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The News Matrix: Wednesday 29 February 2012

'US won't be warned about strike on Iran'

Israeli officials are reported to have said they will not warn the US if they decide to strike Iranian nuclear sites. The disclosure, in a report quoting US intelligence, seems likely to drive a deeper wedge between the countries at a time of frustration in the US over Israel's stance on Tehran. MORE

Strikes are possible, says union leader

Trade unions could stage strikes during the Olympic Games, the leader of Britain's biggest union has said. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey called on the public to engage in "civil disobedience" to defend public services during the August events. MORE

House prices make 'surprising' jump

House prices rose by a "surprising" 1.1 per cent in January, the biggest monthly increase since July last year. Land Registry figures put the cost of the average home in England and Wales at £161,545, and showed a boost in every region apart from the North-west.

Nothing official on Chavez's health

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez came out of cancer surgery on Monday night in Cuba – but there has been still no official word on his condition. Despite the naming of the Health Minister as the government's official on the issue, there has been no official comment. MORE

Wife of extradited man weeps to MPs

Elaine Tappin whose husband Chris has been extradited to the US over allegations of arms deals with Iran, wept as she addressed MPs and said he was devastated by their family's "uncertain future". MORE

Pregnancy rates are lowest since 1969

Britain's pregnancy rate has fallen to 35.5 conceptions per thousand women, its lowest since 1969, but campaigners have claimed it could soon be on the up. It is feared the impact of the current economic climate on the hopes and aspirations of young people could result in more pregnancies. Better contraceptive services for teenagers were said to be behind the continual decrease. MORE

Passengers forced to stay on stricken ship

The passengers and crew of stricken cruise ship the Costa Allegra spent another night aboard the vessel after attempts to land at the island of Desroches in the Seychelles were abandoned. The dock was deemed to small for the 1,000 passengers to safely disembark. MORE

Observers question election results

The Senegalese government faced questions from European Union observers yesterday over its failure to publish real-time results from the presidential election on Sunday. The polls have attracted controversy after President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, refused calls to step down.

Labour opens 6% lead over Tories

A poll released today claims Labour has a six point lead over the Conservatives. The Reuters/Ipsos Mori Political Monitor puts Labour on 41 per cent (up three points since last month) compared to 35 per cent for Conservatives (down three) and 12 per cent for Liberal Democrats (no change).

President bids to end need for visas

Georgia's President, Mikhail Saakashvili, says he wants to drop visa requirements for Russians, aiming for an improvement in relations that disintegrated after the countries fought a brief war in 2008. There was no immediate comment from Moscow.

Human remains found in woodland

West Midlands police have sealed off a woodland area after the discovery of human remains. They have been removed for examination by a pathologist, but the scene at Wainbody Woods, Coventry, is being preserved as further searches are carried out.

World's oldest sheep dies in cliff plunge

A sheep thought to be the oldest in the world has died one month short of her 26th birthday after falling off a cliff. Methuselina, who lived on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, owed her long life to the fact she still had most of her teeth, according to her owner, John Maciver.

Claws out as Milan hotel gets a mauling

Fashion designer Roberto Cavalli has sunk his claws into Milan's resident king of minimalist chic, Giorgio Armani. At the centre of the row is the new Armani hotel in the city's fashion district, which Mr Cavalli said "looks like a psychiatric hospital". MORE

Elementary, my dear Lucy ...

Charlie's Angels actor Lucy Liu will star in the upcoming Sherlock Holmes adaptation on American television. She has been cast as Dr Watson, traditionally a male role. The US series, which is set in present-day New York, will also feature Johnny Lee Miller in the title role. MORE

007's trunks will go on display

The skimpy blue trunks worn by Daniel Craig as he emerged from the sea in Casino Royale are going on display in an exhibition to mark 50 years of Bond films. The Barbican Centre in London has been given access to the archive of Eon Productions, which makes the 007 movies, for the exhibition.

Sancy that – £2.5m diamond up for sale

A diamond described as "one of the most important ever to come to auction" will go on sale at Sotheby's Geneva on 15 May. The Beau Sancy, a 35-carat pear double rose-cut stone belonging to Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, is expected to fetch up to $4m (£2.5m). Reuters

Apple event drums up talk of iPad 3

Apple has invited journalists to "a special event" in London on 7 March, leading to speculation that it could herald the launch of the highly anticipated iPad 3. The latest incarnation of the iPad is expected to feature a much higher-resolution screen.

Giant pandas have a royal visitor

The UK's only two giant pandas were given the royal seal of approval yesterday. The Princess Royal met Tian Tian and Yang Guang as she toured Edinburgh Zoo in her role as patron of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. The Princess visited both pandas in their separate enclosures.

Wine steward jailed for stealing pictures

A wine steward who went on an art theft spree has been jailed for up to three years. Mark Lugo said he was sorry for lifting art off hotel walls, including a $350,000 drawing by Cubist painter Fernand Léger, then using them to line his own walls in Hoboken, New Jersey. AP

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Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

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Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

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Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering