The Reporter
Issue 489, 24 March 2003
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In the news

Work to perfect pancake flipping by physics undergraduate Stephen Wilkinson (see photo page 5) gained extensive coverage in regional and national media. Dr Ashley Clarke and postgraduate Georgina Wilkins helped to explain the physics of pancake tossing on BBC Radio Leeds and Calendar News. Supermarket chain Asda have pledged to support further research. The story was covered by the Guardian, Times, Yorkshire Evening Post, Yorkshire Post, Express, Star and Daily Mail. However, as Stephen Wilkinson concluded: “The operation might look simple in the lab, but in reality it takes a lot of practice to get it right.”

As if foreign secretary Jack Straw didn’t have enough to worry about, the public record office released files on his involvement in student politics. The former president of the University’s student union had been labelled a ‘troublemaker’ by the Foreign Office after a ‘nearly disastrous’ trip to Chile in 1966, reported the Guardian, Independent and Yorkshire Evening Post.

As the prospect of war with Iraq drew closer the Guardian invited a panel of eminent commentators, including author Martin Amis, Carla Lane and the environmental toxicologist Professor Alastair Hay to respond to Hans Blix’s report to the UN security council. Professor Hay said: “Blix’s statement has not altered my view. There’s no basis for a war ... Blix says his inspectors need months to verify the Iraqi claims. They should have that time.”

In a longer article for the Guardian, Professor Hay highlighted Donald Rumsfeld’s suggestion that the US takes advantage of the ‘US’s stockpile of the misleadingly named “non-lethal” chemical agents’. To do so, Professor Hay argued, would contravene the chemical weapons convention – signed by the US – and under the 1925 Geneva protocol Iraq would be ‘entitled to retaliate in kind’. Highlighting the tragic results of using similar substances to end the siege in a Moscow theatre, he stressed the difficulty in ensuring these agents don’t result in death.

Electronics engineer Mohammed Aziz left Iraq 12 years ago and now works at the University. He still has family in Iraq and as he explained in the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It is the children who are suffering most as the threat grows larger. They think they are going to be killed at school, by bombs on the way there and even in their own beds. They live in constant fear and it very hard to reassure them.”

Professor Christoph Bluth joined Radio Five Live breakfast show to help interview people around Leeds and discuss the Iraq situation. He had the final word, saying “Peaceful disarmament is a delusion.”

The UK première of Dvorak’s opera ‘The Stubborn Lovers’ (see Reporter 488) performed by students and staff in the University’s Great Hall was favourably reviewed by the Yorkshire Post. ‘Catherine Hopper made a charming and silvery-voiced Lenka, to ideally complement the lyric tenor of Stephen Muir ... and a fine young chorus completed the cast of this highly enjoyable work’ said reviewer David Denton.

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