Friday, February 29, 2008

Robber caught by bikers

If this had happened in batty Britain, the police would have arrested the bikers for "assaulting" the robber. Don't believe it? See here

A BIKER who crash-tackled an armed man to the ground after he tried to hold up a club in Sydney says the bandit "picked the wrong night" for a robbery. The Southern Cross Cruiser Club was holding a meeting at a club in Regents Park, in Sydney's west, when two men armed with machetes stormed in and approached staff at the bar.

The group of about 50 motorcycle enthusiasts was in another room when they were alerted to the alleged robbery. "I was in the middle of giving my meeting and someone ran in and said, 'The place is being robbed'," club president Jester said on ABC radio. He said while one alleged offender jumped over a balcony and ran into a nearby park, the other man tried to escape through a roller door at the front of the club. "So we ran around the roller door out the front and as this guy opened the roller door, we crash tackled him in the doorway," Jester said.

The man managed to escape after being knocked to the ground and tried to climb a fence out of the property, Jester said. "He fell on my arm so I let him go and he got up, so we chased him to the fence," he said. "We caught him at the fence and crash-tackled him and hog-tied him to the ground and waited for the police to get there." Jester said the man had picked the wrong night for the alleged robbery. "If they'd only looked, right when they walked in the main door, they would have seen 40 or 50 of us sitting there. "Obviously they couldn't see out of the balaclavas, because they didn't even look. I don't think he did his homework very well."

Jester praised the efforts of Auburn police, who he said were at the scene in a matter of minutes. The officers later located the other alleged robber in a nearby street. One of the men sustained minor injuries and was under police guard in Westmead Hospital this morning. The other man was being questioned by police.


Brainwashed kids in Britain

British children, well versed in the effects of climate change, are putting pressure on older generations to act now to halt environmental decline. New research shows 95% of children aged between 4 and 15 were 'concerned' by global warming, with more than half 'very concerned'. And three out of four respondents believed they were more fluent on the subject than their parents.

The eco-conscious youngsters, dubbed 'Greenagers', now want to put more pressure on older generations to take a lead in environmental decision-making. Some 70% of those polled believed climate change is something that will affect them in their lifetime. Another 85% thought people should be more concerned about the issue and 96% believed it is important to encourage other people to be more environmentally friendly.

The research has been conducted by the UK kids' channel Nickelodeon as part of their environmental campaign called 'Nick's Big Green Thing'. The channel has launched a week of programming to encourage children to create a greener environment. One of the week's hosts, acclaimed adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild, was delighted to see the youngest generation were paying attention to the subject of global warming.

He said: "Our climates changing quicker than anyone ever expected and we can't afford to ignore the signs. "The good news is we have the solutions and this research proves that kids are taking action helping to create more stable environmental conditions for our future generations."

The survey further showed that more than half (59%) of children were aware of the concept of a 'carbon footprint' and were keen to alter their home life in order to reduce it. Better recycling, switching off lights in empty rooms, avoiding car travel and reducing the use of household appliances all polled highly.

Despite the awarness of home environmental initiatives, the respondents felt that they learned more about the environment from school teachers rather than their parents.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

British police useless at real policing

Persecuting ordinary decent people is all that they are good at

The man convicted yesterday of murdering two women and trying to kill a third was left free to continue his campaign of violence against women because of basic investigative errors by police. Levi Bellfield was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering Marsha McDonnell, 19, and Amelie Delagrange, 22, and attempting to murder Kate Sheedy. He was then identified as the prime suspect for the unsolved murder of the schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

A Scotland Yard task force has been set up to investigate Bellfield's possible connection to a series of 20 murders, attempted murders and other attacks dating back 25 years. Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton said that Bellfield was a dangerous man and that women would be safer now that he was behind bars. He stalked his victims, all young and blonde, as they waited for - or stepped off - buses late at night. Police said that they expected more victims of Bellfield, 39, a wheelclamper, to come forward after his picture was published widely for the first time.

As officers promised to uncover the full extent of Bellfield's crimes, it became clear that vital clues were missed that could have led to his arrest two years before he was eventually detained. Four officers from the Metropolitan Police have been reprimanded for serious errors in the inquiry into the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy in Isleworth in May 2004, three months before Miss Delagrange's death. Bellafield had attacked Miss Sheedy, now 21, with his car, knocking her down then driving over her twice. The Independent Police Complaints Commission found that officers had looked at the wrong day's CCTV footage, thereby failing to spot Bellfield's car stalking Miss Sheedy.

The Times has learnt that the written warning given to one officer was considered so serious that it was handed down by a Deputy Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard.

Police in Surrey investigating Milly Dowler's death failed to follow up on house-to-house inquries that could have led them to Bellfield in 2002 - before the murders of Miss McDonnell in 2003 and Miss Delagrange in 2004. They called 11 times at the house of Emma Mills, Bellfield's girlfriend, but after being told that she had moved they did not trace her new address. Miss Mills was by then living with Bellfield in West Drayton, West London. She has since been able to tell police that she owned a red Daewoo car of the kind seen on CCTV near Walton station on the day that Milly went missing. The car was reported stolen four days later. It has also emerged that a man in a similar car attempted to abduct a girl in the area the day before Milly disappeared.

A previous girlfriend of Bellfield's had a daughter who was a schoolfriend of Milly. The schoolgirl had been to her classmate's for tea and was thought to have met Bellfield. Miss Mills is also understood to have told detectives that, on the night of Milly's disappearance, Bellfield got out of bed at 4am and told her that he was going "to take care of the dog" at her flat in Walton. Detectives think this might have been when Bellfield went to dispose of Milly's body. Her remains were found in September 2002 in woods at Yateley Heath, Hampshire, an area known to Bellfield, who attended car auctions nearby.

Surrey police have issued a fresh appeal for information about the Daewoo car and are offering a œ50,000 reward for evidence leading to the conviction of Milly's murderer. Bob and Sally Dowler, Milly's parents, appealed for new witnesses to come forward. They said: "Milly was a loved and loving daughter and sister. She had every right to expect a happy, rich life ahead of her. As parents, how could we imagine anything else? We are pleading for anyone who knows anything to have the courage to speak up."

Surrey police sources emphasised that nothing had emerged in 2002 to make Bellfield a suspect. At the time he had nine previous convictions and there was intelligence to suggest that he made silent phone calls to women. "He was way off the radar, it was not until he was picked up in connection with the Amelie Delagrange murder that he began to be a possible suspect," said one source.

Bellfield was caught eventually by a combination of painstaking detective work and a bizarre stroke of luck. A police telephone hotline set up after the murder of Miss Delagrange received 129 calls from women who suspected that men they knew might be the killer. One woman said that Bellfield, who had violently attacked her during their relationship, was capable of killing women. At the same time officers were studying CCTV pictures from the streets around Twickenham Green on the night of the young French woman's murder. They appeared to show that she was followed by a white Ford Courier van but were too blurred to yield the vehicle's numberplate or driver. A smudge on the roof and two aluminium rear plates were the only things to mark it out from 26,000 similar vehicles in Britain.

The search for the van produced information about a wheelclamper who had bought a similar van for cash a few months earlier. The man had left his mobile phone number with the vehicle's previous owner. Then came the stroke of luck. When the phone number was punched into the police intelligence system, it matched with the number of a man who had called the antiterrorist hotline months earlier to report suspicions about his neighbour. The man was Levi Bellfield - the same name given by the woman caller. Surveillance revealed that his white van had similar markings to the one caught on CCTV.

His phone had also rung moments before Miss Delagrange was attacked. Bellfield, whose awareness of forensic science meant that he normally had his phone off before attacking his victims, immediately switched it off. But both the call and the act of switching the phone off left traces on the network that placed Bellfield at the murder scene. When police raided his home to arrest him in November 2004 they found him cowering in the loft.

The jury was unable to reach verdicts in connection with two other attacks, on Anna-Maria Rennie, then 17, in Whitton, South West London, in October 2001, and Irma Dragoshi, then 33, in December 2003. There was no evidence that any of his victims had been sexually assaulted.


British Gas broke into our house, say couple who owed them nothing

An Englishman's home is a long way from being his castle these days

When David Houghton returned home from a holiday, he was horrified to find the lock on his front door had been picked. But it wasn't thieves who had broken into his home. It was British Gas. The energy giant had taken the drastic - and perfectly legal - step in a row over an unpaid bill, even though it later emerged that Mr Houghton did not owe the company a penny.

The 34-year-old's nightmare began in July 2005, when he bought a two-bedroom flat in Willesden Green, North London, with his girlfriend Abby Simpson. He immediately decided to ditch the property's contract with British Gas for a better deal with rivals EDF. But the British Gas computer system wrongly continued to bill the couple. Mr Houghton dealt with numerous threats of legal action and visits from the bailiffs, before a personal apology from the energy giant's managing director, Phil Bentley, convinced him that his troubles were over.

