organization:cambridge university

  • Cause of #cancer is written into DNA of tumours, scientists find, creating a ’black box’ for origin of disease

    Even with lung cancer, it is not known just how much can be attributed to smoking and how much could be linked to other factors, such as living by a busy road, or inhaling pollutants at work.

    But now scientists at Cambridge University and King’s College London have shown that tumours hold information like a ’black box’ pointing to the cause of disease.

    They exposed stem cells to dozens of known carcinogens and recorded how each alters its DNA code as cancer forms. It provides a ‘fingerprint’ or ‘mutational signature’ of the underlying cause and could even show which was the biggest culprit.

  • Preserving snapshots of Cambridge’s anti-women protests

    When the question was first posited in 1897 of whether women attending Girton and Newnham should be granted Cambridge degrees equal in value to those awarded to men, male undergraduates protested by burning effigies of female scholars and throwing fireworks into the windows of women’s colleges.

    Now, a series of items collected during the Cambridge street protests opposing admission of women to the University – rockets, confetti, and eggshells from the near-riots – are to be photographed and archived for public record.

    Archivist Sian Collins, of the University Library Department of Archives and Modern Manuscripts, said that the materials offer insight into an “extraordinary time”. She told the BBC, “it’s not an eyewitness description or a newspaper report – these were actual items used to victimise people, things that don’t normally survive”.

    An entry description of the artifacts detailed how they serve as a “tangible and unusual reminder of the depth of outrage felt by male students in Cambridge” at the prospect of “granting equality to female students”.

    When the Senate House vote was first held in 1897 on whether to accept women as full members of the University, female students suffered a defeat of 661 votes in favour and 1,707 votes opposed – a decision which would not be overturned until 1948. In celebration of the 1897 decision, male protesters maimed and decapitated an effigy of a female Cambridge student before pushing the remains through the gates of Newnham College.

    A second Senate House vote on whether to grant female students full membership to the University was held in 1921. The repeated defeat of the motion inspired a crowd of male undergraduates to use a coal trolley as a battering ram, smashing and partially destroying Newnham College’s Clough Memorial Gates.

    Cambridge University’s history with its female students has been fraught with institutional apathy, and its progression toward equality slow: as men violently opposed the push for equal University status, several women made landmark academic achievements to little acclaim – their Tripos marks not considered comparable to male students who had taken identical exams.

    Cambridge was the last university in the UK to grant its female students equal rights, despite having allowed women to attend certain lectures from the 1870s, and to take Cambridge exams from 1881.

    The last Cambridge college to fully integrate women did so even later, in 1988, when Magdalene accepted its first cohort of women. In protest of the decision at the time, Magdalene men wore black armbands and flew the college’s flag at half-mast, ‘mourning’ the end to an exclusively male College.

    The artifacts from the 1897 protests, currently stored at Cambridge University Library, are to be digitised by a process which may involve the use of 3-D imagery. Cambridge Digital Library announced that it would digitise the items after its entry received a plurality of votes in the Library’s ‘digitisation competition’, where certain objects were voted on whether to be made publicly available online. A Portolan chart of the Aegean Sea, the paintings and drawings of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and the ‘Golden Book’ of the Cambridge University Music Club, are also set to be made digitally available to the public.

    When the 1897 artifacts were suggested for digitisation by the Cambridge Digital Library, an entry description wrote, “these fragile items bring home how physically threatening it must have felt for these women, who simply wanted their hard work and exam success acknowledged equally.” In providing public access to the symbols of the anti-women riots, the Library offers a glimpse into a period of Cambridge’s history malaised by its archaism, where its community was not only lagging behind the curve, but actively – and violently – fighting against it.

    #sexisme #masculinisme #discrimination #élites #mémoire #archives

  • Winner of prestigious Israeli award to donate prize money to human rights organizations

    Feminist and scientist Evelyn Fox Keller, a former professor at MIT, will give her Dan David Prize money to anti-occupation organization B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights | Amira Hass May 07, 2018 8:11 AM

    One of the winners of this year’s Dan David Prize plans to give the prize money to three Israeli human rights organizations.

    Prof. Evelyn Fox Keller, one of nine people who received the award at Tel Aviv University Sunday night, will give the money to B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights.

    The scientist and feminist thinker told Haaretz that the moment she found out she had won the prize, she decided she could accept it only if she gave the money to organizations combating Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

    In a written statement to Haaretz on Sunday, the 82-year-old, who last taught at MIT wrote, “I am deeply grateful to the Dan David Foundation both for the honor conferred by the prize, and for the opportunity it provides me to support those elements of Israeli society committed to peaceful coexistence and to the protection of human rights for all.”

    Asked why she didn’t just refuse the prize, since it is granted by an Israeli university which is part of the system and doesn’t criticize it, she replied, “I didn’t see it that way. I am accepting the prize in support of people who resist the system. I didn’t see what would be served by turning it down. As a political statement, it is stronger if I take the prize and give it away.”

    The interview with Fox Keller took place last Thursday, less than 24 hours after she landed in Israel. She said she decided to announce her plans for the prize money through this interview rather than during the ceremony because “I didn’t want it to be a ‘fuck you’ statement. I don’t want to be the focus of the night.”

    On Saturday, she revealed her plans to her two co-winners in the “Past – History of Science” category, Prof. Lorraine Daston of Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and Prof. Simon Schaffer of Cambridge University. The other six winners were in the categories of “Present – Bioethics” and “Future – Personalized Medicine.” The $3 million purse will be evenly divided among the nine of them.

