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Arkansas inmate convulses during execution, prompting calls for investigations


The fourth death row inmate executed in Arkansas in eight days lurched and convulsed before he died, witnesses said, prompting critics and the man’s legal team to demand an investigation Friday.

The state had sought to carry out as many lethal injections as possible before one of its drugs expires Sunday.

DELAWARE TROOPER’S KILLER SHOT DEAD AFTER BARRICADING HIMSELF IN HOME

About three minutes into the execution Thursday night, Kenneth Williams’ body jerked 15 times in quick succession — lurching violently against the leather restraint across his chest — then the rate slowed for a final five movements, according to an Associated Press reporter who witnessed it.

Williams’ attorneys released a statement calling witness accounts “horrifying” and demanding an investigation into what they called the “problematic execution.”

J.R. Davis, a spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson who did not witness the execution, called the movements “an involuntary muscular reaction” that he said was a widely known effect of the surgical sedative midazolam, the first of three drugs administered.

PENNSYLVANIA TROOPER’S AMBUSH KILLER SENTENCED TO DEATH

Davis said later that he was sure Hutchinson would follow up “as he does with every execution,” but that the governor was confident the Department of Correction “did what it was supposed to do.” The spokesman stood by his previous description of the state’s executions as “flawless.”

“Midazolam’s well-documented risks and role in numerous botched executions should have given Governor Asa Hutchinson pause. Instead, he ignored the dangers and undermined our state’s moral standing – all to beat the expiration date on a failed drug,” Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, responded. 

Williams was sentenced to death for murdering a former deputy warden, Cecil Boren, after he escaped from prison in 1999. At the time of his escape in a 500-gallon barrel of hog slop, Williams was less than three weeks into a life sentence for killing a college cheerleader.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period. That would have been the most in such a short time since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, but courts issued stays for four of the inmates. The four lethal injections that were carried out included Monday’s first double execution in the United States since 2000.

Williams read a prepared final statement before the execution began, apologizing to the families he “senselessly wronged and deprived of their loved ones.” He also spoke in tongues, the unintelligible but language-like speech used in some religions. But his prayer faded off as the midazolam took effect. He said, “The words that I speak will forever be, will forever …” before he fell silent.

The inmate breathed heavily through his nose until just after three minutes into his execution, when his chest leaped forward in a series of what seemed like involuntary movements. His right hand never clenched and his face remained what one media witness called “serene.”

After the jerking, Williams breathed through his mouth and moaned or groaned once — during a consciousness check — until falling still seven minutes into the lethal injection.

A Friday morning tweet from the account of a Republican state Sen. Trent Garner, who witnessed the execution, said Williams did not “seem in pain. … It was not cruel, unusual, botched or torture.”

“Any amount of movement he might have had was far less than any of his victims,” said Jodie Efird, one of Boren’s daughters, who witnessed the execution.

State officials have called Arkansas’ string of executions a success, declaring justice served and “closure” for victims’ families. Some concerns had been raised about Monday’s execution of Jack Jones, whose mouth moved after attorneys said he should have been unconscious, though a federal judge determined it did not appear to be “torturous and inhumane.”

All of the Arkansas inmates — including Williams — have died within 20 minutes of their executions beginning, a contrast from troubled midazolam-related executions in other states that took anywhere from 43 minutes to two hours. Though witnesses to those lengthier executions also described hearing inmates breathe heavily, snore or snort or seeing them struggle against their restraints.

“The long path of justice ended tonight and Arkansans can reflect on the last two weeks with confidence that our system of laws in this state has worked,” Hutchinson said in a statement issued after Williams’ execution.

Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender who witnessed a flawed 2014 Arizona execution that took two hours, said in an email early Friday that after reading media reports, “It appears from witness accounts that Mr. Williams was not fully sedated when the paralytic was administered.

“At a minimum, this was a deviation from the protocol.”

Williams’ lawyers had said he had sickle cell trait, lupus and brain damage, and argued the combined maladies could subject him to an exceptionally painful execution in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They argued Arkansas’ “one size fits all” execution protocol could have left him in pain after a paralytic agent rendered him unable to move. State and federal courts rejected the claims.

Williams was sentenced to death for killing Boren after escaping from the Cummins Unit prison in a barrel holding a mishmash of kitchen scraps. He left the prison — where the execution chamber is located in another part of the facility — less than three weeks into a life prison term for killing University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader Dominique Hurd in 1998. At the conclusion of that trial, he had taunted the young woman’s family by turning to them after the sentence was announced and saying “You thought I was going to die, didn’t you?”

After jumping from the barrel, he sneaked along a tree line until reaching Boren’s house. He killed Boren, stole guns and Boren’s truck and then drove away to Missouri. There, he crashed into a water-delivery truck, killing the driver. While in prison, he confessed to killing another person in 1998.

At the time of Boren’s death, investigators said it did not appear Boren was targeted because of his former employment by the Arkansas Department of Correction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Pope Francis in Egypt for historic visit to show Christian-Muslim unity for peace


Pope Francis arrived in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday for a historic visit aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front to repudiate violence committed in God’s name.

His visit came after three suicide bombings since December on Coptic churches, including deadly twin Palm Sunday church attacks, killed at least 75 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for those attacks. 