But when the couple went on a long weekend to New York in June last year, they returned home to a nasty surprise. While they were away, British Gas had swapped their meter for a pay-as-you-go version. To do so, an engineer and locksmith had sneaked into the flat by picking the locks on the front door and an internal door. They then left a note informing the couple what they had done. British Gas switches customers to pay-as-you go meters if they consistently fail to pay their bills.

Investigators have since worked out that it was the occupants of the next-door flat who owed the money to British Gas. The company has now apologised, blaming the bungle on incorrect records at the National Grid and problems with the address at Royal Mail. It has also given Mr Houghton and Miss Simpson 200 pounds.

However, the watchdog Energywatch last night demanded that the gas supplier fully compensate the couple. Mr Houghton said: "I am totally disgusted and bewildered by their behaviour. "I spoke to manager after manager at their call centres and each time was promised the problem had been sorted out." Between 2005 and the break-in two years later, the bill demands rose from 90 to 900 pounds. Mr Houghton said: "We sent them letters in response but then the bailiffs came round trying to get access."

A spokesman for the company claimed last night that the Gas Act allows workers to break into a customer's home to change the meter, providing he or she has been warned in advance. However, Mr Houghton claims he was never notified. He added: "It felt so intrusive that they had been in our flat and could have gone into every room if they'd wanted to.

"I called the police, who said they weren't interested because nothing had been taken." Graham Kerr, a spokesman for Energywatch, said: "Mr Houghton and his partner have had appalling treatment from British Gas. "Having your home broken into is a traumatic experience and that blow isn't softened by the perpetrator being a household name that just happened to make a mistake."

A British Gas spokesman said: 'Our managing director, Phil Bentley, has spoken to Mr Houghton and apologised. "We've since corrected our records, changed the meter back and Mr Houghton has been given 200 pounds in compensation."


Ten myths about nuclear power

`It's dangerous, wasteful and too expensive!' Greens are busily putting the case against nuclear, but there is not a spark of truth in their arguments

The UK government is expected to announce tomorrow that it will give the green light to the building of new nuclear power stations in the UK - the first since the Sizewell `B' station was completed in 1995. These are urgently needed to make up the shortfall in power supply as older nuclear stations are closed over the next few years.

Yet the decision is bound to be controversial - not helped by widespread misinformation about nuclear power. Greens opposing nuclear power muddle every issue from terrorism to uranium supplies, in order to besmirch the only proven safe and cost-effective way to generate large amounts of electricity that won't produce large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. One would think that greens don't want a world with abundant energy and a stable climate!

These are some of the myths we are likely to hear from greens debating nuclear power over the next few weeks:

1) Uranium is running out

According to Greenpeace, uranium reserves are `relatively limited' and last week the Nuclear Consultation Working Group claimed that a significant increase in nuclear generating capacity would reduce reliable supplies from 50 to 12 years

In fact, there is 600 times more uranium in the ground than gold and there is as much uranium as tin. There has been no major new uranium exploration for 20 years, but at current consumption levels, known uranium reserves are predicted to last for 85 years. Geological estimates from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that at least six times more uranium is extractable - enough for 500 years' supply at current demand. Modern reactors can use thorium as a fuel and convert it into uranium - and there is three times more thorium in the ground than uranium.

Uranium is the only fuel which, when burnt, generates more fuel. Not only existing nuclear warheads, but also the uranium and plutonium in radioactive waste can be reprocessed into new fuel, which former UK chief scientist Sir David King estimates could supply 60 per cent of Britain's electricity to 2060. In short, there is more than enough uranium, thorium and plutonium to supply the entire world's electricity for several hundred years.

2) Nuclear is not a low-carbon option

Anti-nuclear campaigners claim that nuclear power contains `hidden emissions' of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from uranium mining and reactor construction. But so do wind turbines, built from huge amounts of concrete, steel and plastic. The OECD analysed the total lifetime releases of GHG from energy technologies and concluded that, taking into account mining of building materials, construction and energy production, nuclear is still a `lower carbon' option than wind, solar or hydroelectric generation. For example, during its whole life cycle, nuclear power releases three to six grams of carbon per kiloWatthour (GC kWh) of electricity produced, compared with three to 10 GC/kWh for wind turbines, 105 GC/kWh for natural gas and 228 GC/kWh for lignite (`dirty' coal)

Greens, exemplified by the Sustainable Development Commission, place their trust in `carbon capture and storage' (CCS) to reduce the GHG emissions from coal and gas plants. But carbon capture is, at present, a myth. There is no functioning power station with CCS in the world - not even a demonstration plant - and if it did work, it would still greatly reduce the energy efficiency of any power station where it is installed.

3) Nuclear power is expensive

With all power generation technology, the cost of electricity depends upon the investment in construction (including interest on capital loans), fuel, management and operation. Like wind, solar and hydroelectric dams, the principal costs of nuclear lie in construction. Acquisition of uranium accounts for only about 10 per cent of the price of total costs, so nuclear power is not as vulnerable to fluctuations in the price of fuel as gas and oil generation.

Unlike the UK's existing stations, any new designs will be pre-approved for operational safety, modular to lower construction costs, produce 90 per cent less volume of waste and incorporate decommissioning and waste management costs.

A worst-case analysis conducted for the UK Department of Trade and Industry (now the Department of Business and Enterprise), which was accepted by Greenpeace, shows nuclear-generated electricity to be only marginally more expensive than gas (before the late-2007 hike in gas prices), and 10 to 20 times cheaper than onshore and offshore wind. With expected carbon-pricing penalties for gas and coal, nuclear power will be considerably cheaper than all the alternatives

4) Reactors produce too much waste

Contrary to environmentalists' claims, Britain is not overwhelmed with radioactive waste and has no radioactive waste `problem'. By 2040 there will be a total of 2,000 cubic metres of the most radioactive high-level waste (9), which would fit in a 13 x 13 x 13 metre hole - about the size of the foundations for one small wind turbine. Much of this high-level waste is actually a leftover from Britain's atomic weapons programme. All of the UK's intermediate and high-level radioactive waste for the past 50 years and the next 30 years would fit in just one Royal Albert Hall, an entertainment venue in London that holds 6,000 people (and which seems, for some reason, to have become the standard unit of measurement in debates about any kind of waste in the UK)

The largest volume of waste from the nuclear power programme is low-level waste - concrete from outbuildings, car parks, construction materials, soil from the surroundings and so on. By 2100, there will be 473,000 cubic metres of such waste from decommissioned plants - enough to fill five Albert Halls. Production of all the electricity consumed in a four-bedroom house for 70 years leaves about one teacup of high-level waste, and new nuclear build will not make any significant contribution to existing radioactive waste levels for 20-40 years.

5) Decommissioning is too expensive

Existing UK reactors were built with no regard for future demolition. New reactors will be constructed from modular designs with the need for decommissioning built-in. The costs of decommissioning and waste management will be incorporated into the price of electricity to consumers. New nuclear plants are expected to have a working life of 40 years so the cost of decommissioning is spread over a longer period. Current government subsidy of decommissioning costs is approximately o1 billion annually (for 20 per cent of Britain's electrical supply) - half the subsidy to `sustainable' energy (two per cent of Britain's electrical supply).

6) Building reactors takes too long

This is perhaps the most ironic of the anti-nuclear arguments, since the legal manoeuvrings of Greenpeace delayed the UK government's nuclear decision by a year and it is the very opposition of greens that will cause most of the future delays.

The best construction schedules are achieved by the Canadian company AECL, which has built six new reactors since 1991; from the pouring of concrete to criticality (when the reactors come on-line), the longest build took six-and-a-half years and the shortest just over four years. The UK government expects pre-licensing of standard designs and modular construction to reduce construction times significantly - to about 6 years. New nuclear build could certainly start making significant contributions to UK carbon reduction targets by 2020.

7) Leukaemia rates are higher near reactors

Childhood leukaemia rates are no higher near nuclear power plants than they are near organic farms. `Leukaemia clusters' are geographic areas where the rates of childhood leukaemia appear to be higher than normal, but the definition is controversial because it ignores the fact that leukaemia is actually several very different (and unrelated) diseases with different causes.

The major increase in UK childhood leukaemia rates occurred before the Second World War. The very small (one per cent) annual increase seen now is probably due to better diagnosis, although it is possible that there is a viral contribution to the disease. It is purely by chance that a leukaemia `cluster' will occur near a nuclear installation, a national park or a rollercoaster ride. One such `cluster' occurred in Seascale, the nearest village to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, but there are no other examples. Clusters tend to be found in isolated areas where there has been a recent influx of immigration - which hints at a virus.

