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Friday, June 13, 2008

First beaver dam in England for centuries

A pair of beavers have built what is believed to be the first dam in England for centuries.

The animals were hunted to extinction in England and Wales during the 12th century and disappeared from the rest of the country 400 years later.

One of the beavers at home on the River Tale:  First beaver dam in England for centuries
One of the beavers that has settled on the River Tale

However, two beavers from Germany were introduced to a river enclosure in Devon last year.

This year, the pair have built a 6ft dam with mud, bark and twigs on the River Tale at Escot House, near Ottery St Mary.

John-Michael Kennaway, who owns the estate, has been working to reintroduce the animals on the site for three years. He said that the beavers may be rearing young, known as kits.

"The male beaver has been spotted feeding alone some distance from the lodge, whereas the female seems keen to stay close to their home," he said. "This might suggest that she has young inside, but we won't know until at least late July when they're ready to come outside."

The beavers are kept in an enclosure to prevent them from escaping into the wild.

Mr Kennaway said: "We haven't had beavers here for 800 years because they were hunted to extinction. Now, a year after they came to Escot, they have built a dam and we think they are breeding. We won't know for sure for a couple of months but it is very encouraging. It really is a superb structure - quite a feat of engineering for two small beavers."

Over the last few years, 15 beavers have been re-introduced to England, but these have lived on lakes and had no need to build a dam.

In 2002, a group of nine beavers were re-introduced in England at Ham Fen, Kent. In 2005, another six European beavers were released on an enclosed site in South Cerney, Gloucestershire.

More recently, another population was set up at Martin Mere in Lancashire. Beavers have also been released on private land in Scotland.

The animals will only build a dam on a river to form an area in which to construct a lodge to live in. The nocturnal creatures can grow to more than a yard in length and weigh up to 70lb.

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Straight Lesbians in Greek wrestle

Straight Lesbians in Greek wrestle

By Helena Smith in Athens

An attempt to stop homosexual women calling themselves lesbians will begin in Athens with a court hearing that comes amid a growing national debate over gay rights in one of Europe's most conservative countries.

The hearing was initiated by plaintiffs on the Aegean island of Lesbos, who say they are unhappy that gay women have "usurped" a term that locals claim should have only geographical connotations.

"We are very upset that, worldwide, women who like women have appropriated the name of our island," said Dimitris Lambrou, a magazine publisher and one of the islanders making the complaint. "Until 1924, according to the Oxford English dictionary, a Lesbian was a native of our isle," he said. "Now, because of its new connotations, our womenfolk are unable to call themselves such and that is wrong."

The hearing coincides with a highly charged national debate over gay rights. Mr Lambrou insists he has "nothing against lesbians" who flock to Eressos - a resort on the island famed as the birthplace of the 5th century BC poet Sappho - and whose contribution to the local economy has been considerable.

But human rights campaigners say the court action has been motivated by barely disguised homophobia in a nation that remains reluctant to accept gay people. "No other group faces such discrimination in this country," said Grigoris Valianatos, a long-time homosexual rights advocate.

"The [Orthodox] church is literally out of control in its approach towards us, the media full of hate speech and the conservative government both hypocritical and indifferent. This trial is a reflection of the homophobia that prevails in Greece."

On Saturday police intervened when members of the far-right Golden Dawn group attacked gay pride marchers in the biggest Gay Pride parade in Athens.

The increased visibility of gay people - including the first marriages between two lesbians and two gay men last week - has been met with consternation, with the ruling conservatives holding emergency talks on the issue.

Unlike most other EU member states, where same-sex couples are accorded a degree of civil rights, gays in Greece have fought an uphill battle for acceptance.

Guardian News & Media

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Gifts for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Dad

How to Ask a Woman Out on a Date

By TheSeeker
How to Ask a Woman Out on a Date How to Ask a Woman Out on a Date

Rate: (78 Ratings)

This article will give you some good advice on how to ask a woman out on a date

Things You’ll Need:

  • Confidence
  • Willpower
  • Determination
  • Guts
Step1
How to ask a woman out on a date is one of the most asked questions in the world. Virtually every man has at one time or another sought advice on how to ask a woman out on a date from his friends, family, or colleagues. Some men are more successful than others at this venture and in all reality its hard to determine why they are more successful than average. In this article we are going to look at some simple easy things you can do to at least level the playing field if not tip it in your favor.
Step2
You must always be prepared to approach a woman and ask her out on a date. This means you need to be able to put your best foot forward on the spot. Every time you walk out of the house you should try to look your best. Your physical appearance is not so important as the attention you give to make yourself look presentable in public. You never know where you are going to meet that special woman you want to ask out on a date.
Step3
Nice clothes and fresh breath are a good start in showing you care about yourself when you ask a woman out on a date. I'm not talking about expensive clothes here. A two-hundred dollar suit looks just as nice as a thousand dollar suit to most of us. Dental hygiene is a must. How are you going to have the confidence to get close to the object of your attraction if you are not confident she won't gag from your breath? Cologne is helpful as well but make sure not to over do it. Many women are allergic to some of the compounds found in men's cologne today and trust me, they are not going to be interested when you ask them out on a date if they start sneezing and their nose starts to running. So be careful with the cologne. As a good reference to go by if you can smell your cologne strongly after thirty minutes, your probably using to much.
Step4
Plan your opening conversation lines in a mirror and watch your body language. Do you look tense? Relaxed? Amused? Worried? Try and go for a relaxed amused look and you will certainly generate interest when first talking to the woman you want to ask out on a date. Remember, everyone loves to be complimented. Flattery is not the best option though if the woman of your affections has any intelligence about her though. Most people have a gut feeling when someone is trying to flatter them and it instinctively pushes them away. Body language is a subject you should study in depth if you think this might be a problem for you. Compliments and/or humor are great conversation starters, just make sure your humor is actually funny.
Step5
Women like assertive men, not aggressive men. Asking a woman out on a date is like fishing. Teasing the fish is the best way to get a nibble while making a sudden move will probably cause them to flee. Talking is the key to asking any woman out on a date. Discover her likes and dislikes and plan a date with those in mind.

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School Shooter: 'I Didn't Realize' They Would Die

More than a decade and the breadth of a continent stand between Evan Ramsey and the carnage he inflicted on a Bethel, Alaska, high school, but the memories still play vividly through his mind.