    The prize, named for the international entrepreneur and philanthropist who established it, is granted annually “for achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world,” according to its website. Fox Keller won for “pioneering work on language, gender, and science” which “has been hugely influential on shaping our views of the history of science.” Her research specialties are theoretical physics, mathematical biology, feminist thought and history of science.

    The website’s reference to her “pioneering work” refers to her discovery of the degree to which modern scientific thought and its depiction of natural phenomena were shaped by patriarchal ideology and language. For instance, biologists searched for a “master” molecule – a dominant molecule that would operate an entire system – rather than recognizing the cooperation and self-organization of the various component parts.

    Christina Agapakis, a biologist and founding editor of “Method Quarterly,” wrote in her introduction to an interview with Fox Keller in 2014, “Throughout her career she has pushed the boundaries of science, confidently crossing the borders that separate disciplines and breaking down the barriers keeping women out of the highest reaches of scientific achievement.”

    Asked whether she thought Israeli universities should speak out against infringements on Palestinians’ academic freedom — such as Israel’s refusal to let students from the Gaza Strip study in the West Bank and obstacles it places before foreign academics and students who wish to teach or study in the occupied territories — Fox Keller responded, “Of course I think they should, but they don’t. And they don’t want to and don’t have a voice.”

    It’s not just Tel Aviv University that “doesn’t have a will,” she added. “None of the universities in Israel have a will.”

    Her last visit here was 10 years ago, when she was hosted by the Weizmann Institute of Science. She said she was shocked by the changes in her friends, who used to consider themselves liberals and socialists, yet had no idea what was happening in the Palestinian territories under Israeli rule.

    “The biggest change is probably the children, the effect the army had,” she said.

    “I said [then that] Israel makes me ashamed of being a Jew,” she added. “Yes, I feel the same today.”

    Asked why she should feel that way, since she’s an American Jew rather than an Israeli, she replied, “It was just a gut response. I cannot defend it ... [except to say that] my political commitments are whatever remains of my Jewish leftist heritage.”

  • Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach | News | The Guardian

    The data analytics firm that worked with #Donald_Trump’s election team and the winning #Brexit campaign harvested millions of F#acebook profiles of US #voters, in the tech giant’s biggest ever data breach, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

    A #whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how #Cambridge_Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to #target them with personalised political advertisements.

    Christopher Wylie, who worked with an academic at Cambridge University to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis that the entire company was built on.”

    Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.

  • Can research quality be measured quantitatively?

    In this article I reflect on ways in which the neoliberal university and its administrative counterpart, #new_public_management (NPM), affect academic publishing activity. One characteristic feature of NPM is the urge to use simple numerical indicators of research output as a tool to allocate funding and, in practice if not in theory, as a means of assessing research quality. This ranges from the use of journal impact factors (IF) and ranking of journals to publication points to determine what types of work in publishing is counted as meritorious for funding allocation. I argue that it is a fallacy to attempt to assess quality of scholarship through quantitative measures of publication output. I base my arguments on my experiences of editing a Norwegian geographical journal over a period of 16 years, along with my experiences as a scholar working for many years within the Norwegian university system.
    #qualité #recherche #quantitativisme #université #édition_scientifique #publications_scientifiques #indicateurs #indicateurs_numériques #impact_factor #impact-factor #ranking

    • How global university rankings are changing higher education

      EARLIER this month Peking University played host to perhaps the grandest global gathering ever of the higher-education business. Senior figures from the world’s most famous universities—Harvard and Yale, Oxford and Cambridge among them—enjoyed or endured a two-hour opening ceremony followed by a packed programme of mandatory cultural events interspersed with speeches lauding “Xi Jinping thought”. The party was thrown to celebrate Peking University’s 120th birthday—and, less explicitly, China’s success in a race that started 20 years ago.

      In May 1998 Jiang Zemin, China’s president at the time, announced Project 985, named for the year and the month. Its purpose was to create world-class universities. Nian Cai Liu, a professor of polymeric materials science and engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, got swept up in this initiative. “I asked myself many questions, including: what is the definition of and criteria for a world-class university? What are the positions of top Chinese universities?” Once he started benchmarking them against foreign ones, he found that “governments, universities and stakeholders from all around the world” were interested. So, in 2003, he produced the first ranking of 500 leading global institutions. Nobody, least of all the modest Professor Liu, expected the Shanghai rankings to be so popular. “Indeed, it was a real surprise.”

      People are suckers for league tables, be they of wealth, beauty, fame—or institutions of higher education. University rankings do not just feed humanity’s competitive urges. They are also an important source of consumer intelligence about a good on which people spend huge amounts of time and money, and about which precious little other information is available. Hence the existence of national league tables, such as US News & World Report’s ranking of American universities. But the creation of global league tables—there are now around 20, with Shanghai, the Times Higher Education (THE) and QS the most important—took the competition to a new level. It set not just universities, but governments, against each other.

      When the Shanghai rankings were first published, the “knowledge economy” was emerging into the global consciousness. Governments realised that great universities were no longer just sources of cultural pride and finishing schools for the children of the well-off, but the engines of future prosperity—generators of human capital, of ideas and of innovative companies.

      The rankings focused the minds of governments, particularly in countries that did badly. Every government needed a few higher-educational stars; any government that failed to create them had failed its people and lost an important global race. Europe’s poor performance was particularly galling for Germany, home of the modern research university. The government responded swiftly, announcing in 2005 an Exzellenzinitiative to channel money to institutions that might become world-class universities, and has so far spent over €4.6bn ($5.5bn) on it.

