Today's news

December 8, 2006

Cambridge don cleared of 'Benny Hill' sex assault
A university academic accused of making "pervy, Benny Hill noises'' as he groped a former student's bottom was cleared yesterday of sexual assault. Immediately after the case Dr Peter Hutchinson, 61, a former vice-master at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, attacked the Crown Prosecution Service for bringing the case. Dr Hutchinson, the college's director for medieval and modern languages, was accused of stroking a 24-year-old woman's bottom and kissing her in his college rooms.
Daily Telegraph , The Times , The Guardian

Internet criminals signing up students as 'sleepers'
Organised gangs are recruiting the next generation of internet criminals by approaching undergraduates on university campuses. In some cases gangs offer to finance undergraduates' studies and plant them as sleepers within target businesses, according to a report on cybercrime which draws on intelligence from the FBI and British and European hi-tech crime units. Cybercriminals are exploiting the popularity of social networking sites such as MySpace to steal identities or craft more personalised fraud attempts, says computer security company McAfee's report.
The Guardian

Health and education could both lose out in battle for cash
A battle for funding between health and education in next year's comprehensive spending review will probably end in far lower rates of growth for both than in recent years, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said yesterday. Other departments, ranging from defence to trade and industry, transport, local government, culture and environment, look set to face zero real terms growth or cuts.
Financial Times

'Little Foot' too young to be our ancestor
The human family tree will have to be redrawn in the wake of a discovery that an apeman skeleton is not as old as thought and so may not be a direct ancestor of mankind. The skeleton, known as "Little Foot'' and found in 1997 in a cave in South Africa, was thought to be between two and four million years old. With its combination of human and ape-like features, scientists hoped that the well-preserved hands and feet of Little Foot would shed light on when early hominids began using tools and walking upright.
Daily Telegraph

Ebola 'kills thousands of gorillas'
The Ebola virus may have killed more than 5,000 gorillas in west Africa - enough to send them into extinction if people continue to hunt them, according to researchers. The virus is spreading from one group of the endangered animals to another, an international team of experts report in the journal Science this week. It appears to be spreading faster than among humans. "The Zaire strain of Ebola virus killed about 5,000 gorillas in our study area alone," primatologist Magdalena Bermejo of the University of Barcelona and colleagues wrote.
The Guardian , Daily Telegraph , The Independent , The Times

From Harrow to outer space - Britain's new astronaut
A former Harrow pupil was today expected to become the fourth Briton to go into space, joining six other astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery on a 12-day mission to rewire the International Space Station. Nicholas Patrick, 42, a robotics expert, former pilot and Cambridge graduate, has been training with Nasa since 1998. The father-of-three, originally from Saltburn, Teeside, now lives in New York state.
Daily Telegraph , The Guardian , The Independent

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