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France proposes to cut school summer holidays

France's education minister has sparked uproar by proposing to to cut summer holidays from eight to six weeks to prevent the country's children falling further behind in international league tables.
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© Reuters
Vincent Peillon has further inflamed the teaching profession by announcing his intention to lop two weeks off France's long summer holidays
Paris - Reforming "le mammout" (mammoth) as France's huge, unwieldy, state education sector, is known, has been the bane of both Left and Right governments, with militant teachers' unions notoriously prepared to go on strike over even modest timetable changes.

Industrial action was matter of course last month when Vincent Peillon, education minister in President François Hollande's socialist government, announced he wanted to end the four-day week in primary schools to include a half day on Wednesday, which is currently totally off.

Now, he has further inflamed the teaching profession by announcing his intention to lop two weeks off France's long summer holidays.

French pupils currently spend among the longest daily number of hours in class in the world, while the number of days spent in school is among the lowest in all countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Sherlock

Police search team digs in garden of nurse arrested over 'cannibal plot'

A police search team dug up parts of the back garden of a house where a male nurse was arrested on suspicion of plotting to rape, kill and eat women, it has emerged.
Gilberto Valle, Dale Bolinger

Gilberto Valle and, inset, Dale Bolinger
Officers spent 15 hours searching the home of Dale Bolinger, 57, who was held last week by police investigating the British "mentor" of a New York policeman who used internet chat rooms to discuss torturing and cannibalising women.

The British contact of Gilberto Valle, who is currently on trial in the US, told him he had eaten two women in the past and offered to fly to America to help him butcher women.

Mr Bolinger, who has been suspended from his job at a hospital in Kent, and a 30-year-old man were arrested in Canterbury last week after Kent Police received information from police in the US.

Today neighbours living near Mr Bolinger's rented end-terrace home described how police used sniffer dogs and shovels in their search of the property.

One said: "The police came here last week at about seven o'clock in the morning. They had police dogs and there were forensic officers and plain clothed detectives.

Whistle

Turner school lockdown drill scares students


TURNER, Ore -- Some parents and students in the small town of Turner, near Salem, were upset after a lockdown drill sent kids running for their classrooms in terror Wednesday.

"I was on the playground and I see everyone screaming, running into their classrooms," said fifth-grader Carter Bourassa. "I turn around and there is this guy climbing over the fence with a stick."

Carter said the man was dressed in a hoodie.

Sherlock

Marco McMillian dead: Openly gay Mississippi mayoral candidate's body found, homicide suspected

Marco McMillian,
© Reuters
Reuters

Marco McMillian, 34, was running for mayor in Clarksdale, Miss. A suspect has been charged with murder in the case.
Jackson -- A 22-year-old man was charged with murder Thursday in the death of a mayoral candidate, whose body was found near a river levee in the Mississippi Delta this week.

The Coahoma County Sheriff's Department said in a news release that Lawrence Reed of Shelby was charged in the death of Marco McMillian, 34, a candidate for mayor of Clarksdale.

Campaign spokesman Jarod Keith says McMillian's bid was noteworthy because he may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in Mississippi.

An investigation began Tuesday when McMillian's SUV slammed head on into another car on U.S. Highway 49 near the Coahoma and Tallahatchie county lines.

Reed was driving the car, but McMillian was not in it, according to sheriff's department spokesman Will Rooker.

McMillian's body was found the next day near the Mississippi River levee between Sherard and Rena Lara, Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith has said.

Apple Red

Toronto teacher sent home after handing out dirty jokes for assignment

Pages of one-liners given to a Grade 9/10 drama class included sexual violence, racism and dead babies.

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© Facebook
Jeff Jones, a drama teacher at Oakwood Collegiate Institute, is on home assignment after complaints about a school assignment that included pages of shock-value jokes.
A Toronto high school drama teacher accused of handing out seven pages of violent and sexual jokes - most involving blonde women - as part of a homework assignment has been put on home assignment, the public school board confirmed.

In early January, parents say Jeff Jones, a drama teacher at Oakwood Collegiate Institute on St. Clair Ave. W., distributed a lengthy handout filled with line after line of jokes about sexual violence, racism and dead babies.

Many of the more than 100 jokes cannot be printed in the Star.

It's unclear what the assignment was, as there were no instructions or questions included with the pages of jokes.

Parents said students in the Grade 9 and 10 class were told to pick five jokes and prepare a comedy skit about them. A Grade 12 student claimed the jokes were examples students were to follow when writing their own one-liners.

2 + 2 = 4

British Columbia mother furious after son brings home graphic, sexual flip book from school

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© screenshot
Canada, Nanaimo, B.C. - A Vancouver Island mom says she's outraged by a graphic flip book her Grade 8 son brought home from school that creatively shows a woman placing a condom on a man and then having sex.

The booklet, "Put on Something Sexy," depicts the sexual act when the pages are flipped rapidly and was given to the boy Jan. 31 as a prize in a sexual-health class, one of three sessions that also covered Internet safety and anti-bullying.

