Friday, August 31, 2007

Middle school woes in Britain

Boys will be boys despite all the politically correct propaganda

Examiners have raised concerns over the standard of writing in English GCSEs, with some teenagers producing "sickeningly violent" stories this year.

One of the most frequently used titles for creative writing coursework was The Assassin, the latest examiners report on GCSE English from the Edexcel board said.

There were also concerns over teachers giving pupils "incomprehensibly high marks" for poor quality work, while plagiarism was still seen as a problem.

In some cases the "personal and imaginative writing" coursework, worth 10 per cent of the final GCSE English marks, produced thinly plotted but extremely violent content, examiners said.

Jim Knight, the schools minister, said: "We are concerned about any violent influences in school."


Thursday, August 30, 2007

British pre-school scheme fails

Start out with wrong assumptions (e.g. that "privilege" is responsible for educational success) and you will not get the results you expect. The Grammar (selective) schools showed how to help bright children from poor families but that offends against the "equality" religion. It is however sad that such a large and expensive series of programs did absolutely NO good at all. It shows how important it is to get your basic assumptions right

A 3 billion pound series of policies designed to boost the achievements of pre-school children has had no effect on the development levels of those entering primary school, a study suggests. Although there have been big changes in early years education, children's vocabulary and their ability to count and to recognise letters, shapes and rhymes are no different now than they were six years ago.

The results of the study from the University of Durham will come as a huge blow to the Government after a string of initiatives that have cost more than 3 billion since 2001 and that include the early childhood curriculum, the Sure Start programme, free nursery education for all three-year-olds and the Every Child Matters initiative. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown made much of the drive to improve pre-school education, which was promoted heavily in Labour's last general election manifesto.

The findings follow the results of an assessment of the Sure Start programme in 2005, which also found no overall improvement in the areas targeted by the scheme. Sure Start, which was influenced by the Head Start programme in the US, is targeted at children aged up to 5 and their families in deprived areas. It is intended to offer a range of early years services, including health advice, childcare, parenting classes and training to help mothers into work.

Christine Merrell, of the University of Durham's Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre and co-author of the study, said that she had no idea why the investment of so much public money had produced so few results. "One would have expected that the major government programmes would have resulted in some measurable changes in our sample of almost 35,000 children. It is possible, however, that it is just still too early to measure the effects of these programmes, particularly those of the Children Act and Every Child Matters, which were only introduced in the past few years," she said.

Dr Merrell and her team studied 6,000 children a year aged 4 and 5 at 124 primary schools. The children were asked to complete a 15-minute series of fun activities on a computer and were not aware that they were being tested. The tests were designed to measure the children's vocabulary acquisition and whether they could recognise rhyming words and repeat certain sounds. The children were also tested on their ability to count and to recognise shapes, letters and words.

No clear progress was detected on these measures among the 35,000 children from a range of backgrounds who were studied over the course of the six-year study, to be presented today at the biennial European Association for Learning and Instruction conference in Budapest. Dr Merrell admitted that the study was limited because it failed to identify which children, if any, had been subject to contact with Sure Start or any other of the Government's recent pre-school initiatives. However, given that 35,000 children in 124 schools were assessed, she said it was likely that many had taken part in the initiatives. She said that the research highlighted the importance of subjecting education policies to continuous scientific monitoring to see if they were working before introducing them nationally. "Even then, high-quality data needs to be used to track the impact of the evolving intervention. Only then can the Government really measure what does and doesn't work in education," she said.

The research used the Centre's performance indicators in primary schools (Pips) assessment to measure the cognitive development of the children. The Pips baseline assessment is one of a range of assessments that enable schools to monitor children's progress. Pips is used by more than 3,000 primary schools in Britain, 800 schools in Australia and others worldwide including New Zealand, the Netherlands and South Africa.


Desperate Brits going to Malta instead of the NHS

Medical tourism is a new and rapidly growing development where prospective patients from rich Western countries go overseas to combine treatment and recovery in a holiday setting. This can also be done at a fraction of the cost they would incur for treatment at home.

A number of health service agencies have realised the market potential and more and more countries are jumping on the bandwagon to offer people competitively-priced elective surgery, cosmetic surgery and dentistry abroad. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Malta Tourism Authority is eager to tap this new market. It seems to be employing the expertise of an Indian-based company, Sahara Medical Tourism, that facilitates overseas surgery for patients from the UK, Europe and the USA and is now promoting Malta as a destination for medical tourism.

Due to lengthy NHS waits and concerns about the high risk of MRSA infections in NHS hospitals, a growing number of Britons are taking advantage of affordable, high-quality private healthcare abroad, combining it with a relaxing holiday. They save thousands of pounds compared with having the treatment done privately in the UK. Already, many British patients travel to Belgium, Hungary and Poland and even further afield to countries such as India and Brazil.

Malta offers obvious advantages. It is a close, traditional tourist destination, boasts a high standard of medical and dental care and has well-run private hospitals. With the prospective commissioning of Mater Dei Hospital, the government will have an impressive array of services on offer in a first-class environment. Added to that, Maltese medical professionals have a well-deserved high reputation and very often have post-graduate qualifications from the UK. The fact that English is easily spoken is another advantage.

To cope with their intractable waiting lists, the NHS of the UK is also seriously considering Malta as a location for its patients to travel for surgery. It seems a winning formula for all concerned. Not least, it will provide an incentive for Malta's medical, dental and paramedical professionals to remain in their own country.

It is of paramount importance that the MTA does its homework properly and gets things right from the outset. No amount of marketing will compensate for a botched or inadequate scheme. Lost reputations are not easily regained. The government has to make sure standards are rigorously upheld and only allow hospitals, clinics and operators that fulfill stringent requirements to participate. Meanwhile, it still has to be seen what impact such schemes will have on the services offered to the local population. This applies particularly if the government is an active participant in health tourism.

It is imperative that the Maltese people will not become second-class patients in their own country as paying cases from overseas are given priority. There is nothing to suggest this will happen, but as St Luke's Hospital waiting lists amply illustrate, the government-run medical service is already finding difficulty meeting the needs of its own, especially where elective surgery is involved. Will the adequate funding of the new hospital service depend to a critical extent on health tourism? As has been repeated so often, there is more to a medical service than a state-of-the-art building and equipment. Health tourism can be a godsend but mismanaging it will lead to a dual and unequal service that will prove socially and politically unacceptable.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

BBC news chiefs attack plans for climate change campaign

It shows how much pressure they have been under that the Beeb wants to return to impartiality

Two of the BBC's most senior news and current affairs executives attacked the corporation's plans yesterday for a Comic Relief-style day of programming on environmental issues, saying it was not the broadcaster's job to preach to viewers. The event, understood to have been 18 months in development, would see stars such as Ricky Gervais and Jonathan Ross take part in a "consciousness raising" event, provisionally titled Planet Relief, early next year.

But, speaking at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival yesterday, Newsnight's editor, Peter Barron, and the BBC's head of television news, Peter Horrocks, attacked the plan, which also seems to contradict the corporation's guidelines. Asked whether the BBC should campaign on issues such as climate change, Mr Horrocks said: "I absolutely don't think we should do that because it's not impartial. It's not our job to lead people and proselytise about it." Mr Barron said: "It is absolutely not the BBC's job to save the planet. I think there are a lot of people who think that, but it must be stopped."

Planet Relief appears to contradict BBC guidelines on impartiality. In June a BBC-endorsed report set out 12 principles on impartiality, warning that the broadcaster "has many public purposes of both ambition and merit - but joining campaigns to save the planet is not one of them". A BBC spokeswoman said: "This idea is still in development and the intention would be to debate the issue and in no way campaign on a single point of view."

Meanwhile, in a session at the festival yesterday titled How Green is TV, the documentary producer Martin Durkin attacked the BBC as stifling debate on climate change. Durkin, whose film The Great Global Warming Swindle attracted a large number of complaints when it was shown on Channel 4 this year, said: "The thing that disturbs me most is that the BBC has such a leviathan position ... that if it decides that it is going to adopt climate change as a moral purpose, I have got a lot of trouble with that. I don't think it is the role of the BBC to spend my money on a moral purpose."


Social acid has burnt the heart of Britain

Fifty years ago I was a schoolboy in a Liverpool suburb and a strong supporter of Everton like Rhys Jones. My parents were cautious and loving, but they had no qualms about letting me follow the team around the country. That a boy might be killed by a drive-by shooter as he was returning from his local soccer practice would have struck them as an episode in a Latin American coup rather than a possibility in their relatively tranquil lives.

Not unreasonably. In 1955, the anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer described this tranquillity in his book Exploring English Character: "When we think of our faults, we put first, and by a long way, any lapse from our standards of non-aggression, bad temper, nagging, swearing and the like. Public life is more gentle than that reported for any society of comparable size and industrial complexity."

Swearing? Yes, though omni-present in all-male milieus such as the Army, swearing didn't occur in mixed company. Class was irrelevant. My grandmother served behind the bar in a pub on Liverpool's Dock Road before and after the First World War. On only one occasion did someone swear in her presence. The miscreant was promptly taken aside by other dockers and given a talking-to. He returned and apologised.

Next week, I'll be making one of my regular trips from the United States to a different Britain. Like the Jamie Bulger murder of 14 years ago, also in a Liverpool suburb, the casual killing of Rhys Jones has driven home to the British the extent of their social decline - the rise of an underclass, the high rate of crime, especially violent crime, the vandalisation of public spaces, the spread of public drunkenness, and the coarsening of popular culture.

