Archive | September 17, 2015

U.K. State School Pupils ‘get better degrees’ than Private School Pupils with same A-Levels*

U.K. State School Pupils ‘get better degrees’ than Private School Pupils with same A-Levels*

By Richard Garner

Students who attended state schools are more likely to get top degree passes than former independent school pupils with the same A-level grades, new research shows.

The figures, based on the degree results of all students who graduated in 2013/14, show that 82% of state school pupils got firsts or upper seconds compared with just 73% of those from independent schools.  State school students who scored two Bs and a C at A-level did on average 8% better at degree level than their privately educated counterparts.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust – the charity which campaigns for equal access to education, said the research backed up calls for more to be done to ensure  state school students – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds – were properly represented at university.

The fact that they are more likely to get a better degree than their private school peers shows how important it is to improve access to help able young people fulfil their potential,” he added.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University, said the gap could be down to independent schools stretching their pupils more and getting the best out of them before they went to university. Conversely, some state school pupils are not pushed to their full potential until degree level.

In addition, private school pupils may slow down at university because they are more confident about securing a job whatever their degree score.

Professor Smithers said:

“Independent school pupils tend to go on to better jobs and may be more relaxed about going to university.  They may know they can get an offer of a place in chambers or in the family firm when they leave university.”

The study also prompted concern that white graduates did much better than those from black or ethnic minority backgrounds – with 76% obtaining a first or upper second degree compared to just 60 per cent of those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In addition, girls were more likely to score highly than boys – with 74% gaining top level degree passes compared with 70%.

Graduates from an area with high participation at university were also likely to fare better than those from low participation neighbourhoods – with 77% achieving first or upper seconds compared with 66% from areas with the lowest participation.

Professor Les Ebdon, director of OFFA – the university access watchdog, said the findings show “worrying and unexplained differences in results between groups of students”.

“A significant proportion of black and minority ethnic students, students from disadvantaged neighbourhoods and those who study part-time are getting through a university’s door but then missing out on a first or upper second class degree,” he said.

Madeleine Atkins, chief executive of HEFCE, said:

“Once again, robust analysis shows persistent unexplained differences in degree outcome for particular groups of students.”

Source *

Related Topics:

U.K. Students March for Free Education*

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Iceland’s Capital Bans All Israeli Products Over Palestine*

Iceland’s Capital Bans All Israeli Products Over Palestine*
In a symbolic move aimed at demonstrating support for Palestinian statehood, Iceland’s capital city council voted on Tuesday in favour of boycotting Israeli made products.

The motion was put forward to the Reykjavik city council by Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, a councilwoman for the Social Democratic Movement. Its approval on Wednesday comes as Israel battles a motion by the European Union calling for labelling products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

According to Iceland Magazine, a memorandum of the act describes it as a symbolic demonstration of the city’s support for Palestinian statehood, and a condemnation of Israel’s “policy of apartheid.”

Councilman Sóley Tómasdóttir of the Left Green Alliance, which is part of Iceland’s ruling coalition, also told the magazine that the act could apply pressure on Israel to end what many European countries consider an illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. She added that the city may also apply a similar ban on products manufactured in states accused of violating human rights.

The approval of the act has received immediate condemnation from the Israeli Foreign Ministry which, in reference to Iceland’s volcanic activity, released a statement saying “a volcano of hatred spews forth from the Reykjavik city council building.”

“For no reason or justification, except hatred of for its own sake, calls of boycotting the state of Israel are heard. We hope someone in Iceland will come to their senses and end the one-sided blindness fielded against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”

According to Times of Israel, a local Reykjavik attorney Einar Gautur Steingrímsson said the act is a violation of the Icelandic constitution.

“This is as illegal as refusing to do business with red haired people and it makes no difference whether they justify their decision with references to some alleged actions by the Israelis,” he told an Icelandic news website.

The European Jewish Council has also said that it is considering whether or not to pursue the matter legally, and sue the city council over the ban, citing violations of international law that prohibit discriminatory policies.

The subject of goods manufactured in Israeli settlements has prompted a heated dialogue over labelling these products and banning them. Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the EU’s potential labelling motion by evoking similarities to Nazi Germany.