Men who work on nuclear submarines or in nuclear plants are no more likely to father children with leukaemia (or any other disease) than workers in any other industry

8) Reactors lead to weapons proliferation

More nuclear plants (in Britain and elsewhere) would actually reduce weapons proliferation. Atomic warheads make excellent reactor fuel; decommissioned warheads (containing greatly enriched uranium or plutonium) currently provide about 15 per cent of world nuclear fuel. Increased demand for reactor fuel would divert such warheads away from potential terrorists. Nuclear build is closely monitored by the IAEA, which polices anti-proliferation treaties.

9) Wind and wave power are more sustainable

If, as greens say, new nuclear power cannot come on-line in time to prevent climate change, how much less impact can wind, wave and carbon capture make? Environmentalists claim offshore wind turbines can make a significant contribution to electricity supply. Even if that were true - which it is certainly not - the environmental impact disqualifies wind as `sustainable'. The opening up of the North Sea continental shelf to 7,000 wind turbines is, essentially, the building of a huge industrial infrastructure across a vast swathe of ecologically sensitive seabed - as `unsustainable' in its own way as the opening of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.

Wave power is still highly experimental and unproven as a method of generating electricity. Even if we allow the Severn Tidal Bore, the tidal surge that runs up and down the River Severn estuary in south-west England (and a great natural wonder of the world), to be destroyed, the cost overruns and time delays would make any problems of the nuclear industry look cheap by comparison.

10) Reactors are a terrorist target

Since 11 September 2001, several studies have examined the possibility of attacks by a large aircraft on reactor containment buildings. The US Department of Energy sponsored an independent computer-modelling study of the effects of a fully fuelled Boeing 767-400 hitting the reactor containment vessel. Under none of the possible scenarios was containment breached.

Only the highly specialised US `bunker busting' ordnance would be capable - after several direct strikes - of penetrating the amount of reinforced concrete that surrounds reactors. And besides, terrorists have already demonstrated that they prefer large, high visibility, soft targets with maximum human casualties (as in the attacks on New York, London, Madrid and Mumbai) rather than well-guarded, isolated, low-population targets. Any new generation of nuclear reactors in the UK will be designed with even greater protection against attack than existing plants, and with `passive' safety measures that work without human intervention or computer control.



Miliband is the son of a noted Marxist theoretician so this obeisance to Communist China is not unexpected

Rich industrialized nations must help the developing world pay for a shift to cleaner technologies to fight climate change, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday during a visit to China's financial center. Major developing nations such as China and India will face a devastating "boomerang effect" of devastating effects from global warming such as drought and crop disruptions if they do not opt for cleaner, less polluting economic development, Miliband told students at the China-Europe International Business School.

Adapting energy technologies that emit fewer of the greenhouse gases viewed as a main contributor to climate change "does not sacrifice development but ... it is much more expensive than high-carbon development," he said. "The question is, who pays for it?" Miliband said. "The richer countries have got to lead in taking the burden of paying for the shift to a lower-carbon economy." Scientists believe carbon dioxide is one of the leading contributors to global warming.

China, which chiefly relies on heavily polluting coal to fuel its surging economy, now rivals the United States as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Britain backs calls for industrialized countries to help the developing world cope with the consequences of centuries of pollution by the West. Last month, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged about 50 million pounds (US$98.3 million) to support investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean coal and carbon dioxide capture-and-storage technology during his first state visit to China. China has pledged to improve energy efficiency, while insisting on its right to pursue the economic growth needed to supply jobs to its 1.3 billion people.

For the poorest countries, the focus should be on promoting sustainable development, Miliband said. "Their aid programs have got to be 'greened,'" he said. Miliband was to travel to the southwestern industrial hub of Chongqing before heading to Beijing later in the week. During a stopover in Hong Kong, he said Monday that he would discuss the issue of Sudan with his Chinese counterparts, but added that Beijing alone should not be held responsible for trying to end the conflict there. "We all have our responsibility to use our weight in the country and in the international arena to argue for dialogue, for responsibilities on both sides."



Claims that changes in global climate are the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, are used as a pretext to demand increased taxes on vehicle use and restrictions such as lower speed limits. Yet the level of public debate about this highly complex subject has often been at a simplistic and emotive level, rather than a serious examination of the scientific evidence. Indeed, attempts to question the claimed `scientific consensus' are often met with abusive personal attacks designed to discourage dissenters - a clear sign that the issue has been hijacked for political purposes.

There are two questions that need to be considered: whether man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are actually changing the world's climate; and, even if they are, whether any action taken to reduce the UK's emissions could have a significant remedial impact at a global level.

On the first point, a scientific consensus on the causes of climate change does not exist, despite strenuous efforts to create that impression by those who wish to maintain and exploit public alarm. As explained by Dr Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, in an open letter to the Royal Society, the claimed link between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming does not even merit the scientific title of `theory'; it is merely a hypothesis, since causation has not been demonstrated in any conclusive way. He also points out that the recent warming trend began long before human-caused increase in carbon dioxide was evident.

The main alternative hypothesis to explain climate change is rapidly gaining credibility: variations in the sun's output of charged particles and in its magnetic field, linked to the sun-spot cycle, affect the flow of cosmic rays reaching the Earth's atmosphere, where they help to seed clouds. At times of high solar activity (such as recently), fewer cosmic rays reach the atmosphere so there is less cloud cover; more of the sun's heat radiation reaches the Earth's surface and the planet warms. When solar activity is low, more clouds form and reflect the sun's radiation back into space, so cooling takes place. Evidence is mounting to support this hypothesis and there are some scientists predicting a period of global cooling ahead, as solar activity decreases.

There is also nothing unprecedented about recent global temperatures or rates of change. There have been many fluctuations in temperature since the end of the last ice age, most recently the Medieval Warm Period of around a thousand years ago and the Little Ice Age that followed it. The existence of these natural fluctuations is an embarrassment to the proponents of man-made climate change, and attempts have been made to rewrite climate history to eliminate them. Also, since direct daily observations of temperature only began during the Little Ice Age, claims about recent temperatures being the `hottest ever recorded' are highly misleading.

Even if man-made carbon dioxide emissions were the cause of climate change, any measures that the UK could take to reduce its own emissions would have a negligible impact at a global level. In 2004, the UK emitted 158.09 million tonnes (carbon equivalent) of carbon dioxide, amounting to 2.1 per cent of the world total. Of the UK figure, 21.6 per cent came from road transport in 2004, or 0.46 per cent of the world total.

While road transport in the UK emits 34 million tonnes of carbon per year, China's total output of carbon dioxide in 2004 was 1,284 million tonnes (carbon equivalent), up from 1,063 million tonnes in 2003. Thus a single year's increase in carbon emissions by China, at 221 million tonnes, was six and a half times the output from road transport in Britain, or 40 per cent more than the UK's total emissions.

Any reduction that could be achieved in the UK's road transport emissions would be insignificant by comparison: a 10 per cent reduction would be negated in less than six days, if China's emissions continue to grow at their current rate. There can be no justification, therefore, for taxation increases or other restrictions that would affect mobility, on the grounds of tackling climate change. Suggesting that an example set by the UK would lead countries such as China and India to forgo the benefits of economic growth is risible.

Whether climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions is real and set to continue or not, responses to it need to be based on rational assessments of the costs and benefits of the options, not futile, damaging and expensive political gestures. This was the message delivered by the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs in its 2005 report, in which it also pointed out that there are positive aspects to global warming, such as fewer cold-related winter deaths. There is no justification for singling out the drivers of Britain as responsible for climate change.


The English are fleeing Britain for Australia

More British people are moving to Australia than ever. For the first time, Australia is the preferred destination for British emigrants, more popular than America and the Med. In 2006-7, 23,223 British people emigrated to Australia, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship; of the total, 3,837 were members of families who had uprooted, and 18,115 were "skilled migrants" granted resident visas under the more relaxed residential points system. The figure is double that of a decade ago, and compares with 18,000 in 2004. British people make up almost a quarter of foreigners applying for Australian citizenship: in 2005-6, Australian citizenship was conferred on 103,350 people from over 175 different countries. Of those, people of British origin numbered 22,143, or 21.4% of the total.

Hundreds of thousands of British people go to Australia every year - for a holiday, a long-term stay, or to test the waters prior to emigrating. In the 12 months to July 2007, nearly 200,000 native British citizens packed their bags for Australia, the highest number to leave since the heavily subsidised mass emigration Down Under in the 1960s (1 in 12 Britons now lives abroad, a total of about 5.5m, according to a study by the Institute for Public Policy Research).

