Tuesday, January 26, 2016

British PM says he'll back schools and courts which ban the veil as he outlines new rules on learning English in a bid to end segregated communities and tackle extremism

David Cameron today backed the right of schools and courts to ban people from wearing the veil in some circumstances, while insisting a nationwide ban would not be the right thing to do.

The Prime Minister said generally people should be 'free to wear what they like' and within limits live their lives as they choose.

But as he unveiled new policies for tackling extremism and segregation within migrant communities - primarily today based around English classes - Mr Cameron said he would support 'sensitive' policies requiring people to show their face.

Mr Cameron's remarks, in a BBC interview earlier today, were followed by criticism that he risked 'stigmatising' Muslim women with his 'clumsy' policy announcements.

Asked about the veil today, Mr Cameron  said: 'I think in our country people should be free to wear what they like, within limits live how they like, and all the rest of it.

'What does matter is if, for instance, a school has a uniform policy, sensitively put in place and all the rest of it, and people want to flout that uniform policy, often for reasons that aren't connected to religion, you should always come down on the side of the school.'

Mr Cameron added: 'When you are coming into contact with an institution or you're in court, or if you need to be able to see someone's face at the border, then I will always back the authority and institution that have put in place proper and sensible rules.

'Going for the more sort of French approach of banning an item of clothing, I don't think that's the way we do things in this country and I don't think that would help.'

France eventually banned full face veils in 2010 following many years of discussion. 

The Prime Minister unveiled a series of new policies today which include a threat of deportation to people who arrive in Britain to marry if they fail to make progress in learning English.

The policy applies to all migrants arriving on a spousal visa but the Prime Minister was told he risked stigmatising the Muslim community with his 'simplistic' approach.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said Mr Cameron had to take 'more care' while former Tory Party chairwoman Baroness Warsi questioned why Muslims were targeted - pointing out this was neither a nationality or a language.

Mr Cameron defended his proposals in a major radio interview, insisting the point of the plans was to eliminate segregation in Britain. A fund worth £20million is also being created for targeted English lessons for isolated women in communities.

He visited the Shantona Women's Centre and the Makkah Mosque, both in Leeds, to meet community groups and promote his plans.

But Mr Burnham said: 'In his desire to grab easy headlines, David Cameron risks doing more harm than good. His clumsy and simplistic approach to challenging extremism is unfairly stigmatising a whole community.

'There is a real danger that it could end up driving further radicalisation, rather than tackling it.

'The Prime Minister is right to talk about empowering women but his emphasis should be on women of all faiths and none. His commitment to English classes is welcome but people will ask why his Government has spent the last few years cutting funding from these vital courses.

'Tackling extremism is the greatest challenge of our age. We are willing to work with the Government to get it right. But it is a deep-rooted and complex problem and requires a more sophisticated approach than we have seen to date and a stronger sense of partnership with the Muslim community.

'David Cameron must proceed with more care and thought than he is currently showing and Labour will continue to challenge him to get the balance and tone right.'

Baroness Warsi questioned why English lessons were being presented in a counter extremism strategy, insisting this was less important than language skills are to getting a job and helping with homework.

She tweeted: 'Why should it just be Muslim women who have the opportunity to learn English? Why not anyone who lives in the UK and can't speak English.' The Tory peer added: 'Mum's English isn't great yet she inspired her girls to become a lawyer, teacher, accountant, pharmacist, cabinet minister.'

Mr Cameron today said people who arrive in Britain to marry should improve their English within two and a half years or face being asked to leave - even if they have children while they are here.

The Prime Minister said tests will be introduced to check progress on migrants who arrive in Britain on a spousal visa and failure will mean there are no guarantees an individual will be allowed to stay.

Mr Cameron said the new push on language skills was part of a wider strategy to prevent extremism in isolated communities - insisting 'segregation needs to go'.

Some £20million will be available specifically to help women who are isolated in communities which have not integrated properly in Britain.


How your Facebook profile can get you into college: Recruiters reveal 'trigger points' they use to select students

If you think colleges aren’t looking at your social media sites while making their decisions, guess again - a new study has revealed that the number of admissions officers doing this has hit an all-time high.

The survey from Kaplan Test Prep found that there are several ‘trigger points’ that may prompt admissions officers in the U.S. to take a look into social media, and this can help or harm the applicant’s chances of being accepted.

Evidence of community service may be taken into favourable consideration, while posts that reveal negative behaviours could work against a candidate.

Posts revealing leadership and community service can help a prospective student’s chances, while evidence of criminal offences, drug and alcohol use, racial prejudice, and inappropriate behaviour can be damaging.

The Kaplan survey logged the responses of 387 college admissions officers in the U.S.

Quadrupling from 2008, 40 percent of admissions officers admitted to visiting applicants’ social medial profiles.

While most of these visits are ‘rare,’ with 89 percent of officers indicating a low frequency, 11 percent of the participants surveyed said they look at social media ‘often,’ to find out more about prospective students.

Over the past two years, almost a third of admissions officers surveyed have said they Google their applicants, with a stable 29 percent reportedly doing this.

In the survey, 37 percent of officers said that online digging positively affected the application, while the same percentage said their social media findings had a negative impact.

‘The growth of social media hasn’t made college admissions process a whole new ballgame, but it’s definitely changed the rules,’ said Yariv Alpher, executive director of research, Kaplan Test Prep.

Outside of the traditional elements, like GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities, a number of trigger points can influence the decisions. 

If a candidate is applying for scholarships, it’s more likely that the student's background will come under greater scrutiny, to ensure that the applicant is ‘fully deserving.’

Social media can reflect an applicant’s interest in a particular talent, and some college hopefuls will even invite admissions officers to view their pages.

In the past two years, 42 percent of admissions officers reported an increase in these invitations.

Indication of criminal record or disciplinary action can prompt admissions officers to look for more details on the internet.

And, the occasional anonymous tip will send officers looking online for inappropriate behaviours.

In order to avoid self-sabotaging your college application, social media sites should be clean of incriminating content.


Feds Paying High School Teachers To Weed Out Global Warming Skeptics

The Obama administration is desperate to weed out young farmers who question the belief that humans are causing global warming.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will give $150,000 to North Carolina State University for an educational campaign to encourage high school teachers to use more global warming materials for their lessons. The idea is to convince young farmers and future agriculture professionals to pay more attention to global warming.

“Agriculture teachers have considerable influence over future agricultural and natural resource professionals, and adolescents may be less susceptible to worldview-driven biases,” according to the USDA grant write-up.

The NCSU program aims to recruit 40 high school teachers who will “integrate climate change topics into existing Agricultural Science curriculum” to reach 2,000 high school students over two years, reports the Washington Free Beacon.

“Education is critical among the agricultural community because although climate change threatens agricultural sustainability, skepticism of anthropogenic climate change runs high,” according to the grant.

Farmers have been some of the staunchest global warming skeptics, and liberal attempts to win them over have largely failed over the years. A 2009 survey of farmers in Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin found that less than half of them believed in man-made global warming.

For farmers, climate change is a given. These are people who pay close attention to the weather and know it’s highly variable from year to year. One year it’s too hot, the next it’s too cold, and they generally don’t see it as a man-made phenomenon. Farmers are immune to “snowmaggedon” headlines that spark debates among city-folk about how weather is linked to coal plants.

“A farmer in Iowa might deal with a 10-degree-Fahrenheit shift in average temperatures from year to year, so why worry about a 3- or even 4-degree shift over 100 years? As the old saying goes: If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change,” Slate’s David Biello wrote in 2013.


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