Today's papers

August 12, 2002

Brown cloud threatens Asia and Europe
A team of international climatologists led by Nobel laureate Professor Paul Grutzen has said they have identified the 'Asian brown cloud' -- a 10 million square, two-mile thick, fluctuating haze of man-made pollutants that is spreading across the whole of Asia and blocking out up to 15 per cent of sunlight. It could be responsible for the continent's increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather and, because it can be carried in the upper atmosphere halfway round the world in less than a week, it could affect Britain.
( Guardian, Financial Times, Independent, Times )

Invention policies go back to drawing board
Cambridge University's position as the powerhouse behind Silicon Fen is under threat unless it adopts a more commercial approach to the inventions it generates, its director of research has warned. Dr David Secher spoke out amid a row over controversial proposals to give the university a significant new stake in the revenues generated from intellectual property. (Financial Times)

Scientist denies anthrax link
The former army scientist at the centre of the FBI investigation into the antrax attacks that killed five people in the US made a vigorous and emotional public denial last night of any involvement. Dr Steven Hatfill claimed that the FBI and the media had made a 'wasteland' of his life but had not come up with a shred of evidence linking him to the anthrax letters mailed to American politicians last year.
( Guardian, Financial Times, Times, Daily Telegraph, Dail Mirror )

Ministers prepare to defend A levels
The government was yesterday forced into its annual defence of A-level pass rates, which are expected to rise for the 20th consecutive time. It denies claims that standards are slipping ahead of what are likely to be record numbers of passes and top grades.
( Guardian, Times )

AS levels credited with successes at A level
The introduction of the new AS-level exams has led to thousands of youngsters earning higher A-level grades. Much of the improvement is being attributed by academics to the AS level, because it allows pupils to drop subjects in which they are not making progress, thereby cutting the failure rate.
( Independent )

Tory vows to scrap 'morale-sapping' AS levels
The shadow education secretary has pledged for the first time to abolish AS levels, saying that the current exam-driven curriculum was crushing morale in schools. Damian Green promised that a Conservative government would persuade teachers and pupils to abandon the mindset that 'something is only worth doing if there is an examination at the end of it'.
( Times )

Debt-fearing pupils shun universities
Half of sixth-form pupils who do not go to university blame fear of debt for their decision to leave education, according to a new survey. The NatWest annual Money Matters survey of more than 2,000 sixth-formers, undergraduates and graduates found that many young people abandoned their studies because of tuition fees and the prospect of graduating with average debts of £10,000.
( Independent )

Gap-year students spurn travel to earn money
Gap-year students are keener on saving money for their courses and getting valuable work experience than taking to the hippy trail during their year off, new research says. A survey of 2,000 youngsters by NatWest Bank found that 47 per cent of prospective undergraduates want to have saved some money of their own in the year between sixth-form and university as they know that the average debt they can expect to owe on completing a degree is £10,000.
( Times )

The school examiners
A massive inquiry into the state of our secondary schools is to be launched by MPs in the autumn. The Commons education select committee will examine whether government reforms and huge investment is properly serving children's needs.
( Daily Mirror )

Dumbed down degrees
Anthony O'Hear, professor of philosophy at Bradford University, explains why 'the shameful destruction' of our universities is forcing him to quit academe.
( Daily Mail )

Alarm at gender-bending chemicals
Scientists at the World Health Organisation are to urge governments today to establish an immediate inquiry into the effects of gender-bending chemicals on human and animal populations. Strong evidence links reproductive abnormalities and population declines in some species of birds fish and reptiles with the chemicals, and concerns are also being raised that they have contributed to the rise in cancers and decline in fertility of humans.
( Independent )

Academic blames telecom firms for 3G debts
Mobile phone companies have 'only themselves to blame' for their mountainous debts, the man who designed the Treasury's auction of third generation mobile phone licences said today. Professor Ken Binmore said that the phone company bosses were blinded by the hype about high-speed internet access through so-called 3G phones.
( Guardian )

Take languages more seriously, says German envoy
The new German ambassador to the UK says it is high time the British took learning languages more seriously and stopped thinking that everyone in the world speaks English. Thomas Matussek also fears that our linguistic competence has declined since he last served at his country's London embassy 25 years ago.
( Independent )

Roman villa rots as row erupts over restoration
One of archaeology's most exciting finds is decaying, open to the elements and in a crisis of disrepair as experts point the finger at each other over responsibility for its upkeep. The Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum was buried in AD79 by the eruption of Vesuvius, but critics claim that ham-fisted excavations, poor maintenance and academic infighting has led to a horrific state of decay.
( Independent )

Fiction becoming worthless, says author
Philip Pullman, the Whitbread award-winning author, has made an implicit criticism of the modern novel, claiming that unless it does more to tackle moral questions it is in danger of becoming 'trivial and worthless'.
( Guardian )

All that's left is reformism
Gareth Steadman, professor of political science at Cambridge University, argues that although Marx was the first anti-capitalist, it's unlikely that he would be one now.
( Guardian )

Wharton turns its mind to Latin America
The US business school is seeking wider markets for its plain-talking business solutions by rolling out its successful email service, Knowledge@Wharton, to South and Central America.
( Financial Times )



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