Things in January
- Trying to decide its future in Europe, Serbia sits close to two of the important fault lines that define European history: that between Russia and Europe and between the old Ottoman Empire and Europe.
- The astronomer Galileo was convicted for heresy by the Catholic Church in the 17th century. Galileo had argued that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
- At Kandahar's Arab cemetery, victims of the US "war on terror" in Afghanistan are revered by many as martyrs and their graves are believed to possess miraculous powers.
- Nicolas Sarkozy enjoys a closer relationship with the press than any previous French president, but with his close friends owning many major media outlets, there are fears that the freedom of the French press is now being stifled.
- When American Bobby Fischer, who died this month, beat Russian Boris Spassky in 1972 to become world chess champion, it put the game of chess on the map.
- In 2009 the British government will provide more than £500m to fund security and counter-terrorism measures, rising to nearly £600m over the following two years.
- Not a single Boeing 777 aeroplane had been lost in a crash since the aircraft was launched in 1995.
- The Czech Republic banned the use of cage-like beds in children's care homes a year ago, under international pressure, but reports show the use of the beds goes on.
- The toy industry in India is picking up.
- Five hundred drunken teenagers attacked police during a wild party in the Australian city of Melbourne.
- England's schools inspectors have said that Geography as a subject is in decline.
- Playing computer games such as the Nintendo Wii can improve a surgeon's performance in the operating theatre, a US study shows.
- People in Scotland are the least knowledgeable in the UK about HIV even though the disease rate is continuing to rise.
- Regulators in the UK have given scientists the green light to create human-animal embryos for research, while US scientists say they have produced embryos that are clones of two men.
- Scientists in the US claim they have created a genetically-engineered carrot that provides extra calcium.
- Botanists have discovered a new species of giant self-destructing palm on the island of Madagascar. The tree spends so much energy flowering that it dies.
- The fossilised skull of the largest rodent ever recorded indicates that it would have been as big as a bull.
- There is a flesh-eating form of pneumonia.
- Christopher Columbus introduced syphilis to Europe.
- There is no such thing as pure black.
* (Pictures from left to right) 1. Shia Muslims around the world have been holding ceremonies to mark Ashura, it marks the moment that sealed the schism between Shia and Sunni Islam; 2. Two pied tamarin babies: Keepers at a Devon zoo are hand-rearing two critically endangered monkeys after their mother abandoned them; 3. Critically endangered mountain gorillas from the Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park; 4. Photographer Carl Warner's "Foodscapes" has captured all kinds of food in a series of still lifes; 5. Lady's legs in stockings: Both men and women find long legs in the opposite sex attractive, but not too long; 6. Sao Paulo Fashion Week: Brazil has more people of African descent than any country outside of Africa.