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In the papers today - Thursday 5th July

Victims of the devastating floods that hit Britain last week may not be able to return to their homes for up to a year, council officials warned yesterday.
Britain's reputation as a world leader for university education could be lost within 10 years, the vice-chancellor of Cambridge University warned yesterday. Standards will plummet unless universities resist the temptation to take on poor quality students in an attempt to plug funding gaps - The TelegraphBritain is now importing only the tiniest fraction of its oil from the Middle East, sourcing its crude instead from the Americas, Africa and Norway, according to government figures. - The Telegraphp>Speculation is mounting that Tory MP Boris Johnson is going to stand for London Mayor. Nominations close in two weeks and Conservative Party sources have made clear that they believe Johnson is the kind of high profile candidate they need to take on Ken Livingstone - The TimesNearly 700 people have died in South Asia after 12 days of storms. Rain caused havoc in Calcutta where eight million people were flooded and hundreds of people used lifeboats to move out of low lying areas as forecasts predicted more rain - The TimesBritain's energy supplies would be 'safeguarded' by the construction of new nuclear power stations, said Gordon Brown, the prime minister. He said last year's events in Europe, when Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, 'should make it clear that we cannot rely on an energy policy that makes us wholly dependent on one or two countries' - The TimesVoters will be given powers to decide how tens of millions of pounds should be spent in their neighbourhood under radical plans being unveiled today. In a potentially dramatic extension of direct democracy, councils will have to hold ballots before deciding where money should be targeted. The scheme will be outlined by new communities secretary Hazel Blears today - The Guardian Ministers were today visiting the worst affected towns and cities from the recent flooding ahead of announcing flood rescue plans and funding settlements. The minister heading the government's flood recovery programme John Healey, will lead a delegation to Hull today - The Guardian

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