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GERMANY: ABOLISHES STUDENT FEES
Lower Saxony became the last German state to abolish student university fees resulting in a no fees higher education sector. Vastly unpopular, and only introduced a few years ago, the universities charged a much lower fee rate than seen in UK universities where £9,000 is becoming the going rate. While big business and (big) universities are complaining that the loss of fees will impact on the delivery of teaching and research there is widespread joy amongst many that Germany has reverted to a free system, the 'Humboltdian ideal'. Many are hoping that the UK government will take note and reform the system in the UK but political ideology and apparent apathy have left the 'no fees' campaign adrift. However, this could change if the university-industrial complex continues to raise their prices. AT.
Racism: Controversial Artwork Removes
Essex council has struck Banksy removing his artwork for containing racist remarks. The latest mural by the controversial graffiti artist, showed five grey pigeons holding up signs including one stating “go back to Africa” towards a more colourful migratory swallow. One of the pigeons’ signs read “migrants not welcome”, while another held a placard that read “keep off our worms”. It painted overnight in Clacton-on-Sea, a week away from a byelection in the town triggered by the decision of local Conservative MP, Douglas Carswell, to defect to Ukip. Communications manager for Tendring district council Nigel Brown said it had received a complaint that “offensive and racist remarks.” He said, “The site was inspected by staff who agreed that it could be seen as offensive and it was removed this morning in line with our policy to remove this type of material within 48 hours.” JM
US: Secret Service director resigns
The director of the US secret service Julia Pierson has resigned following several high-profile security lapses. Julia Pierson offered her resignation to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday (01-10). Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson said, “Today Julia Pierson, the director of the United States secret service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the secret service and the nation,” A day earlier, she faced angry questions in Congress about a major breach of White House security. News of another incident involving an armed man allowed in a lift with Mr Obama compounded calls for her to go. RK
UK: Top universities slip down
Three UK universities have lost their place in the top 200 of a global higher education league table. The universities of Reading, Dundee and Newcastle slipped out of the top 200 of the Times Higher Education (THE) World Rankings for 2014-15. Five others - Heriot-Watt, Keele, Liverpool John Moores University, Loughborough and the University of Surrey - are no longer in the top 400. However, Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London remain in the top 10. Holding on to the top spot for the fourth consecutive year is the California Institute of Technology in the United States.Harvard University is in second place and the University of Oxford is in third. RK
Australia: Burqa Bans
Australian parliament announced a new rule on Thursday (2/10) holds, anyone wearing “facial coverings” who wants to enter the galleries of federal parliament will be made to sit in a separate shielded section.The Department of Parliamentary Services writes in an “information circular” that, “Persons with facial coverings entering the galleries of the House of Representatives and Senate will be seated in the enclosed galleries. This will ensure that persons with facial coverings can continue to enter the Chamber galleries, without needing to be identifiable. ” The new regulations, sent out to MPs, senators and parliamentary staff, do not specifically mention burqas. A campaign to ban the burqa at parliament had been led by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, who has been calling for a public ban on the garment for years. JM
India: Train collision kills 12
Two passenger trains collided in northern India, killing at least 12 people and injuring 45 others. The collision took place near Gorakhpur station, about 270km (167 miles) from the state capital. Railway official Alok Kumar Singh told "In the first instance, it appears that the accident took place because of an error on the part of the driver and assistant driver of the Krishak Express. They have both been suspended with immediate effect," India's railway network operates 9,000 passenger trains and carries some 18 million passengers every day. There have been numerous train accidents in recent years, killing hundreds of people. RK
US: Ebola case diagnosed
The United States has diagnosed its first case of Ebola in a man who was infected in Liberia and travelled to Texas. An official at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital say the unidentified patient is being kept in isolation. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said “I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country,” More than 3,000 people have already died of Ebola in West Africa and a small number of US aid workers have recovered after being flown to the US. RK
Hong Kong: Leung Chun-ying calls for protests to end
Hong Kong leader CY Leung has urged pro-democracy protesters to stop their campaign "immediately". Huge crowds continue to bring parts of the territory to a standstill. Tens of thousands of people have been blocking streets in several areas.The protesters want Beijing to give Hong Kong a free vote for its next leader, something Beijing has rejected. “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop,” Leung said. “I’m now asking them to fulfil the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.” RK
Mossad : Online Recruitment
