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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
10 things we didn't know this time last week
10 tomatoes
10 tomatoes by Simon Hammond

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. Idi Amin has 43 children. Amin, whose brutal dictatorship of Uganda from 1971-79 earned him the title the Butcher of Africa, is in intensive care in Saudi Arabia. Although he is in exile, his relatives are free to come and go from his former homeland and several of his children live there.

2. Legendary DJ John Peel uses his real name - John Ravenscroft - when at home. People phoning for "John Peel" used to leave his children quite confused, he revealed in a BBC interview. And while it's commonly known that Peel wants Teenage Kicks by the Undertones played at his funeral, he also wants a line from the song - "Teenage dreams, so hard to beat" - chiselled onto his gravestone.

3. It's no surprise that U2's Bono doesn't use his real name. But when Paul David Hewson first adopted his stage name, it was Bono Vox (which, according to a quiz set by Radio 1 DJs Mark and Lard, was inspired by a brand of hearing aid).

Violet polar bear
Pelusa the polar bear
4. Polar bears can change colour - well, only when treated with certain drugs. Vets were called to Mendozas Zoo in Argentina to treat Pelusa the polar bear's skin infection, and the drugs turned her snow white pelt violet. She should return to her normal colour within a month.

5. Only one US president has been the head of a trade union, according to a quiz in the Guardian. Ronald Reagan led the Screen Actors Guild at the height of the McCarthy reds-under-the-beds witch hunts - during which time "his political views shifted from liberal to conservative," says the White House website.

6. The White House website also has a presidential biography section prepared by school pupils, complete with crayon portraits and child-friendly facts. George Washington's horse was called Nelson; FDR was the first president to fly while in office; Lyndon Johnson's dogs were called Him and Her; and William Taft had a cow called Pauline Wayne.

Maori haka
Scared yet?
7. When Maori performers went to Greece for the Cultural Olympiad Festival, organisers asked that they tone down the haka so as not to scare the VIPs. "It was like a red rag to a bull," said singer Moana Maniapoto. "We women joined in, everyone chanted at the tops of their voices and the whole group advanced forward. We could see the whole front row leaning backwards, away from us."

8. What fame awaits the current crop of Big Brother housemates? After the cable DIY shows and premiere invites have dried up, immortality at the end of the pier beckons. In Southwold's penny arcade, one can play the Big Brother slot machine, featuring Nasty Nick, Mel, Sada and that builder bloke - remember them? You know, series one?

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

9. Inflatable dinghies are popular with desperate immigrants. So too are rubber rings and surfboards. But 12 inventive Cubans pooh-poohed such flimsy craft and customised a 1951 Chevy truck to make the perilous sea crossing to the Florida coast. They made it halfway in their makeshift boat before being spotted by US coastguards.

10. There are more stars in the universe than all the grains of sand on every beach and in every desert on Earth. Australian astronomers estimate there are 70 thousand million million million stars twinkling down on us, but most are too far away to be seen.

If you see something you think should be included next week, let us know using the form below.

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