      Propelled by a combination of national pride and economic pragmatism, the idea spread swiftly that this was a global competition in which all self-respecting countries should take part. Thirty-one rich and middle-income countries have announced an excellence initiative of some sort. India, where world rankings were once regarded with post-colonial disdain, is the latest to join the race: in 2016 the finance minister announced that 20 institutions would aim to become world-class universities. The most generously funded initiatives are in France, China, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The most unrealistic targets are Nigeria’s, to get at least two universities in the world’s top 200, and Russia’s, to get five in the world’s top 100, both by 2020.

      The competition to rise up the rankings has had several effects. Below the very highest rankings, still dominated by America and western Europe—America has three of the THE’s top five slots and Britain two this year—the balance of power is shifting (see chart). The rise of China is the most obvious manifestation. It has 45 universities in the Shanghai top 500 and is now the only country other than Britain or America to have two universities in the THE’s top 30. Japan is doing poorly: its highest-ranked institution, the University of Tokyo, comes in at 48 in the THE’s table. Elsewhere, Latin America and eastern Europe have lagged behind.

      The rankings race has also increased the emphasis on research. Highly cited papers provide an easily available measure of success, and, lacking any other reliable metric, that is what the league tables are based on. None of the rankings includes teaching quality, which is hard to measure and compare. Shanghai’s is purely about research; THE and QS incorporate other measures, such as “reputation”. But since the league tables themselves are one of its main determinants, reputation is not an obviously independent variable.

      Hard times

      The research boom is excellent news for humanity, which will eventually reap the benefits, and for scientific researchers. But the social sciences and humanities are not faring so well. They tend to be at a disadvantage in rankings because there are fewer soft-science or humanities journals, so hard-science papers get more citations. Shanghai makes no allowance for that, and Professor Liu admits that his ranking tends to reinforce the dominance of hard science. Phil Baty, who edits the THE’s rankings, says they do take the hard sciences’ higher citation rates into account, scoring papers by the standards of the relevant discipline.

      The hard sciences have benefited from the bounty flowing from the “excellence initiatives”. According to a study of these programmes by Jamil Salmi, author of “The Challenge of Establishing World-Class Universities”, all the programmes except Taiwan’s focused on research rather than teaching, and most of them favoured STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). This is no doubt one of the reasons why the numbers of scientific papers produced globally nearly doubled between 2003 and 2016.

      The rankings may be contributing to a deterioration in teaching. The quality of the research academics produce has little bearing on the quality of their teaching. Indeed, academics who are passionate about their research may be less inclined to spend their energies on students, and so there may be an inverse relationship. Since students suffer when teaching quality declines, they might be expected to push back against this. But Ellen Hazelkorn, author of “Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher Education”, argues that students “are buying prestige in the labour market”. This means “they want to go to the highest-status university possible”—and the league tables are the only available measure of status. So students, too, in effect encourage universities to spend their money on research rather than teaching.

      The result, says Simon Marginson, Oxford University’s incoming professor of higher education, is “the distribution of teaching further down the academic hierarchy”, which fosters the growth of an “academic precariat”. These PhD students and non-tenured academics do the teaching that the star professors, hired for their research abilities, shun as a chore. The British government is trying to press universities to improve teaching, by creating a “teaching-excellence framework”; but the rating is made up of a student-satisfaction survey, dropout rates and alumni earnings—interesting, but not really a measure of teaching quality. Nevertheless, says Professor Marginson, “everybody recognises this as a problem, and everybody is watching what Britain is doing.”

      A third concern is that competition for rankings encourages stratification within university systems, which in turn exacerbates social inequality. “Excellence initiatives” funnel money to top universities, whose students, even if admission is highly competitive, tend to be the children of the well-off. “Those at the top get more government resources and those at the bottom get least,” points out Ms Hazelkorn. That’s true even in Britain, which, despite not having an excellence initiative, favours top universities through the allocation of research money. According to a study of over 120 universities by Alison Wolf of King’s College London and Andrew Jenkins of University College London, the Russell Group, a self-selected elite of 24 universities, get nearly half of the funding for the entire sector, and increased their share from 44.7% in 2001-02 to 49.1% in 2013-14.

      The rankings race draws other complaints. Some universities have hired “rankings managers”, which critics argue is not a good use of resources. Saudi Arabian universities have been accused of giving highly cited academics lucrative part-time contracts and requiring them to use their Saudi affiliation when publishing.

      Intellectual citizens of nowhere

      Notwithstanding its downsides, the rankings race has encouraged a benign trend with far-reaching implications: internationalisation. The top level of academia, particularly in the sciences, is perhaps the world’s most international community, as Professor Marginson’s work shows. Whereas around 4% of first-degree students in the OECD study abroad, a quarter of PhD students do. Research is getting more global: 22% of science and engineering papers were internationally co-authored in 2016, up from 16% in 2003. The rankings, which give marks for international co-authorship, encourage this trend. That is one reason why Japan, whose universities are as insular as its culture, lags. As research grows—in 2000-14 the annual number of PhDs awarded rose by half in America, doubled in Britain and quintupled in China—so does the size and importance of this multinational network.

      Researchers work together across borders on borderless problems—from climate change to artificial intelligence. They gather at conferences, spend time in each other’s universities and spread knowledge and scholarship across the world. Forced to publish in English, they share at least one language. They befriend each other, marry each other and support each other, politically as well as intellectually. Last year, for instance, when Cambridge University Press blocked online access to hundreds of articles on sensitive subjects, including the Tiananmen Square massacre, at the request of the Chinese government, it faced international protests, and an American academic launched a petition which was signed by over 1,500 academics around the world. CUP backed down.

      The rankings race is thus marked by a happy irony. Driven in part by nationalistic urges, it has fostered the growth of a community that knows no borders. Critics are right that governments and universities obsess too much about rankings. Yet the world benefits from the growth of this productive, international body of scholars.

