Friday, October 26, 2007

This Could be a Problem for British Leftists

Take away abuse and lies and most of them would be struck dumb:

"Disgruntled fans of Sheffield Wednesday who vented their dissatisfaction with the football club's bigwigs in anonymous internet postings may face expensive libel claims after the chairman, chief executive and five directors won a high-court ruling last week forcing the owner of a website to reveal their identity.

The case, featuring the website, is the second within days to highlight the danger of assuming that the apparent cloak of anonymity gives users of internet forums and chatrooms carte blanche to say whatever they like.

In another high court case last week, John Finn, owner of the Sunderland property firm Pallion Housing, admitted just before he was due to be cross-examined that he was responsible for a website hosting a scurrilous internet campaign about a rival housing organisation, Gentoo Group, its employees and owner, Peter Walls.

Exposing the identity of those who post damaging lies in cyberspace is a growth area for libel lawyers.


Must not Notice Skin Color

We read:

"Children were left in tears after they were separated according to their skin colour for school photos. More than 100 boys and girls aged from seven to 11 were lined up from the fairest skinned to the darkest.

But the segregation left several of the pupil so upset they cried to their parents when they got home. One angry mum said: "My 10-year-old was told to go further back in the line as she was not white enough. She came home devastated saying, 'I wish my skin was lighter mummy.'" Another parent, Ann Andrew, 49, said her daughter, Angela, 10, came home in tears and said: "My school's so racist."

Headteacher Val Hughes said pupils had been divided up according to skin tone but claimed it was to make it easier for the photographer. In a letter to Mrs Andrews she said: "Some classes were organised lightest to darkest skin tone and some darkest to lightest. This meant the photographer did not have to keep readjusting his reflector screens."


The de-moralisation of health care

By Melanie Phillips, writing from Britain

How in God's name have we come to this? In three hospitals in Kent, at least 90 patients have died from a superbug infection caused by filthy conditions with unwashed bedpans, staff `too busy' to clean their hands and - most appalling of all - nurses telling patients with diarrhoea to `go in their beds'. This unspeakable situation reveals not just callousness towards suffering and indifference to human dignity but a breakdown of some of our most basic civilised values.

Nor is this an isolated scandal. Last October, an internal memo warned the Government that virtually every NHS trust was reporting superbug infection. The health service, in other words, is institutionally polluted. The Government's response? To ignore this crisis, and then belatedly to bring forth Gordon Brown's pathetic commitment to a sporadic hospital `deep clean'. What has happened to the duty of care in our flagship public service? What has happened, indeed, to our sense of common humanity?

Two things have combined to cause this awful situation. The first is the Government's Stalinist control of the NHS which directly conflicts with patient care. The Kent hospitals focused on meeting waiting time targets to the exclusion of just about everything else; and the NHS management's byzantine structure ensures an almost total absence of accountability.

But that is far from the full explanation. Much more important is what has happened to the nursing profession, where there has simply been a collapse of that ethic of caring first promulgated by the inventor of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. Of course, it must be said that there are still many dedicated and caring nurses of whom Nightingale would be proud. But in general, her ethic has been all but destroyed.

Nursing is not a job but a vocation. That means it is governed by a sense of moral duty to the patient rather than by the self-interest of the nurse. That sense of vocation lay at the heart of Nightingale's vision. It was no accident that in her seminal Notes On Nursing, published in 1860, she wrote that `the greater part of nursing consists in preserving cleanliness'. It was not just that cleanliness was essential for recovery and health. Keeping both hospital and patients clean meant the nurse needed to have the most elevated of motives to put the care and dignity of her patients first.

Accordingly, lowly functions such as washing, dressing and administering bedpans - where dignity was most fragile - were the functions that in nursing were invested with the highest possible significance. Simply, these were moral acts. Accordingly, wrote Nightingale, if a nurse declined to do these kinds of things for her patient because she was so concerned about her own status, nursing was not her calling. `Women who wait for the housemaid to do this, or for the charwoman to do that, when their patients are suffering, have not the making of a nurse in them.'

Florence Nightingale belongs in the first rank of pioneering Victorian feminists. But the tragedy is that modern feminism has all but destroyed what she stood for. In the 1980s, nursing underwent a revolution. Under the influence of feminist thinking, its leaders decided that nurses were treated like skivvies by doctors, who were mostly men. To achieve equality for women, therefore, nursing had to gain equal status with medicine. So nurse training was taken away from the hospitals and turned into an academic subject taught in universities.

