Today's news

April 7, 2006

Police may seize donations to animal rights protesters
Public donations to animal rights activists could be seized by police if they are found to be funding the criminal activity behind an extremist campaign against Oxford University. Thames Valley police is spending millions of pounds over the next two years in an extraordinary operation around the building of the Oxford University animal testing laboratory. Three special teams of officers are policing demonstrations, investigating criminal activities and gaining intelligence on the hardcore of activists behind arson attacks, intimidation, blackmail and harassment of companies and individuals linked to the university.
The Guardian

Campaigner charged over Oxford lab photos
An animal rights campaigner has become the first person to be charged with breaching a high court injunction protecting Oxford University. Adrian Appely, 63, from Bromley in south-east London, will appear before magistrates in Oxford tomorrow after being caught in December photographing the site where the controversial £20 million animal testing laboratory is being built.
The Guardian

Northumbria lecturers strike over English centre 'privatisation'
Several classes were cancelled at Northumbria University today after a group of lecturers went on strike in protest over plans for the future of the English Learning Centre. The lecturers' union, Natfhe, fears the ELC is being downsized to make way for a private company, owned by the Mirror group, to provide the same service to students. The ELC offers English-speaking classes and support for international students and also teaches applied linguistics. The university is investigating a partnership with the Study Group International to provide English tuition to students who are considering studying at Northumbria. It would rent space from the university.
The Guardian, The Times Higher Education Supplement (Mar 31)

Oxford president fined for sinking too many after Boat Race victory
The president of the Oxford University Boat Club admitted celebrating well but not wisely yesterday as he reflected on a night in the cells and an £80 fine following last Sunday's dramatic victory over Cambridge. Barney Williams, an oarsman in the winning Dark Blues crew, went on a pub crawl in the city after the triumph in the 152nd University Boat Race. Williams, a Canadian silver medallist in the 2004 Olympics, was caught on CCTV acting in a drunken manner with friends as they staggered along Oxford High Street in the early hours of Wednesday.
The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Scotsman

Student networking shifts from the bar to cyberspace
Facebook, the networking site for university and secondary school students, is the latest online community website to take the UK by storm. Visits to the website, which is open only to students, have increased sixfold since January, according to Hitwise, the online intelligence company. It now has more than 100,000 members in the UK - 67 per cent of whom access the site daily.
The Financial Times

Fast language learners boast more white matter
Fast language learners have more white matter and less symmetrical brains, a new scanning study has revealed. The results among the first to link brain differences to language learning aptitude in healthy people, says Narly Golestani at University College London, UK. “The bigger picture is that we’re starting to understand that brain shape and structure can be informative about people’s abilities,” she says. Those in the study who were quickest to hear subtle differences in sounds from a foreign language were found to have the greatest amount of white, fatty tissue in a brain region responsible for sound processing.
New Scientist

Planet's ring is once in a blue moon find
The outermost ring of Uranus, discovered just last year, is bright blue, making it only the second known example of its kind in the solar system. Perhaps not coincidentally, the blue rings around Saturn and Uranus are both associated with small moons, a team of astronomers report today in the journal Science . "The outer ring of Saturn is blue and has Enceladus right smack at its brightest spot, and Uranus is strikingly similar, with its blue ring right on top of Mab's orbit," said Professor Imke de Pater, of the University of California, Berkeley.
The Daily Telegraph, New Scientist

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