And the British easily top the census lists of foreigners resident in Australia and eligible to apply for citizenship. In 2001 they numbered 346,000, or 36.9% of the total ahead of the New Zealanders with 204,900 and Italians with 44,200. In fact, a quarter of a million British people (245,311) living in Australia claimed a British pension in 2006.....

Local trades, too, such as plumbing, electrical services, building and bricklaying, are in need of skilled labour, and often advertise in Britain. While the salaries are about the same as in the UK, their purchasing power is greater because the cost of living in Australia is lower. Others go in search of love, or the promise of it. Australia's outback regions are severely short of women, especially "young wife fodder", said one farmer.

Many recent newcomers are middle-class professionals with young families, drawn by an immigration policy that appeals to the highly skilled. Australian cities fiercely compete for the most talented. Among last year's British emigres were a Sikh family - the father an investment banker, the mother a dentist - who settled here, their third country of residence, to enjoy better prospects and a more child-friendly environment.....

In the 1950s, over 90% of Australians saw themselves as proudly British or Irish, regardless of whether they traced their lineage to a Georgian pickpocket, an East End prostitute, a declasse aristocrat, a potato-famine refugee or a family of graziers (cattle herders) and squatters.

Today's influx has subtly different motives for emigrating: they tend to be pursuing a realisable dream, rather than escaping a nightmare. Asked why they emigrated, most cite: sun and coastal living, lots of space, affordable housing (outside city centres), a generally reliable public health system, good, cheap schools, many jobs and relative security. They are also drawn by some of the world's last unspoilt natural wildernesses, ie, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Tasmania, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. Holidays to exotic South Pacific islands - Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia - are relatively cheap and a few hours away.

But the latest wave of emigrants are motivated by deeper social and economic impulses. Christopher Wade, the director of British Council Australia, said: "Australia has a great work ethic, but a very good after-work ethic too." He especially admires the "fair go" and egalitarian spirit. This is best expressed, he said, in the culture of "volunteerism": for example, many parents commonly coach their children's sports teams. There is such a thing as a community here, Wade insists.

Of course, it is Wade's job to talk up the Australian-British relationship. But the nation's rude economic success and political stability are strong magnets. During the past 15 years, Australia's standard of living has risen constantly and in 2006 it surpassed that of all Group of Eight countries except the US, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Since 1990, Australia's real economy grew by an average of around 3.3% a year, coupled with low inflation averaging around 2.5% (however, it recently exceeded the Reserve Bank's threshold, driving up variable interest rates to a mortgage-busting 8.97%, and rendering the cost of inner-city homes, as a multiple of income, less affordable than that of any other developed nation). There are jobs aplenty, however: the rate of unemployment fell from a peak of nearly 11% in 1992 to below 5% last year - its lowest level since the early 1970s.

The unprecedented Asian, chiefly Chinese, demand for Australia's mineral resources is behind this boom. Australia has some of the world's largest coal, iron ore and uranium reserves, and is one of the biggest gold and diamond producers. Western Australia, lavishly endowed with natural gas and minerals, is enjoying the biggest mining-led surge in its history, and Perth is one of the most expensive cities.

Buttressing that success is the world's oldest continuous democracy. At first glance, Australian standards of public debate suggest an Anglo-Celtic version of Italy's saloon-bar atmosphere. Yet the nation's raucous politicians - witness the Welsh-born deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard, herself the daughter of 10-pound poms, who last year called an opponent "a snivelling little grub", and the former prime minister Paul Keating, who regularly emerges from retirement to toss in a little more rebarbative Aussie wit (the former treasurer Paul Costello, he said last year, was "all tip and no iceberg") - are constrained by a parliamentary system that draws on the best of the Westminster tradition and the English and Scots enlightenment. The November 2007 general election was a sublime example of Australian democracy. When the incumbent prime minister, John Howard, lost the election - and his seat - after 11 years in power, the leadership shifted seamlessly to Labor's Kevin Rudd. Thanks to the compulsory system of preferential voting, the transition was gracious, popular, representative and bloodless....

Gratitude is never far away, either. More Australians seem to realise how good they've got it, and how hard won. Every year more than 10,000 young Australians gather on the shores of Gallipoli on Anzac Day to commemorate the fallen Australian troops. The Kokoda Track and Milne Bay in Papua - the battleground on which Australian forces, many of them untrained militia, first defeated the imperial Japanese army on land - is now considered to be hallowed turf.

And as I watched younger Australians and British backpackers dance in the New Year and partying on the beaches of Sydney, it occurred to me that perhaps Britain had made a terrible mistake - surely they should have left the convicts at home and emigrated?

More here

Antidepressants don't work?

The report discussed below has required more thought from me than the usual crap that I find in reports of medical research. The study concerned has many strong features. I note that the study was led by a psychologist. I am not usually very supportive of my fellow psychologists (See here) but I do note that a much higher standard of evidence seems to be required for publication in psychology than in medicine.

In the end, however, I think the study below confirms something I have been saying for some years: That our taxonomy of depression is a big problem. There is a strong tendency for any mental state characterized by suicidal thoughts to be seen as depression. But there are in fact TWO broad mental states characterized by such thoughts: True depression and what used to be called anxious depression. And those states are so different as to be almost opposite. The first is characterized by very low levels of activation and the second by very high levels of activation.

The DSM has now given anxious depression a fancy new name and listed it separately but I doubt that the distinction is as yet commonly made by practitioners. ANY suicidal state will often be given Prozac etc. And where Prozac is probably helpful in livening up true depressives, it would tend to push anxious depressives over the top and cause them actually to commit suicide -- which we know does happen. It is however crazy for a drug that helps some in a category to have the opposite effect for others in the same category so it seems to me that the fault lies with patient categorization. Prozac should be rigorously EXCLUDED as a treatment for anxious depression.

And I think the same distinction helps make sense of the report below. It is true that the therapeutic responses tabulated are often not much different from placebo. That overall statement, however, ignores what seem to me to be important details. The most striking is that in their Table 1, the difference from placebo varies markedly. In some studies, a LOT of the patients were helped by the drug while in others few were. And there were in fact two instances where placebo gave a better response than the drug! The latter result is about as crazy as Prozac driving you to suicide. My hypothesis would be that the samples where few were helped included a lot of anxious depressives and, in the two very deviant cases, a predominance of anxious depressives.

So I think we are still at the "Don't know" stage. I think we need studies from which anxious depressives have been rigorously excluded before we can evaluate the therapeutic effect of drugs on true depressives. If I were prescribing, however, I would certainly give Prozac etc. to anyone who was obviously a true depressive. I suspect that it has a much stronger effect for them than would at first appear from the results of the existing poorly-categorized studies.

I am particularly concerned about the response to this study from NICE. NICE are well-known for depriving Brits of drugs that might help them and I am afraid that this study will cause NICE to issue guidance that will deprive many Brits of relief from their suffering -- leading to suicide in some cases. Not to put to fine a point on it, I think this study could kill. Popular summary of the research follows. -- JR
Millions of people taking commonly prescribed antidepressants such as Prozac and Seroxat might as well be taking a placebo, according to the first study to include unpublished evidence. The new generation of antidepressant drugs work no better than a placebo for the majority of patients with mild or even severe depression, comprehensive research of clinical trials has found. The researchers said that the drug was more effective than a placebo in severely depressed patients but that this was because of a decreased placebo effect. The study, described as “fantastically important” by British experts, comes as the Government publishes plans to help people to manage depression without popping pills.

More than 291 million pounds was spent on antidepressants in 2006, including nearly 120 million on SSRIs. As many as one in five people suffers depression at some point. With that in mind, ministers will today publish plans to train 3,600 therapists to treat depression. Spending on counselling and other psychological therapies will rise to at least 30 million a year.

The study, by Irving Kirsch, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Hull, is the first to examine both published and unpublished evidence of the effectiveness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which account for 16 million NHS prescriptions a year. It suggests that the effectiveness of the drugs may have been exaggerated in the past by drugs companies cherry-picking the best results for publication. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which is due to review its guidance on treating depression, said that it would consider the study.

Mental health charities say that most GPs admit that they are still overprescribing SSRIs, which are considered as effective as older drugs but with fewer side-effects. SSRIs account for more than half of all antidrepressant prescriptions, despite guidelines from NICE in 2004 that they should not be used as a first-stop remedy.

American and British experts led by Professor Kirsch examined the clinical trials submitted to gain licences for four commonly used SSRIs, including fluoxetine (better known as Prozac), venlafaxine (Efexor) and paroxetine (Seroxat). The study is published today in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine. Analysing both the unpublished and published data from the trials, the team found little evidence that the drugs were much better than a placebo.

“Given these results there seems little reason to prescribe antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed,” Professor Kirsch said. “The difference in improvement between patients taking placebos and patients taking antidepressants is not very great. This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments.” He added that the study “raises serious issues that need to be addressed surrounding drug licensing and how drug trial data is reported”.

