Yesterday was a ...

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Good Day for sludge, as a New Mexico company that launders denim goods reported successful results in an experiment to use the blue sludge as compost on farmland. The research showed that yields of beans and cotton increased by 50 to 60 per cent, while yields of native grasses increased tenfold.

Bad Day for elephants: quite apart from the decision in Harare by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to relax a worldwide ban on ivory trade, two wooden elephants were blamed for the sacking of the finance minister of Thailand. The elephants, believed to be jinxed, had been removed from their places outside the finance ministry in 1990 but were replaced a few weeks ago. The finance minister has since been sacked, the stock market has crashed and the baht currency dropped badly in value.

Good Day for Thereminists, as the first-ever Theremin Festival opened in Portland, Maine. Invented by the Russian scientist Leon Theremin in 1920, it is the only musical instrument played without being touched. "You just approach it and it goes `wooo'," said musicologist Olivia Mattis.

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