Israel’s infamous spy agency Mossad revamped its website last week to include a recruiting video and an online application option for those seeking employment with versions in Hebrew, English, French, Russian, Arabic and Persian. The Mossad, Hebrew for “the Institute,” is short for the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations. It is the global arm of the Israeli intelligence community. Typically the institute always keeps itself obscure. In a statement announcing the launch the head of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, said “We must continue to recruit the best people into our ranks so that the Mossad might continue to lead, defend and allow for the continued existence of the state of Israel. The Mossad’s qualitative human capital is the secret of our success.”JM
Australia : Anti-abortion Campaign
South East Australian state Victoria is getting ready to hold an election to be held on 29 November. On this occasion the issue of abortion has continued to come up. Anti abortion election leaflets are being distributed carrying a photo of the Victorian opposition spokeswoman for women, Danielle Green. The leaflets claim Green supports abortion all the way until birth.The ad also features the Victorian parliamentary crest, contains no contact details, and was not authorised by the Victorian Electoral Commission as required for election materials. Green said, “It is so dishonest and deceptive, and whoever has done it doesn’t have the courage or conviction to put their name to it.” She accused Liberal party members of being involved in the incident. The Victorian Electoral Commission is investigating who was responsible for the distribution.JM
Barack Obama: US Underestimated Islamic State
President Barack Obama conceded on Sunday (28/09) that the United States had underestimated the threat posed by Islamic State fighters in Syria, as a US-led war planes simultaneously pounded the oil sites that fund the jihad group. Obama said that former Al-Qaeda fighters driven from Iraq by US and local forces had been able to gather in Syria to form the newly dangerous Islamic State group. "I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria," Obama said, referring to his director of national intelligence. Asked whether Washington had also overestimated the ability or will of Iraq's US-trained military to fight the jihadists on its own, Obama said: "That's true. That's absolutely true." RK
Afghanistan: Ashraf Ghani New President
Ashraf Ghani has been sworn in as Afghanistan's president in a ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul. The event marked the country's first democratic transfer of power -- a benchmark seen by international donors as a key legacy of the costly military and civilian intervention since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Both Ghani and his poll rival Abdullah Abdullah claimed to have won the fraud-tainted June 14 election. Under heavy pressure from the US and UN, the two candidates eventually agreed to form a "national unity government", and Ghani was declared president. Abdullah, who was also sworn in on Monday (29/09) as chief executive, said the two leaders would work together "for a better future with trust and honesty." RK
UK: Military Action Against ISIS
Former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott openly criticised parliament's decision to take military action again in the Middle East. He urges all parties to think again over air strikes in Iraq and says history is repeating itself. In his regular Sunday Mirror newspaper column, Prescott writes, "It is a regional religious dispute that we should leave to the Arab nations. Bombing is never clinical. From Dresden to Gaza, innocent people are often chalked up as 'collateral damage'. Do we as a country really want to be responsible for that again?" On Friday, at a recalled session of the Commons, MPs voted by 524 to 43 to sanction the UK air strikes, limited to Iraq, with 69 MPs not voting. A total of 23 Labour MPs, six Tories and one Lib Dem voted against UK action along with MPs from the SNP, SDLP, Green party and Respect. Rushanara Ali resigned as shadow education minister before the vote in order to abstain. JM
Catholic Divorce : Pope Revisits Punishing Rules
Before a meeting of international bishops in Rome next Sunday, hopes are high that the pope might decide to set in motion a loosening of the ban in receiving Holy Communion for the divorced. In a global community divided by headline-grabbing issues such as abortion, contraception and gay sex, divorce is far from the most inflammatory topic of conversation. But for a huge number of ordinary people it is a regular and painful reminder that their church considers them ineligible for a right it grants to almost all other Catholics – murderers included. Elio Cirimbelli(66)who did divorcee in 1987 and remarried - goes to church most Sundays, said, "It's very hard, let's put it that way, We have a church that can be a mother, but sometimes it is a mother which not does embrace but which punishes."JM
17th Asiad Game: Diversity Shines Here?
Qatar decides not to take part in the women’s basketball competition at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. An official with the Qatari delegation told on Thursday (25/09) that they did not get permission to wear the Islamic headscarf therefore they decided to not to go ahead with all their remaining games. The Qatari players had been asked to remove the hijab before their group game against Mongolia on Wednesday but they refused, leaving the Games organisers no option but to declare a forfeit. Under International Basketball Federation (Fiba) rules, Article 4.2.2 dictates players cannot wear “headgear, hair accessories and jewellery”. The slogan of the 17th Asiad is, ‘Diversity Shines Here.’ JM
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