Pandora

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FOR MOST people the New Year celebrations were a mere trial run for the millennium festivities. However, the absurd pressure to make 31 December 1999 a definitive celebration is causing some concern to Britain's local authorities. London's Camden Council, a huge authority covering a significant part of the West End, is worried that it will be left behind in the rush to party. A secret report from the council, appearing in the Camden New Journal, states: "We are not planning to run any large, or indeed small, scale events ourselves ... we are seriously out of step with the other boroughs." Camden, who put in what was termed an "unrealistic" rival bid to Greenwich for the Millennium festival, are concerned about missing out on what they see as a "major promotional profile and community opportunity". Other councils in a similar quandry might take note of the public scepticism about the Millennium Dome before they throw their taxpayers' money away on the biggest extravaganza of the century.

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AN OBE was not the only award that Tom Jones, Wales's singing legend, received last year. The Pontypridd-born - but California-residing - Jones attended a special ceremony before the new year at Queen Street Station, Cardiff, to witness the renaming of Pacer diesel unit 143609 as the "Tom Jones". Managing Director of Cardiff Railway, Tom Clift, explained: "We thought it would be appropriate to ask Tom to name a train that would be travelling every day from his home town." That is some branch line, all the way to Los Angeles.

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IT IS a college with no grades and no departments, one where student projects have included the creation of an ergonomic guitar and an inflatable playhouse. That these activities go on at Hampshire College in Massachusetts is down to the late Jerome H. Lemelson, an inventor whose foundation funds innovative courses at the college. The Lemelson-sponsored courses, estimated to be taken by 20 per cent of the students, include How People Move, Pesticide Alternatives and Is the Mouse Dead?: The Psychology of Human-Computer Interface. As intended, the alternative curriculum has courted commercial success. The latest project, a snowboard designed for use by people with disabilities, has a patent application pending, and an organic method of pest control is expected to be on the market later in the year. Hampshire College President, Dr Gregory Prince Jr, is proud to be a part of it all: "We were seen as somewhat radical, different and I suspect, a little bit flaky," but now, "they know that we are doing what they want to do."

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COURTNEY LOVE (pictured), the queen of grunge who recently underwent a classy makeover, has been talking about her beautiful Los Angeles neighbourhood. Love explains to Allure magazine why she loves the schizophrenia of LA: "You've got your Moorish next to your Mediterranean next to your modern next to your British expatriate next to your aspiring starlet next to your ex-madam-now-action-movie-transsexual post-op next to your triple- A writer ex-crackhead Spanish-Chinese nursery owner. Here, it's like I'm the luckiest person alive. I know who I am."

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CHELSEA CLINTON has been named one of the 10 gutsiest women of the year. The award, doled out by Jane magazine, credits the President's daughter for turning out so well despite her high-powered and high-profile parentage, "No one else has made being a girl so cool," coos the magazine. We learn that Chelsea seldom drinks alcohol herself at the parties she attends, and one classmate explains how Chelsea thoughtfully comforts and ministers to those who have overdone it on the amber nectar. However, Chelsea's presence isn't always guaranteed to have such a sobering effect. Another classmate breathlessly recalls one particular party that Chelsea and her constant Secret Service entourage attended: "The cops came up to the house and were about to break up the party, but then the Secret Service went up to the cops and said `Hey we've got it under check'. The Secret Service let the party go on. It was so cool."

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