Francis first met with Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi who welcomed the Catholic leader at his Ittihadya palace, where a military band played the national anthems of the Vatican and Egypt.

More on this…

The “people’s pope” said before his trip that despite security concerns, he would not travel in an armored car — a decision in line with previous foreign trips, the BBC reported.

The pontiff will make an important visit to Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam. There, he will meet privately with grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and participate in an international peace conference Friday afternoon.

After meetings with el-Sissi and the Mufti, Francis will head to the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Francis and the “other” pope, Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, will preside over an ecumenical prayer service in St. Peter’s church, the Coptic cathedral that was the site of a December suicide bombing claimed by Islamic state militants that killed 30 people.

The goal of the trip is to bring a message of peace to a country that has been ravaged by Islamic extremist attacks, and encourage a culture of respect and tolerance for religious minorities, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.

“The fundamental issue is education, and educating those of different religious beliefs and especially the young, to have great respect for those of other faiths,” Parolin told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. “The question of language is fundamental: when you use a violent language, there is the danger that it can result in violent acts.” 

While the pontiff dislikes using the armored popemobile his predecessors used on foreign trips, security in Cairo has been heightened for Francis’ two-day trip.

Streets that will be used by the pontiff’s motorcade around the Coptic Orthodox cathedral and the Vatican Embassy were cleared of cars, and police swarmed the upscale Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek on a Nile River island where Francis will sleep on Friday.

The pope’s visit is unlikely to cause much disruption to the city as it falls on the Muslim Friday-Saturday weekend, when the usually congested traffic is significantly lighter.

The visit is the first papal trip to Cairo in 20 years, and comes as Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of the country’s 92 million Muslim-majority population, face increased threats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Hollywood icon's massive house


Each week Fox News picks its Top 3 over-the-top luxury listings from Mansion Global.

This week we have the Los Angeles home of screen legend Marlene Dietrich, a posh Manhattan pad from the owner of the Houston Rockets and the Hamptons mansion featured in the film “Grey Gardens.”

The Los Angeles home of screen legend Marlene Dietrich has hit the market in Los Angeles for $6.5 million. This gorgeous Spanish Colonial-style house was built for entertaining and dazzled Dietrich’s many famous friends over the years.

The 6,167-square-foot house sits on a half-acre lot. Each room on the main floor opens up onto the outdoor area. Dramatic arches frame lush seating areas, while beamed cathedral ceilings make the spacious interior rooms of the house seem even more grandiose.

Features include terracotta floors, stained glass windows and six fireplaces.

HOT HOUSES: INSIDE GWYNETH PALTROW’S STUNNING NEW YORK CITY PENTHOUSE

There’s a luxurious sun room and gaming room, with a bar. The eat-in kitchen has been remodeled and has stainless-steel appliances and a dining area. There’s also a formal dining room.

The bedrooms are on the second level, overlooking the courtyard. The master suite is fully equipped with two walk-in closets, a sitting area and an en-suite office area with a separate entrance to a deck above.

Outside, enjoy an in-ground pool, waterfalls, an outdoor fireplace, an outdoor barbecue, a three-car garage and a wine cellar.

Houston Rockets owner and self-made billionaire Leslie Alexander has listed his impressive pad in Manhattan for $21.5 million.  

The 4,545-square-foot apartment includes four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a powder room. It also features panoramic views of Central Park and the city skyline.

The full floor residence contains an entry foyer decorated with a signature Baccarat chandelier.

The spacious living and dining area connects with a chef’s kitchen with Miele and Subzero appliances. The corner master bedroom suite includes a bedroom-sized dressing room and a white marble master bathroom with soaking tub and radiant heated floors.

There are three guest bedrooms, each with en-suite marble bathrooms that are designed by world renowned interior designer Tony Ingrao.

Grey Gardens, the once derelict East Hampton home of society outcasts that inspired one of the highest-regarded documentaries of all time is now selling for $17.995 million.

The seller is the journalist Sally Quinn, who bought the 6,000-square-foot, traditional shingle-style summer home in 1979.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS

Quinn and her husband, the late Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, bought the property just a few years after the film about two society recluses, known as “Big Edie” and “Little Edie,” made their house famous.

The couple originally bought the house for just $220,000 from Edith “Little Edie” Beale, the first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and poured another $600,000 into making it livable again. They also added a pool and a tennis court.

The light-filled home, originally built in 1897, is filled with sunny nooks and crannies that add to the old world charm.

Today the main house has nine bedrooms and six-and-a-half bathrooms. There’s also a small cottage on the grounds where Bradlee reportedly wrote one of his books.

For more on our hot house pics and other stunning luxury properties check out Mansion Global.com.



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Star spills on Blake Shelton


Drinking is a requirement if you’re on tour with Blake Shelton.

RaeLynn, who was mentored by Shelton on season two of “The Voice,” told Page Six that her current tour-mate has a strict after-the-show shots policy.

“He always does an after-the-show shot at the bottom of the stage,” she said. “Everybody will go back there and he’ll do a shot and then go up and finish and do two more songs for his encore.”

The 22-year-old has also gotten to know Shelton’s girlfriend, Gwen Stefani, on tour.

“She’s at a lot of the West Coast shows which makes sense, but you can tell they’re very supportive of each other,” the “Love Triangle” singer shared.

