken Bee Gees star Robin Gibb offered messages of support as he remained in a coma in a London hospital last night suffering from pneumonia. Gibb has been diagnosed with cancer of the colon and of the liver.

UN says launch was a 'serious violation'

The UN Security Council strongly condemned North Korea's rocket launch and warned it will take further action if it conducts another launch or a new nuclear test. The statement said Friday's launch was "a serious violation" of UN sanctions.

Rowling working on Potter encyclopaedia

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has confirmed that an encyclopaedia based on the world of the boy wizard is in the pipeline. Writing on the FAQs section of her website, Rowling said she has "started work" on the project. All royalties will go to charity.

Berlusconi strippers 'dressed as nuns'

Revelations over the sexual antics of former Prime Minister Silvio Burlusconi were taken to a new level yesterday with claims in court that he paid strippers to dress as nuns.He is fighting three separate trials involving payments for sex, tax fraud and violating official secrets. MORE

First murder-free day for three years

The Central American country El Salvador recorded its first murder-free day in almost three years last weekend, following a truce between two rival violent gangs brokered by the Catholic Church. But the nation of six million still has one of the highest homicide rates. MORE

Magician Teller sues over 'dirty trick'

Magician Raymond Teller, of the successful duo Penn & Teller, is suing a Dutch magician claiming that he copied a trick called Shadows. Gerard Dogge is accused of posting a video of the trick on YouTube and offering to explain it to anyone who pays $3,050 (£1,918).

Saint's gospel is saved for nation

A 7th-century book that lay buried in a saint's coffin for hundreds of years has been saved for the nation. The British Library raised £9m to buy the St Cuthbert Gospel, the earliest surviving European book.

Hello! to a glossy newsstand sellout

Readers flocked to the newsstands as Pakistan's first-ever edition of glossy magazine Hello! sold out in large cities days after its launch. The inaugural issue featured US actor Sean Penn and an Oscar-winning Pakistani-Canadian documentary filmmaker on the front cover.

Former Mossad head to dig for gold

A former chief spymaster is to begin digging for gold in southern Israel. Gulliver Energy Ltd, chaired by former Mossad director Meir Dagan, has requested a licence to perform exploratory drilling and aerial surveys near the southern city of Eilat.

Pigs die as houses are blown down

Hundreds of pigs died when a strong wind blew all their houses down at Dongxiang county, in south China's Jiangxi province. Pig-farming has exploded over the last 10 years. Authorities blamed the quality of structures that housed the swine and are now planning building inspections.

'Hangover' star to play Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper, the actor voted People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive last year, is set to take up the role of The Elephant Man for a new US stage production. The Hangover star will reportedly play Joseph Merrick, whose deformity made him famous in Victorian London.