      #Chine #classement_de_Shanghai #compétition #classement #ranking #QS #Times_Higher_Education #THE #excellence #Exzellenzinitiative #Allemagne #Inde #France #Singapour #Taïwan #Corée_du_Sud #Nigeria #Russie #USA #Etats-Unis #Angleterre #UK #recherche #publications #publications_scientifiques #enseignement #réputation #sciences_sociales #sciences_dures #précarité #précarisation #travail #inégalités #anglais #langue #internationalisation #globalisation #mondialisation

      La fin est très en phase avec le journal qui a publié cet article, hélas :

      Critics are right that governments and universities obsess too much about rankings. Yet the world benefits from the growth of this productive, international body of scholars.

      La première version de cet article a été apparemment corrigée :

      Correction (May 22nd, 2018): An earlier version of this piece suggested that non-English data and books are not included in the rankings. This is incorrect. The article has been amended to remove that assertion.

      –-> mais en fait, en réalité, il n’aurait pas dû l’être. Pour avoir expérimenté moi-même une fois le #H-index sur ma liste de publications, je peux vous dire qu’aucun article en d’autres langues que l’anglais avait été retenu dans l’index. Et même pas tous les articles en anglais que j’ai publiés...

  • [Forum] | Trump : A Resister’s Guide | Harper’s Magazine - Part 11

    y Kate Crawford

    Dear Technologists:

    For the past decade, you’ve told us that your products will change the world, and indeed they have. We carry tiny networked computers with us everywhere, we control “smart” home appliances at a remove, we communicate with our friends and family over online platforms, and now we are all part of the vast Muslim registry known as Facebook. Almost 80 percent of American internet users belong to the social network, and many of them happily offer up their religious affiliation. The faith of those who don’t, too, can be easily deduced with a little data-science magic; in 2013, a Cambridge University study accurately detected Muslims 82 percent of the time, using only their Facebook likes. The industry has only become better at individual targeting since then.

    You’ve created simple, elegant tools that allow us to disseminate news in real time. Twitter, for example, is very good at this. It’s also a prodigious disinformation machine. Trolls, fake news, and hate speech thrived on the platform during the presidential campaign, and they show few signs of disappearing now. Twitter has likewise made it easier to efficiently map the networks of activists and political dissenters. For every proud hashtag — #BlackLivesMatter, #ShoutYourAbortion, the anti-deportation campaign #Not1More — there are data sets that reveal the identities of the “influencers” and “joiners” and offer a means of tracking, harassing, and silencing them.

    You may intend to resist, but some requests will leave little room for refusal. Last year, the U.S. government forced Yahoo to scan all its customers’ incoming emails, allegedly to find a set of characters that were related to terrorist activity. Tracking emails is just the beginning, of course, and the FBI knows it. The most important encryption case to date hinged on the FBI’s demand that Apple create a bespoke operating system that would allow the government to intentionally undermine user security whenever it impeded an investigation. Apple won the fight, but that was when Obama was in office. Trump’s regime may pressure the technology sector to create back doors in all its products, widen surveillance, and weaken the security of every networked phone, vehicle, and thermostat.

    There is precedent for technology companies assisting authoritarian regimes. In 1880, after watching a train conductor punch tickets, Herman Hollerith, a young employee of the U.S. Census Bureau, was inspired to design a punch-card system to catalogue human traits. The Hollerith Machine was used in the 1890 census to tabulate markers such as race, literacy level, gender, and country of origin. During the 1930s, the Third Reich used the same system, under the direction of a German subsidiary of International Business Machines, to identify Jews and other ethnic groups. Thomas J. Watson, IBM’s first president, received a medal from Hitler for his services. As Edwin Black recounts in IBM and the Holocaust, there was both profit and glory to be had in providing the computational services for rounding up the state’s undesirables. Within the decade, IBM served as the information subcontractor for the U.S. government’s Japanese-internment camps.

    You, the software engineers and leaders of technology companies, face an enormous responsibility. You know better than anyone how best to protect the millions who have entrusted you with their data, and your knowledge gives you real power as civic actors. If you want to transform the world for the better, here is your moment. Inquire about how a platform will be used. Encrypt as much as you can. Oppose the type of data analysis that predicts people’s orientation, religion, and political preferences if they did not willingly offer that information. Reduce the quantity of personal information that is kept. And when the unreasonable demands come, the demands that would put activists, lawyers, journalists, and entire communities at risk, resist wherever you can. History also keeps a file.

    #Silicon_valley #Fichage #Médias_sociaux #Chiffrement #Ethique

  • Farming to blame for our shrinking size and brains

    ( — At Britain’s Royal Society, Dr. Marta Lahr from Cambridge University’s Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies presented her findings that the height and brain size of modern-day humans is shrinking.
    Looking at human fossil evidence for the past 200,000 years, Lahr looked at the size and structure of the bones and skulls found across Europe, Africa and Asia. What they discovered was that the largest Homo sapiens lived 20,000 to 30,000 years ago with an average weight between 176 and 188 pounds and a brain size of 1,500 cubic centimeters.
    They discovered that some 10,000 years ago however, size started getting smaller both in stature and in brain size. Within the last 10 years, the average human size has changed to a weight between 154 and 176 pounds and a brain size of 1,350 cubic centimeters.
    While large size remained static for close to 200,000 years, researchers believe the reduction in stature can be connected to a change from the hunter-gatherer way of life to that of agriculture which began some 9,000 years ago

    #agriculture #anticiv #cerveau

  • Des artistes anglais à #Radiohead:

    Le grand #Ken_Loach:

    Radiohead need to join the cultural boycott of Israel – why won’t they meet with me to discuss it?
    Ken Loach, The Independent, le 11 juillet 2017

    Traduction en français:

    Radiohead devrait se joindre au boycott culturel d’Israël – pourquoi ne veulent-ils pas me rencontrer pour en discuter ?
    Ken Loach, The Independent, le 11 juillet 2017

    #Dave_Randall est le guitariste du groupe #Faithless:

    Radiohead are wrong to play in Israel. Here’s why
    Dave Randall, The Guardian, le 11 juillet 2017

    La réponse de #Thom-Yorke à Ken Loach:

    Thom Yorke responds to Ken Loach letter asking Radiohead to cancel Israel concert
    Roisin O’Connor, The Independent, le 12 juillet 2017

    Le grand #Mike_Leigh:

    Mike Leigh slams Radiohead for ignoring Palestinians
    Artists for Palestine, le 17 juillet 2017

    #Palestine #BDS #Boycott_culturel #Royaume_Uni #Musique

  • Thom Yorke, this is why you should boycott Israel

    Hasn’t the time come to do away with this artificial distinction between ’nice’ Israelis and the brutal occupation they are responsible for?

    Gideon Levy Jun 11, 2017
    read more:

    Anyone questioning whether a boycott is a just and effective means of fighting the Israeli occupation should listen to the counterarguments of Thom Yorke from British rock band Radiohead and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid. The front men of Radiohead and Yesh Atid present: cheap propaganda. Their counterarguments could convince any person of conscience around the world – to support the boycott. Yorke, who ignores the boycott movement, and Lapid, who is an ardent opponent of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement, have enlisted to oppose the movement. Their reasoning says a lot more about them than the BDS movement.
    Boycotting is a legitimate means. Israel as a state makes use of it, and even preaches that other countries should follow suit. Some Israeli citizens also make use of it. There is a boycott of Hamas in Gaza, sanctions on Iran. There are boycotts of nonkosher stores, boycotts against eating meat, and of Turkish beach resorts. And the world also uses it, imposing sanctions on Russia right after its annexation of Crimea.
    The only question is whether Israel deserves such a punishment, like the one imposed on apartheid South Africa in an earlier era, and whether such steps are effective. And one more question: What other means have not been tried against the occupation and haven’t failed?
    Yorke directs his ire against fellow rock star Roger Waters, perhaps the most exalted of protest artists at the moment, who called on Yorke to reconsider his band’s concert appearance in Tel Aviv on July 19.

  • How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next

    The ability of statistics to accurately represent the world is declining. In its wake, a new age of big data controlled by private companies is taking over – and putting democracy in peril

    In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on. Yet in recent years, divergent levels of trust in statistics has become one of the key schisms that have opened up in western liberal democracies. Shortly before the November presidential election, a study in the US discovered that 68% of Trump supporters distrusted the economic data published by the federal government. In the UK, a research project by Cambridge University and YouGov looking at conspiracy theories discovered that 55% of the population believes that the government “is hiding the truth about the number of immigrants living here”.
    Rather than diffusing controversy and polarisation, it seems as if statistics are actually stoking them. Antipathy to statistics has become one of the hallmarks of the populist right, with statisticians and economists chief among the various “experts” that were ostensibly rejected by voters in 2016. Not only are statistics viewed by many as untrustworthy, there appears to be something almost insulting or arrogant about them. Reducing social and economic issues to numerical aggregates and averages seems to violate some people’s sense of political decency.

  • How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next | William Davies | Politics | The Guardian

    In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on. Yet in recent years, divergent levels of trust in statistics has become one of the key schisms that have opened up in western liberal democracies. Shortly before the November presidential election, a study in the US discovered that 68% of Trump supporters distrusted the economic data published by the federal government. In the UK, a research project by Cambridge University and YouGov looking at conspiracy theories discovered that 55% of the population believes that the government “is hiding the truth about the number of immigrants living here”.

    #statistiques #data #big_data

  • Giulio Regeni murder in Egypt
    Cambridge graduate had mysterious ’letters’ carved into his body by torturers in Egypt, post-mortem reveals

    Nick Squires, rome
    8 SEPTEMBER 2016 • 4:17PM

    A Cambridge University graduate who was murdered in Egypt had mysterious letters carved into his corpse during several days of torture, a post-mortem examination has revealed.

    Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian who was studying for a PhD at Girton College, disappeared in Cairo in January, on the fifth anniversary of the Tahrir Square demonstrations which led to the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak.

    He was researching the activities of anti-government trade unions. His horrifically tortured body was found dumped in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital a week later.

    A post-mortem by the Italian authorities has found that not only was he sadistically beaten over a period of several days, his torturers used knives to carve what appeared to be four or five letters into his skin.

    A letter resembling an X was cut into his left hand, while other markings were carved into his back, above his right eye and on his forehead. “They used him like a blackboard,” his mother, Paola, said.

    The macabre details emerged from a 220-page post-mortem report conducted by two Italian coroners, Professors Vittorio Fineschi and Marcello Chiarotti.

  • British MP Jo Cox shot and killed —

    Hithem Ben Abdallah, 56, was in the café next door to the library shortly after 1pm when he heard screaming and went outside. He told the Press Association: “There was a guy who was being very brave and another guy with a white baseball cap who he was trying to control, and the man in the baseball cap suddenly pulled a gun from his bag.”

    After a brief scuffle, he said the man stepped back and the MP became involved.

    He added: “He was fighting with her and wrestling with her and then the gun went off twice and then she fell between two cars and I came and saw her bleeding on the floor.”

    15 minutes, the shop owner said emergency services arrived and tended to her with a drip.

