Friday, June 29, 2007

David Miliband's blog

A very nice personal blog of the new British Foreign Minister. Unfortunately, "We have suspended the ability to comment on this blog for the time being" .

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

E-vote 'threat' to UK democracy

An interesting article in the BBC

British democracy could be undermined by moves to use electronic voting in elections, warns a report.

The risks involved in swapping paper ballots for touch screens far outweigh any benefits they may have, says the Open Rights Group report.

It based its conclusions on reports from observers who watched e-voting trials in May's local elections.

The group called for a halt to e-voting until it is reliable, easy to oversee and has proven its integrity.

...continues here!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Joe Trippi with John Edwards

The internet guru of political campaigns Joe Trippi has joint John Edwards campaign team. Will the success of Trippi as campaign manager of Howard Dean, mainly because of the use of the internet campaign, help Edwards too? It will be interesting to see the effect he will have this time. Will he be able to win the netroots for JE?
It has been reported that former Bush Campaign webmaster Patrick Ruffini argues that bringing Trippi on board effectively "solidifies Edwards as the candidate of the netroots."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gordon Brown on Education

The following refers to the views of Gordon Brown on Education. Important point are the setting up of a Council of Education, the emphasis on discipline in schools, and the diversity in schools. (from the BBC).

Prime Minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown has outlined plans to make British education "world class", in order to meet the challenges of globalisation. In his Mansion House speech to the City, Mr Brown said businesses should be involved in every school and backed the city academies programme. The chancellor pledged more focus on discipline, setting by ability and to review literacy and numeracy teaching. He said there was "too much potential untapped, too much talent wasted". The chancellor had said that if Britain was to meet the challenges of globalisation, improving education and skills had to be the priority.
There would be "no place in the new Britain we seek for complacency and no room for inadequate skills, low aspirations". "I want a Britain where there is no cap on ambition, no ceiling on talent, no limit to where your potential will take you and how far you can rise," he added. To achieve this he outlined plans to keep children in schools or training until 18, and offer them a "clear pathway" to a career - either through further education or through an apprenticeship.
Business partners
A National Council for Education Excellence is being set up to bring together business, education and voluntary sector leaders, he said, to see how businesses and universities can help schools. "In future every single secondary school and primary school should have a business partner - and I invite you all to participate," he said. BBC political editor Nick Robinson said it appeared Mr Brown was "ploughing on in much the same direction as Tony Blair".
Setting by ability
Education policy would focus on "standards and rigour" in teaching - particularly literacy and numeracy. There should be more "setting by ability" in maths, English, science and languages in all schools, he said. While "setting" groups pupils in terms of ability for certain lessons only, "streaming", favoured by Conservative leader David Cameron, puts them in hierarchical groups for all lessons. Plans for small group after-school tuition for pupils with a particular interest in certain subjects, extra support for gifted pupils and business "mentors" for those at risk of dropping out, were also outlined by Mr Brown.
Teachers 'in control'
And he pledged to champion "greater diversity" in education, adding he "applauded" city academies and wanted to make it easier to expand them. He also said he would consider "employer led" skills academies to improve vocational provision. The government would champion "excellence in teaching" and try to attract more "inspirational graduates" into teaching. And Mr Brown added teachers had to be "in control in every classroom". Further steps would be taken to "stamp out" bullying and Ofsted would be asked to "raise the bar" on what is considered acceptable behaviour. Mr Brown said: "We will champion discipline. I know parents and employers expect us to do more to help schools recognise the vital role of discipline in developing children and young people and they are right to do so."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Efron wins National Medal of Science

Efron, the Max H. Stein Professor and Professor of Statistics and of Health Research and Policy, was cited "for his contributions to theoretical and applied statistics, especially the bootstrap sampling technique; for his extraordinary geometric insight into nonlinear statistical problems; and for applications in medicine, physics and astronomy."

He invented the bootstrap method, a general computer-based way of attaching plus-or-minus values to a statistical estimate (as in, for example, "57 percent of the public plus or minus 3 percent are in favor of subsidizing public utilities"). His focus on methodologies useful in diverse fields has helped make Stanford's Department of Statistics America's top-ranked department in the discipline.

Efron, 69, is one of the world's most often-cited mathematical scientists. He earned his doctorate in statistics from Stanford in 1964 and joined the Stanford faculty in 1965. Winner of a 1983 MacArthur Prize, he has served as president of the American Statistical Association and of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

The other 2005 National Medal of Science laureates are Jan D. Achenbach (Northwestern University), Ralph A. Alpher (Dudley Observatory), Anthony S. Fauci (National Institutes of Health), Tobin J. Marks (Northwestern University), Lonnie G. Thompson (Ohio State University) and Torsten N. Wiesel (Rockefeller University).

"The National Medal of Science honors individuals for pioneering scientific research in a range of fields, including physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral and engineering sciences, that enhances our understanding of the world and leads to innovations and technologies that give the United States its global economic edge," said a White House statement.

Clinton opens campaign song vote

US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is asking the public to choose her 2008 campaign song in an online vote. Now the New York senator has posted nine songs on her website, asking people to select their favourite tune.
U2 - City of Blinding Lights
U2 - Beautiful Day
KT Tunstall - Suddenly I See
Smash Mouth - I'm a Believer
The Temptations - Get Ready
Dixie Chicks - Ready to Run
Shania Twain - Rock This Country
Jesus Jones - Right Here Right Now
The Staple Singers - I'll Take You There