Day: October 4, 2020

Private schools treated like ‘society’s villains’ because of ‘stereotyping and prejudice’, says top headteacher

Private schools are the victims of “stereotyping and prejudice” and people should stop treating them as “society’s villains”, a top headteacher will argue on Monday.

Sally-Anne Huang, the first female high master of St Paul’s School in London, will also say that private schools can help “heal” UK society from the “multiple wounds” it has sustained from Covid-19.

Ms Huang has just taken over as chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, a group of 296 elite private schools.

In a speech to kick off the HMC annual conference she will claim that private schools have been unfairly vilified.

‘Society’s villains’

“As head of an HMC school I expect to be cast as one of society’s villains,” she will say.

“I still get out of bed every day to improve things for young people and, increasingly in recent years, not just the young people in my own school. So I’m not sure why I should be judged more harshly than those in other professions… to quote Rizzo from Grease – ‘there are worse things I could do’”.

She will say anti-private school sentiment is a “well-worn type of stereotyping and prejudice” which heads “are used to”, but that criticism has got worse because of increased polarisation in society.

‘Someone to blame’

“What I do think is new and troubling is the increasing tendency across society as a whole to look for difference and division rather than common ground,” she will say. “To look for someone to blame, rather than a solution to a shared problem.

“At HMC, we are often the people who are blamed, and, although I would be the first to acknowledge the difference between our budgets and those on offer to our colleagues in state schools, the reality is, we are willing and able to help with the problem.

“Members will all know that, when we spend time with state school heads, we have more that unites than divides us. I don’t believe state school heads have spent the last six months wishing that independent schools didn’t exist but, I do know that they have wished for better-timed announcements, clarity and consistency over exam results and consideration for the mental health of their colleagues and pupils. As have we.”

‘Healing’ UK

She will say that after Covid, “healing” needs to take place in the UK to restore the country “in terms of inclusion, education and economics”.

“The UK needs its most successful institutions, institutions like ours, more than ever before, to help it heal.”

Private schools have long been accused of entrenching privilege, and in 2019 delegates at the Labour conference even passed a motion calling for the effective abolition of the sector.

In the wake of the pandemic, critics have taken issue with the greater resources that independent schools are able to devote to their pupils compared to the state sector, including in some cases access to private Covid testing.

No ‘snowflakes’

In her speech, Ms Huang will also

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Coronavirus latest: UK cases surge as government says technical fault affects testing data

Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe in London

The number of positive coronavirus cases within the UK surged again on Sunday, with the government admitting that “technical” issues had caused delays in the publication of test results.

A record 22,961 new coronavirus cases were confirmed on Sunday, an increase of more than 10,000 compared with 12,872 on Saturday.

The government said a technical issue had been identified overnight on Friday “in the automated process that transfers positive cases data” to Public Health England.

As a result, the number of coronavirus cases announced on Saturday and Sunday included 15,841 additional cases from between September 25 and Friday. Last night, the government said that the issue, though resolved, would affect case numbers in the next few days.

A message on the coronavirus data dashboard on Saturday warned that data published in the next few days would “include some additional cases” from between September 24 and October 1.

In an interview with BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson argued that government testing data was still “reliable” and called the recent problems a “computing error.”

He said: “All the people who had a positive test have now been notified and I think the data that we have is realistic, and again it’s very useful in helping us to identify you know where the incidence is and what we need to do to tackle it.”

Boris Johnson, left, is interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday

Mr Johnson defended his testing system, arguing that while it was not “perfect” and he remained “frustrated” with it, testing had “made a huge difference” to the government’s ability to track the virus’ growth.

“I think by international comparators it is really very, very good indeed and yes it could be a lot better, but we’re going to get a lot better. And by the way they’re going to get up to 500,000 tests a day by the end of this month,” he added.

The latest figures follow growing criticism from Labour who have accused the government of “serial incompetence” and have called for greater “clarity”.

Speaking to Andrew Marr ahead of Mr Johnson’s interview, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth argued that the testing system was “simply not working” and said the lockdown rules appeared to “chop and change all over the place.”

He said: “We support local restrictions, but what people want is clarity… So we need clarity on why an area goes into restrictions, clarity on how an area gets out of restrictions.”

