Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The briefing against patio heaters continues...

It seems mosquito populations are ‘taking off’ ;-), particularly in Norfolk according to the BBC. An insect conservation trust spokesman pointed out: "Where you have warm, wet weather in the summer that does tend to be a good time for mosquitoes, giving them the opportunity to breed.” "Last year June was quite warm and wet and there appeared to be a lot more mosquitoes about then."

Up until the 1880s malaria was common in the UK and was endemic in areas of Kent and Essex.

So far so good… Now the Metro, a free newspaper for London Commuters, is linking mosquitoes to the newly demonised Patio Heater.

They seem to suggest, quoting Matt Shardlow, of the trust Buglife, that there is a ‘connection’ between growing mosquito populations and the increased use of outdoor heaters.

Queue: Twilight zone music…

...OK stop now.

What he actually said was: "A lot of people believe that mosquitoes are attracted to body heat but when they identify their prey, what they actually home in on is the carbon dioxide.”

What that means is that, the heaters may attract any mosquitoes that happen for other reasons to be in the vicinity to make for the area round the heater. In the same way as a group of people sitting outside in the evening might by their exhalations of carbon dioxide, without the aid of an ‘evil’ patio heater, might attract them.

The heaters do not spontaneously create mosquitoes. They do not provide the conditions for them to breed, creating a plague of them.

So, the only actual ‘connection’, as they so disingenuously put it, between the ‘growing mosquito populations’ and the increased use of out door heaters, is that they may make it more likely, that a few more of the mosquitoes within ‘smelling distance’, will eventually find their way to an operating patio heater - mistakenly taking it for a crowd of people, in the same way as a moth might mistake a patio light for the moon and turn up for the evening…

Monday, 30 July 2007

UK Premier's dilemma

There is renewed speculation that Gordon Brown could call a snap general election, in the autumn.

He may be considering if this might be good for him, apart from the ‘Broon Bounce’. He is a man who likes to kill as many birds as possible with a single stone.

He must be wondering if a general election might take the electorate’s eye off the possibility of a referendum on the EU Constitutional ‘Treaty’. Also that it might enable him to suppress demands about a referendum on misplaced ‘loyalty’ grounds in the run up to an election.

Parliament is due to resume just 10 days before he is due to finalise the ‘Treaty’ in Lisbon on October 18th, 19th. If he can get that far and can keep the electorate distracted he probably thinks he will be home free.

He will have to weigh that, against the possibility that it could torpedo his chances, drawing the electorate’s attention back to the fact that Nu-Lab manifesto promises now appear to be proven to be not worth the paper they are printed on.

Decisions, decisions…

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Political blog list

They are compiling lists of political blogs again. Anyone who feels kindly towards Critical Faculty Dojo please feel free to recommend it here. It would be nice to get in there somewhere...

More Calls for a Referendum on the EU Constitutional 'Treaty'

Gisela Stuart, the UK MP for Birmingham Edgbaston has strongly criticised Gordon Brown for failing to hold a referendum on the EU Constitutional ‘Treaty’, saying: "One of Tony Blair's last acts was to renege on a promise and it is almost unbelievable that one of Gordon Brown's first has been to do the same," she went on to say "There is still time for Gordon Brown to put this right.

An MP with principles. One wonders if she keeps a hen with a full set of teeth at home too.

The fact is that this so-called ‘Treaty’ is the old EU Constitution in a disguise so thin it would not fool a 5 year old. It is not as convincing as a cheap plastic set of toy glasses nose and moustache.

Hans-Gert Poettering, president of the European Parliament has said as much stressing that the new treaty, while complicated, would preserve the constitution by a different, more 'indirect' method in a letter to Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

How Gordon Broon can talk of his joke red lines and claim it is not the constitution without going red as a beetroot with embarrassment is difficult to grasp, one can only begin to conjecture it is a testament to his accomplishment as a liar.

Labour was elected on the promise of holding a referendum on the constitution. If this was a lie, as it appears to be, then what real legitimacy do their MPs have?

If an MP is elected under false pretences, as it is increasingly obvious all existing Nu-Lab MPs were, then what right do they have to hold office, or expect the rest of us to go along with it?

Though he must surely be hoping the UK electorate’s goldfish like capacity to forget the most outrageous barefaced lies of politicians will lull them back into a stupor during the parliamentary recess, the Prime Minister, can’t rely indefinitely on their lethargy.

There is a lot of disquiet over this betrayal of trust in many different quarters from poweful Unions, to the more honerable MPs.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Pressure group urges Air ambulance be absorbed into NHS

The health union, financed and supported, Pro NHS pressure group London Health Emergency is, as is it’s brief, pushing the NHS agenda and urging the charitably funded London Air Ambulance service be absorbed into the NHS.

The UK Department of Health is resisting this arguing that these services are very expensive to operate and a decision must be made locally on whether the service should be supplemented. They also point out that they do provide the clinical staff for these services.

The London Air Ambulance needs £750,000 to keep the service that flies out of Whitechapel, East London, from being grounded and has recently appealed for more donations.

Clearly the service is valued by the people of London, or it would never have ‘got off the ground’ ;-) in the first place.

The problem for the DOH, if they fund this, is that it will cost them money, lots of money. There are charitably funded air ambulances all over the country once they create a precedent there are those (not least amongst them LHE) who will argue: ‘Why should London be funded when they are not’?

A further consideration is that currently, not being subject to stifling NHS management, these services are generally quite effective and responsive to the public need. In fact it is logical to conclude that if it were up to the NHS they would not actually exist at all and would certainly be vulnerable to cuts if the NHS controlled their budget.

Personally I would be far happier if my own air ambulance service were to stay well out of the clutches of the NHS and the CFD household make regular contributions to help keep it that way.

Given the vast wealth in London, especially in the City and Canary wharf it is difficult to understand why their funding is short. One would have thought it would be in the interests of businesses and corporations with a large presence in the Capital to donate to the service - Not to mention the citizens of London.

If you live in, or work in London, think about how, for a few pence, you could help keep the service going.

It would be nice to know it was there if you really needed it and couldn’t be closed by funding cuts - wouldn’t it?

If enough people think it important and donate then it’s future should be secure.

You can donate here. Pass it on…

Hat tip to SarahC on this one for drawing it to my attention.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Government advisors say cohabitees should get same rights as married couples

Couples who live together should have the same property rights as married couples if they separate according to advice drawn up by Exeter University academics for the UK Ministry of Justice.

Doesn’t that sound grand (in a deep resonant voice) “Ministry of Justice”… It conjures up images of steely eyed agents bringing UK crime to it’s collective knees doesn’t it?

Back on topic - It seems the Law Commission may be coming up with something similar. The only trouble is the recommendations don’t seem to consider how long a couple must cohabit before the rights apply…

Firstly, if a cohabiting couple want the same rights as a married couple then they can get them right now, just by getting married. One of it’s main social functions for millennia has been to regulate property rights.

Secondly, if the 'marriage thing' does not float your boat, a couple could always enter into a legal contract, again something they could do right now. If the Government cared to they could arrange for a simple contractual registration scheme as an alternative to state marriages that could be treated the same as marriage legally.

If the Government really feels the need to interfere in peoples private relationships, that have nothing to do with Government, then most people would probably feel at least two years cohabitation would be a reasonable period before any such ‘rights’ kicked in.

Otherwise you could end up with someone staying for a few weeks at someone else’s flat and then claiming half the owner’s worldly goods.

Better still, if the Government just practiced the art of making a little less legislation - rather than continually trying to come up with a law for every possible combination of circumstances.

To paraphrase the saying - Make love, not legislation Gordon…

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The Referendum list is launched.

According to an ICM Poll in June 86% of the electorate want a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty.

The 'Referendum list' has been launched by two UK political Bloggers, Chris Mounsey and Gawain Towler. They decided to canvas all UK MPs plus other relevant representatives to establish:

1. Do they support the people's call for a Referendum on the EU Treaty?

2. If they will actively call for and support a referendum in the House of Commons?

If an MP fails to reply, it will be assumed that they are not in favour of a referendum and that they are in favour of Parliamentary ratification only.

The results will be compiled here bookmark it.

It should help to keep MPs relatively honest on the matter, if they nail their colours to the mast.

English Smoking ban likely to double Patio heater use

The Health Nazis seem to have accidentally shot their Green Brethren in the foot.

It seems that the use of patio heaters (the new 4X4 of the non wheeled domestic world) is set to double over the next year.

Why? The good old law of unintended consequences rearing it’s head again - that's why.

The pointless and unreasonable ban on smoking in English Pubs has meant that smokers must go outside to indulge. It seem that this in turn has led astute landlords to provide patio heaters to make the environment more pleasant for the smokers and thus retain business.

Philip Sellwood, of the (Government established and funded) Energy Saving Trust is complaining: "People are also influencing the larger, more damaging commercial sector, with a third of pub-goers choosing pubs where there is a patio heater.”

"Landlords are helping to make patio heaters desirable - which they are not."
, he bemoans.

