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Last Updated: Friday, 28 March, 2003, 19:04 GMT
10 things we didn't know this time last week

It's easy to lose track of the news. So at the end of the week, it's good to keep an eye on some of those things which shouldn't go unnoticed.

If you spot something you think should be included next week, send it to us using the form at the bottom of the page.


1. People watching the Oscars ceremony who have TiVo boxes - the gadget which allows users to pause live programmes - were particularly keen on three moments of the evening's events, AdAge magazine reports. Michael Moore's speech and Adrien Brody's embrace of Halle Berry were the two most replayed moments of the evening. The most paused moment was when Julia Roberts arrived. Moore's next film, incidentally, which he says will be about the erosion of civil liberties after 11 September, is to be called Fahrenheit 911.

2. The proportion of black people on the UK's national fingerprint database is FIVE TIMES the proportion of black people in the population as a whole. The total number of people on the files is 5.5m - nearly one in 10 of the UK. There are 1.8m on the DNA database. And if the government has its way everyone who is arrested in future - but not necessarily charged - will have their fingerprints and DNA added. The database could rise by 1.2m people a year.

3. Normally a story like the proposed DNA database extension would be leading the bulletins. But during wartime, it's lucky to get a look-in, so overwhelming is the interest and importance in the war. These kinds of days might almost, one might think if one was a unscrupulous press officer, be good days to bury bad news. Remember Jo Moore? Her name lives on - at least with Slate magazine's Mickey Kaus who has been keeping his own catalogue of stories which could have made it big.

4. Even hardened orators, who cut their teeth debating in councils, committees, union meetings and rallies need to make a few notes. So which fluent public speaker was caught by a sharp eyed photographer with notes written on his palm while addressing an anti-war meeting? Take a bow, Mr Ken Livingstone.

5. Fenchurch Street station, the smallest of London's main line termini, and the only one without its own tube connection, is known up and down the land as one of the names of the capital. Its strangely high-profile billing on the Monopoly board is to thank, of course. Andrew Martin related in the Independent on Sunday, that it's all because when Leeds-based Waddington's bought the rights in 1935, secretary Marjorie Phillips was sent on a mission to London to collect names. Fenchurch Street just happened to be the nearest station to where a taxi dropped her.

6. British sign language has regional "accents" - signs which are peculiar to a particular area of the country. But because of the closure of a number of deaf schools, this regional heritage is reported to be at risk. So the Heritage Lottery Fund is giving 25,000 to a North Tyneside group to help it make a record of the north-east sign language accent, and in the process, it is hoped, save it. Newcastle translator Maureen Reed told The Times: "When you first meet a deaf person, you can immediately tell where they are from. You can tell their accent from the signs they make."

If all this is old news to you, you could always try our weekly news quiz, Seven Days Seven Questions

7. While many were amazed by the pictures of the dolphins used in the Gulf to check for mines, news came of an "incredible increase" in the numbers of dead dolphins being found on beaches around the UK. In Devon alone, 72 have been found this year, compared with 42 in all of last year. In France, it is reported that the figures are seven times as high as the UK.

8. The Indian state of Bihar has been considering creating a minister to control mosquitoes. The leader of the opposition, Shushil Kumar Modi, said the situation was so bad, during one visit to the toilet, he was bitten particularly badly. "I am not even able to read newspapers in the toilet in peace," he said. "During my short sojourn to that haven, 20-25 mosquitoes attack and suck my blood."

9. How does Guinness have a white head when the drink itself is treacly black? The answer, according to the New Scientist, is down to the bubbles which form the creamy top of the pint. These uniform-sized spherical bubbles, which rise from the black liquid, sit in a dense concentration at the top of the glass. Because they hold only air, they act in an opposite way to a magnifying glass, disseminating light. So light entering the foam is rapidly scattered, some of it finding its way back to the surface, appearing white. It's called Mie Scattering.

10. There has not been a new Benedictine monastery for 800 years. But one is being built in County Down, to further the monastic calling to a simple life. Benedictine monks rise early, say little, pray, study the Bible, and make cards and candles. And now, run their own website to raise money for their building fund.

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