Today's news

February 5, 2004

Italy faces huge fines for academic discrimination
The Italian government is facing massive daily European Court of Justice fines for failing to end discrimination against foreign language lecturers in its universities. The European Commission said yesterday it was seeking an unprecedented fine of €310,000 (£210,000) a day until the matter was resolved. The demand from Brussels is the latest move in an 18-year campaign to force Italian universities to give foreign language teachers the same rights as Italian lecturers. The Italian ministry of education has declined to comment on the decision. The Italian legislature is currently discussing a bill to address the issue. But representatives of the foreign teachers have rejected its provisions as inadequate. Around 1,000 foreign lecturers are involved in legal action against the universities.
( Guardian )

Harvard fellowship for Alistair Campbell
Alistair Campbell, the former Downing Street director of communications, is to become a visiting fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics. He will join the institute, which is part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, in April to lead discussion groups and meet students and lecturers.
( Times, Independent )

Attempt at human cloning has failed, says fertility
Panos Zavos, the fertility doctor who said 2 weeks ago that he had transferred a cloned human embryo into the womb of a 35-year-old woman, announced yesterday that, as widely expected, his client had failed to become pregnant. Dr Zavos, based at the University of Kentucky, caused uproar when he announced the transfer during a visit to London. He promised that "the materials and methods used to produce the transferred cloned embryo along with relevant clinical data" would be published soon in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
( Guardian, Daily Telegraph )

Anglo-Saxon king's tomb is biggest find since Sutton Hoo

Archaeologists have unearthed the spectacularly rich tomb of an early seventh century Anglo-Saxon king at Southend-on-Sea. The king's skeleton has not survived due to the acidic nature of the soil, but the royal tomb is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Britain. It dates from the same period as the great Sutton Hoo ship burial, found in Suffolk in 1939, which contained the body of a king of East Anglia. The excavations have been carried out by the Museum of London Archaeological Service and the objects will be on display at the museum till 17 February and then from 21 February at Southend-on-Sea's Museum.
( Independent, Daily Telegraph, Times )

The homing pigeon's ploy: follow that road
After a 10-year study of homing pigeons, animal behaviouralists at Oxford University report that the phrase "as the crow flies" no longer means the shortest most direct route between two points. They say it is likely that crows and other diurnal birds also choose AA-suggested routes, even though it makes their journeys longer. For the last 18 months the researchers have used the latest global-positioning technology to track homing pigeons to within a few metres. Some of the birds stick so rigidly to the roads that they even fly round roundabouts before choosing the exit to lead them back to their lofts. The project is shown on the BBC's Animal Camera series, starting next Wednesday.
( Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Times )

Scientists could make GM beef with healthy fish oils
Researchers at Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have outlined in a report in the journal Nature that it is possible to create genetically modified mammals that secrete the Omega-3 constituent of fish oil in their muscles. This means that it may soon be possible to breed beef cattle whose meat is enriched with the healthy properties of fish oil.
( Independent )

Green paint for ecowarriors
Scientists have designed an "ecopaint" which cleanses the air by soaking up toxic gases such as exhaust fumes. The porous coating absorbs nitrogen oxide and converts it into nitric acid that can be washed away by rain, says a report in New Scientist magazine.
( Times )

Laws of supply and demand
Feature looking at how universities in the UK are planning to respond to the new marketplace in higher education.
( Independent )

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