Today's news

February 20, 2006

Irving to plead guilty, but says no longer denies Holocaust
David Irving, the revisionist historian, pleaded guilty today to criminal charges of denying the Holocaust and conceded that he had been mistaken when he claimed that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz. But, in comments to reporters and in testimony before a Viennese court, the British writer denied that he had ever written a book about the Holocaust and said that he had revised his views and now accepted that millions of Jews were indeed murdered in Nazi death camps. "I am not a Holocaust denier. My views have changed," he said. "History is a constantly growing tree: the more you learn, the more documents are available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989.”
The Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman

Firms funding Oxford will be attacked, say animal activists
Militant animal rights activists are threatening violent attacks on scores of companies that fund Oxford University unless they announce today they are to end their financial support. The Animal Liberation Front, through its mouthpiece Bite Back magazine, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, gave 100 firms, ranging from large companies such as IBM to charitable trusts such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and small groups such as the British Deer Society, a week to pull their funding as part of the campaign to stop the building of a medical research laboratory at the university.
The Guardian

Attenborough worried by dramatic loss of moths in UK
Britain's moth population has plummeted by a third, with 75 per cent of species in decline, according to a report released today. The dramatic fall in numbers over the past 40 years, blamed in part on climate change and habitat loss, is worrying scientists because of the knock-on effect on bats and birds and invertebrates that feast on the insects. The scientist Sir David Attenborough branded the statistics "significant and worrying" yesterday, adding: "Moths are valuable indicators of what is happening in our countryside. Other insects too are almost certainly in decline."
The Independent, The Times, The Scotsman

Anti-ageing drugs point to retiring at 85
Britain's workforce will face a retirement age of 85 by 2050 as novel anti-ageing therapies trigger a sharp rise in life expectancy, scientists have claimed. Researchers in California believe new drugs capable of slowing the ageing process will start to become available in rich countries in 2010, increasing lifespan by 20 years within the following two decades, suggesting that living to 100 years old will become commonplace, with the ageing workforce employed in physically undemanding jobs. Existing drugs already alleviate medical conditions that are generally regarded as an inevitable part of ageing. But new drugs will focus on reducing other harmful processes that bring about the cellular wear and tear of ageing.
The Guardian

Teachers enlisted in battle against creationists
US scientists have for the first time enlisted the help of teachers in their battle against campaigners who want the theory of intelligent design to be taught in schools. More than 300 teachers were invited to attend this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in St Louis, Missouri, yesterday, and many revealed their concerns. Although recent court rulings have favoured the teaching of the theory of evolution, the teachers told how finger-wagging parents in the midwest insist they abandon biology textbooks for biblical creationism or intelligent design.
The Guardian

Electronic nose extends shelflife
The decay of Britain’s most treasured books will be halted with the help of a device developed to help police to detect drugs and bombs. The British Library is buying an “electronic nose”, with the help of a £200,000 grant from an American foundation, to sniff out books in urgent need of conservation. An electronic sensor can determine whether paper is breaking down at a molecular level from the musty smell, caused by acids, which is the first sign of decay.
The Times

Cash-strapped galleries watch as art heritage is sold abroad
Museums and galleries will watch helplessly this week as a pair of historic paintings of London by Canaletto, the 18th-century master, leave Britain. View of the Grand Walk , Vauxhall Gardens and Interior of the Rotunda, Ranelagh offer a record of London history that is long gone. The fashionable Vauxhall Gardens that Canaletto depicted in 1751 are now dominated by tower blocks. But despite the importance of the pictures, they will be exported overseas because cash-strapped public collections have been unable to save them. These losses are the latest in a long line of treasures that have left British shores. Recent figures show that, by value, only 12 per cent of objects stopped at export were saved in 2004 because museums and galleries are crying out for funds.
The Times

Bill Rammell should keep his thoughts on higher education to himself.
The Daily Telegraph

From the weekend's papers:


  • University staff vote for strike. The Financial Times, The Times
  • Many new students at Oxford feel overwhelmed by their surroundings. The Daily Telegraph


  • Universities are being forced to offer discounted course prices to attract more students. The Mail On Sunday
  • Gordon Brown's ideas for the reform of universities have been revealed. The Sunday Times
  • The animal rights activists who are waging war on Oxford University have been unmasked. The Sunday Times
  • Students have been voted as the second worst neighbours after squatters. The News Of The World

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