General News

DCMSVisitBritain has unveiled an international TV campaign featuring well known British stars inviting the world to come and see what Britain has to offer.  The famous faces include Dame Judi Dench, Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel, fashion icon Twiggy, actor Rupert Everett and inspirational chef Jamie Oliver.
 
The adverts are complemented by short films from each celebrity – their personal invitation to Britain filmed at a location of their choice, all of which can be viewed on VisitBritain’s website.
Press release & links
 
ICO: Banks and other financial service providers need to do more to fulfil their legal obligations to give customers access to the information they hold about them, David Smith, Deputy Commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), said recently.  Speaking at the British Banker’s Association conference, Mr Smith also announced that the financial sector has been identified as one of the ICO’s priority areas referred to in its draft Information Rights Strategy.
Press release & links
 
DefraPeople should think twice about using sky lanterns at celebrations this summer because they are causing problems in the countryside, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said. Mr Paice has asked the British Hospitality Association to advise its membership of hotels, restaurants & other venues of the problems and to ask that they discourage customers from using the lanterns.
 
After floating for many miles & falling to earth, the burnt-out remnants can hurt livestock and litter fields. Farmers have reported that sheep, cattle & horses are being injured (and in some cases dying) from eating the metal wire frames, which pierce their internal organs.  They also report they are being forced to scour fields to pick up the litter.
Press release ~ Sky lanterns
 
STFC: One of the biggest & brightest bangs ever recorded by astronomers came from a massive black hole at the centre of a distant galaxy.  The black hole appears to have ripped apart a star that wandered too close, creating a powerful beam of energy that crossed the 3.8bn light years to Earth.
 
The observations, published in the journal Science, were carried out by an international team including STFC-funded astronomers from the universities of Warwick, Leicester and Hertfordshire.  They used an array of space and ground based facilities including the Hubble, UKIRT (UK Infrared Telescope) and Gemini telescopes to witness this catastrophic event.
Press release & links
 
MO: A special climate survey which the Met Office launched in March 2011 has received tens of thousands of results.  The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) climate survey, which looks at ways in which we affect the climate and how the climate may affect us, was completed by more than 16,000 people.
 
Since the start of the survey the country has experienced a record-breaking dry spring which was also the joint warmest on record, with weather varying from March frosts to April heat. One area of the survey investigates perceptions of warmth, cold and clothing by participants.  Almost 1,800 results have been recorded so far, providing valuable information on how our own response to weather changes throughout a season. You can still take part in the survey; it will be running until summer 2012.
Press release & links
 
ESRC: For the first time researchers from South Africa & China will be working together on a joint data project with UK social scientists.  This international collaboration between researchers in the UK, China and South Africa will use existing data to answer global issues facing all 3 countries.  

The 12 new Pathfinder projects are jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) in South Africa and cover a wide variety of topics including wellbeing, social mobility and growth.
Press release & links
 
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England and JISC are moving forward in delivering cloud-based services for UK education and research. A £12.5m fund was announced in February 2011 that aims to help universities & colleges deliver better value for money by working together more effectively.  HEFCE & JISC now confirm the projects and partners appointed to deliver the 2 parts of this work: a national cloud infrastructure and supporting services.
Press release & links
 
NA: New files released online last week by The National Archives give insight into government decisions, espionage inquiries and secret wartime intelligence. The files comprise a range of subjects, from an advertisement proof featuring Margaret Thatcher as a Royal Navy 'bombshell'; a review of the Order of the British Empire, suggesting that 'Knight' and 'Dame' be replaced by 'Chevalier' and 'Lady'; an account of Germany's alleged plans to use poison gas; an atomic physicist's confession of spying; to a file about an SOE Agent-turned Oscar winner.
Press release & links
 
HO: Sports personalities & celebrities committed to tackling homophobia & transphobia in sport were recently at a Downing Street reception attended by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary. Stars & sports organisations signed the government's charter for action at the event held ahead of Gay Pride

The charter commits signatories to challenge discrimination and work to rid sport of homophobic & transphobic abuse both on the stands and in the field, so that everyone can take part in and enjoy sport.
Press release & links
 
BIS: 9 aspiring inventors from across the UK have had a cracking result and won a competition to come up with new designs for a theme park or ride.  ‘Lava Springs’, ‘Wacky World’ and ‘Belter Skelter’ were among the winning entries for this year’s ‘Cracking Ideas’ competition.  Having seen off competition from around 6,000 entries the regional winners have been announced and are now in with a chance of being crowned the national champion for 2011.
 
The ‘Cracking Ideas’ campaign aims to encourage young people’s interest in innovation & creativity while educating them about intellectual property.
Press release ~ Cracking Ideas website
 
ICO: Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has ordered the Cabinet Office to disclose the names of 24 public sector workers who earn more than £150,000, saying: "If you are earning over £150,000 working for a body that is funded by the public purse then there is now a legitimate expectation that your name and salary details will be disclosed."
Press release & links
 
HO: A new Neighbourhood Watch website has been launched by the crime prevention minister, Baroness Browning. Developed with Home Office funding and Design Council expertise, www.ourwatch.org.uk uses mapping, messaging & crime-reporting facilities to make it easy for members to share information.
Press release & links
Red Hat on automation (pt 2)