The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on December 18, 1993 · 11
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 11

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London, Greater London, England
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Saturday, December 18, 1993
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11
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THE GUARDIAN Saturday December 18 1993 INTERNATIONAL NEWS 11 Failing schools a threat to the American way of life mumemilbeirg dtounattes ;500m to edaacailliioin) Simon Tisdall in Washington THE failing and violence-plagued US school system received a powerful shot in the arm yesterday when Walter Annenberg, the billionaire philanthropist, announced that he was making a $500 million donation to improve public education. The gift by Mr Annenberg, a former US ambassador to Britain, was the largest ever made in the field of education. He said he had done it because he was "deeply troubled" by rising violence and falling standards in America's public (ie state-run) schools. "If this continues, it will not only erode the educational system. It will destroy our way of life," Mr Annenberg, aged 85, said at a White House ceremony. "We've got to reverse what's going on in our country." The wider issue, Mr Annenberg said, was increased violence throughout US society. "We must ask ourselves whether improving education will halt the violence. If anyone can think of a better way, we may have to try that. But the way I see this tragedy, education is the most wholesome and effective approach." President Bill Clinton, praising what he called Mr Annen-berg's "investment in the future of America's children", used the occasion to promote his educational reforms and Sun sets new It's a scam, complains British worker who was lured by a tabloid to Los Angeles in the hope of finding work, writes Bob Pool THEY came to rebuild houses destroyed by the Malibu fire. But Terry Shaw and Mark Hobson are the ones who got burned. The two British construction workers are among more than 100 carpenters, bricklayers and other tradesmen who flocked to Los Angeles in hope of high-paying jobs rebuilding mansions that burned down during November's bush fires. But there are no jobs for the Britons, most of whom pawned possessions and borrowed money from relatives to join what some dubbed the Malibu Gold Rush. It was triggered by a story in the Sun proclaiming "Brits Make Stash Out of Malibu Ash". The article quoted British workers who saw the fire on television and flew to Los Angeles to clean up. One worker claimed he earned "over a week's pay for just one day". Another said: "Americans are desperate for skilled labour. There is far too much work for professional American builders." The article added that con- Police raid two mosques as FIS seeks talks Reuter in Algiers POLICE rounded up dozens of men at two fundamentalist mosques in Algiers yesterday after the banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) set conditions for talks with the government after two years of political unrest. The authorities replied to the otter with conditions of their own which appeared to exclude the FIS but left the door open to others. The FIS was banned alter the military-backed authorities cancelled an election in January 1992 which the fundamentalist party was poised to win. Most of its leaders are now in prison, abroad or underground. Since the poll was cancelled, at least 1,800 Muslim militants, security personnel, and civilians have been killed, including 23 foreigners. Armed police rounded up at least -10 men at Le Plateau mosque in a business district of the capital and bundled them into two vans after prayers, witnesses said. At Al Ouma mosque in the city centre about 20 men were loaded into a van and driven to a police station. The authorities have hinted recently that they were willing to include FIS in talks to chart Algeria's path to democracy. The French foreign minister, Alain Juppe, said yesterday that political dialogue and an economic boost in the shape of an International Monetary Fund agreement were the keys to stability in Algeria. Paris had told Algiers earlier this year it believed the situation "had to evolve because the status quo was leading straight to a catastrophe", Mr Juppe said. particularly, his proposed "Goals 2000" education bill. Mr Clinton said 160,000 children stayed at home each day because they were frightened to go to school. But as well as making schools safe, he said, it was vital to make them successful through implementation of a national education strategy. "We are attempting to set high academic standards, to give our country world-class schools, to give our children a way to fulfil their dreams instead of their nightmares," he said. The US public school system is undoubtedly in crisis. In many cities parents are simply opting out if they can afford to and sending their children to fee-paying schools. Republicans continue to back "choice" initiatives which would enable parents to use state-financed vouchers to move their children into private schools. In Washington DC, for example, moves are afoot to place public schools under private management because the schools' bureaucracy is so inefficient and costly. The cumulative effect of these trends has been to concentrate the children of the less well-off, particularly minorities, in under-funded, ineffective and insecure ghetto schools with high drop-out rates. A National School Boards Association report this week warned of a return to segregation a sort of de facto American apartheid based on race and income. for brickies' hopes California gold tractors visited the English-style King's Head pub in Santa Monica nightly to recruit workers. That was enough to send Mr Shaw, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, jetting to the bar. But the welder, aged 59, is still jobless as he watches a spectacular ocean