A survey the trust conducted indicated 31% of people indicated they actually enjoyed sitting outside pubs and would choose one with outdoor heating by preference.

There is also the suggestion that, having discovered the joys of sitting outside having a drink and a ciggy, may be leading to increased sales of the heaters to the private market even amongst non smokers. The number of patio heaters in gardens in the UK is expected to almost double over the next year, a report by the trust suggests.

The largest take up is expected to be in the Yorkshire and Humberside areas. It is not clear if this is because there are more smokers there, it is a little colder in the evenings there, a combination, or some other factor.

Mr Sellwood is calling for “responsible retailers to reconsider the sale of patio heaters in light of the substantial amount of carbon emissions they produce." and the rest of us to wear an extra jumper.

What next? Extra tax on patio heaters, restrict the sale to ‘deserving’ key individuals in the political patrician classes?

Even the Mayor of London ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone is echoing him, betraying his authoritarian leanings and calling for a halt in the spread of "wasteful" patio heaters and urged retailers not to promote them.

How long before he considers forcing a licensing system on Londoners? Maybe one with a sliding scale of costs based on emissions? Though probably entirely unnecessarily, as the expected lowest rate of heater take up was in the East of England.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

A UK Council bans pool lending swimming aids

A UK Borough Council at Bournemouth has banned it’s swimming pool staff from lending out inflatable swimming aids, on the grounds of Health and Safety.

They say unless the pool can guarantee they are bacteria-free. They should not lend them out.

It would probably be very difficult to absolutely guarantee that they were bacteria free if they were brand new and still in their packaging. One presumes the chlorinated water would take care of most bacteria that were unfortunate enough to be immersed in it though.

One disgusted parent said "This is the nanny state gone mad.” another said : "Mums and dads have been blowing up arm bands and rubber rings for decades without people keeling over from contagious illnesses."

One wonders if they have taken into account the terrible threat of catching a verruca or athletes foot?

One could be forgiven for suspecting this is driven more by a deep concern over the threat of potential litigation than concern over health.

Monday, 23 July 2007

UK MPs demand EU Constitutional treaty be rewritten

The Commons' European scrutiny committee, a cross-party group of UK MPs has raised serious concerns over a section in the proposed wording of the EU Constitutional Treaty that states: "National parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union."

The word "shall" means they don’t get a choice. The word actively means they have to be pro active and "good functioning of the Union " appears to put the interests of the EU before the interests and independence of parliament. There are serious concerns they are the weasel words that could allow European judges to block future opposition to Brussels, or it’s dictates, by UK MPs.

The Chairman of the committee, Labour’s Michael Connarty, warned that "no one should instruct Parliament what to do" and during a recent session of the committee warned: "This is a takeover of the rights of this Parliament."

The committee are calling for Gordon Brown to reopen negotiations on the new European Union treaty.

Meanwhile EU foreign ministers, including the UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband are getting ready to meet in Brussels today to launch the formal Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) will decide the precise treaty language.

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, intends to make a major speech tomorrow, demanding a referendum on the new treaty, pointing out that it transfers considerable powers from Westminster to Brussels.

Labour promised a referendum in the manifesto they were elected on. It should not be necessary to have to force them to honour that pledge. All the wriggling in the world will not alter the fact that this so-called ‘treaty’ is a thinly disguised constitution - European politicians have boasted that it was just that.

If any Labour pledge, is ever to have any credibility again, they need to honour their promise and hold a referendum.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

UK Government considering imposing an age limit on drivers

Apparently the UK Government is considering imposing an upper age limit for drivers.

This in it’s self is clearly unfair, unjust and ageist, as whatever age limit chosen there are bound to be people below it who are too infirm for various reasons to drive safely and people above it perfectly able to drive safely.

Why they feel this ageist restriction may be needed is not clear. Under existing rules anyone over 70 must pass a medical check every three years, in order to retain their licence. If these are conducted properly this should be sufficient.

That the suggestion has been raised at all, speaks volumes about the arbitrary and authoritarian underlying nature of this Government.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

UK Chief Medical Officer pushing for social conditioning through higher taxes

Not content with driving through an authoritarian attack on smokers, Sir Liam Donaldson, the UK Chief Medical Officer, is now targeting alcohol and food consumption. How is he planning to do this?

Through typical Nu-Lab Government social conditioning and large increases in taxation.

He apparently plans to try to make drinking alcohol generally too expensive to drink much of through high taxation. "I would certainly strongly commend increased taxation, the evidence is quite strong that putting the price up helps. Prices of alcohol have fallen relative to the cost of living.", he said.

He is also planning to get a ban drinks companies sponsoring sporting events.

He supports the plan for a "fat tax" (applying vat in line with EU policy) on what he classifies ‘unhealthy’ food. He apparently feels this would also deal with the fact that currently ‘unhealthy’ food is "often cheaper".

"We just need to keep plugging away. Often big behavioural changes in health take time."

No - you just need to treat the citizens of this country as adults, not children and leave them alone to manage their own lives and keep your. We are not your serfs Sir Liam and it is not your patrician right to ‘manage’ us as you see fit.

You are here to advise what you think is good for us so we can decide - not give us no choice and force us to do what you think is good for us.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Nu-Lab win UK by-election with slashed majority Conservatives beaten into 3rd place.

The honeymoon is not over, the Broon bounce is saves Nu-Lab’s rear end in the crucial UK by-election in London, Ealing Southall. Nu-Lab held the seat, but with a majority slashed to less than half.

This despite Dave the Chameleon and the politically ambivalent Tony Lit’s dog and pony show. The locals could have been forgiven for thinking Dave was moving in he made so many visits but ‘the party formerly known as the Conservatives’ was thrashed into third place by Ming-the-Merciless and his ravening hoards.

The winning candidate, Nu-Lab’s Virendra Sharma, touchingly claimed: "It is policies that win elections, not slick PR."

He is probably right - as far as it goes…

OK. There are plenty out there who would vote for a shop dummy with the right rosette on it, but policies and manifesto promises probably do still go a long way to convincing the more responsible and discerning citizen to vote.

That’s probably because enough voters still actually believe them - a triumph of optimism over experience if ever there was one.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Crime and the perception of crime

The UK Home Affairs select committee’s are concerned about how effective the police are. The acting chairman, David Winnick, said: "We know the police have had a major increase in funding over the past decade but it is much more difficult to tell what they have done with it." The committee said the number of officers actually rose by 11% in that time.

According to the British Crime Survey (BCS) (the credibility of which was called into question by the Smith Review of crime statistics), crime had fallen by a third from 1997 to 2006, whilst recorded violent crime had risen by 21%.

One has to question the official figures to some extent in any case. There is strong anecdotal evidence that the targets are actually driving police behaviour away from effective policing and towards producing results that look good on paper. Taking minor easy win offences, or in some cases non offences and turning them into multiple detections. It would also seem changes in the law and organisational practices are resulting in officers spending more instead of less time on paperwork.

Despite the official figures the public appear to be unconvinced.

It seems, according to the authoritative Prof Ken Pease and Prof Graham Farrell that the BCS underestimates figures by around 3 million offences per year by only counting crimes committed against repeat victims up to 5, so if for instance, you report your car has been vandalised 10 times in a year only half of them will count.

Nil desperandum, as they used to say in Rome, it seems ministers are now planning to launch a new strategy to ‘move public perception of crime’ into line with official falling figures…

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

BBC Trust to Quiz Director General about 'lapses'

The BBC trust, which represents UK TV Tax (licence) payers, will be meeting the corporation's Director General, Mark Thompson, to discuss BBC1's autumn launch promotion that created the false impression that the Queen had stormed out of a photoshoot by ‘manipulating the chronology’ of the video and their faking a children’s TV competition winner.

One hopes they will discuss more than just this visible tip of the iceberg.

Mr Thompson has said he will lay out his plans to minimise the risk of similar "totally unacceptable incidents ever happening again", despite the controller of BBC1, Peter Fincham, saying he was not planning to resign.

Mr Thompson informed BBC staff that: "We cannot allow even a small number of lapses, whether intentional or as a result of sloppiness, to undermine our reputation and the confidence of the public."

Too late Mr Thompson – You already did.

UK Doctors call for organ harvesting on death unless prior objections registered

Sir Liam Donaldson the UK Nu-Lab Government’s Chief Medical Officer is calling for a change in the law so only those who actually register their objections will be exempt from organ harvesting on death, for the ‘common good’.

If you have to specifically opt out it is certainly no longer donation. Something Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern was obviously thinking of when she stated: "Organ donation is a generous gift, not an obligation. It is, of course, less trouble to take the easy way and make assumed consent the norm.”

Predictably the BMA are fully on board. The Chairman of their medical ethics committee Dr Tony Calland said: "The BMA fully supports an opt-out system for organ donation. We must increase the number of donors available and the BMA believes that a system of presumed consent with safeguards, will help to achieve this.”

