Courses in tanning are worth the same in school league tables as A-level maths papers, it emerged yesterday. Ministers have relaxed the rules to allow schools and colleges to count a host of practical qualifications towards their league rankings, alongside GCSEs and A-levels. It has led to courses in cake decoration, pottery and flower-arranging also being given an equivalent value to traditional qualifications.
But exam watchdog Ofqual has expressed concern over whether self-tanning courses should be equivalent to A-level units. 'We begin to wonder whether it really stands up against A-level maths,' said Isabel Nisbet, Ofqual's acting chief executive. [A remarkable example of understatement!]
A merit in an ITEC diploma in 'tanning treatments' is worth 45 points in school league tables - the same as an A grade in one of the six units that make up an A-level. The 72-hour course teaches students aged 16 and over to operate sunbeds and apply fake tan without streaks and stripes. It has been awarded a 'level three' status in the qualifications database - the designated A-level standard. Other courses given level three status and league table points include a City and Guilds' certificate in self-tanning'. This 30-hour course accrues between 16.5 and 27 points depending on the grade, but is unlikely to be used in tables as it is only for those aged 19 and over.
Ofqual is responsible for accrediting qualifications for the national database. Whitehall then decides whether to assign them a league table points score. But Miss Nisbet, speaking at a recent seminar in London, seemed to raise doubts about accrediting self-tanning courses as level three. Her aides said she chose it as an example of the tough judgments the watchdog must make.
Ministers hoped the wider range of qualifications in league tables would encourage schools to enrol pupils in courses more suited to their ability, 'motivating' them to stay in education or training. But critics say children are being sold short by neglecting traditional qualifications and accuse schools of using the points system to inflate their league table rankings. They also claim A-levels are being undermined and league tables made more confusing.
Tory schools spokesman Nick Gibb said: 'Ofqual are right to raise concerns about these equivalences. 'We have got to stop pretending that things are better than they are, which can have the effect of luring unsuspecting pupils into qualifications that are not really right for them, and may help boost a school's league table position. 'We have got to remove anything that encourages or incentivises schools to manipulate the system.'
Ofqual said the tanning courses were 'primarily taken by those working in the industry'. A spokesman said: 'Points for all approved vocational qualifications are calculated depending on the guided learning hours, the level of the qualification and the level of skill and achievement attained. 'The courses have been carefully considered against these criteria.'
Perverted British justice again
Father-of-three jailed after confronting drug dealer who sold heroin to his family
Father-of-three Peter Drummond was so angry when he discovered someone had sold heroin to his family that he took matters into his own hands. He confronted John Nellies in his home and flushed five of the drug dealer's bags of heroin down the toilet. But yesterday it was Drummond - not Nellies - who found himself being jailed in court. The 26-year-old shook his head in disbelief as he was ordered to serve two months for breaching the peace by barging into Nellies's home and threatening him.
The court heard that Drummond had reached the end of his tether after watching his family 'torn apart' by heroin. When he learned on Sunday that his brother-in-law had visited Nellies to buy heroin, he went there later that day to take action.
Perth Sheriff Court heard that while he was in Nellies's flat a drug addict arrived to buy heroin and reported Drummond to the police who arrested him shortly after. Drummond admitted a breach of peace, telling police: 'It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.' He added: 'I shouldn't have done it but these people are ruining my family by supplying heroin. 'It is causing a family crisis and everyone is going through hell. Things have been so bad that I lost it and decided to try to stop the drug dealing going on. 'I know I have done wrong. I'm sorry. I know I went about things the wrong way, but things just got on top of me.'
Last night Drummond's younger brother Mark, 22, said he was astonished by the sentence. 'I can't believe that he has been jailed for this,' he said. 'He's not the criminal here. Peter is a real family man. He loves his wife and kids and would do anything to help out his sister and brother-in-law.'
Steve Lafferty, defending, asked for his client's punishment to be limited to a fine due to the case's 'quite unusual' circumstances. He said Drummond had no other criminal charges against him and had acted out of desperation.
But Sheriff McCreadie told the defendant: 'If you were concerned about matters you should contact the police, not enter a house and threaten to kill someone. 'You can't take matters into your own hands the way you did.'
