Columns

Policing the peace

"The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket," wrote the novelist Joseph Conrad in The Secret Agent in 1907. A century later, the insight retains its resonance as British police are being asked to train local forces to fight terrorism in far-flung locations. Police officers seconded from UK forces are being dispatched to help their counterparts in trouble spots in the Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, East Timor and Africa.

Now officers on international secondment are being offered an online course in peace studies to help strengthen their contribution. The postgrad certificate - in international policing: peace support operations - is being offered for the first time this year by Stirling University in collaboration with the Scottish Police College and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It draws on ideas from education and politics.

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A place at the table for old age

IN THE former Gold Rush town of Oroville in Northern California a week ago today, a 92-year-old man leapt from the green steel of Table Mountain Bridge into the deep green water of Feather River. Coval Russell died instantly landing on rocks. He ended his life on a brilliantly sunny morning for one main reason - he was kicked out of
jail.

The incandescent beauty of the scene before him could not make up for the fact that it was not Butte County Jail where Russell spent one of the happiest years of his life. ''Pops'', as the other inmates called him, was sentenced early last year for stabbing his 70-year-old landlord with a pocketknife. Once he got used to his surroundings, razor wire and
clanging doors, Russell found some things he did not have outside.

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Let's knock MMR battle on the head

Well done, Dr Eileen Ruberry. Finally, an important medical personage has seen sense on the MMR and recommended that the government retreat from its intransigent approach and allow concerned parents to choose triple injections. This does not mean she is convinced by Dr Andrew Wakefield's attempts to prove the combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is linked to autism. She is not. It simply means that she recognises that allowing a minority of parents to choose the time-consuming option of separate jabs is the best way to deal with the situation.

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No more magic in Scotland

"I went to the north pole this morning. We created a whole world using our imagination cream. We always need that for maths lessons. Everyone was on a sled. We calculated how much we all weighed and how many huskies it would take to pull us and how long it would take us to get there. It was fun."

Rubbing herself with imagination cream may be all in a day's work for theatre professional Fiona Rennie, but it is a new departure for the maths department of Buchie high school in Moray. The project, which is designed to "sprinkle a little magic" over what can be a dry subject, is a product of Scotland's cultural coordinators, an invention of the previous Labour administration that went along with a theory of the "cultural entitlement" of all citizens. Both, however, are now being binned by the current SNP Scottish government.

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'McSex' era is cheap but not cheerful

We live in the age of ''McSex'' - fast, easy, and cheap. Young women need to be helped to ''say no to soul-less sex''. ''They are having a lot of sex with a lot of different men without realising the emotional whack of that. They are feeling it is something they absolutely have to do. We have spoken to hundreds of young women and they hated what they were doing.'' The words of some Bible-bashing right-winger?

No - Cosmopolitan, the free-thinking magazine that discovered the G spot. Editor Lorraine Candy told a debate to mark 100 years of women's suffrage on Radio Four yesterday that it was time to ''pull back'' on sexual liberation because young women were being damaged by it.

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