My returning American friends sugar-coat their vacations to me. They enthuse over the historic monuments, the superb theatre, the cathedral cities, the improvement in British cuisine, the precision of the Royal Horse Guards, Fortnum & Mason, and the kindness of almost everyone they met. Almost everyone? Yes, after a while, they admit sadly to the odd disappointment: the snide anti-American remarks directed at them, the warnings against crime near their hotel, the vomiting young people dominating the centres of every town at night. "Going to a West End play today is like going to Broadway in the 1970s," said one. "You thread your way past the same sleazy porn shops, over the same junkies, and past the same drunks, except that the swearing doesn't stop when the play starts."

It didn't happen overnight. Breaking down a strong culture of civic self-control takes time and several social acids. The first such acid was the cultural liberalism generally associated with the 1960s: the attempt to free people from irksome traditional moral customs and the laws that reflected them. Anthony Jay has recently described how the "media liberalism" of the BBC - an institution founded in part to promote social virtues and British institutions - increasingly undermined them all: from military valour to the monarchy.

Assuredly, this revolution had its worthwhile side, especially for the educated and prosperous. Britain today is a freer and more relaxed society with less supervision from maiden aunts and aldermen than in 1955. Combined with a welfare state that picked up the tab, however, cultural liberalism promoted social irresponsibility - more voluntary workless, more divorces, children with fewer opportunities because they live in homes without two parents, a growing underclass, a society that is cruder, more disordered, less gentle. Less neighbourly, too, because of the second social acid: the ethnic and religious diversity introduced by mass immigration.

You may be surprised to learn that "diversity", which is usually discussed as an undeniable social good, has any drawbacks. But Robert Puttnam, an American social scientist, has established from a major survey (and to his own distress) that ethnic diversity makes people less trustful of each other. Worse, people feel this distrust towards those from their own ethnic group as well as towards "the Other". Diversity, it transpires, is a recipe for bad neighbourliness.

This growing distrust might have been lessened, even overcome, by an effective policy of American-style "assimilation" - that is, getting everyone to think of themselves as "British first" and to embrace a common British history and culture. That policy worked well in the US until the 1970s. Instead government promoted the third acid: a "multiculturalism" that encourages minorities to retain their culture and identity. Thus, our rulers set out, eager and well-intentioned, to maximise the differences and therefore the tensions inherent in diversity.

America has so far avoided the worst effects of its own multiculturalism because it has a proud national identity. Most immigrants still want to become Americans as they once wished to become British. Except for the Thatcher years, however, the British establishment, from a blend of multiculturalism and Europeanism, drained all pride and meaning out of Britishness. No one, not even the Scots, wants to assimilate to a nullity.

The result is a fractured, distrustful and disorderly society. And because a diverse society lacks agreed values and standards, governments regulate the behaviour of all, including the law-abiding, to maintain social peace. Thus, we have far more officials supervising us than in the 1950s, but they are anti-smoking social workers and ethnic diversity officers rather than park wardens. The police have become little more than the paramilitary wing of The Guardian, sniffing out "racist" or "Islamophobic" attitudes rather than investigating serious crimes that have some "cultural" excuse. Society gradually becomes more governed and less self-governing.

Rebuilding a united democratic nation that governs itself with decency will be a difficult task. As Geoffrey Gorer pointed out in 1955, however, his gentle Britain had been sculpted by the Victorians from the recalcitrant marble of a brutalised society very much like today's Britain. It will take leaders in the Victorian mould to do it, though.


Dental desperation in Scotland

Desperate North-east dental patients could be bumped down the NHS waiting list if they go private. NHS Grampian has now admitted it has a policy of pushing people down the waiting list if they discover the person has signed up for private care. This follows Evening Express revelations last week that the waiting list in Grampian now stands at 25,000 (the equivalent of a 13-mile queue), meaning it could take years before an NHS dentist is available. The one big hope appears to be the proposal to build a new surgery in Tillydrone which could take 12,000 people, as reported by the Evening Express yesterday.

One North-east patient, who wants to remain anonymous, was told that by signing on for Denplan he would be shoved down the waiting list. Denplan is a form of private health insurance for teeth which gives people a guaranteed two check ups a year for a minimum monthly fee of 10 pounds. He lost his NHS dentist when he went completely private and was forced to join the long waiting list.

"As I was in need of fillings I signed up for Denplan, seeing no other option," he explained. "However, I kept my name on the waiting list as I'll be a pensioner quite soon. "When I phoned to ask how far up the list I was, I was shocked to be told that by signing up for Denplan I would drop well down."

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said the policy existed as those who could not afford private care had to take precedence. But she added: "We do have a helpline for people who need emergency treatment and can usually fit them in within 24 hours. "The waiting list is based on time waited and need. Need is seen to be greater if somebody cannot afford private dental care."



MPs and Jewish leaders have condemned a high-profile British charity which has unveiled plans for a world-wide anti-Israel boycott. A document, described as a guide for boycott, divestment and sanctions, appears on the War on Want website, and as a booklet, laying out a strategy for those planning sanctions against the Jewish state. MPs have called on the Charity Commission to investigate the publication, described as a handbook of hate by Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark.

It suggests that the boycott movement needs to gain greater popular support in order to grow into a truly global movement. Comparisons are drawn between sanctions against Israel and those imposed against apartheid-era South Africa. Investment in Israel should be presented to the public as investment in a system of occupation, injustice and apartheid, it says in the booklet, co-published with the Palestinian Stop the Wall organisation.

Lorna Fitzsimons, former Labour MP and chief executive of BICOM, the Britain-Israel Communications and Research Centre, said that to equate the Palestinians situation with the absolute powerlessness of black South Africans under the apartheid regime is at best misguided, and at worst an insult and a tragedy. Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman said the publication was very questionable for a charity. Ilford North Conservative MP Lee Scott found it disgraceful. I'm going to ask the Charity Commission to look into it.

Labour peer Lord Janner suggested that if the charity wanted to attack anyone they should concentrate on the non-democracies of this world. They seem to be existing on another planet.

Zionist Federation president Eric Moonman warned that those who thought that pressure for boycotts only came from academics and the unions have made a mistake. This is much more serious. It shows that well-meaning people are buying into the boycott too.

Despite the criticism, a War on Want spokesman told the JC: This [document] is produced with our partner organisation Stop the Wall. We helped fund it and we are happy to promote it. It was to be be followed up, by a more extensive study of boycott strategy to be published later this year.

A government spokesman said that War on Want had received government backing of 1.1 million pounds from the Department for International Development, but none of this was for projects in the Middle East.


"Consensus"? What "Consensus"? Among Climate Scientists, The Debate Is Not Over


It is often said that there is a scientific "consensus" to the effect that climate change will be "catastrophic" and that, on this question, "the debate is over". The present paper will demonstrate that the claim of unanimous scientific "consensus" was false, and known to be false, when it was first made; that the trend of opinion in the peer-reviewed journals and even in the UN's reports on climate is moving rapidly away from alarmism; that, among climate scientists, the debate on the causes and extent of climate change is by no means over; and that the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature conclusively demonstrates that, to the extent that there is a "consensus", that "consensus" does not endorse the notion of "catastrophic" climate change.

The origin of the claim of "consensus"

David Miliband, the Environment Minister of the United Kingdom, was greeted by cries of "Rubbish!" when he told a conference on climate change at the Holy See in the spring of 2007 that the science of climate and carbon dioxide was simple and settled. Yet Miliband was merely reciting a mantra that has been widely peddled by politicians such as Al Gore and political news media such as the BBC, which has long since abandoned its constitutional obligation of objectivity on this as on most political subjects, and has adopted a policy of not allowing equal air-time to opponents of the imagined "consensus".

The claim of "consensus" rests almost entirely on an inaccurate and now-outdated single-page comment in the journal Science entitled The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (Oreskes, 2004). In this less than impressive "head-count" essay, Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science with no qualifications in climatology, defined the "consensus" in a very limited sense, quoting as follows from IPCC (2001) -

"Human activities . are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents . that absorb or scatter radiant energy. . most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."

The limited definition of "consensus"

Oreskes' definition of "consensus" falls into two parts. First, she states that humankind is altering the composition of the atmosphere. This statement is uncontroversial: for measurement has established that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen over the past 250 years to such an extent that CO2 now constitutes almost 0.01 per cent more of the atmosphere than in the pre-industrial era. However, on the question whether that alteration has any detrimental climatic significance, there is no consensus, and Oreskes does not state that there is.

The second part of Oreskes' definition of the "consensus" is likewise limited in its scope. Since global temperatures have risen by about 0.4C in the past 50 years, humankind - according to Oreskes' definition of "consensus" - may have accounted for more than 0.2C.

Applying that rate of increase over the present century, and raising it by half to allow for the impact of fast-polluting developing countries such as China, temperature may rise by 0.6C in the present century, much as it did in the past century, always provided that the unprecedented (and now-declining) solar activity of the past 70 years ceases to decline and instead continues at its recent record level.

There is indeed a consensus that humankind is putting large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; that some warming has resulted; and that some further warming can be expected. However, there is less of a consensus about whether most of the past half-century's warming is anthropogenic, which is why, rightly, Oreskes is cautious enough to circumscribe her definition of the "consensus" about the anthropogenic contribution to warming over the past half-century with the qualifying adjective "likely".

