Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Pot Calling the Kettle Afro-American

On a far-Leftist British site we read:

"An attempt by the fascist British National Party (BNP) to hold a racist rally in Dagenham, east London, ended in its humiliation last Saturday. Despite extensive leafleting in the borough, the Nazis only managed to attract around 70 people to their rally - and they were surrounded by over 400 anti-fascist protesters chanting slogans and jeering at them....

Richard Barnbrook, the leader of the BNP's 12-strong council group in Barking & Dagenham, struggled to make himself heard to the small crowd gathered in a car park near Dagenham civic centre. His words were drowned out by the chorus of anger and derision from anti-fascists."


So who were the Brownshirts, exactly? Once again, no respect for free speech from the Left.


Even politicians tell the truth sometimes

The minister in charge of the food industry in Britain has divided the farming community by saying that there is no conclusive evidence that organic food is healthier than food produced conventionally.

David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, told The Sunday Times that eating organic food came down to "a lifestyle choice" and that shoppers should not regard non-organically produced food as second best. "It [organic food] is only 4 per cent of total farm produce, not 40 per cent, and I would not want to say that 96 per cent of our farm produce is inferior because it's not organic."

There has been a reported 30 per cent rise in sales of organic food in the past year, to about 1.6 billion pounds. Organic Farmers & Growers said: "It's not just about health. It's about producing food in a way that is sympathetic to the environment and which enhances the countryside."


Pregnancy test gives doctors more time to detect condition that kills

Protein points to pre-eclampsia risk; Breakthrough could lead to a cure

A simple test for pregnant women could predict a serious complication weeks in advance. A team led by British scientists has developed the test for pre-eclampsia, which causes 22,000 maternal deaths worldwide every year. Until now the first signs of the condition were the symptoms: large increases in blood pressure, headaches, blurred or altered vision, abdominal or shoulder pain, nausea and vomiting, confusion, shortness of breath and excessive swelling of the hands and feet.

The only treatment is careful monitoring, and early induction of birth if the symptoms become dangerous. Doctors balance the interests of the baby — which does better the longer it stays in the womb — with the threat to the mother’s life. As soon as she has given birth, the symptoms subside.

A team led by Thomas Rademacher, of University College London, has found that testing for the presence of a protein called inositol phosphoglycan P-type in the urine gives a reliable indication that the condition is developing.

They compared the levels of the protein in the urine of 27 women who developed pre-eclampsia with 47 who did not. They found that the women who developed pre-eclampsia had levels of the protein several times greater than those who did not. The increases were detectable before symptoms appeared, up to seven weeks earlier in some cases, the team reports in Hypertension.

It is not known whether the protein is responsible for triggering the condition, but this seems possible. If so, the discovery could open the way to developing more effective treatments.

Professor Rademacher said: “Being able to predict the onset of this disease has been the single greatest challenge in obstetric medicine.

“Pre-eclampsia is the most common of the serious complications that can occur during pregnancy and affects millions of women and children. It is a particular problem in the developing world, where treatment is less readily available.

“Our research has identified that the presence of inositol phosphoglycan P-type is a reliable indicator of whether a pregnant woman will develop PE. Now a reliable diagnostic test has been developed, this paves the way for identifying new treatments.”

Pre-eclampsia affects about 5 per cent of pregnancies. It can occur any time during pregnancy, but normally appears in the last three months.

Worldwide, the condition affects more than seven million pregnancies a year and causes 22,000 maternal deaths. More rarely, it can develop into eclampsia, which affects 700,000 pregnancies a year, leading to 43,000 maternal deaths.

“PE is presently only curable by delivery,” Professor Rademacher said. “In many cases clinicians must deliver a baby in order to save its mother’s life, even if this means the baby is born prematurely.”

PE arises when the placenta releases a toxin, causing the mother’s blood pressure to rise sharply. If it develops into eclampsia it can cause seizures and she may lapse into a coma.



Like most alternative methods, it seems to work if the teachers are able enough and committed enough

The Montessori teaching method, in which children learn at their own pace and testing is banned, has been adopted by a second state primary school in England. Teachers at the Stebbing Primary School, near Great Dunmow in Essex, which has 90 pupils, began to pilot Montessori teaching in September and say that it has already had a dramatic effect on the behaviour of pupils. Teachers removed brightly coloured wall displays and brought in natural wood furniture and equipment. The children now behave more calmly and can work effectively for three hours without a break.

Janet Matthews, the head teacher, said that the school would evaluate the success of the move after a year before taking a final decision. “But what is overwhelmingly coming across is the calmness of the school,” she said. “Children are working for sustained periods of time on the activities they are choosing, and the maths and literacy levels seem pretty good. The classroom was a typical reception classroom, very bright displays, brightly coloured doors and floors. Over the summer holidays we calmed everything down.” The changes have been funded by 20,000 pounds from the Montessori St Nicholas Charity.

In Britain, Montessori teaching had a strong following until the 1970s when it was condemned as elitist. While increasingly popular in nursery schools, the current focus on raising standards and testing means that it is still largely rejected at primary and secondary level. That could change. Ministers set out plans last week for changes to state school teaching with greater emphasis on personalised learning and pupils designing their own education.

Recent research from the US found that children at Montessori schools were better at basic word recognition and mathematics and were more likely to play co-operatively. By 12, they are more creative and better able to resolve social problems.

Gorton Mount became the first state primary to adopt Montessori two years ago. The school, based in inner Manchester and with many disadvantaged pupils, was judged to be failing by Ofsted. The switch had dramatic results. Inspectors praised the calm atmosphere and high concentration. A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said: “The conditions attached to maintained schools apply to Montessori, such as providing the national curriculum and participating in national curriculum tests and assessment, as well as staff holding qualified teacher status.”



Many people buy locally produced food in the belief that it will be better for the environment than food flown thousands of miles to supermarkets, but is that really true? The food will have certainly have travelled fewer miles. The farmers' market certification scheme run by the Farmers' Retail and Markets Association rules that produce must come from within a 30-mile radius of the market - or 50 miles for urban and coastal locations. That means the "food miles" are a fraction of the 2,000 miles travelled by Egyptian green beans or nearly 6,000 miles travelled by Chinese apples to reach Sainsbury's.

It is not only the food and the farmers that travel a smaller distance, so too the buyers. A study of an Edinburgh market reported that a high proportion of visitors lived within a two-mile radius, a "fair proportion" coming on foot.

But local may not necessarily mean greener. Supermarkets pack large amounts of food into a single lorry, while a farmer may carry only a small amount in a 4x4. A Defra report found that the supermarkets' centralised distrubution systems, with lean supply chains and fully laden lorries, could generate less pollution than a larger number of smaller vehicles travelling locally. It also found, for example, that it was better for the environment to import winter tomatoes from Spain than to grow them here in heated greenhouses.

However, farmers' markets can claim to be greener in other ways. Hardly any energy is used in processing the fruit and vegetables. "The carrots and potatoes still have mud on them; they are neither washed nor scrubbed," a spokeswoman for the association said. "There is no packaging involved and many shoppers bring plastic bags."

Produce does not have to be organic, but often is. Although the champions of organic agriculture often claim it is better for the environment, that is a subject of controversy. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel-prize winning "father of the green revolution" in farming, insists the idea that organic farming is better for the environment is "ridiculous" because it has lower yields, and so requires more land under cultivation.

However, the farmers' markets association remains convinced that local markets can withstand the criticism. "The markets educate people in eating seasonal produce, which would remove the need for any imports," the spokeswoman said.


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