Today's news

December 13, 2004

Children could quit school for a trade at 14
Children will be able to quit school for good at 14 and learn a trade under a planned government shake-up of the education system. Instead of school, they will be able to study at college full-time - and take up a trade such as plumbing or engineering under a "young apprenticeship" scheme for 14 to 16-year-olds. The plan involves a massive expansion of the current scheme whereby pupils put off the academic curriculum can spend up to three days a week at college or on work experience.
The Independent

Shock as student loans hit £223m
Ministers were under fresh pressure to tackle student debt last night after new figures revealed that loans worth almost a quarter of a billion pounds were approved for undergraduates in the past year. Figures published by the Executive revealed that the Student Awards Agency for Scotland had agreed to give almost 91,000 university-goers loans worth more than £223 million. The statistics were released just days after rising levels of student debt were blamed for a fall in the number of Scots opting to go into higher education.
The Scotsman

Millionaire 'bribes' pupils with plan for school
A millionaire has announced plans to "bribe" parents and children in one of the poorest parts of England to regularly attend school. Irvine Laidlaw, who has a personal fortune of £500 million, intends to offer affordable restaurants, healthcare and adventure training courses to persuade people in Newcastle to back his plans to fund a controversial new city academy.
The Times

New vaccine trials bring hope of cure for diabetes
A vaccine against the most serious form of diabetes is to be tested on humans for the first time, raising the prospect that a cure could be widely available in less than a decade. British scientists have gathered 18 patients with type 1 diabetes, which usually appears before the age of 40, to begin the trial in August. The beginning of human trials marks one of the most significant advances against the disease since the widespread prescription of insulin began in the 1920s.
The Times

How we recognise faces
You'd know that face anywhere? Then thank your right fusiform gyrus. Scientists have identified the bits of the brain that can tell Tony Blair from James Bond, or whether Lady Thatcher has borrowed Marilyn Monroe's hairstyle. Pia Rotshtein of the institute of neurology at University College London and colleagues used sophisticated scanning equipment to monitor the brains of volunteers while they watched Marilyn Monroe morph into Margaret Thatcher and the current prime minister turn into Pierce Brosnan.
The Guardian , The Independent , Daily Telegraph

Migraine linked to stroke risk
People who have migraines are twice as likely to suffer a stroke than those who do not experience the throbbing headaches, researchers said today. Women who experience migraines and who are also on the pill are up to eight times more at risk of a stroke than those not taking the oral contraceptive, according to a review of studies by scientists in the US, Canada and Spain.
The Guardian , The Times

Home office hands over historic collection of pamphlets
A collection of almost 1,000 17th-century pamphlets covering the English Civil War, the restoration of Charles II, and freaks of nature such as lion-shaped comets, will today be presented by the Home Office to the British Library. The Home Office has no idea how it came by the pamphlets, bound up into 17 volumes, but thinks it has owned them for at least a century.
The Guardian

From the weekend press:

Oxford to offer £10,000 'golden opportunities'
Oxford University announces bursaries of up to £10,000 as part of its £3,000 a year tuition plan from 2006.
Financial Times , Times

Anthony Flew opens mind to 'God' possibility
After a career propounding atheism, the 81-year-old philosopher says that the complexities of the nature of life imply involvement of "intelligence" in creation
Guardian , Sunday Times

Maths no joke, says Kroto
Sir Harry Kroto has challenged comedian Billy Connolly, motoring show presenter Jeremy Clarkson and culture secretary Tessa Jowell for being dismissive of maths and science
Sunday Times

Blakemore honours snub
Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the MRC, disclosed that for the second time he has not been asked if he would accept a knighthood
Sunday Times

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