Hey, big spender

first_img Comments are closed. Hey, big spenderOn 1 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article TheLSC has £6bn to make the Learning Age a reality, but will this be lost inbureaucracy? In this three-page special we look at hopes for its future andoffer a guide to Britain’s new learning landscape. By Elaine EsseryThismonth sees what David Blunkett hails as the most significant and far-reachingreform in post-16 education and training ever enacted in this country. From2 April 2001 the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) takes on the responsibilityto plan, fund, monitor and improve the quality of post-16 learning up to highereducation. TheLSC is a huge body responsible for around 7 million learners and £6bn of publicmoney, and charged with meeting the economy’s short-term and long-term needs.It is also the first time that a public body has had a statutory duty placedupon it to encourage participation in learning.   Thenew arrangements are designed as a long-term strategy to help realise theGovernment’s vision of a learning society set out in the Learning Age GreenPaper, published in 1998. Previousorganisational arrangements for post-16 learning have not worked well, says theSecretary of State, “There have been three separate systems, each workingdifferently for the purpose of planning, funding, auditing and inspection.”Focuson quality “Interactionbetween these systems has resulted in incoherence and complexity, andinsufficient focus on quality. “Unhelpfulcompetition and large overheads meant that too little of the allocated funding reachedindividual learners and employers.”Throughintegration, the new system aims to overcome duplication and overlap ofprovision, provide effective co-ordination and strategic planning, with a focuson skill and employer needs at national, regional, sectoral and locallevel.    Supportingthe national LSC are 47 local LSCs, each with boards made up of representativesfrom industry and education. LocalLSCs are allocated a budget from the council to pay for most provision througha nationally-determined funding system, but volumes of learning will beallocated locally. Eachlocal LSC also has a significant local initiatives fund which it can useflexibly to meet local needs. At both levels, the success of LSCs will dependon strong partnerships and effective linkages with a wide range oforganisations. Among others, they will need to work closely with the SmallBusiness Service, the Employment Service, the Connexions careers service,Regional Development Agencies, local learning partnerships and – not least –employers.  “Iwant the council to engage employers in new ways and for council members, atboth national and sub-regional level, to make strong links with employers,their representative bodies, and sector-based National Training Organisations,”says Blunkett.“Thisnew engagement will help ensure that we have more employers who are betterinformed about, and more actively engaged in shaping our education and trainingsystem,” he says. But how likely is this to happen?RichardWilson, business policy executive at the Institute of Directors, isdisappointed that there are not more employer representatives on LSC boards.“With Tecs, something like two-thirds of their boards came from the businesssector, but with the LSCs, business is in a minority and I think that’s aretrograde step. It’s very important that they listen to what local employersare saying.”GreatercoherenceWilsonviews the combining of arrangements for FE and work-based learning as “a goodmove on the Government’s part” and hopes above all to see greater coherence infunding. “Ihope it will be simpler for employers to understand and approach, because theway Tecs funded work-based training was quite confusing. “Generally,we hope the LSC will be able to raise the proportion of people who havesuitable qualifications, particularly at the intermediate level,” says Wilson.Buthe has concerns about the complexity of the new system and the potential for awaste of money. Wilson’s reaction when he first read the Learning Age GreenPaper was that “it looked like a version of Stalinist central planning”. Hesays, “There are far too many players and I think it needs severerationalisation. I do feel there’s a great danger that a lot of money will bewasted in pure bureaucracy.” NTONational Council is keen to see a post-16 learning and skills infrastructurewhich is clearly demand-led. Policy director Tom Bewick highlights theimportance of the local LSCs. “Theyhave particular responsibility to meet the needs of the local labour market andit’s the first time a body has been under statutory duty to meet the workforcedevelopment needs of employers and individuals in a given area. There’stremendous potential for forging partnerships and funding local provision,” hesays.“Butwe’ve got to find a mechanism of linking employers locally and there’s no easyanswer.” Bewickis also aware of a number of issues surrounding funding which give providerscause for concern. “Wherever you’ve got a major change to the system there’sgoing to be some instability and I know some training providers are not happywith some of the changes,” he says. “Theimportant thing is there appears to be a commitment from the LSC to ensure asteady-state situation when it gets up and running.” HarshcriticismNickMorrissey, chief executive of Seta is one provider who has harsh criticism ofthe new system (see News, page 3). Seta delivers engineering training under theEMTA (NTO for engineering manufacture) Modern Apprenticeship framework tocompanies in the Southampton area. LikeWilson, Morrissey was looking forward to greater coherence on the funding frontand a more level playing field than under the system administered by Tecs. Nowhe estimates his business will face a £200,000 drop in funding in the transitionfrom the old system to the new.  “Theway it’s been handled is an absolute shambles. We’ve been asked to put ourbusinesses on the line and sign contracts without fully knowing the financialimplications and what’s going to happen next if the risk is high. “Themechanism is not well thought-out, they haven’t consulted on the detailsufficiently and it’s a mess,” Morrissey says. “The DfEE has taken on far morethan it can cope with.” Themain problem is that the new funding rates will not kick in immediately so acomplicated system of cushioning and damping, based on 1999/2000 figures, hasbeen devised to protect providers who would be worse off or better off,respectively, under the new system. Seta will suffer because its performancedramatically improved during 2000/2001. Seriousproblems“Ironically,cushioning and damping was supposed to stop putting people out of business, butit’s going to mean serious problems for many providers in the next 18 months totwo years,” Morrissey claims.Moreover,extra demands of the new Modern Apprenticeship framework have immediate impacton providers, but the funding is not there to follow. “It doesn’t make sense atall. There’s no joined-up thinking,” says Morrissey. “Forsure, training providers are going to go out of business and there are going tobe people who won’t go for contracts. Inevitably that’s going to mean areduction in training. I suspect that’s not what the DfEE wants: it just hasn’tunderstood it.”Thoseproviders who do remain in business will be subject to inspection by the newAdult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). The Government has made it clear that itwill play a key role in driving up standards and influencing LSC plans throughits findings. DavidSherlock, chief executive and chief inspector of the ALI, held a similar rolein the former Training Standards Council. He is looking forward to inspectingeducation and training provision in a much wider range of contexts. “It’sa huge jump from where we were. A particularly interesting change to me is thatwe’ll be taking in much more community-based learning and that will take usinto contact with more people who