The News Matrix: Wednesday 22 February 2012


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The Independent Online

Medic in hot water for anti-reforms letter

An unnamed senior health professional faces disciplinary action after signing a newspaper letter opposing the NHS reforms and provoking accusations yesterday that ministers are presiding over a "top-down bullying policy" designed to silence critics. MORE

The medic, who has not been named, has been summoned to a meeting with the chief executive of his trust to explain himself, MPs were told yesterday.

Probe into 'suicide' of Japanese executive

Indian police are investigating if the apparent suicide of an executive of the scandal-hit Japanese camera firm, Olympus, was related to the company's problems at home. The body of Tsutomi Omori was found hanging at an upscale apartment complex south of Delhi.

DSK questioned over prostitute orgies

The former International Monetary Fund chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, spent last night behind bars in Lille to answer questions about his links with an international prostitution ring. Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, faces days of interrogation over alleged participation in orgies with prostitutes.

160,000 children start smoking a year

Almost 160,000 children start smoking every year in the UK, a charity has warned. Some 157,000 children aged 11 to 15 take up the habit every year, according to Cancer Research UK. The charity says more must be done to prevent youngsters from starting to smoke.

Church set to settle claim against NOTW

The singer Charlotte Church was last night on the verge of settling her phone-hacking claim against the News of the World in a deal which would allow News International to avoid an embarrassing trial.

Staff grow used to inmate suicides

A high rate of suicides has been accepted by some staff as a fact of life at Manchester Prison, according to an inspection report out today. Seven people killed themselves in two years at the prison. The chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, said: "There was a degree of fatalism in the prison's response to this – that was the way things were in Manchester, I was told." MORE

Border strikes aim to cut off rebel areas

Regime forces launched a sustained assault close to Turkey's border yesterday in an attempt to cut off areas where rebels have established de-facto control. The fiercest attack focused on the town of Darkush, which has become a pocket of resistance to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. MORE

Clamping group jailed for eight years

Five members of a fraudulent car clamping operation have been jailed for a total of almost eight years. Judge John Cavell condemned the group at Worcester Crown Court for "milking" the public out of up to £500,000. Judge Cavell said the group exploited vulnerable members of society.

Bicycle thrown into path of 100mph train

Thugs threw a bicycle into the path of a train that was travelling at 100mph in a "mindless act of vandalism", the British Transport Police has said. The incident occurred at Yate station near Bristol on Sunday. Witnesses said a young person threw the bike on the tracks before escaping on another.

Teenage girls 'used for sex by gang'

Five teenage girls from Greater Manchester were plied with alcohol, drugs and takeaway food by organised gang members who regularly used them for sex, Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday. The victims included a 13-year-old who became pregnant. MORE

Vote on new leader backs Vice-President

Yemenis voted yesterday to instate their Vice-President as the new head of state tasked with steering the country out of a crisis created by an anti-government uprising that has raged for a year. Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was the only candidate.

Blur to top bill at Hyde Park gig

Blur have been confirmed as headliners for a concert in Hyde Park at which the Olympic closing ceremony will be shown on big screens on 12 August. New Order and The Specials complete the line-up for the concert, which organisers have dubbed "the Best of British". Tickets go on sale on Friday.

Don't use toilet – it harms train tracks

As anyone who has travelled by train in India knows, when one uses the loo there is little between oneself and the tracks. Not so obvious, perhaps, is the revelation that each time one uses the toilet it harms the railways as the acidic content of what gets flushed corrodes the tracks.

Clues point to a new detective 'first'

New evidence points to the shadowy Charles Felix as the writer of the first ever detective novel and the work has returned to print for the first time in over a century. The British Library yesterday published The Notting Hill Mystery, which was first serialised in 1863.

Rio carnival draws to a close

Brazil's biggest party went out with a bang yesterday as revellers at Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome celebrated the last day of the famous carnival. Some 90,000 spectators assembled for the Samba Parade.

Rhino horn thieves are foiled by curator

A curator at a museum in Norwich thwarted thieves' attempts to steal a rhinoceros head. Four individuals wearing dark clothing paid to enter Castle Museum and made an attempt to rob the exhibit. A member of staff grabbed the head from them and they made off in a dark vehicle.

Space to rent as Nasa tries to raise money

Nasa trying to rent disused facilities at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Facilities now being offered for rent include its 15,000ft runway, a launch pad, the giant crawler used to move shuttles and the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building with the Nasa badge on its side. MORE

Mugabe celebrates birthday in defiance

President Robert Mugabe turned 88 yesterday, and marked the occasion by joking about reports circulating of his imminent demise and vowing to stay in power despite condemnation of his human rights record. He told an interviewer: "I have died many times. That's where I have beaten Christ."

Backseat boy ends car theft attempt

Thieves in New York got more than they bargained for when they stole a car: curled up in the back seat was the six-year-old son of the owner. The perpetrators have not been caught, but they abandoned the car when they discovered the child, who slept through the 30-minute theft.