The News Matrix: Tuesday 31 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Lecturers back strike action against cuts

Lecturers pledged support for sit-ins and strikes at colleges in protest at fee rises and spending cuts. Staff in further and higher education have already been threatened with redundancy, the University and College Union conference was told. MORE

Energy drinks add to child obesity

Parents are making their children fat and ruining their teeth by buying them sports or energy drinks and should give them water instead, doctors have warned. The drinks contain extra calories that may be contributing to growing obesity. MORE

Zuma flies in to woo Colonel Gaddafi

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi greeted South African President, Jacob Zuma, in Tripoli yesterday for talks aimed at ending the war in Libya, the first time he has been seen since 11 May. MORE

Berlusconi suffers blow in home city

Silvio Berlusconi was dealt a blow yesterday when the communist candidate won the mayoral race in the prime minister’s home city of Milan. Mr Berlusconi campaigned against Giuliano Pisapia, saying Milan would turn into “gypsy-ville” if he won. MORE

Strauss-Kahn builds defence and PR team

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, awaiting trial for attempted rape, has arranged a daunting legal and PR team to try to clear his name, including Michael Jackson’s former defence attorney, Benjamin Brafman. It is thought his wife is funding his defence. MORE

User claims to reveal more injunctions

Another social media user appeared to publish details of celebrity gagging orders yesterday. A new Twitter account posted details of 13 alleged court injunctions yesterday morning. After attracting more than 500 followers in 10 hours, the tweets were removed. The author of the latest alleged Twitter breach used the “anonymous” mask. MORE

First hangings since 2004 to go ahead

India’s President, Pratibha Patil, has refused to commute the death sentences of two men, despite a seven-year moratorium in the country. The death sentence is so rarely enforced in India that one region is advertising for a new executioner. MORE

Wine alcohol content ‘higher than on label’

Modern breeds of stronger wines are even more powerful than is claimed on the label, a study has found. The American Association of Wine Economists says that growers understate the alcoholic content of their wine in order to appeal to consumers’ tastes for “more intense, riper flavours”. MORE

‘Severed head of saint’ sells at auction

Auctions often throw up some pretty unusual lots, none more so than the human head that went under the hammer in rural Ireland at the weekend. And this is not just any old head: it is claimed to be that of St Vitalis of Assisi, the patron saint of genital diseases. MORE

King cobras found on train were to be eaten

Railway officials have discovered venomous king cobras in bags under a train seat in Vietnam. Railroad officials spotted the bags on Friday. The snakes were alive but had their mouths stitched shut, and were likely destined for restaurants, where they would be served as a delicacy.

By Gad, Dickens’ home set to open

The house where Charles Dickens wrote some of his greatest works is to be opened to the public for the first time. Gad’s Hill Place will be converted into a heritage centre, in plans announced by the school which has occupied the building in Higham, Kent, for nearly 90 years.

Joan Collins ‘forced to sell fourth home’

The credit crunch has claimed another victim, as Joan Collins has been forced to sell one of her four homes because she can “no longer afford to keep it”. The actress has put her three-bedroom Manhattan apartment on the market. She told Hello!:“We can no longer afford to keep it.”