Environment The Nathusius’ pipistrelle weighs just 7.6g and is the size of a human thumb

A tiny bat the size of a human thumb has become the first to be recorded crossing the North Sea from Britain to mainland Europe – before meeting an untimely end in the Netherlands.

Getting on the map

The people of Orkney don't speak Gaelic (and never have), do have electricity and their eyebrows don't join in the middle. But could a mainlander tell you that?

Brown scraps plan to raise an extra pounds 3bn from oil tax

THE CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown last night suffered an embarrassing U-turn when he bowed to overwhelming pressure from the oil industry and dropped plans to raise up to pounds 3bn by tightening the North Sea tax regime.

Letter: The films we don't get to see

THE continuing growth in cinema attendances is to be celebrated ("Record high for cinema", 3 May), but is the 39 million audience provided with more choice? Hardly. Film magazine (September 1996) pointed out that Glasgow had three cinemas in a three-mile radius offering a total of 23 screens, yet 11 of those were occupied by just three films. How many of the 128 British films produced in 1996 did the multiscreens show? How many foreign-language films? And for how long? Apart from the handful of Regional Film Theatres, the only outlet for such films are the 250 film societies in the UK. From Shetland to Jersey these deliver an annual audience of well over 1 million.

Obituary: Sir Matthew Campbell

THE LAST Secretary of the old Department of Agriculture for Scotland who became the first head in 1962 of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Matthew Campbell was an austere and extremely competent civil servant. However, his claim to lasting fame was his work from 1951 to 1954 as Secretary of the Taylor Committee which created the Crofters' Commission.

What the folk's going on?

When Madonna goes all earth mother, you know it's serious. Get out that acoustic guitar and hand-spun smock, put flowers in your hair and prepare for a summer of Lovin' Spoonful, says Howard Byrom

my tech; Technophobe? Well, I like a good juke-box

In the first of a new series, Simon Day of `The Fast Show' talks to Jennifer Rodger about his favourite gadget - an Audiolab 8000A amplifier

Travel: Scotland - Listen, but try to keep your head

Jon Winter goes on a musical tour with an undertone of violence

What, when, where?

Go north to the Shetland Islands and party in style at the Up- Helly-Aa fire festival in Lerwick, a reminder of the days when Norse settlers celebrated the end of the yule holidays. Bands of guisers (Shetlanders in Viking kit) led by their chief, the Guiser Jarl, parade town before setting alight a 30-ft longship in the harbour. Viking revelry follows throughout the night at various venues, including the Town Hall, which stipulates that stiletto heels are not allowed, although presumably spiky helmets are. Up-Helly-Aa takes place on Tuesday 27 January. More information from the Shetland Islands Tourism Office (01595 693434).

Health: Pollution not to blame for childhood asthma

Teenagers are more likely to suffer from asthma in the clean air of rural Britain than they are in the polluted inner cities. Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, examines a study which suggests the disease cannot be blamed on climate, diet or air quality.

Chaos as fierce gales ravage Britain

Fierce gales of up to 80mph have caused chaos throughout Britain, with flooding, power cuts and bridge closures, and sporting events and ferry services being cancelled.

Two die as gales ravage Britain

Fierce gales caused chaos across Britain yesterday, causing widespread flooding, power cuts and bridge closures. Sports events and ferry services were also disrupted.

Friday's book: Black & Blue by Ian Rankin

Last night, in the apt surroundings of the Law Society, Ian Rankin won the coveted Gold Dagger of the Crime Writers Association for his ninth Inspector Rebus mystery, Black & Blue. Now here's one judging panel that knows how to please its patrons. "The aroma of the whisky was fine," muses Rankin's bibulous Edinburgh detective in a typical bar-propping moment, "smoky, filling nostrils and lungs." The CWA awards are sponsored by The Macallan.

Coastguards aid crew of second stricken ship

Coastguard rescuers were standing by to airlift the crew of a 1000-tonne bulk carrier last night - only 24 hours after a helicopter winchman was lost at sea. The Minoan Bay was in difficulties in the storm- lashed waters off Scotland's northern coast. A tug was trying to fix a line to the Maltese-registered vessel in the Pentland Firth, off Orkney.

Labour war on Scottish sleaze

Labour plans to introduce a "new breed" of politician for the devolved Scottish parliament in a bid to stamp out sleaze north of the border.

Blair stirs up Home Rule vote

Tony Blair yesterday tried to work his personal magic on a jittery campaign for Scottish home rule, telling voters they had "nothing to be frightened of, except fear itself".
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War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

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