He does seem to be aware that they will need to brainwash‘educate’ the public before introducing any change ”it is essential that a public information campaign is launched”

A spokesman for UK Transplant stated: "There is no evidence that introducing a system of presumed consent would, on its own, increase transplant figures.” Observing that an opt-out system could in fact damage public confidence in the transplant programme.

Sir Liam is apparently concerned that the shortage of spare parts is fuelling "transplant tourism" where UK patients travel abroad often paying for a donor organ, which according to Sir Liam, puts them at unnecessary risk.

One has every sympathy with those who need transplants and are unable to find suitable donors, but this is not a comfortable or proper direction to go in. What would be next on their list if they got their way and that did not do the trick compulsion, a sort of organ death tax? The opt-out is the start of a slippery slope.

An individual’s right to control their own body should not be compromised, or stampeded.

You wouldn’t expect it from interacting with your average GP, but what is it about the medical profession that it appears to attract so many patrician, collectivist, authoritarians, especially it would appear to it’s upper echelons?

People who seem to believe (the non ruling classes) most of us should be treated as some sort of wards and regulated by the state, in as many aspects as possible of our lives, from cradle to grave? They seem to see nothing amiss in promoting fascist controls at the drop of a hat.

In fact they often seem to reach for these sorts of solutions to problems almost before considering anything else. It is like some sort of sinister, creeping, menace.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

UK School wins right to ban Christian ‘purity’ ring

The Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex in the UK banned a pupil from wearing a ‘purity’ ring as it contravened the schools uniform policy.

She was one of a dozen girls who wore the ring, engraved with a verse from the Bible, as a sign of their intention to abstain from sex until they married.

She took the school to court on the grounds that it was as "unlawful interference" with her fundamental rights to express her Christian faith, but the court rejected this.

A school that banned a teenage girl from wearing a "purity" ring to symbolise her opposition to sex before marriage did not discriminate against her religious beliefs, the High Court ruled today.

The judge ruled, that the ring could not be regarded as ‘a proper Christian symbol’, and so the school had not breached the Human Rights Act. The decision does seem a little perverse and one wonders at how qualified he was to make the decision and what advice he may have taken.

This is the same school that had no problem allowing Moslem girls to wear headscarves. These scarves are clearly no more a (in the words of the court) ‘proper’ Moslem symbol, originating as they do with certain Middle Eastern ethnicities and not necessary to all Moslem women.

The Koran talks about modesty, but there is no specifically prescribed dress code for Muslim men and women.

The details regarding women's dress differ in various Muslim countries according to local cultural traditions. It ranges from any form of modest but not specifically Moslem dress to the extreme, all-covering chador, or burqa.

In fact the scarves when they are worn are worn to symbolise their ‘modesty and purity’ fulfilling much the same roll as the ring albeit far more overtly - and with just as much, or as little, ‘proper ness’ as the ring. Modesty might be regarded as a requirement but not the wearing of the scarf

Some in the Moslem world regard the headscarf and other more extreme versions of dress for Moslem women as an agenda being pushed by the more the ‘fundamentalist’ to assert a strict Middle Eastern homogenising control over Muslims in Europe.

Surely to be fare it should be one rule for all - and it does not look all that much like one rule for all at the moment.

Will the school, having won it’s argument on this basis, now be banning headscarves on the same basis? Or will they reconsider allowing the rings?

How likely is that?

It's the truth Jim - But not as we know it.

How the media (in this case the BBC) misdirect, even as they present the facts. The main 6 pm UK BBC News on Monday the 16th ran the story of Dr Andrew Wakefield who raised questions over the safety of the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine.

He is in trouble with the UK General Medical Council (GMC) over the matter and is up on charges brought by them of acting ‘unethically and dishonestly’. Something he and his colleagues strenuously deny.

The background is: He, together with two colleagues, published a research paper in the Lancet in 1998 that raised the possibility that the new MMR vaccine was linked to both autism and the bowel disorder Crohn's disease.

The Government and medical establishment have repeatedly rejected the suggestion that there was any increased risk to the new vaccine.

Now regardless, of the merits, or not, of the current case, for the moment let’s look at the BBC reporting of it. Really look at the way it was put together.

The BBC report showed a graph indicating the drop in the take up of the MMR vaccine against an increase in the incidence of measles and explained it in these terms, the strong implication being that Dr Wakefield and his colleagues had been responsible for what amounted to almost a measles epidemic and a child had died. Practically a mass murderer then…

I shall not go into the careful phrasing of the propaganda report, that suggested that there could be no question the vaccine was not safe as houses and had a certain hint of ‘scientific consensus’ about it in a massive body of evidence.

They even trotted out a Mother (and indeed, who should know better?) who told us all that her G.P. (General Practitioner, or Dr) had ‘assured her the MMR vaccine was perfectly safe’. Much more convincing than all those parents who had turned out demonstrating in Dr Wakefield’s favour.

It may be the BBC were only repeating what they had been told. In that case the researcher in this case may also be interested in purchasing some attractively fancy looking shares in a Bolivian gold mine I can make available to them at short notice - as soon as the ink has dried.

The fact is those who had concerns about the new joint vaccine had wanted to ensure that the previous single vaccines continued to be available for parents to request, precisely in order to avoid any risk of epidemic.

It was actually the Government and the medical establishment that made it almost impossibly difficult to obtain the single vaccines and effectively forced parents to choose between the new MMR vaccine, or no vaccine at all.

Despite strong campaigning from parents to be able to choose, in August 1999, the government de-licensed the single measles vaccine and banned the widespread importation of the vaccine into the UK. Such a fine example of patient choice and the free market in action. Some parents who could afford it even took their children abroad to be vaccinated using the single jab.

After that, the old vaccine was and may still be, available in this country - but only if parents were able to persuade a doctor to organise importation "for personal use", then administer it, even if newly unlicensed, in the face of massive official disapproval.

In 2001, the heavy guns of the World Health Organization (WHO) waded in, issuing a fatwa statement, "strongly supporting the use of MMR vaccine on the grounds of its convincing record of safety and efficacy."

It may, or may not, be relevant that a significant number of members of the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, two Department of Health committees responsible for reviewing the safety and efficacy of the MMR vaccine, are reported to have had links with companies that manufacture it including some as actual as share holders.

One could also be forgiven for thinking that if the authorities had ever really been concerned about the possibility of an increase in the number of cases of Measles they would have allowed parental choice between the original viable alternative and the MMR vaccine, rather than trying to bully them with an all, or nothing, choice.

So, that rise the BBC mentioned in the number of measles cases, can be squarely laid at the door of the government and the medical establishment for effectively banning any alternative to MMR.

That is what the BBC failed to mention and by doing so is effectively actually covering up. A work of art using only actual facts, Jo Goebbels would have been proud.

Talk about show trials and rewriting history to suit. It all has a certain worrying familiarity,

Monday, 16 July 2007

Cilivl Liberty Group has concerns over EU arrest warrants

It seems the European Arrest Warrants (EAW), requiring the arrest and extradition of suspects from one EU country to another may be being abused. Why would we be surprised?

Statewatch, the civil liberties group has obtained a secret (it would be) EU report. Campaigners are concerned that the EAW does not allow refusal, if the offence does not exist under national laws and makes no requirement for a proportionality test.

The Secret report concedes: "The principle of proportionality requires that in each case a comparison be made between the seriousness of the offence and resources to be deployed in the executing state and, in particular, that it involves the deprivation of liberty of an individual."

"The EAW does not include any obligation for a proportionality check either by the issuing or executing member state, nor does it include any grounds for non-recognition related to it,"

It seems fast-track extradition warrants are often being issued for relatively minor offences, demanding the costly extradition of people for offences such as possession of 0.45 grams of cannabis, the theft of two car tyres - and in one instance piglet rustling. Officials are concerned that the warrants are being used "disproportionately" to the seriousness of offences.

The Warrants can even be applied when the offence is not even an offence under the laws of the country the warrant is executed in.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Can the BBC be trusted?

The BBC has finally gone a step too far. I have generally defended it against those who call for it’s abolition but I now feel less inclined and the reason?

The controversy over the manufacturing of a ‘tiff’ between the queen and photographer.

Anyone of moderate intelligence will find it very difficult to accept that cutting various clips together out of chronological order to manufacture a story could in any way be an accident. Someone somewhere in all probability knew exactly what they were doing.

It appears in this instance an independent production company called RDF Television actually edited the trailer. If the BBC don’t permanently publicly disassociate themselves from the company, all of it’s directors and anyone who worked on the editing of the documentary then they can only be seen as ambivalent towards honest reporting.

Then there is the controller of BBC1, Peter Fincham. Apparently being supported by the BBC hierarchy. There was something quite unpleasant in the way he stoked things in the first place smugly suggesting that the Queen had "lost it" and walked out in a "huff".

It seems they have also done something similar to Gordon Brown. Apparently they are also planning to produce some sort of dramatisation concerning Paula Yates life, now she is not here to defend herself. A documentary is one thing, but making stuff up to spice a story up, as the appear to be planning is beyond the pale.

