Today's news

April 20, 2005

War of the black magic cults brings death to Nigeria's universities
While British students are struggling to pay tuition fees, their Nigerian counterparts are risking death in violent clashes between rival university cults steeped in black magic. The university in Ekpoma is notorious for the violence of the cults. In the last month alone, 13 of its students have been killed in clashes between cults calling themselves the "Black Axe" and the "Black Eye".
Daily Telegraph

Embryo cloning for diabetes research
Scientists have been given permission to create cloned embryos from a sufferer of type 1 diabetes to help find new treatments for the disease. The Newcastle-based team said cloned embryos could be used to grow replacement insulin-producing cells from a diabetic. They were issued with Europe's first licence to clone human embryos last year by the HFEA, but had to wait until yesterday for approval for their full proposal. Prof Alison Murdoch and Dr Miodrag Stojkovic, based at the Centre for Life, believe that the cloned embryos, and the cells derived from them, will provide important new insight into diabetes and help test new drugs.
The Daily Telegraph

Rise in part-time students heightens funding woes
The number of part-time undergraduate students leapt by more than 80 per cent last year, according to the first official figures detailing who went to university in 2003. Numbers of part-time students increased from 13.1 per cent of all undergraduates in 2002 to 23.2 percent in 2003, today's figures reveal. In total, there were 188,360 part-timers studying for first degrees in 2003 compared with just 103,545 in 2002. The figures, provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, will fuel concerns about future funding among universities with high numbers of part-time students.
The Guardian, The Scotsman

The human cost of smoking
Smokers lose around six years of their life to the habit, a long-term study of male and female deaths revealed today. The statistics, based on a 12-year assessment of British mortality, discovered that women who smoke are the worst affected – dying an average of 6.8 years before those who do not. Figures published by the Actuarial Profession’s Continuous Mortality Investigation revealed that most men who use tobacco lose an average of 5.5 years to smoking.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman

Could 'sunlight robbery' be causing cancer?
British tanners recently received their annual stark warning from Cancer Research UK as it launched its SunSmart drive. The focus by the Government-backed charity was on the threat posed by the most deadly form of skin cancer. Cases of malignant melanoma, which affect 7,300 people a year in Britain, causing 1,600 deaths, were rising sharply, said Professor Brian Diffey of Newcastle General Hospital. By 2035 there could be 21,000 new cases a year as those badly sunburned in the 1980s and 1990s suffer the long-term effects, he said.
The Daily Telegraph

Scientist seen as latest 'victim' of Iceman
He had lain in his icy tomb on an Alpine glacier in northern Italy for 5,300 years. But since being found 14 years ago, five of the people who came in close contact with Oetzi the Iceman have died, leading to the inevitable question: is the mummy cursed? Konrad Spindler, head of the Iceman investigation team at Innsbruck University, died on Monday, apparently from complications arising from multiple sclerosis. But that has not stopped his name being linked to a string of strange deaths related to the mummy.
The Guardian

Doctor food
This week Heston Blumenthal was crowned the world's best chef thanks to his unique marriage of science and cooking. But how did he discover his winning formula? Leo Hickman went looking for the men in white coats who helped develop his distinctive style.
The Guardian

Has Beckham's pulling power pushed off?
What clearer proof can there be that David Beckham is past it? Even academic commentators have lost interest. A conference on the "Beckham phenomenon", scheduled for this summer, has been cancelled after failing to attract enough papers. England's football golden boy is now less interesting to the cultural studies cognoscenti than King Arthur, Sherlock Holmes, or the impenetrable Marxist philosopher Walter Benjamin.
The Guardian

Letter
Questioning the proposed boycott of Israeli academics.
The Independent

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