There is no scientific consensus on how much the world has warmed or will warm; how much of the warming is natural; how much impact greenhouse gases have had or will have on temperature; how sea level, storms, droughts, floods, flora, and fauna will respond to warmer temperature; what mitigative steps - if any - we should take; whether (if at all) such steps would have sufficient (or any) climatic effect; or even whether we should take any steps at all.

Campaigners for climate alarm state or imply that there is a scientific consensus on all of these things, when in fact there is none. They imply that Oreskes' essay proves the consensus on all of these things. Al Gore, for instance, devoted a long segment of his film An Inconvenient Truth to predicting the imminent meltdown of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice-sheets, with a consequent global increase of 20 feet (6 m) in sea level that would flood Manhattan, Shanghai, Bangladesh, and other coastal settlements. He quoted Oreskes' essay as proving that all credible climate scientists were agreed on the supposed threat from climate change. He did not point out, however, that Oreskes' definition of the "consensus" on climate change did not encompass, still less justify, his alarmist notions.

Let us take just one example. The UN's latest report on climate change, which is claimed as representing and summarizing the state of the scientific "consensus" insofar as there is one, says that the total contribution of ice-melt from Greenland and Antarctica to the rise in sea level over the whole of the coming century will not be the 20 feet luridly illustrated by Al Gore in his movie, but just 2 inches.

Gore's film does not represent the "consensus" at all. Indeed, he exaggerates the supposed effects of ice-melt by some 12,000 per cent. The UN, on the other hand, estimates the probability that humankind has had any influence on sea level at little better than 50:50. The BBC, of course, has not headlined, or even reported, the UN's "counter-consensual" findings. Every time the BBC mentions "climate change", it shows the same tired footage of a glacier calving into the sea - which is what glaciers do every summer.

What Oreskes said

Oreskes (2004) said she had analyzed - "928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords `climate change'." She concluded that 75% of the papers either explicitly or implicitly accepted the "consensus" view; 25% took no position, being concerned with palaeoclimate rather than today's climate; and -

"Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position. . This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect. . Our grandchildren will surely blame us if they find that we understood the reality of anthropogenic climate change and failed to do anything about it. . There is a consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change."

It is not clear whether Oreskes' analysis was peer-reviewed, since it was presented as an essay and not as a scientific paper. However, there were numerous serious errors, effectively negating her conclusion, which suggest that the essay was either not reviewed at all or reviewed with undue indulgence by scientists who agreed with Oreskes' declared prejudice - shared by the editors of Science - in favour of the alarmist position.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dunkirk war veteran killed by superbug in 'dirty' NHS hospital

A Second World War veteran who survived the Dunkirk evacuation died after contracting a superbug at a NHS hospital following a routine operation. His daughter says he was dismayed by the dirty conditions he faced at the hospital in the weeks leading to his death. Former Coldstream Guard Joseph Nixon, 87, survived the battlefields of France and Belgium. But after a bowel operation he caught pneumonia and superbug clostridium difficile at Maidstone Hospital in Kent at the end of last month.

Mr Nixon, who was also a Met Police officer after the war and a "tireless" campaigner for alcoholic support groups for prisoners, was appalled at how overworked nurses were and the dirty conditions at the hospital. After spending three weeks in the hospital daughter Jackie Dixon said "hour by hour his soul was being stripped". She took the war veteran to their home in Maidstone to live his last days in comfort. He died last Friday.

Jackie said: "Joseph was just so miserable. "One time he was really sad and said 'What did I do that was so evil that I'm trapped in this awful place'. "I said to him, 'I want to stop this, I want to stop this happening to other people'. "It was one of the only times he smiled."

She felt she had to act to stop him lying in a bed with dirty sheets, saying: "I just went and got the bedding and changed him myself. "After two weeks people thought I was staff - one woman asked me if I was a nurse. "I saw one of the nurses leaning on a trolley of soiled stuff and she just said, 'I can't do any more'. "They need more people to clean up." Food was just left by his bedside as he was too weak to feed himself.

A spokesman for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said: "We are very sorry that Mr Nixon's care did not meet the family's expectations and we will be undertaking a full investigation into the issues that have been raised. "The trust takes concerns about nursing care very seriously and is actively recruiting more nursing staff."


Britain in Meltdown

As an Englishman I am dismayed, to put it lightly, at Britain's continuing meltdown. Our so called institutions are falling apart. The government is at best incompetent, the Anglian church ineffectual, and the poor old military-overstretched, undermanned and dangerously short of equipment. Ten years of `New Labour' under the malevolentcontrol of Blair and Brown has seen our public services wrecked, the pensions of millions of diligent workers destroyed, and society falling apart. Only this week we have seen an 11 year old boy gunned down in a British city, possibly by a 12 year old. How bad must things get before action is taken. The Judiciary have lost the plot, a serial child-molester just got a community rehabilitation order, murderers are given light sentences, and illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes have their `human rights' put before those of the victims. The Police spend half their time on paper work the other handing out speeding fines. Only when there is a `media' driven crime is there anything done. If someone breaks into house make them a cup of tea and offer them your wife, because thats all that is going to save you!

The spin of the Blair years has now been replaced by the arrogance of the `Stalinist' policies of Gordon Brown. The results will be the same just presented in a different way. Brown has had some good press coverage, coming from an acquiescent media, giving gravitas after Blair's `Hollywoodisation' of giving an interview. People are too quick to forget that almost all of Britains internal policies have been `controlled' by Brown for many years-'he who holds the purse strings etc'. Money has been thrown at the public services without any regard for cost control or accountability, unheard of in the private sector, with the resulting finantial carnage we see today.

The Military have had regiments cut, funding reduced (in comparison with other departments), and have been thrown to the lions in Iraq and Afghanistan by a government that has no understanding of how it works or what it needs. Not one single member of the government in the last 10 years has served in the military so what do you expect. Several were members of CND (The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) including Blair. They have an active dislike of all things military, but will use them if there is a good headline in it. See Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. They send troops willy-nilly to all the worlds trouble spots (which I support) but with out the right equipment and ROE to win. Yet they will not touch Zimbabwe because of the Foreign Office's misplaced guilt over the Empire, and their love of all nutters everywhere.

The Church of England has been `neutered', by a succession of weak and ineffectual Archbishops of Canterbury. This is a political appointment and which Prime Minister is going to appoint someone who is going to stand up to them. Militant Islam is gaining support due to the governments refusal to act against the `Preachers of Hate'. People who do not accept British Law, prefering to impose Sharia on a subservient population, are using those same British Laws to protect themselves to the benefit of a growing number of dodgy lawyers.

As for the future: Well a Brown victory at the next election will bring more of the same. Worse still Silly Hilly in the White House will cause global chaos. A weak America will allow all those who are at odds with us to run riot. As long as they do not attack America directly they will be safe. Just remember that `lil Billy's idea of fighting the 'War on Terror' was to use his intern as a humidor. The 21st Century is going to be bloodier than the last.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Will he get Away with it?

Jeremy Clarkson is probably Britain's most incorrect writer but he is known for humorous exaggeration so I think the thought police have given up on him. He certainly sprays his slurs far and wide. But maybe there are some serious arguments lurking there. He is very popular. I think he puts in an exaggerated way what lots of Brits think but fear to say:

"And then came the latest migration figures, which showed that while Britain received 5.4 billion west African pickpockets last year, we lost what the Daily Mail calls 196,000 British citizens. White, middle-class families who have moved abroad.....

Australia is where you go when you've made a mess of everything. That's why the 1.3m Brits who live there are known as whingeing Poms. Because they're all failures....

But mostly, I suspect the people who move from Britain to the States do so because they are interested in guns and murdering. Twice I've bumped into expats while in America and both times they were wandering around in woods carrying preposterously large guns and wearing combat fatigues

The fact is, I'm afraid, that anyone who emigrates from Britain, no matter where they end up, is a bit of a dimwit.


Clarkson is a lot like an American shock jock but he is in fact a motoring writer in The Times -- the most prestigious national daily.

Britain's traditional "Public" (independent) schools still rule the roost

The Leftist British government has had all sorts of schemes to close the social class gap but because the schemes have been based on false theories ("all men are equal" etc.), they have tended to achieve the opposite of what was supposed to happen

Eton College is the top-performing school in the country at A level for the first time in more than 13 years, according to the The Times table of leading schools this year. The school's success also illustrates another trend - the narrowing gap in overall achievement between boys and girls. Although girls continue to outperform boys nationally, the gap is closing and seven of the top ten schools in this year's table of leading schools admit boys. The highest-placed girls-only school is North London Collegiate School, in fourth position.

Eton, like other boys' private schools, tends to score the bulk of points on the scale operated by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) by entering its pupils for more exams than the girls' schools, which earn more of their league table Ucas points from getting grade As.

But the table, which includes independent and state schools, is headed by two private schools that have abandoned A levels altogether in favour of the International Baccalaureate (IB). The return to top form of Eton, the nation's most elite school and alma mater of princes William and Harry, comes under the headship of Tony Little.

Mr Little attributed his school's A-level success to its studiously non-academic approach. "My belief is that if you set up a good pastoral structure and you provide rich extracurricular activities, such as music, sport and theatre, then the academic results will follow. It pleases me that this year of boys who have done so well at A level have also done well outside the classroom." He added that the school's rowing eight won the national schools championship this year, while the theatre group staged a festival of plays written by the boys themselves. "I would be very concerned if people thought we were the kind of institution concerned with academic performance only," Mr Little said.

