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French can't beef about Joan of Arc;Sideways look;Briefing;Week in education

SMACKING, smoking, and a saint starred this week.

Three out of four people think it is reasonable to discipline a child with a smack, says an NOP survey; and a third of parents thought teachers should have the right to do so too. This is an increase in support for corporal punishment despite a lobby headed by Barnardo's and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to ban the practice.

Bad news for young women smokers as a study by the drug safety research unit in Southampton found that around 100 16- to 44-year-olds a year were dying prematurely of heart attacks. The more cigarettes smoked, the greater the risk.

Scots might be cheered up by reports that Prince William favours Edinburgh or St Andrews and has snubbed Oxbridge. Apparently the future King did not apply to study at these august southern institutions by the October deadline.

The young Blairs aren't old enough to worry about university yet, but their dad is concerned about his computer-literate kids getting access to unsuitable information on the Internet.The Prime Minister also told callers to The Sun's web-site he plans to spend more time with Euan, Nicky and Kathryn in the next millennium.

And so to France: not only has their beef been questioned, but the French have been told that their heroine, Joan of Arc, was "more or less invented in the 19th century because of France's desperate need for a patriotic mascot", according to Roger Caratini, the eminent French author of a new book on the saint.

Some school text-books claim she "threw the English out of France", but Mr Caratini claims that she played only a minor role in the hundred years war; and - shock, horror - that it was the Inquisition and the University of Paris that tried and sentenced her, not us. "We may have a problem with the English, but as far as Joan's concerned, we really shouldn't," he said.

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