The data for all 47 clinical trials for the drugs were released by the US Food and Drug Administration under freedom of information rules. They included unpublished trials that were not made available to NICE when it recommended the drugs for use on the NHS. “Had NICE seen all the relevant unpublished studies, it might have come to a different conclusion,” Professor Kirsch said.

Tim Kendall, a deputy director of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Research Unit, who helped to formulate the NICE guidance, said that the findings were “fantastically important” and that it was “dangerous” for drug companies not to have to publish their full data. He added: “Three of these drugs are some of the most commonly used antidepressants in this country. It’s not mandatory for drug companies to publish all this research. I think it should be.”

SSRIs are not prescribed to patients under 18 because of the risk of suicide.Drugs watchdogs in Europe are considering tighter controls on the development of new medicines, The Times reported this month, and may soon require regulators to monitor psychiatric effects and the risk of suicide more closely during clinical trials.

A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Seroxat, said: “The authors have failed to acknowledge the very positive benefits these treatments have provided to patients and their families dealing with depression and their conclusions are at odds with what has been seen in actual clinical practice. This one study should not be used to cause unnecessary alarm and concern for patients.” A spokesman for Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, said: “Extensive scientific and medical experience has demonstrated that fluoxetine is an effective antidepressant.”

Source. Original journal article here

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stupid British immigration bureaucracy -- and "caring" Leftist politicians

"I'd have more chance of being allowed to stay and care for my frail mother if I was a foreign criminal"

All Deborah Phillips wants to do is care for her increasingly frail 80-year-old mother. She has no intention of claiming benefits and would save the taxpayer the cost of helping to look after another elderly woman. But because Miss Phillips was born in the United States, moving to England when she was three, she has been refused permission to stay and must leave the country with her seven-year-old daughter Alexandra by the end of April. When that happens her English mother Betty Phillips will be left alone.

Despite huge support from her local community and the backing of her MP, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne has rejected her request for residency.

Miss Phillips, 48, believes she would have a better chance of avoiding deportation if she was a foreign criminal or terror suspect facing the risk of persecution back home. She said: "Some of these people stay here with the help of human rights laws. What about the human rights of my English mother and her right to a family life? "Sometimes I feel like a criminal. I'm just a very soft target because I am doing everything by the rules. It is annoying because terrorist suspects are treated better and allowed to live here. I don't see the logic in that. We are not costing the Government a penny." Miss Phillips, who lives with her mother in Cottingham, near Hull, has a U.S. Navy pension and works part-time as a volunteer teaching assistant.

"We are not a burden on this Government nor are we criminals. I just want to be able to look after my mum. Once the Home Office gets rid of us, they will never let us back in. Then what would happen to this 80-year-old woman?"

Her mother lost her husband Phil, 77, who suffered from Alzheimer's, in May 2005. She has had two small strokes and suffers from arthritis, heart trouble and hypertension. She is also prone to stress and anxiety. Miss Phillips, who has been turned down four times for permission to live permanently in this country, insists her mother is too frail to take to the U.S. Her mother, a former teacher, is English and her late father was American.

Miss Phillips came here as a small child in 1963 when her father retired from the U.S. Navy. She speaks with an English accent, went to school and college in Hull and lived here until she too joined the U.S. Navy at 21 and went to sea. After leaving the Navy and working in the U.S. she decided to join her family in Yorkshire. Miss Phillips, whose brother David, 45, is a businessman in Kentucky, wanted to return to care for her parents and made the move in December 2003. "I always knew I could come back to England one day because this is my home," she said. "My parents needed looking after. I never knew it would cause this bother."

The divorcee misses out on automatic citizenship by 15 months after a rule change in 2003. Children born abroad to a British mother and foreign father after February 7, 1961, and before January 1, 1983, can now become British citizens through the maternal line. Miss Phillips missed out because she was born on November 5, 1959.

She first applied for residency in August 2005 but hit a mountain of red tape. In May 2006, Miss Phillips - and her daughter - were forced to leave Britain but returned in June last year aboard a U.S. military cargo plane after her mother's health deteriorated. "But I made no secret of what I was doing and applied again for permission to stay," she said. "Again I've been turned down."

The latest refusal from the Home Office gives one reason as "she (her mother) may also rely on friends and neighbours to some degree to alleviate her sense of loneliness and isolation". Miss Phillips said: "The day after receiving the notice one of mum's neighbours, they are all OAPs, was taken away in an ambulance. The Home Office doesn't even know who my mum's neighbours are."

Tory MP David Davis, who represents Haltemprice and Howden in East Yorkshire, said: "This decision is a disgrace when somebody born to a British woman is being threatened with deportation at a time when the Government cannot even deport foreign criminals. "This woman wants to stay in this country to care for her elderly mother and is actually saving the state money and making a positive contribution to society."


You There! Step Away From The Happy Meal, Laddie!

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

The increasingly authoritarian "liberals" in Britain are now working on banning the humble McDonald's Happy Meal. The people's republic city of Liverpool is set to enact a ban on the meals. It's for the children, of course.
McDonald's Happy Meals are to be banned in Liverpool over claims they are contributing to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The city council is planning to outlaw the meals on the grounds that they are damaging the heath of children - particularly as they offer free toys in order to encourage parents to buy junk food for their children. The Liberal Democrat-controlled authority claims the credit for taking the lead in the campaign that led to the ban on smoking in public places.

Members of Liverpool City Council's Childhood Obesity Scrutiny Group want a bye-law that would forbid the sale of fast foot accompanied by toys. Councillors say the promotional items are used to boost sales through the "Pester Power" phenomenon - children pestering parents for Happy Meal toys. The scrutiny Group has ordered a report from town hall officials that would pave the way for the bye-law that would be the first of its kind in the UK.

Lib Dem councillor Paul Twigger said: "The Scrutiny Group is recommending that a bye-law be enforced to stop the circulation of free toys associated with junk food promotions. "We consider it is high time that cash-hungry vultures like McDonald's are challenged over their marketing policies which are directly aimed at promoting unhealthy eating among children.

"Childhood obesity is a dire threat to the health in this country and it needs to be nipped in the bud urgently. "Children are directly targeted with junk food and McDonald's use the Happy Meals to exploit Pester Power of children against which many parents give in. "In most Happy Meals the toy is sold with a burgers containing four or five tablespoons of sugar, along with high-calorie fries and milkshakes. "These fattening meals are being shamelessly promoted through free toys and it is clear that it is going to take legislation to combat the practice.

The left has become much worse than what they rebelled against forty years ago. They now think their groupthink mentality is the only way to think and that decisions must not be made by anyone but them. The lovely "cash-hungry vultures" remark is especially telling. It just doesn't say what Mr. Twigger thinks it does. Nice jackboots, Mr. Twigger.

British Muslims criticise food company after it is revealed that some crisp varieties contain alcohol

Furious Muslims have heavily criticised Walkers crisps after it emerged that certain varieties of the manufacturer's products contain trace elements of alcohol. Some crisp types use minute amounts of alcohol as a chemical agent to extract certain flavours.

The report in Asian newspaper Eastern Eye, highlights concerns raised by shopkeeper Besharat Rehman, who owns a halal supermarket in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Mr Rehman told the paper: "A customer informed us that Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli and Doritos Chilli Heat Wave are not on Walkers' alcohol-free list. Our suppliers were unaware of this. "Even if it is a trace amount of alcohol, Walkers should make it clear on the packaging so that the customer can make an informed choice. "I feel frustrated and angry. I have let my customers down simply because such a big company like Walkers is not sensitive to Muslim needs. "Many of them were my daughter's favourite crisps. As soon as I found out about the alcohol in them, I called home to ask my wife to throw out all the packets."

Shuja Shafi, who chairs the food standards committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that he intended to investigate. "Certainly we would find it very offensive to have eaten food with alcohol." Masood Khawaja, of the Halal Food Authority, said that this was not the first time the issue had been raised with Walkers. "They should have looked into the matter and solved it instead of hiding behind labelling regulations. It does not matter what percentage of alcohol is involved. "Besides Muslims, there are a lot of teetotal people who would not like to consume alcohol in any form. As far as possible we try and lobby for halal symbols on popular products like Kellogg's cereals. "But we have always told Muslims to check the contents list even if a product is marked suitable for vegetarians. But to not mention it on the packaging is unfair."