This directly contradicted an explicit warning given by Florence Nightingale herself, that her 'sisters' should steer clear of the `jargon' about the `rights' of women, `which urges women to do all that men do, including the medical and other professions, merely because men do it, and without regard to whether this is the best that women can do.' That, however, was exactly what the nursing establishment proceeded to do. Since caring for patients was demeaning to women, it could no longer be the cardinal principle of nursing. Instead, the primary goal became to realise the potential of the nurse, to deliver equality with the male-dominated medical profession.

In her book The Project 2000 Nurse, Ann Bradshaw, a specialist in palliative care, described how this agenda removed caring, kindness, compassion and dedication from nurse training. Student nurses now studied courses such as sociology, gender studies, politics, psychology, microbiology and management. They were assessed for their communication, management, problem- solving and analytical skills. `Specific clinical nursing skills were not mentioned,' she wrote. In short, nursing ditched its core vocation to care.

I wouldn't have believed this possible had I not been forced to witness how my own mother was treated in a London teaching hospital a few years ago. She suffered under a wretched double burden of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. In that pitiable condition, which meant she could barely walk, she broke her hip and was admitted for surgery to a fracture ward. If I hadn't been on hand every day, she would have starved. After surgery, she was unable to move at all in her bed. Yet the nurses made no attempt to help her to eat; nor did they even deign to move her pillow to make her more comfortable. Yet when I protested, I was told by the senior nurse on duty the bare-faced lie that an hour previously my mother had been 'skipping round the ward'.

It was then that I realised that all the excuses about NHS failure being caused by lack of money were a lie. It was then that I understood that there was, instead, a lack of something infinitely more profound - conscience, kindness, a sense of duty to others - and that the image of the NHS as the embodiment of altruism was a grotesque illusion. If you were old and incapable, it was an encounter to be feared. The memory of my mother's terrible experience still makes me cry; and I weep also for all those poor souls who have died at the hands of the NHS in Kent, and all those other frail and powerless patients who are being treated so abominably in hospitals up and down the country.

What's happened in our hospitals surely reflects a still wider social breakdown. Our society seems to have turned into a Darwinian nightmare in which the fittest prosper mightily while the old and weak are tossed aside as of no value. That's why we starve and dehydrate some elderly people to death. That's why we turn a blind eye to the dreadful conditions in so many old people's homes. And that's why nurses become managers, and preen themselves as expert professionals in meetings and seminars and conferences and away- days while patients in their hospitals are left to die in their own filth.

And what about the Labour Party, for which the NHS is the ultimate symbol of its own superior social conscience? Are Labour MPs agitating about the filth in our hospitals and the deaths it is causing? Dream on. Labour MPs are currently wholly occupied with inspecting their own navel and analysing who is up or down in the Gordon Brown/David Cameron circus. And as for the Health Secretary, while patients are dying as the direct result of the system over which he presides, he appears to think that the biggest threat to the future of the very planet is that people are too fat.

Our NHS is now the symbol of a society that has lost its moral compass along with its heart and soul.


A major Greenie fortress crumbles

"Nature" magazine is the house-journal of the Warmists so their publication of the article below is a big deal -- particularly since they are now parroting the line of -- no, no, it can't be true -- GEORGE BUSH!

TWO British experts have backed the Australian and US governments' refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, saying emissions caps are the wrong tool for tackling the problem. "Time to ditch Kyoto," British social scientist Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics and leading climate change researcher Steve Rayner of Oxford University, who holds dual US-British citizenship, wrote in the journal Nature. "The Kyoto Protocol is a symbolically important expression of governments' concern about climate change. But as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions, it has failed," they wrote. They said the world should instead raise spending on clean energy research to tens of billions of dollars a year as part of a broader plan "on a wartime footing".

Governments should view global warming as a strategic challenge, like the US drive to put a man on the moon in 1969 or to help Europe recover after World War Two, and move away from Kyoto-style caps on greenhouse gas emissions, they said.

The 1997 Kyoto pact obliges 36 industrial nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Australia and the US have refused to sign up to the agreement. But many nations are over target in a sign that Kyoto is no "silver bullet" for slowing climate change, Mr Rayner told Reuters.

The two urged governments to consider carrying out more research instead of tightening Kyoto-style caps. The world's environment ministers will meet in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3-14 to launch negotiations on a successor to Kyoto. "Investment in energy research and development should be placed on a wartime footing," the experts wrote of efforts to create clean energy such as wind and solar power. "It seems reasonable to expect the world's leading economies and emitters to devote as much money to this challenge as they currently spend on military research - in the case of the United States, about $80 billion a year," they said.