His wife Elizabeth, 27, speaking at their flat in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, said Drummond had previously tried to reason with the dealers. She said: 'He asked the boys, pleaded and begged them to stop dealing to his sister and brother-in-law. But they just carried on doing it. Peter was sure the police would not do anything about it if he told them about the dealers. He doesn't like to see his family being hurt so it was the last straw for him and he took matters into his own hands. 'I can't believe it. Peter has had a really tough time of it lately. We lost a baby in December.'
Outside court, family friend Thomas Brown said: 'Jailing him for what he did is ridiculous. It is a ludicrous decision and even the lawyer was shaking his head. 'Heroin is killing the community and I know for a fact that it has been tearing Peter's family apart.' It remained unclear last night whether police were taking any action against Nellies.
But people who really do harm in Britain are let off lightly
Family's fury as Portuguese heavy vehicle driver who wiped out couple and four children is jailed... but he will be free in 14 months
The justice system has been condemned as a circus after relatives of a family killed in a road crash by a foreign lorry driver were told he will be free in a year. David Statham, 38, his wife Michelle, 33, their three sons, Reece, 13, Jay, nine, Mason, 20 months and ten-week-old baby daughter Ellouise died when the HGV smashed into the back of their car on the M6.
Portuguese-born Paulo da Silva, 46, was arrested at the scene and charged with six counts of causing death by dangerous driving. The judge called the crash 'one of the most serious offences of its kind'. But da Silva was convicted of the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving and sentenced to just three years - although the maximum term is five years. As he has spent time on remand and must serve only half his sentence under parole laws, da Silva will walk free in a year.
Relatives of the victims and road safety campaigners condemned the sentence. Mrs Statham's father Peter Hagans, 56, said: 'From the night of the accident when Mr da Silva butchered our family it was not possible for us to get justice in a British court. In our opinion what we sat through this week was no more than a circus.'
Road safety charity Brake said: 'For the judge to say that this was one of the most serious offences of its kind begs the question of why the sentence given was not nearer the maximum, especially when multiple deaths have occurred, which must, at the very least, act as an aggravating factor when taking sentences into account.' Michelle Owen, of Speed Kills, said: 'This is a total disgrace. The family have every right to be angry. 'What is the point of changing the law if you fail to use it as a deterrent. Six people were killed in this horror show so how many people need to be killed in a crash for the maximum sentence to be given?'
The collision happened in Cheshire, last October, as Mr Statham, a chef, his wife and their children, returned home to North Wales after spending the weekend with family in the Midlands. Their Toyota Previa was hit by the lorry as it slowed to a stop in a traffic jam. The impact forced their car into the back of another lorry and the family died before emergency services could reach them.
Chester Crown Court heard that da Silva may have taken his eye off the road to study a satellite navigation system on his laptop computer. Andrew Thomas QC, prosecuting, said: 'Officers who searched the interior of his cab found a laptop computer fitted with a GPS (Global Positioning System) on the console alongside his seat, with the screen turned to face the driver. 'Only the defendant knows the truth about why he did not see a queue of traffic which would have been visible to him for a about a mile or so before point of collision. The use of the laptop to work out a new route would explain it.'
Oliver Jarvis, defending, had claimed Mrs Statham, a financial adviser, had already crashed into the rear of a lorry before da Silva hit their car. But the possibility that the family had been killed by an earlier collision was ruled out by a pathologist, who said the fatal injuries were consistent with an impact from the rear.
Mr Justice Irwin told da Silva: 'No one can put what has happened right. The overwhelming aggravating feature in this case is the number of those killed. 'You were an experienced professional lorry driver with a 40-ton lorry. This is a combination always to be regarded as a potentially lethal weapon. You ignored and failed to take account of a whole series of signs. You simply did not watch for them over a long stretch of road with good visibility. 'Of course you intended harm to no one, but clearly this was a bad failing on your part, sustained and obviously risky. 'In my view the facts of the driving in this case, the level of warning, size and weight of your lorry and your sustained and gross failure to look out carry this case to the boundary of causing death by dangerous driving. 'I bear in mind the maximum sentence is five years. Although six deaths, this was one episode and the prison sentences must be concurrent. This was one of the most serious offences of its kind.'