    The Manchester Evening News reported that the attacker had shouted “Britain first” before the attack, according to a witness. The man then walked away slowly. Britain First said it was looking into the reports.

    Ms Cox grew up in the area, before becoming the first person in her family to graduate from university.

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the country would be “in shock at the horrific murder” of MP Jo Cox, who was a “much loved colleague”.

    Boris Johnson, the former London mayor and leader of the Leave campaign, said: “Just heard the absolutely horrific news about the attack on Jo Cox MP. My thoughts are with Jo and her family.”

    Ms Cox, who was married with two children, also worked as an adviser to Sarah Brown, the wife of former prime minister Gordon Brown. She was one of 36 MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for the party leadership in mid-2015, but later voted for Liz Kendall. In recent weeks she had campaigned for the Remain camp.

    Her husband, Brendan, was one of a number of Remain campaigners involved in a light-hearted clash with their Leave counterparts on the river Thames on Wednesday.

    About Jo | Jo Cox MP

    Jo Cox – The Labour Party

    Jo grew up in Batley and Spen, attended Heckmondwike Grammar School and became the first in her family to graduate from university finishing her degree at Cambridge University in 1995.

    Jo’s career has involved working all over the world for charities fighting to tackle poverty, suffering and discrimination. She has worked with Oxfam, Save the Children and the NSPCC both here in the UK and in some of the world’s poorest and most war-torn regions.

    Jo Cox is national chair of Labour Women’s Network and a senior advisor to the anti-slavery charity, the Freedom Fund.

    A dedicated campaigner nationally and locally, Jo focuses heavily on fighting for our public services, particularly against the decision to downgrade Dewsbury and District Hospital. She is also involved with efforts to strengthen our manufacturing base in Yorkshire and in campaigns and initiatives to tackle poverty and the cost of living crisis, such as Batley Food Bank.

    Jo is married to Brendan and they have two young children. She enjoys climbing mountains, boats and running.

    Jo Cox MP - UK Parliament

    403 - Error: 403

    Jo Cox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    With Regret, I Feel I Have No Other Option But to Abstain on Syria

    02/12/2015 15:49
    Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley & Spen

    The Syria debate has been unhelpfully framed by two extremes.

    The ’something must be done’ brigade who understandably are desperate to respond to the fascism of Isis and the threat to the UK, but who are often less reflective on the type of action that might be needed, the danger of unintended consequences or the specific conflict dynamics in Syria. There’s a danger of them falling into the trap of the man with a hammer who thinks everything is a nail. We need a nuanced approach not a one tactic fits all plan.

    On the other hand there are the ’nothing can be done’ sect who see military action as an anathema in all circumstances, who view the role of Britain with suspicion and who trace back most if not all injustices in the world to UK imperialism. This depressing lack of sophistication airbrushes from history the role we played in cases such as Kosovo or Sierra Leone - where civilian protection was key - and fixates on Iraq as the sole frame. This group deny they are against action per se (we want a ’new diplomatic push’ goes the cry), they assert they are just against military action. Yet almost all of them have remained remarkably silent about Syria while hundreds of thousands have been killed, only now raising their voices to state what they are against rather than what they are for. It is best personified by the ’Stop the War’ coalition, a coalition who don’t seem to know or care that there is already a war in Syria and has been for many years. If they were really the ’Stop the War’ coalition they would have been actively campaigning for resolute international action to protect civilians and end the war in Syria for many years.

    Both extremes are completely unhelpful to the debate.

    Jeremy Corbyn, these election results mean it’s time to show us that you are a leader

    Jo Cox: Brexit is no answer to real concerns on immigration - Yorkshire Post

    Kirklees MP Jo Cox apologises after aide claims she “knifed” Corbyn - Huddersfield Examiner

    #Royaume_Uni #Labour #Brexit #assassinat

  • Surge in homelessness among young people across the UK - World Socialist Web Site

    Surge in homelessness among young people across the UK
    By Dennis Moore
    6 August 2015

    The numbers of homeless young people depending on councils and charities to put a roof over their heads, is three times greater than those officially recorded by the British government.

    According to a study by Cambridge University’s Centre for Housing and Planning Research, 83,000 homeless young people had to rely on charities and councils for shelter in 2013-14—far exceeding the 26,852 recorded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. At any one time, around 35,000 young people live in homeless accommodation across the UK.

    #pauvreté #richesse #royaume-uni

  • Interview de Toby Matthiesen "Research Fellow at Cambridge University", et auteur de deux livres sur le confessionnalisme, qui est considéré comme un "expert sur les Shiites dans le Golfe" :
    Saudi Arabia and “The Shia Threat”

    Saudi Arabia and Iran are well-established regional rivals. Why is this?

    Looking at it from a geostrategic perspective, they dominate one of the most important regions in the world, the Persian Gulf. So regardless of ideology and religion, they are bound to be natural rivals for regional hegemony. The vast oil resources at the disposal of both countries have also allowed them to export their rivalry throughout the wider MENA region and beyond in a way that resource-poor countries could never have done. Having said that, the Saudi-Iranian rivalry is complicated by a religious and ideological rivalry that overlaps with the strategic and geopolitical rivalry. Both countries have used their particular interpretation of Islam in their foreign policies.
    Saudi Arabia “invented” Islamic foreign policy under King Faisal so as to better withstand Arab Nationalist denouncements led by Egyptian President Nasser. It established a whole range of international Islamic organisations and wanted to be seen as the unrivalled leader of the Islamic World. The Islamic Revolution in Iran undermined this notion, because the revolution sought (and in the beginning sometimes did) appeal to all Muslims, regardless of whether they were Sunni or Shia. So the sectarian card was very much a way in which Saudi Arabia (and other Sunni-led states that felt vulnerable to the appeal of the Islamic revolution) could undermine the umma [Muslim]-wide appeal of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
    Having said that, Iran immediately tried to export its revolution, and found this task easiest amongst Shia groups around the world. Arab Shia were a particular focus of Iran’s efforts to export the revolution, as symbolised by the establishing of Hizbullah in Lebanon. But Iran also supported Shia in the Gulf monarchies Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. So both sides have in a way led a sectarian foreign policy that has inflamed sectarian relations across the Arab and Islamic worlds.
    Nevertheless, the Sunni-Shia rivalry is not the root cause of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry. In many ways, the Sunni-Shia rivalry that we see today is an outcome of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry for regional hegemony.

