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Teaching is not a business

| 18/08/2014 | 27 Comments

(New York Times): Today's education reformers believe that schools are broken and that business can supply the remedy. Some place their faith in the idea of competition. Others embrace disruptive innovation, mainly through online learning. Both camps share the belief that the solution resides in the impersonal, whether it’s the invisible hand of the market or the transformative power of technology. 

Neither strategy has lived up to its hype, and with good reason. It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships. All youngsters need to believe that they have a stake in the future, a goal worth striving for, if they’re going to make it inschool. They need a champion, someone who believes in them, and that’s where teachers enter the picture. The most effective approaches foster bonds of caring between teachers and their students.

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Dolphins are not healers

| 24/06/2013 | 31 Comments

(aeon): Dolphins are smart, sociable predators. They don't belong in captivity and they shouldn't be used to 'cure' the ill. Imagine this. Jay, an eight-year-old autistic boy, whose behaviour has always been agitated and uncooperative, is smiling and splashing in the pool. A pair of bottlenose dolphins float next to him, supporting him in the water. Jay’s parents stand poolside as a staff member in the water engages him in visual games with colourful shapes.

She asks him some questions, and Jay, captivated by his surroundings, begins to respond. He names the shapes, correctly, speaking his first words in months. With all this attention Jay is in high spirits; he appears more aware and alert than ever before. A quick, non-invasive EEG scan of his brain activity shows that it is indeed different from before the session.

Jay's parents, who had given up hope, are elated to have finally found a treatment that works for their son. They sign up for more sessions and cannot wait to get home and tell their friends about the experience. They are not surprised to find that dolphins have succeeded where mainstream physicians have not. Everyone believes that dolphins are special — altruistic, extra gentle with children, good-natured. And any concerns the parents might have had about the welfare of the dolphins have been allayed by assurances from the trainers that they are happy and accustomed to the role they are playing. After all, as the parents can see for themselves, the dolphins are smiling.

‘Jay’ is a composite character drawn from the dozens of testimonials that appear on dolphin-assisted therapy (DAT) websites, but stories like his, stories about the extraordinary powers of dolphins, have been told since ancient times. Much of our attraction to these creatures derives from their appealing combination of intelligence and communicativeness, and the mystery associated with the fact that they inhabit a hidden underwater environment. Dolphins are the Other we’ve always wanted to commune with. And their ‘smile’, which is not a smile at all, but an anatomical illusion arising from the physical configuration of their jaws, has led to the illusion that dolphins are always jovial and contented, compounding mythological beliefs that they hold the key to the secret of happiness.

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The moral decay of our society

| 13/08/2011 | 42 Comments

(The Telegraph): David Cameron, Ed Miliband and the entire British political class came together yesterday to denounce the rioters. They were of course right to say that the actions of these looters, arsonists and muggers were abhorrent and criminal, and that the police should be given more support. But there was also something very phony and hypocritical about all the shock and outrage expressed in parliament. MPs spoke about the week’s dreadful events as if they were nothing to do with them.

I cannot accept that this is the case. Indeed, I believe that the criminality in our streets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks of modern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline in standards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for our politicians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greed has grown up.

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Christian faith requires accepting evolution

| 20/06/2011 | 303 Comments

(Huffington Post): In the evangelical community, the year 2011 has brought a resurgence of debate over evolution. The current issue of Christianity Today asks if genetic discoveries preclude an historical Adam. While BioLogos, the brainchild of NIH director Francis Collins, is seeking to promote theistic evolution among evangelicals, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently argued that true Christians should believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old.

As someone raised evangelical, I realize anti-evolutionists believe they are defending the Christian tradition. But as a seminary graduate now training to be a medical scientist, I can say that, in reality, they've abandoned it.

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Free-standing freezing orders: the Cayman view

| 03/03/2011 | 10 Comments

(International Law Office): The question as to whether a freezing order (or Mareva injunction) may be awarded in a jurisdiction where there are no related substantive proceedings has been a controversial subject in the offshore world in recent years. Traditionally, such ‘free-standing’ injunctions were not granted. More recently, certain offshore jurisdictions, whether by the development of case law or by statute, have performed a volte face and determined that such injunctions can be awarded in aid of related foreign proceedings.

These jurisdictions have determined that such free-standing injunctions should be awarded in certain cases. In the Cayman Islands, the position is less certain.

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Threat to the press, democracy in Cayman

| 28/12/2010 | 64 Comments

(The Jamaica Gleaner): The decision by the attorney general of the Cayman Islands, Sam Bulgin, against prosecuting the Cayman Compass newspaper and its journalist, Brent Fuller, is welcome and sensible. Mr Bulgin’s decision, however, does not resolve the more fundamental question that has arisen in recent weeks about the commitment of the Cayman Islands legislative assembly, and by extension the territory’s government, to freedom of the press, transparency in governance and, ultimately, democracy.

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Strike a blow for press freedom

| 16/12/2010 | 3 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): Today, the Parliament of Jamaica will take a decisive step forward in advancing the cause of freedom of expression, without which we might as well retreat into the Dark Ages. The Joint Select Committee reviewing the perniciouslibel laws of Jamaica is scheduled to sign off on the report of the Hugh Small Committee that was mandated by Prime Minister Bruce Golding to delve into the largely outdated laws and recommend ways of removing the shackles that protect the corrupt.

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We must act decisively to save our world

| 28/10/2010 | 3 Comments

(CNN): This week, I have had the opportunity to meet with ministers and country delegates from around the world who have gathered in Nagoya, Japan, to set a global conservation action plan for the next ten years. This is a critical moment in time for environmental ministers gathered here to work together to set bold, ambitious targets to protect nature and the services it provides.

Decisions made here will not only impact our planet’s environmental health, but every person, family, and nation that depend on nature to survive and thrive.

Biodiversity is the foundation of all life on Earth. Human societies cannot provide for themselves the essential services provided by nature and healthy ecosystems. Among them: A stable climate, clean air, fresh water, insect populations that pollinate our food crops, healthy soils, and sources of pharmaceuticals for human health.

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Actor and environmentalist Harrison Ford is also the Vice Chairman of Conservation International, an organization that seeks to protect and conserve the Earth’s natural resources. He’s at the Convention on Biodiversity conference in Nagoya, Japan where delegates are working to agree new targets for biodiversity over the next 10 years.

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The only thing drug gangs fear is legalisation

| 26/08/2010 | 6 Comments

(The Independent): To many people, the "war on drugs" sounds like a metaphor, like the "war on poverty". It is not. It is being fought with tanks and sub-machine guns and hand grenades, funded in part by your taxes, and it has killed 28,000 people under the current Mexican President alone. The death toll in Tijuana – one of the front lines of this war – is now higher than in Baghdad. Yesterday, another pile of 72 mutilated corpses was found near San Fernando – an event that no longer shocks the country.

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US hedge funds contemplate going European

| 17/08/2010 | 6 Comments

(Forbes): As something like normality has settled down among hedge fund managers on both sides of the pond in recent months, the question of where to find new investors (and new money) returns to its rightful place as a top concern for many US and UK-based firms. And in the face of regulatory lemons, a number of fund managers are making lemonade.

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