Mr Ashworth said local authorities should have control over the testing system and the tracing system. “The Serco call centre is simply not working. In Bradford, in Oldham it’s around 50 per cent of contacts are getting traced. No wonder they’re failing to get on top of the infection.”

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Under new law, even death can’t stop some Massachusetts voters this election

Of course, how many will have their ballots counted from beyond the veil this November is unclear, as is the number of those who legally voted by mail but died before the state’s Sept. 1 primary, when the new rules also applied.

“There’s a lot of things we haven’t seen before,” Ilene Simons, Salem’s city clerk, said of this year’s unprecedented election season. “I understand the theory behind it: They were alive when they cast their ballot and they really wanted to vote. If I was in that situation and I was able to, I would want to vote in my last election. I get it.”

State lawmakers in July expanded the options amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, passing a bill that allows every registered voter in Massachusetts this fall to cast a ballot by mail, green-lighting early voting for the state primary, and expanding the in-person early voting period for the Nov. 3 general election.

The law also included language, though it received little attention at the time, that barred election officials this year from rejecting an absentee or early ballot “solely because the voter became ineligible to vote by reason by death after casting the ballot.”

Senator Barry R. Finegold, cochairman of the Committee on Election Laws, said lawmakers made the change to provide consistency with the different ways people could vote.

“Let’s say you vote [in person] at 9 a.m. and you drop dead of a heart attack at 10 a.m.,” Finegold said. In that scenario, the vote would still count, he said. “We felt that with [voting by] mail you needed to be consistent, as long as you put your ballot in the mail.”

As many as 11 states have similar laws, including Florida, where every ballot must be counted “even if the elector dies on or before election day,” and Hawaii, which last year changed its law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many states don’t have statutes addressing the issue, and as of two years ago, at least 17 explicitly rejected such ballots, including Massachusetts, according to the NCSL, which tracks state legislation nationwide.

But while nearly two dozen states have modified their rules to expand mail-in voting during the health crisis, Massachusetts appears to be the only one that amended its law this year to count ballots of those who vote early or absentee but die before Election Day, according to NCSL researchers.

“The fact that in 2020 so much about absentee voting has been brought to the forefront, people are looking at things in detail that they never had reason to look at before,” said Wendy Underhill, director of elections for the NCSL.

Amid the expansion of voting options, election security has consumed national attention as President Trump has spent months railing against mail-in voting, claiming that it’s a magnet for widespread fraud. There has been no evidence that is the case.

Trump in 2016 also wrongly claimed that “people that have died 10 years ago are still voting,” giving

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BBC – Travel – Harambee: The law of generosity that rules Kenya

A year ago, I attended a fundraiser for a wedding in an affluent Nairobi neighbourhood called Lavington. As the sweltering midday heat hung in the air, a buzz of laughter and excitement echoed through the crowded tent. Many of the guests were newly graduated environmental activists and young entrepreneurs who openly carried wads of cash, eager to uplift the engaged couple in need. Just as I was getting lost in conversation, the master of ceremony tapped the microphone twice and asked, “Shall we begin this harambee?”

The word means ‘all pull together’ in Kiswahili, Kenya’s national language

A long-standing Kenyan tradition, a harambee is a type of self-help event that’s deeply ingrained in the moral compass of the country. The word means “all pull together” in Kiswahili, Kenya’s national language. It is the nation’s official motto; it appears on the country’s coat of arms; and it encompasses a concept of placing the group before the individual. For us Kenyans, a harambee represents an unwritten law of generosity, and regardless of class, ethnic group, gender or religious background, we will lend a hand to assist anyone in need.

Broadly speaking, a harambee can be anything from a fundraising event to emotional support to a simple favour. Whenever an individual is facing a significant rite of passage or life event – such as a wedding, educational opportunity, serious illness or a relative’s funeral – and needs help, they will contact an elder family member or tribal leader. This leader will then call a meeting with other elders, and if the issue is deemed significant enough to warrant the strength of the community, they will share the issue with the individual’s family, friends and co-workers and organise a harambee. Those in attendance often contribute money, services or emotional and physical support, and expect nothing in return.