Da Silva made no reaction as the verdicts were delivered but his son, sitting in the public gallery, burst into tears. The case was the first big test of new charges aimed at handing down tougher sentences to drivers whose careless driving kills other road users. Under old laws, judges were restricted to handing down fines of up to 2,500 pounds for careless driving. The new charge of causing death by careless driving gives them the power to jail offenders for up to five years.
The court case was a 'circus', Mr Hagans said: 'The only difference being, the man in charge of a circus wears a top hat, not a wig.
Greenie threats to your health
British restrictions on garbage collections (to "encourage recycling"!) have led to an explosion in pest populations as garbage remains uncollected for long periods
The interval between prediction and outcome seems to be shrinking. Not that the rat explosion merits the title of prediction, since it was an outcome that was obvious to anyone except an idiot or a professional politician. It was adumbrated in a piece entitled STENCH in these pages less than two years ago. More worrying is the fact that related forecasts have serious outcomes that are not so obvious. When fly-borne diseases begin to increase in the warmer weather, it will no doubt be reported as an unfortunate random event (or even yet another outcome of global warming).
Plague was probably rat-borne
Plague is something that resides in history books and little history is taught any more. We now have hygiene, scientific knowledge, antibiotics, pesticides and many other resources to give hope that it is a thing of the past, though evolution will always be a powerful opponent. What has changed in recent times is that there is a new all-pervading political movement that is antihuman, glib and arrogant. Let us just remind ourselves of what plague can mean, from The Epidemiologists:
Plague was a rather vague term given to a variety of epidemic infectious diseases, but the most dramatic of them was the Black Death or bubonic plague. The sixteenth century occurrence was one of many outbreaks, from the Black Death of the fourteenth century to the great plague of 1665. The Black Death began with an outbreak in China in 1333 and over the next decade and a half it moved remorselessly westward, carried by merchants, pilgrims and other travellers along the established land and sea trade routes. It reached Constantinople in 1347, Messina in Sicily in October 1347, and Paris and the south coast of England in the summer of 1348. By 1350 it had covered most of Europe and reached as far as Iceland and Greenland . There were further outbreaks over the years, but in the final flourish the Great Plague of London (1664-1666) killed more people than any other epidemic, with approximately 68,500 burials of plague victims being recorded during its 18-month course.
The impact of the Black Death was profound, and it brought many social and economic changes. Land became less scarce, while labour became more expensive. After a few sporadic outbreaks, such as Marseille in 1720, the incidence of plague declined. Perhaps humanity had developed some immunity, but improved hygiene must have had an effect and the black rat was largely replaced by the brown rat. For as we now all know, the plague is carried by the black rat and transmitted by its flea, Xenopsylla cheopis. We should note that it is not undisputed that the Black Death was in fact bubonic plague and some authorities believe that it was more likely to have been a virus disease like Ebola.
As we have observed above, Green policies have promoted all sorts of risky behaviour in society, not least those that encourage the spread of pests, vermin and disease. Unfortunately, the mechanisms are so indirect that they are able to fend off any guilt by blaming something else, usually global warming. Now deaths have occurred that are clearly linked with Greenery. What more dramatic evidence can you have than the courageous Australian who endured intolerable legal harassment and draconian fines for taking decisive action that saved his home and family? Many have endured horrible deaths and injuries for being more conformist.
Bush fires are part of the long history of Australia . So much so that many plants have evolved (that word again) in such a way as to ensure survival. But now, of course, we know better than those ignorant aborigines
The basic problem is that the Greens have been able to create a situation in which they are not required to offer logical consistent argument, or to explore consequences. They appeal to ephemeral emotion. As in the case of our bath water example, simplistic actions produce accidental, unintended and often disastrous effects. The undemocratic EU, in addition to dismantling the industries that feed its population, is now imposing an increasing risk of pestilence and famine. It is increasingly looking as though the USA will follow the same path. Yes, we can!
The other way that the Greens are going to kill people is with power cuts. A letter in The Times points out the lack of contribution by wind to power supplies during the recent prolonged cold spell in Britain . Number Watch has been banging on about the inevitability of such scenarios for years, even resorting to outright catastrophism.
One of the ways Greenies maintain their fictions is to ignore completely any salient facts that spoil their theories, such as the fact that wind power is available less than a third of the time.