Evan
Evan Ramsey, 20, in the yard at Spring Creek Correctional Center, tried as adult and given 210-year prison sentence (eligible for parole in 2066) for killing his school principal and a classmate in crime he committed at age 16.
( Rex Rystedt/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

It was Feb. 19, 1997. Twelve-gauge shotgun to his shoulder, Ramsey, then 16, traveled the halls and panicked his classmates as random shots filled the air. When it was over, when the police had Ramsey shackled in cuffs, and a basketball star and the school principal lay dead.

"I honestly believed that if you shoot somebody, that they would get back up," Ramsey told ABC News in a recent interview at the Arizona prison where he is serving a 210-year sentence. It's hard to accept, he admits, but Ramsey said his naivete left him unable to grasp that firing a gun in the real world is different from firing one in a video game: "I didn't realize that you shoot somebody, they die."

Have a tip for ABC News' Law & Justice Unit? Click here to send us an anonymous e-mail.

Ramsey Says Friends Taught Him About Guns

But two people did die, and what makes their deaths especially tragic is that they probably could have been prevented. In the days before he opened fire, Ramsey told at least two of his closest friends that he could no longer hold his anger. He asked one for a gun and the second for advice on how to use it.

The two told other students what Ramsey had in mind, but no one tried to talk him out of the killing spree. In fact, Ramsey said, they did the opposite.

They said "that while I'm at it, I might as well go shoot this person and that person and that person," Ramsey recalled. One friend "brought up the idea of bringing in a camera and taking pictures so he could save the memory, if you will."

The morbid encouragement by Ramsey's friends may be shocking, but their failure -- and that of everyone else -- to warn school officials or police, or to do anything else to stop his deadly plans is far from unusual.

According to a study sponsored by the Secret Service and the Department of Education and obtained exclusively by ABC News, only 4 percent of the people who knew that a student intended to shoot someone tried to dissuade him -- even though previous research found that 81 percent of school shooters told classmates or teachers of their plans.

The problem, concludes the study, is that America's schools have not made bystanders feel safe about reporting campus shooting threats.

"We found that those who didn't come forward either felt afraid about coming forward, they felt the school climate wouldn't support them, or they were afraid they'd be made fun of," said William Pollack, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the author of the study.

Ramsey said that in his case, a warning when he first thought about killing someone would have made all the difference.

"If somebody had said something," he insisted, "my crime wouldn't have happened."

The Bystander's Role

Researchers have long been puzzled by what provokes students to shoot their classmates and teachers dead, but a clearer picture has emerged from Secret Service and Education Department studies. Experts have discovered that:

Three-quarters of school shooters were bullied.

A similar proportion were severely depressed and suicidal.

About 93 percent were known by teachers and school officials to have had emotional problems before the shooting.

The shooters came from a range of economic backgrounds, from working class to upper-middle class.

Only recently, though, have researchers turned their attention to the bystanders, the ones who might have prevented the shootings but didn't. Students like Betina Lynn.

In May 1998, Lynn was a junior at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., and a teaching assistant for a freshman class. One day when the teacher was out of the room, Lynn overheard Kip Kinkel, a student in the class, mention that he wanted "to add this kid to his hit list," she told ABC News.

"I knew something was going to happen," she said. "I knew he was angry enough and he was getting tired of the bullying and the teasing, that there was going to be some sort of confrontation."

But Lynn said nothing about what she had heard.

Days later, after he shot and killed his parents at home, Kinkel went to school with a gun, killed two students and wounded 25 others. Asked why she hadn't shared her fears and Kinkel's disturbing words with school officials, Lynn responded with her own questions.

"Who knows if the principal would have taken it seriously? Who knows if the vice principal would have taken it seriously? Who knows if his parents would have taken it seriously? What if, what if, what if?" she asked. "One lesson you're taught at an early age is, it's OK to report but don't be a tattletale. Don't be your little brother's overseer and don't run to mommy every time little brother does something wrong."

Silence may be the most common response to suspicions of an impending school shooting, but it has not been the only one.

In November 2001, Craig Duquette, a student at New Bedford High School in Massachusetts, had just taken his seat in biology class when he turned to a student who looked as if she had been crying. She told him that she had heard that a group of students planned to chain shut the school's doors and "open fire on just about anybody that they could," he recalled.

After the class, another student passed Duquette in the hallway. "When he walked by, he said, 'You might want to loosen your backpack before you die,'" Duquette said. As the morning wore on, he continued to hear about the elements of an impending massacre: backpacks, duffel bags, guns and bombs.

"It was after the Columbine [Colorado school shooting] incident ... and after the comment that had been made to me, I thought that it was real enough that maybe somebody should know about it," Duquette told ABC News. "I would have felt terrible if something actually did happen, and then, I could have gone forward and I never did."

He shared what he had heard with the school's headmaster and campus police. The tip led investigators to a group of students who called themselves the Trenchcoat Mafia, the name used by the killers at Columbine, and to a stash of ammunition, knives, Nazi photographs, bomb-making recipes and drug paraphernalia at their homes.

Eric McKeehan, a 17-year-old student at the school, confessed to planning a massacre that would surpass the death toll at Columbine but claimed he had abandoned the scheme after police got wind of it.

Duquette may have saved lives, but he brushes aside any suggestion that he is a hero.

"I just knew what I had to do, and I went and told somebody," he said. "It wasn't a matter of, you know, if they [the would-be shooters] find out, they're going to kill me or something like that. ... I didn't want something to happen to everybody in the school."

Persuading Students to Come Forward

Pollack, the author of the new school-shooting study, said Duquette's modesty is not unusual for students who blow the whistle on would-be shooters, and the New Bedford case is a perfect example of how police and school officials should respond to a student's warning.

"As you go along, you don't investigate to create a [criminal] case," he explained. "You gather more and more names, more and more data. You open up the circle and then get those in the circle to open up to you. And then -- poof! -- right away you know whose house to go to to find out what's going wrong. And then you get [the potential shooters] evaluated and into a safe space before something happens."

So how do schools persuade more students to come forward? Ramsey said he believes that it's just a matter of appealing to their better instincts.