were previously excluded,” he says. “Secondly,we can now inspect privately-funded provision at the request of industry as aconsultancy service, which is very exciting. We’re already talking to onepublic company about that. We’ll be talking to the CBI and Institute ofDirectors about it and publicising it as our capability of doing it grows.” TheALI has also been asked to inspect, on a cost recovery basis, competency-basedawards overseas where they have been promoted by British Training, now part ofthe British Council. TransformingperspectiveThegreat increase in the remit of the inspectorate transforms the whole perspectiveof inspection from something that was only about the public funding ofrelatively few people to something which could now encompass the whole of adultlearning, where the estimated total spending is around £20bn a year. “Industryspends roughly three times as much as the public purse does, so the scope ispotentially extraordinary,” says Sherlock. Therewill be little change in the conduct of inspection under the ALI. Provisionwill be graded on a numerical five-point scale which providers currently usefor self-assessment. Butthere will be a sharper emphasis on the learning experience and less so on theorganisational context. “Thecommon inspection framework majors on the big questions like, ‘how well dolearners learn – and why?’ It should also enable us to dig out more of the‘whys’ which allow people to adopt good practice,” says Sherlock.Costeffectiveness and value for money will also be a big issue. It is unclearwhether providers who deliver work-based training for young people, which is paidfor by the LSC, and for adults, which is funded by the Employment Service, willbe subject to separate assessments. Sherlockbelieves, however, that it will be possible to make a summary judgement on thequality of each type of provision for the benefit of the relevant funding body,based on what the provider’s contract is intended to achieve. Accordingto Sherlock, providers have nothing to fear from the ALI’s routine inspectionprocess.   “Inspectionis not a punishment for bad practice nor is absence of inspection a reward forgood practice. “Ihope employers and training providers will come to feel that inspection by theALI is part of their quality assurance regime and welcome what we have to do asa contribution to a ‘right first time’ philosophy which they themselves wouldwant to apply.”Who’sout – and who’s inAnat-a-glance guide to the reforms in post-16 provisionOUT:Tecs and FEFCIN: Learning and Skills Council TheLSC is responsible for the planning and funding of all post-16 education andtraining. Its responsibilities include: –FE colleges– School sixth form– Work-based training for young people– Workforce development– Adult and community learning– Information, advice and guidance for adults– Education business linksOUT:Training Standards CouncilIN: Adult Learning Inspectorate TheALI will carry out all inspections previously conducted by the TSC andFEFC.  Its remit covers all post-16work-based training, including:– Education/training which contains an element of workplace experience– All adult learning in colleges– Provision by the UfI’s learndirect– Learning in prisons– Community-based learning– New Deal provision– All work-based training for adults  TheOffice for Standards in Education will inspect learning provision for youngpeople in schools and colleges through to age 19. The ALI and Ofsted will workto a common framework and carry out joint inspections as appropriate. OUT:Further Education Development Agency IN: Learning and Skills Development Agency Feda’sremit has been widened to work across the whole post-16 range and not justfocus on FE. The organisation has changed its name to reflect this. It has beentasked with carrying out research into work-based training and has establisheda new centre for learning and skills research at its headquarters.OUT(by April 2002): Network of 73 NTOsIN: Smaller network of up to 30 sector bodies  Consultationis under way to rationalise the current NTO structure and develop a network offewer, larger sector bodies better able to represent employers’ skill andtraining needs (see ‘NTOs await their fate’).  OUT:National Advisory Council for Education and Training TargetsTherole of Nacett as an employer-led body advising Government on settingeducational and training targets and promoting lifelong learning has beenhanded over to the LSC. OUT:Welsh Tecs and FEFCWIN: National Council for Education and TrainingChangesin Wales arise from the Education and Training Action Plan for Wales. Regionalarms of the National Council will contract with community consortia for theprovision of education and training in the country. Arrangements for Scotlandand Northern Ireland remain the same. NTOswait to learn their fateAsthe new learning and skills arrangements come into force, a major consultationon the future of the National Training Organisation network concludes on 12April 2001.  TheNational Skills Task Force endorsed the important role of NTOs in its finalreport last year, yet highlighted the need for considerable change to thenetwork to make it effective within the new structure. TheGovernment aims to put in place this spring a framework for fewer, larger,stronger and better-resourced NTOs which will have solid employer backing. Thenumber of sector-based bodies has reduced from around 180 Industry TrainingOrganisations, Lead Bodies and Occupational Standards Councils to 73 NTOs. Thisfigure is expected to come down to between 20 and 30 by April 2002. Althoughthe eventual number of recognised sector bodies has not been prescribed, theconsultation document suggests a minimum sector workforce coverage of 500,000people per NTO. Currently 42 NTOs represent sectors with below that number ofemployees. TomBewick, policy director at the NTO National Council, welcomes the Government’sconsultation and has been charged with drawing up proposals for fewer sectorbodies. “Wehave no problem with Government’s vision and commitment to very strong andpowerful sector bodies and agree that a degree of restructuring is necessary,but we haven’t got to lose the important diversity that exists in employmentsectors. “NTOshave come an extremely long way since they were conceived back in 1996 but,given that the whole institutional post-16 map has changed beyond recognition,we have to respond to that positively in a way that gets the best deal foreveryone.” Bewickwill be coming up with proposals that maintain employer involvement and step upto the higher strategic agenda Government is seeking. “Government clearly wantsbodies which are far more influential in articulating the skill needs ofsectors, leading action on workforce development and training issues as well asregularly auditing and reviewing how well the sector is doing,” he says.  Anumber of existing NTOs feel ill-equipped to fulfil those roles, claims Bewick,who is striving for a more rational structure which on the one hand satisfiesthe Government and on the other “ensures that the needs of employers and theeconomy are in the bloodstream of the LSC”, he says.  Modelsthat Bewick has been exploring include turning the current 15 NTO groups intolegal entities to become government-recognised “super-NTOs”. Heis also studying the Canadian and US systems. Canada set up 26 sector councilsseven years ago with initial pump-priming funding from the Government. Nowemployers and unions are collectively taking over responsibility for fundingthem. In the US, 15 national skills standards boards made up of business peopleoversee the setting of occupational standards. “Wewant to be proactive and take positive proposals to the Government,” saysBewick. “Werecognise the concerns and fears of our 73 members, but we’re absolutely determinedto show leadership and make proposals with our members’ backing on what thefuture structure should look like and move forward sensibly,” he says. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

