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Issue 474, 3 December 2001

In the news

History lecturer Dr Owen Hartley was interviewed by BBC Radio Leeds following the discovery of a Real IRA arms dump in West Ardsley, Yorkshire. Talking to the Yorkshire Post Dr Hartley suggested that 'in a real rural country area, people are happily nosey. But somewhere like this, they are used to strangers moving in and out'. Human rights law professor Colin Harvey was also interviewed about the find and its impacts on ITV's Calendar.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Courtney Cox and Julia Roberts have all donned fat suits for recent films. University psychiatrist Dr Andrew Hill commented on the impact of these portrayals of over-weight characters in the Guardian: "It is not demeaning. It helps an actress articulate what it's like to live in a stigmatised state of body and negotiate an environment designed for people without these differences."

Visits to the University by minister for lifelong learning and higher education Margaret Hodge and arts minister Baroness Tessa Blackstone (Reporter 473) were both covered by the regional press. In the Yorkshire Post, Margaret Hodge praised work at the University to encourage more young people from all backgrounds to consider higher education. Her calls for more institutions to improve access to higher education were repeated in the THES.

Professor Howard Cuckle identified the benefits of a new test for Down's syndrome in the Lancet's editorial. Subsequently quoted in the Guardian, he said the test would bring 'for some, an early diagnosis with safer and less traumatic therapeutic abortion and, for most, an earlier reassurance'. His views were also cited in the Daily Mail's coverage of the new scan, which will reduce the risks posed to the foetus by the current testing technique.

BBC Look North's Harry Gration opened the Festival of Languages in style (see page 7). The University's dancesport team and Capoeira troop entertained some of the 700 school pupils visiting the event. The activities were also captured by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

David Hall-Matthews contributed to BBC Radio 4's Four Corners discussion on the influence of politics on famine. Drawing on his experience in countries such as India, he said: "We can't ever have famine without some form of political dimension. It's not just a food shortage, there is something else. Not every political problem causes a famine."

The University's decision to withdraw investment from tobacco companies was reported across national newspapers, appearing in the THES, Independent, Guardian and Yorkshire Evening Post. Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Alan Wilson explained the decision to the Guardian: "We have a longstanding policy of not accepting research grants from tobacco companies. The decision to pull our endowment funds out of these companies is a natural extension of this policy."

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