There is also the matter of the BBC ‘5 Live’ website carrying anti-Semitic comment apparently based on or originating from “The Talmud Unmasked”, a core anti-Semitic text written at the end of the 19th Century by Justin Praniatis.

The comment goes: ”Zionism is a racist ideology where Jews are given supremacy over all other races and faiths. This is found in the Talmud.

It also claims the anti-Semitic ’Baba Mezia’ propaganda is true.

the BBC feel this is ok
Apparently justifying it with “we have decided that it does not contravene the House Rules and are going to leave it on site”.

The BBC is supported by a special Tax Televisions called the licence fee.

It is staffed by people who are largely unrepresentative of the country as a whole. The staff having a profile that is more urban, left wing, younger and does not match the mix of the population it serves racially either. This would not really be desirable in a private broadcasting company. It is unacceptable in a publicly funded one.

The only justification the BBC ever had was the Reithian public service ethic that educated and provided honest, objective and unbiased news reporting. The BBC used to have a worldwide reputation for doing that. It has largely lost it.

If the BBC can not get it’s own house in order - and it looks very much as if it can, or will, not then the government needs to step in and reshape it, root and branch.

That or stop forcing the population to subsidise this cuckoo in the nest through taxation.

Friday, 13 July 2007

EU admits UK’s so-called treaty red lines are worthless

On Wednesday Margot Wallström, the European Commission Vice-President, insisted that the European Charter of Fundamental Rights will apply to three quarters or more of British law because it is derived from EU legislation and Britain's "red line" opt-outs are worthless.

She said: "Citizens will be able to claim before the courts the rights enshrined in the Charter," "The Charter will be binding for the European institutions, and also for member states when they implement EU law, even if it does not apply to all of them."

The commission's legal service describe British opt-outs as "limited" as German studies indicate up top to 80%of national law now originates in Brussels.

Sensitive national legislation, such as Britain's opt-out on a Brussels directive that sets the length of the working week will, officials predict, be challenged in the EU courts because it implements European laws.

A legal source described the opt-out as “potentially very thin."

If Gordon Brown is foolish enough to ratify the EU Constitutional Treaty signed up to by Tony Blair he will soon discover the charter, including a "right to strike", will be enforceable in the European courts if trade unions seek to challenge the UK’s reforms of the 1980s.

According to the Daily Telegraph, a senior European Parliament source revealed that Euro-MPs are planning to sponsor early challenges to Britain's opt-outs.

"We are going to make sure that this issue is constantly before the European Court of Justice,"

"There is 30 years of EU jurisprudence to say there can be no two-tier system of European rights."

The think-tank Open Europe has research that indicates EU judges are not likely to be backward in applying the charter. Their Director Neil O'Brien said:

"The Court of Justice will decide for itself whether member states are implementing European law and interpret their national laws for them,"

"Trying to stop the charter changing our laws will be like trying to carry water in a sieve."

If Gordon Brown is getting a bit fed up by now, with always playing second fiddle to someone, or something else, then he would be wise to agree to a referendum on the constitutional 'Treaty' sooner rather than later. He did say he would if the red lines were threatened.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Government Researchers call for tax on fatty foods

There are Food Nazis everywhere - UK Department of Public Health researchers, at Oxford University, are claiming that more than 3,000 fatal heart attacks and strokes could be prevented in the UK each year if Value Added Tax (VAT) was slapped on a vast range of foods.

Dr Mike Rayner, who worked on the study, said: “the time is right for more debate on the issue of 'fat taxes'”

Such a tax would, of course, be music to the ears of the EC who are pushing to completely remove the UK’s zero rated category for VAT applied to such things as books and some food.

It is absolute unalloyed health fascism. They want to force you to do what they believe is good for you – and it will cost you money.

Basically they plan to drive up the price of ‘unhealthy’ foods through taxation to the point where people are effectively forced to resort to more ‘healthy’ foods. They calculate this would initially inflate household food bills by 4.6%.

There is no pretence that they imagine the average individual is capable, or entitled, to manage their own eating habits, or by extension even own their own bodies. Even if their claim is true their proposal is still something to be vigorously resisted on principle alone.

Downing Street's strategy unit was reportedly flirting with the idea in 2004, but Tony Blair rejected it.

Such a move would probably suit any government wishing to make concessions to the EC by falling in line, by providing something else to blame the move on. Something like saving the NHS from the criminal recklessness of the general greedy fat over eating population who gain weight specifically to drain the coffers of the NHS. Though it would lead, rightly, to accusations of nanny-statism.

Maura Gillespie, of the British Heart Foundation, indicated that they aren’t yet convinced by the idea saying: "Further evidence is needed on the effect of targeted food taxes before we can support a 'fat tax'."

The thing is though , to some extent all this is only playing with statistics. No matter what, until they come up with a way of indefinitely extending healthy life, you are just shifting the balance of the causes of death around. One less heart attack will be one more stroke, or Alzheimer’s. Even if you could live forever it would be stats on what accident finally did for you.

Eventually some Health & Safety Fascist would be banning you from using plastic eating utensils because they were too dangerous to you any anyone nearby.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Al-Qa'eda threats over Rushdie Honour

Ayman al-Zawahiri, reputed to be Osama Bin Laden's, second in command, is threatening that al-Qa'eda intends to ‘punish’ the UK for Salman Rushdie's Knighthood.

For all practical intents and purposes Al-Zawahiri, is the leader of al-Qa'eda, given that Osama bin Laden is probably out of the picture now, having not been heard of for several years.

He issued the threat of "a very precise response" directly to Gordon Brown via a video, with the fruit loop title of "Malicious Britain and it's Indian Slaves" (obviously an aficionado of 50’s ‘B’ movie titles), posted on jihadi websites, claiming it insulted Islam to reward the author of The Satanic Verses.

He went on to helpfully explain "I say to Blair's successor that the policy of your predecessor drew catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq and even in the centre of London,". He ranted on. "And if you did not understand, listen, we are ready to repeat it for you, God willing, until we are sure you have fully understood."

Hopefully like the rest of humanity ‘im up there’ is a little fed up with al-Zawahiri and his ilk and not willing at all.

Given the performance of al-Qa'eda's recent mass murder attempts in London and Glasgow, supposedly also inspired by the Knighthood according to jihadi websites, one might even interpret the results as a negative vote from on high. The Petrol bomber was almost literally hoist by his own petard when the Molotov cocktail he threw bounced back and immolated - only him. Now that's what you'd call precisely targeted. Consumed by his own evil so to speak.

Security experts indicate the Glasgow and London attempted atrocities could not actually have been inspired by the Knighthood, as it takes months to put something like that together - possibly involving a year in Pakistan training for the perpetrators. That of course doesn’t stop al-Qa'eda attempting to use the Honour to thinly justify attacks they may have had in the pipeline though.

The Government should not let the ‘reasonableness challenged’, no matter where they are found, how long their beards, or how interesting their head gear, influence decisions on who gets what award.

Maybe factors like merit and talent ought to come into it - but not the International Association of Ranters and Carpet Chewers.

Having made the decision the Government must stick with it. If they don’t they might as well check with Al-Qa'eda on everything down to if it’s even ok to use soft toilet paper in the Palace of Westminster’s WCs - and we all know that’s probably already mandated by some EC regulation that never saw democratic light of day ;-)

Gordon Brown should have this video cut to a large format VHS cassette and returned to Mr al-Zawahiri, together with detailed instructions as to exactly what to do with it...

Hazel Blears: Green Belt no longer assured

Hazel Blears, the UK Communities Secretary, she refused to rule out redrawing green belt boundaries. And warned environmentalists to prepare for a showdown over house building in the green belt. Green Belts are land surrounding UK cities zoned to protect the countryside and contain urban sprawl.

Addressing the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, Ms Blears said the Government would move fast to ease the housing shortage freeing up greater swathes of land for development.

She said: "I think we are going to have a tussle, if you like, because some people are concerned about environmental issues," and added "But I think the priority has to be to build these homes."

When pressed if this mean drastically downsizing green belt land she said she was in no position to offer "categoric assurances". this is in contrast to pronouncements of the previous incumbent in the post, Ruth Kelly.

These comments should be taken in context with Gordon Brown signalling that housing would be a key part of his coming strategy.

Neil Sinden, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, warned that a move away from protecting the green belts would set Gordon Brown's new cabinet "on a collision course with local communities and environmental campaigners across the country."

"Green belt policy has been vital in securing sustainable urban communities, and attractive and accessible countryside close to where most of us live.

"The green belt is hugely valued by the public, 84 per cent of whom believe that it should remain open and undeveloped. The Communities Secretary's belittling of these views shows a disturbing disregard for public opinion."

“Disturbing disregard for public opinion”? Nothing new there then - but at lest he noticed commented. Clearly Broon does what Broon (and Nu-Lab) wants - and tradition, promises or public opinion appear to mean very little to him.