This approach is in keeping with the ethos of the school, which has never felt the need to be judged on its academic credentials, resting comfortably instead on the knowledge that its very name will bestow on its pupils a unique place in society unmatched by any other educational establishment.

The school's top-performing student this year, however, is unashamedly academic in his approach. Marius Ostrowski, who set a school A-level record with ten A grades, said that he was primarily motivated by "love of the subjects" and "the fact I am good at them".

Although his performance is exceptional, Mr Ostrowski, 18, neatly illustrates the phenomenon noted by exam board chiefs last week of a widening gulf in A-grade achievement between the independent and state sector. Figures released by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) yesterday confirmed this trend, showing that this year for the first time half of all A-level entries in ISC member schools scored an A grade. This compares with 25 per cent nationally.

Sevenoaks School in Kent, which only eight years ago was placed 40th among private schools at A level, broke through the 600 mark on the Ucas points scale with 619.7. It is followed by three other IB schools, headed by Hockerill Anglo-European College in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, the top-performing state school in the table. Next are King's College School in Wimbledon, with 529 points, and North London Collegiate for Girls, whose pupils take A levels and the IB, with 500 points.

The success of the IB schools will add pressure on other schools to introduce the qualification instead of or alongside A levels. Students taking the IB study six subjects as well as completing an extended essay and a course in the theory of knowledge.

The only other state school in the top ten is Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet, a grammar school that has remained with the A level. Despite immense government investment in state schools, for A-level entries in science, technology, maths and languages, the ISC data show the continued dominance of independent schools in these subjects.


Destructive British Leftist "non judgmentalism" bears fruit

It is no exaggeration to say that today's children have been betrayed by today's adults. The killing of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Liverpool is a direct consequence of a mass abdication of responsibility by the generations that should have been protecting him - and his murderer, too. I am not talking about Rhys's grieving mother and father, who are loving parents of the sort every child should have. I mean the agencies of state, from police officers and local authorities to those in Whitehall and Westminster who have turned their backs on adult obligations and discouraged the rest of us from taking them on.

Although we are the most spied-upon nation in Europe and although we have spent billions on social renewal schemes, we have reached a state in which children and teenagers in big cities live in terror of other children and teenagers and in despair of protection from adults. They carry knives because they are afraid. They are afraid on their way to and from school and they learn almost nothing when they get there, partly because adults don't protect them from bullying, thieving and disruption. Teachers have either lost or relinquished their authority and children can expect little or no guidance and protection from them, or from their parents, or from council care, or from the police.

Children know the police cannot protect them from gang leaders and that they would be daft to cooperate as witnesses. I know of two boys who were tortured by a young teenager to stop them giving evidence against him. For many young people in inner cities, there is no alternative to the comparative safety of gang life.

Since January eight young people have died in shootings - six in London, one in Manchester and now one in Liverpool. According to Home Office figures, the total number of young people aged between five and 16 who were murdered, one way or another, has gone down from 44 in 1995 to 20 in 2005-6 (and 40% of these were killed by a parent). However, overall gun killings went up from 49 in 2005-6 to 58 in 2006-7, which is a big leap.

Knife crime has gone up and knife owning is becoming common: 12 teenagers have been stabbed to death since the beginning of this year. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London found that between 22,000 and 57,000 young people could have been the victims of knife crime in 2004; without better official data it is impossible to know. It is clear that violent crime among those under 18 has risen for four consecutive years. And it is increasingly clear that, like mass illiteracy and innumeracy, this is at root due to an adult flight from responsibility - a loss of a sense of proper authority, replaced by a misguided pursuit of improper authority.

Take policing, the first, thin line of protection. I find it incredible to learn that there are known gangs in Croxteth, where Rhys was shot (as in Peckham, where Damilola Taylor was stabbed). If the police know of these gangs, why don't they control them with all possible severity? Why don't they watch them ceaselessly and remove the ringleaders with Asbos? Why don't they have police on the beat, as politicians keep promising? Of course they know of these gangs. Recognising the gravity of gang gun crime, Merseyside police set up a special unit called Matrix two years ago with 200 officers. Why aren't they patrolling the danger spots aggressively? If 200 officers are not enough, why aren't there more?

According to locals, the car park where Rhys died had become a meeting place for gangs, yet plans to have police there between 8pm and midnight were withdrawn last May. A camera was proposed for this coming October. It is depressing by comparison that a camera was already in place on a beach in Sussex to catch two girls exposing their breasts, and police were available to arrest and charge them, and accompany them to court last week (though the case was later dropped), while nobody from our busybody state was watching the known troublespot where Rhys died.

There was also police time and presence enough in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, this month to arrest a boy who threw a sausage at a man in the street and to charge him with assault, for which he could stand trial at vast expense. A police culture that permits this is the culture of Nero - fiddling with cocktail sausages while the inner cities burn.

The police are not entirely to blame, however. It is not their fault that under politically correct micromanagement from Whitehall, policing has become pen pushing, forcing them off the beat. Alistair McWhirter, a former chief constable of Suffolk, recently made the well-known point that officers spend much of their time doing preposterous amounts of paperwork. A file for a simple assault case contained 128 pieces of paper and had been handled by more than 50 people before it got to court. Recording an arrest will take up at least a morning of an officer's time in paperwork. It was irresponsible enough to dream up such a time-wasting procedure; it has been almost criminally irresponsible, after several years of complaint, to continue with it. This is the betrayal of the Whitehall mandarins, who have insisted on this nonsense, in all public services, backed by government.

The failures of the police are only one part of a complex collection of social problems and if society is broken, the police can hardly be expected to fix it. What's needed is a passionate backlash against irresponsibility and irresponsible, misguided waste and the terrible state sector mentality that promotes both. It's this mentality that has produced teachers who can't or won't teach, school leavers who are unemployable, students who can't study, feckless parents, broken homes, police who are obsessed with things that don't matter, neighbours who dare not stand up to other people's children, jails overcrowded with the wrong people, idiotic state sector make-work, intrusive quangos imposing idiotic make-work and the divisive follies of multiculturalism and uncontrolled immigration. Until we begin to stand up against all these things, we can probably expect more senseless killings of children.


The "Mindfit" claim

Don't line the pockets of the lady below until an independently replicated double-blind evaluation of it emerges in the journals. It's theoretically possible that it is helpful but my guess would be that the effects in adults are marginal and temporary

Baroness Susan Greenfield, the neuroscientist, is to launch an exercise programme for the brain that she claims is proven to reverse the mental decline associated with ageing. Greenfield, who is also director of the Royal Institution, maintains that Britain's baby-boomers are discovering that concentrating on physical fitness is no longer sufficient preparation for old age. "What concerns me is preserving the brain too," she said. "There is now good scientific evidence to show that exercising the brain can slow, delay and protect against age-related decline."

Greenfield will launch MindFit, a PC-based software program, at the House of Lords next month, for the "worried but well" - people in their middle years who are healthy and want to stay that way. Created by researchers in Israel and already on sale in America, it offers users inter-active puzzles and tasks that are claimed to stimulate the brain just as using a gym exercises the body's muscles. "There is evidence that such stimulation prompts brain cells to start branching out and form new connections with other cells," said Greenfield.

The baroness's decision to lend her name to MindFit and to take a significant stake in Mind-Weavers, the company promoting it, could raise eyebrows among fellow scientists. Her high profile in the media has rankled with some and she was twice snubbed by the Royal Society.

The idea that the performance of the brain can be improved by exercises or potions has a long and controversial history. There have also been scientific battles over the claims made for dietary supplements, especially fish oils, and so-called smart drugs. The latter have been shown to cause a short-term increase in IQ but the long-term secondary effects are unknown.

Greenfield's decision to promote MindFit, which will retail for around 70 pounds, follows the release of new scientific research apparently showing clear benefits. In the latest research, conducted at the Sourasky Medical Centre at Tel Aviv University in Israel, 121 volunteers aged over 50 were asked to spend 30 minutes, three times a week, on the computer, over a period of two years. Half were assigned to use MindFit and the other half played sophisticated computer games. The results, released at a recent academic conference and due for formal publication shortly, showed that while all the volunteers benefited from using computer games, the MindFit users "experienced significantly greater improvement in short-term memory, visuo-spatial learning and focused attention".

Greenfield, who also runs an Oxford University laboratory researching the causes of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's, found out about MindFit through her extensive links with Israel and decided to bring it to Britain. "It is clear that there is no drug on the horizon to treat Alzheimer's or age-related mental decline so I have long been interested in seeing whether stimulating the brain might offer a way of Greenfield is launching a program designed in Israel. Kidman, left, is the new face of Nintendo, which already sells Brain Training games slowing down these changes," she said.

Other researchers are also convinced that people can rejuvenate their brain with exercise. Ryuta Kawashima, professor of neuroscience at Tohoku University in Japan, spent 15 years investigating how mental exertion helps the brain grow. His work became the basis of the Brain Training and More Brain Training computer games, produced by Nintendo, the console manufacturer. Nicole Kidman, the actress, fronts its latest British advertising campaign. Nintendo itself makes no formal scientific claims for the programs but Kawashima said in a recent book: "My brain exercises increase the delivery of oxygen, blood and various amino acids to the prefrontal cortex. The result is more neurons and neural connections, which are characteristics of a healthy brain."

