7 Days

Beggar your neighbours The government is to clamp down on beggars who use their children to solicit cash on the streets. The children, the Home Office warns, will be put into care. The Metropolitan Police blame immigrants and asylum-seekers, though the Camden pram brigade and the baby observed at Charing Cross tube for the past five years look decidedly English.

Dome clone? Lord Falconer, an old friend of Tony Blair, and the PM's flatmate when they were both young barristers, has been given responsibility for the Millennium Dome project. His unenviable task includes dealing with crises over the completion of the Jubilee Line extension and the shortfall in sponsorship.

Ageism is out New Year's Day marked the 40th anniversary of Cuba's revolution. Fidel Castro limited his speech to one and a half hours, while Gabriel GarcIa Marquez, who was in the audience, told reporters things in Cuba were "getting better and better".

Come again Millenarians, mostly from North America, are congregating in Jerusalem to await the Second Coming, sparking fears of mass suicides. Earlier this week the authorities arrested cult members who planned a confrontation with the Israeli police. Kfar Shaul, the hospital that specialises in patients who think they are the Messiah, will soon be overflowing.

Value in diversity? An Arkansas prostitute, Bobbie Ann Williams, has claimed that President Clinton fathered her son, Danny, now 13. He was persuaded by a supermarket tabloid, the Star, to have a genetic test in the hope of a comparison with the president's DNA.

Patients' premium After a series of deaths through negligence at Bristol Royal Infirmary, GPs and hospital doctors are to be monitored every five years for competence under plans drafted by the General Medical Council.

Balked in the Balkans The US diplomat Christopher Hill visited Kosovo to present a new draft proposal to end the conflict. Despite his valiant efforts, the plan has been rejected by moderate Albanians, the Serbian government and the Kosovo Liberation Army - just about everyone engaged in the conflict, in fact.

Propaganda war The Iraqi air force violated the southern no-fly zone. Thirteen planes were involved, prompting American retaliation. US missiles appear to have missed their targets - and Saddam continues to taunt the western allies.

This article first appeared in the 08 January 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Stuff the millennium