Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Religious Language Revision Games

I've uploaded a couple of word games you can use to revise your vocabulary for the Religious Language topic. If you find you have a few minutes in your busy half-term schedule of revising, writing essays, and in-depth background reading, why not give them a try?

The games are Key Word Pairs and Key Word Articulate. You can download them here, or if you have a TES account, from here.

You might also want to take a look at this post on the Via Negativa.

Enjoy your break!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Taliban Shoot 14-year-old Campaigner for Girls' Right to Education

The Taliban have shot and wounded a 14-year-old girl who campaigned for girls’ right to education in Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai earned respect in her home country for standing up for her right to an education. Malala resisted the Taliban’s orders banning girls from attending school in the Swat Valley where she lives. Malala also kept a blog detailing her experiences under Taliban rule.
According to the BBC:
Malala Yousafzai was travelling with at least one other girl when she was shot, but there are differing accounts of how events unfolded.
One report, citing local sources, says a bearded gunman stopped a car full of schoolgirls, andasked for Malala Yousafzai by name, before opening fire.
But a police official also told BBC Urdu that unidentified gunmen opened fire on the schoolgirls as they were about to board a van or bus.

She was hit in the head and, some reports say, in the neck area by a second bullet. Another girl who was with her at the time was also injured.
Doctors who treated her in Mingora initially said she was out of danger. She has now been taken by helicopter to Peshawar for further treatment, officials say.
The next time you find yourself staring mindlessly out of the window in class, or whinging about that essay on Wittgenstein, remember that the education you enjoy is a privilege that other people risk their lives to secure.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Changes to UK Abortion Law? A Look at the Maths

Abortion law has been in the news over the last few days, with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying that he would personally support a significant reduction in the time limit for terminating pregnancies, from the current limit of 24 weeks to 12 weeks.

Other government figures have also set out their own views, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying that he supports a “modest reduction” from the current 24 week limit, and equalities minister Maria Miller drawing some criticism by calling for a cut to 20 weeks.
I didn’t think initially that there was any reason to think that these comments made a change in the law particularly likely. The MPs were talking about their personal beliefs, not matters of party policy, and David Cameron has stressed that the government has no plans to change to current laws. Any vote in parliament, which would be required to change the law, would be a “free vote”: one in one in which MPs are not told how to vote by their party, but instead vote according to their conscience. In the last such free vote, in 2008, MPs voted against any reduction in the current limit, by 304 votes to 233.
However, although MPs vote according to their conscience, what their conscience tells them about an issue does seem to vary markedly according to which party they belong to.
So in the 2008 vote, approximately 69% of Conservative MPs voted for a reduction to 22 weeks, while only 12% voted to keep the current 24 week limit. Amongst Labour MP these proportions were almost reversed, with 67% of Labour MPs opposing any reduction and only 17% in favour. Liberal Democrat MPs were more evenly split, with 53% for and 35% against any reduction.
Following the 2010 election, there are now more Conservatives in parliament, and fewer Labour and Lib Dem MPs. So if there were another free vote on a reduction to current abortion limit, and if the MPs within each party voted for and against a reduction in the same proportions as they did in 2008, the outcome of any vote could be quite different. If my maths are right, the numbers of MPs in the three main parties voting for and against could look something like this:
For a reduction:

Con                        211
Lab                         45
Lib Dem                20
Total                     276
Against a reduction:

Con                        37
Lab                         173
Lib Dem                30
Total                     240
So among the 3 main parties there would be a majority in favour of a reduction, which might well increase when the votes of MPs from smaller parties are considered, as they tended to support a reduction in 2008.

Incidentally, in the 2008 vote, David Cameron voted for a reduction to 22 weeks. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour Leader Ed Miliband both voted against a reduction.