Lib Dem leader angers universities
The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, sparked a row with university vice-chancellors yesterday after claiming that degree courses lack "intellectual rigour". He said his party would raise the standard of three-year undergraduate degree courses, create fewer university places and scrap government targets requiring that by 2010 half of all young people enter higher education. In a speech to the think-tank Liberal Future, Mr Kennedy reiterated the party's intention to abolish tuition fees and restore student grants. Rather than make the poorest students take on the largest debts, the Lib Dems would introduce a new 50p in the pound top rate of income tax for those earning more than £100,000 a year, which would raise £4 billion for extra investment in higher and further education.
Boys make expectant mothers feel hungry
It is one old wives' tale that looks like surviving the scrutiny of modern science. Mothers-to-be, it appears, really do tend to eat more when they are carrying a boy. Other time-honoured methods of detecting the sex of an unborn baby, from how it is carried in the womb to the rate of its heart beat, have been dismissed by scientists. But the idea that the more hungry the expectant mother is, the more likely she is to have a boy, has been backed by a study of 244 pregnant women conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. The findings are reported in the British Medical Journal today.
(Daily Telegraph, Times)
Plants thrive on greenhouse effect
The world has become a greener place in the past two decades as a result of climate change, according to a study published today. As the climate has warmed, the Earth has become more lush and rich with vegetation, notably in the Amazon rainforests, according to a study jointly funded by the US space agency Nasa and US Department of Energy. The research, published today in the journal Science, describes how global warming has allowed plants to flourish where climatic conditions previously limited growth.
Keep your hair on, the lice are harmless
Head lice are harmless and there is little evidence that cleaning clothing, bedding or furniture with insecticide sprays is effective, a report says today. Research on ways to deal with head lice says that once they have left a human body, they are in effect dead. Specialists say banning children from school, cutting hair or tying hair back are unlikely to have any effect. "BestTreatments" an American website, jointly owned by the British Medical Journal group, also says lice seen on pillows, hats or chairs are "dead, sick or elderly" and cannot infect another person. Less than 20 per cent of children with nits, the eggs of lice, become infested.
(Daily Telegraph, Times)