Friday, 18 December 2009

Russia 'to ban swearing'

The law would be based on an existing scheme in the Russian region of Belgorod where police hand out on-the-spot fines for anyone overheard using foul language in public.

The fines there range from 500 roubles (£10) to 1,500 roubles (£30). People heard cursing in front of children are fined the most.

Mikhail Nikolayev, deputy chairman of Russia's upper house of parliament, or Federation Council, is pushing the improbable initiative.

"Swearing should cease to be part of our everyday life," he says, adding that the scheme in Belgorod, started in 2005, has produced encouraging results.

A clutch of fellow senators is supporting Mr Nikolayev's plan. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Why are virtually all climate "sceptics" men?

Why are virtually all climate "sceptics" men?

The question first came to mind on the plane to Copenhagen last week while scanning The Guardian's feature on movers and shakers in the "sceptical" field.

So we go down their list... Bjorn Lomborg, Viscount Monckton, former TV presenter David Bellamy, British National Party leader Nick Griffin, Freakonomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Lord Lawson, social anthropologist Benny Peiser, geologist Ian Plimer, US Senator James Inhofe, Czech President Vaclav Klaus... all men.

In the centre of Copenhagen, a group called the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) has been holding an event giving the "sceptical" version of the climate science story. The speakers list? Nils-Axel Morner, Cliff Ollier, Stuart Wheeler, and so on down the agenda... all proud possessors of a Y-chromosome.

The recently-launched London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation numbers a single woman across its Board of Trustees and Academic Advisory Council.

I could go on... but I hope the point is demonstrated. In fact, across the entire sceptical landscape, as far as I can see, the female contingent numbers one UK columnist, a couple of Australian bloggers, UK academic Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and US counterpart Sallie Baliunas... and that's about it, apart from former US presidential candidate Sarah Palin who - as the Washington Post reveals - hasn't always displayed climate scepticism in the past.

Sarah PalinIt's a marked contrast to the world of mainstream climate science, which boasts a number of eminent female practitioners including IPCC lead authors Susan Solomon and Cynthia Rosenzweig; and to the world of UN climate talks, where many delegations include, and are led by, women, including the UK's negotiating team.

The renowned environmental commentator Charles Clover noted the trend recently in The Times, writing of "... the born-again climate sceptic, the kind of man (always a man, almost invariably wearing a tweed jacket) who now materialises beside me at parties and confides that he has been having second thoughts about climate change".

So what's going on? Why is this issue such a gender-divider? Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Women go online to share child sex-abuse fantasies

Thousands of women appear to be using the internet to share sexual fantasies of abuse involving children.

An investigation by The Independent on Sunday found a series of websites that depict female-perpetrated child abuse as "natural, educational and enjoyable" for children.

Users log into online forums to meet other "like-minded" web users and to share personal childhood experiences about sexual acts with adults that they say include mothers, teachers and babysitters. User profiles on one website monitored by the IoS claimed to be those of teachers, doctors and retired grandmothers with an interest in "young girls" and "lesbian incest".

The postings on such sites – assuming they are not posted by men – run counter to the widely held belief that female abusers are either anomalies or feel forced into such depravity by abusive men. Many of the users appear to have easy access to children and describe deriving sexual gratification from sharing their fantasises.

The discovery comes just days before three women are due to be sentenced for a range of sexual offences involving children. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the