Today's news

December 12, 2002

British academic boycott of Israel gathers pace
British academics have delivered a series of snubs to their Israeli counterparts since the idea of a boycott first gained ground in the spring. Colin Blakemore, an Oxford University professor of physiology, who supports a boycott, said: "I do not know of any British academic who has been to a conference in Israel in the last six months." Oren Yiftachel, a leftwing Israeli academic at Ben Gurion University, complained that an article he had co-authored with a Palestinian was initially rejected by the respected British journal Political Geography . Paul Zinger, outgoing head of the Israeli Science Foundation, said: "Every year we send most of our research papers abroad for reference. We send out about 7,000 papers a year. This year, for the first time, we had people writing back, about 25 of them, saying 'We refuse to look at these'."

Academics warn against stricter bioscience vetting
Senior academics reacted defensively yesterday to calls from MPs to consider mandatory controls over biotechnical research in universities and research institutions. The call for a stricter regime, possibly with a new regulatory authority, is made in a Commons foreign affairs committee report on biological weapons. Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said academics recognised the importance of national security. But she said the way forward lay in refining, not scrapping, the existing vetting scheme whereby universities voluntarily refer details of suspect students or sensitive courses to the Foreign Office for further checking by the intelligence and security services.
(Financial Times)

Clarke in attack on grammar schools
Education secretary Charles Clarke signalled plans to mount a renewed government attack on grammar schools yesterday and gave a clear indication that students will have to repay higher university tuition charges in a form of graduate tax. He urged local education authorities with selective schools to examine "self-critically" whether the 11-plus was harming the drive to raise education standards generally.
(Times, Guardian, Daily Mail)

Cash warning over museums
Museums that recently introduced free entry are not receiving enough public funding to cover the resulting surge in visitor numbers, the government was warned yesterday. The criticism came in the Commons select committee report on museums and galleries. The committee also said that university art collections, which are largely free to the public, should not have to pay VAT. National museums and galleries are exempt from the tax.
(Financial Times, Times)

French white wine can be taken as red
Wine lovers who prefer white to red can raise a glass to their good health at last. French scientists have developed a Chardonnay with all the beneficial properties of a claret. The Paradoxe Blanc 1999, created by oenologists at the University of Montpellier, is described as light and fruity, with hints of mint and apricot. It is much higher than usual whites in polyphenols - the antioxidants, abundant in reds, that are thought to protect the heart.
(Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Independent)

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