However, a spokesperson for Walkers said that trace amounts of alcohol in crisps or bread are believed to be permissible for Muslims. "We do not add alcohol to our products. However, ethyl alcohol may be present in trace amounts in a very small number of our flavours. "It is used as a carrying agent for flavourings, and is found in many common food and drink products. "Foods like bread can also contain the same or higher trace amounts due to fermentation. "We are aware of the concerns from some Muslim consumers about the appropriateness of specific ingredients. We take the concerns of our consumers extremely seriously. "In previous assessments by Muslim scholars, foods and drinks that contain trace amounts of ethyl alcohol have been confirmed as permissible for Muslim consumption because of both the fact that the ingredient does not bear its original qualities and does not change the taste, colour or smell of the product, and its very low level."


Fair To Whom?

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

The Daily Mail hits at the "Fair Trade"certification in Britain again this morning. This time, they are reporting on the release of a study by the Adam Smith Institute that slams the entire fair trade movement as worthless marketing or something that is actually harmful to the most vulnerable people on Earth.
Last year, British consumers spent more than 300million pounds on Fairtrade products. But the report Unfair Trade claims that the organisation's "positive image appears to rely more on public relations than research". It adds:

Fairtrade helps only a very small number of farmers while leaving the majority worse off.

It favours producers in better-off nations such as Mexico, rather than poor African countries.

It holds back economic development, paying inefficient cooperative farms and discouraging diversification and mechanisation.

Supermarket chains profit more from the higher price of Fairtrade goods than farmers.

Only a fifth of produce grown on Fairtrade-approved farms is actually purchased at its guaranteed fair price.

Tom Clougherty, policy director of the Adam Smith Institute, says: "At best, fair trade is a marketing device that does the poor little good. "At worst, it may inadvertently be harming some of the planet's most vulnerable people."

Most damning of all, the report claims that Fairtrade is hurting the poorest group of all in the production process of its goods - the casual labourers hired by farmers to pick the bananas, coffee and cotton.

The UK executive director of Fairtrade whines that the report is beating them up for trying. (It's all about the good intentions, don't you see?).

Actually, the study, as reported in the story, isn't beating them up for trying. It is beating them up for what they are doing wrong. Is making sure that farmers get a fair shake a laudable effort? Well, maybe, although that is a subject that is debatable. But forcing collectivism is the surest way to ensure that they all get treated equally badly. The "fair trade" activists insist on only dealing with collectives. Winston Churchill's famous quotation applies here: "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." The report indicates that the "fair traders" are very good indeed at making everyone miserable.

This Bishop is no Pawn

Most readers will remember the Anglican Bishop of Rochester, Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, who has been notably outspoken on the topic of Islam and the Islamization of Britain - especially when one compares him with the Archdhimmi of Canterbury.

Dr. Nazir-Ali's most famous and controversial statements concerned urban neighborhoods of the UK which have become virtual "no-go areas" to non-Muslims. The bishop has taken a lot of flak from the chattering classes, especially those within the Anglican hierarchy. According to today's Telegraph, however, he's not backing off from his assertions:

Bishop of Rochester reasserts `no-go' claim

In his first interview since his controversial comments, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali vows not to be forced into silence

Michael Nazir-AliThe Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who received death threats for airing his views on Islamic issues, has vowed that he will continue to speak out.

His claim that Islamic extremism has turned some parts of Britain into "no-go" areas for non-Muslims led to fierce rows between political and religious leaders over the impact of multiculturalism on this country.

Those comments were followed soon after by the Archbishop of Canterbury's suggestion that the adoption of aspects of sharia law in Britain was "unavoidable".

The bishops' views in The Sunday Telegraph sparked a storm of criticism and raised questions over the role of the Church in society but, most seriously for Dr Nazir-Ali, led to threats that he and his family would be harmed.

Yet, in his first interview since the sinister calls were made to his home, the Bishop of Rochester remains steadfastly defiant. He will not be silenced. "I believe people should not be prevented from speaking out," he says. "The issue had to be raised. There are times when Christian leaders have to speak out."


Threats were made warning that he would not "live long" and would be "sorted out" if he continued to criticise Islam.

Dr. Nazir-Ali originally fled from Pakistan to escape death threats from Muslims, so the irony of his current circumstances is not lost on him:
However, it's not the first time that his life has been endangered.

Shortly after being made a bishop in Pakistan - at 35 he was the youngest in the Anglican Church - he was forced to flee to Britain to seek refuge from Muslims who wanted to kill him.

He says that he never expected to suffer the same treatment in Britain and expresses concerns over recent social developments.

He continues to speak out, and is more concerned about the civilizational crisis within the West than he is with Islam itself:

"The real danger to Britain today is the spiritual and moral vacuum that has occurred for the last 40 or 50 years. When you have such a vacuum something will fill it.

"If people are not given a fresh way of understanding what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be a Christian-based society then something else may well take the place of all that we're used to and that could be Islam."

Dr. Nazir-Ali is daring to give voice to sentiments that many thousands of his fellow Britons hold, but which are denied utterance by the rubrics of political correctness:

Just over a year ago Abu Izzadeen, an Islamic radical, heckled John Reid, the former home secretary, as he tried to deliver a speech on targeting potential extremists. "How dare you come to a Muslim area," Izzadeen screamed.

There was widespread dismay at the outburst, but nobody had dared to try to suggest that these views were entrenched across the country until the bishop spoke last month.

In warning of attempts to impose an Islamic character on certain areas, for example by amplifying the call to prayer from mosques, he seems to have tapped into the fears of a large section of society.

Many Christians - not least some of the leaders of the major Protestant denominations - seem to think that Christian morality always requires the faithful to submit without resistance to any form of violence. Dr. Nazir-Ali, however, believes the time has come for Christians to stand up for what they know is right.

To many, he has become a champion of traditional Christianity and its importance to Britain at the same time as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has been attacked for suggesting the adoption of aspects of sharia law is "unavoidable" in this country.

While the archbishop received widespread support from within the Church, Dr Nazir-Ali found himself isolated from his colleagues.

"I don't court popularity. If I say something it's because I think it's important enough to say it. What I said was based on evidence, and that has been strengthened as a result of overwhelming correspondence."

The moral cowardice that his been so evident of late within the Anglican Church is not lost on him, although he is circumspect about addressing it directly:

He wishes the Church would be more vocal on issues of multiculturalism and sharia law, but refuses to criticise his colleagues, although it is clear he is baffled by their silence.

"I can't guess why they haven't talked on the issue. I'm not responsible for other people's consciences." Is it due to cowardice? "You'd have to ask them."

Above all he is opposed to the adoption of any form of sharia for Muslims in the UK:

"People of every faith should be free within the law to follow what their spiritual leaders direct them to, but that's very different from saying their structures should replace that of the English legal system because there would be huge conflicts." In particular, he points to polygamy, women's rights and freedom of belief as areas in sharia law that would undermine equality.

There is a danger that the archbishop's remarks could become a reality unless Britain quickly regains a sense of its Christian heritage.

"Do the British people really want to lose that rooting in the Christian faith that has given them everything they cherish - art, literature, architecture, institutions, the monarchy, their value system, their laws?"

As a Pakistani-born immigrant who has suffered racist abuse - he was called a "Paki papist" by Anglican clergy - he has gained an army of admirers who appear grateful to have someone brave enough to address controversial topics. He has vowed the latest threats will not change how he and his family live.

"The recovery of Christian discourse in the public life of this nation is so important. It's that discourse that will allow us in a genuine way to be hospitable to those who come here from different cultures and religions."

It's ironic that a bishop of Pakistani and Muslim background should be the most visible defender of Christianity and British tradition.

Maybe it's easier for someone coming in from the outside to see what we've got that's worth saving.



European consumers shunning imported food supposedly to limit climate change should not make African farmers a scapegoat, a Brussels conference has been told. In Britain, several supermarkets have begun labelling products flown into the country with stickers marked "air-freighted," to reflect concern about the contribution of aviation to global warming.

But Benito Mueller, a director at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, dismissed the concept of food miles as "an extremely oversimplified indicator" of ecological impact. Saying he was "really angry" with the implicit message that agricultural produce from Africa should be avoided, Mueller claimed that less greenhouse gas emissions are often emitted from the cultivation and transport of such goods than they would be if grown in Europe. Strawberries imported from Kenya during the winter, he maintained, have a lower "carbon footprint," a measure to ascertain the effect of a method of production on the environment - than those grown in a heated British greenhouse, even when their transport by air from Africa is taken into account. Mueller argued that African farmers should not suffer because of efforts to cut discharge of carbon dioxide, the main gas triggering climate change. Britain, he added, is responsible for 50 times more greenhouse gas emissions than Kenya.

Efforts to increase the use of biofuels were also called into question at a February 13 conference organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation, a body dealing with relations between Europe and some 80 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. The European Union has set itself a target that biofuels should provide 10 per cent of the energy needed to power cars and other modes of transport by 2020, despite growing doubts over whether it is wise to rely so heavily on these fuels.