California governor signs law allowing college athletes to profit from endorsements

first_imgI’m so incredibly proud to share this moment with all of you. @gavinnewsom came to The Shop to do something that will change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it! @uninterrupted hosted the formal signing for SB 206 allowing college athletes to responsibly get paid. pic.twitter.com/NZQGg6PY9d— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 30, 2019In a statement to ABC News when lawmakers passed the bill in the Assembly, the NCAA said it was closely monitoring the legislation.“As we evaluate our next steps, we remain focused on providing opportunities and a level playing field for the nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide,” the statement reads.In a letter sent to state Assembly leaders in June, NCAA President Mark Emmert warned that if the legislation becomes law there could be severe consequences for the state’s colleges and universities, including prohibiting athletic teams from participating in NCAA championships.“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that has been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” Emmert wrote in his letter.“Nonetheless, when contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships,” Emmert wrote. “As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student-athletes it intends to assist.”State Sen. Nancy Skinner, a co-author of the bill, said the proposed law would level the playing field for student-athletes against “unfair rules that exploit college athletes and allow the NCAA, universities, TV networks, and corporate sponsors to pocket huge sums.”She said the rules have “disproportionately harmed students from low-income families,” including many who live below the poverty line while attempting to simultaneously fulfill their dreams in the athletic arena and the classroom.“They’re particularly unfair to female athletes because, for many young women, college is the only time they could earn income since women have fewer professional sports opportunities than men,” Skinner’s statement reads.The action taken by California lawmakers appears to be gaining national traction.In March, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., proposed the Student-Athlete Equity Act, bipartisan legislation that would remove the restriction on student-athletes using or being compensated for use of their names, images and likenesses.Some athletes have previously sued the NCAA and video game makers in attempts to get paid for the use of their names and likenesses.Former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, who led the school to an NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship in 1995, was the lead plaintiff in an anti-trust lawsuit that challenged the NCAA’s right to use athletes’ names, images and likenesses without compensation. O’Bannon claimed his name and image were illegally used in video games years after he graduated and without him ever being compensated.A judge presiding over O’Bannon’s case found in 2014 that amateurism rules for college sports violated federal antitrust law and ruled that student-athletes could be compensated as much as $5,000 annually. But an appeals court struck down the plan to pay student-athletes.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailCatLane/iStock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Monday legislation to allow college athletes to earn income for the first time from their names, images and likenesses.The California Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation earlier this year, a move that was praised by NBA star LeBron James.“Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model,” Newsom tweeted on Monday morning, announcing he had signed the legislation, making California “the first state to allow student athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness.”The law, also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, will prohibit California colleges and universities from enforcing NCAA rules preventing student-athletes from being compensated for the use of their names, images and likenesses and from endorsements and sponsorships.The state Assembly passed the bill earlier this month in a 73-0 vote. An earlier version was approved by the state Senate on May 22 and the amended bill was passed by the state Senate, sending it to Newsom’s desk. Written by California can change the game. This is only right waaaayy overdue. #morethananathlete— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 5, 2019The Assembly voted on the bill after LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers tweeted his support for the legislation.“California can change the game,” James, a frequent critic of the NCAA who went straight to the NBA from high school, said in his tweet. Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model.I just signed the Fair Play to Pay Act with @KingJames — making CA the first state to allow student athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness. pic.twitter.com/aWE9OL9r1v— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 30, 2019The law will go into effect in 2023. September 30, 2019 /Sports News – National California governor signs law allowing college athletes to profit from endorsements Beau Lundlast_img read more

