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Hello from Mumsnet HQ...

Talking Tots MPU

...where we've taken a steer from our latest guest Tony Parsons (note to all, that's Tony Parsons not Nick Hornby) and stocked up on Red Bull to fortify ourselves in the face of global financial meltdown. Hopefully, we'll still have one or two left come next Monday lunchtime, when we'll be welcoming sleb cook Tana Ramsay to Talk. If you can't join us, then post your questions for Tana here.

Our very own Morningpaper made rather an impression on Mr Parsons (no, MP, you can't have "Morningpaper should be proud of her small breasts! - Tony Parsons" on the cover of the Toddlers book). If your Fridays aren't yet being perked up by MP's Talk Roundup, then sign up immediately. As StealthPolarBear says: "I live for Fridays and that email." Don't we all.

And now for this week's parenting news ...

Safer Down's test on way: A non-invasive blood test to detect Down's syndrome could be available in less than three years, US researchers said this week. The test, which would use a blood sample from the mother to look for the chromosomal abnormality causing Down's, would eliminate the small risk to the foetus posed by amniocentesis and other invasive tests. It could be done much earlier in pregnancy than amniocentesis, and the tests would be back within a couple of days (Guardian 07.10.08).

New bid to outlaw smacking: A cross-party group of MPs this week failed to force through a ban on smacking children in England and Wales. But Labour's Kevin Barron, who led the group, said the issue was not going to go away and was something many politicians felt very strongly about. He and 27 other MPs had backed an amendment to the Children and Young Persons Bill. But the government said it had tightened protection for children, and was opposed to making smacking a crime (BBC Online 08.10.08).

To see the results of Mumsnet's poll on smacking, click here.

Meanwhile, a survey of 6,000 teachers suggests a fifth of them would like to bring back the cane for 'extreme cases' (BBC Online 03.01.08).

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Other stories in brief

The tradition of children reciting poetry by heart is to be revived with a national competition open to every pupil from the ages of 7-11 in the UK (Sunday Times 05.10.08); women who have had one miscarriage are more than three times more likely to have pre-eclampsia and more than twice as likely to have a premature baby in their next pregnancy (BBC Online 08.10.08).

Hot threads


OK, are you ready? This week you can win:

Well, we did ask if you were ready.

Quote of the week

Portofinopumpkin has some timely financial advice: "If you had purchased £1,000 of Northern Rock shares one year ago it would now be worth £4.95. With HBOS, earlier this week your £1,000 would have been worth £16.50. £1,000 invested in XL Leisure would now be worth less than £5, but if you bought £1,000 worth of canned beer one year ago, drank it all, then took the empty cans to an aluminium recycling plant, you would get £214. So based on the above statistics the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle."

Looking for somewhere to take the kids? Mumsnetters recommend

Glynn Barton, a child's paradise in North Cornwall, is offering baby 'swim' courses in its indoor pool when you book in November. Lessons are included in the price of the cottage rental. Courses for three to ten year olds at February half-term. Click here for more info.

Carmenere's recipe of the week: Astrophe's spicy pumpkin soup

Pretty soon we're going to be awash with the flesh of pumpkins as our little darlings demand lanterns and put our carving skills to the test. Astrophe's recipe is a tasty way of using up the scooped out flesh.

That's your lot for this week, we're off to stock up on Red Bull ahead of the Tana chat.

Mumsnet Towers

Are you having a nit nightmare? Do headlice plague your school (and your home). We're looking for 100 mumsnetters to try out Itax, a new non-chemical programme of head lice lotion spray and 'anti-itch' shampoo. If you'd like to take part in the trial, please click here.

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