According to historian Njuguna Ng’ethe at the University of Nairobi, the idea of harambee originated when Swahili porters needed to band together to lift something heavy. Whenever one person would shout “Harambee!”, the porters would lift the object together at the same time. Yet, according to Kenyan folklore, harambee was born when some 30,000 Indian migrants arrived in Mombasa in the 1890s to help build the Kenya-Uganda railway at the behest of the British. As they worked alongside Kenyans, the Indians called on Hare, the divine potency of God, and Ambe, the goddess of power, energy and invincibility. The Kenyan workers often joined in, and soon, this combined Indian chant of “Hare” and “Ambe” became a uniquely Kenyan rallying call of unification.

Harambee was more than a motto, it symbolised Kenyan unity, patriotism and, most importantly, the future

The term gained national prominence in May 1963 when Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, evoked the concept during his election day victory speech. Kenya had just gained independence from British rule and Kenyans were eager to pull the country together, build a new, post-colonial nation and embark on a journey towards self-determination.

“I would suggest we use

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my anger over the way society treats abused women

Samantha Morton has revealed that she gets angry over the way society treats abused women.

The Harlots star was appearing on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs and opened up about growing up in care homes and her mother’s mental health issues.

Speaking to host Lauren Laverne, she said as a child she was unable to live with her mum Pamela but “wouldn’t be who I am today” without her.

She added: “But I am fuming at how society behaves around mental health issues for women.”My mum had a very, very traumatic childhood. And it’s fascinating now as a mother and as a woman growing up to go ‘wow’.”

Raised in care

Samantha, 43, who was born in Nottingham, was made a ward of court after her parents divorced in 1979 as neither could look after her.

Describing her mother as “kind, subservient. vulnerable, funny” and “beautiful”, she said: “She is a saint in a way to me.

“There’s something fascinating in what I did get from her from not getting what I thought I wanted from her. I was not privy to seeing her when she was very poorly when I was very small with her mental health issues. That’s what people were rude about and mean about.”

Samantha said her mother was abused as a child and added: “Women aren’t allowed to be angry if they’d been raped or sexually abused – things weren’t talked about.”

Morton, who has been nominated for two Oscars, told Laverne that she was sexually abused while in care and added: “People abused positions of power.”

She said she has “absolute forgiveness” and understanding for everybody who mistreated her, but will never forget what they did.

“I think that people in a professional role have a duty of care, not only to the children that they’re looking after, to do their jobs properly.

Forgiveness

“And I think a lot of people failed in those jobs in regards to me and many of my friends, my foster siblings, my siblings, and I just wish certain individuals would put their hands up and say, ‘Yeah, we were wrong, we could have done better.’

“But people don’t want to admit any liability in the culture that we are now because it’s like, people get sued or… what’s that gonna achieve?”

Unless people say, ‘We got it wrong, we want to get it right’, how are we going to change?”

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Judge: Vanity plate law likely violates First Amendment

AP

October 4, 2020 | 4:01 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island law allowing the Division of Motor Vehicles to reject vanity license plates that are “offensive to good taste” likely violates the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled.

The judge issued a preliminary injunction Friday in support of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law, which gives the DMV administrator the authority to deny vanity plates based on whether he or she thinks they “might carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency.”

The lawsuit was filed in March against Walter Craddock, state DMV administrator, by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island on behalf of Sean Carroll.

Carroll, a Tesla owner, was ordered by the DMV to turn in his plate “FKGAS” or have his registration canceled after the division received a complaint about the plate.

Carroll said the plate was his daughter’s suggestion, intending a meaning of “fake gas” to refer to the electric car. He doesn’t contest, however, that the plate could also be perceived as sending a different message that included profanity; he was supportive of that one, too.

The division has approved over 41,000 vanity plates, denied dozens of others, and maintains a list of more than 1,000 prohibited license plate combinations. The suit noted the arbitrary nature of the list and the DMV’s decisions; the judge agreed.

The state argued that the case should be dismissed, saying that licenses plates reflected government speech, not private speech, the law was reasonable, and that Carroll hadn’t established his case.

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Global efforts required to realise low carbon society: energy expert

The current energy saving goals and renewable energy policy in EAS (East Asia Summit) countries will contribute to reducing fossil fuel consumption as well as CO2 emissions mitigation, a senior official from the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) said.