"Explain to them the justice that they would be serving," he said. "They would be preventing somebody from committing something atrocious like murder."

But the work of prevention should start well before plans for violence take hold, said Pollack. Ramsey, like most shooters, was bullied, and until teachers and counselors deal seriously with bullying and other problems by creating "an emotional connection" with students, Pollack said, schools will suffer from the violence of "a meaner, more vicious society."

"People are mean to each other in the supermarkets and where we work. People are mean to each other on the streets," he said. "So we're mean to each other in school."

The study recommends that schools create violence councils for evaluating threats and train teachers and parents to develop trust through one-on-one contact with students, who can then feel comfortable enough to report their suspicions.

The recommendations, pragmatic enough, have nonetheless encountered resistance from schools that view them as too hard to implement, according to Pollack. He said he has seen such measures work, and with a decade already gone since Evan Ramsey overreacted to bullying and killed two innocent people on the way to class, schools have no time to waste.

"We say we've heard a wake-up call, but we've now had 50 wake-up calls in the last 20 or 30 years," Pollack said. "How many more do we need?"

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One man's mission to rid India of its dirtiest job

Bieshwar Pathak: He founded Sulabh to end manual scavenging by
replacing dry toilets with cheap hygienic ones.

Raveendran/AFP/Getty images/newscom

Reporter head shot

Correspondent Mian Ridge talks about a Dalit woman who manually cleans up human waste.

Usha Chaumar, a gregarious 40-something with an enormous grin, can pinpoint the exact day she stopped being one of the "untouchables," the Hindu caste that was supposedly abolished in 1950.

It was 2003, and Ms. Chaumar was on her way to work when Bindeshwar Pathak stopped her. She recalls being amazed that a "nicely dressed" man would even speak with someone like her: a manual scavenger. As such, it was her job to clean human waste, by hand, from homes that lack flushing toilets in this dusty town in the state of Rajasthan.

Usually, neighbors crossed the street when they saw her coming with the tools of her trade: a metal pan and wire brush. And even when she had finished her gut-churning work and scrubbed her body clean, she was treated as a pariah.

But Dr. Pathak asked her why she covered her face with her shawl and why she seemed ashamed to talk to him. At the time, Chaumar had no idea she was speaking to the man whose mission it was to end manual scavenging and who would eventually change her life.

Pathak founded an organization called Sulabh in 1970 to eradicate the practice by replacing unplumbed toilets with affordable flush ones, and by giving scavengers training for other jobs.

"Shopkeepers would drop the rice to me – they wouldn't touch me," Chaumar remembers, losing her smile for a moment. "And they made me put my money down, away from them. They threw water over it before taking it."

Today, she earns a living selling homemade pickles and embroidered cloths.

Manual scavenging was banned in India in 1993, by a law that forbids the construction of dry toilets and requires existing ones to be destroyed. But in India, such laws tend to be implemented slowly. There are thought to be several hundred thousand manual scavengers still working; a recent report found there were over 1,000 in Delhi alone.

Sulabh has built 1.2 million affordable hygienic toilets throughout India and helped 60,000 former manual scavengers move into other jobs.

All those jobs are held by members of the Valmiki community, a substratum of the Dalit caste – formerly known as untouchable – at the bottom of the ancient Hindu caste system. The term untouchable – along with, theoretically, the stigma attached to it – was made illegal by India's Constitution in 1950.

In Alwar, in 2003, Pathak set up a retraining program for the town's manual scavengers which has given more than 50 women vocational training. The center, where women learn to read and write, make clothes, and train as beauticians, is housed in a prosperous area of Alwar.

"At first they felt uncomfortable coming here, but we wanted to give them a different perspective," says Suman Chahar, who runs the center.

In one room, Lalita Nanda is making wicks for oil lamps in Hindu temples. The priests who buy them did not let Lalita into the temple until recently, she says, smiling.

One of the first things Pathak did with Alwar's scavengers was usher them into the town's biggest Hindu temple. He also took a group out to dinner at the Maurya Sheraton, a five-star hotel in Delhi.

The manager was so appalled he tried to stop the women entering. Pathak promised to pay for anything that was broken or stolen; nothing, of course, was; and as the party left, the manager apologized to them.

Sulabh's transformation of manual scavengers would not be possible without the other part of its work, the development of cheap hygienic toilet technology.

"The toilet is a tool of social change," declares Pathak, who defies the stereotype of the scruffy Gandhian activist dressed in rough-spun cotton. He is wearing, instead, a starched white pajama suit with a smart jacket; his hair is dyed black, and he wears a fine gold ring.

Born into a family of Brahmins – the highest of all the castes - in a village in Bihar, Pathak remembers, as a little boy, being intrigued by the notion that the ordinary-looking woman who sold kitchen utensils to his family could be "untouchable."

"So I touched her," he says, "Just to see. And my grandmother made me drink a mixture of cow urine, cow dung, and Ganges water." That combination is meant as both cleanser and punishment.

Later, Pathak joined a committee established to celebrate the centennial of Mahatma Gandhi's birth. During this period he was struck by what Mr. Gandhi had said about scavengers: "I may not be born again, but if it happens I will like to be born into a family of scavengers, so that I may relieve them of the inhuman, unhealthy, and hateful practice of carrying night soil."

Curious, Pathak went to live in a community of scavengers for three months. At this point, he says, he was not yet inspired by their cause. But two experiences changed this.

The first, he says, was when he saw a newly married girl being forced by her mother-in-law to clean human waste by hand. "I can't describe how awful her crying was," he says. The second was when he saw a small boy being attacked by a bull. People rushed to save him, but when someone cried out that he came from the Valamiki caste, they left him, and he was killed.

"These things still happen," says Pathak. "But we have everything we need to change things. It is so, so simple, if people only have the will."

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Feds charge S.C. trooper in taped car ramming

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a South Carolina state trooper with striking an African-American man with his patrol car, while videotaping the incident with the cruiser's dashboard camera, NBC News reported.

Federal authorities launched the investigation into the South Carolina Highway Patrol after dashboard camera videos recorded the trooper using a racial slur and two other troopers ramming their cruisers into fleeing suspects.

A federal grand jury charged Lance Cpl. Steve C. Garren with intentionally striking the man, who was injured in the car ramming. The indictment accuses Garren of violating the civil rights of the victim to be free from unreasonable police conduct.

