Today's news

February 22, 2006

Harvard chief quits after year of turmoil
The most powerful man in American academia, the president of Harvard University, resigned yesterday after protests by academics and students. Lawrence Summers, a former treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, quit a week before a vote of confidence from faculty members, his second in 11 months. The first vote came when, in a lecture to the university, he caused outrage by suggesting that innate differences between men and women - including IQ - may explain why so few women work in the academic sciences. Next week's vote would have been symbolic because only the university's seven-member governing board, the Harvard Corporation, can remove the president.
The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Times

Centre to study species diseases
The world's first centre dedicated to the study of diseases such as avian flu, BSE and SARS is being established in the UK, it has emerged. The National Centre for Zoonosis Research, based at the University of Liverpool, will study diseases that originate in animals but which can jump species and infect humans. The centre will lead study into some of the world's most deadly new diseases. Around 75 peer cent of new human infectious diseases are zoonoses - transmissible between animals and man. The aim is to bring together the expertise of both medical and veterinary specialists. The university and the Northwest Development Agency claim it is the first such facility in the world.
The Scotsman

European institute 'to rival MIT'
Europe will today attempt to take a major step towards competing with the US when the European commission unveils plans to establish a rival to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission who is spearheading efforts to reform Europe's struggling economies, will preside at the ceremony to create a "European Institute of Technology". Such a body would, Mr Barroso argued, "act as a pole of attraction for the very best minds, ideas and companies from around the world".
The Guardian

£250,000 booked for work on student union
Edinburgh University chiefs have awarded £250,000 for renovation work on the UK's oldest student union building. Plans for the A-listed Teviot Row House, which boasts imposing turrets and an impressive stone facade, include converting a historic library into a VIP bar, building a new staircase and creating a 24-hour study area. It is also hoped the improvements to the Bristo Square student headquarters will generate cash for the Edinburgh University Students' Association by making it a more attractive venue for conferences outside term-time.
The Scotsman

Students' move to ban Coca-Cola loses fizz
Coca-Cola soft drinks are still on sale at Edinburgh's student union bars after a planned ban failed for the third time. Students at Edinburgh University have been fighting to ban the popular product, over claims the company abuses human rights in Colombia and India - which the firm has strenuously denied. At the recent student association general meeting, a motion banning Coke was passed by 240 votes to 144, but the margin was not wide enough for it to become policy. It is the third time voter apathy has saved the soft drinks manufacturer.
The Scotsman, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Feb 10)

DNA 'may find suspect's name'
Evidence that a DNA fingerprint could unveil the likely surname of a suspect is published today by scientists. A team has found that men with the same surname have a one-in-four chance of being related and sharing DNA. The discovery was made by comparing the DNA of 150 pairs of men who share British surnames, randomly selected from the electoral roll. It found that about a quarter were linked genetically. Doctors from Leicester and Essex Universities focused on the Y chromosome, which defines maleness and passes from father to son. A simple connection could in principle link all men sharing a surname into a family tree stretching back 20 generations (to about 1300 AD), when surnames were founded.
The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, New Scientist

Italy seeks return of its 'looted treasures'
A landmark agreement with New York’s Metropolitan Museum for the return to Italy of a 6th century BC painted vase and five other stolen treasures has “opened the floodgates” for a return of other looted antiquities, officials said yesterday. Prosecutors have already served one US gallery with a list of allegedly plundered antiquities which they want returned to Italy. Museums in Japan and Denmark have been told that they too will receive demands for the return of allegedly stolen treasures. Maurizio Fiorilli, the lawyer negotiating the return of stolen items from the US, said that he had presented the Getty Museum in Los Angeles with a list of 300 artefacts that Italy says it can prove were acquired illegally.
The Times

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