Carbon pricing plans could ‘transform upstream oil and gas economics’, says analyst

first_img A number of countries across the Asia have ramped up their production of fossil fuels to keep on top of the ever-increasing demand (Credit: Shutterstock/Oil and Gas Photographer) Putting carbon pricing plans in place could “transform upstream oil and gas economics”, says an analyst.As it stands, there are currently only a few countries that require producers to either pay a carbon tax or participate in an emissions trading scheme (ETS).But as governments seek to meet decarbonisation targets, that could soon change, according to analysis by Wood Mackenize. The energy researcher claims carbon charges are “likely to come”, and it believes they will transform the upstream sector, affecting both asset values and the industry’s economics.“Governments have two options for imposing carbon charges on upstream operations,” said Graham Kellas, Wood Mackenzie senior vice president of global fiscal research. “They can either levy a carbon tax, which is where a fixed tax rate is applied to all carbon dioxide emissions, or implement an ETS.“Under both schemes, the financial impact on specific projects can potentially be mitigated by an emissions allowance.” Producers have already been including carbon pricing assumptions in their financial modelsKellas noted that producers have been including carbon pricing assumptions – usually between $40 and $100 per tonne – in their financial models for some time.He said that at $40 per tonne, most asset values are “relatively insensitive” to the carbon charge, although he believes even that rate could “wipe out the remaining value of some assets”.But at $200 per tonne – a lower rate than Norway is proposing for 2030 – a third of all assets would have at least 50% of their remaining value transferred in carbon charges, added Kellas.“These figures assume all emissions are subject to any carbon charge,” said the analyst. “Actual exposure will be lower, depending on each government’s willingness to offer emissions allowances in the form of free emissions credits.“This is the most important measure governments can use to modify carbon charges, thereby safeguarding asset values and lessening the impact on investment in the sector.”The other principal instrument to soften the impact of carbon charges is the ability to offset these against other payments to governments.“While mitigating the impact of carbon charges is possible, it will be complicated to achieve in many jurisdictions,” said Kellas.“Countries with fiscal regimes including royalty, which is levied on gross revenue and does not allow deduction of operating costs, will be at a disadvantage relative to those with tax-centric systems. And, for upstream operations governed by production sharing contracts, mitigation will be even more complex.” Only a few countries currently require producers to pay a carbon tax or participate in an emissions trading scheme – but Wood Mackenize believes that could be about to change as governments aim to meet decarbonisation targets Joe Biden’s green agenda making carbon pricing charges more likely for US upstream oil and gas operationsMore than 60 carbon charge regimes currently exist at international, national and subnational levels, but very few affect major oil and gas producing areas at a rate above $20 per tonne, according to the analysis.Norway is the standout country for upstream carbon charges. As well as having levied a tax on CO2 since 1991, it is a member of the EU’s ETS. The EU scheme, which the UK also participates in, is the world’s largest and most active of its type.North America’s first carbon tax for large oil and gas producers was established by the Canadian province of Alberta in 2007. British Columbia implemented a similar tax in 2008, with the Canadian federal government introducing a levy in 2019.Last year, the Canadian government announced its carbon tax rate would rise to the equivalent of about $135 per tonne by 2030.In the neighbouring US, the second-highest emitting nation, Wood Mackenzie notes that President Joe Biden’s green agenda is making carbon charges for upstream operations in the country “far more likely”. Norway’s carbon pricing plan to affect oil and gas producersThe energy researcher said the Norwegian government’s proposal to almost triple its overall carbon tax rate on upstream oil and gas operations makes a “bold statement”, considering that E&Ps operating on the Norwegian continental shelf already pay the highest carbon taxes in the world.Norway’s new carbon plan aims to reduce emissions from sectors such as waste and agriculture, which are not already exposed to carbon taxes. But oil and gas producers will also be affected.“The proposals would see the combined Norway CO2 tax and EU ETS price reach $262 per tonne by 2030 – nearly a three-fold increase compared to today’s price,” said Kyrah McKenzie, a member of WoodMackenzie’s upstream research team.“The changes will increase carbon taxes to almost $2bn per annum by 2030, and would make up about $2 per barrel of operating expenses, similar to transportation tariffs. This could increase up to $10 per barrel of oil equivalent at more mature fields.”Norway’s new carbon plan will affect oil and gas producers (Credit: Geograph.org.uk/Simon Johnston)But McKenzie said Norway’s high tax rates, against which carbon taxes are deductible, would help “offset the rise”, while the country’s low-carbon intensity also “reduces exposure”.“As a result, the implications for asset and company value are minimal,” she added. “We believe asset valuations would fall by about 1% ($1.4bn), though company value could fall by up to 5% for those with more mature, high-carbon portfolios.”While cessation of production may be brought forward at some Norwegian fields, the impact on recovery is limited. WoodMackenzie’s research indicates that less than 50 million barrels of oil equivalent would be left in the ground.“Our analysis shows that the fiscal treatment of carbon taxes is arguably more important than pricing,” said McKenzie. “A $262 per tonne carbon price in other parts of the world would have more serious implications.”last_img read more