At the recent GECF Monthly Lecture Series on “EAS Energy Outlook”, special adviser (Energy Affairs) to ERIA President, Shigeru Kimura said unless the US and China take the lead on this transformation, any shift towards the low carbon society will be inadequate.
Special adviser (Energy Affairs) to ERIA President, Shigeru Kimura was speaking at the recent GECF Monthly Lecture Series on ‘EAS Energy Outlook’

“Further, seeing the ASEAN transition from 2017 to 2050 … the region is actually increasing coal, increasing natural gas, and increasing oil, but the renewables only get a little bit rise. That is the ASEAN reality,” Kimura noted during the online lecture.
EAS is a regional grouping of 18 countries, which brings together the Asean nations and countries in the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the US.
The Jakarta-based ERIA has worked extensively with the EAS, particularly with its Energy Cooperation Task Force (ECTF) in driving its three major streams of promotion of energy efficiency and conservation (EEC), penetration of biofuels, and renewable and alternative power generation with research and data.
ERIA also compiles the biennial energy outlook of the EAS.
Appreciating the detailed presentation on the mechanics of the EAS Energy Outlook, GECF secretary general Yury Sentyurin said, “The suggestions you have made regarding the low carbon society are important for the GECF because we recognise the vital and crucial role that natural gas will play in energy transition and sustainable development, as well as in post-pandemic recovery.
“ERIA’s own projections (2015-2050) show that energy consumption in this important region of the world will increase by 2.5 times, while power generation demand will increase by three times during the same period. Here, I see potential for fuel substitution, especially in the power generation and transport sectors, if gas-based infrastructure affordability grows and more favourable policy measures are undertaken,” noted Sentyurin, while highlighting that these recommended steps are in line with the 2019 Malabo Declaration of the 5th GECF Gas Summit of Heads of State and Government, which also emphasises the importance of cooperation amongst various stakeholders.
The latest edition of the EAS Energy Outlook (2019-2020) estimates that the East Asia Summit countries will witness 3.1% increase in economic growth annually between 2017 and 2050, while its population will increase from 3.89bn in 2017 to 4.43bn in 2050.
At the same time until 2050, the share of fossil fuels in the EAS will be more than 80% in the business-as-usual scenario and 70% in the case of alternative-policy-scenario.
The EAS Energy Outlook also forecasts that between 2017 and 2050 the share of natural gas in the final energy consumption of the EAS region will increase from 12% to 14%.
According to Kimura, policymakers make informed decisions

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UK government says it will reform ‘broken’ asylum system

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s interior minister vowed Sunday to stop people entering the country clandestinely and to fix what she called a “broken” asylum system, echoing commitments that have been made and broken by U.K. governments for years.



FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 file photo, Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel addresses the delegates at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, England. Britain’s interior minister vowed Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 to stop people entering the country clandestinely and to fix what she called a “broken” asylum system, echoing commitments that have been made and broken by U.K. governments for years. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government would bring in new laws so it could “stop those who come here illegally making endless legal claims to remain” and “expedite the removal of those who have no claim for protection.” (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 file photo, Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel addresses the delegates at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, England. Britain’s interior minister vowed Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 to stop people entering the country clandestinely and to fix what she called a “broken” asylum system, echoing commitments that have been made and broken by U.K. governments for years. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government would bring in new laws so it could “stop those who come here illegally making endless legal claims to remain” and “expedite the removal of those who have no claim for protection.” (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government would bring in new laws so it could “stop those who come here illegally making endless legal claims to remain” and “expedite the removal of those who have no claim for protection.”

Patel said in a speech to a virtual Conservative Party conference that the changes would be “the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades.”

She said Britain would continue to “provide safe haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny.”

Patel’s hardline rhetoric was designed to appeal to voters concerned at a surge in the number of people crossing the English Channel from France in small boats. Thousands have made the journey this year, most over the summer.

Opposition Labour Party immigration spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds said the Conservatives were “devoid of compassion and competence” on immigration.

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain by stowing away in trucks or on ferries. Many appear to have turned to small boats organized by smugglers during the coronavirus pandemic because virus restrictions have reduced vehicle traffic between France and Britain.

Patel’s speech follows reports in recent weeks that the government considered ideas including building a wave machine in the Channel to deter boats and processing asylum-seekers on Ascension Island, a remote volcanic island more than 4,000 miles (6,435 kilometers) from the U.K.

