The News Matrix: Wednesday 29 June 2011

Miliband in plea to unions not to strike

Ed Miliband has joined David Cameron to urge trade unions not to strike tomorrow. Two million schoolchildren are likely to be given the day off as teachers walk out, and air passengers were advised not to travel due to striking immigration staff. MORE

Dogs’ deaths led to ‘suicide attempt’

The police officer whose two dogs died in his locked car on Sunday made what appeared to be suicide attempts after the incident. Sergeant Ian Craven reportedly threw himself out of a moving car and tried to cut his wrists.

Jilted Hefner, 85, finds new Playmates

Jilted by his 25-year-old fiancée, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, 85, is back in the game with 27-year-old Shera Bechard, and, apparently, another 25-year-old. Both are Playboy Playmates.

Warrant for former central-bank chief

Afghanistan’s attorney-general has issued an arrest warrant for its former central-bank governor, who has taken refuge in the United States. A corruption scandal at the country’s largest bank is jeopardising international aid. MORE

Violence erupts at austerity protests

Greece ground almost to a halt yesterday on the first day of a 48-hour general strike to protest at austerity measures proposed for staving off a default on the country’s bonds. Demonstrations in Athens quickly turned violent. MORE

Suicide attack on Westerners’ hotel

At least five suicide bombers last night attacked a Kabul hotel which is frequented by Westerners, reportedly killing 10 people. Sporadic gunfire erupted shortly after a blast was heard at the Intercontinental Hotel, where Afghan and Western officials were supposedly holding security talks. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. MORE

Bacon masterpiece sells for £18m

A masterpiece by Francis Bacon sold last night for nearly £18m. The artist’s 1953 work Study for a Portrait was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder at Christie’s in London. It had only been expected to fetch around £11m.

Firms told to stop charging ‘rip-off fees’

Budget airlines, theatres and football clubs risk legal action if they continue to charge more for paying by credit and debit cards, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned. In a crackdown on “rip-off fees”, the business watchdog told firms to drop debit-card charges. MORE

Ambassador quizzed about intimidation

Syria’s ambassador in London has been summoned to the Foreign Office after Syrian exiles in Britain claimed they had been intimidated by agents of the Damascus regime. Syrians who have taken part in anti-regime protests in the UK claim embassy workers have phoned and visited their homes.

Swift arrests after police chief burgled

Police arrested seven people in connection with a weekend break-in at Johannesburg’s police chief’s home, sparking criticism over such swift action compared with that experienced by ordinary South Africans. Frequent government campaigns have done little to control crime.

Lexington is America’s laziest city

Although it’s known for its beautiful horse farms and as the “Thoroughbred Capital of the World”, Lexington, Kentucky has gained a new distinction: it is the US city with the most sedentary population. Along with Indianapolis in Indiana and Jackson, Mississippi, it ranked among the most exercise-phobic cities in America, Men’s Health magazine found.

‘Killer’ sponge is found in the Med

Scientists have discovered a rare predatory sponge in deep waters of the Mediterranean, off Spain and Italy. Asbestopluma hypogea, an aquatic animal measuring only 1.5cm across, feeds on small crustaceans, which it spends more than 10 days digesting.

Lady Gaga faces ‘misguided’ lawsuit

Lady Gaga has described a lawsuit that claims she is misleading her fans by seeking donations for victims of the Japanese earthquake as “misguided” and “without merit”. The lawsuit claims not all the money made from the singer’s wristbands goes to charity.

Spitfire and guns found in peat bog

A Second World War RAF Spitfire has been excavated from an Irish peat bog almost 70 years after it crash-landed. Six machine guns and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition were also discovered by archaeologists searching the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal.

Live monkey will be sent into space

Iran plans to send a live monkey into space next month, the latest advance in a missile and space programme which has alarmed Israel and its Western allies, who fear the Islamic republic is seeking nuclear weapons. The official IRNA news agency said five monkeys were undergoing tests.

Woman keeps abreast of the law

A lactating US woman was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after she sprayed sheriff’s deputies with breast milk as they tried to remove her from a vehicle. Stephanie Robinette, 30, was also charged with resisting arrest, according to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.

‘Tauists’ push for end to use of Pi

The mathematical constant Pi is under attack. “Anti-Pi propagandists” are pushing for a switch to Tau, which is double in size at 6.28. For this reason, yesterday (28 June, or 6/28) was named Tau Day in honour of the alternative to the irrational number.