USCGC James on task during maiden patrol

first_img View post tag: USCGC James View post tag: Cocaine Authorities April 3, 2017 The U.S. Coast Guard cutter James seized five tons of cocaine on its maiden voyage and patrol as a coast guard ship.The crew of the CGC James returned home to Charleston, South Carolina, on March 31 following a 60-day, multi-mission patrol.During its maiden voyage, James’ crew contributed to the interdiction of 12 drug-smuggling vessels, detainment and subsequent arrest of 22 suspected drug smugglers and were responsible for the seizure of more than five tons of cocaine bound for the United States.James used its embarked helicopter to employ airborne use of force on three high-speed, drug-smuggling vessels – more than 40 miles apart – within a two-hour period of time.“James’s first operational patrol was incredibly successfull and I couldn’t be more proud watching them leverage the full range of our capabilities to overcome a variety of challenges and complete our missions,” said Captain Mark Fedor, commanding officer of James.James’ crew offloaded approximately 16 tons of cocaine at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Tuesday. This cocaine was seized by multiple Coast Guard units in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and has wholesale value of more than $466 million.During the patrol, James’ embarked helicopter from Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron based in Jacksonville, Florida, marked its 500th interdiction using airborne use of force and precision disabling fire.The Coast Guard Cutter James is one of two 418-foot National Security Cutters homeported in Charleston. NSCs are equipped with three small boats and a stern boat launch system, dual aviation facilities, and serve as an afloat command and control platform for complex law enforcement and national security missions involving the Coast Guard and numerous partner agencies. Back to overview,Home naval-today US Coast Guard cutter seizes 5 tons of cocaine on maiden patrol US Coast Guard cutter seizes 5 tons of cocaine on maiden patrol View post tag: US Coast Guard Share this articlelast_img read more

Antony’s Halloqueen controversy

first_imgSt Antony’s annual HalloQueen bop has attracted criticism from its own LGBTQA community, provoking allegations about anti-sexual assault awareness.Last week, St. Antony’s LGBTQA and Men’s Officer hosted Queer Pride/Queer Rage, a festival of discussion panels, films, and lectures on LGBTQ issues. The event fell the week before HalloQueen, a popular drag-themed bop that took place on Saturday 2nd November.In a welcome speech on the first night of Queer Pride/Queer Rage, the LGBTQA officer stated, “Queer Pride/Queer Rage started as a response to HalloQueen, as a protest to the lack of organizing initiative to include trans voices, as a resistance to the gender binary that the event enforces, and a party that rides of the back of queer history without acknowledge or respecting this history.”He cited transgender people and those who do not identify as male or female as potential targets of discrimination or harassment at a drag-related event organised for the student body as a whole.He alleged that the HalloQueen student organisers and the St Antony’s GCR executive avoided consulting him or the LGBT Society in the planning of an event related to issues that face the LGBTQ community. He emphasised the need for inclusivity, and stressed that he felt St Antony’s was too focused on planning the party to address LGBTQ concerns.“Queerphobia and transphobia is not question about logistics, but a question of survival,” the LGBTQA Officer said. He added that he did not attend the bop last year, finding it upsetting and unrepresentative of his community.According to its corresponding Facebook event, over two hundred people attended Queer Pride/Queer Rage. Discussions ranged from the history of queer sexuality to BDSM, featuring speakers including artists, sex workers, Oxford academics, filmmakers, and activists.At HalloQueen, there was one instance of sexual harassment, which resulted in the perpetrator being ejected from the bop. The college recently introduced a Safer Spaces policy that condemns sexual harassment, including that related to sex and sexual orientation.GCR President Emma Lecavalier stated that this process had been delayed for several months by the St Antony’s VP Welfare position being vacant, but that the college ensured the Safer Spaces policy was in place for this year’s HalloQueen.As part of the Safer Spaces initiative, Lecavalier told Cherwell that five members of a Welfare Team were on duty at HalloQueen this year to patrol for harassment and assist partygoers who felt unsafe.She said, “We are very proud of the work that everyone did for this bop ensuring the indiscriminate safety of every single person present at the bop. Some of the volunteers even went so far as to accompany people home, call their parents, wake up wardens, and take other measures to ensure their complete safe return home.”A former St Antony’s student who has attended HalloQueen the past two years stated, “On Halloween, we traditionally dress up as monsters. It’s therefore possible that people would interpret HalloQueen as trivialising trans issues. But it’s never felt like an unsafe environment to me.”last_img read more

