Today's news

January 30, 2006

Man questioned over murder of cot death researcher
Detectives were yesterday questioning a man over the murder of a scientist who was found stabbed 49 times and strangled with her own sweater at her flat in Oxford. Officers were also searching the flat of Barbara Waldron-Johnston, an expert in cot death, and the terrace house in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, where the arrested man was staying. There was no sign that the scientist's flat had been broken into, suggesting she may have opened the door to her killer. Dr Waldron-Johnston, 55, had not been sexually assaulted, and nothing appeared to have been taken from the flat. Dr Waldron-Johnston's medical research work included animal experiments, but police are not thought to be treating suggestions that the killing could have been the work of animal rights extremists as a serious option.
The Guardian, The Independent

Parents' marriage choice may lead to autism
The recent rise in autism may have been driven by the tendency of like-minded engineers, physicists, mathematicians and other "systemizers" to marry each other, according to a Cambridge University professor. Around one child in every 100 - mostly males - has autism and the number of cases seems to be on the increase, though some argue that it is due to greater awareness and changes in diagnosis. In a new study, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen believes the impaired ability of people with autism to communicate, recognise emotions and socialise is linked with the same genes that enable a person to systemize - find the laws that govern how a system works.
The Daily Telegraph

Streamlined websites net top graduates
Top companies are pouring resources into their recruitment websites as the battleground for scooping up top graduates has moved from university career fairs to the internet. According to the second annual study of 102 corporate career websites, published today, leading companies were busy in 2005 relaunching their online recruitment efforts in order attract top talent. Ernst & Young, the professional services firm, was rewarded for its relaunch by rising 22 positions to sixth favourite website among the 4,339 students from across Europe surveyed by Potentialpark Communications, a Swedish recruitment consultancy.
The Financial Times

Launch of Romany language website aims to save culture
A project will be launched today to preserve the endangered language and culture of one of the world's most marginalised and maligned populations. Romany is spoken by small groups in 42 European countries but since it has a largely oral tradition and those conversant in it are stateless and scattered, it has been driven to the brink of extinction, appearing on a list published by the University of Manchester of the world's most threatened languages. The university is transcribing the many Romany dialects for the first time, and today it will launch a website allowing people to locate different dialects on a world map and listen to examples of them.
The Independent

Student debts are forcing thousands into bankruptcy
Thousands of graduates are declaring themselves bankrupt because they are unable to pay off their student debts. According to the Student Loan Company, which handles the financing for the Government, 4,000 borrowers have taken the step since the loans were introduced and many thousands more are insolvent and cannot pay off what they owe. In London alone 70 students went bankrupt last year compared with 30 the year before and just one in 1997. Around 800,000 students take out loans to pay for living expenses and tuition and by the end of their courses average around £12,000 in debt.
The Daily Telegraph

Obesity can be caught from a virus, scientist says
A sharp increase in the number of Britons who are severely overweight may be the result of a virus that allows people to “catch” obesity, controversial research suggests. A study by American scientists, published today, offers evidence supporting the theory that fat is infectious and is caused by a family of viruses that affect certain people. Although lack of exercise and poor diet remain the most obvious contributors to obesity, some scientists believe that these do not explain why it has become so commonplace. However, other scientists have questioned the research, in which only 15 obese and five non-obese people were tested.
The Times

From the weekend's papers:

Saturday

  • Student kills himself after bank debts go out of control. The Daily Express, The Daily Mail
  • Boris Johnson is soaked with beer as he takes the stage at Edinburgh University. The Evening Standard
  • Cardiff is adding a motoring module to its magazine journalism course. The Guardian

Sunday

  • A council has made a new housing estate a no-go zone for Loughborough students. The Observer
  • Animal activists threaten violence against everyone at Oxford. The Sunday Times

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