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06 October, 2008
Nearly a quarter of the wor...
Web users will be able to "virtually" visit the world's protected underwater landscapes
with a new Google Earth tool being...
His influence on British architects through buildings in Portugal such
                     as the Adega Mayor winery, abo...
unfortunate looks inspired illustrations for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland. But one question has always...
Resources: Guardian Unlimited

14 October, 2008
Anyone who has ever felt that the...
Tests on more than 1,000 bald men revealed two gene regions that, active together,
make a man seven times more likely to l...
17 October, 2008

Once notorious for its slums, gang...
dinners being made healthier after Jamie Oliver's campaign may leave the premises at
lunchtime to buy fastfood.
Another co...
resorts had been approved, despite vociferous opposition from environmentalists and
many local residents.
His most famous ...
where the emergency services are taking over.
"But we need more help and more buses as there are still plenty of people up...
other Harry Potter films, The Full Monty, Bridget Jones' Diary and Love Actually. Only the
film Titanic has made more in B...
Peter Driessen, the chief executive of Spil Games, said: "It not only gives people a
chance to learn about the heroic work...
Children at the 44 primary schools and nine secondaries will then vote on how to spend
their points, choosing items from S...
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  1. 1. QUARTER OF LAND MAMMALS AND A THIRD OF THOSE AT SEA ARE AT RISK OF EXTINCTION 06 October, 2008 Nearly a quarter of the world's land mammal species are at risk of extinction, and many others may vanish before they are even known to science, according to an extensive survey of global wildlife. At least 1,141 of the 5,487 known species of mammal are threatened, with 188 listed in the "critically endangered" category. One in three marine mammals are also threatened, according to the five-year review. The assessment, conducted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list, involved more than 1,700 experts in 130 countries, and confirms the devastating impact of forest clearing, hunting, fisheries, pollution and climate change on the populations and ranges of the world's most studied class of animals. Jan Schipper, director of the global mammals assessment, a partnership between Conservation International and the IUCN, called for countries to be held responsible for the fate of fauna within their borders and an international coalition to save species that cross national boundaries. "We're looking at a 25% decline over the long term, yet for mammals there is no bail-out plan. There is no long-term conservation strategy that is going to prevent species extinction in the future," he said. "As human beings, we should be ensuring that we don't cause other species to go extinct." Resources: Guardian Unlimited COLDPLAY AND DUFFY ARE Q MUSIC AWARD WINNERS 07 October, 2008 In an uncharacteristic bout of chest-beating, Coldplay's frontman, Chris Martin, declared his band "the best in the world" while picking up the two main prizes at yesterday's Q awards. But after winning the best act and best album awards, Martin reverted to the modesty that inspires devotion from fans but mockery from some critics, speculating that they only won because U2 and Radiohead were "on holiday". Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends was billed as a more experimental album on its release in June but still contained enough anthems to take it to number one in 36 countries and help boost the troubled record label EMI. Alex Turner, the Arctic Monkeys frontman, who has come home triumphant from virtually every awards ceremony he has attended for the past two years, continued his winning streak. The Last Shadow Puppets, his side project with Rascals singer Miles Kane, was voted best new act. Duffy, the Welsh singer whose album of 1960s-tinged pop has become the biggest selling of the year, beat Adele to the breakthrough artist prize and Keane won the award for best track for their single Spiralling. Resources: Guardian Unlimited GOOGLE EARTH TAKES A DIVE UNDER THE OCEAN 08 October, 2008
  2. 2. Web users will be able to "virtually" visit the world's protected underwater landscapes with a new Google Earth tool being launched today. A new downloadable "layer" will enable users to see video, pictures and articles when they hover over marine protected areas on the world map provided by Google Earth outreach, an initiative launched last year. The programme allows environmental groups to harness Google's popular mapping tools to illustrate their projects and has so far been used in work with an Amazonian tribal chief to monitor the impact of illegal logging and mining on his 600,000- acre territory. Content for the new marine reserves site will be uploaded from project partners including the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UN Foundation, National Geographic and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The tool was launched today at the IUCN world conservation congress in Barcelona. In the UK, the government's conservation