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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
10 stories that could be pranks - but aren't
Today is 1 April, when jokers set out to fool and the rest of us are on our guard. But some of the day's seemingly spoof news stories are true.

April Fool

1. Plans to fill a nuclear landmine with chickens to regulate its temperature were considered during the Cold War. Officials at the National Archives say it is coincidence the secret plan was revealed on 1 April.

2. By the time it's finished in 2008, the upgraded West Coast main line will have cost 10bn - 3bn more than it will take for Nasa to put another man on the moon, the Guardian reports.

3. A Viagra-for-votes scandal has forced a member of the Brazilian Congress out of office. The anti-impotency drug was handed out to "buy" voters' loyalty by a doctor working on the candidate's behalf at a political rally.

4. Student chiefs at Hull University have reportedly threatened to ban a student Christian Union because it doesn't admit non-believers such as atheists. Opponents say the move is political correctness gone mad.

MP James Gray on horseback
What's going on here then?
5. MP on high horse shock! But Tory politician James Gray has taken the concept literally, riding into Parliament to protest against exports of live horses. He's the first MP to exercise a right to ride his steed into the precincts of the Commons since Sir Arthur Samuel in 1920.

6. Forget about using a pen to sign a credit card slip. In the future, you could authorise payments by simply moving your finger over your flexible friend in a unique "gesture", a leading professor at MIT says.

7. Serbo-Bradfordian and Afro-Bristolian are apparently two dialects under discussion at a UK conference on the explosion in new forms of speech. Delegates will also discuss the spread of phrases like "bigging up".

8. Pop queen Kylie Minogue has an unlikely passion for housework. "I do like a good dust. I get my Marigolds on and have a fantastic frenzy," she tells Elle magazine.

9. Germany's surprise win in the 1954 football World Cup is claimed to have been a fix. A new book and TV documentary says the side was given performance-boosting drugs. But furious players have denied cheating, and a team doctor says the injections administered were vitamin C.

10. The F1 tradition of spraying champagne from the winner's podium has been banned at Sunday's inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix. Alcohol and scantily-clad "pit girls" are not be appreciated in the Islamic country, officials say.


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