The Highway Patrol released two videos, both from 2007, showing troopers using their cars to ram suspects.

In one of those tapes, Garren allegedly drives after a black man on foot, striking him when he crosses in front of Garren's cruiser. The man was sent flying into high grass on the roadside.

"Yeah, I hit him. I was trying to hit him," Garren, who is white, can be heard telling another trooper. Garren received a three-day suspension, which he appealed.

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Another video showed a car driven by Lance Cpl. Alexander Richardson chasing a running man at an apartment complex, driving between buildings and on sidewalks, passing onlookers, including a small child. The suspect appeared to be hit at a slower speed and kept on running.

Richardson was reprimanded and completed a stress management course, disciplinary records show.

Highway Patrol Col. Russell Roark and his boss, Public Safety Director James Schweitzer, resigned in February after a tape surfaced showing a trooper using a racial slur in 2004.

This report from NBC News' Pete Williams includes information from previous stories.

Original here

The man who fell off a sofa while laughing at Have I Got News For You - and ended up in court

A man was handcuffed, arrested and dragged before a court after falling off the settee with laughter while watching Have I Got News For You.

Christopher Cocker, 36, was enjoying the BBC1 show when a joke made by panellist Paul Merton had him doubled up with laughter.

He collapsed on the floor - but the thud startled his downstairs neighbour who, believing he had collapsed, called police.

Funny man: Paul Merton's joke on Have I Got News For You left Christopher Cocker rolling on the floor with laughter - and then locked in a police cell

Officers arrived and said Cocker was initially co-operative but became 'aggressive' when they asked his name and tried to shut his front door.

He was eventually disabled with parva spray through the gap and arrested.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said: 'The officer accepts in his statement that he struck my client and then sprayed him again.

'He was handcuffed and unceremoniously thrown into the back of a police van. When he ended up in a police cell he was asking himself how all this had happened.'

Mr Taylor told Blackburn Magistrates' Court, Lancs., said that having informed the police he was the only one in the flat and he was fine, his client could not understand why they wanted his details.

'With hindsight he should just have told the police what they wanted to know and they would have gone on their way,' said Mr Taylor.

Cocker, of Blackburn, Lancs., pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer and was given a conditional discharge for six months following the incident on May 20.

A charge of assaulting PC Michael Davies was withdrawn.

Speaking after the hearing, Cocker said he had been in his flat minding his own business.

He said: 'I can't believe it - I was thrown in the back of a police van before being stripped naked and put in a cell.

'I was handcuffed behind my back and my ankles bound with plastic ties before six of them carried me to the van.

''It was something Paul Merton said and I remember falling of the settee, I didn't think it would end up in court.

'I hadn't had a drink or anything, I was just watching TV and all this happened. Paul Merton is one of my favourites. He's really funny.'

Prosecutor Alex Mann said the police went to ensure everything was all right and spoke to Cocker who was 'co-operative and relaxed' and he assured the officers everything was fine.

'He only became worked up when the police asked for his details,' said Mrs Mann.

'The police tried to explain they just needed the name for the report but he became aggressive and started swearing at the officer.'

After the hearing Joan Codling, 57, who lives in the flat below and made the call to police, said she contacted officers after being concerned that he may have fallen ill.

She said: 'I was worried in case he was having an epileptic fit. There was a lot of noise and I didn't know what to do so I called the police.'

A police spokesman said Cocker became 'aggressive' towards the officers who feared for their own safety.

The spokesman said: 'Parva spray was used to stop any confrontation and was necessary to protect the officers and any members of the public who were around at the time.

'Within the circumstances, we feel we used reasonable force.'

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Boy, 13, 'hanged himself after he was bullied on Bebo for being a fan of Emo music'

Sam Leeson

'Alternative appearance': Sam Leeson was found hanged in his room

A teenager said to have been bullied on the social networking site Bebo has been found hanged in his bedroom.

Sam Leeson's family say the 13-year-old was picked on by other users of the site because of his 'alternative appearance' and his taste in music.

Blaming Bebo for his 'utterly pointless death', Sam's mother said the family discovered the extent of the bullying only when they checked his Web page after his death.

'I'm not sure what influence these sites have - but if they are a method of expressing things, maybe they should be checked more,' said 45-year-old Sally Cope.

'He was into his appearance and often wore his black skinny jeans. He was an alternative dresser and I think other teenagers did used to make comments about that.'

Bebo users who taunted Sam on the site have since left messages apologising for their conduct.

Sam was a fan of alternative rock bands such as the Foo Fighters and Slipknot, as well as so-called Emo music, championed by bands such as blink-182 and Good Charlotte.

The movement takes its name from the word emotional - a reference to its angst-ridden lyrics and melancholy themes.

It has become increasingly popular with British teenagers since its inception in the U.S. two decades ago.

Followers see the genre as much as a fashion as a style of music. Many dye their hair black and wear dark clothing.

Sam's sister, Emma, 22, said he had also been bullied at school over his interest in the music.

'He used to laugh about it when people mocked him over his dress sense and music taste, so we didn't realise it was anything serious.

'We saw him as always happy and smiling, but we now think there has been some name-calling about the whole Emo thing.

'We know some bullying has been going on. We do not want to attack the school, as they have been very good, but we are very upset it has come to this.'

Sam, of Tredworth, Gloucestershire, was found on Thursday by his mother, Sally Cope, and another sister, Katie, 12, when they returned from a short shopping trip.

A short time before, Sam had seemed 'perfectly normal', answering the door to a friend of Katie, Miss Cope added.

'He was such a loving boy. We all loved him very much and he was always telling us how much he loved us.'

Sam was one of five children born to Miss Cope and Chris Leeson, a 39-year- old builder.

The couple never married, but were together 11 years before parting five years ago. Mr Leeson has two young children with his new partner.

Miss Cope, a tutor who works with disadvantaged youths, called for greater monitoring of teenage boys in schools, particularly 'quiet, hardworking' ones such as her son.

'I have seen from my work that there are plenty of resources thrown at those who have become disengaged with the educational system, or society generally,' she said.

'But the ones who don't disrupt the class, who do what they are told, like Sam, can be overlooked.'