Number crunching

first_img4Polish bread and bakery exports are now four times higher than export sales of vodka, as artisan-loving expats fan out across Europelast_img

Van Morrison Announces New Album & Tour Dates

first_imgVan Morrison has announced a new album, due out September 22. Roll With The Punches marks the British star’s 37th studio album and will be a mix new self-written originals and hand-selected rhythm and blues classics, with covers of Bo Diddley, Mose Allison, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Lightnin’ Hopkins, among others. In celebration of this new release, Van Morrison will bring the show on the road for a number of concerts in the U.S. and the U.K– including stops at Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival in Hershey, PA, the Ascend Amphitheatre in Nashville, Tennessee, The Show At Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, California, and The Fox Theatre in Oakland, California.“From a very early age, I connected with the blues,” Van Morrison says in a press release. “The thing about the blues is you don’t dissect it–you just do it. I’ve never over-analyzed what I do; I just do it. Music has to be about just doing it and that’s the way the blues works–it’s an attitude. I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing–people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter & Mose Allison. I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot.”He contines, “The songs on Roll With The Punches–whether I’ve written them or not–they’re performance oriented. Each song is like a story and I’m performing that story. That’s been forgotten over years because people over-analyze things. I was a performer before I started writing songs and I’ve always felt like that’s what I do.”Roll With The Punches track list:1) Roll With the Punches (Van Morrison & Don Black)2) Transformation (Van Morrison)3) I Can Tell (Bo Diddley & Samuel Bernard Smith)4) Stormy Monday/Lonely Avenue (Stormy Monday–T-BoneWalker/Lonely Avenue–Doc Pomus)5) Goin’ To Chicago (Count Basie & Jimmy Rushing)6) Fame (Van Morrison)7) Too Much Trouble (Van Morrison)8) Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke)9) Ordinary People (Van Morrison)10) How Far From God (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)11) Teardrops From My Eyes (Rudy Toombs)12) Automobile Blues (Lightnin’ Hopkins)13) Benediction (Mose Allison)14) Mean Old World (Little Walter)15) Ride On Josephine (Bo Diddley)Van Morrison U.S. Dates:Sun Sept 10 Hersheypark Stadium @ “Outlaw Music Festival”Thu Sept 14 Ascend AmphitheaterFri Oct 13 The Show At Agua Caliente Casino Resort SpaSat Oct 14 The Show At Agua Caliente Casino Resort SpaFri Oct 20 Fox Theater (Oakland, CA)Sat Oct 21 Fox Theater (Oakland, CA)Van Morrison UK Dates:Mon Nov 6 Edinburgh PlayhouseTues Nov 7 Glasgow Royal CourtSun Nov 12 London Eventim ApolloMon Nov 13 Birmingham Symphony HallWed Nov 15 Liverpool Philharmonic HallMon Nov 20 Cardiff St. David’s HallTues Nov 21 Bristol Colston HallFri Nov 24 Torquay Princess TheatreSat Nov 25 Plymouth PavilionsMon Dec 4 Belfast Europa HotelTues Dec 5 Belfast Europa Hotellast_img read more

