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Drinking while pregnant is not a crime, UK court finds

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A British court on Thursday ruled that heavy drinking during pregnancy should not be considered a “crime of violence” against the child in a case that had raised concerns about criminalizing mothers.

The case was brought by a local authority applying to the government’s criminal compensation authority for damages on behalf of a seven-year-old girl in its care who has severe disabilities after her mother drank heavily while pregnant.

“We have held that a mother who is pregnant and who drinks to excess… is not guilty of a criminal offense under our law if her child is subsequently born damaged as a result,” the ruling said.

The local authority’s lawyers had argued that the mother was “reckless” in her behavior by drinking up to half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day while she was pregnant.

While they do not suggest the damage was deliberate, they say she discussed her drinking with professionals and “went on to take the risk.”

The ruling centered on whether a fetus can be considered a person under English law.

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The case has sparked heated debate over the dangers of alcohol and the rights of women and fetuses in a country where abortion has been legal since 1967.

While there was no suggestion of charges against the mother, women’s rights groups had warned that it risked opening the door to police action against other pregnant women with alcohol problems.

Ann Furedi, head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, and Rebecca Schiller, co-chair of Birthrights, hailed the decision saying: “This is an extremely important ruling for women everywhere.

“The UK’s highest courts have recognized that women must be able to make their own decisions about their pregnancies,” they said in a joint statement.

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The Court of Appeal judgement caps a five-year legal battle between the council and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

The CICA considers applications for damages involving behavior that could constitute a crime, in this case the alleged reckless administration of a noxious substance to the fetus.

The girl, known only as CP, has a severe form of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), an umbrella term which covers a range of disorders varying from reduced intellectual ability to heart and kidney problems.

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How Teach for America evolved into an arm of the charter school movement

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When the Walton Family Foundation announced in 2013 that it was donating $20 million to Teach For America to recruit and train nearly 4,000 teachers for low-income schools, its press release did not reveal the unusual terms for the grant.

Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach For America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school. The two-year grant was directed at nine cities where charter schools were sprouting up, including New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Los Angeles.

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Quantum physics experiment shows Heisenberg was right about uncertainty — in a certain sense

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The word uncertainty is used a lot in quantum mechanics. One school of thought is that this means there’s something out there in the world that we are uncertain about. But most physicists believe nature itself is uncertain.

Intrinsic uncertainty was central to the way German physicist Werner Heisenberg, one of the originators of modern quantum mechanics, presented the theory.

He put forward the Uncertainty Principle that showed we can never know all the properties of a particle at the same time.

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Why do conservatives hate Oberlin College so much?

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When I was an undergraduate at Oberlin in the mid-Aughts, there was a student in my class year who was obsessed with 19th-century British Royal Naval culture. Every Friday evening, he would host a sing-along in a dorm lounge, for which he would bring xeroxes of historical sea shanty lyrics and pass them around so that we could sing along, waving our glasses of “grog.” This was a semi-established event — he had distributed flyers around campus advertising the weekly British Royal Naval sea-shanty singalong and grog-drinking event, which would extend late into the night. Though he was not a resident of the dorm where it took place, he was welcomed into the lounge by its members, and became a fixture of sorts.Like many well-endowed liberal arts schools in rural areas, Oberlin College functions as a sort of de facto social welfare state, and is designed to encourage and cultivate one’s passions, even if they are not strictly academic. Thus, after writing up a proposal for the student-run activities board, the same student, the British Royal Navy culture guy, was able to plan, organize and execute a ticketed Royal Naval Ball, held in the atrium of the science center. The event featured 20 dishes of authentic British era-appropriate cuisine, cooked by student chefs, several courses of wine and port, and a violinist present to play period-specific music. The whole affair culminated with a traditional, British partner line dance — its sole inauthenticity the fact that we didn’t pay attention to our dance partners’ genders the way the Brits would have.
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