Fox News recently caught up with RaeLynn who told us she loves her new title of military wife. Her husband, Josh Davis, enlisted in the military earlier this year.

“There is not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for my freedom and for the country I live in and now to have my favorite person in the world serving our country, for our freedom, is by far the best thing in the world,” she told us in February.

She added, “To say I’m an military wife is the coolest thing in the world…my husband is doing something that is so honorable and amazing.”



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MEDIA BUZZ: Trump's threats to pull out of NAFTA: Crazy like a fox?


The media often portray the Trump White House as being in a state of chaos. And sometimes the Trump team provides ample fodder for that.

But there are other times where the press just is out of sync with the president’s unorthodox style.

As a dealmaker schooled in the rough world of New York real estate, the president often makes unrealistic demands, pulls back, issues threats, changes tactics—all in service of hammering out an agreement.

This is not how Washington, with its culture of cautious calibration, is accustomed to operating. Politicians issue statements that are carefully vetted and everything proceeds incrementally.

Donald Trump has Twitter.

A classic case unfolded with the reporting on NAFTA.

Trump has long bashed the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, pushed through during the Clinton administration, as a lousy deal for America. And when the AP interviewed him late last week, the president said: “I am going to either renegotiate it or I am going to terminate it.”

He didn’t make much news because it sounded like his usual spiel.

But things seemed to ratchet up quickly. On Wednesday, Politico reported:

“The Trump administration is considering an executive order on withdrawing the U.S. from NAFTA, according to two White House officials. A draft order has been submitted for the final stages of review and could be unveiled late this week or early next week, the officials said.”

And CNN had a similar report:

“The White House is considering withdrawing from NAFTA in the coming days, though President Donald Trump has not yet decided how to proceed, two senior administration officials confirmed to CNN Wednesday.”

That, my friends, is an orchestrated leak. And it was head-snapping: Withdrawing from NAFTA? Just like that? By executive order? Would Trump really go that far?

Reince Priebus was non-committal that evening on “Special Report.” “The president is talking about renegotiating NAFTA. I’m not going to get ahead of ourselves on where we’re at on that,” he said.

The president called the other two leaders, Justin Trudeau and Enrique Pena Nieto, and the White House issued a statement late Wednesday night: “President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the negotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries.”

Now some pundits might interpret this as lurching back and forth. But my take is that it was a deliberate strategy. And perhaps the media were used.

Hours before speaking to the leaders of Canada and Mexico, Trump sent a signal that he was thinking of unilaterally pulling out of the treaty.

“The prospect of the United States’ pulling out obviously alarmed the Canadian and Mexican leaders and prompted their calls to the White House,” the New York Times reported.

By yesterday, the president was telling reporters: “I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate. Now, if I’m unable to make a fair deal, if I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA.”

And that message will hover over the talks once they begin.

In negotiations, it doesn’t hurt to have the other side think you might do something crazy—even if that produces negative headlines.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of “MediaBuzz” (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz. 



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Woman burned in freak accident


Essential oils are one of the many buzzed-about products in the alternative medicine community today. Depending on the type, the oils are thought to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase concentration, among other touted benefits.

But one woman saw a dramatically different effect after oiling up during a hot yoga class — third-degree chemical burns — and now, she’s trying to prevent the same thing from happening to other people.

4 NATURAL REMEDIES FOR WEIGHT LOSS

In a viral Facebook post, Elise Nguyen shared several photos of scorched and blistered skin on her wrists and neck, which she claims she suffered after applying the oil to her body then stepping into a tanning bed in late March. In her April 16 post, she recounts how she went to the tanning bed one hour after practicing yoga to prepare for an upcoming wedding in Jamaica.

The next day, Nguyen writes, she realized something was terribly wrong.

“I noticed irritation where I applied the oil. Initially I thought it was a reaction to a new laundry detergent,” she writes. “Well over the next couple of days, I developed nasty blisters due to a chemical burn.”

Nguyen points out that, after the fact, she spotted a tiny label on the oil bottles, which were made by the company Doterra, cautioning against going into UV rays or sunlight for up to 12 hours after application.

THE 6 BEST WAYS TO GET RID OF AGE SPOTS

“Currently, I’m on day 22 of this burn,” she writes in the post. “I still have open areas and they still hurt if I hit them wrong.”

Nguyen specifies she doesn’t blame the company for her injuries, but she urges other yogis not to make the same mistake. Seeing as essential oils are commonly used in yoga classes on participants’ necks and wrists, her warning isn’t unwarranted.

“Every yogi that I’ve talked to has no clue that this could have happened,” she writes. “So as summer is getting closer, and the weather is getting nicer, I just want everyone to be aware of this. Please, please read the bottles of anything you put on your skin. I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else. It’s been hell.”

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS

Since being shared on Facebook, Nguyen’s images had received nearly 136,000 shares and 40,000 reactions as of Thursday afternoon.



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The Golden Key to Social Mobility


On February 7, 2017 Betsy DeVos was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education by a vote of 51-50 with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie vote. She made history because she was the first Cabinet nominee to be confirmed in this way. The question now is whether this contentious and controversial minister will make history by ensuring implementation of her objectives of school choice, charter schools, and vouchers, or as her critics argue, be the ideological advocate of anti-public education by undermining the traditional public school system?

