Today's news

August 2, 2006

Environmental schemes suffer as £200m Defra cuts ordered
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was in financial crisis last night after being told to cut its budget by nearly £200 million over the next six months. The 7 per cent savings are expected to bite deeply into flood defence work, nature conservation and canal repair schemes as well as a host of scientific bodies and research groups.
The Guardian

Using cannabis 'can lead to miscarriages'
Women risk losing their babies if they smoke cannabis at the time of conception or early in pregnancy, according to a study published yesterday. Cannabis is the most widely-used illegal drug among women of childbearing age. Scientists studying mice have found that THC, the active ingredient in the drug, can retard embryo development and prevent it from reaching the womb. The findings suggest that smoking cannabis may lead to miscarriages caused by embryos developing outside the womb, in the fallopian tubes.
Daily Telegraph , The Guardian , The Independent

Jewel gets polished up
Jewel and Esk Valley College today unveiled £45 million plans to transform its two campuses in a project which will also create 220 homes. The three-year development would see a range of new facilities created at the Milton Road East site, in Brunstane, at a cost of £25 million. The iconic "ship" building on the campus will be one of the few structures to remain from those currently on the site, but it will be stripped and completely refitted.
The Scotsman

'Nuclear waste to be made safe in decades'
Scientists claim to have discovered a way of speeding up the decay of nuclear waste so that it can be rendered harmless within a few decades, instead of thousands of years. The technique proposed by German physicists involves slashing the half-life of alpha-emitting material by embedding it in metal and cooling the metal to a few degrees above absolute zero. Other researchers believe that the basic theory behind the idea is flawed and has been disproved by experimentation. The leader of the research group, Professor Claus Rolfs of Ruhr University in Bochum, is an astrophysicist and made the discovery about alpha decay after replicating the fusion reactions that take place in the stars, according to this month's Physics World .
Daily Telegraph

Staff suspected over missing Hermitage treasures
Precious silver and enamelware at St Petersburg's Hermitage Museum worth nearly £2.7 million has disappeared and probably been stolen with the connivance of staff, its director confirmed yesterday. Some 221 icons, religious objects and pieces of jewellery studded with precious stones were found missing after a stocktake was completed at the end of last month. "There is no doubt this could not have happened without the participation of museum staff," the director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, said yesterday at the museum, once home to Russia's tsars.
The Guardian , Daily Telegraph

Parasite that makes cat-lovers neurotic
Cat-lovers may be more neurotic than other people as a result of a feline parasite that could ultimately also be responsible for international cultural differences, according to a radical theory published today. More than a quarter of the world's population - ranging from about seven per cent of the UK population to almost 70 per cent in Brazil - is infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a relative of the malaria bug, which also infects rats, giving them a suicidal attraction to cats. "Some of us have a parasite in our brains that does its best to change our personalities,'' writes Dr Kevin Lafferty, of the University of California at Santa Barbara in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biology .
Daily Telegraph

UK university technology is already globally competitive.
Financial Times

Too much education can be bad for your employment prospects
The Independent


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