UK visas should be auctioned, migration advisers say

By Brian Wheeler, Political reporter The right to settle in Britain should be auctioned off to wealthy foreign investors, government advisers say. At present migrants can gain entry by investing £1m or more in the UK. Read more » BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26334978

Pentagon plans to downsize US military

Pentagon’s Chuck Hagel plans to downsize US military

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two.

Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.

Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired.

The US defence budget remains higher than during most of the Cold War.

‘Difficult decisions ahead’

On Monday, Mr Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. “This is a time for reality,” he said

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-26326969

SINDH – Village gives girls pioneering sex education class

By Reuters

JOHI: In neat rows, the girls in white headscarves listened carefully as the teacher described the changes in their bodies. When the teacher asked what they should do if a stranger touched them, the class erupted.

“Scream!” one called out. “Bite!” another suggested. “Scratch really hard with your nails!” a third said.

Sex education is common in Western schools but these ground-breaking lessons are taking place in Pakistan.

Publicly talking about sex in Pakistan is taboo and can even be a death sentence.

Almost nowhere in Pakistan offers any kind of organised sex education. In some places it has been banned.

But teachers operating in the village of Johi in poverty-stricken Sindh province say most families there support their sex education project.

Around 700 girls are enrolled in eight local schools run by the Village Shadabad Organisation. Their sex education lessons — starting at age eight — cover changes in their bodies, what their rights are and how to protect themselves.

“We cannot close our eyes,” said Akbar Lashari, head of the organisation. “It’s a topic people don’t want to talk about but it’s fact of our life.”

Facts of life

Lashari said most of the girls in the villages used to hit puberty without realising they will begin to menstruate or they got married without understanding the mechanics of sex.

The lessons even teach the girls about marital rape — a revolutionary idea in Pakistan, where forcing a spouse to have sex is not a crime.

“We tell them their husband can’t have sex with them if they are not willing,” Lashari said.

The lessons are an addition to regular classes and parents are told before they enroll their daughters. None has objected and the school has faced no opposition, Lashari said.

The eight schools received sponsorship from BHP Billiton, an Australian company that operates a nearby gas plant, but Lashari says sex education was the villagers’ own idea.

Teacher Sarah Baloch, whose yellow shalwar kameez brightens up the dusty school yard, said she hoped to help girls understand what growing up meant.

“When girls start menstruating they think it is shameful and don’t tell their parents and think they have fallen sick,” shesaid.

Baloch teaches at a tiny school of three brick classrooms. A fourth class is held outside because there are so many girls.

Continue reading SINDH – Village gives girls pioneering sex education class

Ukraine Leader Warns of Separatism

Ukraine crisis: Turchynov warns of ‘separatism’ risk

Ukraine’s interim President Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. His comments came amid continuing opposition in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions to the new administration in Kiev.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26333587