Whatever the answer, it is not coincidental that education is a major political issue in Britain as in the US. In both countries, a host of problems on the issue confront the administrations, the role of government, the issue of funding student loans which inevitably require increased taxes, the nature of the core curriculum. If the main controversy in the U.S. is over charter schools, the schools that are public funded and independently operated, sometimes by for-profit companies, in Britain it is the issues of grammar schools and selectivity. The Trump administration might learn from events in Britain.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is an energetic and ambitious leader, already immersed in the thorny Brexit issue.  Her stated objective is for Britain to be the world’s great meritocracy, a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as talent and hard work will allow.  The place to start on her agenda of social change is with the educational system.  The dominant aspects of her plan are to end the ban imposed in 1998 on the creation of new grammar schools, and to help poorer children to succeed educationally.  To do this she advocates the extension of selectivity in the school system.

The issue of school selectivity is one that affects and is related to other aspects of life, such as prices of houses in areas that are said to have the best schooling, the movement of people from North to South England, and the nature of Britain’s industrial strategy.  That strategy is important for May who is concerned that the UK is placed 16th out of the world’s 20 developed economies in the number of people having a technical education. 

But May is concerned with improving and providing a solid ground in academic subjects. She points out that about 1.25 million children attend primary and secondary schools in England that are rated as inadequate or requiring improvement. Grammar schools will help change this.

Grammar schools (GS) are state schools that select students by an examination at age 11, “the 11 plus,” taken by pupils in the last year of private or primary school.  A number of problems exist over the test and its nature. The test tends to be based on verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and on questions not usually discussed in primary schools, thus favoring children who come from educated families, or have private tutors.  Pupils who pass the test go to the local grammar school, while those who do not pass go to the local state school, or what used to be called secondary modern.

In England there are about 160 grammar schools out of 3,000 state secondary schools, and 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland.    There are no state grammar schools in Wales or Scotland. Those students who do not pass the exam can go to the local “secondary modern school,” (SMA). In addition, there is the “comprehensive” system which is attended by pupils of all abilities, and became the norm in the 1970s.

Though GS have existed since 16th century, the system today dates from the 1944 Education Act that made secondary education free. The system was based on a division that has important social significance. GS focused on academic studies, and the implication was that many of the pupils would continue on to higher, university, education, and would likely succeed in life. SMS implied that pupils would not go on to higher education, but would go into some form of trade or employment. In addition, there was also provision for a third type of school, the technical school, but few were established.

The main problem is that this selective educational system reinforced class division, differences in income, and social inequalities. As a result, governments in the 1960s, based on ideology of social equality, ordered local authorities to phase out GS and SMS, and replace them with a comprehensive system. Some areas did this, but others, mainly in conservative areas, did not. In 1998 the Labour government, headed by Tony Blair, forbad the establishment of any new selective schools

It is this system that is being challenged by Theresa May, who herself was educated on scholarship at a grammar school, a selective direct grant school, and then at Oxford. Her present Cabinet contains 9 members who attended selective schools.   About 11% of Members of the House of Commons attended similar schools.

The basic educational problem is evident. Age 11 is too young to make what is virtually a life choice.  What can be termed life chances should not be determined by a test at 11. The reality is that the proportion of poorer children reaching the necessary level to pass is considerably lower than that of wealthier children. Statistics show that children from households in the top 1% of income had an 80% chance of admittance to selective schools.

For a start there should be opportunities for children to transfer between types of schools.  Chances for children coming from working class families is to a considerable degree determined by where they live or the income of their parents.  Selectivity is in reality often related to areas with high house price or family wealth. Prime Minister May strongly calls for greater diversity of the system so that it can cater to the needs and abilities of all children.

That policy means more free schools sponsored by universities and independent schools, faith schools, and selective schools. Diversity will result from new selective schools that will be able to become grammars. It also means extending free public transport for poor children to attend grammars.  May’s main focus is on grammar schools, almost all of which are rated good or outstanding, compared with only 20% overall of state schools.

May therefore wants the ban on selective schools to be relaxed.  Her chief point is that they cater for the most academically gifted children.  Therefore, her government will support the expansion of good or outstanding grammar schools. What is interesting is that May, a political conservative, is calling for new grammars to take a minimum proportion of children from lower income households.  She has called for children from ordinary, working class families to have a fair chance in life.

However, questions remain, both in UK and U.S.   In the U.S. the issue is clear, will charter schools improve the quality of education or will they lead to destroying the public school system? In the UK, will the expansion of selectivity and grammars contribute to social mobility and a more egalitarian society? Indeed, in both countries the fundamental question can be raised, is education the golden key to social mobility?

On February 7, 2017 Betsy DeVos was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education by a vote of 51-50 with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie vote. She made history because she was the first Cabinet nominee to be confirmed in this way. The question now is whether this contentious and controversial minister will make history by ensuring implementation of her objectives of school choice, charter schools, and vouchers, or as her critics argue, be the ideological advocate of anti-public education by undermining the traditional public school system?

