The News Matrix: Wednesday 18 May 2011

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The Independent Online

Clegg’s PR plan for peers is ridiculed

Nick Clegg’s plan to have an elected House of Lords was ridiculed by Tory MPs, who were eager to point out that the Lib-Dem leader had already lost one major referendum on changing the voting system for UK general elections. MORE

Mother of Milly Dowler breaks down

Milly Dowler’s mother collapsed in tears yesterday after being questioned about her daughter’s last days. On Monday, Mr Dowler, 59, was also reduced to tears after admitting that he had initially been suspected by police when Milly disappeared. MORE

Amanda Knox returns to court

Amanda Knox, the American student convicted of murdering her housemate Meredith Kercher, returned to court yesterday charged with slandering police officers in Perugia. MORE

Tube union wants £500 for Games staff

Union leaders are to press for a payment of at least £500 for Tube staff working during the Olympics. The demand was announced as London Mayor, Boris Johnson, said it was “very unlikely” there would be Tube strikes during the Games. MORE

Ex-Big Brother star denies blackmail

The former Big Brother star at the centre of a super-injunction row denied that she tried to blackmail the Premiership footballer with whom she had an affair for £100,000. Imogen Thomas broke down in tears as she denied the claim.

‘Gorgeous’ mobster faces death penalty

A tough-talking New York mobster faces the death penalty after being convicted of a gangland killing which cemented his rise to power in one of the city’s most powerful organised crime families. The jury deliberated for four days before finding Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano guilty of murder, racketeering, conspiracy and other charges. MORE

Pakistani anger after Nato helicopter fires

Tensions between Pakistan and the West, already on a knife edge, have worsened after two Nato helicopters operating in Afghanistan allegedly crossed the border and fired at a checkpoint in North Waziristan, injuring two soldiers.

Has Chelsea Flower Show had its day?

Television gardening show host Carol Klein has lamented the “corporate influence” over the Chelsea Flower Show and asked if the event has “had its heyday”. The Gardeners World presenter said the show was less about plants than it used to be.

Bid to save native crayfish species

Hundreds of captive-bred native crayfish will be released at a secret site in a bid to slow the decline in the species. Endangered white clawed crayfish have been hit by the spread of the American signal crayfish, which carry a waterborne fungus that is fatal to the UK species.

The beer that reaches places….

Two enterprising Aussie engineers have developed a beer designed to be drunk in space. Commissioned by the 4 Pines microbrewery, the Vostok 4 Pines Stout is full-bodied and flavoursome – to counter the loss of taste sensation that occurs when tongues swell in space. MORE

Bang goes farmers’ watermelon crop

Fields of watermelons have been exploding in China after an overdose of growth chemicals in wet weather. About 20 farmers in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres of melon. Prices over the past year had prompted them to jump into the market. MORE

‘Mix-up’ led to story of 9-year-old drunk

Cumbria Constabulary has admitted a records mix-up after wrongly revealing a nine-year-old boy had been arrested for drink-driving. The “schoolboy” was in fact a 19-year-old male, but his date of birth had been initially inputted incorrectly on to the custody system.

Arnie admits affair after marriage split

Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted fathering a child with one of his household staff who worked for the family for 20 years. The revelation is thought to have prompted his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, to move out of their home this year, leading to the announcement of their separation last week. MORE