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In the papers today - 29th July 2008

The government's flagship diplomas are in chaos weeks before they are due to be introduced as a substitute for A-levels, and many teachers did not know how they should be taught, said Andrew Broadhurst, the chairman of Voice, formerly the Professional Association of Teachers, at its conference in Daventry...

...Mr Broadhurst, a grammar school teacher, said claims that diplomas would be recognised by university admissions tutors were "extremely optimistic at best and downright disingenuous at worst" - The Independent

With 10 days to go until the Beijing Olympics opens, the smog simply refuses to lift and the Games organisers are preparing emergency measures to clear the air ahead of the big day. The traffic on the streets of Beijing is noticably lighter, and many of the big steelworks and coal-fired power stations have been silenced. But the capital was still enveloped yesterday in a haze that restricted visibility to a couple of hundred yards - The Independent

The owner of the pier in Weston-super-Mare that was yesterday destroyed by fire has vowed to rebuild it. The fire was thought to have been started by a deep fat fryer in the pier's staff canteen - The Times

Visitors were barred from the House of Lords after a flood above the debating chamber damaged several offices and computers on the second floor. The chamber was not damaged but the Peers' Lobby was affected. The flooding followed routine maintenance of the pure water storage facilities - The Times

Sir Richard Branson has unveiled the shuttle that his company will use to send tourists into space - and disclosed that one of the first flights will take off from Scotland. The White Knight Two has a 140ft wingspan and will act as the launch craft for a smaller spaceship carrying passengers into the earth's sub-orbit - The Daily Telegraph

BAA, the owner of Heathrow and Gatwick airports, has moved closer to completing the refinancing of its £7.1bn debt burden, securing the approval yesterday of its junior lenders for its proposals. BAA is under pressure to replace its loans because the interest rate riseds the longer it delays refinancing, prompting Standard & Poor's to downgrade the company to below investment grade last year and Moody's Investors Service to warn it may follow - The Independent

The largest unbroken area of woodland is to be created in an £8.5 million scheme to plant more than 600,000 trees. The 850-acre site is almost as big as Sherwood Forest.

Budget airlines are cutting the number of flights to holiday destinations as the increasing price of oil hits their profits. Passengers face longer drives to airports and less convenient schedules as airlines either cut the frequency of flights or remove unprofitable routes completely - The Daily Telegraph

Emirates is ready to fly five Airbus A380s a day into Heathrow as the airline continues to defy the gloom dominating most of the aviation industry. Tim Clark, the airline's president, said that Emirates was ready to use the superjumbo on all its current slots and had little doubt that there would be sufficient demand to fill the extra 550 seats a day - The Daily Telegraph

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