History shines through the glass

first_img“All glass is beautiful,” Belgian researcher Patrick Degryse said, gently turning a delicate, Roman-era vessel, its bluish sheen glowing under the fluorescent lights of the Semitic Museum’s basement collections.Degryse, a research professor from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, was on one of his twice-yearly pilgrimages to Harvard to examine the Semitic Museum’s archaeological collections. Degryse is one of several international researchers investigating the properties of ancient glass and other materials to understand more about where and how they were manufactured and what the background says about their makers.Together with Katherine Eremin, the Patricia Cornwall Conservation Scientist at the Harvard Art Museums’ Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Degryse is examining Roman-era glass to reconstruct trade patterns, looking at associated collections at the museums, which hold items of an artistic nature. He is also meeting with Eremin to discuss progress on a project to investigate glass from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nuzi, which was destroyed in 1,350 B.C. The site is in modern Iraq.Though less spectacular than the far younger Roman specimens, the glass from Nuzi is in some ways the crown jewel of the ancient glass collection, according to Joseph Greene, assistant director of the Semitic Museum.Excavated in the 1930s by an international team that included Harvard archaeologist Richard Starr, who was associated with the Fogg Museum of Art, the Nuzi finds were divided between the Semitic Museum, which received historic-era materials, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, which received prehistoric items, and the Harvard Art Museums, which received items created as art. At the Semitic Museum, the Nuzi glass collection has something going for it that some similar collections do not: clay tablets.The excavation of Nuzi turned up not only glass artifacts, but also thousands of clay tablets, marked in cuneiform, one of the earliest forms of writing. The tablets describe the society of the day and, when combined with the material excavated from Nuzi, create a powerful resource for scholars seeking to understand the Mesopotamian region of more than three thousand years ago.“Together, they tell us much, much more,” Greene said.For example, the tablets say the city had large stores of gold and silver, as well as weapons. Though the excavations turned up some metal blades and tools like adze heads, very little silver and gold have been found. Researchers believe it was probably taken when Nuzi was looted in 1,350 B.C.“We assume the Assyrians took all the gold,” Greene said.In recent decades, unrest in the Middle East — especially in Iraq — made collections at the Semitic Museum and a handful of other institutions critically important resources for a generation of Mesopotamian scholars, Greene said. Nuzi is located near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, in a region dangerous for archaeologists to visit. In addition, the looting of the Iraq Museum after the U.S. invasion of Iraq eight years ago created great uncertainty about other Nuzi materials.“We can access materials [at Harvard] we can’t otherwise access,” Degryse said.Degryse uses isotopic analysis to read the molecular signature of minerals in the glass’ raw material to trace it back to its source. So far, it seems that glass at the time of Nuzi was mainly manufactured in two regions: Mesopotamia and Egypt. Though the glass appears to have been widely traded, Egyptian glass doesn’t show up in Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian glass doesn’t show up in Egypt. Both, however, are present in ancient Greece, Degryse said.Glassmaking goes back to at least 3,000 B.C. and perhaps earlier, Degryse said. Early glass was made by combining a silica source such as sand with plant ash. The plant ash was a key component because it reduced the melting point of the silica considerably, from 1,700 degrees Centigrade to 1,000 degrees, within reach of the furnaces of that period.Because the technique of glass blowing wasn’t invented until 100 B.C., early glass vessels were made by applying glass around a clay mold, which was then broken up and removed when the glass cooled. The result was that early glass vessels tended to be thick-walled compared with the more delicate glass of the Roman era.Early glass was a rare item, reserved for the elite, Eremin said. In Nuzi, it was often colored dark blue, perhaps to mimic the gemstones lapis lazuli or turquoise.It was only later, during the Roman era, when manufacturing changed to replace plant ash with natron, a mineral soda, that glass became more common outside of the elite classes and began to be used for more functional purposes.Modern analytical techniques like isotopic analysis weren’t even dreamed of by Richard Starr when the Nuzi materials were originally excavated 80 years ago. Greene said that points to the importance of maintaining collections such as those at the Semitic Museum because future scholars may have ways of analyzing materials that don’t presently exist.“Archaeological collections are repositories to be interrogated with techniques that weren’t thought of when they were originally collected,” Greene said.last_img read more

Can iPads help students learn science? Yes

first_imgThe scale of the universe can be difficult to comprehend. Pretend you are going to make a scale model with a basketball representing the Earth and a tennis ball as the moon. How far would you put the tennis-ball moon from the basketball Earth? Most people would place them at arms’ length from each other, but the answer may surprise you: At that scale, the balls would need to be almost 30 feet apart.A new study by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) shows that students grasp the unimaginable emptiness of space more effectively when they use iPads, rather than traditional classroom methods, to explore 3-D simulations of the universe.This study comes at a time when educators are increasingly questioning whether devices such as iPads should play a greater role in education. It suggests that iPads (and other tablets) can improve student understanding of challenging scientific concepts such as astronomical scale.“These devices offer students opportunities to do things that are otherwise impossible in traditional classroom environments,” said study leader Matthew H. Schneps of the Harvard College Observatory. “These devices let students manipulate virtual objects using natural hand gestures, and this appears to stimulate experiences that lead to stronger learning.”Schneps and his colleagues looked at gains in learning among 152 high school students who used iPads to explore simulated space, and compared them to 1,184 students who used more traditional instructional approaches. The researchers focused on questions dominated by strong misconceptions that were especially difficult to correct via teaching. Many questions examined students’ understanding of the scale of space.They found that while the traditional approaches produced no evident gain in understanding, the iPad classrooms showed strong gains. Students similarly struggle with concepts of scale when learning ideas in biology, chemistry, physics, and geology, which suggests that iPad-based simulations also may be beneficial for teaching concepts in many scientific fields beyond astronomy.Moreover, student understanding improved with as little as 20 minutes of iPad use. Guided instruction could produce even more dramatic and rapid gains in student comprehension.“While it may seem obvious that hands-on use of computer simulations that accurately portray scale would lead to better understanding, we don’t generally teach that way,” said the study’s co-author Philip Sadler, the Frances W. Wright Senior Lecturer on Celestial Navigation and Astronomy in the Department of Astronomy. All too often, instruction makes use of models and drawings that distort the scale of the universe, “and this leads to misconceptions.”Participants in the iPad study came from Bedford High School in Bedford, Mass., one of a number of school systems around the country that have made the decision to equip all students with iPad devices. “Since we began using iPads, we have seen substantial gains in learning, especially in subjects like math and science,” said Henry Turner, the school’s principal.“What is perhaps most remarkable is that we saw significant learning gains among students who used the simulations, in situations where little to no gains were observed in the traditional classrooms,” said Mary Dussault, a member of the research team. This study thereby provides experimental evidence supporting national trends promoting the use of new technologies in the classroom.The study is published in the January 2014 issue of Computers and Education.The research was spearheaded by the Laboratory for Visual Learning, a member of the Science Education Department at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, as part of its mission to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States.last_img read more

