The News Matrix: Tuesday 8 March 2011

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The Independent Online

State pensions are next for reform

State pensions need radical reform and cannot be immune in the welfare shake-up, says the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith. He wants to scrap pensions the credit top-ups introduced by Labour for those on low incomes. MORE

‘Possessive’ mother killed her children

A “possessive” mother yesterday admitted killing her three children after a custody dispute. Theresa Riggi, 47, who was described at Edinburgh High Court as having three personality disorders, had argued with her estranged husband.

Sheen sacked from top-rating US show

After months of much-publicised outlandish behaviour, the troubled actor Charlie Sheen has been formally fired from the hit US television comedy Two and a Half Men.

Watchdog spent £300,000 on office

The watchdog for MPs’ expenses faced embarrassment yesterday over spending almost £300,000 of taxpayers’ money furnishing its new London offices. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority bought £538 chairs and other items. MORE

Cherie Blair will lead Labour policy review

Cherie Blair has been recruited to lead a policy review set up by Labour leader Ed Miliband. The wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair will examine how the UK can help women in poor countries get involved in business and public life.

Bid to ban brothels in Las Vegas

It is known as Sin City, but if Nevada Senator Harry Reid has his way, Las Vegas may lose at least one of its vices. Reid, a veteran Democrat, has proposed a ban on prostitution in the state, arguing it gives out the wrong image to potential investors. But the idea has touched a nerve with the state’s hotel, casino and nightclub owners. MORE

Hack attack at Foreign Ministry

The French Foreign Ministry was the subject of a major cyber attack at the end of last year. An unnamed senior source said some of the stolen data had been redirected towards Chinese websites.

Medics fail to report incompetent peers

A survey of 1,000 doctors in hospitals and general practice found that almost one in five had experience of an incompetent colleague in the last three years, yet one-third had failed to lodge a report. Many cited fear of retribution. MORE

Cool Berliners targeting tourists

Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg district is up in arms over a surge in backpackers and has held a Green party-organised protest meeting called “Help – the tourists are coming”. Protesters say the increased number of tourists is driving out residents. MORE

Yeates’s landlord released from bail

The landlord arrested on suspicion of murdering Bristol woman Joanna Yeates has been released from police bail. Ex-public schoolteacher Chris Jefferies, 66, was quizzed for several days over the murder of his neighbour. MORE

Bond goes undercover

Daniel Craig has brought new meaning to the term Bond girl – by appearing in a short film in drag. The film, supporting International Women’s Day, was made by the artist and film-maker Sam Taylor-Wood.

Chris Brown says his fans want him back

Chris Brown has claimed he is on the cusp of redemption after he became a widespread figure of hate as a result of his conviction for beating his former girlfriend, Rihanna. The singer told the New York Post that he feels his fans want to let him “back in the door”.

‘Gorgeous’ gangster lent tie at his trial

A gangster nicknamed “Vinny Gorgeous” became more dapper last week when the judge in his trial lent him a tie after jailers had refused him one. Vincent Basciano is charged with murder and racketeering, crimes he allegedly committed for the Bonanno crime family in New York in 2004.

Hospitalised groom says ‘I do’ on Skype

A California couple, whose wedding plans appeared thwarted when a lung infection landed the groom in a hospital isolation ward, were married at the weekend in a ceremony conducted over Skype. “Guests said it was inspirational,” the groom said from his hospital bed.

Nigerian man gets 20 years for email scam

A Nigerian man has been jailed for 20 years for sending emails requesting help to manage funds he claimed he amassed from precious metals. Peter Maxson Anyanyueze persuaded investors to part with £185,000, saying he had £6.5m in South Africa and he needed to invest it in Europe.

When the housing bubble bursts...

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Er, no – it’s a house. National Geographic proves a home can fly for its new television channel, How Hard Can It Be? But after finding it was “close to impossible to fly a real house”, the team built a lighter one, attached 300 balloons and watched it lift off.

Student sex show is investigated

The president of Northwestern University in the US, Morton Schapiro, is launching an investigation into an on-campus presentation of a live sex act performed for students at an after-class event.

Pet’s death can be as sad as a human’s

One third of animal owners believe a pet’s death is as upsetting as the death of a relative, according to a poll of 3,000 dog and cat owners for Co-operative Insurance.