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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thirty Things: Did You Know...?

The cardboard cathedral can accommodate up to 700 people
New Zealand city of Christchurch's cardboard cathedral/AFP

  1. Life may have started on Mars before arriving on Earth, a major scientific conference has heard.
  2. Using Facebook can reduce young adults' sense of well-being and satisfaction with life, a study has found.
  3. Miley Cyrus's risque performance at the MTV VMAs has drawn complaints from a parenting pressure group in the US.
  4. A "myth-busting" guide challenging negative attitudes to children with special needs has been launched by the online parenting network, Mumsnet.
  5. A High Court judge has sanctioned the sterilisation of a man "in his best interests" in a landmark legal ruling.
  6. Scientists are reporting a significant milestone for cancer research after charting 21 major mutations behind the vast majority of tumours, while a way of firing up the body's immune system in order to attack cancer has been discovered by US researchers.
  7. At this year's Cannes Film Festival, Michael Douglas claimed his throat cancer - which is now in remission - had been caused by oral sex, while England's chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, has admitted eating hash cookies at university.
  8. New Zealand's city of Christchurch has formally marked the completion of its new cardboard cathedral with a dedication service.
  9. Photographs of all the men who took part in the Dambusters raid in the Second World War have been published for the first time, while the former War Office building, where British leaders made plans during the two world wars and the Cold War, is to be sold.
  10. The UK has drafted a UN resolution "authorising all necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria, but politicians will have two votes before "direct" military action is taken by the UK - because of what happened in Iraq. Meanwhile, over the ongoing Middle East crisis, the US has said it will take action against the Syrian government for alleged use of chemical weapons even without the backing of allies or the United Nations, with Russia suspicious that America is going for regime change in Syria. (Read more)
  11. A controversial badger cull is under way in England despite protests, the National Farmers' Union has confirmed, while an anarchist group has claimed it started a fire which ripped through a police firearms training centre being built in Somerset as a "rebellion against the slaughter".
  12. A woman was seriously injured when she was run over by a restored horse-drawn tram on its first outing for 112 years.
  13. A man in Northern Ireland left in a permanent vegetative state following a sectarian attack has been asked by the Social Security Agency if he is fit for work.
  14. Microsoft is to fund a remake of cult BBC sci-fi series Blake's 7 for broadcast on its Xbox Live service, according to reports, while Sony has issued an apology to developer Rockstar after audio from forthcoming title Grand Theft Auto 5 was leaked online. Elsewhere, as Nintendo surprises with a new handheld games console, video games are gaining popularity in North Korea - but children need battery packs to stop power cuts spoiling the fun.
  15. Beauty mattered to Steve Jobs, and to many others it seems. Apple and Google-powered phones dominate the smartphone market, compared to the Windows Phone, which is growing minuscule in comparison.
  16. A man targeted by marketing companies is making money from cold calls with his own premium-rate phone number.
  17. BT has struck a deal with Virgin Media to make its new sports channels available to the cable operator's subscribers, as it's revealed that footballers use dirty tricks to get the transfer they want.
  18. Comedian Rob Auton has won an award for the funniest joke of the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013.
  19. An Iron Age settlement unearthed in Devon, in England, has been described as one of the most important finds of its kind.
  20. An anonymous donation to the UK made 85 years ago and now worth £350m is stuck in legal limbo because of a stipulation made by the donor.
  21. A requirement by many major airlines is a letter from your doctor that confirms you're medically fit to fly if you are more than 27 weeks pregnant, have had an operation recently or broken a bone.
  22. As the BBC gets a rare glimpse into the UK's only military detention centre, elsewhere in a pamphlet released by the Howard League for Penal Reform, legal expert and Vinerian Professor of English Law at Oxford University, Andrew Ashworth argues that thieves and fraudsters should not serve prison sentences.
  23. William Cantelo, a 19th Century inventor rumoured to be working on an early version of the machine-gun, left his house one day and never returned.
  24. An Israeli military blog reportedly used a photo of a shopping mall thousands of miles away in a post designed to prove that Gaza was not an "open-air prison".
  25. Food giant Tesco has been fined £300,000 after admitting it misled customers over whether strawberries on sale were genuinely "half price" in England.
  26. Members of one of the most isolated tribes on Earth have briefly emerged from the Peruvian jungle to ask for food, according to local activists.
  27. China has said it has suffered its "biggest ever" cyber-attack, causing many websites based in the country to go temporarily offline, while police in China have offered a reward for information leading to the arrest of a woman suspected of gouging out a six-year-old boy's eyes.
  28. Children's favourite Miffy is a cartoon rabbit drawn by Dutch artist Dick Bruna, but it was her first English translator, Olive Jones, who christened her Miffy.
  29. The first state-funded Greek Orthodox secondary school in England is set to open next week in north London.
  30. The Yanomami are one of the world's shortest ethnic groups.

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