2015年1月28日 星期三

Has Cameron finished what Thatcher started?

"Before Margaret Thatcher’s era, the Tories were conservators, not wreckers. Cameron has gone much further than Thatcher dared. The survival of the United Kingdom itself is in doubt and it’s an open question who “the British” now are. An election result leaving the Tories at the helm would see more destruction, financial, social and moral. What they offer as a vision of who we are, what we value and where we belong in the world is small and mean."
The long read: Margaret Thatcher wanted to privatise Britain; David Cameron’s ambition went further. Assessing his legacy for their new book, Polly Toynbee and David Walker document the Tory leader’s assault on...

英國新成立 Alan Turing Institute:5所大學為主要合作的組織

英國新成立Alan Turing Institute:5所大學為主要合作的組織

Cambridge announced as one of five key partners in new national Alan Turing Institute

Big Data

The University of Cambridge is to be one of the five universities that will lead the new Alan Turing Institute, announced the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills today.

Alan Turing’s genius played a pivotal role in cracking the codes that helped us win the Second World War. It is therefore only right that our country’s top universities are chosen to lead this new institute named in his honour
Vince Cable
The Alan Turing Institute will promote the development and use of advanced mathematics, computer science, algorithms and ‘Big Data’ – the collection, analysis and interpretation of immense volumes of data – for human benefit.  Located at the British Library in London, it will bring together leaders in advanced mathematics and computing science from the five of the UK’s most respected universities – Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, UCL* and Warwick – and partners.
Dr Cable said: “Alan Turing’s genius played a pivotal role in cracking the codes that helped us win the Second World War. It is therefore only right that our country’s top universities are chosen to lead this new institute named in his honour.
“Headed by the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Warwick and UCL - the Alan Turing Institute will attract the best data scientists and mathematicians from the UK and across the globe to break new boundaries in how we use big data in a fast moving, competitive world.” 
The delivery of the Institute is being coordinated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which invests in research and postgraduate training across the UK. The Institute is being funded over five years with £42 million from the UK government. The selected university partners will contribute further funding. In addition, the Institute will seek to partner with other business and government bodies.
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: “The Alan Turing Institute will draw on the best of the best academic talent in the country. It will use the power of mathematics, statistics, and computer science to analyze Big Data in many ways, including the ability to improve online security. Big Data is going to play a central role in how we run our industries, businesses and services. Economies that invest in research are more likely to be strong and resilient; the Alan Turing Institute will help us be both.”
The University of Cambridge has a strong historical association with Alan Turing, who studied as an undergraduate from 1931 to 1934 at King's College, from where he gained first-class honours in mathematics. Research at Cambridge continues his legacy of groundbreaking work in mathematics and computer science, extending into many areas that he helped pioneer, including mathematical biology, language modelling, statistical inference and artificial intelligence.
Cambridge researchers will play a critical role in shaping the research agenda for the Alan Turing Institute, bringing in world experts in mathematics, statistics, computer science and information engineering, and linking to the research challenges of the future, such as the study of huge genomic datasets, or the development of the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array.
In 2013, the University created Cambridge Big Data, a cross-School strategic initiative bringing together experts in a number of themes. These range from the fundamental technologies of data science, to applications in disciplines as diverse as astronomy, clinical medicine and education, as well as experts exploring the ethical, legal, social and economic questions that are critical to making data science work in practice. The research developed at the Alan Turing Institute will link to the first of these themes, allowing for a rich exchange of ideas within a broad researcher community, and a joined-up and multidisciplinary approach to the big data challenges of the future.
Professor Paul Alexander, who heads Cambridge Big Data, said:  “Modern technology allows for the collection of immense volumes of data, but the challenge of converting this ‘Big Data’ into useful information is enormous. The Alan Turing Institute is an immensely exciting opportunity for the collective expertise of Cambridge and its partners to rise to this very important challenge and make a huge contribution to the future success of the UK economy, our ability to provide health and societal benefits and the ability of British universities to remain at the cutting edge of research.”

