Today's news

April 19, 2006

Two students charged as rape case heightens race tensions
Two white players from the lacrosse team at Duke University were charged with the kidnapping and gang rape of an African-American woman yesterday in a case that has inflamed racial and class tensions in the North Carolina town of Durham. Collin Finnerty, from Long Island, New York, and Reade Seligmann, from New Jersey, both 20, were freed on $400,000 (£225,000) bail. Yesterday's court proceedings opened a new chapter in a story that has shaken the elite Duke University's image of itself as a building block of the New South, and exposed divisions between it and the surrounding largely African-American town.
The Guardian

Two-year degree will raise costs and workloads, say universities
Universities will press the Government to increase their levels of funding so that they can deliver fast-track degrees. While students and lecturers welcomed the greater flexibility, concerns were raised that universities could lose out over the shorter courses without government compensation. With the introduction of top-up fees, due in the autumn, five colleges will offer the compressed honours degree courses. The move is designed to encourage applications from poorer students, who are put off by the £3,000-a-year tuition fee, payable after graduation.
The Times, The Scotsman

Brussels delivers blow to Reed Elsevier
Scientific research funded by the European taxpayer should be freely available to everyone over the internet, according to a European commission report - a blow to the lucrative scientific publishing operations of media groups such as Reed Elsevier and Germany's Springer. The report, produced by economists from Toulouse University and the Free University of Brussels for the EC, shows that in the 20 years to 1995 the price of scientific journals rose 300 per cent more than the rate of inflation over the period. In the 10 years since then, price increases slowed but still significantly outpaced inflation.
The Guardian

Lecturers multiply maths pupils' exam chances
Maths pupils are being helped with their Highers by Edinburgh University lecturers and students. They are trying to encourage young talent after noticing a surge in interest in the subject. Admissions at Edinburgh University's maths department have increased by half in the last three years. Now special revision sessions are being organised for about 120 Advanced Higher pupils by Edinburgh City Council and the university.
The Scotsman

University honours Hollywood star
Hollywood film star Michael Douglas is to receive an honorary degree from St Andrews University. The Oscar-winning American actor will receive a doctor of laws for his contribution to British film. Douglas, 61, and his wife, Welsh actor Catherine Zeta-Jones, are apparently regular visitors to the seaside town and are often spotted playing golf on its famous Old Course. Brian Lang, the university's principal and vice-chancellor, said: "We are honouring Michael Douglas in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British film."
The Guardian

US students take to their tents in protest over funding
A series of student campsites have sprung up on American campuses this week, combining protests against funding cuts and higher fees with opposition to the Iraq war. The "Tent State University" was launched at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, three years ago. It runs for one week every spring and has now spread to 15 campuses across the US, aiming to radicalise a new generation of students. In the 1960s Kent State University became a focus point for those opposed to the Vietnam war after the fatal shooting of four students by the Ohio national guard.
The Guardian

Osteoporosis drug cuts breast cancer risk
The drug raloxifene, usually prescribed for osteoporosis, reduces the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women by about 50 per cent, according to a new study. Clinical trials of raloxifene, sold by Eli Lilly as Evista, cut breast cancer risk by the same rate as tamoxifen, an anti-breast cancer drug sold by AstraZeneca under the trade name Nolvadex. Overall, raloxifene resulted in a similarly low level of side effects as the widely used tamoxifen, the 19,000-woman study showed. But it had some advantages for specific side effects.
New Scientist

Deepest freeze reveals million years
Japanese scientists displayed yesterday the oldest samples of ice yet retrieved, which promise to reveal invaluable data about the Earth’s climate a million years ago. The ice “cores” were removed over the course of two years by scientists at the Dome Fuji base, in the eastern Antarctic, who drilled down 3km (2 miles) into the ancient ice. They believe that tiny air bubbles trapped in it will provide information about the Earth’s atmosphere in the distant past and enable them to draw conclusions about climate change and its potential course in the future.
The Times

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