Source*

Reykjavik City Council to Change Resolution on Ban of Israeli Goods

The Mayor of Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, Dagur B. Eggertsson, announced that Reykjavik’s ban of Israeli goods does not affect all Israeli goods but goods produced in illegally occupied Palestinian territories. The resolution passed by Reykyavik’s City Council earlier this week was ambiguous in its wording, leading many to understand that the ban affects all Israeli goods.

Reykjavik Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson issued a statement on Iceland’s State broadcasting service RUV, saying that the City Council would cancel its previously announced boycott and that the city would limit its ban to Israeli goods produced in illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

The ban adopted by the City Council earlier this week was tabled by Social Democrat Björk Vilhelmsdóttir.

The resolution adopted by the Council did not specify whether the ban affected all Israeli goods or goods produced in occupied Palestinian territories only.

Regardless of the decision to rephrase the ban to be more specific, Reykjavik’s decision to ban goods from occupied territories is still widely perceived as a significant victory for the international Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Faced with sharp criticism last week, Councilwoman Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, of the Social Democratic Alliance. Vilhelmsdóttir said:

“I believe that the city is sending a clear message that it will not purchase products from Israel while Israel oppresses another people on the basis of ethnicity and race, and continues having the wall inside Palestine”.

Reykjavik Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson, for his part, admitted that the text of the resolution had not been prepared well enough, that the wording was ambiguous, led to misunderstandings, and that the text of the resolution would now be changed to be more clear and unambiguous. Dragur added:

“I have stated that it should have been made much clearer in the text, although that’s what we had in mind. I will suggest to the City Council that the motion the way it reads now be withdrawn while we discuss the next steps and how to present it. … I must admit that I’m angry at myself for not having done this the way I wanted.”

The City Council’s decision was faced with harsh criticism from Israel, comparing the City Council with a volcano that was spewing out hatred. The resolution was also harshly criticized by Independence Party Council member Kjartan Magnússon, while Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson described the resolution as “ridiculous”.

Reykjavik City Council adopted the resolution against the backdrop of a sharp rise in Israeli aggression in the occupied Palestinian territories and a systematic crackdown against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Earlier this week the Israeli government authorized the use of life ammunition and sniper fire against “stone throwers”.

The rephrasing of the resolution to be more specific with regards to the ban of goods produced in occupied Palestinian territories does not change the fact that the majority of the members of Reyjkyavik’s City Council have sent an unambiguous signal to Tel Aviv, calling on the Israeli government to end the illegal occupation of Palestine.

The original sponsor of the resolution, Councilwoman Björk Vilhelmsdóttir noted earlier this week that she intended to spend the remainder of 2015 doing humanitarian work in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Related Topics:

Foreign Investment Plummets in Israel*

Israel Changes Bar Code To Avoid Boycott*

U.K.-based Israeli-owned Drone Factory Faced Forced Shutdown*

Illuminati, Nazis & The Illegal State of Israel

Israel Considering Leaving UN Human Rights Council after Gaza Report*

Israel is Bombing Gaza Again and Anonymous Just Hacked the Government In Response*

The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields*

Israel Blocking Repair of Gaza Electricity Grids*

Hackers Shut Down 54 Israeli Govt Sites After “Price Tag” Killers Set Free*

Israeli Soldier Strangle-holds Palestinian Boy*

Israel Uses Child Slave Labour to Plant and Harvest its Agriculture*

Israeli Settlers’ Seize Palestinian Hospital*

Christians Decry Israeli Restrictions on Holy Sites*

Palestine from Sovereignty to an Israeli Enclave*

Muslim Student Suspended and Arrested for Inventing a Clock*

Muslim Student Suspended and Arrested for Inventing a Clock*

By M. David and M.A. Hussein

Irving MacArthur High student Ahmed Mohamed loves science. Mohamed is only 14-years-old, but he has already been in his school’s robotics club, and is a great inventor.

But it was his clever inventions that got him taken away from school, by police, in handcuffs, and sent to the Irving, Texas juvenile detention centre

Police say that he may now face charges of making a hoax bomb, even though he never made any claims that his invention was a bomb, and he never threatened anyone. Apparently the mere presence of a clock in the hands of a Muslim-American youth is enough to make both school officials and the police think that a crime has been committed. The police even acknowledge that Mohamed told everyone who would listen that his invention was a clock. None of that matters in today’s America.

Mohamed makes his own radios and has repaired his own go-kart. He thought that bringing in his new invention – a homemade electronic clock — would impress his teachers at MacArthur High.