2015年1月21日 星期三

WATCH: How to Pronounce Difficult U.K. Place Names


WATCH: How to Pronounce Difficult U.K. Place Names

(Photo: YouTube)
Siobhan Thompson and special guest Rusty Ward. (Photo: YouTube)
How do you pronounce the above British place name? It may not be what you think.
Britain is home to many villages and towns with counterintuitive pronuniciations, as we’ve learned before. In this week’s episode of the Anglophenia YouTube series, BritSiobhan Thompson teaches an American, Science Friction host Rusty Ward, how to say some of the more difficult place names of the United Kingdom. Kudos to anyone who can pronounce “Llanelli” without soaking their computer screen in saliva.

Wolf Hall:the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell

Wolf Hall preview: 'giving this sorry year some meaning'

The long-awaited adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s book is upon us, so it’s time to get down with the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell
Mark Rylance as  Thomas Cromwell
 Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, ‘the Tudor embodiment of not giving a toss’. Photograph: Giles Keyte
“Wolsey, you’re out!” bellows the Duke of Norfolk, clearly a kind of proto Alan Sugar. “I will chew you up. Bones, flesh, and gristle!”
This impassioned speech means one of only two things: either someone’s been snooping round in my draft texts, or the hugely anticipated dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is here. Alleviating the sharp pain of January and giving this sorry year some meaning, the six-part series, which charts Thomas Cromwell’s rise and fall in the leadup to the Reformation, doesn’t disappoint, covering everything from his interactions with the major players of the court through to his domestic life and flashbacks to a childhood being kicked across the cobbles by nasty Pa Cromwell. This, you may be getting a growing sense, is not a merry Tudor romp.
Cromwell is played by theatre’s Mark Rylance, who has a scary talent for imperceptibly shifting his face to “classically flinty yet softened round the edges”. The decision to cast lean and sinewy Damian Lewis as Henry VIII – a king who, in the public imagination, hovers somewhere between Brian Blessed with a lute and Bungle from Rainbow cosplaying Bacchus – might throw you, but it makes sense fast. He’s menacing and naive, and only writing angry petitions to Rome can distract him from ye courtgash.
The desperate attempt by Thomas and the lord chancellor Wolsey to persuade the Pope to annul Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon in favour of someone – anyone – who could reliably pop out an heir forms the meat of this opening episode. When Wolsey fails, he’s prised out of his sumptuously padded seat and the austere Thomas More is quick to sneak his behind into it. This doesn’t go down well with Cromwell. “Lord chancellor?” he spits at More, “What’s that? A fucking accident?”
He doesn’t say a lot, old Crommers, but when he does there’s no messing about, and the script is peppered with great lines for TC (“Do you want the king to huddle indoors like a sick girl? “That would be ideal for fiscal purposes”). By rights, each zinger should be followed by Thomas coolly putting on a pair of sunglasses while tapestries reading “DEAL WITH IT” unfurl around him.
I love this Mantel-grade Cromwell, the Tudor embodiment of not giving a toss. He came from nothing and ended up one of the most powerful men in Britain. He’s bolshy but humble, with a dark, disquieting edge as a bonus. The unknown quality to his “still waters run deep” tip is exactly what draws history fans to the subject, and makes him a great central character for a drama.
History hasn’t been kind to Cromwell. For five centuries he’s been painted – quite literally, with his portraits being the ugliest of the bunch – as a conniving self-promoter. The mustier contingents of the history crew have sneered “revisionist” at Mantel’s interpretation of Cromwell, but it’s as legitimate as any other version when you consider that history is written by the victors and Cromwell ended up with his head in a basket. The executioner’s blade that hangs over the kind and clever man of this drama makes you realise just how quickly your luck could turn. In a culture where people were cast aside, imprisoned and beheaded just to score political points, it seems obvious that the only way to make it was to be a bit of a cunning bastard.
If you were a woman, meanwhile, your best hope was that flashing a nice pallid bit of neck at the right moment would rouse the sensibilities of someone important. This was the skill of Anne Boleyn, who is a screwfaced nightmare here; the kind of girl who, in a different life where she lacked the power to ruin you, would have goblets of wine flung over her every night of the week. Case in point: she’s fond of haughtily clipping out phrases in French, which frankly made you as much of a bore 500 years ago as it does now. She is awful and I hope to see a lot more of her. While I’m no history buff, I think I’ll get my wish.
Wolf Hall starts on Wednesday, 9pm, BBC2
Damian Lewis as Henry VIII
Damian Lewis as Henry VIII Photograph: Giles Keyte

2015年1月19日 星期一

努力清除反猶太主義 Germany’s anti-Islamic movement Pegida is a vampire we must slay

"No, no, surely not. On top of everything else, not that. Three days before a young Eritrean was murdered in Dresden, a swastika was daubed on the door of his flat. On the evening he was stabbed to death Pegida held its largest demonstration so far. And it’s not just Germany. There is a real danger of a downward spiral in which radicalised minorities, Muslim and anti-Muslim, will drag anxious majorities, non-Muslim and Muslim, in the wrong direction. Only a conscious, everyday effort by each one of us will prevent it."