Other researchers accept such ideas in principle but warn that any system claiming to boost mental ability must prove itself in clinical trials.


A hated airport

With the possible exception of the Bastille in July 1789, Heathrow Airport appears to have become the most loathed building in history. An extraordinarily wide range of people seem to have nothing but contempt for it. This coalition stretches from City types who condemn the time it takes to pass through check-in and security, more humble folk who find their flights delayed because the place is operating at well above capacity, almost anyone in West London whose life is blighted by aircraft noise to environmentalists who have fingered it as the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the country and who are targeting the place with "direct action" reminiscent of Greenham Common in the 1980s.

And at least some of this criticism is fair. It cannot be said that any of the terminals there are exemplars of architectural beauty (incidentally, when so many people are frightened of flying, was it such a smart idea to call an airline hub a "terminal"?). The security measures are tiresome and open to the charge that they are designed to prevent methods employed in past terrorist attacks being duplicated, rather than to anticipate the techniques that might be devised in future.

The advent of the smoking ban has led to the surreal spectacle of those addicted to the weed not merely being condemned to stand outside but also directed to a ludicrous small white box painted on the pavement which is the only spot where they are allowed to indulge their habit.

Heathrow seems, therefore, to be the only place in Britain which investment bankers, al-Qaeda sympathisers and Friends of the Earth have all decided for various reasons that they would like to be shot of. There is a consensus that the airport and what it represents -- inexpensive flying -- is "unsustainable". Who would be mad enough to defend it and, indeed, the aviation industry more broadly?

I would. For this airport is the victim of an unappealing mixture of hypocrisy and hyperbole. The analogy with Greenham Common is more appropriate than merely the appearance of the professional protesters who turned out then as now. The essential argument of those who set up camp in Berkshire in the early 1980s was that the deployment of cruise missiles on British soil made nuclear war, and with it the destruction of mankind, more probable. This, as history would illustrate, proved to be precisely the wrong thesis. The willingness of the West to match Russian rearmament would actually be the undoing of the Soviet Union. The Camp for Climate Action is similarly aiming its fire at what is a false villain.

There can be fewer hypocrisies greater than the rising percentage of people who claim to agree with the statement that there should be "less flying" and the surging proportion of the public who turn to the websites of easyJet and Ryanair in the hope of finding a seat to Venice for less than the price of a tank of petrol.

When most commentators demand less unnecessary flying, what they really mean is that other people should fly less, or that those poorer than themselves should be forced to fund the "full" cost of their travel through the imposition of new taxation on aviation fuel. It used to be said (correctly) that travel broadened the mind. It has become fashionable instead to portray it as a wanton act of rape and pillage upon the planet. Yet is it? Most serious analysts concede that flying is not at present a significant factor in overall carbon emissions, though they warn darkly that it might well become so at some unspecified moment in the future, with estimates ranging as high as a quarter of the British total of emissions in perhaps no more than two decades.

A sense of proportion here would be helpful. Airline emissions now account for 5.5 per cent of the 2 per cent of global carbon dioxide output for which the United Kingdom is responsible (which is to say, a rather small amount). To ratchet up the 5.5 to a prediction of 25 per cent in 2025 (by which time the UK's percentage of the entire carbon stock is forecast to fall) demands extrapolation that Malthus at his most apocalyptic could not have managed. It involves assuming that the phenomenal increase in passenger numbers of the past 50 years will be maintained at an equivalent rate (which is incredible) and takes little account of technological innovation by the industry. This innovation has already been substantial and there is every incentive for the airlines to continue to clean up further and faster.

So the charge that the present pattern of air travel is "unsustainable" is both true and immaterial. It is true in the sense that low-cost travel of the sort that has become familiar in the past decade will not be reinvented every decade hence, and so will not be sustained. It is immaterial because, even if the Camp for Climate Action were awarded its wish and flying priced out of existence, the effect on the environment would be meagre. It is convenient to pick on a big airport and those who own it, but the reality is that most of us are responsible for more carbon emissions through our lax attitudes to energy efficiency in the home, and more pollution because most of our car journeys are trips of two miles or less.

Heathrow will become a much less hellish experience when Terminal 5 is opened in March and the third runway is finally constructed. It will never rival the Taj Mahal as a visual landmark, nor will standing in line at security ever be enjoyable. But to treat Heathrow as if it were the Bastille and besiege it is crazy. "Let them eat cake" was the wrong response to events in France in the 18th century. "Stop them flying" is scarcely more rational now.


There is a big new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly incorrect themes of race and IQ.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Racist EU

What fun! That old British stirrer, Gerald Hartup, has scored a hit. Hartup regularly draws attention to Leftists violating their own regulations

The European Commission is to remove the comic "What me a racist?" from its Europa website following a complaint from civil liberties group Liberty and Law taken up on its behalf by the Commission for Racial Equality [CRE].

The glossy A4 comic produced in 1998 to combat racism was published in all the official European Union languages. It was "designed for teachers to use when addressing the subject of racism with young people" and has been on its website since 2001.

Liberty and Law complained about the offensive racial caricatures of the black characters portrayed, reminiscent of the treatment given to Africans in Herg,'s 1931 book Tintin in the Congo.

The CRE made rapid progress with the Commission for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. On 21 August the CRE told Liberty and Law that the Commission underlined to them that it was "not their intention to be offensive to any group or individual and are looking into the matter". Just a few hours later Commissioner Spidla's spokesperson asked the Communications Directorate General to remove the comic from its website.

Source. The comics concerned are at the moment still up here.

Romancing Opiates

Post below lifted from Noodlefood. See the original for links

I just began reading Theodore Dalrymple's recent book Romancing Opiates. So far, it's excellent. Most surprising is the fact that -- contrary to all popular belief, fictional portrayals, and media reports -- the symptoms of physical withdrawal from heroin are extremely mild. The addict is not in any danger of dying whatsoever, as with serious alcohol withdrawal. He's not even in any real physical distress.

The distress that addicts do feel is based solely on their beliefs about the withdrawal of the drug: it's purely psychological. Studies have shown that addicts aren't able to tell whether they've been given morphine or placebo, such that symptoms like nervousness and restlessness came and went based on what they were told about the contents of their injection (28).

However, addicts are extremely adept at faking such distress in the hopes of wheedling a prescription from the often-gullible doctor. Most doctors accept the standard view that withdrawal from opiates is a terrible ordeal, despite substantial evidence to the contrary, such as the addicts displaying no great signs of distress when secretly watched by the doctor. So the doctors routinely prescribe the addict drugs like methadone.

In contrast, when the addict is confronted with a doctor like Dalrymple, who refuses such prescriptions and clearly explains his reasons why, some will not only cease their performance of distress, but even "smile and admit with a laugh that anyone who says that cold turkey is a terrible ordeal is lying and more than likely trying to bluff his way to a prescription" (25). Once that is done, other addicts in the ward don't even bother with the attempted deception.

In recent years, doctors have tried to alleviate the non-existent horror of opiate withdrawal by "ultra-short opiate detoxification." (If I recall correctly, this method was featured on House.) Basically, the addict is administered "an opiate antagonist, naloxone, under general anesthesia, followed by continued administration of naloxone for a further forty-eight hours. This [method] ... turns a trivial medical condition, namely 'natural' withdrawal from opiates, into a potentially fatal one, since quite a number of deaths are known to have occurred as a result of it, some clinics that use it having recorded as many as ten deaths" (29). Yikes!

The failure to consider the obvious implications of perceptual observations can have serious consequences in any area of life. In this case, that failure on the part of those in the business of addiction treatment means that a voluntary psychological dysfunction is treated with ineffective, counterproductive, and even life-threatening methods. Lovely, no?

NHS Doctors to be replaced by nurses

Back to the past for childbirth in Britain

The Health Secretary has approved plans to close “vital” hospital services, which will cost lives, an MP has said. A long-running review of NHS services in Greater Manchester and Cheshire ended yesterday with Alan Johnson’s endorsement of an independent panel’s recommendation to close maternity units at Fairfield in Bury, Rochdale Infirmary, Trafford and Salford Hope. Salford will also lose its neonatal intensive-care unit. The Independent Reconfiguration Panel has also backed plans to down-grade Rochdale’s accident and emergency unit and end emergency surgery at Fairfield Hospital. The changes are expected to happen within five years and are likely to mean more home births and deliveries in units staffed by midwives.

Paul Rowen, the Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale, accused Mr Johnson yesterday of “wielding the axe” in Greater Manchester in a cost-cutting exercise. Tens of thousands of people had signed a petition against the closure of the hospital’s maternity unit, he said. “I am furious that we have been ignored.”

The reconfiguration panel said that local NHS trusts should consider creating stand-alone midwife-led units at Bury, Salford and Trafford. But the Royal College of Midwives said that midwifery staff might not cope with the work demands. Margaret Morris, chairwoman of Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, said that she was bitterly disappointed. “While we have always supported the principle of having fewer, larger maternity units and developing three major neonatal units, we believed that Greater Manchester would benefit more by retaining and developing services at Salford Royal,” she said.

Ministers defended the changes. Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary and MP for Salford, said that she was “very pleased” that her constituency was in line to have a stand-alone midwife-led unit. In December Ms Blears joined picket lines to protest over proposals to close the maternity unit at Hope Hospital, despite supporting the national policy on maternity changes. She said yesterday: “As a local MP I have made representations at every stage to ensure that babies can still be born in Salford, and this is still the case.”