Peter Rowland, headmaster at Severn Vale School, paid tribute to Sam as a 'wonderfully creative' writer who would be a 'great loss' to the school.

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700-pound man dreams of walking down the aisle

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) -- Manuel Uribe, who once weighed a half-ton but has slimmed down to about 700 pounds, celebrates his 43rd birthday Wednesday with a simple wish for the coming year: to be able to stand on his own two feet to get married.

art.half.ton.man.ap.jpg

Manuel Uribe and Claudia Solis have been dating for two years and are ready to get married.

At his home in northern Mexico, where he can still do little more than sit up on a bed, Uribe said that more than two years of steady dieting have helped him drop about 550 pounds from his Guinness record weight of 1,235 pounds.

He hopes Guinness representatives will confirm in July that he holds a second title: the world's greatest loser of weight.

But Uribe is still unable to walk with his fiancée, Claudia Solis, down the aisle.

"It frustrates me a little, because it is not easy to get out," said Uribe, who has not been able to leave bed for the past six years.

His most recent attempt to escape the house -- to attend Solis' 38th birthday party in March -- fell through when a flatbed tow truck brought to transport his reinforced bed got caught beneath an underpass.

But Uribe vowed not to be deterred: "We are in love, and this year my birthday wish is to be able to stand when we get married," he said.

Uribe said he met Solis, a hairdresser, four years ago. They have been together for the last two.

"We are a couple," Uribe said. "We have sex, and in the eyes of God we are already married."

Proudly showing off her sparkling engagement ring, Solis said that life with a heavyweight is not always easy.

"I bathe him every day, and we get along very well," she said. "At times, yes, people say things ... that it's a fake relationship, but what we have is real."

Solis said her family initially opposed the match with Uribe because her first husband, who was also obese, died of respiratory failure.

"They were worried about me being involved with another fat man, because they thought another husband would die on me," she said.

Uribe, a former auto parts dealer, said his birthday party Wednesday will be a low-key dinner with the family.

"We were going to go out, but the last time out scared me so much," he said. "When we crashed into the lighting conduits on the underpass, I thought we were going to get an electric shock."

Uribe said his weight problem spiraled out of control after he moved to the United States for a few years in 1988 and indulged in a nonstop diet of junk food and soft drinks.

A botched liposuction that damaged his lymph nodes left him with giant tumors on both legs weighing a total of 220 pounds. The tumors are the main reason he is unable to walk.

"It is all because of the junk food," he said.

About two years ago, a team of doctors stepped in to help Uribe change his eating habits and tackle his extreme obesity.

Today he says he eats small portions of food five times a day, including chicken, ham, egg-white omelets, fruit and vegetables. Sitting in bed, Uribe exercises his arms with pull-ups and by pedaling with his hands.

Hoping his struggle will inspire others, he plans to launch the Manuel Uribe Foundation this year to educate people about nutrition and to combat obesity, a growing problem in Mexico.

Solis is focused more on the present.

"It is a miracle he is still alive," she said. "He's going to turn 43, and that is something we have to celebrate."

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Top 10: Worst Male-Bashing Ads

AT&T commercial - Credit: AT&T
Top 10 worst male-bashing ads of the year

You’ve seen him plenty of times on sitcoms; he’s the dumb, bumbling, idiot dad, husband and boyfriend who appears useless at everything but bringing home a paycheck. The message: Guys are dumb and women have to lead them around. This, of course, cues the laugh track. Yet a survey from an organization called Children Now found that two-thirds of kid respondents described men on TV as angry, while respondents from another group’s survey said men were portrayed as corrupt on TV by a 17 to 1 margin. Clearly, this is no laughing matter.

To highlight companies pushing anti-guy messages, we’ve compiled a list of the worst male-bashing ads from 2007 and 2008. Whether husbands are portrayed as useless, stereotypical men or absolute airheads, our list of worst male-bashing ads exposes them all.

Check out which worst male-bashing ads are the main offenders.

Number 10

Pizza Hut

Need to cook a meal? Better call for pizza because you surely can’t do it on your own. In this worst male-bashing ad, Pizza Hut rolls out the tired stereotype that men are completely useless in the kitchen. Take a look at the real world, however, and you’ll see a much different picture than the one painted in this worst male-bashing ad: Men still dominate professional kitchens as chefs. You can take your pick from the tons of male celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Of course you use the microwave, but you can also boil an egg, grill a great steak and even prepare vegetables. You may have grown up on your mother's cooking, but now that you are grown up you can be the master of your kitchen -- even if advertising insists you can’t.

Number 9

Magasin

Apparently, men are pushovers and women are the superior voice in relationships. It’s unclear what product or service this No. 9 worst male-bashing ad is pitching, but its cliched message comes in loud and clear. You’ve seen this script play out on sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond and King of Queens all the time. The formula in this worst male-bashing ad is simple: Man + Outside World = Dumb. Clearly, whomever came up with the concept wasn’t doing much heavy lifting for an idea; they simply repackaged the “dumb man” character as a more literal representation -- a caveman. Warning: blood may boil after repeated viewings.

Number 8

AT&T

A guy is in Las Vegas, probably for a convention, and he’s never gambled before. He gets a taste for it, and loses money at the tables. Sounds like it could happen, right? Now here’s the AT&T version: same setup, but the guy calls his wife to report how much fun he’s having and explains in the naive tone of a kid going to school for the first time that he lost “chips” he wasn’t aware were worth money. Believable? Sure, as a science-fiction plot in which men are house pets. In the real world, even the crazy guy who bets his life savings has brains enough to know he’s not playing Monopoly.


Number 7

Whiskas

While men are regularly called dogs, Whiskas is comparing men to cats. In this worst male-bashing ad, a guy is lazing on top of a sofa. When company comes over, he slides down and asks his wife if they brought food. He finds out they haven’t and he slumps over the edge of the couch like he has an antisocial personality disorder. The message revisits classic male stereotypes: Men are simple, unrefined creatures that need to be given direction. This is similar to previous male cliches on sitcoms like Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond and Home Improvement where men were reduced to having three interests: sports, food and power tools. This worst male-bashing ad suggests men are still cavemen who just happen to live in houses. Watch and cringe.

