Today's news

December 6, 2006

Murder case builder 'tortured academic for bank details'
A cash-strapped builder tortured a talented Oxford academic to force her to hand over her bank details before leaving her to die, a court was told yesterday. Michael Humphries got to know Dr Barbara Johnston, a respected medical researcher who had worked all over the world, when he did odd jobs for her. But a jury at Oxford crown court was told that Mr Humphries made her hand over her pin number, then went to a bank machine and withdrew £200, which he used to pay off a debt and buy alcohol. Mr Humphries denies a charge of murder. Dr Johnston's body was found by police in January after her parents expressed their concern at not hearing from her. She had been stabbed 49 times, beaten and strangled, the court heard.
The Guardian

Spielberg opens Holocaust archive to German university
Steven Spielberg has granted a Berlin university access to the huge video archive of Holocaust survivor testimonies that he set up in 1994 after the filming of Schindler's List. The Free University becomes the first non-US institution, joining four American universities, to be given access to the archive, the largest of its kind in the world. The archive of the Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education contains 52,000 videos of interviews in 32 languages with people from 56 countries, including rescuers, liberators, aid workers, eyewitnesses and participants in war crimes trials.
The Guardian

Students to go online for new service
Stay-at-home students are to be given a new reason to avoid going to campus with the planned launch of a new Edinburgh University online service. British company Tribal has been offered a contract to provide a modern software package which will allow students to pay fees, check exam results and access their timetables with the click of a mouse. The university hopes it will provide a one-stop shop and help them deal with administration more quickly and easily, freeing-up more time for them to dedicate to their studies. It is also hoped it will make it easier for graduates to maintain links with the university after they have left.
The Scotsman

Richest tenth own 85% of world's assets
The richest 2 per cent of adults own more than half the world’s wealth, according to the most comprehensive study of personal assets. Among the largest economies, Britain boasted the third-highest average wealth of $126,832 (£64,172) per adult, after the United States and Japan, a United Nations development research institute found. Those with assets of $500,000 could consider themselves to be among the richest 1 per cent in the world. Although global income was distributed unequally, the spread of wealth was more skewed, according to the study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the UN University.
The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times

'No extra cancer risk from mobiles'
More than a decade's use of mobile phones does not increase the risk of brain cancer, according to one of the largest studies yet conducted into the link. The finding is reassuring with long-term use of mobiles increasing. Worldwide users of mobile phones now number more than one billion and concerns have grown about the possible health effects of the devices. Professor Tricia McKinney, Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Leeds, said: "The large numbers of subscribers in the study mean we can have some confidence in the results that have not linked mobile use to a risk of any cancer, including brain tumours."
The Independent, The Scotsman

City students get gown to business with manifesto
Edinburgh University students have launched their own manifesto to put pressure on political parties ahead of next year's council elections. The Town and Gown manifesto, launched by the Edinburgh University Students' Association is designed to encourage politicians to support issues important to students. It covers three main topics which have been selected by the students - transport, accommodation and the community. It includes specific calls for a funding commitment to a third tram line, as well as securing higher standards in the private rented accommodation sector. It also calls for improvement to public safety, focussing on the issue of the poor lighting at the Meadows.
The Scotsman

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