As things are many people seem to have no idea where bacon comes from, remove people's ready access to the countryside and it can only help increase their ignorance about such things - and reduce their quality of life.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Poisoned Olympic Chalice

Why would the UK be insane enough to bid for the 2012 Olympics? Oh yes! The greater Glory of Cool-Britannia, Nu-Lab and Red Ken.

It seems costs have now risen from £2.4 billion to £9.3 billion, MPs have warned. One suspects it will be astronomically unlikely they will remain anywhere near as low as even £9.3.

The Olympics are heavily politicised, plagued with athletic doping, they present a massive security problem and at the end will we end up with anything in the way of a ‘legacy’ (don’t you just hate that word now) actually worth having?

We would probably be much better off cancelling them, or if Nu_Lab can’t bear the thought of that, get some credit for bogus ‘European togetherness’ by offering at least half of them to France, as a joint enterprise.

With the Channel Tunnel Rail Link a special ‘Olympic Service’ could be run, the publicity might even do them some good. At least sharing the Games would be sharing the headache - That way we might stand some chance of keeping our share of it to something under £10 billion…

Why were bombers free to practice murder?

Yesterday four of the failed London Tube Islamist suicide bombers were found guilty. The jury is still out on two other ‘alleged’ plotters Manfo Asiedu, the 5th bomber, and Adel Yahya.

We have only their incompetence, by the Grace of God, to thank for the fact that they did not actually slaughter hundreds. But they meant it and we were apparently saved by the fact that Muktar Ibrahim could not even manage to attain the debased levels of competence required to pass the modern Maths GCSE. Still he will now have the necessary time in prison to rectify that.

What is of concern is the fact that these men came to the UK begging asylum, claiming their own countries were ‘too dangerous’ for them. The UK of course welcomed them, ensuring they had the opportunity to make the UK too dangerous for everyone else

After claiming asylum the mathematically challenged and terrorist trained Muktar Ibrahim had apparently been arrested for breach of the peace while handing out extremist literature in Oxford Street, London and subsequently skipped bail. Why was he bailed? Why on earth was he not in jail (Oh yes - no room) awaiting trial and deportation (No, not deportation - judges always assume everywhere is too dangerous to send asylum seekers back to, even the Isle of Wight) ?

It seems literally insane that, despite this, he was actually granted British Citizenship. One must conclude the authorities in charge of granting citizenship, or the rules they slavishly follow, are even more useless than Ibrahim.

Do they ever bother to check with the Police to see if they may be wanted for instance?.

Why should anyone with any criminal offences ever be granted citizenship, except under rare and extreme circumstances?

Why such a lackadaisical attitude to asylum seekers? Why, for instance, ever grant asylum for someone who has been waiting in a camp in France to get over here? Is France too dangerous for them too?

Why such pathetically useless tracking?

Tory policy group wants to slap yet more tax on alcohol

One could be forgiven for wondering, what on earth the party ‘formerly known as the Conservatives’ that Dave the Chameleon leads should be called these days? ‘Symbol’ might do – something involving a white sickle and a hammer maybe - blue background of course. That tree thing looks like something a loan company would come up with…

The much heralded report by the ‘Social Justice Policy Group’, chaired by Iain Duncan Smith, former party leader, is recommending extra duty on drinks. An overall rise of 10% (3p on a pint of beer, 15 p on a bottle of wine and 25p on a bottle of whisky)

Their plan is to use it to double the amount spent on the treatment of drug and alcohol problems. Sounds sort of ok-ish on the face of it…

No doubt IDS has been listening to the Sturmtruppen of the BMA and their tales of out of control bloodshot eyed, wild haired, binge drinkers rampaging across the country, knuckles dragging with a broken bottle in one hand.

Exactly how are they defining an alcohol problem these days?

According to the Institute of Alcohol studies in 2003, the definition of binge drinking used as a benchmark in official national surveys is: Consuming double the daily guidelines in a session.

That would be 6 units (about 2/3 of a bottle of wine) for women, or 8 units (about 4 pints) for men.

So Guys, officially if you have ever had 4 pints over the course of one evening, or drunk the equivalent of a whole bottle of wine in a sitting that would make you a binge drinker by that definition. Ladies – ever had 2/3 of a bottle of wine with a meal out? You too then, binge drinker. So that would be mostly all of us, at one time, or another, then…

Doctors may well see detrimental results of drinking. These are self selected especially for them, along with the questionably ‘disabled’ and those who are apparently suffering from ‘stress’ and need to retire early on medical grounds. Even the genuinely disabled and stressed are obliged to jump through the pathetic hoop to some extent.

This is not representative of the population as a whole, anecdotal evidence suggests many people actively avoid the Dr if at all possible. Face it you need to have plenty of spare time between 9 and 5, weekdays only, to even get to see a Dr these days.

When a significant proportion of everyone they meet fall into the pathetic ‘can’t manage their own lives’ camp it is hardly surprising that Drs begin to believe it applies to the whole population, ditto the Social Services - But no excuse for health fascism.

Dave the Chameleon will reject this idea, if he has any shred of self preservation, to avoid further completely unnecessary internal rows. Still the mere fact that this group is promoting Nu-Lab’s technique of using increased taxation to attempt social engineering is a damning indictment on his party.

Why does every politician reflexively reach to increase taxation?
Many of us enjoy a drink and have no problem with alcohol, apart from the fact that it is taxed so very much more heavily in the UK than anywhere else in Europe.

Why should the sensible majority be expected to subsidise the relative few who have no self control, and/or a violent nature and use the fact that they have been drinking alcohol as an excuse?

If someone has a sufficiently bad problem surely they are likely to come to that attention of the police. Given some appearances before the beak for drunk and disorderly, ABH or GBH surely it would be more effective if a court fined them and used that to send them for treatment.

If someone sought some sort of treatment for themselves why not supply an interest free loan and arrange the treatment for them.

Monday, 9 July 2007

New UK PM renagues on election manifesto promise

Following a meeting on Monday the 9th with Jose Socrates, the Portuguese Prime Minister, whose country holds the EU presidency, Gordon Brown, the new UK premier ruled out calling a referendum on the new EU Constitutional treaty.

He said that providing the deal struck by Mr Blair was honoured in the final text of the treaty, there was no need for a referendum.

Clearly Gordon Brown only feels bound to honour those of Tony Blair’s pledges that suit him and not the promise to grant a referendum on any EU Constitution before the last general election - there is certainly no sign of ‘Open Honest’ Gordon honouring that particular pledge.

The Portuguese Premier, who wants a final treaty text to be ready for an informal EU summit in Brussels in October, confidently predicted:

"We will have no problems with Great Britain in this treaty,"

Do the political elite not realise just how obvious their utter contempt for the democratic process is? Surely they must do and it just makes no difference to them.

Will they actually be surprised if the UK's disenchanted disenfranchised electorate don't willingly buy in to this so-called treaty? More like a shotgun wedding…

Lawyer says: Stealth Bomber morally equivalent to Suicide Bomber

According to Aamer Anwar, a leading human UK rights lawyer, "A Stealth bomber in Iraq is the moral equivalent of a suicide bomber in Scotland".

He said this during a BBC Scotland program "Scotland After the Bomb".

His remark provoked sharp intakes of breath from the less logically challenged members of the audience, as well as applause from the performing seals, or ‘useful idiots’, as the soviets once called them?

He disingenuously claimed: "We should not differentiate between a Stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. The effects are exactly the same. They kill innocent people."

Why should we not? As anyone with a modicum of common sense can tell there is in fact a staggeringly enormous difference between them.

A stealth bomber is a war machine, designed to be difficult spot on radar, or to shoot down - and to be able to bomb designated military targets in a war situation.

In the case of a stealth bomber, if civilians get killed, or injured, it is because they are being used as shields, or are part of the enemy support structure, or by accident. If the insurgents were actually concerned, for even a moment, for the well being of these civilians they could easily ensure they were not caught up in the combat - rather than, as appears more likely, deliberately ensuring they are caught up to benefit from the propaganda.

The Terrorist Suicide bomber (in this case also someone who swore an oath to do no harm) insinuates themselves into a society (the UK in this case), plots and deliberately commits murderous atrocities specifically designed to kill and maim non combatant members of that society - men, women and children indiscriminately and in large numbers. Moreover their targets have no military connection. All apparently to further the prospect of a world caliphate in some way.

The latter are effectively worse than spies and saboteurs who if they had plied their trade during WWII would have been executed.

The former are military equipment, marked accordingly, being flown by uniformed military personnel, on orders. Their targets are enemy military combatants.

If Aamer Anwar claims he can’t tell the moral difference between the two it says all you need to know about him.

He also asked: “Why is the Government so desperate to deny a link between Iraq and Afghanistan and what happened in London and Glasgow?”

Whilst not particularly wishing to offer succour to the Government, were they desperate?

As Mr Anwar no doubt well knew this comment is also disingenuous. The idea of such a link was thoroughly debunked by Hassan Butt, who should know if anyone should, having renounced extremist Islamism:

When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology, I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.”

“By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the 'Blair's bombs' line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.”

