Today's news

October 20, 2004

British cloning is morally wrong, says Bush adviser
US President George Bush's chief adviser on medical ethics accused Britain yesterday of crossing a "moral boundary" by allowing the cloning of human embryos. Dr Leon Kass launched his attack in an address ahead of a United Nations vote on reproductive and therapeutic cloning tomorrow that the Americans hope will lead to a worldwide ban on all cloning. British scientists, backed by the Government, say a ban would seriously hamper research into diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Gloves off as English historian faces the old enemy
David Starkey, the historian and broadcaster who last weekend denounced Scotland as a tiny, unimportant country, came under attack from radio listeners north of the Border yesterday when he defended his comments. Dr Starkey, whose television series on the history of the English monarchy is currently being broadcast on Channel 4, was taking part in a discussion programme on BBC Radio Scotland. After hearing Dr Starkey's view on Scotland's place in history one irate caller told him "to go and boil his heid".

Finger points to good research skills
Research into male scientists at Bath University has revealed that they have as much of the female hormone oestrogen as the male hormone testosterone, a combination more usual in women. This, says senior psychology lecturer Mark Brosnan, is why they are so clever. The study, which has been submitted to the British Journal of Psychology , also found that women social scientists tended to have higher levels of testosterone, making their brains closer to those of males in general.

Universities' quota policy threat to Scots
A former teachers' leader has attacked the Government's policy of trying to increase the number of children from poorer backgrounds who go to university. Fred Forrester, the former deputy general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said the move stemmed from "a fault line in New Labour thinking". He says the English scheme will have "inevitable knock-on effects for Scottish universities".

One language school in four is bogus
One in four English language colleges has turned out to be a front for illegal entry to Britain, a Home Office investigation has found. A further 25 per cent of the 1,050 education institutions visited by immigration officials are said to need further investigation. Most of the bogus colleges identified are in London, suggesting that more may be uncovered when the investigation - due to last until December - is widened.
Daily Telegraph

Medical student's suicide after taking acne drug
A promising medical student killed himself four weeks after being prescribed a controversial acne drug, an inquest in Manchester heard yesterday. Jon Medland, 22, was in the final year of his medical degree at Manchester University when he hanged himself at his student lodgings in January this year. The Manchester coroner was told that in a short time Mr Medland had been transformed from a "bubbly, outgoing" young man to becoming withdrawn and depressed with suicidal thoughts.

Ornithologists in the dark on owl decline
Britain's five native owl species seem to be steadily falling in number, but their nocturnal habits make them difficult to observe. A huge research effort to chronicle numbers and causes for their decline is being organised by the British Trust for Ornithology, which launched an appeal yesterday. Details for those who give a hoot: http:///
Independent, Guardian

Hotstuff waterbeds put the dampeners on playboys
The water bed, that icon of the 1970s sexual revolution, without which no self-respecting playboy could furnish his bachelor pad did its owner's virility no good at all, according to US scientists who have discovered that sleeping in one can make a man infertile. The researchers, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the University of Rochester in New York State, believe that increased heat on the male reproductive system is probably responsible for the infertility that they found.
Times, Daily Telegraph

Letter : Pampered old universities do not reflect reality. Daily Telegraph

- T.J. Binyon, the Oxford don and crime-writing enthusiast who crowned his career with a superlative biography of Pushkin, died on October 7 2004, aged 68. Times
- Robert Morris, the sceptical researcher and Britian's first professor of parapsychology, died on August 12 2004, aged 62. Times

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