  • Beautiful maps of what our cities actually smell like - The Washington Post

    Even so, a group of brave people is sniffing their way around several global cities in order to create a series of “city smell maps.” The researchers, who come from institutions including Cambridge University and the Web company Yahoo, have so far created maps for London and Barcelona.

    The results are interesting, and kind of pretty. For example, here’s a “smelly map” of London, with “emissions” smells, which the researchers describe as smells of car exhaust, gasoline and dust, marked in red and nature smells, which include flower, grass and soil, marked in green. Unsurprisingly, the auto emissions smells follow the city’s major roadways, while the nature smells are concentrated in parks and green spaces.



    Le nuancier des #senteurs #parfums #odeurs

    #cartographie #sens

  • The politics of nation-building: making co-nationals, refugees, and minorities | Harris Mylonas

    What drives a state’s choice to assimilate, accommodate, or exclude ethnic groups within its territory? In this talk, Harris Mylonas speaks on his book, The Politics of Nation-Building: Making Co-Nationals, Refugees, and Minorities (Cambridge University Press, 2013), in which he argues that a state’s nation-building policies toward non-core groups – any aggregation of individuals perceived as an ethnic group by the ruling elite of a state – are influenced by both its foreign policy goals and its relations with the external patrons of these groups.

    Through a detailed study of the Balkans, Mylonas shows that how a state treats a non-core group within its own borders is determined largely by whether the state’s foreign policy is revisionist or cleaves to the international status quo, and whether it is allied or in rivalry with that group’s external patrons. Mylonas injects international politics into the study of nation-building, building a bridge between international relations and the comparative politics of ethnicity and nationalism. This is the first book to explain systematically how the politics of ethnicity in the international arena determine which groups are assimilated, accommodated or annihilated by their host states.

    #nation #nationalisme #réfugiés #asile #migration #minorité #construction_nationale

  • Chris Bickerton on how to read Merkel’s victory - English edition

    In this month’s podcast, George Miller talks to Chris Bickerton of Cambridge University about Angela Merkel’s electoral victory and what it might portend.

    LE BOYCOTT DE LA CONFERENCE PRESIDENTIELLE PAR STEPHEN HAWKING EST TOUT A FAIT JUSTIFIABLE SELON l’Israélien Noam Sheizaf, qui rappelle que cette conférence annuelle n’a strictement rien d’académique et qu’elle n’est qu’une gentille réunion de généraux israéliens, personnalités politiques et élites des affaires et leurs fans internationaux

    Stephen Hawking’s message to Israeli elites : The occupation has a price | +972 Magazine

    he British Guardian on Wednesday reported that Prof. Stephen Hawking has cancelled his appearance at the fifth Presidential Conference due to take place this June, in protest of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The report was later confirmed by Cambridge University. A spokeperson for the Jerusalem-based conference called Hawking’s decision “outrageous and improper.”

    One of Haaretz’s leading lefty columnists, Carlo Strenger, wrote an open letter to Hawking echoing these feelings. After expressing pride in his own opposition to the occupation, Strenger accuses Hawking of hypocrisy and applying a double standard; he claims that Israel’s human rights violations are “negligible” compared to those of other countries in the world, and notes that the Israeli academia is for the most part liberal and therefore can’t be blamed for the occupation.

    I would like to respond to some of the points he makes, since they represent a larger problem with the Israeli left.


    While Hawking responded to the call for academic boycott, it should be noted that the Presidential Conference is not an academic event: it’s an annual celebration of the Israeli business, political and military elites, whose purpose is unclear at best, and which has little importance in Israeli life (it didn’t exist until five years ago). The pro-occupation Right has a heavy presence at the conference – or at least it felt that way last year, when I attended. I will get back to the notion of “the liberal academia” and the Presidential Conference later.

    Personally, I think we should put the “double standards” line of defense to rest, since it’s simply an excuse against any form of action. The genocide in Cambodia was taking place at the same time as the boycott effort against South Africa. According to Prof. Strenger’s logic, anti-Apartheid activists were guilty of double standards; they should have concentrated their efforts on many other, and “much worse” regimes.

    The notion according to which the horrors in Syria or Darfur make ending the occupation a less worthy cause represents the worst kind of moral relativism, especially when it’s being voiced by members of the occupying society.

    I’m also not sure what makes Israeli human rights violations “negligible” compared to those of other countries. I certainly do not think that killing hundreds of civilians in one month during Cast Lead was “negligible,” but the occupation goes way beyond the number of corpses it leaves behind – it has a lot to do with the pressure on the daily lives of all Palestinians, and with the fact that it’s gone on for so long, affecting people through their entire lives (I wrote on the need to see beyond death statistics here). Plus, there is something about the fact that it’s an Israeli who is determining that those human rights violations are “negligible,” which makes me uneasy – just as we don’t want to hear the Chinese using the same term when discussing Tibet.