So there you have it, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Do ‘leading civil rights lawyers’ read the Guardian? Possibly not…

DNA evidence indicates Global cooling killed Greenland’s forests

Global cooling strikes again! Parts of Greenland were lushly forested with spruce and pine, moths and butterflies flitted in those forests of 450,000 years ago, according to an article in science Magazine.

The boreal forests coved southern Greenland during an interglacial period of increased global temperatures, when it was warmer that it is today.

Temperatures in Greenland at the time were probably between 10C in summer and -17C in winter. When the global temperatures dropped again around 450,000 years ago, the forests and their inhabitants were covered and preserved by the advancing ice.

One of the authors Professor Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark said "We have shown for the first time that southern Greenland, which is currently hidden under more than 2km of ice, was once very different to the Greenland we see today,"

Co-orther, Professor Martin Sharp of the University of Alberta, Canada, said: "What we've learned is that this part of the world was significantly warmer than most people thought,"

The research also suggests the ice sheet is less subject to warming than previously thought.

Even during the last interglacial (116,000-130,000 years ago), when temperatures were thought to be on average 5C warmer than today, the ice did not melt, preserving trapped DNA.

At the time the ice is estimated to have been between 1,000 and 1,500m thick.

Professor Willerslev noted: "If our data is correct, then this means that the southern Greenland ice cap is more stable than previously thought," "This may have implications for how the ice sheets respond to global warming."

Current data suggests that while some regions of Greenland ice are getting thinner, others are simultaneously getting thicker.

Also two of Greenland's largest glaciers, which were thought to be shrinking, have recently stabilized, possibly even increasing in mass. Previous estimate of rapid melting were based on only a few observations over a short period. Additional more thorough found the melting period actually appeared to be an anomaly.

Previous research by Australian scientists had led them to believe that a rise of only 3C would be sufficient cause the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Stoneridge case could damage US trade

The US isn’t big on welfare, but then who needs welfare (state sanctioned theft) when you have dubious class-action compensation (court sanctioned theft)?

The Supreme Court is now considering whether third-party suppliers, legal firms, accountants, or banks that have dealt with the offending companies could be sucked in through that connection and end up facing claims, with the offenders, from defrauded investors and shareholders.

Scientific-Atlanta is being sued for supplying cable TV boxes to Stoneridge, a company that is alleged to have filed false financial statements.

Stoneridge's shareholders were unwise, or unlucky, in that they invested in Stoneridge and then failed, or were unable, to keep a sufficient eye on what was going on.

Now either the securities fraud was sufficiently obvious for the shareholders to be irresponsible not to have seen it, or sufficiently well hidden to be more likely to fool a third party supplier to a company, than it’s own shareholders. In either case it is dubious practice to try to extract ‘compensation’ from third party suppliers in these circumstances.

It's wrong if Shareholders have been ripped off. But it is also wrong if they should seek to make up that loss from some innocent third party.

This lot though? They need ‘compensation’ so they sued, not only their company bosses and accountants - They also went after the unfortunate suppliers of the cable boxes, claiming that they effectively took part.

If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the plaintiffs in the case, it will be an invitation to "abusive litigation" and given that possible payouts are up there with national lottery wins companies have to settle out of court, adding a massive financial burden to business costs.

John Engler, President of the National Association of Manufacturers, pointed out that a victory for the plaintiffs would give "unscrupulous lawyers a hunting licence to stalk any company that did any business with any publicly traded firm".

A recent study showed the excessive risk of litigation was already the main reason foreign companies declined to join the New York stock exchange.

Peter Wallison, of the American Enterprise Institute, said: "For the New York Stock Exchange, this is like going bullfighting with your cape behind your back. It will drive up the cost of doing business here.". He explained, if suppliers and advisers can be dragged into class actions, it would then no longer even be necessary to issue shares in the US to incur securities liability.

Any firm, anywhere, doing business with American companies would be taking the risk that the transaction could later be portrayed as fraudulent, or deceptive.

If this case goes the way the plaintiffs want you could end up with a UK company being sued by shareholders of a US company simply because they may have supplied a chip to the US company. An enormous disincentive for the rest of the world to avoid dealing with US firms.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Bomb plot Drs qualifications not good enough to work in Oz

Amid all the furore about the UK cell of Islamisist Terrorist ‘Doctors’, there are some points that the great and good of the mainstream media - and our political classes seem to have failed to pick up on to any extent.

We know that at lease two of those implicated in the terrorism, Khalid Ahmed and Sabeel Ahmed, applied for employment in Western Australia, one applied more than once under slightly different names.

The reason they were not in Oz, instead of breaking their solemn oaths to ’do no harm’ in the UK, by providing Terrorism, free at the point of delivery?

Must have had their fingers crossed behind their backs when the too those oaths, or would that be crescented? – can you do that?

Yes the reason - Because their qualifications weren’t up to scratch.

Now this begs the question. If they weren’t good enough to be let loose of the Australian public how come they were good enough to ‘practice’ their ‘skills’ on the poor old unsuspecting British Public?

One must also wonder just how low the NHS goes qualification-wise and why exactly is it necessary to stoop to what ever level it is, when there are British trained Drs unable to get posts? It conjures up (hopefully inaccurate) images of half trained foreign vets trying their hand at brain surgery.

Also ;-) does Michael Moore Know?

Friday, 6 July 2007

UK Report suggests teacher’s gender not important

Alan Johnson, UK Education Secretary, prior to the cabinet reshuffle, had been concerned that there are not enough male primary teachers. Also suggesting that lessons should be fast, practical and factual in order to engage boys attention.

Aparently a report by Schools Department officials poo-poohs this. It seems they actually asked the children themselves, rather than do the sensible thing and check the matter objectively. Apparently the older pupils thought men were harsher on boys than women teachers. Translation – Didn’t let them get away with so much. one suspects.

Did they get them to vote for sweets, fizzy drinks and cake for school meals as well?

Researchers also found that two-thirds of pupils rejected the idea that the gender of their teachers mattered.

Is this reliable given that they have been bombarded with sex equality messages and have learnt the answers expected of them. Plus there is the probability that any actual difference would be a subliminal effect the pupils would not necessarily be aware of?

Kids that age are not known for being deeply self aware. Thinking about it - that goes for plenty of adults too.

One reason why there are not many men willing to teach at this level these days is probably the paedophile witch hunt. Evidence suggests pupils are not averse to making false accusations and paranoid parents can make unfounded accusations spurred on by some of the more ‘responsible’ tabloids.

I seem to recall after one witch hunt a paediatrician came in for some grief from some more of the intellectually challenged readers - well they liked the pictures anyway ;-).

What Guy in their right mind would put themselves in the way of that?

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Voter apathy in the UK

Returning to the new UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s ill conceived idea of emulating our continental cousins by holding elections at the weekend , mooted at the despatch box yesterday.

After all he has only been in the job a week ;-) and as he intimated (before he realised quite what he was saying) can’t be expected to know much about what has been going on in Government. Give him a chance…

As I observed elsewhere we do all have ‘better’ things to do with our weekends ;-)

Why has he come up with the idea? Certainly it is ‘fresh’ (for the UK) and ‘newsworthy’, probably that is enough in it’s self for a politician who desires to associate himself with these concepts -

It may be related to the apparent loss of voter interest in politics.

Lets examine that. Party politics. In my experience few supporters of any party actually like all their parties policies. For most of us who take an actual interest, rather than vote for a cardboard cut out with the right coloured rosette, it is a case of finding the party with the least objectionable set of policies and promises.

Then we cast our vote knowing that a random selection of those policies and promises will in all likelihood never actually be honoured as they were probably designed to hook votes and nothing more anyway.

Now if your constituency is subject to swings, then it is worth voting for the package you have the least objection to, but don’t be surprised if it turns out not to be as advertised. ”The manufacturer reserves the right to vary the product specification without notice” as they say - As an example in the headlines, Nu-Lab’s empty manifesto promise of a referendum on the EU Constitution springs immediately to mind.

Too much of that sort of thing and you start to loose faith in the whole system, let alone interest in voting.

Then if you live in a ‘safe’ seat and you don’t happen to support that particular party, then you are effectively disenfranchised anyway, so the best you can do is move, or make a protest vote.

What do voters do under those circumstances? They either loose interest, or if they are sufficiently motivated, drift towards single issue politics - and work to pressureall parties on their particular issue/s.

Then again there is the gradually increasing awareness that much legislation is actually now driven more and more from Brussels - and the UK Parliament is becoming increasingly irrelevant as a consequence. When you think about it, by failing to call for a referendum, Gordon Brown will significantly increase that irrelevance.

Still unelected Commissionerhood could eventually wait in the wings for our Gordon…

What might get voters interested again? Well a 'none of the above' box on the ballot paper springs immediately to mind, but I can’t see Politicians going for that as it damns the lot of them.

Maybe a negative vote. So instead of voting for someone you could vote against someone if you wanted. That would be a more honest form of tactical voting and at least probably engage the electorate. Again I can’t see politicians being too keen on it though.

