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President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said. “Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools,” the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.
Peking University to screen students for ‘radical thoughts’
Students at the university – China’s equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge – reacted furiously to the news, saying the policy evoked memories of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) when students and professors were persecuted for being politically unreliable. University authorities said the screening for “radical thoughts”, which will begin in May, was just one element in a ten-point checklist to help students suffering from a range of problems including “psychological fragility, poverty and internet addiction”.
Israel threatens unilateral steps if UN recognizes Palestinian state
Israel informed the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council last week, as well as several other prominent European Union countries, that if the Palestinian Authority persists in its efforts to gain recognition in September as a state within the 1967 borders, Israel would respond with a series of unilateral steps of its own.
Syria government supporters hold pro-Assad rally in Damascus
Tens of thousands of Syrians held pro-government rallies on Tuesday as President Bashar Assad was expected to address the nation after two weeks of democracy protests in which at least 60 people have been killed. Assad, who has been facing the gravest challenge to his 11-year rule after protests in the south spread to many parts of the country, could announce a lifting of Syria’s decades-old emergency laws.
EU to ban cars from cities by 2050
The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050. The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.
Iranian Video Says Mahdi is ‘Near’
New evidence has emerged that the Iranian government sees the current unrest in the Middle East as a signal that the Mahdi–or Islamic messiah–is about to appear. CBN News has obtained a never-before-seen video produced by the Iranian regime that says all the signs are moving into place — and that Iran will soon help usher in the end times.
China ‘to overtake US on science’ in two years
That is the conclusion of a major new study by the Royal Society, the UK’s national science academy. The country that invented the compass, gunpowder, paper and printing is set for a globally important comeback. An analysis of published research – one of the key measures of scientific effort – reveals an “especially striking” rise by Chinese science.
Japan nuclear: PM Naoto Kan signals ‘maximum alert’
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said his government is in a state of maximum alert over the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Plutonium has been detected in soil at the facility and highly radioactive water has leaked from a reactor building. Officials say the priority remains injecting water to cool the fuel rods.
Libya: Obama says US intervention will be limited
US President Barack Obama has defended the first military intervention of his presidency, insisting US involvement in Libya will be limited. He said US participation in the coalition had saved “countless lives”, but that overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi by force would be a mistake. Delegates from dozens of countries are gathering in London for a conference on the future of Libya.
London meeting to clarify politics of Libya action
More than 40 delegates from the anti-Gaddafi coalition, the EU, the UN, the Arab League and the African Union are meeting in London on Tuesday (29 March) to establish political ‘guidance’ and to generate wider support for the Libya operation before Nato takes over. In a joint letter published ahead of the event, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron said the meeting will create “support for a new beginning for Libya.”
Fatah, Hamas set to hold April unity talks in Cairo
Hamas and Fatah have agreed to renew unity talks in Cairo next month to discuss ways of ending their conflict. The decision follows a series of meeting between leaders of Hamas and Fatah in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syria over the past few days.
The Syrian prime minister and the entire cabinet were expected to resign Tuesday, AFP reported, quoting high-ranking officials in Damascus. The official told AFP, “The government will tender its resignation today and a new cabinet should be formed within 24 hours.” The current government was formed by Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri and was reshuffled two years ago.