agency, Natural England, has contributed information on 43 marine sites around the coast of England that offer protection to species such as the basking shark, as well as seahorses, corals and algae. Resources: Guardian Unlimited VODAFONE AIMS TO TAKE CHRISTMAS MARKET BY STORM 09 October, 2008 Vodafone will today put pressure on Apple's iPhone with news that it has clinched an exclusive deal to offer the first touchscreen phone made by mobile email specialist BlackBerry in time for Christmas. The BlackBerry Storm, which has a revolutionary "clickable" touchscreen that prevents a user accidentally sending an email or making a call, will be free for anyone willing to sign up to a £35 a month contract with Vodafone . A pre-pay version is also being planned. The device is aimed at the consumer market rather than the corporate world, which is already dominated by existing BlackBerry devices with their trademark tiny keypads. It faces serious competition in the festive market from the Apple phone and two other recently announced touchscreen devices: the G1, which has Google's Android software and is exclusive to T-Mobile, and the 5800 XpressMusic from Nokia, which Orange confirmed yesterday it will be offering, although it is unclear if it will be out by Christmas. Resources: Guardian Unlimited NEW WAVE HERO PORTUGUESE ARCHITECT WINS UK'S MOST PRESTIGIOUS PRIZE 10 October, 2008 Álvaro Siza, the Portuguese architect and hero of a new wave of British design talent, was yesterday awarded the Royal Gold Medal, British architecture's most prestigious prize. The 78-year-old is regarded by some as the greatest architect Portugal has ever produced, although his only British building to date has been a temporary pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2006.
  3. 3. His influence on British architects through buildings in Portugal such as the Adega Mayor winery, above, and the Evora housing development, built after the end of the Portuguese dictatorship in 1977, has been far greater. His style blends modernism's free organisation of spaces with vernacular architecture, so he might use whitewashed stone in Portugal or brick in the Netherlands. That approach has been embraced by a generation of architects including Caruso St John and Tony Fretton, who have rejected the hi-tech movement pioneered by Lord Rogers and Lord Foster and their tendency to use similar components wherever they build in the world. Siza (below) qualified in 1955 and his architecture matured under the dictatorship in Portugal, which allowed him little exposure to the international modernist style that was emerging across Europe - led in particular by the Swiss architect, Le Corbusier - which was to form the basis of the hi-tech movement. Siza follows Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron and Frei Otto as recent foreign winners of the prize, which is personally approved by the Queen. Resources: Guardian Unlimited FROM £200 WINE JUG TO £3M MASTERPIECE 11 October, 2008 A medieval ewer valued at £200 after being mistaken for a French claret jug fetched more than £3m yesterday after it was identified as a rare Islamic work. The 1,000-year-old crystal ewer from the Fatimid royal treasury in Egypt, decorated with cheetahs and link chains, is one of only seven such vessels known to have survived. Dating back to the late 10th or early 11th centuries, it was carved from flawless rock crystal, which is as hard as toughened steel. Christie's, the auctioneers, described it as "one of the rarest and most desirable works of art from the Islamic world". The ewer first resurfaced at Lawrences auctioneers in Crewkerne, Somerset, in January, under the catalogue description "A French claret jug ... £100-200". After dealers realised its potential worth, the artefact sold for £220,000. But the bid was annulled by "private agreement", prompting rumours that the vendor had agreed to sell the item along with the buyer. Christie's was contacted in June, and it invited several of the Islamic art world's most affluent buyers to view the item. The auction house bustled with Arab art enthusiasts and historians yesterday, with one describing the ewer as a "holy grail" of the Islamic world. Leading Islamic art collections, including the Aga Khan Museum in Canada and the Museum of Islamic art in Doha, Qatar, were believed to have placed bids, although the winning buyer is not known. Resources: Guardian Unlimited SOLVED: MYSTERY OF THE UGLY DUCHESS - AND THE DA VINCI CONNECTION 12 October, 2008 She is one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery, whose rather
