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The Academies Act in the UK has passed through Parliament and is now law, says Imran Khan at the New Scientist's The S Word blog. Its purpose is to expand the number of schools that could become semi-independent, says Khan, but the law also removes the obligation of these school (called academies, and seemingly run like charter schools in the US) to teach science and math in line with the National Curriculum.

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The Financial Times reports the US bolstering its ability to track SARS-CoV-2 alterations.

The New York Times reports that Cedars-Sinai researchers have uncovered a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 in Southern California.

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: pan-cancer atlas focus on miRNA biogenesis mutations, methylation analysis of pig skeletal muscles, and more.

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Eric Lander to serve as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Associated Press says.