Timothy Garton Ash: As suspicion of Muslims grows in Germany and...


2015年 1月 18日













英國:School for LGBT pupils planned for Manchester;經濟增長南北差異增大

英國準備於曼徹斯特(Manchester)市中心,開辦第一所為LGBT學童設計的學校(LGBT School),預估在3年內,將招收女同性戀(Lesbian)、男同性戀(Gay)、雙性戀(Bisexual)和跨性別者(Transgender)的年輕學童。未來除作為教育機構經營之外,將更強調個人的技能與建立信任。

楊迺仁 我不贊成,英國這種做法,也許消弭了「校內」的霸凌,卻無助於消弭整個社會的霸凌,甚至因為這座學校標榜只招收LGBT學生,可能讓學校的學生更容易成為反LGBT團體攻擊的標的。



School for LGBT pupils planned for Manchester

School will teach 40 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students who are struggling in mainstream education.

 Manchester is set to have the first British school for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. Photograph: Chris Thomond for the Guardian

The first school in Britain for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people could open its doors within the next three years. Based in the centre ofManchester, the specialist state school plans to take 40 full-time students from across the area and will offer up to 20 part-time places for young people who want to continue attending a mainstream school.
“This is about saving lives,” said Amelia Lee, strategic director for LGBT Youth North West, the youth work charity behind the plans. “Despite the laws that claim to protect gay people from homophobic bullying, the truth is that in schools especially, bullying is still incredibly common and causes young people to feel isolated and alienated, which often leads to truanting and, in the worst-case scenarios, to suicide.”
Last September 14-year-old Elizabeth Lowe hanged herself in a Manchester park because she feared telling her parents that she was gay. “Lizzie felt the only option was to kill herself. There was another girl with a similar story in Bolton,” said Lee. “This is not about making a little, safe enclave away from the real world: we work with 9,000 mainstream pupils and 1,000 teachers a year to help educate them about homosexuality. In addition, the support this new school will offer to part-time pupils could happen in their mainstream school, if that’s what they want,” she said.
“But we have an education system that sets up 5%-10% of pupils to fail through fear and structure, because it routinely fails to recognise and incorporate the needs of young people struggling with their identities. We can either hope every school is going to be inclusive, or we can recognise we are not there yet and so, for the moment, we need more specialised schools,” she added.
The school will be specifically designed for LGBT young people who are struggling in mainstream schools, but will be open to other children, including young carers, young parents and those with mental health problems. “It will be LGBT-inclusive, but not exclusive,” said Lee.
A £63,000 feasibility study into the plan is under way thanks to a grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government. The charity has also been involved in discussions with Manchester city council about how it can provide an alternative education for LGBT children in the area.
Lee, who said she hoped the school would act as a trailblazer and inspiration for other areas, said it was unlikely that it would be a free school. “The consultation has a long way to go, but free schools tend to operate at arm’s length from local government, while we are thinking more along the lines of an alternative education provider that’s networked through the local pupil referral units, who will refer children to us for whom mainstream education isn’t working,” said Lee.
A year at the school, which will be funded by the government, will cost £16,000, the same as other specialist schools. But Lee claims that the charity is saving other council services about £1.3m through early intervention and support for struggling children.
“The school will have a gentle, supportive atmosphere. Its curriculum will be closely tailored to each child’s needs and incorporate academic work with youth-work techniques, such as building self-esteem and functional skills by working in the charity’s cafe or community garden,” she said. “It is about trying to develop something that helps people that need extra support.”
Ellie (not her real name) turned to the LGBT Youth North West charity after she was outed by a school friend. “School was awful,” she said. “The PE teacher made me change clothes with the lads because she said I wasn’t attracted to them.
“It annoyed me so much that I stopped going to PE, which meant I got in trouble for missing the lessons,” she added. Ellie eventually changed schools at 16. “There were comments all the time, in most of the classes and in the corridors, and none of the teachers did anything to help me.”
Rob (also not his real name) said homophobic bullying made his education in a mainstream school horrendous. Teachers need to teach about how homophobia is bad and how it affects the lives of LGBT people, he said.
“They need to help us feel safe in our own environment of school. And they should teach the other students how LGBT people just want to be like anyone else. But none of this happens and, as a result, LGBT pupils routinely experience bullying that, if it was racist or sexist, wouldn’t be accepted by the school for a second.”
The new school is being planned as an extension to Manchester’s Joyce Layland LGBT Centre, currently a council-owned, site dedicated for LGBT organisations, incorporating a meeting space, offices, an LGBT library and a cafe.
Sue Saunders, national chair of Schools Out UK, which has been campaigning for the rights of LGBT people in education for 40 years, said a specialist state school focusing on the needs of gay children was a crucial enterprise.
“We are only too aware of how some schools leave their LGBT and questioning students to flounder and we know the high level of attempted suicides,” she said. “We strongly support this exciting and important venture.”
A spokeswoman for Manchester City Council confirmed that the council had been in discussions with the charity about providing an alternative education facility for LGBT children in the area.
“We supported LGBT Youth NW in their bid for funding to look at the feasibility of expanding their premises and developing the work they do,” she said. “One of their development ambitions is around how they might make additional educational support available to LGBT young people. We’ve had an initial discussion with them about that but there are no current plans that we’re aware of to open a LGBT school in the city.”
  • This article was amended on 16 January. The original said Elizabeth Lowe killed herself last month. This has been corrected.