But on Monday, when he showed his teachers the circuit-stuffed pencil case, his teachers told him they thought it looked like a bomb, and police agreed.

Now, his clock is sitting in an evidence room. Now, Ahmed has been suspended.

“Here in high school, none of the teachers know what I can do,” Ahmed explained from his room, as the local Dallas News interviewed him.

Ahmed said he hoped that his clock would show the teachers how good he was at throwing together spare parts to make electronic devises.

But when he showed the engineering teacher first thing Monday morning, the teacher could only see his skin colour and religion.

“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,’” Ahmed recalled.

“‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers.’”

In English class, a teacher complained after the alarm went off. He showed her the invention after class and apologized that the alarm had interrupted class.

“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” Mohamed said.

“I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’”

The teacher called the principal. The principal called the police.

Ahmed was pulled out of sixth period and arrested.

Four other police officers waited for the one who grabbed him. Once there, one of the officers said:

“Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

Ahmed had never seen him before, so he had no choice but to assume that this meant the officer had racially profiled him.

The principal and police told him that unless he signed a confession statement then he would be expelled from school.

“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Ahmed recalled.

“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.’”

The officers interrogated him for several periods, never letting up.

Even now, the police admit “we have no information that he claimed it was a bomb,” McLellan said.

“He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation.”

Police say they are “still investigating.”

Watch the interview with Ahmed below…

“They thought, ‘How could someone like this build something like this unless it’s a threat?’” Ahmed stated.

“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, said.

“But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”

Ahmed Mohamed is still at home on suspension, and facing potential criminal charges for inventing a clock. He never committed any crime other than being a brown Muslim teenager in Texas.

If you are sick and tired of racist cops and school officials persecuting members of minority groups, call the Irving Police Department at (972) 273-1010 and MacArthur High at (972) 600-7200 and let them know how you feel!

Source*

Obama invites detained Ahmed to take his clock to the White House

Misreporting forced ‘clock boy’ Ahmed to flee U.S.

Teen inventor Ahmed Mohamed, the Muslim boy famous for bringing a homemade clock to school that was mistaken for a bomb, was forced to leave the U.S. due to flawed reporting, made-up facts, and general misinformation in the media, one of his attorneys tells RT.

There has been a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about what happened,” Susan Hutchinson, Mohamed’s family attorney said.

There is misinformation about [Ahmed’s family’s] connection with other groups of people, the basis of their Muslim faith, about their activities in the Muslim community… there’s just a lot of wrong information out there […] rumors and things made-up by some people in the media,” she stressed.

The attorney also noted that the misunderstandings began as soon as the story first broke. In September of last year, 14-year-old Ahmed was pulled out of class and arrested at his high school in Irving, Texas, after he brought a self-made digital clock to class to show his teacher. He was handcuffed, taken to a juvenile detention center, questioned by police, fingerprinted, and photographed for mugshots, before finally being released without charges.  Moreover, he was threatened with expulsion if he refused to sign a confession saying he intended to bring a “hoax bomb” to school, according to his lawyers.

The boy later said he “felt like he was not human” while being treated like a criminal. Ahmed was suspended from school even after police inspected his invention and found nothing resembling a bomb.

The boy received worldwide support, with #IStandWithAhmed hashtag trending number one for a while, and even got an invitation to visit President Barack Obama in the White House, controversies in media coverage resulted in Ahmed receiving death threats, Hutchinson said.

There were reports that it really was a bomb, that Ahmed’s father planned the whole thing – although how can he possibly plan a false arrest by the Irving Police department?

“[…] There was never an accurate picture that this boy had made this very crude little alarm clock that he put in his pencil box from the seventh grade in order to impress his teacher,” Hutchinson explained.

Ahmed had to move to Qatar, where he was invited to take part in the Young Innovators Program run by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. He briefly returned to the US last week to attend a court hearing, as his family has filed a lawsuit against the school and city of Irving, citing unlawful actions towards the teenager. His attorney said her job now is to clear up the controversies surrounding the boy’s image in the media so that he can one day return home without fear.

“[Ahmed’s] life has changed drastically. He and his family have moved half way around the world […] I think they have received some threats to their safety.

“My job is to clear that up enough to where there is not any problem with his safety and he is able to come back if he chooses to do that.

“[People] need to really see him for who he is – this curious sweet 14 year old boy – and I think when people actually understand that, then the negative emotional aspect of it all will go away,” Hutchinson suggested.