  4. 4. unfortunate looks inspired illustrations for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. But one question has always puzzled: did the poor lady really look like this? Today the Guardian can reveal that she did and was suffering from an exceptionally rare form of Paget's disease - an abnormality of the metabolism that enlarges and deforms the bones. The portrait, An Old Woman, painted by the Flemish artist Quinten Massys in 1513, is popularly known as The Ugly Duchess and will be part of the National Gallery's eagerly awaited exhibition Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian, which opens next Wednesday. Curators are particularly excited about this painting because two important discoveries have been made in recent research: firstly, the portrait is truthful and she almost certainly looked like that, and secondly, a long held historical theory that the painter was copying Leonardo da Vinci is wrong. The medical research shows that she was suffering from an advanced form of Paget's disease - osteitis deformans - which enlarged her jaw bones, extended her upper lip and pushed up her nose. It also affected her hands, eye sockets, forehead, chin and collarbones. "This woman must have been very, very unfortunate," said Michael Baum, emeritus professor of surgery at University College London who, with his student Christopher Cook, investigated the portrait. Resources: Guardian Unlimited GOVERNMENT URGED TO HELP HOMES GO GREEN 13 October, 2008 The government must urgently begin improvements to make Britain's 25m homes more energy efficient if it is to reduce the UK's carbon footprint by 80% by 2050, a report says today. The report, by the Green Building Council (GBC), says some homes are so environmentally harmful that they may have to be demolished. It also wants the government to introduce a system of "green mortgages" to pay for improvements such as new windows and boilers. All new homes must be zero-carbon from 2016, but campaigners say that older houses must be a priority, as they account for around a quarter of the total carbon emissions. One of the report's key ideas is a "pay as you save" system, where the homeowner or landlord borrows the costs of improvements such as new windows and insulation from a bank or local authority, and then pays the money back over a number of years, with the costs more than covered by lower energy bills. "Government intervention is needed to create a market for low-carbon homes and industry is crying out for that certainty," said Paul King, head of the GBC. "This needs a fundamentally new way of financing energy efficiency in the years to come that virtually eliminates up-front costs to the consumer. "We've been throwing our money out of the window. Spiralling fuel costs and concern about climate change now call for a revolution in attitude and approach." The report says that the improvements are "absolutely doable," and could unlock tens of thousands of "green-collar" refurbishment jobs in a market worth £5bn.
  5. 5. Resources: Guardian Unlimited COMPUTERS FAIL THE TURING THOUGHT TEST 14 October, 2008 Anyone who has ever felt that their computer has a mind of its own will sympathise with the experience of attempting to get some sense out of a piece of software. But what if your laptop really could strike up a conversation unaided? Experts at the University of Reading yesterday claimed to have put that possibility to the test, with a supposedly scientific investigation of whether computers can indeed think for themselves. The Turing test is inspired by the British mathematician Alan Turing, best known for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park, who wrote in 1950 that "if, during text-based conversation, a machine is indistinguishable from a human, then it could be said to be 'thinking', and therefore could be attributed with intelligence". Kevin Warwick, Reading's controversial professor of cybernetics, who oversaw yesterday's experiment, claimed in the mid-1990s that by 2045 computers would have taken over the world and enslaved humanity. The experiment, he hoped, would demonstrate that day was coming. But if computers are indeed to take over the world in a little over three decades, they are unlikely, on yesterday's evidence at least, to do so by winning people over with their engaging dinner-party chat. A small group of volunteers took turns in five-minute bursts to conduct simultaneous typed conversations with two unseen respondents - one a human sitting in a next-door room, the other a piece of computer software. If 30% of the volunteers could be fooled, by Turing's own measure the test would be said to have been passed. Five teams of programmers were competing for the annual Loebner prize, awarded to the software that comes closest to mimicking a human. The event's credibility was hardly aided by the insistence of Hugh Loebner, the prize's American sponsor, that he had no interest in the result and had only set up the competition 18 years ago to promote his firm's roll-up plastic lighted portable disco dance floors. The winning software, designed by an American and called Elbot, fooled 25% of respondents. "We really, really have come very close," said Warwick. His sample size, in a field made up largely of computer experts and journalists: 12. Warwick insists that Turing's test will be passed within two to three years, leading to innovations ranging from improved automated call-centre technology to increasingly interactive home appliances. All the same, it's hardly Blade Runner, is it? "Maybe instead of 35 years [until we are enslaved by computers] we've got 40 years. "It could be a little bit slower, that's all." Resources: Guardian Unlimited SCIENTISTS UNCOVER NEW GENE LINK TO MALE PATTERN BALDNESS 15 October, 2008 Scientists have discovered a genetic link to baldness that helps explain why some men may inherit their shiny pates from their fathers.