研究機構城市中心(Centre for Cities)的研究顯示,2004年,南方城市每新增12個工作職位,其他地區只增加1個。



EY Item Club(EYIT)預計今年經濟增幅將達2.9%,比財相奧斯本12月公佈的最新官方預計高0.5個百分點。


該機構首席經濟顧問斯賓塞教授(Peter Spencer)說,英國經濟前景比三個月前有較大改善,油價持續下跌部分抵消了出口疲軟,但同時也加劇了經濟對國內市場的依賴,不平衡狀態較嚴重。












2015年1月15日 星期四

Montague B Black 在1926想像的London in 2026

"In 1926, London Underground published a poster by Montague B Black which imagines London in 2026. A golden sky enfolds a cityscape of skyscrapers over which various types of flying machine hover. We’ve more than a decade to go to fulfil its prophecies, but Black’s vision of London in 2026 looks remarkably similar to a view across the City in 2015..."
Most artistic visions of London’s future have been darkly pessimistic. But this Underground poster painted by Montague B Black in 1926 offered an uncanny – and much more optimistic – view of the modern city

2015年1月14日 星期三

The UK government wants to set up a separate judicial system, exclusively for the use of corporations

The UK government wants to set up a separate judicial system, exclusively for the use of corporations. Corporations will be able to challenge the laws they don’t like, and seek massive compensation if these are deemed to affect their “future anticipated profits”.