Related Topics:

UK Schools Are Making Muslim Children Take ‘Counter Extremism’ Tests*

Arrested and Held in Psych Ward Because Cops Didn’t Believe as a Black Woman She Owns BMW*

Britain Moves from Democracy to Authoritarian State in Pernicious Veil of Secrecy*

Britain Moves from Democracy to Authoritarian State in Pernicious Veil of Secrecy*

By Graham Vanbergen

One should not forget that “Openness and participation are antidotes to surveillance and control”.

When David Cameron won the 2015 election one of the first things he said was; “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone”. This ominous statement immediately threw a dark shroud over Britain’s civil liberties laws, its openness and participation.

Few of the mainstream establishment press thought this was worthy of mention. From ZeroHedge – It’s not just those domestic extremists and crazy “conspiracy theory” kooks who took serious issue with UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s overtly fascist language when it comes to freedom of expression in Great Britain”. The Independent was more sanguine – “This is the creepiest thing David Cameron has ever said”

New powers being brought in by the Conservatives should be of great concern to everyone. They are expected to be the introduction of banning orders for organisations who use hate speech in public places, but whose activities fall short of proscription and include;

  1. New Extremism Disruption Orders to restrict people who seek to radicalise young people;
  2. Powers to close premises where extremists seek to influence others;
  3. Strengthening the powers of the Charity Commission to root out charities who misappropriate funds towards extremism and terrorism;
  4. Further immigration restrictions on extremists;
  5. A strengthened role for Ofcom to take action against channels which broadcast extremist content.

Simply take out the word ‘extremist’ from those five points and you have the existence of something completely different. Of course you could be forgiven for thinking that the government would not abuse such laws. But they already allow for such abuses to take place on current terror laws, for instance:

  1. The BBC is using laws designed to catch terrorists and organised crime networks to track down people who dodge the £145.50 licence fee.
  2. The Metropolitan Police Service has also come under fire for using the same powers to access the phone logs of journalists on two newspapers to trace their protected sources.
  3. In addition, Big Brother Watch discovered 372 councils had been authorised (by gov’t) to use the terror laws 9,607 times -the equivalent of around eleven spying missions a day to hunt down non-payment of council tax.
  4. Seven public authorities, including the BBC, refused under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose why or how often they had used the powers. The BBC now refuses 48% of such requests.

What is most striking about these events are that publicly funded bodies such as the BBC, the Police and local authorities are refusing to answer perfectly reasonable Freedom of Information Act requests. They are exercising powers they shouldn’t have but were given by a government that the electorate were not consulted on and do not approve of in the first place.

There is proof that local authorities have even used terror laws to surveillance dog fouling, underage sunbed users and people breaking smoking bans.

Now that the Conservative government in Britain has its feet under the desk it is preparing to enact new legislation that, under the guise of the “war on terror,” that will vastly expand police-state powers and essentially criminalise speech and other political activity.

Presented officially as an anti-terrorism bill, the proposed measures will be targeted at any popular opposition to the government’s policies of aggressive militarism abroad and austerity measures in Britain, or for that matter anything the government deems worthy of oppressing.

The new bill will include a series of measures targeting groups and individuals deemed by the government to be “extremist.” This term is defined so vaguely as to encompass a wide array of political activity.

The new bill will create extremist “disruption orders” for individuals and “banning orders” for groups. The targets for these new police powers will be those who have conducted “harmful” behaviour.

The “harmful” behaviour covers activities that pose “a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, even alarm or just distress or creating a ‘threat to the functioning of democracy’.”

This will be used to criminalise campaigns critical of government policy and protests, which are frequently dispersed by the police on precisely the grounds that they disrupt public order. The language also indicates that the government would have the authority to target those merely planning such activity prior to it taking place – and they would do that through mass surveillance.

UK intelligence agency GCHQ has already been caught acting unlawfully by spying on two international human rights organisations. In addition, last year it was revealed that GCHQ were illegally eavesdropping on sacrosanct lawyer-client conversations in order to both disrupt and make gains on negotiations. GCHQ failed to follow its own secret procedures.

 “If spying on human rights NGOs isn’t off-limits for GCHQ, then what is?” said Privacy International.