  6. 6. Tests on more than 1,000 bald men revealed two gene regions that, active together, make a man seven times more likely to lose his hair. Around 14% of men are thought to carry both gene variants. The findings give scientists a much clearer picture of the genetic causes of male pattern baldness, which affects roughly a third of men by the age of 45. Genetic factors are thought to account for at least 80% of the condition. In the long term, the latest work is expected to pave the way for genetic treatments for hair loss, but more quickly it could be used to identify men who are likely to lose their hair prematurely. These men may benefit by beginning baldness treatments before they start showing signs of hair loss, the researchers said. The search for baldness treatments has already seen the rise of a multi-million-pound industry in Britain alone, where an estimated 8 million men are affected. Resources: Guardian Unlimited ESTELLE AND LEONA DOMINATE MOBOS 16 October, 2008 Pop stars Estelle and Leona Lewis have each won two prizes at the Music of Black Origin (Mobo) Awards in London. Estelle picked up best UK female and best song, for her hit American Boy. Lewis won best album for Spirit and best video for Bleeding Love. But she was absent, as was rapper Dizzee Rascal, who was named best UK male. "It's a shame that their schedules and their touring didn't allow for them to be here," Mobo organiser Kanya King said. "Hey, there's always next year." The Mobos is the biggest award ceremony in British urban music, attracting names from R&B, hip-hop and beyond. In the past it has been criticised for struggling to attract US superstars, but this year it was missing two of the three main British winners. Estelle was the biggest victor present at Wembley Arena on Wednesday. "The Mobo is a great award, recognised by the kids and the people who understand my music, and who get the music that we do," she told BBC News. British black music was "on the up", she added. "If I'm anything to go by, it's definitely on the up." Estelle performed with US soul star John Legend, who revived her career by signing her to his record label. But she had little time to celebrate her awards, with a flight at 0600 the next morning to perform in Anaheim, California. Resources: BBC News
  7. 7. LONELY PLANET GUIDE RATES GLASGOW AS ONE OF THE WORLD'S TOP 10 CITIES 17 October, 2008 Once notorious for its slums, gangs and industrial dereliction, Glasgow's resurrection as one of the country's trendiest and liveliest cities has been confirmed. The travel guide Lonely Planet has confounded the sceptics who disparage the city for its hard-drinking, violent reputation by claiming it is one of the world's top 10 cities for visitors - on a par with Chicago, Lisbon and Mexico City. Glasgow, which is hosting the Commonwealth games in 2014, now boasts alumni such as the actor James McAvoy, pan-fried scallops caught off the nearby coast, and "defining experiences" such as cruising down the Clyde by powerboat and "adding your voice to the Hampden roar" at the city's international football stadium. "Forget about castles, kilts, bagpipes and tartan," the travel firm's Best in Travel 2009 guide states. "You come for the cocktails, cuisine and designer chic (plus the legendary native wit) ... Scotland's biggest city has shaken off its shroud of industrial soot and shimmied into a sparkling new designer gown." Glasgow is the only British city included in the top 10, an accolade embraced by Steven Purcell, leader of the city council. He yesterday helped to unveil plans by the Dubai-based Jumeirah hotel group to build a so-called "six-star" luxury hotel in the city - a 26-storey tower which will boast 160 guest rooms and suites and 85 serviced apartments. The top 10 cities were: Antwerp, Beirut, Chicago, Glasgow, Lisbon, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Shanghai, Warsaw, Zurich. Resources: Guardian Unlimited CHILD OBESITY: COUNCIL TO BAN TAKEAWAYS NEAR SCHOOLS 20 October, 2008 A council plans to ban new takeaways opening within 400 metres of schools, youth centres and parks to help combat child obesity and promote healthy eating. Waltham Forest council, east London, also wants to bring in new planning rules to limit the number of fast food outlets in shopping parades and restrict their opening hours. The council is one of the first local authorities in Britain to propose such restrictions, which were suggested in the government's obesity strategy. Knowsley council, Liverpool, has also asked planning officers to consider restricting fast food outlets. Waltham Forest said child obesity is higher there than the national average - with 17.2% of children obese, compared with 15% across England. Another 11.5% of children in the borough are overweight. The school restrictions are partly a response to concerns that children put off by school