The wind turbine programme is a sure route to disaster. It would be better to dig a big hole and pour billions of Euros into it. At least that would not wreck the operation of the Grid.
SOURCE (See the original for links)
Thermageddon, the BBC and a giant snake
Listeners to BBC World Service's Science in Action program got a nasty surprise last week. In the midst of a discussion about the large snake fossil, a scientist dropped this bombshell:
"The Planet has heated and cooled repeatedly throughout its history. What we're doing is the rate at which we're heating the planet is many orders of magnitude faster than any natural process - and is moving too fast for natural systems to respond."
Hearing this, I did what any normal person would do: grab all the bags of frozen peas I could find in the ice compartment of my refrigerator, and hunker down behind the sofa to wait for Thermageddon. Hours passed. My life flashed before my eyes a few times, and a few times more. But then I noticed that the house was still there, and so was the neighbourhood. And so was I! Then I remembered something else.
According to our leading climate institutes, global temperatures have been static for almost a decade now. (You have to look the graphs, not the institutes' own press releases, which typically offer similar spine-chilling predictions) . The climate scientists are now predicting more of the same, or cooler. The latter, they explained, is because natural systems are at work.
So what is some random apocalyptic nutball doing in the middle of a discussion about paleontology. How did he get here? Did he just wander into to the discussion? Did the BBC producers find him on the street? "Say, you - we've got a feature about the world's largest fossilised snake. Can you liven it up somehow? We can't find Protein Man. Tell everyone the world's ending."
The R.A.N. turns out to be Jason Head, a faculty member at the University of Toronto, a palaeontologist with an eye for the publicity. In the media tarts directory for vertebrate palaeontologists, he notes:
"Areas of Expertise for Media Contacts: Reptile paleontology, climate change, dinosaurs, evolution, evolutionary developmental paleontology and morphometrics"
Notice anything odd, there? In the words of the Cookie Monster, "one of these things is not like the other". Like so much churnalism, this story originates with a press release. Here it is, and you'll note Head makes no claims about future temperature - merely that rainforests 58m to 60m years ago were warmer than tropical rainforests are today. The piece is immediately picked up by British weekly New Scientist, which allows Head to add some creative embellishments. Under the headline proclaims "Giant snake hints at a hotter future", we learn:
This "refutes the idea of the thermostat", says Head, and tells us "what equatorial temperatures will be as we continue to warm the planet: very hot."
Eh? How, you may ask, does a snake refute the idea of a climate thermostat? The science-free assertion is left unchallenged. The BBC then picks up the story, and Head makes his fridge-emptying soundbite. But even the BBC producers must have noticed a strange whiff about this story. One of the corporation's own environment correspondents, Richard Black, is wheeled in to qualify Head's assertion.
"There may be other factors", Black admits, that contribute to the size of fossil. A warmer climate he adds mean some species, for example fish, get smaller. So it isn't possible to infer temperature from body size. Or future temperature from the fossil record.
Jason makes the observation that tropical temperatures were warmer than now 58m years ago. Then, vaulting through all known logic, he extrapolates that the climate must be getting warm now so quickly, natural systems can't cope. It's quite a ride, and entirely science free from start to finish.
The broadcast contains one false assertion, and one invalid inference. We called Science In Action producer Peter McHugh to ask when the BBC would be issuing a correction. But he hasn't returned our call.
The BBC Attempts to Patch Up the Cracks - botches it
On Wednesday, normally stalwart UK global warming promoter - The Guardian, ran this remarkable headline:
`Apocalyptic climate predictions' mislead the public, say experts'
The Met Office Hadley Centre, one of the most prestigious research facilities in the world, says recent "apocalyptic predictions" about Arctic ice melt and soaring temperatures are as bad as claims that global warming does not exist. Such statements, however well-intentioned, distort the science and could undermine efforts to tackle carbon emissions, it says.