Two new papers published in Science magazine have calculated that production of the most popular forms of biofuels causes a major increase in greenhouse gas emissions because of land clearance. Palm oil, a key biofuel used in European cars, is produced through the deforestation on lands rich in peat. It would take an estimated 840 years to claw back the amount of carbon dioxide released from that process, according to scientists, through the eventual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions caused by using biofuels rather than conventional petrol or diesel.

Mark Rosegrant from the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute cited worries that land that should be used to grow food for the poor and hungry is instead being used for biofuels. "The continued expansion of biofuels is increasing food prices and increasing malnutrition in a number of developing countries," he said.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Authoritarian medicine in Britain -- Health "insurance" with a difference

If they cannot afford to give you a drug or service that you need, you are forbidden to pay for it yourself!

Created 60 years ago as a cornerstone of the British welfare state, the National Health Service is devoted to the principle of free medical care for everyone. But recently it has been wrestling with a problem its founders never anticipated: how to handle patients with complex illnesses who want to pay for parts of their treatment while receiving the rest free from the health service. Although the government is reluctant to discuss the issue, hopscotching back and forth between private and public care has long been standard here for those who can afford it. But a few recent cases have exposed fundamental contradictions between policy and practice in the system, and tested its founding philosophy to its very limits.

One such case was Debbie Hirst's. Her breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologist's support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment. By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down.

Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor. "He looked at me and said: `I'm so sorry, Debbie. I've had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,' " Mrs. Hirst said in an interview. "I said, `Where does that leave me?' He said, `If you pay for Avastin, you'll have to pay for everything' " - in other words, for all her cancer treatment, far more than she could afford.

Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones. Patients "cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs," the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament. "That way lies the end of the founding principles of the N.H.S.," Mr. Johnson said.

But Mrs. Hirst, 57, whose cancer was diagnosed in 1999, went to the news media, and so did other patients in similar situations. And it became clear that theirs were not isolated cases. In fact, patients, doctors and officials across the health care system widely acknowledge that patients suffering from every imaginable complaint regularly pay for some parts of their treatment while receiving the rest free.

"Of course it's going on in the N.H.S. all the time, but a lot of it is hidden - it's not explicit," said Dr. Paul Charlson, a general practitioner in Yorkshire and a member of Doctors for Reform, a group that is highly critical of the health service. Last year, he was the co-author of a paper laying out examples of how patients with the initiative and the money dip in and out of the system, in effect buying upgrades to their basic free medical care. "People swap from public to private sector all the time, and they're topping up for virtually everything," Dr. Charlson said in an interview. For instance, he said, a patient put on a five-month waiting list to see an orthopedic surgeon may pay $250 for a private consultation, and then switch back to the health service for the actual operation from the same doctor. "Or they'll buy an M.R.I. scan because the wait is so long, and then take the results back to the N.H.S.," Dr. Charlson said.

In his paper, he also wrote about a 46-year-old woman with breast cancer who paid 250 pounds for a second opinion when the health service refused to provide her with one; an elderly man who spent thousands of dollars on a new hearing aid instead of enduring a yearlong wait on the health service; and a 29-year-old woman who, with her doctor's blessing, bought a three-month supply of Tarceva, a drug to treat pancreatic cancer, for more than $6,000 on the Internet because she could not get it through the N.H.S. Asked why these were different from cases like Mrs. Hirst's, a spokeswoman for the health service said no officials were available to comment.

In any case, the rules about private co-payments, as they are called, in cancer care are contradictory and hard to understand, said Nigel Edwards, the director of policy for the N.H.S. Confederation, which represents hospitals and other health-care providers. "I've had conflicting advice from different lawyers," he said, "but it does seem like a violation of natural justice to say that either you don't get the drug you want, or you have to pay for all your treatment."

Karol Sikora, a professor of cancer medicine at the Imperial College School of Medicine and one of Dr. Charlson's co-authors, said that co-payments are particularly prevalent in cancer care. Armed with information from the Internet and patients' networks, cancer patients are increasingly likely to demand, and pay for, cutting-edge drugs that the health service considers too expensive to be cost-effective. "You have a population that is informed and consumerist about how it behaves about health care information, and an N.H.S. that can no longer afford to pay for everything for everybody," he said.

Professor Sikora said that oncologists are adept at circumventing the system by, for example, referring patients to other doctors who can provide the private medication separately. As wrenching as it can be to administer more sophisticated drugs to some patients than to others, he said, "if you're a doctor working in the system, you should let your patients have the treatment they want, if they can afford to pay for it." In any case, he said, the health service is riddled with inequities. Some drugs are available in some parts of the country and not in others. Waiting lists for treatment vary wildly from place to place. Some regions spend $280 per capita on cancer care, Professor Sikora said, while others spend just $90.

In Mrs. Hirst's case, the confusion was compounded by the fact that three other patients at her hospital were already doing what she had been forbidden to do - buying extra drugs to supplement their cancer care. The arrangements had "evolved without anyone questioning whether it was right or wrong," said Laura Mason, a hospital spokeswoman. Because their treatment began before the Health Department explicitly condemned the practice, they have been allowed to continue.

The rules are confusing. "It's quite a fine line," Ms. Mason said. "You can't have a course of N.H.S. and private treatment at the same time on the same appointment - for instance, if a particular drug has to be administered alongside another drug which is N.H.S.-funded." But, she said, the health service rules seem to allow patients to receive the drugs during separate hospital visits - the N.H.S. drugs during an N.H.S. appointment, the extra drugs during a private appointment.

One of Mrs. Hirst's troubles came, it seems, because the Avastin she proposed to pay for would have had to be administered at the same time as the drug Taxol, which she was receiving free on the health service. Because of that, she could not schedule separate appointments. But in a final irony, Mrs. Hirst was told early this month that her cancer had spread and her condition had deteriorated so much she could have the Avastin after all - paid for by the health service. In other words, a system that forbade her to buy the medicine earlier was now saying that she was so sick she could have it at public expense. Mrs. Hirst is pleased, but only up to a point. Avastin is not a cure, but a way to extend her life, perhaps only by several months, and she has missed valuable time. "It may be too bloody late," she said. "I'm a person who left school at 15 and I've worked all my life and I've paid into the system, and I'm not going to live long enough to get my old-age pension from this government," she added.

She also knows that the drug can have grave side effects. "I have campaigned for this drug, and if it goes wrong and kills me, c'est la vie," she said. But, she said, speaking of the government: "If the drug doesn't have a fair chance because the cancer has advanced so much, then they should be raked over the coals for it."


Doctors and teachers to act as 'informers' to target violent offenders BEFORE they strike

Under controversial new British plans. Judged guilty while still innocent, in other words. Given the appalling abuses of the existing secretive child welfare system this would be a descent into utter darkness. The Leftist British government obviously has a conception of civil liberties not too different from Joseph Stalin's

Doctors, teachers and social workers will be told to act as informers to identify potential violent offenders for monitoring by the police and other agencies. Ministers hope that by spotting binge-drinkers, drug addicts and young gang members early before they commit serious crimes they can be placed on a national database and steered away from offending behaviour. The plans have been dubbed the Minority Report powers, a reference to the 2002 Tom Cruise movie in which a futuristic "precrime" police unit uses psychics to arrest and imprison criminals just before they carry out attacks.

But civil liberty campaigners and union bosses warned that such intrusive measures by the Home Office would destroy the relationship of trust between GPs and their patients or social workers and clients. They would also put professionals at risk of reprisals if they are seen as police informers. Opposition MPs said recent fiascos involving huge quantities of personal data lost or leaked by the Government raised grave doubts over plans for sharing and swapping private data.

The scheme, outlined in the Government's latest Tackling Violence Action Plan, will mean redrafting the NHS's strict privacy protection rules to encourage health staff to share patients' confidential data as part of "public interest disclosures". The document sets out plans for identifying individuals who may not have committed any offences but are judged to be "at risk of involvement in violence". Tell-tale signs of those 'whose behaviour may be identified as risky' include drug addicts or alcoholics, mental health patients and youngsters who join gangs or who have been the victims of violence either in the home or on the street.

Ministers want GPs, social workers, mental health agencies, housing officials and school or college staff to provide tip-offs so that multi-agency Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships, including local police, can act. The only existing systems are for monitoring convicted criminals through probation staff, so new organisations will have to be set up to watch those thought to be at risk of committing violence.

Once an individual is assessed as a high-risk potential offender, they would be placed on local and national databases and subjected to regular reviews. The Home Office claims such measures will save lives. Ministers have cited examples such as Michael Stone, convicted of murdering Lin and Megan Russell, or Soham murderer Ian Huntley. They repeatedly came to the notice of medics or police, but lack of data- sharing meant threatening patterns were missed. The Home Office said examples of "interventions" for potential criminals included regular visits from social services staff, providing mentors to young people, forcing them to attend weapons awareness classes or more after-school activities to keep them off the streets.

