Reporter 459, 20 November 2000

In the news

According to a new study, the fuel crisis saved lives by cutting the numbers of cars on the road. A fifth of drivers left their cars at home during the week-long petrol panic in September. Both the Times and the Yorkshire Post quoted Professor Chris Nash from the Institute for Transport Studies, who said: "The reduction in congestion, pollutions and accidents provided clear evidence of the benefits of significantly reducing road traffic in cities."

David Gauntlett of the Institute of Communications Studies was a panellist on Radio 4’s The Message. In a discussion about whether the Disney Channel was much more healthy for children than other TV channels, as its chief executive had suggested, he argued that there is no evidence which links children’s behaviour with violent TV programmes. According to Dr Gauntlett, Disney’s claims were "little more than cynical marketing in order to promote more of their plastic merchandise."

Dr Jim Thornton was featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post giving his views on the contraceptive pill. The gynaecologist wants the pill to be sold over the counter with no medical intervention to help reduce the UK’s rate of teenage pregnancy, which is the highest in Europe. Dr Thornton said the dangers of the pill were much less than the dangers of pregnancy, especially for teenagers.

A 10-inch plant-eating lizard has been identified as the earliest known animal to stand upright and walk on two legs. Professor McNeil Alexander from the School of Biology was up early to comment on BBC Breakfast News and BBC News 24 about this finding. He said: "It is extraordinary to find an animal from before the time of the dinosaurs that was not only a biped, but seems to have walked in the elegant way that we thought was exclusive to dinosaurs, birds and ourselves."

Peter Noble was in the Guardian speaking up for the medical school. Leeds missed automatic re-inspection by one point, after assessors concluded that ‘significant improvement’ could be made to teaching. But Mr Noble, general manager of the school, said the assessment was based on the old curriculum and ‘doesn’t reflect the situation now.’

Professor John Altringham from the School of Biology was featured on BBC Look North in the first of a series called ‘Walk on the wild side’. The programme followed his work identifying bat hibernation sites in the caves and disused mines of the Dales and the North Yorkshire moors.

Dr Michael Robinson has received extensive coverage for his research into sexism and ageism in healthcare. Dr Robinson, of the Nuffield Institute for Health, appeared on the Sky News Sunrise programme and was also mentioned on Radio 4 following his report that women are 75 percent more likely to die on hospital wards than men.

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