Today's news

March 1, 2007

Anti-immigration don must go, say Oxford students
Oxford University students have demanded the dismissal of a don who helped found an anti-immigration group and have accused him of bringing the university into disrepute. Student Action for Refugees claimed that David Coleman, a professor of demographics, who formed Migrationwatch in 2001 and who is a member of a eugenics research body, has used his academic title to legitimise his views. The group’s petition calls upon the university’s vice-chancellor, John Hood, to “consider the suitability of Coleman’s continued tenure as a professor of the university, in light of his well-known opinions and affiliations relating to immigration and eugenics”.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Times Higher Eduation Supplement (March 2)

Student rebels in Iran expelled and earmarked for army
Iranian students involved in an angry protest against the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been expelled and earmarked for compulsory military service in an apparent act of official retribution. Authorities at Tehran's Amir Kabir University, a traditional hotbed of student protest, have ended the studies of 54 students, ostensibly for repeatedly failing their exams. However, most of the students singled out are political activists who took part in December's demonstration at the university at which President Ahmadinejad was greeted with chants of "death to the dictator". Many students with equally poor academic records have been allowed to continue, activists said.
The Guardian

Ancient solar observatory discovered in Peru
The first solar observatory in the Americas may have been uncovered in coastal Peru. The ceremonial site provides evidence of sophisticated '”cults of the Sun” operating in South America as early as 2,300 years ago. Other ancient structures around the world – such as Stonehenge, which is estimated to be 5,000 years old – are aligned with the rising and setting of the Sun on certain days called the solstices. These occur twice a year, around 22 June and 22 December, when the Sun appears to reach its highest point above or below the equator. Previously, archaeologists had uncovered 4,000-year-old gourd fragments in Peru showing images of a "staff god" with rays emanating from its head, perhaps like the Sun.
New Scientist, The Independent

Drug addiction could be down to your genes
Drug addicts may be born not made, scientists suggest today. A study has found that some people's brains are predisposed to become dependent on mind-altering substances. As well as helping scientists understand and treat addiction, the findings could lead to a simple blood test to alert doctors and parents to whether a child has a propensity to become hooked. Researchers agree that drug addiction and excessive sensation seeking, or impulsivity, are linked but it has been unclear which comes first – impulsivity or drug addiction.
The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

English language award winners named
The British Council's claim that the UK is at the forefront of technology when it comes to English language teaching was borne out last night, following the announcement of the winners of its annual innovation awards. The main three prizes in this year's "Eltons" – the English language innovation awards – which recognise advances in teaching, all went to products that use CD-rom or online programmes. One of the three £1,000 prizes went to the Cambridge Grammar of English CD-rom and book, a new reference resource "for any serious learner or user of the English language", published by Cambridge University Press.
The Guardian

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