sunset. "This view cost me 328. There are no jobs. It's a scam. I've spent all my money left from my last job, which ended in August." Mr Hobson, aged 21, a plasterer from North Wales, sold the van he used for work at a loss and borrowed money from his parents to come. Now he said he had no money even to buy his 15-month-old daughter a Christmas present. He and another British How the Sun said it . . . but Britons who went are fuming US outcry slays video vampires Mark Tran in New York TOYS 'R' US began clearing its stores of the Night Trap video game yesterday in a gesture to appease growing public anger over violence in the world of entertainment. As America's largest toy retailer decided to terminate Night Trap, Mayor David Din-kins invoked an obscure provision in New York's admiiustra-tive code to ban the sale of toy guns that look like semi-automatics. The two decisions follow media outrage at violent crime, including the shooting on the Long Island Rail Road that killed six commuters. "Enough!" exclaimed Time magazine on its cover, which carried a picture of the 9mm semi-automatic Ruger pistol used on the train. The New York tabloids have also been urging the mayor-elect, Rudolf Giuliani, to get tough on crime. In Night Trap, players try to prevent a gang of hooded vampires from capturing a group of scantily clad female university students. If the player fails, the killers use a neck-drilling device to drain the women's blood. Available on compact discs and computer chips, Night Trap is part of a new wave of advanced video games featuring characters that look like real people instead of animated cartoon figures. But the withdrawal by Toys 'R' Us smacked of tokenism. Night Trap can be played only on more expensive machines made by Sega, which, with Nintendo, dominates the $6 billion (4 billion) video Education standards in public schools are a particular cause for concern. America continues to lag behind other industrialised countries in the teaching of maths and science, according to a recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report. And a government study in September said that two-thirds of primary school children cannot read up to the standard required at a given age. This is a long-standing problem. Nearly half America's 191 million adults are not proficient in written English or simple mental arithmetic, according to an education department study this year. Overcoming such problems is a big task for any president. Roughly 85 per cent of all education spending in the US is controlled at state or city level rather than by the federal government. As a result, different regions and cities have different and sometimes conflicting approaches. A large chunk of Mr Annen-berg's donation will go to the Essential Schools Coalition of 500 public high schools which pursues a flexible curriculum related to pupils' abilities and interests. All of the money, when eventually disbursed, will be used to advance educational reform and innovation, Mr Annenberg said. He appealed to US corporations and individuals to follow his lead in supporting the public schools. rush worker walked four miles along the Pacific Coast Highway looking without success for work. Calls to Malibu builders and architects were also fruitless. Alison Bain, British consul-general for Los Angeles, said workers would have learned of the area's 9.4 per cent unemployment rate if they had sought US work visas before coming. The Sun story suggested that permits were not really necessary. "We're trying to co-ordinate their speedy return," Ms Bain said. Many workers paid for round-trip tickets redeemable months in the future, expecting to stay for the "gold rush". Mr Hobson was heartened by a story in the Daily Mirror reporting that Virgin Airlines would fly stranded workers home free. But, remembering that the Mirror is a tabloid too, he added: "I'm going to check to see for myself." Los Angeles Times game industry. Only a few hundred thousand of Sega's more pricey CD-ROM versions have been sold. In contrast, Mortal Kombat is available for the standard Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo machines and their hand-held units, and more than 15 million such machines are in American homes. Acclaim Entertainment estimates sales of its Mortal Kombat game, in which characters rip out opponents' organs, at 4 million this year. Feeling the heat from lawmakers who have found the entertainment industry an easier target than guns themselves, Sega, Nintendo and large retailers have agreed to work together to develop a voluntary labelling system to advise parents about violence and sex in video games. "I'm very disappointed at Toys 'R' Us," said Tom Zito, president of Digital Pictures, which makes Night Trap for Sega. "While it is certainly not an appropriate game for an eight-year-old, Night Trap is actually very benign and is designed as a parody of a vampire movie." Mr Dinkins's unusual move was based on a little-known 1955 measure banning the sale of black, blue and silver toy guns that "substantially duplicate actual pistols or revolvers". The guns are on sale at two discount stores a stone's throw from City Hall. The police said a toy gun was used in two rapes in the last two years, and the police recovered toy guns used in at least 195 robberies in New York from January 1992 to June 1993. Toy guns were used in 263 assaults in the same period. Lending a hand ... A man carries a Rio de Janiero street child in front of the Candelaria church, where eight children Brazilian city came to a two-minute halt yesterday in protest at killings that have been widely blamed on the police Six dead Malcolm Coad in Santiago SIX people were dead and 120 injured and government buildings lay in smoking ruins in the Argentine provincial capital of Santiago del Estero yesterday morning after a day of protests against President Carlos Menem's austerity measures. Protesters were erecting barricades in the streets where they