The News Matrix: Wednesday 31 December 2014

 

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The Independent Online

Mother and children die in blaze at home

Two children aged one and six have died along with their 36-year-old mother in a fire at their mobile home early yesterday. Her husband and their eldest son were also treated for burns following the blaze at The Plantation, a privately owned site in Surrey used by funfair showmen.

Network Rail boss will not take bonus

Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, has said he will not take his bonus this year following widespread delays over Christmas. Mr Carne’s performance-related bonus could have been as much as £135,000, on top of his £675,000 salary.

US denies claims of prisoner exchange 

The US called yesterday for the release of Americans held in Iran, but denied a report that Washington had proposed a prisoner exchange. A lawyer for Amir Hekmati, an Iranian-American former Marine, was quoted as saying the US sought his release through a prisoner swap.

Pay has fallen 15% in the past six years

Average earnings have fallen by 15 per cent over the past six years, although in some regions the figure is 50 per cent, a study finds. The GMB union found the mean gross annual pay rose by £1,134 to £27,271 between 2008 and 2014, a 15 per cent fall taking inflation into account.

Protests in Moscow as brothers convicted

Crowds protested in Moscow yesterday after opposition politician Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg were convicted of fraud. Alexei was given a suspended sentence while Oleg was jailed.

1,000  FOI requests are made each week

More than 400,000 requests have been made under the Freedom of Information Act since it was launched 10 years ago. Almost 1,000 queries to monitored central Government bodies are received each week, the Ministry of Justice said. The Act, introduced on 1 January 2005, covers more than 100,000 authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Horror as victims’ bodies shown on TV

Relatives of passengers on the Air Asia flight that crashed into the sea were dismayed yesterday to see images of the victims’ bodies on a local television station. Bodies and wreckage were found about six miles from the plane’s location when contact was lost.

Air force intercepts ‘migrant ship’

A helicopter intercepted a cargo ship believed to be carrying hundreds of migrants yesterday, the Italian air force said. The Moldovan-flagged ship, Blue Sky M, was spotted off Corfu. Greek television said the alarm was raised after armed men were seen on board.

Modernist gem on the market for £2.8m

A Grade II-listed property, hailed as the first Modernist building in Britain and designed by New Zealand architect Amyas Connell, is up for sale. It was built in 1931 in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, for a director of the British Museum. Its current owners have put it on the market for £2.8m.

Inebriated birds slur their songs

Scientists in America have discovered that drunk birds slur their songs in much the same way humans slur their words. Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University gave zebra finches juice spiked with alcohol and found their birdsong became quieter and more fragmented.

All wrapped up –  and for just £59,416

A shopper who was left penniless over Christmas after being over-charged by more than £59,000 while using a debit card to buy wrapping paper has received his money back and an apology from TSB. Father-of-two Dean Baker, 32, was charged £59,416 rather than £5.94 at a Card Factory store in Birmingham.

2015 babies to be showered with gifts

Babies born in Singapore in 2015 will be given a special gift box to mark the country’s golden jubilee, the 50th year since it was created. Items have been chosen by the public and, alongside practical gear such as a baby sling and changing bag, will include a scrapbook and a jubilee medallion.

Magical moment as seal eats first meal

A lost seal being treated for pneumonia after being found miles from the sea has eaten his first meal since being rescued. The animal, now named Dumbledore, was found stranded in a field in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, at least 20 miles (32km) from the sea earlier this month.

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