At the Arboretum, an unquiet winter

first_imgDon’t let the smooth blanket of snow fool you. Don’t be deceived by the footpaths free of summertime crowds or the trees patiently waiting for spring. Winter at the Arnold Arboretum is a busy time.For humans, it’s a time for catching up outdoors and forging ahead inside. It’s a time when the frozen ground is a blessing, when heavy machinery — a bucket truck to reach high branches, say — can cover territory that is off-limits in the summer. Meanwhile, horticulture crews have time to focus on oft-neglected patches of natural woodland, targeting invasive species.Indoors, researchers peer into microscopes and visit greenhouses, examining and cataloging collections from other seasons. Though spring prep work is typically completed in the autumn, planning for the season is ongoing, as is the development of programs for high school and college interns interested in horticulture.Work aside, winter at the Arboretum is a time of beauty, of marveling at the gnarled branches of the hawthorn collection, of surprise at the fresh blossoms on the witch hazels, and of transport while walking snowy paths under evergreens.“The firs, spruces, and pines, you really get a chance to appreciate them in the winter better. Juxtaposed against the snow, you can be transported to the Alps, the Rockies, wherever you want,” said Michael Dosmann, curator of living collections.For horticulture supervisor Andrew Gapinski, the witch hazels are most interesting. The shrubs win the annual competition for pollinators by blossoming when other plants are still sleeping. Their spidery blossoms, which open through winter, are visited by gnats and other insects that become active during the season’s fleeting warm-ups.Prep timeIn the fall, leaves are cleaned up and newly planted specimens are thoroughly watered to ensure they’re hydrated — especially evergreens, such as rhododendrons, that photosynthesize on warmer winter days even though they can’t draw water from the frozen ground, making them susceptible to drying out.But one of the most important winter-prep tasks, Dosmann said, is a year-round one: ensuring that specimens enter the season in good health.“We practice tough love here. We don’t have the necessary resources to go through and pamper plants. A healthy plant going into winter will winter [well] and be good in the spring.”The first step in that process is choosing a site, Dosmann said. With the Arboretum’s 140 years of history to draw on, horticulturists know better than to put in plants that won’t make it through the winter, but in some cases knowing how conditions vary across the terrain is valuable, Dosmann said. Certain locations have microclimates that are a benefit to tender plants. Explorers Garden, a flat area on Bussey Hill, gets ample sunshine on its southwest-facing slope, and its elevation keeps it above winter’s coldest bite, as the chill air drains away to lower elevations.Winter is a time of particular emphasis on pruning. Not only are staff less occupied with tasks that dominate in the growing season, a plant’s branch structure is more visible because of the loss of leaves. Pruning is also less stressful this time of year because the plant is dormant and because the vigorous growth of spring is just weeks away. There’s also a reduced chance of transferring pathogens in the winter.Though pests are mostly dormant in the winter, they aren’t ignored. Officials meet to assess the pest situation and plan strategy for the coming year. One January day, horticulturists took in monitoring traps for winter moth — a pest that affects many kinds of trees — to better understand the level of infestation before spring begins.Frigid temperatures might help on this front. One early winter cold snap hit minus 4 to minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit at the Arboretum, cold enough to help with some pests and close to the minus 10 that knocks out the hemlock woolly adelgid, one of the Arboretum’s least welcome visitors, Gapinski said.The Arboretum is home to three full-time faculty members, Director William (Ned) Friedman, the Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and recently appointed assistant professors of organismic and evolutionary biology Robin Hopkins, an expert on speciation in plants, and Elizabeth Wolkovich, an ecologist investigating the effects of climate change on plant communities. Faye Rosin, director of research facilitation, works with visiting scientists and postdoctoral fellows.Analysis of flowers, leaves, stems, roots, and other specimens collected during warm months is a process that amply fills the winter, Rosin said. “People with extensive outdoor work do analysis in the winter months. The indoor work happens all the time.”For those who can’t wait, such as Friedman, whose research involves a rare, extinct-in-the-wild water lily from Rwanda, the temperature and moisture in the Arboretum’s greenhouses can be adjusted to replicate various outdoor environments, as can the conditions in smaller growth chambers.“On a cold, dark, winter day in Boston, there is nothing better than taking some time to visit theses water lilies under the bright supplemental lights, high humidity, and warm temperatures that they thrive under,” Friedman said.last_img read more