Today's news

June 26, 2003

Patten attacks government HE policy
Chris Patten accused government ministers of waging "cheap" political campaigns against Britain's top universities as he was installed as Chancellor of Oxford University yesterday. Mr Patten said that the government was demanding the right to interfere ever more deeply in universities' affairs while failing in its obligation to fund higher education adequately. He said the government was wrong to attack leading universities for failing to broaden access to poor students. The problem had arisen because of the "spectacular failure" of state secondary education in the past 30 years to raise standards so that more students could compete for places.
(THES, Times, Financial Times)

Tories promise to scrap 50% student target
The Tories promised yesterday to abandon the government's target of encouraging 50 per cent of young people to go to university and to scrap the office of access regulator. They condemned tuition fees as a tax on learning that would deter poorer students.
(Daily Telegraph)

Think-tank endorses top-up fee reforms
Lower income families in England would benefit more from the government's proposals to introduce top-up fees than they would from Conservative plans to scrap tuition charges altogether, a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies independent found yesterday.
(Guardian, Times)

Scientists accuse Meacher of twisting GM evidence
Michael Meacher, who was dismissed as environment minister in the recent cabinet reshuffle, severely distorted the facts about genetically modified food to make partisan attacks on the government's biotechnology policy, Lord May of Oxford, president of the Royal Society said yesterday. Mr Meacher's office said he had no plans to respond to the criticisms. They came as he was appointed chairman of Catalyst, a left-wing think-tank that has been critical of the government.
(Times, Independent)

History of symmetry wins science book prize
The £10,000 Aventis science book prize has been won by a British professor who has devoted his career to investigating the skew-whiff side of life, the universe and everything. The prize was awarded last night to University College London professor Chris McManus, author of Right Hand, Left Hand.
(Daily Telegraph, Independent)

Scientists get wind of a flatulence-free bean
Hard on the heels of the decaffeinated coffee bush and the less-allergenic peanut, food scientists have begun work on the flatulence-free bean. A natural treatment can remove 95 per cent of the fart-triggering compounds in Phaseolus vulgaris - also known as the french bean, haricot, kidney bean or frijol - it is reported today in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture.

Cocaine found on nearly all euro notes
Almost all euro bank notes have traces of cocaine, according to a study by German scientists. 700 euro notes from across the euro zone were studied between January 2002 - the month the notes were launched - and last August. Three per cent were found to be contaminated with an average of 0.4 microgrammes of cocaine particles, just days after the euro's launch. This figure soared to 90 per cent in seven months. The most highly contaminated notes originated from Spain.
(Daily Telegraph)

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