The government dismissed some of the more far-fetched claims, but Patel said she would “explore all practical measures and options to deter illegal migration.”

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UK Government Says It Will Reform ‘Broken’ Asylum System | World News

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s interior minister vowed Sunday to stop people entering the country clandestinely and to fix what she called a “broken” asylum system, echoing commitments that have been made and broken by U.K. governments for years.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government would bring in new laws so it could “stop those who come here illegally making endless legal claims to remain” and “expedite the removal of those who have no claim for protection.”

Patel said in a speech to a virtual Conservative Party conference that the changes would be “the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades.”

She said Britain would continue to “provide safe haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny.”

Patel’s hardline rhetoric was designed to appeal to voters concerned at a surge in the number of people crossing the English Channel from France in small boats. Thousands have made the journey this year, most over the summer.

Opposition Labour Party immigration spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds said the Conservatives were “devoid of compassion and competence” on immigration.

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain by stowing away in trucks or on ferries. Many appear to have turned to small boats organized by smugglers during the coronavirus pandemic because virus restrictions have reduced vehicle traffic between France and Britain.

Patel’s speech follows reports in recent weeks that the government considered ideas including building a wave machine in the Channel to deter boats and processing asylum-seekers on Ascension Island, a remote volcanic island more than 4,000 miles (6,435 kilometers) from the U.K.

The government dismissed some of the more far-fetched claims, but Patel said she would “explore all practical measures and options to deter illegal migration.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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More than 1,000 UK pubs urge the government to rethink 10pm curfews

In September, the UK government announced that all businesses in the sector, including pubs, bars and restaurants can only offer table service and must close at 10pm. Photo: Getty
In September, the UK government announced that all businesses in the sector, including pubs, bars and restaurants can only offer table service and must close at 10pm. Photo: Getty

UK pub owners are “angry” with the government, as more than 1,000 publicans signed an open letter to Rishi Sunak pleading for more government support and to rethink the 10pm curfews.

In the letter organised by grassroots organisation Campaign for Pubs, owners accused Sunak of “scapegoating pubs” and “ignoring the needs of pubs, publicans, staff and their families” in his Winter Economy Plan.

In September, the government’s announced that all businesses in the sector, including pubs, bars and restaurants can offer table service only and must close at 10pm, after UK coronavirus cases spiked.

Campaign for Pubs said owners signed the letter because there is “real anger among licensees about the 10pm curfew, which has no scientific basis, but which makes it impossible for some pubs reliant on Friday and Saturday night trade to operate profitably.”

Members are seeking an urgent package of support from the government, warning that if Sunak doesn’t listen to their calls that “he and the government will be directly responsible for mass pub closures, job losses and hardship among thousands of families reliant on the pub trade.”

The letter calls for:

  • 5% (or even better zero) VAT on all sales in pubs

  • Grants to cover full costs if pubs cannot viably trade with the current restrictions and have to close temporarily

  • A business rates holiday extension, with a complete overhaul for business rates for pubs prior to recommencing

  • A statutory right to an immediate rent review for all pubs, to tackle the fact many pubs are facing wholly unreasonable rent levels, considering the government restrictions and reduced trade

READ MORE: Coronavirus: UK government unveils ‘Winter Economy Plan’ to protect jobs and firms

The signatures coincide with the second weekend of pubs operating with the new COVID-19 restrictions.

Pub owners across the country reported a “60% to 70%” drop in trade, with many members telling Campaign for Pubs that Friday 2 October was “the worst Friday ever.”

One member said: “I don’t even want to talk about how soul-destroying last night was.”

“I’m 25% down from my break-even point for the second week in a row can’t carry losses for too much longer will have to make some decisions Monday,” another pub owner added.

Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and licensee of 3 pubs in York, Paul Crossman, said: “1,000 publicans up and down the country have now signed our open letter calling on the government to urgently support pubs and review the questionable recent restrictions.

“These latest measures have consigned thousands of pubs and other hospitality venues to a nightmarish limbo. Pubs that are normally perfectly viable, and that contribute enormously to the economy and the public purse, not to mention the wellbeing of their communities, have been rendered non-viable overnight.

“It is clearly unreasonable for them to be expected to continue trading

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