  8. 8. dinners being made healthier after Jamie Oliver's campaign may leave the premises at lunchtime to buy fastfood. Another council is trying to reform takeaway food. Environmental health officers in Barking and Dagenham are planning to work with local restaurants and takeaways to try to change the food options they offer. Resources: Guardian Unlimited HEALTHY MICE CLONED FROM FROZEN BODIES 21 October, 2008 Healthy mice have been cloned for the first time from dead mice that had been frozen for several years, raising the possibility, scientists say, of "resurrecting" extinct animals such as mammoths from their frozen carcasses. The clones were produced from dead mice kept at -20C for up to 16 years by a group of scientists in Kobe, Japan. After thawing the mice, researchers collected nuclei from cells in their brain tissue. These were then injected into empty eggs from which the DNA had been removed, to create cloned embryos. A second round of cloning used stem cells from the embryos that grew into four mouse clones. Nine further clones were created by mixing the cells of different embryos, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. So-called "Dolly the sheep"-style cloning has previously been achieved using live donor cells from which DNA was transferred to eggs. Cloning from thawed frozen cells was thought to be difficult because ice crystals formed in frozen cells could damage the DNA, making cloning of long-dead animals impossible. The scientists, led by Dr Teruhiko Wakayama from the Centre for Developmental Biology in Kobe, wrote: "We have demonstrated here that healthy cloned mice and chimeric clonal mice could be obtained by nuclear transfer using donor nuclei from cells obtained from bodies frozen without cryoprotectants for up to 16 years." Resources: Guardian Unlimited 'WORLD'S BEST GOLF COURSE' APPROVED - COMPLETE WITH 23-ACRE EYESORE 22 October, 2008 The billionaire property developer Donald Trump has won permission to build "the world's greatest golf course", complete with high-rise timeshare flats and eight-storey hotel, on a rare and ecologically sensitive stretch of dunes overlooking the North Sea. The New York-based businessman said he was "greatly honoured" after Scottish ministers in Edinburgh confirmed that his dream of creating one of golf's most northerly
  9. 9. resorts had been approved, despite vociferous opposition from environmentalists and many local residents. His most famous opponent, Michael Forbes, the fisherman and quarry worker who earned abuse from Trump last year after refusing repeatedly to sell his home, which is on the land, still intends to stay put. "They reckon the construction will last 10 years, but I'll never ever sell to that loudmouth bully," Forbes said last night. The £1bn coastal resort north of Aberdeen, which covers 2,000 acres (809 hectares), is to have two 18-hole championship courses, four blocks of 950 timeshare flats, 500 "exclusive" homes, 36 villas, a golf academy, and housing for 400 staff. There will also be a coast road, named Trump Boulevard. Yesterday's outline planning approval legally binds Trump to agree to environmental checks and controls giving Aberdeenshire council and the Scottish government's environment agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, oversight to ensure the remaining wildlife is protected. Trump will be also required to build a 225-pupil primary school, shops, 98 low-cost houses and 50 starter homes (on land provided free by the council) in return for the 500- home estate, chalets and timeshares that will fund the development. Resources: Guardian Unlimited RESCUE OPERATION LAUNCHED FOR HUNDREDS OF RUNNERS STRANDED BY FLOODS 23 October, 2008 An operation was under way today to rescue hundreds of marathon runners stranded by heavy rain and flooding in the Lake District. Mountain rescue teams from across the region were working to take the competitors