Number 6

Domino's

Does this sound familiar? Guy propositions girlfriend/wife for sex, girlfriend/wife rolls her eyes/yawns/laughs and retorts with a variation of: “What’s in it for me?” Cue laugh track. Sitcoms and comics have squeezed every inch of life out of male sexual inadequacy jokes that they’ve now become as limp as their punch lines. Not for Domino’s, however. Clearly, they didn’t think this comic horse was dead and beat it a few more times for laughs. Here again, for the millionth and first time, is the joke of the under-performing man. Watch our No. 6 worst male-bashing ad and contribute your own groan track where you see fit.

Number 5

Sony Cyber-shot

To make sure no one misses the joke in this spot, Sony takes an actual horse, turns it around and gets characters to talk to its rear end like its a dad. The message is about as subtle as a jackhammer: Men are horses’ asses. Like other ads, this one ignores that dads do help their kids with homework, play with them outside, sit in the audience for their plays and recitals, and also work to contribute money toward food, health and the mortgage. With a spot that caters to the lowest common denominator in such an obvious, un-ironic way, perhaps the real horses’ asses are the advertisers who, along with men, consider their audience to be idiots.

Number 4

1st For Women Insurance Brokers

Men are involved in more fatal car accidents than women. Does this make us idiots? This South African insurance company thinks so. This male-bashing ad shows a car full of guys taunting another man who’s trying to get back in their car after a pee break. The driver’s not paying attention, however, and drives off a cliff. Here’s the real story: Men spend around 20% more time driving than women. We still have more fatal car accidents, but in the past 30 years female deaths have increased 14%, while ours have declined by 11%. Plus, evidence shows that women get in more minor accidents than men. Clearly, women aren’t the timid drivers previous stats would suggest. Need more proof? Look at Danica Patrick; not only is she a female driver on the testosterone-heavy Indy circuit, but she’s a winning female driver. Accidents, then, just like modern hiring practices, are an equal-opportunity event.


Dairy Queen commercial - Credit: Dairy Queen
These male-bashing commercials make men look stupid

Number 3

Polysporin

In our No. 3 worst male-bashing ad, a guy tries to fit in his with his kids when he dashes head-first down the Slip-n-Slide, only to find himself crashing into a strategically placed heap of garbage bins. The moral of this story: Dads are even dumber and more childlike than their own offspring. Apparently, they’re also terrible babysitters, seeing as they’d let their kids play in an area where they could potentially plunge into garbage themselves. Watch this incompetent-dad ad and see the male-bashing for yourself. The good news is: If this is truly how men are perceived in the world and you carry a conversation, you’re a shoo-in for a CEO job.

Number 2

Roomba

Stealing from Sony’s playbook, this worst male-bashing ad goes one further by saying men are not merely horses’ asses, but complete jackasses. A woman describes her frustration of living with animals while the jackass (her husband) is physically tearing apart the house around her. At the end, she sits down with him on the couch to pet him condescendingly. Wow. Forget men sharing baby duties, knowing how to vacuum, doing dishes, and picking up after themselves and others. Instead, the cliched message is that women are the civilized voice burdened with managing men and their ingrained frat-boy mindset. Instead of chanting “toga” after you’ve watched this male bashing-ad, however, you may be inclined to another chant “bullsh*t,” like at football games after a bad call.

Number 1

Dairy Queen

Meet the future man: a vacant moron ripe for manipulation. A young girl passes on an ice cream with her mom. The two sit down and a DQ employee gives her an ice cream, saying it’s from the young boy wearing “the donkey shirt.” She smiles at the boy and turns to her mom to say, “It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.” Insane. The idea in our No. 1 worst male-bashing ad is that guys are not only disposable idiots in women’s eyes, but they’re also idiots for trusting women. Forget that being trusting is a positive quality. Actually, the most disturbing portrayal of all is the little girl's arrogance and sense of entitlement. Warning: After watching, your awe may turn to anger; take a couple deep breaths before engaging in any further activity.


don’t be a hater

Dumb, incompetent male characters are portrayed in abundance on television commercials. From being completely henpecked to having two working brain cells, our top 10 list of the worst male-bashing ads represents the whole spectrum. If all this negativity turns your stomach, you can easily strike back with your wallet and avoid these products. For the simpler, more immediate protest, however, use your thumb and change the channel.

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Office Weirdos: They’re Worse Than You


By: Kate Carter (Little_personView Profile)

If you’re wondering whether substandard grooming will get you fired, you should read about the employee who “repeatedly raised his right buttock” and broke wind in the direction of an employee.

If you’re worried about how you’ve decorated your cubicle, you should read about the nude photos a worker at the Metropolitan Opera pasted around his office.

These six egregious workplace episodes made my skin crawl. I hope these don’t inspire you to similar behavior, but rather offer you a sense of newfound freedom in your harmless acts of deviousness around the office.

Operation Flatulence
A forty-three-year-old mother of three, Theresa Bailey, filed suit after being accosted by male staff of Selectabase, a direct marketing firm in Deal, Kent. According to a Daily Mail story, Bailey wrote a letter to the company director, saying, “The number of times the person at my side would lift up his bottom off the chair and fart and think it’s funny is unreal.” Among other offenses, the “laddish” coworkers told her to wear an “I’m simple” badge when she had computer problems and threw a beach ball at her head. The court awarded Bailey $5,000 pounds.

Crotch Sniffing Is No Big Deal
Believe it or not, a 2000 case, Mendoza vs. Borden Inc., found that the behavior of a supervisor who followed her constantly, stared at her, and made sniffing noises while looking at her crotch did not qualify as sexual harassment. As described in the court’s written opinion, Mendoza testified: “I was making copies. I felt somebody watching me. I looked directly to my right. He was sitting at a chair in the conference room, which is approximately twenty, twenty-five feet away from me, at a chair at the end of the table. And he looked at me up and down, and stopped in my groin area and made a (indicating) sniffing motion.”

Nudie Pictures Are Fine
In a case involving one of the nation’s classiest and most elite institutions, the Metropolitan Opera Association, Martha Ellen Brennan sued because a male coworker (and office mate) erected racy pictures of nude men. The case was decided in the Met’s favor, however, because the court found that the pictures could not be characterized as physically threatening or humiliating. So next time you’re thinking twice about what is appropriate to put up around your office, just think of the Met and have fun.

