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vital statistics

Birmingham's new shopping centre, the Bullring by Benoy, and its more famous offshoot, the Selfridges store by Future Systems, have together created more than 5,000 jobs for the city.Of those, some 1,365 were filled by the long-term unemployed, while nearly 1,000 of these new employees also came from the most deprived areas.

Some 16 of the world's largest cities are set to break the 10 million population mark, making them mega-cities by 2005, according to the latest edition of The Times Atlas of the World.The three largest will be Tokyo, with a massive 27 million; Sao Paulo, with just under 20 million; and Mexico, with 19 million.The fastest growers, however, will be in Africa, with both Lagos in Nigeria and Cairo in Egypt making it to the 10 million mark.

Elton John has sold off almost the entire contents of his London home.At an auction at Sotheby's, the 500-piece collection, which the notoriously extravagant pop star bought in a one-month period back in 1992, went for a staggering £1.4 million.

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