had run riot, looted and set public buildings on fire the day before. The riots the most violent in Latin America for nearly two years were a salutary warning to Mr Menem of the effects of what he likes to call the "economic miracle" achieved by his radical free market policies. As Mr Menem cut short a News in brief Treasurer's exit stuns Australia Australia's parliament and financial markets were stunned yesterday when the government's second most powerful man, the treasurer, John Daw-kins, announced his resignation from the cabinet. Mr Daw-kins, aged 46, said he had no plans to "grow old" in politics. The news sent the Australian dollar slipping on the foreign exchange market. Rumours that he might quit were current in August and September when he was criticised for drafting an unpopular budget. AP. Defector rewarded A former leader of Sri Lanka's opposition, Anura Bandaran-aike, who defected to the ruling party, was yesterday rewarded with a cabinet job as minister for higher education, writes Atrial Jayasinghe in Colombo. His appointment could lead to further dissatisfaction in the ranks of the fragmented opposition, particularly his mother's Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Peacemaker falls ill Norway's foreign minister, Jo-han Joorgen Hoist, who helped broker the Israeli-PLO peace deal, has been admitted to hospital in Oslo after falling ill on a plane from Madrid, officials said yesterday. Reuter. Kevorkian out of jail Dr Jack Kevorkian, who has as sisted in 20 suicides in the last three years, was freed from a Michigan jail yesterday but was nlfirnrl nnrinr hnimn nrrnst until higher courts decide if a state ban on assisted suicides is valid. Reuter. Ecuador clashes Nine Ecuadoran police officers and soldiers were killed, five others were injured and 24 are missing after Colombian guerrillas ambushed their patrol, the defence ministry said in Quito yesterday. Reuter. Killer must pay Jean-Marie Villemin, who shot dead a cousin he suspected ot murdering his four-year-old son r.rmmru in IflOi. WHS Ordered by a French court yesterday to pay 46,000 in damages to ms victim's relatives. Router. Vietnam rocker Canadian rock star Bryan Ad ams will perform in Ho Chi Minh City in January, m wnat promoters yesterday said would be communist Vietnam's first large rock concert. AP. as Argentines set state visit to Rome where the Pope warned him of the effect of his policies on the poor -there were fears in other impoverished provinces that the protests might spread. The riot began after the provincial governor. Fernando Lobo, told state employees that, while they would be paid for November, they would not receive salaries due from September and October, as part of a draconian austerity programme in the cash-starved province. A midday protest march in the city centre by thousands of enraged employees, backed by students, erupted into an invasion of public buildings and attacks on the houses of politicians. As rioters overturned vehicles, hurled furniture and files into the street, and set fire Introducing Starter, the new low cost rescue service from the RAC. 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StO0OISS0095lK to offices, Mr Lobo had to flee from government house in a fire engine and take refuge in a police station. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, but were soon overwhelmed, leaving the streets to the protesters. The interior minister, Carlos Ruckauf, said federal paramilitary police would be sent in, and Mr Menem announced from Rome that a central government controller would take over the province. Four charred and unrecognisable bodies were later found inside government house. Mr Ruckauf said. It was not known whether the victims were protesters or staff still at their posts. The explosion did not come as a surprise. Since taking office in 1989, Mr Menem has TELEPHONE NO. fire to buildings tamed hyperinflation running then at 5,000 per cent, put the economy on an even keel and been lauded by international financial circles as Argentina's economic saviour. But poor provinces like Santiago del Estero, 700 miles north-west of Buenos Aires, took the brunt of the measures. Half the province's jobs art-provided by the state, average wages cover only a third of the officially estimated minimum necessary family income, and the economy is entirely dependent on central government funds. The story is the same in other poor regions, such as Mr Menem's own dustbowl home province of La Rioja, where thousands took to the streets on Monday in protest against the loss of almost 4,000 public sector jobs. No hidden charges We don't charge for labour, mileage or call-out. All you pay for is the parts we use. Starter covers you in your registered car for just 29" a year - it's great value. Phone free, or clip the coupon today to join Starter and to find ou? how you can save the usual 6 joining fee if you act now. TO START YOUR COVER TODAY PHONE FREE 0800 029 029 AND QUOTE 3S00961K There's someone wailing to take your call Monday to Friday Sam - 8pm, Saturday 9am - Spm and Sunday 10am - 4pm. FREE ran THE NEW OF THE were murdered in July, photograph: vanderlei as the ALMEIDA It has long been known that funding to such provinces was the Achilles' heel of Mr Menem's programme, leading recently to government demands that they clamp down severely on spending and jobs. Opposition politicians, churchmen, and even some business sectors, have warned that some softening was required to avoid an explosion. The protests will remind Mr Menem of food riots in 1989, which forced his predecessor, Raul Alfonsin, to leave office and hand over to Mr Menem six months before his inundate expired. But, speaking from Rome, Mr Menem said: "Despite social complaints in varous provinces, I can assure you that the economic plan is not negotiable." This powerful torch is yours free when you join the RAC now. KNIGHTS ROAD

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