The Department of Health said that the changes to the region’s emergency services would be supported by investment of 38 million. An additional 60 million will be invested in maternity, the department added.

Andrew Lansley, the Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, called on the Government to put the hospital cuts on hold until it could “produce the evidence to justify them”. He said: “These cuts have been justified on the basis of what are safe staffing levels, but in other areas similar-sized units are allegedly under no threat. Doctors said yesterday that the changes could save up to 30 babies a year, while NHS managers denied cost-cutting, saying that new services would require more investment, not less.


Saturday, August 25, 2007


They are pro-Muslim to the point of absurdity

How did the Crown Prosecution Service and West Midlands Police come to refer Channel 4's Dispatches programme, Undercover Mosque, to Ofcom? It is one of the most bizarre decisions taken by public authorities in recent times. Having decided that they could not or would not prosecute the purveyors of Wahhabite hate speech portrayed in the film - mostly from the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham - they instead turned round on the documentary-makers and investigated them for allegedly stirring up racial hatred.

This controversy will run and run. Tomorrow the Edinburgh International Television Festival hosts a seminar, Don't Mention Islam, at which one of the star turns will be the man at the heart of the fuss, Kevin Sutcliffe, deputy head of news and current affairs at Channel 4.

Paul Goodman, MP, the Shadow Communities Minister, yesterday piled on the pressure, writing to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Effectively, he inquired whether the Saudi Government and its proxies - which are desperately sensitive about the role of Saudi religious institutions portrayed in the documentary - have made representations about Undercover Mosque (shown on Channel 4 in January) to the Government or to other national and local agencies. And how, he asked, have civil servants, acting officially or unofficially, responded to these complaints?

In a packed seminar at Policy Exchange last week, speaker after speaker denounced West Midlands Police for shooting the messenger and for appeasing some of the most sectarian elements in their force area. Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West, who courageously led the fight against the proposed religious hatred Bill, charged that this constabulary has "form" over defending certain liberties: it apparently equated the Sikh protesters who sought the cancellation of the allegedly blasphemous play Behzti at Birmingham's Repertory Theatre in 2004 with those seeking to maintain theatrical freedom.

So once again, it was the poor "Old Bill" that got it in the neck, rather than the CPS - which was at least an equal partner in the process. This is no doubt unfair. But it does illustrate how damaging it is for police forces, perhaps more than any other public bodies, to blunder into such controversies.

The peculiarity here is that the senior officers of West Midlands Police are not exactly dedicated followers of political fashion. Thus, Sir Paul Scott-Lee, the Chief Constable, has been known to tell a home secretary where to go when that department sought to push him beyond his remit as a police officer. Indeed, Sir Paul is so much his own man that the Director-General of the Security Service, Jonathan Evans, went to see him not long ago to urge him to reorder his force priorities - and devote more resources to the "sexier" topic of counter-terrorism. The Assistant Chief Constable who led this investigation, Anil Patani, is a cautious fellow with no apparent ideological agenda. Indeed, when West Midlands Police suspect a real threat, they can act quickly and efficiently - as I have seen myself in the case of one Muslim associate in Birmingham who was endangered recently.

But it is in the area of "soft power" that West Midlands Police, like so many other forces, is at its weakest. According to Whitehall reports, the broader Midlands region has seen some of the most dramatic recent "spikes" in radicalisation of Muslims anywhere in the country. West Midlands Police is desperate to get to grips with that trend through intensified "community engagement". As part of that, it has selected what it deems to be "credible" Muslim "partners" who can help to "deliver" young Muslims - youths who might otherwise take a walk on the wild side. The trouble is that policemen are too often insufficiently discerning in their choice of "partners". They are not best equipped to "pick winners" - often plumping for the loudest voices. Thus, the West Midlands Police website lists the Birmingham Central Mosque as its official partner - whose chairman, Mohammed Naseem, believes in all sorts of dottinesses, such as the claim that Muslims were not responsible for 9/11 and 7/7 (though he condemned terrorism against innocents).

Much the same official mindset was on offer at a Wilton Park conference sponsored by the Foreign Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government late last February, Countering Terrorism in Europe and North America: How Can a Community-Based Approach be Developed? According to one official, officers from West Midlands commended to the gathering the efforts of two Muslims whom they stated were from the Green Lane mosque.

Neither man appears in the Dispatches programme; perhaps they were horrified by what some of their co-religionists said there. If so, they appear not to have stated it publicly. When these officers from West Midlands gave them such favourable references at the Wilton Park conference, was the force already investigating some of those elements at the mosque for alleged hate speech? What balance of forces was West Midlands Police - in conjunction with other elements of government - seeking to foster in the mosque? Has Channel 4 been an inadvertent casualty of that? Whose poor advice did the force take before stepping on this landmine?

West Midlands Police, like another force or security agency, will obviously do everything it can to stop bombs going off. Sometimes that means supping with some people who don't necessarily come up to the antiracist, antihomophobic standards of postMacpherson policing. But rubbing shoulders with such elements in back alleys is not the same as according them public recognition. By referring this matter to Ofcom, West Midlands Police showed that its preferred associates in the Muslim community are Wahhabites and assorted radical Islamists rather than the nonsectarian Muslim mainstream. It is a choice that is profoundly demoralising for genuine moderates and will ultimately undermine, rather than strengthen the very community cohesion that the force seeks.

Above all, the referral caters to the sense of "victim culture" peddled by the Muslim Council of Britain and others: that our current discontents are caused as much by media sensationalism and "Islamophobia" as by Islamist ideology itself. It will reinforce that strain of opinion within the MCB that holds that mosques and other institutions don't need to clean up their act. It is often said that war is too important to be left to the generals. The case of Channel 4's Undercover Mosque surely proves that community cohesion is far too important to be left to the CPS and the police.


Don't have a stroke in Britain

Patients who suffer strokes receive worse treatment in Britain than anywhere else in Western Europe. More die and more are left disabled, a leading expert says in this week's British Medical Journal, even though Britain spends as much as, if not more than, other countries on stroke care. The gap is wide, according to Hugh Markus, of St George's University of London medical school. One study showed that 15 to 30 per cent more stroke patients were left dead or disabled in Britain than in other countries.

Professor Markus identifies several possible reasons for the failure. European countries with better results tend to focus more on the care of patients immediately after a stroke, while in Britain the vast majority of money is spent on nursing and hospital overheads, and little on investigations or treatments. Stroke care is a "Cinderella subject" in Britain, falling between neurology and general and geriatric medicine, he says, whereas elsewhere it is an integral part of neurology. This lack of interest may have led to underinvestment and, therefore, poor outcomes.

New treatments that can help patients to recover from a stroke make the failings even more significant. In strokes caused by clots blocking the blood supply to the brain (ischaemic strokes) the use of clot-busting drugs is effective, but patients must first be scanned to determine what sort of stroke they have suffered. All hospitals have scanners, but struggle to scan stroke patients within 24 hours. For a patient to be treated with clot-busting drugs, the scan must be performed within three hours.

In many countries in Europe, and in North America and Australia, 20 to 30 per cent of patients get these drugs. In Britain the figure is less than 1 per cent. Britain also treats fewer patients in dedicated stroke units than other countries, though setting up such units costs nothing and there is abundant evidence that they improve outcomes.

The audit by the Royal College of Physicians found that fewer than two thirds of stroke patients were treated in stroke units, and only a little more than half spent more than half of their stay in such a unit. The benefits include early rehabilitation, access to physiotherapy and staff experienced in stroke care.

Jim Whyte, who had a stroke ten years ago at the age of 55, spent 27 weeks in hospital - only the last five in a specialist unit. Mr Whyte, from Enfield, North London, was treated at Chase Farm Hospital. "Once I got into the specialist unit I had physiotherapy twice a day, speech therapy and training on how to manage for myself." The best help he gets these days, he says, comes from a local stroke club, whose members help one another with advice. He said: "That's something the NHS didn't think of. When I left hospital I was given nothing in the way of information, about how to avoid a second stroke, that sort of thing. Things may have got better since, but we've still got a long way to go."

A significant challenge, Professor Markus says, is to change the perception of stroke among doctors and the public. Scanning units should be available 24 hours a day, and to achieve this regional specialist centres may be needed. Such changes have been achieved for heart care, so it is not impossible, he says, but it calls for commitment and a reorganisation of services, which have so far been lacking.

Joe Korner, director of communications at the Stroke Association, said that the present situation was unacceptable. "For many years the Stroke Association has been concerned about the UK's poor record in stroke care compared to other countries," he said. "That is why we have been campaigning hard to try to improve stroke services. "The Government, with a new stroke strategy in development, has shown a commitment to improving the future of stroke care across the UK. But it is vital that stroke gets the priority and investment it needs. "Without investment hundreds will die needlessly. Public awareness of stroke also needs to be increased so that people can recognise the warning signs."

Dawn Primarolo, the Health Minister, said: "In the last ten years the treatment of stroke in the NHS has progressed rapidly - more patients than ever before are being seen by stroke specialists, numbers of stroke deaths are falling and advancing medical understanding gives every prospect for a real revolution in stroke treatment over the next few years. "The National Stroke Strategy - setting out proposals for modernising stroke prevention, treatment and care - is currently out to consultation. "It was developed with the Stroke Association and stroke survivors and carers, and was debated by Parliament. It follows 20 million pounds invested in improved research into stroke and additional tools and support for hospitals on stroke prevention. "Although we have more improvement to make to the numbers of people given clot-busting thrombo-lytic drugs, there are hospitals, such as King's College, that are matching the best in the world."