from the Original Mountain Marathon to safety. The manager of Honister Slate Mine, near Keswick, Cumbria said he had sheltered up to 300 of the runners and that some people were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia. Mine owner Mark Weir said: "The weather is absolutely horrendous and it's a scene of chaos up here. "I believe there were up to about 2,000 people who entered this race and I advised the organisers not to go ahead with the event. "The mountain rescue teams are still trying to account for everyone. "We have had people coming in throughout the day in pretty bad states. They are dripping wet through and very cold. "Our staff are helping to transport them off the mountain pass and down to Cockermouth
  10. 10. where the emergency services are taking over. "But we need more help and more buses as there are still plenty of people up here." On its official website the marathon organisers said the race was called off just before midday. It said the poor weather meant there was "little choice" but to abandon the event but added "that is easier said than done" with thousands of competitors scattered across the hills with communication difficult in the area. The organisers said five local mountain rescue services and race vehicles had ferried competitors back to the event base in Seathwaite. Earlier in the day they said there was a "steady line of very wet racers" walking back down Honister Pass and along Borrowdale. But the weather deteriorated by mid-afternoon with floods cutting off road access to Seathwaite from Borrowdale which led to the stepping up of the rescue operation. Resources: Guardian Unlimited MODELS ARE TOO SKINNY FOR MY SIZE 10 STYLES, SAYS FASHION DESIGNER 24 October, 2008 One of Britain's leading fashion designers has reopened the skinny models debate by revealing she struggled to find models big enough to wear the clothes in her latest fashion show. When Maria Grachvogel set about preparing her catwalk show at Claridge's this week, she requested size 10 models, only to find that most agencies could only provide models size 8 or smaller. It was stark proof that in the five years since Grachvogel last staged a catwalk show the accepted standard model size has shrunk from an 8-10 to a 6-8. Sarah Doukas, founder of Storm model agency, said earlier this year:"There is no doubt that in the past few years the girls at the top end have become thinner. You'd have to be a fool not to notice it." Resources: Guardian Unlimited MUSICAL IS BIGGEST GROSSING UK FILM 27 October, 2008 Mamma Mia! The Musical hit back at its mockers by becoming a licence to print money with productions all over the world. Now Mamma Mia! The Movie has done the same, named yesterday as the biggest grossing British film of all time. The film has made £66,995,224 in the UK, knocking Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone off its perch as the most financially successful British film. Casino Royale moves down a place to number three and the top 10 is completed by the
  11. 11. other Harry Potter films, The Full Monty, Bridget Jones' Diary and Love Actually. Only the film Titanic has made more in Britain - £69m - a figure that Mamma Mia could still pass given how widely screened it still is. Worldwide, the film is already one of the most profitable movies ever and recently crossed the $500m box office mark. Its popularity flies in the face of the film's critical reception. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw complained that no film had ever had a more irrelevant story, adding: "The characters are forever dancing and smiling and bursting into Abba songs like Stepford cyborgs when you flip the secret panel behind their heads and press the Life-Affirming Behaviour button." Resources: Guardian Unlimited MORE STUDENTS SHOULD STUDY ABROAD, SAYS LAMMY 28 October, 2008 More must be done to encourage England's university students to spend time studying abroad, the higher education minister said today. David Lammy said he wanted it to become common for students to spend time in other European countries rather than unusual and make it easier for them to do so. Speaking at a conference on the Bologna process organised by the UK Higher Education Europe Unit to link up universities in Europe and make qualifications comparable, Lammy said: "The key to the Bologna process is mobility. "We want to get to the point