Today's news

October 11, 2005

Anti-terror bill 'threatens academic freedom'
University lecturers have warned that the Government's terrorism bill will restrict academic freedom and could force staff to fall foul of the law if they teach or research controversial subjects. This week the Association of University Teachers and the other lecturers' union, Natfhe, are lobbying MPs over the bill, which will make it an offence to encourage or glorify terrorism or to disseminate terrorist publications. Last week Charles Clarke, the home secretary, made a concession on the bill, abandoning his plan to introduce a widely drawn new offence of "glorifying terrorism" after criticism from lawyers and politicians.
The Guardian

Brunel head calls for change in healthcare funding
Free health care and welfare should be converted into repayable loans along the lines of those issued to students, argues a government adviser. Steven Schwartz, the vice-chancellor of Brunel University who headed a government inquiry into university admissions, says the government should extend the principle of its controversial top-up fees scheme to other areas of welfare, from health and childcare to subsidies for industry and help with flood damage. Writing in the journal of the free market thinktank Reform , Schwartz says the UK should move from a "Robin Hood" approach to wealth transfer to a "piggy bank" approach under which those in need could borrow money at low or no rate of interest from a government-run fund.
The Guardian

The ten words that spell job success ... and the others that mean failure
When it comes to winning the best university place or landing a dream job, many applicants simply fail to find the right words. But now academics have identified ten words which, they claim, can guarantee success. They say words such as "achievement", "evidence" and "experience" can create a positive impression when included on an application form or CV. However, they also listed ten words likely to turn off prospective employers or university admissions officers. These include "always", "never" and "mistake". Admissions experts at Hertfordshire University worked with members of its psychology department to draw up both lists.
The Scotsman

Beermats warn of gas poisoning
Beermats in the shape of tombstones have been issued to university bars to warn students about the perils of carbon monoxide poisoning in rented properties. Scottish Gas came up with the idea of using beermats carrying the epitaph of a fictional victim in an effort to trace landlords who fail to keep gas safety records. Research has indicated that two thirds of students have never seen the safety records that guarantee that gas appliances in rented homes are safe.
The Times

ESA considers rebuilding lost CryoSat satellite
The European Space Agency is considering rebuilding its lost CryoSat satellite, which crashed into the Arctic Ocean on Saturday after the failure of its launch vehicle. CryoSat was designed to measure the thickness of polar ice sheets and floating sea ice to an unprecedented level of accuracy, providing valuable new data to climate scientists. But it was lost when its Rockot launcher, built by a German and Russian joint venture called Eurockot, failed shortly after launch from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in north-west Russia. The problem appears to lie with the rocket's second stage. It failed to shut off as planned and did not separate from the vehicle's upper stage, causing the satellite and conjoined stages to splash into the ocean north of Greenland.
New Scientist

Aids 'finds sanctuary from drugs' in brain
The Aids virus can continue to damage the brain, attacking regions that control movement, language and feeling, even when patients are receiving the most effective treatment, according to new research. "Two big surprises came out of this study," explained Dr Paul Thompson, a British researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the first author of the paper with colleagues the University of Pittsburgh publishes today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "First, that Aids is selective in how it attacks the brain," he said. "Second, drug therapy does not appear to slow the damage. The brain provides a sanctuary for HIV where most drugs cannot follow."
The Daily Telegraph

Nobel prize for thinkers behind Cold War strategy
An American and an Israeli, whose work on the study of “game theory” underpinned American nuclear strategy during the Cold War, have won the Nobel Prize for Economics. Thomas Schelling, 84, of the University of Maryland, and Robert Aumann, 75, an Israeli-US citizen who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will share the 10 million Swedish kronor (£735,000) prize for their work linking the abstract theory of game strategies to real-life issues of warfare, deterrence and disarmament.
The Times, The Independent, The Financial Times

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