From one warzone to another – soldiers to be fast-tracked to become teachers

It’s probably a bit un-PC to compare school kids to the Taliban, but I have no doubt that when ex-soldiers make it through a two-year fast track programme to become teachers that they’ll notice the similarities. Teenagers and terrorists: liable to explode any minute.

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Do employers hire the pretty ones?

Which one would you hire? (it's the same woman by the  way)

Which one would you hire? (it’s the same woman by the way)


Unfortunately, yes. It’s not just women – the dreaded “halo effect” gets us all. Turning heads is a great way to get a job, and when they do get employed, attractive people are likely to earn 3-4 per cent more than a person with below-average looks. But that’s not the whole story.

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Are young people really a menace on the roads?

I hate being pegged. In my early twenties I used to drive past a primary school on my way to work and every morning would coincide with the lollipop lady and a troupe of five-year-olds. I could feel the accusative stares directed at me when the parents reigned back their kids as I bore down on their zebra crossing in my VW Polo. At 12 miles an hour.

Then there’s the look of surprise, followed swiftly by the ushering on of Johnny and Claire, with the odd furtive glance in my direction to see if the road rage had overcome me. Then, just cos I like to prove that I’m not one of those hooligans my mum always used to tell me about, I’d thank them for getting in my way.

So no, we’re not always a menace. But I am also guilty of once trying to find out how fast my car went (not very with a 1.4 litre engine).

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What do young people in Britain actually believe?

Here’s a list of interesting points about the beliefs of young Britons today, put together by the Economist in a recent leader.

Most young people believe…

1) Sexual preference and homosexuality are just non-issues. Young people in Britain really don’t care what others get up to at home – or even in public – and the government shouldn’t either. Gay marriage? Meh.

2) Mass immigration is something we should worry about. Facing appalling job prospects, young people are concerned that immigration is becoming a problem. All the same, they wish politicians wouldn’t keep banging on about it.

3) Less than 30 per cent of those under 35 think that welfare is one of Britain’s proudest achievements (compared to 61 per cent of post-WW2 baby boomers). They think Britain actually spends too much on welfare and support cutting down on the amount of government funding it gets.

4) Global warming is a biggie.

5) Tesco can rule the world if it wants, just so long as it still sells cheap food.

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Britain goes to court over residency test. Could you pass it?

The European Union is taking Britain to court for discriminating against some European residents in Britain who are denied social benefits (like child support) that other immigrants aren’t because they are asked to take the wrong kind of test.

I’m not going to get into the debate about whether the EU is right to challenge Britain in this way, But I thought it would be interesting to see what sort of questions they ask. Here are a few examples (the actual full test hasn’t been published, obviously, so these are sample questions), borrowed from the BBC and Guardian (x2).

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Should the amount your parents’ earn have an effect on your university fees?

The Sutton Trust, a respected education think-tank, is worried that poor kids choose not to go to university because it’s too expensive and says fees should be means-tested. It’s wrong.

There are two issues here. The first is that university fees are too expensive. The second is that poor students should be given more help than richer ones.

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Young Brits are putting two fingers up to employers

Young entrepreneur Edwin

If you won’t give me a job, then I’ll make my own, thank you very much.

That seems to be the attitude of young people in Britain since the financial crisis struck in 2008. As the FT reported yesterday, a third of young participants in recent YouGov research said that they believe they would be self-employed in the future, and around a quarter said they would be within five years.

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Dear over-reacting Britain, spying is not the answer. Here’s a better one.

Getting cleavered to death is a nasty way to go. It’s emotive and graphic. But it’s also very small scale. The country’s reaction to Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder on the streets of London has been completely overblown.

Most of the controversy among the media and politicians is about Home Secretary Theresa May’s proposals to revive legislation to increase police powers over hate groups (popularly called the snooper’s charter). This would include possible banning orders for extremist groups, even if they don’t explicitly encourage terrorism, and a crackdown on internet activity.

This is missing the point. Even if you prevent radical speech online, you can’t stop it in the privacy of people’s homes. At least online you can monitor it, whereas if you start banning online preaching,  it’ll just go off the radar. Plus, two radicalised young men with cleavers cannot be stopped because they no longer have access to their favourite YouTube cleric. You have to detain them, which is a whole other slippery slope.

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You should all want to be spacemen

Or at least spacemen like Canadian Chris Hadfield, who just got back from his latest sojourn into weightlessness. Chris has been an internet hit. I mean, you’d have to be if you’re cool enough to produce a music video of Ground Control to Major Tom from the International Space Station.

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