the world beyond four walls


The most unsayable truth: museums are not the NHS – they should charge us

By Jonathan Jones/The Guardian/23rd July 2015

It may be time for museums in Britain to begin charging for entry. I do not say this lightly. The British – and it is distinctively British, with few equivalents elsewhere – belief that all museums should be free is a remarkable piece of idealism. It means that any of us can walk into our local gallery whenever we like and look at a Turner or even a Leonardo for nothing.

Sometimes you have to think the unthinkable. If we want museums to prosper and thrive in a harsh economic climate with central government talking about 40% cuts, an entrance fee may be the best way forward.

And it may have a good side.

The news that many councils are thinking about charging for the museums they run may seem like shocking news. In reality it is much less shocking than some of the other solutions councils have come up with to fund shortfalls. I am not upset by this proposal. No – what upset me was Northampton Council selling its statue of Sekhemka, a 4,000-year-old ancient Egyptian masterpiece it was lucky enough to own. This week the council said it would gladly sell it again. It ought to be ashamed. Selling this statue – for £16m – was a betrayal of every Northamptonshire child’s education, as well as an insult to the intelligence of everyone who lives there.

So wait. What if, instead of selling off great works of art, councils charged for admission? What harm would that do to education and public access? None. People would pay the entrance. School trips would go on, as they do now.

To be clear, charging must never replace public funding: it should be a supplement to it, and in no way is an excuse for cuts. Smaller museums around the country may always have to remain free because they simply don’t have the numbers to make entrance fees useful. But as I say this is about enhancing public funding and not replacing it – France both charges for museums and proudly gives them public money. Read More


Maggi noodles from Nestle ‘hazardous’ – India regulator June 2015

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India accused Nestle of failing to comply with food safety laws.

Nestle withdrew the Maggi brand from stores, after regulators found higher-than-allowed levels of lead in some packets. Maggi is a market leader in India, where a packet costs 12 rupees (12p). Nestle’s global chief executive promised to return Maggi to stores.

Paul Bulcke told reporters in New Delhi: “I am confident that we are going to come back very soon.” Mr Bulcke also asked to see the results of the laboratory tests.

Several states have also been testing the noodles for the chemical monosodium glutamate, widely known as MSG. Read More


Fifa corruption inquiries: Officials arrested in Zurich

Read about this here:



ake rice made of plastic reported to have reached shores of several countries in Asia

The Straits Times/May 19 2015

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The sacred bowl of rice that used to save lives could now be harmful – and even deadly.

Plastic rice laced with poisonous resin has reportedly reached the shores of several Asian nations. The rice is said to stay hard after it has been cooked.

The plastic rice, reportedly made from potatoes, sweet potatoes, with synthetic resin moulded into the shape of real rice, is said to have made its way into countries with large rural populations such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

One latest rumour said that the fake rice had entered Singapore, although a thorough check revealed this allegation to be at least five years old

Health experts and dieticians have warned that consuming such fake grains could be lethal or seriously damage the digestive system.

News of the fake rice, commonly sold in Chinese markets, especially in Taiyuan in Shaanxi province, has been circulating on popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

But the Malaysian Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry has said it has not received any reports on fake rice. Read More


Singapore Botanic Gardens gets ICOMOS nod to be named UNESCO site Loke Kok Fai/15th May 2015

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on Friday (May 15) recommended that the Singapore Botanic Gardens be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In its report to the World Heritage Committee, ICOMOS noted that Singapore considered Singapore Botanic Gardens to be of Outstanding Universal Value as a cultural property. Some of the reasons cited include the garden being a well-defined cultural landscape, and that since 1875, it has continued to be a leading centre in plant science, research and conservation in Southeast Asia.

“ICOMOS considers that this justification is appropriate given the ability of the Singapore Botanic Gardens to demonstrate its different phases of design and uses for scientific and social purposes, and through the diverse range of plantings, gardens, buildings and other features,” the report said.

It added in its conclusion, recommending the landmark to be inscribed on the World Heritage List: “ICOMOS considers that the significance of the Singapore Botanic Gardens as an exceptional example of a British tropical colonial botanic garden in Southeast Asia, and an illustration of interchanges of values connected to ideas, knowledge and expertise in tropical and economic botany and horticulture.”

The ICOMOS’ recommendation will be taken into consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and a final decision will be announced in Bonn, Germany, in July.

Overall, ICOMOS has found the Gardens to be of outstanding universal value, having fulfilled two of 10 criteria used by the WHC to determine which properties should be inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, said the National Parks Board and National Heritage Board in a joint news release on Saturday.

With ICOMOS’ recommendation, the Gardens stands a good chance for inscription, the agencies added.


Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said on Friday he was “absolutely delighted” with the ICOMOS recommendation.

But “it’s not time to pop the champagne”, said Mr Wong, as the final decision rests with the World Heritage Committee. “But this positive recommendation by ICOMOS will be a very positive step forward for our bid, and we will go into the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, in July with much greater confidence.”

As a rigorous assessment process by an independent panel of experts, Mr Wong explained that it takes about three years for a decision to be made on a submission by ICOMOS. The Botanic Gardens took about a year and a half.

“It says something about the intrinsic value of some of our heritage sites, particularly the Botanic Gardens, and also the commitment that we as a nation take to preserve our heritage and to conserve something that’s precious not just to us, but to the whole of humanity.”

Mr Wong also shared that the ICOMOS panel had also made some recommendations for the Botanic Gardens to strengthen its conservation efforts, and the protective buffer zone around the site.

“The Gardens was pivotal in making possible the rubber and orchid industries, and in Singapore’s greening journey,” added Mr Kenneth Er, CEO of the National Parks Board. “It also played an important social role as the venue where our founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew rallied the multi-racial nation towards social cohesion in 1959.”

Read More