Whatever the answer, it is not coincidental that education is a major political issue in Britain as in the US. In both countries, a host of problems on the issue confront the administrations, the role of government, the issue of funding student loans which inevitably require increased taxes, the nature of the core curriculum. If the main controversy in the U.S. is over charter schools, the schools that are public funded and independently operated, sometimes by for-profit companies, in Britain it is the issues of grammar schools and selectivity. The Trump administration might learn from events in Britain.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is an energetic and ambitious leader, already immersed in the thorny Brexit issue.  Her stated objective is for Britain to be the world’s great meritocracy, a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as talent and hard work will allow.  The place to start on her agenda of social change is with the educational system.  The dominant aspects of her plan are to end the ban imposed in 1998 on the creation of new grammar schools, and to help poorer children to succeed educationally.  To do this she advocates the extension of selectivity in the school system.

The issue of school selectivity is one that affects and is related to other aspects of life, such as prices of houses in areas that are said to have the best schooling, the movement of people from North to South England, and the nature of Britain’s industrial strategy.  That strategy is important for May who is concerned that the UK is placed 16th out of the world’s 20 developed economies in the number of people having a technical education. 

But May is concerned with improving and providing a solid ground in academic subjects. She points out that about 1.25 million children attend primary and secondary schools in England that are rated as inadequate or requiring improvement. Grammar schools will help change this.

Grammar schools (GS) are state schools that select students by an examination at age 11, “the 11 plus,” taken by pupils in the last year of private or primary school.  A number of problems exist over the test and its nature. The test tends to be based on verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and on questions not usually discussed in primary schools, thus favoring children who come from educated families, or have private tutors.  Pupils who pass the test go to the local grammar school, while those who do not pass go to the local state school, or what used to be called secondary modern.

In England there are about 160 grammar schools out of 3,000 state secondary schools, and 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland.    There are no state grammar schools in Wales or Scotland. Those students who do not pass the exam can go to the local “secondary modern school,” (SMA). In addition, there is the “comprehensive” system which is attended by pupils of all abilities, and became the norm in the 1970s.

Though GS have existed since 16th century, the system today dates from the 1944 Education Act that made secondary education free. The system was based on a division that has important social significance. GS focused on academic studies, and the implication was that many of the pupils would continue on to higher, university, education, and would likely succeed in life. SMS implied that pupils would not go on to higher education, but would go into some form of trade or employment. In addition, there was also provision for a third type of school, the technical school, but few were established.

The main problem is that this selective educational system reinforced class division, differences in income, and social inequalities. As a result, governments in the 1960s, based on ideology of social equality, ordered local authorities to phase out GS and SMS, and replace them with a comprehensive system. Some areas did this, but others, mainly in conservative areas, did not. In 1998 the Labour government, headed by Tony Blair, forbad the establishment of any new selective schools

It is this system that is being challenged by Theresa May, who herself was educated on scholarship at a grammar school, a selective direct grant school, and then at Oxford. Her present Cabinet contains 9 members who attended selective schools.   About 11% of Members of the House of Commons attended similar schools.

The basic educational problem is evident. Age 11 is too young to make what is virtually a life choice.  What can be termed life chances should not be determined by a test at 11. The reality is that the proportion of poorer children reaching the necessary level to pass is considerably lower than that of wealthier children. Statistics show that children from households in the top 1% of income had an 80% chance of admittance to selective schools.

For a start there should be opportunities for children to transfer between types of schools.  Chances for children coming from working class families is to a considerable degree determined by where they live or the income of their parents.  Selectivity is in reality often related to areas with high house price or family wealth. Prime Minister May strongly calls for greater diversity of the system so that it can cater to the needs and abilities of all children.

That policy means more free schools sponsored by universities and independent schools, faith schools, and selective schools. Diversity will result from new selective schools that will be able to become grammars. It also means extending free public transport for poor children to attend grammars.  May’s main focus is on grammar schools, almost all of which are rated good or outstanding, compared with only 20% overall of state schools.

May therefore wants the ban on selective schools to be relaxed.  Her chief point is that they cater for the most academically gifted children.  Therefore, her government will support the expansion of good or outstanding grammar schools. What is interesting is that May, a political conservative, is calling for new grammars to take a minimum proportion of children from lower income households.  She has called for children from ordinary, working class families to have a fair chance in life.

However, questions remain, both in UK and U.S.   In the U.S. the issue is clear, will charter schools improve the quality of education or will they lead to destroying the public school system? In the UK, will the expansion of selectivity and grammars contribute to social mobility and a more egalitarian society? Indeed, in both countries the fundamental question can be raised, is education the golden key to social mobility?



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Darius Rucker shocks


Pretty stars who go gritty on film

While makeup artists and stylists are usually there to make stars look their best, sometimes roles call for their worst.

http://www.foxnews.com/”>Fox News

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Darius Rucker

The country singer star went incognito for a special episode of “Undercover Boss.” Rucker traveled to Austin, Texas’ famous Sixth Street to run an open mic night in search of standout street performers in an episode airing May 12 on CBS.

(CBS)

darius-rucker

David Beckham

David Beckham looks like a different person as he showed off his makeup for his role in Guy Ritchie’s upcoming “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” The good-looking dad sported rotting teeth and a heavily-scarred face in a new pic on Instagram. “Rough day at the office,” Beckham, who plays a knight, wrote alongside the picture of himself. Click here for more pics of the soccer star on Hollywoodlife.com.