Maybe binding referenda on some single issues might engage the public? A civil service dept, or independent commission, might come up with a spread of proposals for each issue, on various issues, based on opinion polls. The Referendum should be framed and worded so it didn’t prejudice the result.

A referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty would almost certainly galvanise voters.

The prospect of Parliament regaining some of it’s powers, or at least not loosing more power, might well make voting for it’s members more relevant to the UK electorate again.

Gordon's first PMs Question Time

Yesterday was Gordon Brown, the new Uk Premier's first PMs Question Time. He Waffled on a lot for the political greenhouse that is Westminster - but he said very little that would actually engage the electorate - Disappointing.

He has used his first Commons statement as Prime Minister to talk about earth shaking stuff like:

Giving up the power to appoint bishops - That’ll make a big difference to my daily life.
Giving up the power to declare war – Parliament, a committee, or the PM. Again big deal, It won’t be up to me – probably looks good on paper though.
Elections at the weekend – are you kidding! We all have better things to do with our weekends without having to fit in staying local to vote: Leave them on Thursdays.

One suspects it he fondly imagines forcing us to vote on a weekend may increase turn out, or his vote, he is sadly deluded. Still it is daringly French isn’t it?

Maybe he is dimly aware that a lot of the electorate has gone one or two issue and don’t necessarily vote on party lines any more.

He is not keen on addressing the issue of Scottish MPs being able to vote on English matters, but English MPs not being able to vote on Scottish matters. Well he wouldn’t be would he ‘cos that would include him wouldn’t it?

He avoids the really important though - He is obviously really not at all keen on a referendum on the EU constitutional Treaty. He might have scored some brownie ;-) points with the electorate if he had the intestinal fortitude to call for one. That’s a cross party single issue (democratic principles) people a who are interested are unlikely to forget.

David Cameron, ironically echoing Tony Blaire’s “Let the people have the final say” (Or was that “The cheque’s in the post” or “Of course I love you”, I get confused) challenged the new PM saying of the Treaty "It should be put to the people,".

Brown, in a typically irrelevant to the rest of the country, Westminster type response, pointed out that only Ireland so far was having a referendum (conveniently ignoring the fact that most of the ‘treaty’ was so good it had already been thrown out once already by the French and Dutch) and anyway – Nur-nur-nur-nur-na - the last Conservative government didn’t have a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, or any other treaties, so there!

Now Gordon. We all know that MPs and Parliament can’t be trusted with something like the Constitutional Treaty. We know we can’t really rely on the bulk of MPs to represent our interests in this, instead of the political elite’s interest - Also what the Conservatives may, or may not, have done in the past is not a legal precedent and we wouldn’t be impressed with the argument even if it was.

You need to ask yourself. If you foist this ‘treaty’ on the UK Electorate without a specific mandate will it actually ever receive any support from the people? Will you in the end be doing incalculably much more harm than if you were honest and called a referendum?

New Licence law harms small gigs

The UK Government (surprise surprise) brought in new laws in 2005, introducing a single licence covering entertainment and alcohol, aimed at easing restrictions on live music.

Where would the law of unintended consequences be without good old Nu-Lab and their constant regulating and meddling.

The Live Music Forum is complaining that small local venues staging acoustic concerts are being put at risk by the new licensing laws and should be exempt from the regulations.

The forum, set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, recommended that acoustic performances and performances that are not the main attraction at a venue should be exempt from licensing.

Without unknown bands playing at small gigs you will eventually run out of more successful groups, as they will find it much more difficult to ever develop in the numbers we are used to. What will that do to the music industry, or the aspirations of young hopefuls.

Apparently in one instance a brass band was told it could only perform religious songs if their performance was for charity. They were told they needed to apply for a licence which would cost more than they actually expected to raise.

There was also a case where a pub landlady was told she must obtain a variation in her licence so regular gatherings of a group of elderly men who sang folk songs together could continue.

Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe welcomed the "interesting and challenging" findings. Oh-Oh - weasel words alert!

He continued: "We will now look at each of the recommendations, discuss with stakeholders and will respond fully in due course." Why do politicians talk like this? To avoid actually saying anything at all? To avoid committing themselves to anything.

Why can’t they say something like: “From what you say, it does sound as if things are not quite working as we had intended. Give me the report and I’ll look into it to see if it can be improved. “?

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

ICANN may ban domain names to avoid causing offence

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN ) was founded in 1988 by the US Government to take over regulating key aspects of the internet's technical architecture like domain names and IP addresses. It has had a troubled history.

A recent report from a working group within ICANN called for any new domain names to be carefully regulated demanding that names should be censored according to "legal norms relating to morality and public order". Thus banning rude, abusive or culturally sensitive words.

Here we have a slippery slope. For a start exactly who’s 'rude' are we talking about? As anyone who has ever tried to market a product internationally this can be a minefield. As we all know something can be perfectly acceptable in one country that is rude, or insulting in another, even in English speaking nations, if you factor in other nations the problem multiplies.

The idea that it is ok for ICANN to appoint it’s self as global censor for the network concerns Wendy Seltzer, a fellow at the Berkman Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

She believes ICANN should only set technical standards and avoid setting it’s self up as some sort of moral guardian of the network and it should be left to individual countries and even institutions to decide what is acceptable. The whole network should not be limited because of sectional or local interests

Regulating the internet is certainly possible, as the governments of China, the US and the UK have all demonstrated in various ways. But we don’t all want to be bound by what may be acceptable or convenient for one county. If there is to be such regulation then local control would be the least restrictive of freedom and freedom of speech and association.

The core architecture should be as open as possible, not only technologically but also in terms of any limitations of freedom of expression, not locked into a limited and politically controlled framework.

As Noam Chomsky said: "Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favour of free speech, then you're in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favour of free speech."

Happy July 4th - Enjoy the Holiday.

…We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness-That to
secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any
Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of
the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…

July 4, 1776. A DECLARATION

Happy July the 4th America.

Mother donates eggs for sterile daughter

A nice, if unusual, story about Melanie Boivin in Canada. Her daughter Flavie is only seven right now, but she is sterile.

To give her the chance to have children if she wants to when she is grown her mother has donated some of her eggs to be frozen.

Egg-freezing is most often used by women undergoing lifesaving treatment that will reduce their fertility.

If Flavie does decide to use the eggs to have children, they would need to be fertilised with her partner's sperm and then implanted into her womb as with any other IVF procedure.

Not a done deal though, as she would need to apply for further permission from the McGill Reproductive Centre ‘ethics committee’.

Now, out trot the tin foil hat squad, in the form of Margaret Somerville, who heads McGill University's Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law. She is concerned about the ‘rights’ of the child (not Flavie) – still sounds ok-ish.

She asks: "What are the rights of a child not to be brought into existence in this way?

What! Sorry? Let’s replay that one: "rights" "not to be brought into existence"?

The hypothetical child is unlikely to be brought into existence at all if not in this way. What about the hypothetical rights of any child to be brought into existence in any way. No one checked with my parents if it was OK by me to conceive me, pretty cavalier of them if you ask me, thank goodness we now have Ms Somerville to ask these difficult questions for us.

Wait! There’s more: "I think here there was a lot of good intentions, but we also have to ask about that future child.”

"Can we reasonably anticipate that a child would consent to having it’s sister be its gestational mother, and to be a sister to the woman who gives birth to it?"

Presumably they are actually paying her to come up with stuff like this too.

Well given that the hypothetical child will only get to exist if that in fact happens and their other choice is never getting to exist at all what would most people choose – to be or not to be – You choose.

And no “to sleep perchance…” Not if you never existed in the first place.

A survey might give her a pointer. Would you rather never have been born?

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Poll shows public 'Scepticism' on climate

An Ipsos Mori poll has found that the UK public were suspicious that the threat of man made global warming was being exaggerated to make money.

Phil Downing of Ipsos Mori said that people: "are alive to climate change and very few people actually reject out of hand the idea the climate is changing, or that humans have had at least some part to play in this,"

"However, a significant number have many doubts about exactly how serious it really is and believe it has been over hyped."

It is hardly surprising that the public should have suspicions any possible impact of climate change is being hyped, when even leading ‘climate scientists’ such as Dr Hans Von Storch, a fervent believer in global warming, is concerned that the effects of climate change are being exaggerated.


Possibly entirely by coincidence, there again possibly not. Just after a survey is published suggesting the public have less than absolute faith in the more alarmist predictions of the global warming camp.

What should happen but that Sky News should do a piece on Greenland.

There was a correspondent, on location, telling us all how global warming was making the glaciers move faster - and that could result in sea level rising faster.

And who should they trot out? None other than the champion of the democratic process himself, Jose Manuel (check your wallets folks) Barroso.

So would that be sea level rising faster than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) dodgy figures fiddled to fit a sinking tide gauge in Hong Kong perhaps?