    I will not go into all of Strenger’s rationalizations for the occupation – his claims that the Palestinians answered Israel’s generous peace offers with the second Intifada; that as long as Hamas is in power there is nobody to talk to, that Israel is fighting for its survival against an existential threat, and so on. I don’t think that a fact-based historical analysis supports any of these ideas, but Strenger is entitled to his view. If you think the occupation is justified, or at least inevitable, you obviously see any action against it as illegitimate and uncalled for.

    Yet the thing that made Prof. Strenger jump is not “any action” but rather something very specific – the academic boycott. Personally, I think that his text mostly portrays a self-perception of innocence. Israel, according to Strenger, doesn’t deserve to be boycotted and the “liberal academics” – like himself – specifically, don’t deserve it because they “oppose the occupation.”

    At this point in time, I think it’s impossible to make such distinctions. The occupation – which will celebrate 46 years next month – is obviously an Israeli project, to which all elements of society contribute and from which almost all benefit. The high-tech industry’s connection to the military has been widely discussed, the profit Israeli companies make exploiting West Bank resources is documented and the captive market for Israeli goods in the West Bank and Gaza is known. Strenger’s own university cooperates with the army in various programs, and thus contributes its own share to the national project.

    I would also say that at this point in time, paying lip service to the two state-solution while blaming the Palestinians for avoiding peace cannot be considered opposing to the occupation, unless you want to include Lieberman and Netanyahu in the peace camp. We should be asking ourselves questions about political action as opposed to discussing our views: where do we contribute to the occupation and what form of actions do we consider legitimate in the fight against it?

    Prof. Stephen Hawking responded to a Palestinian call for solidarity. This is also something to remember – that the oppressed have opinions too, and that empowering them is a worthy cause. In Strenger’s world, the occupation is a topic of internal political discussion among the Jewish-Israeli public. Some people support it, some people – more – are against it; the Palestinians should simply wait for the tide to change since “it is very difficult for Israeli politicians to convince Israelis to take risks for peace.” And what happens if Israelis don’t chose to end the occupation? (Which is exactly what they are doing, over and over again.) I wonder what form of Palestinian opposition to the occupation Prof. Strenger considers legitimate. My guess: none (code phrase: “they should negotiate for peace”).
    The issues of boycott and anti-normalization are perhaps the toughest for Israeli leftists right now. Like everyone who deals with Palestinians – if only occasionally – I have personally felt the effects of various campaigns against the occupation. I could also say that I have felt alienated by the language and tone of many pro-Palestinian activists. Often I feel that they reject my Israeli identity as a whole, sometimes even my existence. Many even refrain from using the name “Israel”, leaving very little room for joint action or simply for meaningful interaction.
    But all this is beside the point right now. While I myself have never advocated a full boycott, I think that the least Israeli leftists can do is to not stand in the way of non-violent Palestinian efforts to end the occupation. It’s not only the moral thing to do, but also a smarter strategy because as long as Israelis don’t feel that the status quo is taking some toll on their lives, they will continue to avoid the unpleasant political choices which are necessary for terminating the occupation. Since the Israeli left is often unable to admit its own share in the occupation – and therefore acknowledge the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance – again and again it acts against its own stated goals.

    2012 was the most peaceful year the West Bank has known in a long time (for Israelis, that is), and yet at its very end, Israelis chose a coalition which all but ignores the occupation. The problem is not just the politicians; Israelis are simply absorbed by other issues. I hope that Stephen Hawking’s absence will serve as a reminder for the generals, politicians and diplomats who will attend the Presidential Conference next month of the things happening just a few miles to their east – as “negligible” as they may seem to some.

  • Women have more efficient brains than men - Telegraph

    The study, published in the journal Intelligence, carried out a series of intelligence tests on men and women.
    Despite the fact the women had smaller brains they performed better in inductive reasoning, some numerical skills and were better at keeping track of a changing situation – although men did better on spatial intelligence.


    Trevor Robbins, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Cambridge University, said the results show size does not matter - for women.
    “The smaller size could represent more intense packing of nerve cells or more active signalling between them,” he told the Sunday Times. “Meaning they are operating more efficiently.”
    “The research suggests that, in women, the smaller the hippocampus, the better it works. The size of a structure doesn’t necessarily bear any relation to how well it performs.”

    Les différents journaux reprennent tous l’article du Sunday Times (#paywall) mais pas de référence à la publication de Intelligence.

    • Trouvé !

      Hippocampal structure and human cognition: Key role of spatial processing and evidence supporting the efficiency hypothesis in females

      L’abstract (reading not recommended for feeble-minded…)

      Here we apply a method for automated segmentation of the hippocampus in 3D high-resolution structural brain MRI scans. One hundred and four healthy young adults completed twenty one tasks measuring abstract, verbal, and spatial intelligence, along with working memory, executive control, attention, and processing speed. After permutation tests corrected for multiple comparisons across vertices (p < .05), significant relationships were found for spatial intelligence, spatial working memory, and spatial executive control. Interactions with sex revealed significant relationships with the general factor of intelligence (g), along with abstract and spatial intelligence. These correlations were mainly positive for males but negative for females, which might support the efficiency hypothesis in women. Verbal intelligence, attention, and processing speed were not related to hippocampal structural differences.

      La suite pour 31,50 USD…

      Quelques uns des tests :

      La modélisation des facteurs cognitifs…

  • Newton Papers

    Cambridge University Library holds the largest and most important collection of the scientific works of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). We present here an initial selection of Newton’s manuscripts, concentrating on his mathematical work in the 1660s. Over the next few months we will be adding further works until the majority of our Newton Papers are available on this site.