From today's UK papers

March 25, 2002

Morris threat to snub teacher conferences
Estelle Morris, the education secretary, says she will boycott teacher union conferences if she is given a rough ride by delegates later this week. Ms Morris, who will make two speeches during the traditional Easter conference season, said that she regards the gatherings as "bearpits" designed to embarrass ministers. (Times)

Euro entry could boost British wealth
Membership of the European single currency could leave the average British family £500 a year better off, a report published today says. Analysis for the Tennon accountancy group predicts British gross domestic product would grow by more than 1 per cent during the first five years in the euro zone. (Independent)

Our homes are worth £2,100,000,000,000
Britain's homeowners live in property worth £2.1 trillion, equivalent to the annual income of India's population. The total value of the UK's housing stock has nearly doubled since the market recovered from its nosedive in the early 1990s, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. (Guardian)

Sons follow in father's steps
One in ten male graduates follow in their fathers' footsteps when choosing a career, according to the London School of Economics. They also earn more than their colleagues who have not stuck to the family tradition. The link across generations is strongest in farming, with 35 per cent of sons remaining with the occupation. But sons have a marked tendency to stick to the family career within the professional and entrepreneurial classes in general, according to Arnaud Chevalier, the author of the report. (Financial Times)

Dexterous thumbs win Darwinian advantage
The capacity to grip implements using an "opposable thumb", shared by no other creature in the world, has acquired a new significance thousands of years after it gave mankind mastery of the planet, scientists have found. In the era of computer games and mobile phones, those with the niftiest thumbs have a Darwinian advantage. They win the games, they book the best restaurant tables, they get the dates, according to a researcher at Warwick University. (Independent)

Fiery end of Earth's little brother
The solar system once had an extra Earth-like planet that spiralled to a fiery death in the Sun almost 4 billion years ago, a British scientist at Nasa's Ames Research Centre says. The lost world, part of the Sun's original family of satellites formed 4.5 billion years ago, was smaller than Earth and sat in a regular orbit just outside that of Mars. Over the next 600 million years, it was wrenched out of its place by the gravity of its neighbours and sent spinning on an eccentric path that took it to its destruction. (Times)

Census on the internet to relaunch in secret
The Public Records Office will be making its second attempt to put the 1901 census for England and Wales on the internet some time in the next few weeks, but this time in secret. When the site was launched at the start of the year, 30 million people tried to access the vast database every day, bringing it crashing down. (Daily Telegraph)

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