News Round Up

by Patrick O'Connor

THE times they are a-changin..

The Daily Express reports that atheists could be welcomed into the Scout movement for the first time in 105 years.

The Scouts are launching a consultation to see if members would support an alternative Scout Promise for those who feel unable to pledge a “duty to God.”

For the last 40 years, another version of the oath has been in place for people such as Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists but this is the first time the organisation has considered an adaptation for atheists, aimed at increasing diversity in the movement and encouraging more young people and adults to join.

However Scout leaders say the existing promise, which includes a vow of allegiance to the Queen, would continue to be used along side it.

The country certainly needs more youngsters to join the Scouts or similar bodies if latest crime figures are anything to go by.

According to the Daily Telegraph, more than 209,000 young people were detained by police in England and Wales last year with 2,117 under the age of 11.

Only a quarter of them are arrested are ever sentenced for a criminal offence, with most being accused of pranks and minor mischief.

The Howard League for Penal Reform claims childhood arrests can lead to numerous problems later in life with some youngsters struggling to access further education and even find work.

The organisation's chief executive, Frances Crook, said: “Children who get into trouble are more often than not just being challenging teenagers and how we respond to this nuisance behaviour could make a difference for the rest of their lives.”

Mind you, a survey of grandparents reported in the Express, claims that lazy parenting is to blame for a decline in children's manners.

The report by Grannynet says that little courtesies are not being enforced and are in danger of being erased altogether.

A poll of 100 grannies showed that grandchildren often have to be prompted to say 'thank you' and some are not taught simple good manners by their parents in the belief they should be “free to express themselves.”

You do have to feel sorry, though, for the parents at a primary school in Sheffield who were banned from donating home-baked cakes for a school Christmas fair because of health and safety concerns.

The Telegraph says that the parents received a letter stating: “Due to new regulations we can only accept donations of homemade cakes and buns from people who have a food and hygiene certificate."

One father said: “It's absolutely bonkers. It's another classic example of health and safety gone mad.”

However, Steve Clark, Sheffield council's health and safety manager, later said: “Guidance about food hygiene was issued to let schools know about best practice when holding events where food is brought in.

“These type of school events vary greatly from big summer barbecues to mince pies at Christmas. We issued this in good faith but in the light of feedback from schools we will be reviewing the guidance and reassuring schools that it is fine for them to continue to use common sense when inviting parents to contribute food to events.”

Boffins can come up with an answer for anything.

The Sun says researchers at Sheffield University have devised an equation for the ideal Christmas tree!

The mathematical formula says a tree 180cm (5ft 11in) tall needs 37 baubles, 919cm (30ft 2in) of tinsel and 565cm (18ft 6in) of lights. An angel 18cm (7in) high is needed on top in order to complete the perfect look.

So now you know.

Is it really worth it (Tweeting)?

The Daily Mail looks at a row sparked by a Twitter comment from soccer star Jamie O'Hara.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers player wrote about his hard life as a professional footballer.

O'Hara, who is thought to be paid about £35,000 a week, posted a tweet where he appeared to bemoan his life situation, longing for 'easier' days on £100 a week.

The 26 year old moaned: “Things were so much easier when I earned 100pound a week on wts #stress.”

The tweet referred to his days on the Youth Training Scheme but his comments attracted angry reactions from those less well off, accusing the footballer of being out of touch with the lives of ordinary people.

Finally, Britain's biggest collection of old light bulbs is up for auction after the death of an electrician who spent years hoarding them.

The Express says that more than 500 bulbs, some dating from 1890, were kept by Bill Carlton, who was responsible for the floodlighting at Westminster Abbey and Salisbury Cathedral.

The collection is expected to fetch more than £3,000 at a sale in Penzance later this month.