Today's news

July 29, 2005

Scholars hit back at 'evil' bombers
Qur'anic scholars started a tour of Muslim communities in Britain yesterday to underline their unequivocal horror at suicide bombings and terror attacks. Using texts from both the Qur'an and 1,200 years of Islamic jurisprudence, they will speak in Bradford, Birmingham, Sheffield and London after an initial meeting in Leeds where three of the July 7 bombers lived. Seven lecturers are addressing open meetings in English, Arabic and Somali in a programme entitled Islam's War on Terror, backed by posters and leaflets which describe suicide bombers as "perpetrators of evil".
The Guardian

Lecturers sharpen swords for pay battle
The lecturers' union Natfhe today asked its members to accept a 3 per cent pay rise in universities this year - but pledged a campaign to win bigger increases next year when students start paying higher tuition fees. By 2006, when students will be paying fees of up to £3,000 a year, Natfhe will have merged with the Association of University Teachers, which represents lecturers in the old universities, and officials hope this will put them in a stronger position to negotiate with the university and college employers. The academic unions want universities to earmark a third of the increased income from top-up fees to staff salaries. Universities have already been manoeuvred by the Office for Fair Access into channelling about a third of the increase into student bursaries to ensure that poor students would not be deterred from applying.
The Guardian

OU part-time lecturers fight for rights
Furious part-time lecturers at the Open University have forced their union into a rethink over a pay settlement they believe has sold them out. They are now engaged in an acrimonious dispute to oust their branch officers. Representatives of the associate lecturers complained the deal left them well behind the rates for the university's 1,100 full-time academic staff.
The Guardian

Student loan bankruptcies 'covered up'
Education ministers have been accused of failing to reveal the true number of student loan borrowers who have been declared bankrupt. SNP spokeswoman for education and lifelong learning, Fiona Hyslop, made the claim after receiving conflicting parliamentary answers on the level of graduate bankruptcy. She has now called for a forthcoming student poverty report to include information on graduate debt.
The Scotsman

Students ready to sleep well as OU calls it a night
The end of an era beckons after the Open University announced its departure from television’s graveyard shift yesterday. New technology has defeated the 4am Quantum Mechanics module presented by an earnest academic. The advance of DVD and broadband means that students no longer stare bleary-eyed at the screen during BBC Two’s downtime. After 35 years the final Open University academic course will be broadcast in The Learning Zone next year. But the Milton Keynes-based distance-learning institution is not heading for television closedown. The OU will produce “exciting” peak-time science, knowledge and history programmes for the BBC, fusing intellectual curiosity with presentational techniques somewhat advanced from its 70s broadcasts.
The Times

Gap year fees warning
A-level students still considering a gap year before university were warned they must act this week to avoid paying higher tuition fees. Those starting university this autumn will pay an annual tuition fee of £1,175, but from next year new students face top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year, although payment would not be made until after graduation when earnings exceed £15,000 a year. Students taking a gap year will pay the same as those who start in 2005 - but only if their university has confirmed by August 1 that they have deferred their place.
The Guardian

St Andrews project to translate religious texts
Scholars at the University of St Andrews are undertaking an historic research project of translating ancient Bible-like tales written by Jews, Christians and pagans, it was announced today. The documents date from the third century BC to the beginning of the Middle Ages and are to be translated – many for the first time – by divinity scholars. More than 30 international researchers will be involved in the project, which will see the ancient texts, some written in the name of Old Testament characters such as Moses and Enoch, translated into English. The tales include legends about biblical characters, books of proverbs, sermons, magical and astrological handbooks and apocalyptic prophecies.
The Scotsman, The Daily Telegraph

Saudi prince gives £11m to the Louvre for a new Islamic wing
A Saudi prince has donated over €17 million (£11.7 million) for a new Islamic art wing to be built at the Louvre in Paris. Prince Walid believes that the addition of a specific wing to showcase Islamic art at the Louvre, one of the world's busiest museums with more than seven million visitors a year, will help promote understanding of Islam as a religion of humanity and tolerance.
The Independent

Ice on Mars raises hopes of finding life on red planet
An impressive giant disc of water ice eight miles in diameter has been identified near the Martian north pole. It sits at the centre of an impact crater on Vastitas Borealis, a broad plain that covers much of the red planet's far northern latitudes. Spectacular images of the phenomenon, captured by high-resolution cameras on board the Mars Express probe, were released by the European Space Agency yesterday.
Daily Telegraph

Dinosaur eggs reveal birth of parental love
The oldest dinosaur embryos ever found are shedding light on the way the creatures grew and evolved. The 6in fossils from South Africa - one still curled up inside an egg - belonged to a Massospondylus , a long-necked herbivore that lived 190 million years ago. Scientists are trying to determine how they grew to 5-metre (16ft) adults. The hatchlings had a relatively short neck and tail, long forelimbs and a huge head, and walked on four legs. As it matured, its neck and tail grew strongly and it began to adopt a two-legged stance.
The Times

Listen up, kids, it's MC Chaucer in da house wid his Tales
A Rap artist has taken the poems of Geoffrey Chaucer and transformed "Whilom ther was a dwellyng at Oxenford/ A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to boorde" into: "Listen to this tune, it’s about a rich man/ Licking a silver spoon, who lived in a mansion." Baba Brinkman, a Canadian hip-hop artist, has turned The Canterbury Tales into rap to teach schoolchildren Chaucer. The rapper, an English graduate who wrote his thesis on Chaucer, has performed his versions of four of the tales in front of 1,600 children over the past six weeks as part of an education programme run by Cambridge University.
The Times

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