They said Kyoto had been modelled on treaties for protecting the ozone layer and curbing acid rain that focused on cuts in a few pollutants. But climate change affected the entire economy and solutions had to be more complex than caps on a few gases.

As part of the answer, they said the world should focus on curbs by top emitters rather than seeking agreement among 176 states that have ratified Kyoto. The top 20, led by the US and China, account for 80 per cent of all emissions.

Mr Prins and Mr Rayner noted that many Kyoto backers had criticised President George W. Bush for bringing major emitters together for talks in Washington last month. But such talks may be a necessary first step to a broader deal, they said. Mr Bush rejected Kyoto in 2001, saying its emissions caps would be too costly and that Kyoto wrongly omitted goals for poor nations. Kyoto backers see it as a tiny first step to slow the effects of climate change such as more floods, heatwaves and rising seas.

But Ben McNeill from the Climate Change Centre at the University Of New South Wales defended Kyoto today, saying the clean development mechanism and targets were important keys to slowing global warming. "Emissions targets dictate for example how effective a carbon emissions trading scheme is. In other words a carbon trading price, and that's a very important part of our strategy in the next decade or so to reduce carbon emissions and combat global warming," Dr McNeill told Radio Australia.

The two experts said the world should create markets in greenhouse gases but efforts so far had failed to produce stable prices high enough to spur a major shift away from the fossil fuels widely blamed for causing global warming. They said that, instead of ordering deeper Kyoto-style cuts in emissions beyond 2012, countries should develop policies only after experimenting with various ideas. "Although a bottom-up approach may seem painfully slow and sprawling, it may be the only way to build credible institutions that markets endorse," they wrote.


Social class effect on health accelerates for British women

Life expectancy for professional women has shot up by 30 months to 85 years in only the last four years, while the gap between the top and bottom classes has widened. Figures from the Office for National Statistics published yesterday show that females in high-status, well-paid jobs such as medicine, law and finance are living longer than ever. Their counterparts in clerical and manual jobs, however, are struggling to keep pace as their lifestyles and life expectancy emulate their male colleagues.

Diet, drinking and smoking are taking their toll on women in the lower social classes but health experts suggest that females at the top are in better shape than ever, have quicker access to healthcare, are no longer dying from breast cancer and can afford better holidays. Some epidemiologists also suggest that women get a psychological boost from a high-status job where they are largely in control.

The figures show that the life expectancy at birth for women in the top social class, or those who married into it, jumped from 82.6 years in 2001 to 85.1 years in 2005, an increase of 2.5years. This rise is at a much faster rate than the rest of the past 30 years where life expectancy has gone up about two years in every ten. During the same period the life expectancy for women in the lowest social class - unskilled workers and labourers - rose from 77.9 to 78.1 years, an increase of only ten weeks.

In male mortality, the opposite appears to be happening. Life expectancy in men has been catching up with women over the past 30 years, but since 2001 the increase has dropped slightly and the gap between the social classes has slightly narrowed. Life expectancy for men in the professional classes rose from 79.5 years in 2001 to 80 years in 2005. At the same time the life span for unskilled workers rose from 71.5 to 72.7 years. A similar picture occurs in life expectancy from the age of 65. A women in Social Class 1 now aged 65 was expected to live to 85 in 2005, but is now expected to carry on to 87. However, the corresponding figures for women in Social Class 5 only rose from 81.9 to 82.7 years.

Eric Brunner, a reader in epidemiology at University College London, could not fully explain the acceleration in life expectancy for woman in the top social classes in the past four years. But he said that access to cash and high self-esteem has a big impact on health and longevity. "Money, wealth and resources, particularly psychological, mean that women feel more in control of their lives." Women are also categorised in Social Class 1 if they are married to men working in the professions, so many of them may be able to take on part-time jobs or not work at all.

Alcohol, smoking, poor diet and better health services in earlier life would all be factors in the widening gap between the social classes. "There are different smoking patterns in men and women over the last 40 years," said Dr Brunner. "The peak mortality rates for men with lung cancer was in the early 1970s while the peak rate for women was in the mid-1990s." In addition, there was a much greater class divide in obesity levels among women, with far more obese females in the lowest classes. There is no significant difference among men.

Professor Mel Bartley, a director of the Economic and Social Research Centre, said that women in the top social classes were more likely to get breast cancer but now less likely to die from it. Better screening techniques and drug treatments such as Tamoxifen had had a huge impact on mortality in recent years.

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