Childish Greenie "protesters"

Hard as it may seem to believe, I was a Direct Action Man in my time. In the 1980s I went on many a march, protest, picket line, blockade and occupation - in support of striking miners, nurses and students, against wars, invasions and police brutality, in defence of abortion rights, immigrants and free speech. And I would not apologise for any of it. Anybody with an idealistic bone in his youthful body ought to have taken some direct action, along with the drugs. However, at the risk of sounding like a grey talking head on the "Grumpy Old Marxists" show, I feel obliged to point out that young eco-protester puppies today don't know they are born, are degrading the good name of direct action, and would not know a police state if they found one in their muesli.

The news has been full of spokespersons from the Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow comparing their campaign of direct action with noble struggles of the past. One summed up the camp's aims as being "to show it's possible and pleasurable to live sustainably" (the joys of the composting toilet), and "to show that non-violent direct action works. Civil disobedience has in the past led to things like black people getting the vote."

Grow up and get an education. The campaign against Heathrow expansion bears no comparison to those that led to "things like black people getting the vote". Direct action is neither good nor bad in principle. It is just a tactic, used by all manner of protest movements. What matters most are the political aims and outlook informing the protests. In the past, direct action was employed by people fighting to defend their own interests - working people struggling for jobs and better pay, women demanding the vote, black people seeking civil rights. The pursuit of self-interest was the driving force for political change. Others such as we on the Left supported their struggles, but we acted in solidarity, not as self-appointed substitutes for the miners or disadvantaged minorities.

Today, by contrast, to take political action in your own interests seems frowned upon as greedy, even sleazy. Instead, the Heathrow protesters insist that they are acting altruistically "on behalf of" others, speaking for the "voiceless" - the poor of the developing world, unborn generations, or simply the planet. A picture from the weekend captures the essence of this direct-action-by-indirect-proxy. It shows a group of white, apparently well-heeled protesters, beneath a banner declaring "We are armed . . . only with peer-reviewed science" (we went armed with political arguments), while they carry huge posters of the supposed victims of climate change on whose behalf they are protesting - mostly impoverished-looking Africans and Asians.

Call me an old cynic, but these protesters look like the ones cynically exploiting the plight of the poor in the developing world, dragging them symbolically in front of the cameras to act as a stage army justifying their march through a field in suburban England. Because, of course, you don't really give the "voiceless" a voice - you speak and act for them, whether they want you to do so or not. Exactly how many of the impoverished global masses have been consulted about the Heathrow camp set up on their behalf? Did those whose placards boldly declared "You Fly - They Die" ask the millions of Africans and Asians who are dying to fly? And can we be certain that the hungry-looking people depicted in those posters really agree with one camp spokeswoman that "we have had enough of the prioritisation of economic growth over the future of the planet"?

Once, when I debated these issues with George Monbiot, a leading green writer, he declared that they had to take action for the sake of "the unborn". I pointed out that this apparently democratic mandate amounted to signing themselves a blank cheque to do as they see fit, since the unborn were hardly in a position to disagree or vote them down from the moral high ground.

The "grassroots" protest movement at Heathrow turns out to be an egotistical posture from self-appointed saviours who imagine that they are floating above the ignorant masses, acting for the planet. It might seem odd that such high-profile protests take place at a time of low-level interest in politics. In fact they are two sides of the same coin. Gestures of disengaged direct action, such as occupying the BAA car park in the middle of the night, are not trying to win an argument with anybody. They are media stunts designed to demonstrate that the protesters are parked on the side of the angels, armed with the (self) righteous sword of "peer-reviewed science" to smite anybody in their path.

This apparent taste for the dictatorship of an expert elite over the great unaware might be rather sinister if we took them seriously. But despite the high-minded declarations, these protesters are only playing at politics. There were not many clown outfits in evidence among the Sunday-best suits on the 1963 March on Washington.

Yet such are the rising levels of self-deluded preciousness among the protesters that some seem to believe they were subjected to historic levels of police oppression, because some officers "acted aggressively". They might care to look at what happened in the past when protests challenged the Establishment - the direct action did not remain nonviolent for long once the riot police started swinging. By contrast, eco-protests are now so mainstream and respectable that they are treated with kid gloves rather than the old iron fist. The only ones to receive that treatment in recent years were the pro-hunting protesters outside Parliament - they were the "wrong" sort of conservationists.

The last time there was real direct action at Heathrow was exactly two years ago, when the in-flight catering firm Gate Gourmet sacked 670 mostly Asian women workers, and baggage handlers and other ground staff walked out to support them. The activists who now march behind pictures of hard-pressed Asian women were nowhere to be seen. But the logic of their protests is that all such self-interested airport workers should be sacked. Such is the difference between direct action taken in solidarity, and that staged out of sanctimony.


It's official: the British masses are not gullible

A new British government survey suggests that lots of us have an agnostic or atheist attitude to the cult of environmentalism

In spring 2007, researchers commissioned by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) interviewed 3,600 English people for an average of 51 minutes each about green issues (1).

As ever with market surveys, the content and style of questions asked, and the claims made in response to them, should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Still, the researchers' findings, which were published yesterday, are very revealing. Despite the incessant political and media barrage to make us all change our ignorant habits in relation to the environment, it appears that the English often keep a cool head about global warming. However, the results suggest that, at the same time, we now feel enough personal guilt to adopt, in everyday life, many of the pious rituals of environmental correctness. We are quite rational about climate change doom-mongering, and yet we're happy to change our behaviour in response to it.

Remarkably, people are less concerned about the environment than they were when DEFRA last conducted a similar survey, in 2001. Then, when asked without prompting what were the most important issues for the government to fix, 25 per cent mentioned the environment; today the figure is down to 19 per cent.

Thankfully, too, today's popular sense of impotence in the face of impending doom is very modest: only 17 per cent strongly agreed or tended to agree that it's too late to do anything about climate change. And 67 per cent said that humanity can find ways to solve environmental problems. A striking 19 per cent said they were convinced that scientists would find a solution to global warming without people having to make big changes to their lifestyles.

In the face of all the finger-wagging injunctions to change our carbon-producing behaviour, about a quarter of the survey respondents didn't believe that their lifestyles contributed to climate change; 18 per cent said that going green `takes too much effort'. More than two thirds said that buying food produced locally, rather than food produced abroad, would have little impact on the UK's contribution to climate change.

On the flipside, a solid 75 per cent said that more insulation and less energy use in the home, along with recycling and using cars and planes less, could have a major impact on the UK's contribution to climate change. But this sentiment was predicated on the idea that, for that kind of impact to happen, most people in UK would have to adopt such measures. And here, some commendable realism was on display. While more than half the respondents held that a lot or quite a lot of people would be willing to recycle their rubbish more or take new steps on the insulation of their homes, just 17 per cent thought that many would be willing to drive less - and only 13 per cent thought many would be willing to fly less.

Greens would say these attitudes show selfishness or cynicism. I think they show a refreshing refusal to tow the official line on climate. It's great to hear that 24 per cent threw PC etiquette to the winds and insisted they `didn't really' want to cut down on their use of cars. Intransigence about flying was even higher: 32 per cent didn't really want to cut down on their use of planes. A sizable minority of English people wants to get out more and refuses, it seems, to conform to today's green orthodoxy. And how many felt guilty about taking short-haul flights? Just 17 per cent.

However, the more worrying aspect of DEFRA's research concerns the claims people made about their own behaviour. Judging by their responses, people appear to have bought and then mentally internalised the view that it is consumers, rather than employers, who are to blame for environmental problems. However much rationality suggests that serious changes to levels of carbon emissions, for example, can only be made in the domain of energy supply, today's culture has successfully encouraged a majority to go through the irrational motions of saving the planet through cutting back on their personal energy demand (2).

Of course, when 71 per cent said they were personally recycling more, that may have been because their local council insists on such a policy. And when more than half said they had moved to low-energy light bulbs, or had taken to switching off equipment when not in use, that may reflect misguided hopes that they will significantly lower electricity bills, rather than still more misguided hopes that these actions will make a difference to the Earth's temperature. No fewer than 81 per cent of those surveyed strongly agreed or tended to agree that people have a duty to recycle.

The survey's seemingly contradictory findings are revealing. On one hand, people are quite robustly sceptical about the need to prioritise the environment over other important issues, and they believe that, with the help of science, we can deal with changes in the climate. And many of us do not believe that we are responsible for climatic doom, whatever the greens tell us. On the other hand, people claim to be carrying out new eco-rituals, such as recycling more and wasting less food. This shows up the religious character of environmentalism: we get on with our lives, but we feel guilty about doing so, and we try to offset that guilt by doing things we know won't make a great deal of difference. Quite a few people seem to have an atheist or agnostic attitude towards the cult of environmentalism, but that hasn't prevented them from believing that to consume is so sinful that one must perform Hail Marys at all hours of the day. That kind of saintliness has no impact on environmental degradation, of course. But it does degrade our minds, our conversations and our ambitions.


