Today's news

November 7, 2003

Cambridge halts plan for lab to test monkey brains

Faced with spiralling costs and continuing opposition from the city council and anti-vivisection groups, Cambridge University has indicated that it is ready to abandon plans to build a laboratory near the city to experiment on monkeys' brains. Tony Minton, the university's provice-chancellor, said that it was time "to take stock" of the project and decide whether it was still feasible. An internal watchdog complained that the university's council was misled and that the proposers withheld information about the project.
( Independent )

Skills council to axe 600 jobs in attack on bureaucracy
The agency set up to deliver the government's skills strategy is to cut 600 of its 5,000 staff as a step towards tackling bureaucracy. The Learning and Skills Council, which is responsible for all non-university education for those aged over 16, has been criticised by colleges, business groups and politicians for being over-extended and unwieldy. The council has an annual budget of £8 billion, of which the vast majority goes to further education colleges and sixth forms. A survey last year found that only 3 per cent of colleges thought the LSC provided value for money.
( Financial Times )

World's biggest MS trial shows benefits of cannabis
Results from the world's largest study into the medical effects of cannabis have shown that the drug can reduce pain and improve the lives of people with multiple sclerosis. Researchers from the University of Plymouth concluded that patients for whom other treatments have failed should be given tablets made from cannabis derivatives. The three-year study is published today in the medical journal The Lancet .
( Independent, Guardian, Times, Daily Telegraph )

Breast cancer risk higher for professional women
Professional women such as doctors, lawyers and teachers are far more likely to die from breast cancer than unskilled workers, according to official figures. The report, in Health Statistics Quarterly , shows that the trend was reversed in other diseases, with professional women less likely to die than unskilled workers.
( Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian )

DVT risk rises 12% after one long flight
An Australian study, published in the British Medical Journal , confirms that deep vein thrombosis is more likely to develop within two weeks of a long-haul flight. DVT risk is increased by 12 per cent by taking one long-haul flight a year. However, travellers should not panic. The average middle-aged traveller has a one in 40,000 risk of experiencing DVT, while the risk of death is one in 2 million.
( Financial Times )

Vitamin C lowers the risk of stroke
Vitamin C could help decrease the risk of stroke, especially among smokers, according to a study from the Netherlands. The study examined 5,197 people aged 55 or over in Rotterdam who had never had a stroke over a period of more than six years. During this time 253 participants had strokes. The study will be published later this month in the journal Neurology .
( Financial Times )

Ruins shows Inca city was part of vast complex
The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, found in the early 20th century, were part of a much larger complex, according to an Anglo-American archaeological expedition investigating a mountain ridge facing the Andean city. Using airborne infra-red reconnaissance and exploration of the jungle, the Royal Geographical Society-supported team, led by the British explorer Hugh Thomson and the American archaeologist Gary Ziegler, have found 33 previously unknown buildings.
( Independent, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph )

Obituary : Judah Benzion Segal, widely respected scholar of the Syriac and Aramaic languages and emeritus professor of Semitic languages at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, has died, aged 91.
( Independent )

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Recent controversy over the future directions of both Stanford and Melbourne university presses have raised questions about the role of in-house publishing arms in a world of commercialisation, impact agendas, alternative facts – and ever-diminishing monograph sales. Anna McKie reports

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