where it is as common for our students to study abroad as it is for them to move around the UK." On the progress of plans to create a European higher education area that staff and students can move around easily by 2010, Lammy said there was more to do. Resources: Guardian Unlimited RED CROSS USES ONLINE GAMES TO ENTICE SUPPORTERS 29 October, 2008 Vicious war in Northern Uganda has destroyed Joseph's home and torn his family apart. He has one goal, to find out from the Red Cross if his mother is alive. He needs you to be his guide and time is running out. Can you help him? This is the task facing players of an online game the Red Cross has created to introduce young people to its work and, hopefully, encourage them to become volunteers. Traces of Hope, one of the first charity 'alternate reality' games, is a realistic simulation of humanitarian relief work and has so far attracted 7,500 registered users. The charity has also teamed up with Dutch company Spil Games to produce a game to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Dutch Red Cross. The Red Cross Game: Emergency Response Unit can be played online for free with a full version on sale for $19.95. Some of the proceeds will be donated to the charity.
  12. 12. Peter Driessen, the chief executive of Spil Games, said: "It not only gives people a chance to learn about the heroic work done by Red Cross workers but also directly supports this valiant organisation." Resources: Guardian Unlimited FIVE OF THE BEST IN LINE FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 30 October, 2008 An "ambitious, varied and incredibly individual" shortlist for the Guardian first book award is announced today. The five works include a history of 20th-century classical music, a novelistic memoir of a Soviet-era romance and a dark Yorkshire-set story of obsession and violence. There is also a subversive Pakistan-set political novel, and a cantering, carnivalesque Australian saga. "These are sophisticated books that require a big investment from the reader - an investment for which they are richly rewarded," said Guardian literary editor Claire Armitstead, the chairwoman of the judges. She also paid tribute to the books' "generic inventiveness" and "defiance of easy marketing packagability". The £10,000 prize - which covers fiction, non-fiction and poetry published in the UK - is unique not only in its recognition of debut authors, but also through the extent to which it involves readers' groups in the judging process. This year, Waterstone's readers' groups from Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bath, Oxford and London, plus one based online, helped narrow down the 10-strong longlist to five books. Their combined voting power was greater than that of the panel of four judges. Resources: Guardian Unlimited PUPILS EARN JUST REWARD FOR HEALTHY EATING 31 October, 2008 A Scottish council which pioneered locally sourced and organic school meals is to offer all its 16,500 pupils the chance to earn "ethical" reward points for overseas aid by eating healthy school dinners. From today, schoolchildren in East Ayrshire will earn points to help buy farm animals, food supplies and medical supplies and equip classrooms for projects run by development charity Save the Children. The project is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, and is seen as a more "holistic" strategy for encouraging healthy eating than schemes that reward children with iPods, concert tickets and book tokens for eating school dinners. East Ayrshire is one of many councils trying to combat unhealthy eating and increase the numbers eating school meals. Scots have among the worst diets in Europe, but new legislation to improve school catering in 2006, partly influenced by Jamie Oliver's campaigning, led to a fall in pupils taking school meals. The project is expected to earn at least £3,250 towards Save the Children gifts over the next six months. To reach that target, pupils must eat 650,000 school dinners. Every 10 meals earns one point, with the points pooled into a fund.
  13. 13. Children at the 44 primary schools and nine secondaries will then vote on how to spend their points, choosing items from Save the Children's online donations catalogue. Current gifts range from 40 chickens, at a cost of 15 points, to a bicycle for 780 points and classrooms for 12,500. Resources: Guardian Unlimited