Some justice -- The lost-luggage airline is also now the out-of-pocket airline: "British Airways was fined $US300 million yesterday after pleading guilty to antitrust charges and admitting fixing some prices on international flights. Britain's largest airline could have faced fines closer to $US900 million but the US Justice Department credited the company with cooperating in the case. A federal judge agreed. Representatives of British Airways pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy for colluding with rivals to fix fuel surcharges on international flights. Earlier this month, authorities in London announced $US246 million in fines for the company in the parallel trans-Atlantic investigations. As part of its plea deal, British Airways is admitting that between mid-2004 and early 2006, it colluded with Virgin Atlantic over the surcharges, which were added to fares in response to rising oil prices. Virgin Atlantic is not named in the Justice Department case and is not expected to face a fine in Britain because it reported the misconduct to authorities."

Pathetic Britain is riddled with gang crime and they worry about this: "Two 21-year-old women will appear at Chichester Crown Court to answer charges of outraging public decency after they lifted their tops and exposed their chests to CCTV cameras as they sat on a beach. The gesture at Worthing, West Sussex, last month could lead to a six-month jail sentence for Abbi-Louise Maple and Rachel Marchant. The prosecution told Worthing magistrates that two 15-year-old boys were walking past when the women flashed, and that there was a family play area near by. The women deny the charges."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Speculation as news

It is worth noting that the Sunday Times, it seems, went into hyperventilation mode yesterday, with a front-page article headed, "Britain faces Iraq rout says US." It then picked up the theme in a focus piece, this one headed "Army chiefs fear Iraq exit will be Britain's Saigon moment," telling us that: "British troops will start to pull back from Basra next month, and the withdrawal is predicted to be 'ugly and embarrassing'".

However, not only are both pieces co-authored by Mick Smith, the man who thought RG-31s were "too big for Basra", with Washington input from Sarah Baxter, the pair rely for the substance of their reports on an American called Stephen Biddle. He, it appears, is the "US".

Yet, although he is described as a "military adviser to president George W Bush", he is no such thing. The best he can claim - like many of his ilk - is to have presented "briefings" to the president and senior political and military leaders - as well as "White House staff". This Washington-speak for being one of the numerous denizens of the beltway who is called upon by the White House and the Pentagon to air his views. By no measure can he be considered an "advisor" in the sense that his views are either influential or trusted - or in any way representative of the official US view.

More prosaically, Biddle is a senior fellow in defence policy at the left-leaning Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). According to a 2006 paper, he was a strong critic of Bush's prosecution of the war in Iraq but, in a presentation to the House of Representatives in July, he was edging to qualified support of the surge.

Nothing of the main thesis that the two Sunday Times journalists have to offer, therefore, has any more status than informed (but sometimes partisan) speculation from a minor-league American academic.

More here

Don't get cancer in Britain

Cancer patients in almost all European countries survive longer after diagnosis than those in the UK. Only Eastern Europe does worse. The results are bad news for the NHS Cancer Plan, implemented in 2000. Some of the latest results include patients treated after the plan began, but fail to show significant changes in relative success rates. The Lancet Oncology, in which the new data is published, does not pull its punches. "So has the cancer plan worked?" it asks. "The short answer is seemingly No."

The new information comes from a group called Eurocare, which organises the largest cooperative study across Europe of cancer patients. In The Lancet Oncology, the group publishes two analyses, one covering patients whose disease was diagnosed between 1995 and 1999, and the second covering those between 2000 and 2002. In general, five-year survival (generally a proxy for "cure") is highest in Nordic Countries and Central Europe, intermediate in southern Europe, lower in the UK and Ireland, and lowest of all in Eastern Europe.

Countries that spend more on health generally do better, but Denmark and Britain have lower survival rates than other countries that spend comparable amounts. The study finds that the gaps have narrowed since the last survey but they remain significant.

Europe's survival rates are lower than in the US, where 66.3 per cent of men and 62.9 per cent of women survive for five years, compared with 47.3 per cent of European men and 55.8 per cent of women. These figures may represent earlier diagnosis.


British schools dodging core subjects

The proportion of pupils obtaining five good GCSEs in core subjects is in long-term decline, research suggests. As 600,000 pupils prepare to open their GCSE results tomorrow, a new analysis of the trends in results shows a widening gap between the pass rate for five good GCSEs in any subject and for pass rate when fundamental subjects such as maths and science are included. The proportion of students gaining five good (A*-C) GCSEs including English, maths, science and a language, has fallen from 61 per cent in 1996 to 44 per cent last year. Over the same period the overall pass rate for five good GCSEs in any subject has risen from 44 to 58 per cent. Tomorrow's results are expected to show another rise.

Michael Gove, the Tory education spokesman, who carried out the analysis, said the results suggested that schools were trying to maximise their league table position by moving away from core subjects, the very subjects that universities and employers were looking for most. Heads are accused of entering students for "easier" vocational courses - which can be worth more than four GCSEs each in the league tables. "These figures emphasise the importance of truly robust measurements of achievement. The decline in core subjects marks a worrying trend and underlines the need for teaching to focus on the neglected basics," Mr Gove said.

The Conservative analysis shows that, although the proportion of pupils getting five or more good GCSEs in any subject has increased by 13.6 percentage points in the past decade, the improvement when English and mathematics are taken into account is less than ten points. Figures including English, maths and science have improved by only 5.4 percentage points on the period. Figures including English, mathematics, science and a modern foreign language, have declined since 1996, by 1.5 points.

Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, rejected the Tory analysis as "cheap spin". As modern foreign languages were no longer compulsory at GCSE, it made no sense to include them in any new league table of results, he said. "Adding any optional GCSE in and then using this as evidence of failure simply undermines the real achievements of teachers, schools and pupils," he said. "The number of children achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths has risen substantially since 1997, and our new tough measures will show the proportion achieving grade C or above in a modern foreign language as well as science."

At the heart of the disagreement between the Government and the Opposition lies a fundamental disagreement over how best to measure school performance. Last year ministers took the bold step of introducing a new, deliberately tougher benchmark showing how schools were performing in the basics of literacy and numeracy. By this measure, only 45 per cent of pupils achieved five good GCSE passes, including English and maths - considerably less than the 58 per cent of pupils achieving five good passes in any subject, the traditional measure. Later this year the Government will add science passes to its basic measure of success. The Tories, however, want an even greater emphasis on core, or traditional subjects.

Alan Smithers, Professor of Education at the University of Buckingham, agreed that merely measuring how many pupils got five good GCSEs in any subject was no longer satisfactory, as this masked weaknesses in the basics. "You could take an NVQ in ICT [information and communication technology] and this would be worth the equivalent of four GCSEs," he said. But he questioned the Tory analysis: "It is stretching a point to include modern foreign languages, as these are not compulsory." Professor Smithers added, however, that he expected this year's maths results to be disappointing. Last year the pass rate in maths was lower than for all other main subjects, as more than 343,000 pupils (45.7 per cent) failed to gain even a C.


Illegals still pouring into Britain

The Government failed last year to meet its target of deporting more failed asylum-seekers than the number of people who arrived with unfounded claims. A total of 20,700 individuals, including dependants, were recorded as failed asylum-seekers last year but only 18,280 were removed. The Home Office blamed the failure to meet the target on the focus of the Border and Immigration Agency to deport foreign prisoners who had completed their sentences. Almost one third of those who left in the second quarter of this year did so under a voluntary returns scheme in which each was given up to £1,500 to go. Opposition politicans accused ministers of allowing the asylum and immigration system to run “out of control”.

The number of failed asylum-seekers who were deported in the second quarter of this year fell by 7 per cent and was 36 per cent fewer than the same quarter last year. The number of work permit-holders and dependants increased by 6 per cent to 145,000 last year. The numbers of students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) rose by 9 per cent to 309,000 and there was an 8 per cent increase in visitors from outside the EEA to 7.4 million.

The foreign prisoners fiasco of 2005 involved more than a thousand offenders being freed from jail without being considered for deportation, and led to the sacking of Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary. Tony McNulty, a Home Office Minister, defended the Government’s policies and said that there had been a reduction in asylum applications last year and an overall increase in removals of people who were in Britain illegally.

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said that the figures showed that the immigration and asylum system was out of control. He said: “Not only are the Government missing their own, artificially hand-picked target of removing more failed asylum-seekers than arrive, but at the same time they are neglecting to deal with other crises — like the foreign prisoner debacle.”


UK More "Islamophobic" Than US & EU: "Britons are more suspicious of Muslims than Americans and other Europeans, according to a poll for the Financial Times newspaper published on Monday. Just 59 percent believe it is possible to be a Muslim and a citizen of their country, a smaller proportion than in France, Germany, Spain, Italy or the US - the other countries surveyed. The poll findings suggests terrorist plots against the UK, including the deadly 7 July 2005 London bombings, have hardened attitudes towards Muslims living in Britain. [Odd that!]

Brits fleeing crazy Britain: "The number of UK residents leaving the country in search of a better life abroad has soared and migration experts said that this year's non-existent summer [Global cooling?] will only add to the exodus. Figures released today by the Office of National Statistics showed that 385,000 people left Britain in 2005-2006, more than in any year since the current method of counting was introduced in 1991. Of those, around a quarter of a million were British, although there was a sharp increase in those of foreign origin leaving the country. The flow of long-term migrants into the UK hit 574,000 - 25,000 lower than in the previous year - meaning that there was net immigration of around 190,000. Last year, about 3,000 nurses and midwives left Britain to work in Australia - more than double the number making the same trip ten years ago. Around 8,000 nurses emigrated to work abroad last year."