Today's news

April 18, 2002

Budget roundup

Education awaits bigger prize in spending review
In his budget, the chancellor promised rises in the direct grants sent to all 24,000 headteachers as part of a £0 million package to try to reassure them that education had not slipped down the agenda. It is intended as down payment on the hundreds of millions the education secretary has bid for to support schools, colleges and universities in the forthcoming spending review. Most of the £8.5 billion extra Gordon Brown plans to raise by increasing taxes will go towards more spending on the National Health Service. ( The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Financial Times )

£400 million R&D tax credit welcomed
Business and science groups generally welcomed the chancellor's decision to introduce a research-and-development tax credit at a higher level than had been predicted in the consultation period. The £400 million boost will be a volume-based credit, payable from April 1, on a company's R&D expenditure in the UK at a headline rate of 25 per cent. ( The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times )

Skills schemes include time off work to learn
Pilot schemes for an employer's training subsidy — paving the way for a national £1 billion-a-year tax credit system — are to include a controversial workers' right to time off to learn. The government also announced others measures to improve Britain's skills base. It said schemes would test different approaches to help working people upgrade their skills and support employers who needed more skilled staff to strengthen their business. ( The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times )

Other news

Doubts over licensing of foreign students
Claims by science minister Lord Sainsbury that the Export Control Bill would not require the licensing of foreign students have been contradicted by his own civil servants in private meetings. ( The Independent )

Deal aims to halt 'bio-plunder'
A worldwide plan to prevent drug and biotechnology companies plundering medicinal plant resources from the developing world and then making huge profits by patenting them has been agreed by 182 countries after ten years of negotiation. ( The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian )

Mummies may cast light on Incas
A collection of 2,400 mummies interred between about 1480 and 1535 that was found under a shanty town near Lima, Peru, may transform knowledge of the Inca civilisation. ( The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times )

Eye cells help sufferers of Parkinson's disease
US researchers have used cells from the retina to treat Parkinson's disease. The cells, which provide a source of dopamine, were implanted in the brains of volunteers in advanced stages of the disease. A year later, they all showed better movement and balance, said Ray Watts, a professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine in Georgia. ( The Daily Mail )

Evidence of ecstasy's danger flawed
Scientific evidence that ecstasy damages the brain is fundamentally flawed and has misled the public and politicians, says New Scientist magazine. ( The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent )

Work increases pre-eclampsia risk
Women who work during pregnancy are almost five times more likely to develop pre-eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition for mother and baby, according to a study led by John Higgins, a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at University College, Cork, Ireland. ( The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times )

Human ancestors may have walked with dinosaurs
The first ape ancestors of human beings may have evolved while dinosaurs still roamed the earth, according to a new interpretation of the fossil record by Robert Martin of Chicago's Field Museum, published in the journal Nature . ( The Daily Telegraph, The Times )

New order of insect discovered
Danish and German scientists have discovered a new order of insect, Science reports. Two cricket-like specimens were found in museums in Africa, and one, in amber, came from the Baltic region and is about 45 million years old. ( The Times )

An ocean of life on the seabed
The number of species living on the ocean floor may be higher than the numbers found in coral reefs or in rainforests. ( The Guardian )

Poet wins £60,000 prize
Britain's largest literary prize has gone to a Durham poet. Anne Stevenson, 69, won the first £60,000 Northern Rock Foundation Writer Award. ( The Guardian, The Independent )    

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