The TTIP trade deal will throw equality before the law on the corporate bonfire

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a reckless destruction of democratic principles. But we can beat it
TTIP protest belgium
A protest against the planned TTIP free trade agreement in Brussels last month. 'Public understanding is lethal to this attempted corporate coup,' Photograph: Jonas Sch Ll/ Jonas Sch ll/dpa/Corbis
If a government proposes to abandon one of the fundamental principles of justice, there had better be a powerful reason. Equality before the law is not ditched lightly. Surely? Well, read this and judge for yourself. The UK government, like that of the US and 13 other EU members, wants to set up a separate judicial system, exclusively for the use of corporations. While the rest of us must take our chances in the courts, corporations across the EU and US will be allowed to sue governments before a tribunal of corporate lawyers. They will be able to challenge the laws they don’t like, and seek massive compensation if these are deemed to affect their “future anticipated profits”.
I’m talking about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its provisions for “investor-state dispute settlement”. If this sounds incomprehensible, that’s mission accomplished: public understanding is lethal to this attempted corporate coup.
The TTIP is widely described as a trade agreement. But while in the past trade agreements sought to address protectionism, now they seek to address protection. In other words, once they promoted free trade by removing trade taxes (tariffs); now they promote the interests of transnational capital by downgrading the defence of human health, the natural world, labour rights, and the poor and vulnerable from predatory corporate practices.
The proposed treaty has been described by the eminent professor of governance Colin Crouch as “post-democracy in its purest form”. Post-democracy refers to our neutron-bomb politics, in which the old structures, such as elections and parliaments, remain standing, but are uninhabited by political power. Power has shifted to other forums, unamenable to public challenge: “small, private circles where political elites do deals with corporate lobbies”.
Investor-state dispute settlement – ISDS – means allowing corporations to sue governments over laws that might affect their profits. The tobacco company Philip Morris is currently suing Australia and Uruguay, under similar treaties, for their attempts to discourage smoking. It describes the UK’s proposed rules on plain packaging as “unlawful”: if TTIP goes ahead, expect a challenge.
Corporations can use the courts to defend their interests. But under current treaties, ISDS lets them apply instead to offshore tribunals operating in secret, without such basic safeguards as judicial review and rights of appeal. As Crouch notes, this is not just post-democracy, but “post-law”.
Tomorrow the TTIP is debated in the House of Commons. Next month negotiations resume between the US and EU. So you’d have imagined that our government might, by now, have sought to justify it.
There is only one possible justification for a separate judicial system: a failure by existing courts to fairly arbitrate businesses’ legal claims. So which judicial systems in the US or EU treat corporations unfairly?
I have asked this question (via Twitter) to the business secretary, Vince Cable; his deputy, Lord Livingston; and the Conservative leader in the European parliament, Syed Kamall. Resounding silence. I have asked it in this column, three times. Nothing. I have asked the business department by phone. After an attempt by its spokesman to suggest that there could be something wrong with the US system, and a subsequent failure to explain what this might be; he sent me this statement: “Investor protection is needed as domestic courts are not the typical route for investors to seek redress.” Not the typical route? That’s it?
In the House of Commons, the MP Zac Goldsmith asked the business minister to name the occasions in the past five years in which companies in the EU or US have been discriminated against in courts across the Atlantic. Answer: the government “does not have access to relevant information”.
The European commission argues that “the main reason for having an ISDS mechanism is because in many countries investment agreements are not directly enforceable in domestic courts”. Perhaps. But none of those countries are in the proposed trading bloc. A condition of EU membership is “an independent and efficient judiciary” with “legal guarantees for fair trial procedures”. What is a provision designed to protect investors in failed states doing in a treaty between the EU and the US?
David Cameron has attempted a different argument. At the G20 summit last year he said: “We’ve signed trade deal after trade deal and there has never been a problem in the past.” It’s the dangerous driver’s defence: I’ve done 100mph loads of times, and I’m still alive, aren’t I?
Yes, we’ve been lucky so far; luckier than other nations in Europe, which so far have been sued 127 times under investor-state clauses in other treaties. The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have had to pay out enough money to have employed 380,000 nurses for a year. Investor-state cases are escalating rapidly: as corporations begin to understand the power they’ve been granted, they will turn their attention from the weak nations to the strong ones.
No one will provide a justification because no one can. To protect transnational capital from a non-existent risk, our governments are recklessly abandoning the principle of equality before the law.
I believe we can win this. We’ve won it before, when the treaty they now call TTIP was the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. After a massive public response it was defeated in 1998. Now they are trying again, with a different name.
Already two petitions have gathered 2.5m signatures between them. In response, the EU has frantically been making concessions. For the first time in its history, it has made its negotiating positions public. It has launched a consultation on investor-state dispute settlement (though still, after six months, not published the results); promised protections for public services; and proposed to improve the offshore arbitration system – while still failing to explain what’s wrong with the courts we already possess. These are desperate concessions from an organisation that knows the window is closing: if it can’t secure an agreement before the next US election, TTIP is probably finished.
So keep marching, keep signing, keep joining the campaigns that have come together under the Stop TTIP banner. In an age of ecocide, food banks and financial collapse, do we need more protection from predatory corporate practices, or less? This is a reckless, unjustified destruction of our rights. We can defeat it.