Sunday, September 27, 2009

Confederation of British Industry: Science "not a real subject"

I read with interest this morning when this article from the Telegraph came up on my Google Reader.  It reports that the CBI isn't very happy with the Government's "fictional" figures on the number of students studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

So what do other interested parties have to say about the matter?  Well, nothing, because Julie Henry clearly hasn't bothered to ask them.  Nor has she sought out the figures herself and challenged the think tank's claims.  Something I managed to do in five minutes of my spare time, even though I'm not paid to do it.

If I were a cynical man (and I am), then I might believe that this article was created, not with journalistic integrity in mind, but with the sole intention to spank the Government.

Well, either that or both Julie Henry and the CBI have bought into the idea that any university "science" not called "Chemistry", "Biology" or "Physics" couldn't have existed before 1975 and therefore isn't a real subject.
"The Government now includes as "science", courses such as nutrition and complementary medicine, geography studies, sports science, nursing and psychology, even though in dozens of universities it is classed as an arts degree."
Oh dear!  Sounds like the Government have suddenly introduced a load of new courses to the statistics so that the numbers get bigger, doesn't it?  Yes, it does sound like that, but if that's the claim then it's bollocks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Returned to Risk: Deportation of HIV-Positive Migrants


On Thursday morning I took myself off to Parliament to attend a panel discussion on the deportation of HIV-positive migrants.  It was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Aids, and Human Rights Watch, who were launching their report 'Returned To Risk'.

As host Neil Gerrard MP and the HRW London director made clear from the start, being an HIV-positive migrant is a double vulnerability: if you're a migrant, it's best not to be HIV-positive, and if you're HIV-positive, it's best not to be a migrant.  

I think you can pare the issue down to two main perspectives from the UK's point of view: how we treat migrants, and how to influence international consensus.  On the first point, sadly, we don't do very well.

The Home Office, who are concerned with immigration, seem out of step with DfID (the Department for International Development), who have been at the forefront of promoting universal access to HIV services as a fundamental human right.

It doesn't take a Daily Mail reader to know that immigration, and in particular asylum, is a very sensitive issue as far as our press are concerned.  I can't help but wonder whether the media's general lack of concern for the immigrants themselves has contributed to the Government's slow acceptance that we should actually treat them as human beings whilst they are in our care.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Photos! Photos! Photos! (July/August Edition)

Tanzania 090806 - Ladies' Football Mpandangindo vs Masigira 030

Finally, I have transferred the last of my Tanzania photos from my netbook to my MacBook and uploaded them to Flickr.

Health continues to be a pain.  Annoyingly I'm nearly better, but not quite.  I'm also officially no longer a patient of the Hospital of Tropical Diseases.  At some point soonish I should really be starting to earn some money.

A few interesting links to tack onto the end of this post:

I will not read your fucking script
Search for pills that made Abraham Lincoln lose his cool

...and this apology from the Prime Minister to Alan Turing, which is, quite frankly, completely ruined by Gordon Brown cynically using it as an opportunity to score political points three paragraphs from the end:
"I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community."
Time and a place Gordon, and it's not here.  There was an interesting, if circular debate on You and Yours on Radio 4 today that talked about the lack of trust we have in the media, banks, and politicians.  I think this quote probably sums up why I have so little faith in our leaders (including the opposition). 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The EU Wants Your Five Year Old To Have An Abortion, Part Two

Earlier today, I posted Part One of this post.  It's not exactly necessary to go back and read it - it's more of an aside to the main issue.

If you know me, or this blog, then you probably already know young people's sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is a bit of a hobby horse of mine.

You probably don't know, however, that over the last couple of weeks I've stumbled across a number of blogs that don't like tabloids such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Express (as well as, often, the press in general).  They're quite enjoyable and interesting reads.

Today, I combine the two.

The EU Wants Your Five Year Old To Have An Abortion, Part One

No, not really.

See what I did there?  I lied.  Or rather, paraphrased some comment-makers from the Daily Mail website about a story that had nothing to do with the EU whatsoever.  But more on that later.

First, I want to show you this video I found about the terrifying shady EU organisation that's taking over our ENTIRE Government structure.  It's called Common Purpose (ooh, er!), and I found out about it because of the accusing finger pointed in its direction in some of the Daily Mail comments.

Listen carefully, and link some of the different claims together.  You'll be shocked to find out that President Bush was a Communist.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Sexual Health in Southern Tanzania, Part One of Three

On 6th August, shortly before leaving Songea, I interviewed Oswin about the Hoja Project. When we were finished, I continued chatting with him about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in the local area.

The rest of the video footage I took in Tanzania will be edited "soon", but this particular interview took priority, as I'm still involved with SPW through Advocates for Action - we're a group of volunteers who campaign for better international policy on SRHR for young people. Tomorrow we're having a planning/training day so it's quite useful for others to see what I learnt about what happens in the community.

For those who don't know (and at the risk of boring those who do), Oswin Mahundi runs Hoja, which is largely funded by COCO. I know Oswin from when we both volunteered for SPW in 2004 and was one of several volunteers who helped him set up Hoja in his local community.

The video is about 20 minutes long in total, split into three separate parts on YouTube.  I'll just consider the first part today, and the other two another time.

In the first part, Oswin talks about the responsibilities of local Government and the Church, and sexual health education in schools.