Today's news

January 26, 2004

Blair makes last-ditch attempt to win round top-up fee rebels
Tony Blair began the toughest week of his premiership with a marathon series of phone calls yesterday to appeal to rebel MPs unmoved by the latest concession on his plans for top-up fees. Despite a dramatic plea to rebels from chancellor Gordon Brown yesterday, Mr Blair knows there are enough Labour MPs ready to “betray” him even after a last-ditch change to the higher education bill. Labour whips have calculated that at least 85 of their colleagues need to vote against them to sink bill.
( The Times , The Guardian , Financial Times , The Daily Telegraph , The Independent )
Charles Clarke last night offered further concessions to Labour rebels in an 11th-hour attempt to win their support for top-up fees. The education secretary promised that the £3,000-a-year cap on fees would be raised only through legislation, rather than simply a vote by MPs. Finance experts have warned that middle-class students will be saddled with the biggest debts.
( Daily Mail )

Bias against elite institutions ‘holding back economy’
Fear of academic elites is holding back the economy, Gordon Brown will be warned today. Richard Levin, president of Yale University, will tell a London conference that Britain needs to boost its economy by investing more public and private money in universities.
( Financial Times )

Student puts her virginity on sale
Rosie Reid, an 18-year-old first-year student at Bristol University, is selling her virginity to the highest bidder to pay off her debts.
( Daily Mail )

Student dies from meningitis
A 20-year-old student has died after becoming the second person from the University of Sussex, near Brighton, to fall ill with suspected meningitis in a week.
( The Guardian , The Independent , The Daily Telegraph )

Science boost likely
Boosting the science and skills base will be a key theme of the Budget and spending review, Gordon Brown will say.
( Financial Times )

Tiny fossil is Earth’s oldest land animal
A tiny fossil washed up on a beach near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, has been confirmed by scientists at Yale University as the earliest known creature to live on dry land, it emerged yesterday.
( The Times , The Guardian , The Daily Telegraph , The Independent )

Pigs in the middle of sage experiment
Farm animals that usually end up on plates sprinkled with herbs and spices are to get an unexpected taste of garnish for themselves. Biologists at Leeds University are to investigate the potential of thyme, garlic, cinnamon and other natural products as replacements for the antibiotics and steroids the European Union is banning in two years’ time.
( The Guardian )

Water births ease pain
Women who have their babies in birthing pools are less likely to need a pain-relieving epidural, according to a study of 99 first -time mothers by a team at Southampton University.
( The Times , The Independent , Daily Mail , The Guardian )

Girls smoke and drink more than boys
Teenage girls have always been thought to be a more mature and sensible influence on their trouble-making male classmates, but a study by the Medical Research Council’s Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at Glasgow University has found that the roles have been reversed. While 15-year-old boys are content to play on their computers, more girls are drinking, smoking and taking drugs.
( Daily Mail )

Student is number one
Katie Melua, a music student at the Brit School for Performing Arts in Croydon, southeast London, has become number one in the album charts.
( The Times )

Sociologist dies
David Levy, a sociologist who disobeyed the rules of his discipline by studying nationalism rather than class, has died aged 56.
( The Times )

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