Tell It Like It Is
In Shepherd v. Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Texas, Debra Jean Shepherd alleged that a coworker told her “your elbows are the same color as your nipples,” and “you have big thighs.” The court gave the coworker, Jodie Moore, the nod, however, allowing that his statements and actions (attempting to look down her clothing, among other things) were “boorish and offensive” … but “not severe.” So as long as you’re not severe, it seems like the courts might give you the wink-wink.

Shoes As Shiny As Mirrors
In a case brought by Dawn Bantum, the first black female floor broker in the history of the American Stock Exchange, the following lewd and lascivious behavior is described: a coworker blew in her ear, stared at her and informed her of his “romantic relations with another woman who also worked on the Amex floor.” The same coworker is described in the court document as having “approached Bantum, who was wearing a skirt, placed his foot/shoe between her legs and stated ‘Hi sweetie. I wish my shoes were as shiny as mirrors.’” Couldn’t he think of a better come-on line?

Boogers, Dried and Hardened
This is inspired by a personal experience, not a court case. I started a job at the same time as someone else, but luckily I received the office with the clean desk. The less fortunate newbie, about a month into the job, happened to brush against the bottom of his desk. It was rough, bumpy, and awfully suspicious. Upon further inspection, he realized the entire bottom of the desk was covered in boogers—the previous employee had routinely picked his nose and saved the treasure for later. What I still can’t believe is that the former employee did not worry about his mucus mountain being discovered by someone else. So if you occasionally stash nose output somewhere secretive, just think—you could be doing something far worse.

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Architect Secretly Builds Epic Scavenger Hunt into NYC Apartment

Eric Clough isn't your typical architectural designer. Sure, he'll design you a fine den or kitchen, but he's clearly got a creative streak that goes much deeper than that. That's why, when given the opportunity, he secretly built an incredible scavenger hunt into a $8.5-million, 4,200-square-foot Park Avenue apartment that included ciphers, riddles, poems and a lot of hidden doors and compartments.

Park Ave Scavenger Hunt


In any case, the finale involved, in part, removing decorative door knockers from two hallway panels, which fit together to make a crank, which in turn opened hidden panels in a credenza in the dining room, which displayed multiple keys and keyholes, which, when the correct ones were used, yielded drawers containing acrylic letters and a table-size cloth imprinted with the beginnings of a crossword puzzle, the answers to which led to one of the rectangular panels lining the tiny den, which concealed a chamfered magnetic cube, which could be used to open the 24 remaining panels, revealing, in large type, the poem written by Mr. Klinsky.

How amazing is that? It took the family months to discover the scavenger hunt and weeks after that to figure it all out. It's like the live in a children's book of some kind.

Unfortunately, magical things like this really are only possible when you're loaded enough to buy an $8.5-million apartment and then give someone another $1.26 million to renovate it without much oversight. But hey, maybe if you're nice to the guys installing your new fridge they'll leave a post-it note with a poem stuck behind it as a secret prize for when you move. Not quite as magical, but I'm trying to work within your means here.

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Business scams that failed miserably

By Ethan Trex

Mental Floss

(Mental Floss) -- Starting a legitimate business is hard, boring work. There's paperwork to fill out, employees to hire, and all sorts of other drudgery, not to mention the biggest hurdle of all: providing a product or service for which customers are willing to pay.

art.ulysses.grant.gi.jpg

President Ulysses S. Grant foiled a gold scam.

In all likelihood, it would be much easier to just stumble upon some clever scam to line your pockets. Or so it would seem.

As many aspiring scam artists quickly learn, when a business scam fails, it tends to fail in rather grand fashion. Just ask any of these four teams of not-so-smooth operators.

A corny sea story

Xenothemis and Hegestratos may not have been the world's first white-collar criminals, but they were certainly noteworthy for their incompetence. In 360 B.C., the pair stumbled upon what seemed like a killer plan to make some quick cash. Shipping was extremely risky at the time, and boats went down at sea with alarming frequency.

To exploit this uncertainty, Xenothemis and Hegestratos devised a plan in which they would receive a cash advance to ship a load of corn from Syracuse to Athens. Due to the dangers associated with shipping, the buyer would take on full risk if the shipment didn't make it to Athens, so if the boat sank Xenothemis and Hegestratos could keep their cash.

Instead of loading the ship with expensive corn, the conniving pair made a plan to sail an empty ship out to sea for a few days, then sink it and escape in lifeboats. Since the boat itself was insured, this plot seemed airtight, and the potential profit was great.

Unfortunately, though, the boat's other passengers allegedly caught wind of the scheme during the attempting scuttling of the ship. These passengers were understandably a bit peeved at Hegestratos' attempts to drown them for his own financial gain. Hegestratos panicked and jumped overboard, at which point he drowned.

Unable to sink the ship by himself, Xenothemis had to sail on to the port, at which point the buyer, Protos, wanted to know why his shipload of corn was empty. A legal battle followed, and although the verdict has been lost by history, it's safe to say that the late Hegestratos regretted the scam.

When Friday went black

Despite his prowess as a general, Ulysses S. Grant's presidency didn't go so smoothly. Ones of its most notable scandals occurred in 1869, when a group of speculators upended the U.S gold market.

The plan started when financier James Fisk and robber baron Jay Gould formed a group of speculators with the goal of cornering the gold market, which would give the group the ability to manipulate the price.

Of course, one can only corner the market if there's a fixed quantity of gold available. Otherwise, the government could just sell large quantities of gold, and the cornering effort would be an expensive failure. In an effort to avoid this fate, Gould and Fisk brought President Grant's brother-in-law Abel Corbin into their fold.

Using Corbin's influence to get an audience with the President, the pair would argue to Grant that selling gold was a terrible idea that the government should avoid at all costs. The wily pair also used their influence at the White House to secure a position as assistant treasurer of the United States for Daniel Butterfield, who would warn them if the government started to sell gold.

With their connections in place, Fisk and Gould started buying up gold in September 1869, quickly driving the price of gold up by around 30 percent.

Once Grant and his advisors got wise to the situation, though, the government quickly sold off $4 million in gold to break the corner, effectively killing the inflated prices on September 24.