Psst! Don’t mention the treaty to the Brits

How do these people ever expect anyone to actually believe their word? Just like Blair - Brown is insisting Britain's negotiating ‘red lines’ were not crossed at last month's summit, so that no referendum is needed. This despite the fact that Nu-Lab promised in it’s 2005 election manifesto that it would hold a referendum on the constitution.

Whatever else Mr Brown may be he is an intelligent man - and is fully aware that this treaty is the rejected constitution in a rather thin disguise. Yet with no apparent sense of shame, or embarrassment, he makes the barefaced claim that no referendum is needed.

But in fact the new European Union ‘Constitutional’ treaty will mean "transfers of sovereignty" from Britain and Gordon Brown is
absolutely right to conceal it from the UK electorate according to Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's premier He said, speaking to Le Soir, a Belgium Newspaper:

"one can always explain that what is in the interest of Europe is in the interests of our countries,"

"Britain is different. Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?"

"There is a single legal personality for the EU, the primacy of European law, a new architecture for foreign and security policy, there is an enormous extension in the fields of the EU's powers, there is Charter of Fundamental Rights,"

These are all core elements of the Rejected Constitution.

You have to ask yourself - Why is it that the European elite are always so keen that what they are doing should be concealed from the UK electorate? Also why are our supposed representatives apparently willing to oblige them it this.

Lord Leach of Fairford, speaking to The Daily Telegraph said:

"Gordon Brown should think twice before going back on his party's manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on a treaty that is the EU constitution in all but name.”

"If he is serious about wanting to 'listen and learn' he should let the people have a say."

An ICM/Open Europe poll recently found that 86 per cent of voters want a referendum on the treaty and if Mr Brown refuses one it could damage his electoral chances.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Babies taken into care more than double since adoption targets set

The UK Government's obsession with targets seems to have allowed the law of unintended consequences lead to a sinister development.

Nu-Lab set targets to be achieved for adoptions in 2000. No doubt in the laudable hope of reducing the number of orphans in state care. Queue music and Pause for rosy picture of a young child opening Christmas presents round a tree with their loving new family.

What happened instead? Well problem teenagers are not all that an attractive prospect for adoption, especially after they have been in the hands of the authorities for a while. Cute Babies on the other hand…

It’s a bit like rescue animals. No so many are willing to take on an infirm old moggy who needs medical attention and pukes up on the carpet at random every now and then, but a cute kitten on the other hand, much easier to find a home for.

Now if you are crudely setting targets like the number of adoptions no bureaucratic mind is going to bother about the profile of the adoptions.

Once you start to measure one particular facet of something everything that is not measured no longer particularly counts and is often then, either ignored, or bent to improve what is measured.

Babies are easier to find homes for, the younger the better. They are what boost the figures and presumably helps performance related civil servant pay – so if you had more of them to shift, then the figures would look even better…

After targets were set in 2000 the figures for very young children being adopted really took off.

By a staggering coincidence, according to figures obtained the Telegraph the total number of children aged under a year taken into council care in England, before being adopted has also rose, by a similar ratio, from 970 in 1996 to 2,120 last year.

These decisions are made in secret closed courts. A mother whose child is taken from her actually commits an offence if she tells anyone outside a tiny, approved list of people. Under the current law, reporters and members of the public are not allowed to attend family court hearings, verify documentary evidence, review evidence or even obtain copies of judgments.

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, who wants more openness in family courts, said of the latest adoption figures: "We are seeing a massive growth in the forced removal of newborns from their natural parents. Babies are being taken into care merely to satisfy government adoption targets."

A solicitor, Sarah Harman, who has specialised in family law for nearly 30 years said: "Social services are the only department other than MI5 who undertake their work in complete secrecy. It's not the welfare of the child that is being protected, it is the welfare of social workers. This cannot be justified.

If this is true, as it appears, it is bureaucratic and faceless, but never-the-less actual evil. No individual will ever take responsibility for it, or is ever likely to face anything, other than reward for it.

The Government should address it immediately, seeing as they have inadvertently created the conditions that caused it - and do not appear to have properly monitored the actual outcomes of the changes they introduced.

White lines work better than speed cameras

It seems, based on research, that white lines are actually much more effective at reducing road accidents than speed cameras. Improved road markings can save up to eight times as many lives as a speed trap.

One obvious problem with this approach for the authorities is that, whilst new or renewed road markings do have the merit of being cheap, they do not generate an income of a billion pounds a year.

The UK has around 6,000 speed traps. Research suggests that speed traps can lead to around a 10% fall in four common types of collision; head-on crashes, side-impacts at junctions, collisions with trees and lampposts and accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians hit by cars.

Dr Joanne Hill, the head of research at the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP), has stated that dedicated lanes for turning right, or left, reduce side-impacts by as much as 80%. Anti-skid surfaces can produce a 65 % reduction in RTAs (Road Traffic Accidents) across the board, new signage up to 40% across the board and renewing road markings cuts RTAs by up to 35 per cent.

So in fact speed cameras are actually the least effective measure.

Dr Hill said: "A pot of paint doesn't cost a lot of money but the rate of return is phenomenal. A highways authority could typically save 20 fatal, or serious injury accidents, over three years just by re-lining a junction. A speed camera shouldn't be the only measure installed."

It would appear, based on cost and actual effectiveness, rather than earning potential, speed traps (‘safety cameras’) should only be the final measure installed, and then only if required on actual safety grounds.

Official self congratulation at English smoking ban

Don’t tell a small lie, no one will believe you – but tell a big one…

Trade union leaders have applauded the smoking ban in England as a step forward for workplace safety - describing passive smoking as the "third biggest cause of deaths at work".

This is absolute patent drivel. How many work places actually allowed smoking anywhere, other than in very limited smoking rooms? As we can all attest not many.

Most employers effectively banned smoking on various grounds such as fire safety years ago. It has been banned for years on public transport and in most offices. I don’t know of any factories where it is allowed.

So, even if we accept the ever inflating claims of the passive smoking brigade, this ban will have virtually zero impact in reducing so-called passive smoking, except in environments where smoking was still actually allowed like pubs and clubs.

These days? ‘Third biggest cause of deaths at work’? Indeed...

Alan Johnson the UK Health Secretary lauded the smoking ban in England as the: "single most important public health legislation for a generation". Suggesting the ban on smoking in enclosed public places, would improve the health of hundreds of thousands of people.

It is only likely to really improve the health of ‘hundreds of thousands of people” if it makes smoking so much bother that hundreds of thousands of people were to give up smoking as a result of the ban.

He might have done better, with out setting a dubious authoritarian precedent, by offering a substantial cash bounty, as a one off, to those who gave up smoking for over a year. To be paid back with interest if they took it up again.

Anti smoking figs for death by passive smoking in the UK vary between 1,000 and 4,500 pa. Given the amount of pollutants around how can they tell with any certainty if these are due to cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, or in the case of older people all the muck from coal fires and smog?

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Bishop says UK floods are the wrath of God

Apparently Senior Church of England Bishops are claiming recent flooding in the UK as evidence of the wrath of God. The Bishop of Carlisle suggested new legislation in favour of homosexuals may have provoked God.

He said that whilst this actually affected innocent victims the flooding was a result of Western civilisations decision to ignore biblical teachings. The Bishop of Liverpool and the Right Reverend Dow, also seem to feel we are reaping what we are sowing.

One wonders why they have such a low opinion of God that he could not manage to flood the Palace of Westminster, it being on fairly low ground, right by the Thames, or strike it with lightening maybe. Parliament would, after all, be the logical target - and the better clearer ‘message’, if it really were an act of God, rather than the overwrought imagination of the Bishop.

If I were actually inclined to believe God was small minded I would be more likely to believe it was a judgement on voting for Tony Blair, the man, who with such a cavalier attitude to the democratic process, signed the EU constitutional Treaty as his last act as PM.

Maybe, like the terrorists, the Bishop feels God prefers a ‘softer’ target like Sheffield.

Or do they perhaps feel God, like some maiden aunt at a church fete coconut shy, is not quite up to it - and accidentally gets the stall holder instead? Some may recall immediately after the installation of the rather ‘controversial’ clergyman the Rt Rev David Jenkins as Bishop of Durham in 1984, York Minster was severely damaged by lightening strikes around midnight. This hints at a fairly good aim.

Have they been paying too much attention to some of the pronouncements of the more obviously ‘reasonableness challenged’ Imams?

Then one wonders, what about the people of New Orleans? I have no doubt many of those affected were devout Christians, would the Bishops suggest that it was another ‘soft target’ chosen because of the Administration in Washington DC. Again, given that Washington was effectively built on a swamp, one would have felt he could have managed something a little more direct, more obvious.

Or the people of the sate of Victoria in Australia. Droughts and now floods, what have they done?

All a bit too ‘Western’ maybe?

Then, as a random example, what had the Bangladeshis done to irritate, when 30 million of them were flooded out in July 2004’s monsoon? Wilfully being largely non-Christian perhaps?

No I don’t think that God uses the earth as his personal coconut shy. One suspects the explanation is more prosaic. Simply put - Shit happens.