Undaunted and defiant, their comrades in global warming arms at the BBC, chose this as the lead story for Sunday morning:
`Global warming `underestimated'
The severity of global warming over the next century will be much worse than previously believed, a leading climate scientist has warned... "We are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we've considered seriously in climate policy," he said. Prof Field said the 2007 report, which predicted temperature rises between 1.1C and 6.4C over the next century, seriously underestimated the scale of the problem. " Prof Field said rising temperatures could thaw Arctic permafrost
One fatal flaw with the BBC story is that Chris Field is not a climate scientist, as they claimed. He is actually a Professor of Biology in an Ecology Department. So how does the BBC choose their headlines? In matters of global warming, apparently the apocalyptic words of one American ecologist overrule those of the UK's own government climate scientists at The Met Office. Chris Field clearly does not have any credentials to be making the climate claims the BBC reported. This looks more and more like a Shakespearean comedy every day.
UPDATE: BBC Can't even get their reporting correct. The reporter in this video report that accompanies the web article says that "The fear is that increased global warming could set off what's called negative feedback..." and that now we are in "scenarios unexplored by the models". No kidding, it's that bad. For those of you that don't know, some alarmists [i.e. Warmists] claim that "negative climate feedback is as real as the Easter Bunny, which is what makes this BBC factual error so hilarious. [The whole of Warmism is founded on assertions of POSITIVE feedbacks. The actual warming observed over the 20th century would be too trivial to worry about otherwise]
'We ran out of shavers': Doctors' extraordinary excuses for axing 1,000 NHS operations a week
More than 1,000 NHS operations are being cancelled at the last minute each week because of avoidable mistakes at hospitals. Lost medical records, broken equipment and a lack of beds were among the excuses given to patients whose surgery was called off. But the survey of 110 Health Service trusts also revealed the extraordinary decisions behind some of the cancellations. One hospital claimed it was unable to prepare patients for surgery because it had run out of shavers, while another cancelled an operation because the surgeon had disappeared after a fire alarm. In another case, medics simply forgot about a patient who had been left in a side room awaiting surgery.
The Department of Health figures, revealed by a Freedom of Information request, revealed that the number of operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons in 2007/08 was 57,382 - 10 per cent higher than the year before. Experts now predict that the figures could top 64,000 for the first six months of this financial year.
Leeds Teaching Hospital was the worst trust for cancelling operations at the last moment, closely followed by Plymouth Hospitals Trust (1,346). At the Pennine Acute Trust, which runs hospitals in Oldham, Bury, Rochdale and Manchester, six procedures were cancelled because the surgeon was on holiday. At Plymouth Hospitals Trust, 197 were halted because of a lack of staff in theatre. Two were cancelled at Southampton University Hospitals Trust because of inadequate blood supplies, while at London's St George's Healthcare seven procedures were called off because patients' records had been lost. The Epsom and St Helier Trust was forced to cancel 58 operations because its sterilisation unit was out of action for a week. And at the George Eliot Trust, near Nuneaton, nine were halted because of a chemical spill, three because the surgeons had disappeared in a fire alarm and one because the surgeon refused to use the equipment provided. The Gloucestershire Trust cancelled ten operations because of an infection outbreak on a ward and another 23 because of a flood in the operating theatre. It also halted 53 procedures as a result of a broken lift. At Newham University Hospital Trust in East London, bosses admitted a lack of shavers resulted in operations being cancelled.
Roger Goss, of Patient Concern, said: 'Wasting patients' time and making a stressful experience even worse clearly doesn't matter. 'Contrast this with the complaints from doctors about patients missing appointments. 'Perhaps we should fine hospitals for cancelling operations at the last minute. We are the customers yet only the time of clinicians matters.'
Meanwhile, a report by the Healthcare Commission has revealed that the NHS is failing to respond properly to patients' complaints. Last year, 7,827 complaints were sent to the watchdog for independent review. Half were upheld or sent back to the trust because the initial response was not good enough. One in five of the complaints was about treatment or a wrong diagnosis, while the remainder mainly concerned the behaviour of NHS staff or a lack of information about their care.
Patients were most likely to complain about their GPs. One in eight were about family doctors - double the number complaining about nurses. The commission said the report showed that some trusts were still not responding to complaints effectively. Each year, the NHS delivers 380 million treatments and receives 135,000 complaints. Anna Walker, the commission's chief executive, said: 'It is concerning that complaints raised with us continue to be about the same basic aspects of healthcare, such as poor communication and failure to diagnose conditions.'