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University staff vote for strike action over pensions

Staff at the universities of Newcastle and Durham have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a row over pensions.

A total of 78% of members of the University and College Union (UCU) who were balloted across 69 universities voted in favour of strike action.

Talks between the union and the universities will be held on Wednesday to try to negotiate a solution.

The union said if the employers continued with their proposals then the union would meet on Friday to decide what form the disruption would take and when it would start.

A vote for action would by likely to include a marking boycott and a refusal to set exams. The action would stop students being set coursework or receiving formal marks and feedback, as well as halting exams.

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Police release pictures from the room of student responsible for Newcastle University bomb scare

Following the sentencing of Russian student Vladimir Aust, who made explosives at his Newcastle University halls, the North East Counter Terrorism Unit and Northumbria Police release photographic evidence from his accommodation:

Gas mask found in Vladimir Aust's student accommodation. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit
Vladimir Aust's worktop with switches, crocodile clips, bulbs and a battery which could be used to make a detonator. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit
After a table embedded with knives was found, Vladimir Aust admitted he caused the damage and his room was searched. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit
Vladimir Aust mixed various chemicals to make HMTD power (Hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine), which he stored in plastic boxes near his bed. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit
A notebook found in Vladimir Aust's room where he wrote down how to make HMTD, a power Mr Justice Coulson called 'popular with terrorists'. Credit: NE Counter Terrorism Unit

Student responsible for bomb scare sentenced to prison

18-year-old Russian student, Vladimir Aust Credit: North East Counter Terrorism Unit

18-year-old, Vladimir Aust has been sentenced to two years in prison at Newcastle Crown Court for making an explosive 'highly popular with terrorists'.

The Russian student pleaded guilty to the manufacturing of an explosive substance, Hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine (HMTD), after chemicals were discovered at a Newcastle University student accommodation campus in June 2014.

Vladimir Aust's desk. Credit: North East Counter Terrorism Unit

Mr Justice Coulson said he received credit for his age, his remorse, his previous good character and his early guilty plea.

He added HMTD terrorists "explosive of choice" and that sentences passed on those who manufactured it needed to be a deterrent.

He said the other aggravating factors were the prolonged period of time over which he made the substance, between February and June, that he had detonated it at least four times, and that others in the halls had been put at risk.

The judge decided that Aust was not part of a wider terror group:

You were dangerous, but acting alone.

– Mr Justice Coulson

The charges follow an investigation by the North East Counter Terrorism Unit and Northumbria Police.

Vladimir Aust clearly had a growing fascination with chemicals and manufacturing them into explosives.

Some of the items recovered are classed as potentially volatile and therefore could have put those within the vicinity at risk.

Although there is no evidence or indication what Aust planned to do with the items he manufactured, the hours he spent researching and working on them is of great concern.

– Ian Wilson, Head of the North East Counter Terrorism Unit
Knives used as part of the evidence in the case against Vladmir Aust. Credit: North East Counter Terrorism Unit

A second 18-year-old man, arrested in connection with the investigation in June, has since been released without charge.

Student admits making an explosive after bomb scare

A Russian student has admitted to making an explosive substance after a bomb scare at Newcastle University.

Vladimir Aust has accepted making hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine (HMTD) between September 1 last year and June 11 this year.

The discovery of the volatile substance, sometimes used in the mining industry, outside the university accommodation building caused chaos in the busy city in the summer.

Read More: Bomb disposal experts called to Newcastle University

The 18-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge during a hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, where he appeared via video link.

A charge of having two lock knives when he was arrested at Bayswater Road in London, when he was believed to be heading for the Russian embassy, was denied and will be dropped.

The investigation was initially led by the Counter Terrorism Unit.

Judge James Goss QC adjorned the case until next month when Aust will be senteced via video link to the prison where he is being held.

Three-parent babies could be born by 2015

The first three-parent babies could be born by 2015 after the government set out new draft regulations which will allow donor DNA from a second mother to be implanted into a defective egg.

A debate is being held in Westminster about the UK becoming the first country in the world to legalise babies with three biological parents. The controversial IVF technique has never been tried before.

Scientists in Newcastle are pushing for the technique to made legal. But critics say it's completely unethical and would be a step too far for the human race.

Helen Ford reports on one woman who lost seven children to genetic illness, and is in favour of the change:

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Clashing opinions over three-parent IVF

A controversial technique that could see babies born to three biological parents is being debated at Westminster.

Scientists at Newcastle University want the IVF treatment to be legalised to prevent rare genetic illnesses. But critics say the procedure would be completely unethical.

Colin Hart at The Christian Institute and Professor Doug Turnbull at Newcastle University voice the arguments against and for the treatment:

Scientists and religious groups clash over three-parent IVF

Scientists and religious groups have clashed over proposals for three-parent IVF, which are being debated in Westminster later today.

"If we're going to allow parents to chose what sort of genes their children have, that's a massive Rubicon and that's such a big Rubicon that in every other country this is not legal."

– Colin Hart, from The Christian Institute

"This research is about providing women who carry a specific sort of genetic disease reproductive choice. We already have ability for some genetic diseases to select on specific embryos."

– Professor Doug Turnbull, from Newcastle University, speaking to ITV News Tyne Tees

Newcastle scientists call for three-parent IVF

Scientists at Newcastle university want the IVF treatment to be legalised to prevent rare genetic illnesses. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees
Critics say the procedure would be completely unethical. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

A controversial technique that could see babies born to three biological parents is being debated at Westminster later.

Scientists at Newcastle university want the IVF treatment to be legalised to prevent rare genetic illnesses. However, critics say the procedure would be completely unethical.

Family tribute to medical student killed in Malaysia

The parents and brother of one of the two Newcastle University medical students stabbed to death in Malaysia have spoken of their grief.

Jan and Phil Dalton said their son Neil, 22, was a "caring, thoughtful and witty" young man who would never think twice about helping others.

Neil Dalton, 22, was working in a hospital in Kuching, Malaysia

We are just a normal family and we cannot believe what has happened.

He achieved so much and made so many friends in such a short time. We are so very proud of him.

Neil was a hard worker and very academic. He kept himself fit and was very sporty; involving himself in many football and cricket teams over the years. Neil enjoyed cycling and running and was always up for a challenge."

– Jan and Phil Dalton
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