(Reuters/Instagram)

david-beckham

Tilda Swinton

It’s hard to believe both of these pictures are of Tilda Swinton. The actress was dressed as an elderly gentleman on the set of her new film in Berlin. PHOTOS: See Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

(Splash/Reuters)

tilda-swinton

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

(Reuters/FAMEFLYNET/AKM-GSI)

margot-robbie-as-tonya-harding

Adam Driver

Adam Driver looked scarily-thin in the trailer for his upcoming movie “Silence.” The actor revealed he had to lose 50 pounds to portray a 17th century Jesuit priest in the Martin Scorsese drama. Click here for more pictures of the actor on Hollywoodlife.com.

(Cappa Defina Productions/Reuters)

adam-driver

Kate Winslet

(Reuters/AKM-GSI)

kate-winslet

Matthew McConaughey

Balding is not a good look for Matthew McConaughey. The heartthrob debuted his less-than-pretty look for his new role in the trailer for his new movie “Gold.” Click here fore more pictures of the star on Hollywoodlife.com.

(Reuters/Black Bear Pictures)

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Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris looks completely different with no hair and a long beard while filming in Vancouver for ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ on May, 6 2016. 

(Reuters/ Splash News)

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Taylor Lautner

(Netflix)

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Margot Robbie

(Reuters/Twitter)

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Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves looked far from her glamorous self in her new music video for her sit single “Biscuits.” She put her hair up in a hat, had dirt smudged on her face and wore a fake mustache (left) in one of the video’s scenes.

(Mercury Records)

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Kevin Bacon

Is that really you Kevin Bacon? The actor tweeted out a selfie looking like he’s been eating too much bacon lately. “The Following” star didn’t offer an explanation for his strange look, he simply wrote, “Greetings from the U.K.” to his Twitter followers. Many online speculated that the actor was wearing makeup for an upcoming television advertisement.

(Twitter/Reuters)

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Shia LaBeouf

(Reuters/ x17)

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Felicity Huffman

Felicity Huffman’s look in her new show “American Crime” is a far cry from her “Desperate Housewives” character. The actress’ grandmotherly outfit, drab hair and makeup-free face gave the star a grittier look than her typical red carpet look (left).

(Reuters/ABC)

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Olivia Wilde

(Instagram/Reuters)

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Emma Stone

Emma Stone was just one of the many stars to perform on “Saturday Night Live’s” 40-year special. “The Help” star donned a frizzy black wig to play the late Gilda Radner’s famous “SNL” character Roseanne Roseannadanna.

(NBC/Reuters)

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Taryn Manning

All of the actors on “Orange Is the New Black” underwent makeunders for their roles as prison inmates on the hit Netflix original series, but Taryn Manning’s transformation is perhaps the most shocking. The 36-year-old dons long brown hair extensions and fake teeth to play her meth-addicted character Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett.

(Reuters/Netflix)

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Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston showed off her dramatic side in the Golden Globe-nominated film “Cake.” The 45-year-old went sans makeup (L) and it was “terrifying” to step out of her comfort zone, she said. “It was a terrifying, risky thing but I just said, ‘You’ve got to try. At this point, who cares?

(AP/Reuters)

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Natalie Dormer

Natalie Dormer shaved half of her head to play “Hunger Games” character Cressida. We definitely prefer Dormer’s long locks and beautiful gowns of her “Game of Thrones” character Margaery Tyrell.

(AP/Reuters)

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Kaley Cuoco

(Reuters/Instagram)

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Lauren Cohan

(AMC/GQ)

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James Franco

James Franco debuted a terrifying new “do.” The actor shaved his head for an upcoming role in “Zeroville,” the film based on Steve Erickson’s book of the same name. The creepy fake mustache he also debuted completed the less-than attractive look.

(Reuters)

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Taylor Swift in ‘Ew’

Swift showed off her geeky side in a skit for the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon (C). The singer transformed into Natalie, a 14-year-old girl with a band aid collection. “My mom hasn’t let me watch television since Miley Cyrus twerked,” Swift’s alter ego said. Watch the hilarious clip here.

(Reuters/Douglas Gorenstein/NBC)

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Sofia Vergara

Vergara shocked onlookers as the actress stepped out with disheveled hair, smudged lipstick and tatty sweats. This new look is far from Vergara’s usual form-fitting clothes and blown-out hair. Fortunately, the star’s scary look is merely for a scene for her hit show “Modern Family.” Click here for more pictures of Sofia’s less than flattering look.

(Fame Flynet/Reuters)

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Ryan Reynolds

Usually we’d want to be anything but “Just Friends” with Ryan Reynolds. The normally chiseled star donned a fat suit for his role in the 2005 film.

(New Line Cinemas/Reuters)

(New Line Cinemas/Reuters)

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Emma Thompson

A prosthetic nose, fake teeth and several layers of makeup transformed the British actress into the unfortunate-looking Nanny McPhee. 

(Universal Pictures/Reuters)

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Anne Hathaway

Before Anne’s “The Princess Diaries” character underwent a royal makeover, she was frizzy to a fault. But the not-so-glamorous role still put her on the map.

(Reuters/Walt Disney Pictures)

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Mariah Carey

The sexy blonde bombshell went grungy, bare-faced brunette for her role as a social worker in 2009’s “Precious.”

(Reuters/Lionsgate)

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Cameron Diaz in “Annie”

Blonde beauty Cameron Diaz looked harsh for her role as Ms. Hannigan in the “Annie” remake.

Click here for more on Cameron

(Reuters/ Kristin Callahan/ACE/INFphoto.com)
 

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Javier Bardem in “Skyfall”

Penelope Cruz’s hubby was almost unrecognizable in the Bond film “Skyfall.” The makeup was over the top and his contacts and lighter hair color were downright scary.

And this wasn’t even the part when he took out his … well we won’t say in case you haven’t seen it yet.

But he’s not the only actor who has had to play down his natural good looks to play a part.

Click through for some more stars who had to spend lots of time in hair and makeup to look this bad.

(MGM/Reuters)

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Matthew McConaughey in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

The usually buff actor lost almost 40-pounds to play Ron Woodruff, a hard-living man with HIV for the 2013 drama due out in December.

It’s quite early, but Oscar buzz for McConaughey has already begun. 

(Reuters/Splash)

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Jared Leto in ‘Chapter 27’

Jared’s boyish good looks are normally on display on screen, but he went practically incognito when he played Mark David Chapman in 2007. It was hard to believe that it was even him. 

(x17online.com/Peace Arch Entertainment)

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Christian Bale in ‘The Machinist’

The Aussie actor had originally intended on losing close to 100 pounds for the 2004 role, but directors insisted that a 60-pound weight-loss was more than sufficient to portray the emaciated machinist.

(Reuters/Paramount Classics)

 

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Charlize Theron

The first name that comes to mind when you think of gorgeous stars looking downright ugly for a part is Charlize Theron. She won an Academy Award for doing so in “Monster.”

(Reuters/Media 8 Entertainment)

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Jon Heder

When Jon hit the screen as “Napoleon Dynamite” in 2004, audiences didn’t really know that the man behind the frizz wasn’t so bad.

(Fox Searchlight Pictures/Reuters)

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Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

The gorgeous blue-eyed blonde was unrecognizable with dark eyes and red frizzy hair in “Being John Malkovich.”

(Reuters/USA Films)

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Matt Damon

Matt Damon

Audiences are used to seeing one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive as an action hero, but as a fat older dude? That was an adjustment when Matt starred in “The Informant!” (2009)

(Reuters/Warner Bros.)

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Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

The critically acclaimed actress looked gaunt and washed out in “The Hours.”

(Paramount Pictures/Reuters)

 

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Russell Crowe

Russell went with grey hair and a beer gut to play a CIA officer in “Body of Lies.” The fact that he was starring opposite heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio made him look even worse.

(Warner Bros./Reuters)

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Jessica Alba

The brunette stunner had to go with a “plain Jane” look for “An Invisible Sign” in 2010. Not surprisingly, even simple and understated looks good on her.

(Reuters/IFC Films)

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Johnny Depp

It seems as though Johnny Depp has always played down his looks for his craft. It started back with “Edward Scissorhands” in 1990 and he put on the white makeup again for “Sweeney Todd”  in 2007.

(DreamWorks/Reuters)

(© 2007 by DreamWorks LLC and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tom Cruise

In one of his best roles of the last few years, Tom Cruise surprised audiences with a small bit in “Tropic Thunder” and stole the show. 

(DreamWorks/Reuters)

 

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Cool Saturn ‘Dragonfly’ drone


A relocatable lander could explore the hazy skies of Saturn’s intriguing moon Titan, according a new mission proposal. As the eight-bladed whirlybird travels across the moon, it could investigate some of the most promising potentially habitable sites on the Saturn satellite, where methane and ethane fall from the sky and flow as rivers and lakes.

The lander-size instrument, known as Dragonfly, would take advantage of Titan’s low gravity and thick atmosphere to visit multiple sites over several years, moving from one promising site to the next and recharging between the brief flights.

“It’s such a rich place to be able to explore in situ, and then it hands us the way to explore it,” the project’s principal investigator, Elizabeth Turtle, told Space.com. Turtle, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Research Laboratory in Maryland, is leading the team that’s proposing an in-depth exploration of Titan as part of NASA’s New Frontiers mission program, which generally funds midsize missions to explore the solar system. She presented the Dragonfly concept last month at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. [Amazing Photos of Titan: Saturn’s Biggest Moon]

On Titan, flowing methane and ethane rivers and seas provide a unique opportunity to explore the chemistry that could lead to the rise of life . But it’s the thick atmosphere that would make the mission possible.

“The atmosphere is what is giving us this ability to travel on Titan ,” Turtle said.

“Just waiting for us”

When the Cassini-Huygens mission, a joint initiative between NASA and the European Space Agency, arrived at Titan in 2004, it discovered a world where methane rained down onto the surface into organic-rich lakes and seas. It dropped the Huygens probe onto Titan’s surface, providing a tantalizing peek at some of the chemistry beneath the clouds. Over the past decade, the orbiter revealed even more details about Titan’s surface, including a variety of environments with the potential to have chemical evolution similar to Earth’s, Turtle said.

“The kind of prebiotic chemistry that we’re looking at, these are things we can’t do in the lab — the timescales are too long to do these experiments in the lab — but Titan has been doing them for ages,” Turtle said.

“The results are just sitting on the surface,” she added. “If we can get to these different places on the surface of Titan, we can pick up the results of the experiments. They’re just waiting for us.”

When it came to exploring various locations on Mars, that meant rovers. Each rover dropped at a promising location could trek for tens of miles over its lifetime. As of April 2017, NASA’s Opportunity rover had traveled a total of more than 27 miles, and Curiosity had traveled nearly 10 miles.

But instead of sending multiple rovers to explore Titan, Turtle wants to use the moon’s thick atmosphere to travel more efficiently. Titan’s atmosphere is about four times as dense as Earth’s, while its gravity is about a tenth as strong.

“Heavier-than-air flight is substantially easier [on Titan],” Turtle said. “That means we can take a really capable lander and move it by a few tens of kilometers in a single flight, and hundreds of kilometers over the time of the mission.”

In the past, Titan mission proposals have included balloons and airships that took advantage of the thick atmosphere to travel. But these missions required these vehicles to be constantly in the air, which consumed a great deal of power, Turtle said. They also provided only cursory exploration of the surface.

Instead, Dragonfly would use two rotors positioned at each of its four corners to fly from one region of the moon to the next, then recharge while landed using the multimission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG) it would carry with it, which converts the heat from decaying plutonium-238 into electricity. This could mean Dragonfly could fly around Titan for years, or even decades, Turtle said. At the same time, the thick atmosphere would block damaging radiation, providing a welcoming environment for a long-lived mission, she added.

If NASA selects Dragonfly, the spacecraft would be ready for launch in the mid-2020s and should arrive in the 2030s, Turtle said. Cassini’s data would provide potential landing sites, but once Dragonfly arrived, it would be able to scout them out and, using the same type of program that Mars rovers use to land safely, decide which one would be the best landing location. After landing, the quadcopter could launch and map several potential sites, and then return to its original spot to continue investigating while scientists decide where it should go next. [How Humans Could Live on Saturn’s Moon Titan (Infographic)]

Flying isn’t the only task Dragonfly would excel at, Turtle said: A drill and a sampling system would allow it to examine the surface up close, while a spectrometer would let it study the surface composition in larger patches. Meteorology and remote sensing would help characterize the atmosphere and weather of Titan, where a methane cycle stands in for Earth’s water cycle, she added.

The spacecraft’s ability to move would help it keep Earth in its line of sight, as it will be communicating directly with the planet. Dragonfly would arrive during Titan’s northern winter, so it would start out in the southern hemisphere because Earth won’t be in the sky in the north, Turtle said. But as the seasons shift, the quadcopter could move, too, heading up north when our planet rises again.

Begging us to visit

With methane and ethane falling as raindrops from the sky, Titan boasts a hydration cycle both similar to and different from Earth’s. The moon is covered with organic materials that make it a potential home for a different sort of life to evolve. That’s just one reason many scientists are eager to visit the Saturn satellite. [Life on Titan? Saturn’s Cold Moon Fascinates Scientists (Video)]

“Titan is the ideal destination to do prebiotic chemistry,” Turtle said. “It has incredibly rich organic material all over the surface.”

The giant sand dunes of organic material that stretch for thousands of kilometers across Titan’s equator are a potentially intriguing target. Although scientists aren’t certain how these dunes form, they may represent what Turtle called a “grab bag” of materials from across the surface.

Impact craters provide another interesting region to explore. The impacts should have melted ice in the crust, thus putting liquid water in close contact with organic material for extended periods, Turtle said.

“We can start to look at how the organic chemistry progressed,” she added.

Along the way, Dragonfly could hunt for very basic signs of life on the methane-rich world.

“If we’re taking the instrumentation to measure the details of the chemistry, we can also look for biosignatures, because it’s the same measurements,” Turtle said.

With a $1 billion price tag, NASA’s New Frontiers missions are exploring some of the most intriguing places in the universe. Previous selections included the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter and the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission . The current competition lists six mission themes, including sample-return missions from comets or the moon, an ocean worlds explorer, a probe to Saturn, exploration of the Trojan asteroids and a Venus in-situ explorer. NASA plans to select a new mission every five years.

The deadline for the latest round of New Frontiers proposals is April 28, and Dragonfly will be one of the candidates. In November 2017, NASA will select a subset of the proposals for further study and will make its final selection in July 2019. That means there will be a long wait for Turtle, who is hoping Dragonfly comes out on top.

“Titan is just begging us to do this,” she said.

Follow Nola Taylor Redd at @NolaTRedd , Facebook , or Google+ . Follow us at @Spacedotcom , Facebook or Google+ . Originally published on Space.com .



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British police shoot 1, arrest 6 others in counter-terror raids – Islamic State suspect arrested in Germany


British counter-terror police have shot a woman and arrested four people in raids in London and southeastern England.

The injured suspect has been hospitalized in serious condition after the raid in northwest London. She was shot after police entered a house in the Willesden neighborhood.

Police said Friday she was the subject of an ongoing investigation. She is under police guard but has not been arrested.

Two others were arrested at that address, as was a neighbor. A woman in Kent was also arrested.

Police say the four people are being held on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts.

A police statement says the overnight raids were not related to Thursday’s incident near Parliament in which a man was arrested while allegedly carrying large knives in a backpack.



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