Cathy Sanders said her son showed her the book when he returned home from Nanaimo, B.C.'s, Wellington Secondary School.

"I was disgusted that he would be given something like that," she said.

School officials say they took steps to ensure materials used in the classes are age appropriate, but somehow unsuitable materials slipped through onto display tables used by students.

"There was at least one outside presenter on sexual health," said Donna Reimer, spokeswoman for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District.

"AIDS Vancouver Island had material they put on the table that students could pick up, if they wish."

Reimer said when an administrator spotted oral sex pamphlets, they were ordered removed from the display.

The school district wrote a letter of apology to parents, specifically in reference to the pamphlet that explained what oral sex is and how it's performed, which the vice-principal noticed.

Sherlock

Elisa Lam death: Conspiracy theories surface as elevator video goes viral in China

Elisa Lam
© Reuters
Elisa Lam
As investigators await the results of a toxicology report to determine the cause of death of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam, a video, released by police, is spooking people in China. The video has been released by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), in an attempt to spread awareness of Lam's fate and maybe prevent similar mishaps.

The video, taken by a surveillance camera in one of the hotel's elevator, has gone viral on Chinese video site Youku.com; it already has more than three million views and 40,000 comments, in a little over 10 days.

The video shows Lam behaving strangely; she enters the elevator, pushes multiple buttons and then peeps out of the elevator, as if looking for an attacker. She then proceeds to step in and out of the elevator a few times.

Mid-way through the video, Lam is seen standing outside and appears to be talking to herself, while making rather elaborate hand gestures. Nobody else is seen in the video with her. She then exits the elevator and disappears from the camera's view.

Check out the video:


Pistol

South Dakota approves guns in the classroom

guns
© Agence France-Presse/Timothy A. Clary
Lawmakers in South Dakota have passed a bill that would allow school districts to arm staff and teachers with guns to make their schools "safer".

State Senators on Wednesday voted 21-14 to pass the measure, despite large-scale opposition from school administrators and personnel, who are largely opposed to bringing weapons into their schools.

Supporters of the bill claim that arming teachers could prevent tragedies like the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, said that he would leave the decision to arm teachers up to individual school districts, but that he strongly recommends it.

When Craig advocated for the measure earlier this year, he said that having gun-free schools would simply make them more vulnerable and invite potential mass murderers.

"The possibility of an armed presence in any of our schools is a deterrent," Craig told Fox News, claiming that no shooter would attack a school whose teachers are armed.

Supporters of the bill also argue that teachers would only become armed after partaking in a "School Sentinel program" that would provide them with firearms training by law enforcement officers. No teachers would be forced to take part in the program and could choose to remain unarmed.

V

New York Police Department lied under oath to prosecute Occupy activist

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© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/Mario Tama
An Occupy Wall Street activist was acquitted of assaulting a police officer and other charges on Thursday after jurors were presented with video evidence that directly contradicted the NYPD's story.

Michael Premo was found innocent of all charges this week in regards to a case that stems from a December 17, 2011 Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Lower Manhattan. For over a year, prosecutors working on behalf of the New York Police Department have insisted that Premo, a known artist and activist, tackled an NYPD officer during a protest and in doing so inflicted enough damage to break a bone.

During court proceedings this week, Premo's attorney presented a video that showed officers charging into the defendant unprovoked. The Village Voice reports that jurors deliberated for several hours on Thursday and then elected to find Premo not guilty on all counts, which included a felony charge of assaulting an officer of the law.

Since his arrest, supporters of Premo have insisted on his innocence. "They're trying to make something out of nothing and they're trying to charge him with something that didn't actually occur," colleague Rachel Falcone told Free Speech Radio News this week.

After being arrested, the Manhattan District Attorney's office presented Premo with a deal that would have let him off the hook by pleading guilty to lesser charges. Maintaining his innocence, however, he was determined to fight the case in court.

Premo was "facing serious charges and potential substantial jail sentence, even though he never should have been arrested at all," his supporters claimed in a post published on The Laundromat Project website.

Stormtrooper

Police brutality: Texas cop fired after shooting at suspect 41 times, killing him

crime scene, police line
© Agence France-Presse/Jim Watson
A police officer in Texas has been terminated from the force after an investigation determined that he violated official policy when he rammed his car into a suspect's vehicle, cornered him and then fired 41 shots, killing him.

Officer Patrick Tuter shot and killed Michael Vincent Allen on August 12, 2012, but he has only now been fired more than six months later. He has spent the last half year on administrative leave while the Garland Police Department conducted an investigation that has finally concluded this week.

"Tuter has been fired because he was found in violation of two general orders of our department," Garland PD spokesperson Joe Harn tells the Dallas Morning News. "He violated our pursuit policy as well as our use of force policy."

The events of last August occurred after Officer Tuter pursued Allen, an unarmed 25-year-old, because he was wanted for running from the police only days earlier. A high-speed chase ensued, and Tuter followed Allen in his cruiser for around 30 minutes. At that point, Tuter slammed into Allen's pickup, reached for his gun and fired 41 shots.