From here we can see we now have a vast illegal state surveillance system that Mussolini would have had wet dreams about. The government is slowing closing down Britain’s very open society and they intend on doing so using one of Britain’s finest philosophers and a well tried theory.

The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a single watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly.

The internet has become the architecture of the state managed panopticon.

Speaking to the Guardian weeks after his appointment as the UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci described British surveillance oversight as being “a joke”, and said the situation is worse than anything George Orwell could have foreseen.

Terror laws we have are already being abused. One is reminded of 82 year old Mr Wolfgang‘s pass being seized and he then detained under the Terrorism Act for interrupting Tony Blair’s speech at the Labour party conference in 2005.

Some of the most egregious cases of misuse include: a council in Dorset putting three children and their parents under surveillance to check they were in the catchment area for the school they had applied to.

Like the prisoners of Jeremy Bentham’s building – there is nowhere to hide in the panopticon.

report by the House of Lords Constitution Committee, Surveillance: Citizens and the State, had warned in 2009 that increasing use of surveillance by the government and private companies was a serious threat to freedoms and constitutional rights, stating, “The expansion in the use of surveillance represents one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War. The government’s of 2010 and 2015 have taken no notice at all.

Tempora‘ was one such government mass surveillance and spying programme among many. It is alleged that GCHQ produces larger amounts of metadata than America’s NSA. By May 2012 300 GCHQ analysts and 250 NSA analysts had been assigned to sort data.

The amount and type of data collected and stored is mind-boggling. Every email, phone call, location data, relationships, family and friends, affairs, work, income, expenditure, social habits, it simply has no end. You would not write down the passwords to your email account, bank or Amazon account, social media platforms and give a stranger the list. But that is exactly what GCHQ and other organisations have got.

Optic Nerve‘, another UK state surveillance mission, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing. They have stored naked pictures of you, your little daughter and pictures you have sent to family and friends in a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy. This was a biometric exercise of epic scale – collating nearly 2 million citizen images in just a few months.

On May 13th 2013, Edward Snowden made a dash via Hong Kong to Moscow. That June the spying and surveillance revelations came forth. And what came forth was the stunning realisation that our government has been lying to us about the sheer scale of state surveillance conducted on a truly industrial scale.

Not happy with all this illegal state activity over its citizens, new orders that the government are now seeking contain bans on individuals broadcasting their views on television, and anyone subject to an order will be compelled to submit any written publication, including social media posts, to the police before it is printed. In addition, the orders will make it illegal for individuals to attend or address public gatherings or protests.

Banning orders will allow the government to outlaw any organisations it feels is not in their interests. If such a move is taken, anyone found to be a member of such an organisation will be guilty of a criminal offence. Authorities will also be able to shut down premises used by groups.

Human rights group Privacy International branded the new proposal as an “assault on the rights of ordinary British citizens.”

As the Guardian ’s home affairs editor wrote in an analysis of the proposal,

“the official definition of non-violent extremism is already wide-ranging” and, as Big Brother Watch has pointed out, the national extremism database already includes the names of people who have done little more than organise meetings on environmental issues.”

Last year the government even attempted to hold an entire terrorism trial in secret before abandoning it at the last minute.

Together with a sweeping attack on democratic rights and legal norms, the Conservatives’ anti-terror bills will further advance the government’s right-wing agenda. Cameron’s proposals make clear that the Conservatives are determined to vastly expand the repressive powers of the state.

In little more than five years the state has gone from an open society of democratic principle to one that resembles an authoritarian state. Soon, it will be impossible to have a dinner party with friends without the state knowing about it and wanting to know the purpose of your gathering. Quite the opposite of his ‘big society’.

The conduct of the British government and its intelligence services are acting under a pernicious veil of secrecy to the detriment of all citizens.

Source*

Related Topics:

U.K.’s “Anti-extremism” Plan Brings Repression at Home and War Abroad*

U.K. Placing Justice Beyond Reach*

Quest to Kill Human Rights Act in U.K.*

U.K. Magistrate Resigns over New Court Fee that Forces Innocent to Plead Guilty’*

U.K.’s Israeli Lobby gets a Seat on the House of Lords*

U.K. City Installs ‘Giant Eyes’ to Spy on Citizens*

U.K. Cyber Brigade Serves to Spread Lies on Social Networks*

UK Bishop Warns Of ‘A Slide Towards Ever Greater State Control’ as Pressure Mounts On Christians*