The News Matrix: Tuesday 22 March 2011

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The Independent Online

Watchdogs hits out at energy pricing

UK gas and electricity suppliers have been accused of failing “to play it straight” by the energy watchdog, Ofgem. It said the “big six” had increased bills in response to rising costs faster than they reduced them when expenses fell. MORE

Average household is £365 worse off

The typical British household’s income is £365 a year, or 1.6%, lower than it would have been without the recession. The poorest 10th have seen their real incomes fall by 2.1% where they might have been from in normal times. MORE

Food contamination is worse than feared

More misery was piled on Japan yesterday when the World Health Organisation said that the contamination of the country’s food was “more serious” than originally thought. MORE

Millionaires fall out over treasure find

Two men who became millionaires overnight after one discovered a collection of Anglo-Saxon treasures on the other’s land have become embroiled in a bitter row and say they now regret the find, accusing each other of greed. MORE

Bullied old man was neglected by police

A man who died after suffering years of torment by youths was partly failed by police and other organisations, a watchdog has ruled. David Askew, 64, collapsed and died after continuous harassment at his home in Hattersley, Tameside.

Apology over Abu Ghraib-style photos

The US Army issued a hurried apology yesterday after the German magazine Der Spiegel published photographs of American soldiers posing with the bodies of Afghan civilians in scenes reminiscent of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal during the Iraq war. The statement described the pictures as “repugnant”. MORE

Co-founder has a new venture

Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who fell out with Mark Zuckerberg, has invested part of his $2bn (£1.2bn) payoff in an internet venture, Jumio.

Andy Coulson for hire as consultant

Andy Coulson, the Government’s controversial former director of communications, has set himself up as an independent media consultant. Less than two months ago he was forced to resign over allegations about phone-hacking at the News of the World while he was editor. MORE

Boyfriend of missing girl makes appeal

The boyfriend of Sian O’Callaghan, who went missing in Swindon at the weekend, has appealed for information to find her. The 22-year-old was last seen about 2.50am on Saturday leaving the Suju club alone.

It’s evidently a hard ‘Hobbit’ to break

Filming has finally started in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit. Early preparations were beset with problems, including a threatened actors’ strike and Jackson getting a stomach ulcer. MORE

Headlining bands for summer festivals

Muse, The Strokes and My Chemical Romance are to headline at this summer’s Leeds and Reading festivals. Jarvis Cocker’s reformed band Pulp, who have already announced a number of other major shows, will also play at the festivals in August.

Rescued dog given mouth-to-mouth

A firefighter has described how he saved a dog’s life by giving it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The dog, a mongrel called Sunny, was rescued from a house fire in Hull and passed to Mick Dunn who was on stand-by at the scene to give help to casualties.

Unicyclist sues over pavement fine

New York says it’s fighting a $3m lawsuit brought by a Brooklyn unicyclist who’s taking issue with a technicality in city code. Kyle Peterson, a circus performer, was issued a ticket in 2007 for violating an ordinance that prohibits riding a “two or three-wheeled device” on the city’s pavements.

Slice of Stan Laurel history up for £40K

The terraced house where the comic actor Stan Laurel lived as a baby is to be auctioned off. Bids for the modest two-bedroomed property in the town of Bishop Auckland in County Durham will start at £40,000 at the sale this month.

Expletives in BBC’s ‘Wuthering Heights’

The BBC is set to raise eyebrows with an adaptation of Wuthering Heights which makes frequent use of expletives. Romantic figures Heathcliff and Cathy will both use the f-word in Radio 3’s version of Emily Bronte’s novel.

Ice cream vendor also ‘sold drugs’

A New York man has been arrested for allegedly selling illegal prescription drugs from his ice cream truck, making more than $1m in a year, prosecutors said. Louis Scala sold ice cream to children from his “Lickity Split” truck, and pills to other customers.

Panic-buying of salt as ‘radiation cure’

China’s economic agency has told shoppers to stop panic-buying salt, blaming baseless rumours that the iodine can stop radiation sickness. The Government said residents will not be exposed to radiation from a nuclear plant in Japan.

Councillor insults voters on Facebook

A Blackpool councillor has apologised after calling his own constituents “donkey-botherers” on Facebook. Labour’s Simon Blackburn posted the comment from his phone during a match between Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool.