Archive for November 11, 2010

Students could face fines for paying off loans early

I know this is from a couple of weeks ago…

But it’s probably something else that helped light the fuse for the anger unleashed yesterday on Tory HQ.

This anger isn’t going to go away any time soon….

Students could face fines for paying off loans early

Anna Davis, Education Correspondent Anna Davis, Education Correspondent

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University leaders today criticised proposals to penalise graduates who pay off their student loans too quickly.

Mortgage-style redemption penalties could be brought in to discourage paying off loans early to avoid high interest rates but the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said this would mean a lifetime of debt for every university student.
The Government has ruled out abolishing the cap on tuition fees, which was recommended by Lord Browne in a review of university funding. Instead, universities are expected to be allowed to charge a maximum of £7,000 a year.
Students would be given loans to cover the cost of university, which would be paid back with tiered rates of interest based on their graduate
salaries. Business Secretary Vince Cable said ministers are considering how to deal with students who go on to high-earning jobs and are able to pay off their student loans quickly.
Speaking on Sky News, he said: “We have to think about how to find a way by which they make some sort of contribution towards low-earning graduates.”
Martin Freedman, head of pay and pensions at ATL, said: “If students can’t pay the loans off early, people will be paying debts for the next 30 years. Is that really what we want the outcome of higher education to be?” He said the threshold for paying off loans should be raised from the proposed £21,000 to £30,000.
A spokeswoman for the department for business, innovation and skills said “all options” were being considered. The Browne report suggested that no penalty should be imposed for paying back loans quickly.

Categories: News of the moment

Things to make your brain ache

A year on Earth
A year on earth is measured by one complete trip around the sun.
Seems simple enough but there is a problem.
The earth doesnt travel in a path around the sun that returns it to its starting point.
So how do we know when the year starts or ends?

Size Of The Universe
See How Big The Universe Is


Largest Star in Space
From our planet to the largest known star.


The Bizarre Hexagon on Saturn

Saturn’s Hexagon Replicated In Laboratory

16 April 2010

An unusual hexagonal structure found in Saturn’s atmosphere has been recreated in an Oxford laboratory. The mysterious ‘hexagon’ occurs at the planet’s chilly North Pole and has been shown to extend deep into Saturn’s atmosphere with a ‘hotspot’ at its core.
In new work published in Icarus, Peter Read and Ana Aguiar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics have investigated the ways in which such an unusual polygonal structure may have formed.
They did this with experiments using a water tank filled with a solution of water and glycerol peppered with white ‘tracer’ particles. This tank was then mounted on a turntable and lit in such a way that the solution’s flow at various speeds could be captured on camera.
‘The video above shows the development of a flow produced when a disk or ring mounted in the base or lid of the tank is set into rotation relative to the rest of the tank,’ Peter Read explains.
‘This differential rotation carries the fluid along with it to create a shear flow in which the azimuthal flow varies with radius. It crudely represents the shear found on the flanks of the eastward-moving jet stream on Saturn at around 76 degrees North, with around the same magnitude of shear compared with the background rotation as on Saturn itself.’
He tells me that this flow is unstable and spontaneously develops meanders and vortices that eventually form a six-sided pattern that settles into a hexagonal shape – something made clear by the pattern of tracer particles.
‘The formation of such a steady, symmetrical pattern, slowly drifting around a tank, seems to be directly analogous to what appears to be happening on Saturn itself on a scale of thousands of kilometres,’ Peter adds.
The experiments demonstrate that at least one possible end-product of such an instability is the production of a steady, polygonal shape that calculations suggest could also occur on Saturn.
‘While this does not prove that Saturn’s hexagon definitely occurs via the same processes as in our experiments, it does demonstrate that it could do so, and suggests other things for scientists to look for that may help to improve our understanding of Saturn’s atmosphere.’

credit: Oxford University


Murdoch gets tough with Cameron

Categories: Cartoons

Steve Bell on Mervyn King and cricket

Mervyn King peppers his speech about inflation with jargon from his favourite sport

Categories: Cartoons

New from Subbuteo

Matt cartoon


Categories: Cartoons

Aristocrats own third of land in England and Wales

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Nearly a third of land in England and Wales is still owned by a small group of aristocrats, research indicated today.

Wealthy individuals and their estates are thought to control about 20 million of the country’s 60 million acres.

Research by Country Life magazine found that 36,000 members of the Country Land & Business Association, whose members are mainly individuals and estates, collectively own half of all rural land in England and Wales.

The Forestry Commission is the country’s biggest landowner, holding nearly 2.6 million acres on behalf of the Government, which recently announced plans to privatise it.

It is followed by the National Trust, which has 630,000 acres and 350 historic properties, while the Defence Estates, which holds land for the Ministry of Defence, has 593,000 acres, and pension funds collectively control 550,000 acres.

About 500,000 acres of land in the UK is owned by utility companies, including water and electricity firms and railways, while the Crown Estate has 358,000 acres, worth more than £6.6 billion, and the RSPB has 321,000 acres.

The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry is the country’s largest individual landowner, and the eighth largest landowner overall, controlling 240,000 acres in Scotland and Northamptonshire.

He is followed by the Duke of Atholl’s trusts, which has 145,700 acres in Perthshire, and the Prince of Wales, who has 133,602 acres.

The research found there had been a shift in land ownership during the past century away from family estates to corporate estates.

It said seven of the 11 largest landowners in modern Britain did not exist 100 years ago, and all of these were corporate estates such as the National Trust.

Categories: News of the moment

War Over Monsanto Gets Ugly-birth defects in Argentina from Roundup

War Over Monsanto Gets Ugly

Tuesday 09 November 2010

by: Mike Ludwig, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: IRRI Images, Libertinus)

A delegation of politicians and community activists gathered on August 7 in La Leonesa, a small farm town in Argentina, to hear Dr. Andres Carrasco speak about a study linking a popular herbicide to birth defects in Argentina’s agricultural areas.

But the presentation never happened. A mob of about 100 people attacked the delegation before they could reach the local school where the talk was to be held.

Dr. Carrasco and a colleague locked themselves in a car as the mob yelled threats and beat on the vehicle for two hours. One delegate was hit in the spine and has since suffered lower-body paralysis. Another person was treated for blows to the head. A former provincial human rights official was hit in the face and knocked unconscious.

Witnesses said the angry crowd had ties to local officials and agribusiness bosses, and police made little effort to stop the violence, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

Carrasco is a lead embryologist at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and the Argentinean national research council. His study, first released in 2009 and published in the United States this past summer, shows that glyphosate-based herbicides like Monsanto’s popular Roundup formula caused deformations in chicken embryos that resembled the kind of birth defects being reported in areas like La Leonesa, where big agribusinesses depend on glyphosate to treat genetically engineered crops.

The deformations resulted from much lower doses of herbicide than those commonly found on crops, according to the study.

Biotech chemical giant Monsanto patented glyphosate under the trade name Roundup in the 1970’s. The billion-dollar product is a main source of Monsanto’s revenue and one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. One Monsanto blogger recently wrote that decades of success has made the Roundup brand name and glyphosate “interchangeable similar to the case of facial tissue and the brand name Kleenex.”

Carrasco’s report was largely ignored in the mainstream American media, but gained international attention among those opposed to genetically modified (GM) crops like Monstano’s Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically engineered to tolerate the glyphosate-based herbicides.

The report is not the first to show that glyphosate herbicides like Roundup are more dangerous than government regulators and Monsanto have claimed, and Carrasco is not the first scientist to face intimidation after challenging the biotech industry, although he is the first to be threatened with violence.

Nevertheless, his report made an impact: journalists covered the results, environmentalists petitioned Argentina’s high court to ban glyphosate and the government of the Argentinean province of Chaco began studying an eerie increase in birth defects and child cancer near the soy and rice fields sprayed with thousands of gallons of herbicide.

Article continues here :





Categories: News of the moment