As investors scrambled to get rid of their overpriced gold, the price plummeted sharply, and many involved in the scam lost huge amounts of money. Fisk and Gould managed to avoid big losses due to their connections in the treasury, but what would be known as Black Friday didn't earn them a huge windfall -- and significantly harmed the American economy.

Bad moves

If you've ever hired movers, you know it can be pretty pricey. Erik Deri, the founder of Woodinville, Washington-based Nationwide Moving Systems, understood that most movers were expensive, so he drummed up business by offering super-cheap quotes to frugal clients. The customers were ecstatic to find a mover who could get their belongings to a new home so cheaply.

That is, until the price went up. Deri's movers would load the company's vans with all of a customer's worldly belongings, then a foreman would inform the client that they'd have to pay an inflated price to actually get their stuff to their new digs.

The price hikes weren't small, either; one man's estimate stated he could move for $3,000 but was later revised to $16,000 after loading. According to authorities, if customers balked at these demands, the movers would threaten to unload their boxes and furniture into the street...and then charge them an unloading fee.

If things got really sticky, Nationwide's trucks could just take off with all of the clients' possessions. Deri supposedly paid cash bonuses to employees who successfully strong-armed customers into forking over the premiums.

In the end, though, Deri learned that you can't scam that many customers and hope to get away with it. In 2005 he was found guilty of 27 counts of extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and extortion. Three of his accomplices were also convicted in connection with the moving racket. Deri was sentenced to seven years in prison, after which he'll face deportation to his native Israel.

Fools for gold

Bre-X Minerals Ltd. was a small Canadian mining company that made a big announcement in 1995. Geologists had discovered gold on a site Bre-X owned near Busang, Indonesia. Not just a little gold, either -- at least 30 million ounces, possibly as much as 200 million ounces. Given the high prices of gold, such a deposit would have been worth tens of billions of dollars. Bre-X's stock price shot through the roof; shares went from being valued at a few cents to over $280 Canadian.

In fact, the deposit seemed so rich and so large that a small company like Bre-X could not possibly handle it all without some help. In 1997, the Indonesian government convinced Bre-X to take on an American firm as a partner to help extract the gold.

When this firm, Freeport-McMoRan, started sampling the soil at the deposit site as part of its due diligence, it reached a confusing conclusion: there wasn't any gold in the soil. Subsequent examinations by independent auditors reached the same conclusion. The "natural" gold that in the original samples Bre-X had taken was mostly river gold from other regions or shavings off of gold jewelry.

Although the company's market cap had climbed to $4.4 billion, this report quickly destroyed Bre-X's value. Share prices dropped 97 percent in a day following the announcement, the company was soon removed from the Toronto Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, and Bre-X quickly went bankrupt. Amazingly, no one ended up in jail from this scam, but you should still probably be wary if anyone offers to sell you an enormous gold mine on Borneo.

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Middle-aged male teacher sacked after bizarre striptease in front of stunned class

By Andrew Levy

The secret of being a good teacher is said to be finding a way to get the children's attention

But stripping off in front of a class of unruly pupils is not one of the recommended techniques.

The bizarre striptease was performed by a chubby supply teacher who threatened to punish misbehaving 13 and 14-year-olds by making them look at his body.

When the teenagers continued playing up, he stayed true to his word and pulled off his shirt.

stripper teacher

teacher stripped
stripping teacher
stripping teacher

Hysterics: The teacher struggles to put his shirt back on. His teenage pupils can be heard screaming with laughter on the YouTube video of the impromptu striptease.

The prank misfired, however, after a pupil at Sudbury Upper School and Arts College in Suffolk secretly filmed him with a mobile phone and forwarded the 53-second clip to other children.

Before the day was out the headteacher had seen the footage of the bearded, balding and bespectacled English teacher and ordered him to leave the 1,185-pupil school and never return.

Adding to the his embarrassment, the clip was later posted on video sharing website YouTube under the heading 'Teacher Strip'.

A message accompanying the footage, which has been viewed more than 800 times, reads: 'make sure your not eating when ur wachin this [sic].'

The unidentified man's teaching career is now in doubt after Suffolk County Council banned him from working again at any of its 357 schools.

A pupil at the mixed comprehensive said: 'Kids were playing up in class and his way of dealing with it was to tell everyone to be quiet or he would take his shirt off and show his man boobs.

'He was quite overweight and it was a sight that nobody really wanted to see. Everyone thought he was joking and people carried on messing around - but then he really did take his shirt off.

'It was quite shocking but pupils thought it was hilarious.'

Another added: 'It was hilarious. People were goading him saying "I bet you haven't got muscles". He told us all "I'll show you" and started taking off his shirt.

'We all thought he was pretending but he took his shirt off and started flexing his muscles. Then he said: "Look, I told you".

'He put his shirt back on but he was still buttoning it up when he was teaching. Everyone was killing themselves laughing.'

Will Theobald, 17, who posted the clip on YouTube, said: 'About a quarter of the students had the clip on their phone. Everyone called him Gimli after the character in Lord of the Rings.

'I don't know what he was thinking. You can't do stuff like that and get away with it.'

During the strip, pupils can be heard laughing, cheering and screaming. One girl shouts out "Oh my god!" followed by "Bless him".

The teacher was hired for the day from UK Teaching Agency in Radlett, Hertfordshire. No one from the company was available to comment yesterday.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: 'It was not planned or part of a lesson. It was just his reaction to a behaviour situation.

'As soon as the headteacher was made aware of the incident, the supply teacher in question was asked to leave the school premises immediately.

'The matter was also reported immediately to the supply agency employing him as well as the council.

'He will not be allowed to teach in Suffolk again. I don't know whether there will be any more professional disciplinary action against him.'

The spokesman added: 'The protocol and vetting of teachers who work for these agencies is controlled by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

'Schools should be confident and expect that people who are supplied are of the required standard.'

An Ofsted report last month concluded teaching standards at the school were 'satisfactory'.

It added: 'Most [pupils] behave well but there are occasions, especially in lessons where there is inconsistency in the quality of teaching and management of behaviour, when some students are not engaged in learning.'

Headteacher David Forrest yesterday said the teacher had not taught at the school before the incident two months ago.

He refused to name him, adding: 'Disciplinary matters are private between the school, the man concerned and his employer.'




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