Union officials voiced grave concerns and accused ministers of failing to consult professionals or to address concerns they had already raised. A spokesman for Unison, the public services union, said: "These plans threaten to build a barrier of suspicion between the public and those who deliver their services."

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "This is another ill-thought through measure, no doubt based on flawed databases and unreliable statistical analysis." Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: "Home Office edicts are unlikely to help skilled health professionals make delicate judgments on behalf of their patients. The danger is of vulnerable victims treating their own injuries for fear of being reported to the police."


Black groups don't like Britain's new rules

A new immigration proposal announced recently to increase citizenship fees and landing charges for visa holders arriving in the United Kingdom (UK) has left Caribbean nationals and non-European residents in Britain worried. One of their major fears is that thousands of persons who have been living and working in the UK for decades might receive little or no social security benefits. The Sunday Gleaner has learnt that already, some lobby groups, including the Jamaica diaspora and Facilitator for a Better Jamaica (FFBJ), are examining the proposal and other immigration developments to make an appropriate response and representation.

Under the new immigration proposal, immigrants arriving in Britain will be required to pay an extra 20 pounds landing charge on top of their visa fees. Naturalisation fees attract over 700 pounds, while it costs 75 pounds for a British passport. At the same time, there is widespread speculation that there will be additional increases in immigration fees at the start of the financial year in April.

The extra charge is slated to fund schools, hospitals and other social services said to be under stress from an influx of migrants mainly from countries of the European Union. The British government is expected to rake in 15 million a year from the levy.

At the same time, social benefits in Britain are to be linked with citizenship and those who have been denied British passports will lose a wide range of welfare services, including child benefits, housing benefits and income support. Prisoners who serve time in Britain will automatically lose their rights to British citizenship and the benefits it offers.

Founder of Facilitators for a Better Jamaica (FFBJ) Sylbourne Sydial said his concern was not one of alarm, but one of unease as the new measures being implemented were a "smack in the face of multiculturalism and a shift from the Commonwealth." "Since the formation of the FFBJ's home office consultation team," he said, "we have seen that these different and new proposals - in the form of increase in fees, reduction in vacation period, 20 pounds landing charges and the many changes in the immigration rules - show very clearly that there is a shift in UK policy towards former Commonwealth nations of which Jamaica is a part."

While a number of Jamaicans and other West Indian nations with whom The Sunday Gleaner spoke are seeking to speed up the process of acquiring citizenship, Jamaican-born journalist, Luke Williams, believes the long-term impact on Jamaica and the Caribbean will be devastating. "What is happening is demoralising and is exploitation in many forms including financial and brain drain. It's a double-whammy: They (the British Government) are getting extra money from the high fees and putting pressure on those not considered the best, as well as getting rid of those they do not want," he said. [That's a bad idea??]

A Jamaican-trained medical doctor (Dr Brown) at the Greater Almond Street [Ormond St?] Hospital in Central London noted that many West Indian doctors are now looking alternative places to practise their skills. "Many are looking at places like the US and Canada. Some may even return home as the European Union has opened up and there is an influx of doctors," she said.


Green Hypocrites in Britain

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

On a number of occasions, I have pointed out that the elitists who are pushing the biggest "environmentalist" agendas like global warming have no intention of living with the limits they plan on imposing on the less-than-elite. The phrase I use for that is that they will "wave from the limousine" as they pass the shivering masses. I expect a rousing chorus of "told ya so."
Ministers are using a secret limousine service to ferry them around the country, a Mail on Sunday investigation has discovered. Senior Labour figures are quietly using 60,000 pound ($120,000) gas-guzzlers to whisk them around in comfort - despite claims that politicians have switched to smaller, cheaper models that are less damaging to the environment. Among the prominent politicians using the secret luxury car service is the Speaker Michael Martin and his wife Mary, who travel regularly in top-ofthe- range Mercedes and Jaguars.

This newspaper has established that a fleet of expensive cars operates discreetly from South London, away from the Westminster base of the official Government Car Service. Kelly Executive earns 500,000 pounds a year carrying out up to 50 journeys a day for politicians, including the Speaker, from its fleet of 30 chauffeur-driven limos. The Government also uses a number of similar private companies in other cities. Ministers and Labour MPs such as Mr Martin frequently use the firms to pick them up from the airport and take them home. Significantly, none of the limousines appears on the public list of cars in the official Government car pool, which handles the transport arrangements for Ministers and civil servants.

Last year the Government announced it had spent 900,000 pounds buying 110 hybrid-engined cars for the Government Car and Despatch Agency to cut down on carbon-dioxide emissions, to show voters that it was doing its bit to save the planet. However, it is an open secret that many Ministers do not like the Toyota Prius - of which 98 were bought. It has been nicknamed "the milk float" by Government drivers who say the car is slow and has a "tinny rattle". Ministers privately complain that they miss the comfort of the executive cars that the Prius replaced.

Kelly Executive has 20 S-class Mercedes, which emit up to 355g of CO2 per kilometre - well above the 226g level at which London Mayor Ken Livingstone has levied a new environment-driven congestion charge of 25 pounds a day.

The Speaker uses Kelly Executive in London, but when travelling to his constituency home in Glasgow he favours local company Little's Chauffeur Drive, which boasts of "utmost discretion and an impeccable chauffeuring service" used by "the world's most important people".

Yes, indeed. They will tout their carbon-neutrality while riding in the finest - and least eco-friendly - cars. No worries. They'll wave if you can see them through the blackout windows. Meanwhile, in other "eco-friendly" news, the Telegraph points out that "fair trade" coffee is anything but.
"Fairtrade purports to work within the market economy but its rise has been largely based on marketing subsidies and public-sector procurement," says Tom Clougherty, policy director of the Adam Smith Institute. Despite huge pressures on the public purse, local councils are squandering large sums becoming Fairtrade towns and cities, distributing posters and leaflets to nanny people into only buying Fairtrade. Meanwhile, the Fairtrade Foundation has received over 1.5m pounds from the Department for International Development. It wants more. In December, reminiscent of 1970s-style industrial policy, it called for 50m of development aid to be spent as "strategic investment" on Fairtrade.

Monday sees the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, the time each year when we are hectored into paying more for a cup of coffee. Charities, politicians and primary school teachers will deliver the scheme as an undisputed good. With all this effort, it is a pity Fairtrade does not work.

Fairtrade's supporters blame the plight of coffee farmers on world prices and ruthless multinational companies. But supporters ignore the real causes of poverty among growers. Farmers I interviewed in Kenya told me that the problems they face are not caused by global influences but their own government's interference. They are forced to use milling companies granted regional monopolies, who fleece them. They want to boost productivity by using fertiliser, but they cannot afford the inflated prices demanded by the government fertiliser monopoly. Imported tools and machinery would transform their output but are subject to punitive tariffs. Police roadblocks slow their goods and involve money exchanging hands.

On top of that, the growers selling to fair trade programs are also selling on the free market. The free market pays premium for high quality so the best beans are sent to the free market. The leftovers are sent to the "fair trade" market to garner the guaranteed higher-than-market value prices. It has never been easier - or more lucrative - to rape the planet.

We don't need to define Britishness

British national identity is becoming more and more like the weather: everybody talks about it but nobody can do anything about it. And come to think of it, it is especially like British weather: so tepid most of the time that it is difficult to describe.

This is not necessarily a problem: having a sense of your own country's character as a vague, largely invisible thing which hums away quietly in the background. Until, of course, the woolly, taken-for-granted conception is challenged by an internal threat which makes use of precisely that amorphous lack of definition to create malignant - potentially lethal - social divisions

And that is where we find ourselves. Last week's report from the Royal United Service Institute went so far as to say that Britain's lack of clear conviction over the value of its identity and political culture had left it a "soft target" for terrorism - which is not the same thing as being soft on terrorism, as some sections of the media concluded. The British security services are among the few national agencies not lacking a clear set of objectives. They are not soft on terrorism.

The real argument of the RUSI study was that Britain was leaving itself open to the recruitment of Islamist terrorists by its failure to instil a confident, graspable sense of what this nation believes and stands for, and of what exactly it means to belong here. In fact, the defence experts said - as have so many others that by now the statement has become almost platitudinous - that the philosophy of multiculturalism and the diversity which it has consciously encouraged have helped to fragment society.

So officially, everybody is pedalling furiously away from multiculturalism. Not only government ministers and opposition leaders but even figures such as Trevor Phillips of the Equality and Human Rights Commission have proclaimed the need to dismantle it. But somehow all of this opprobrium does not filter down to the classroom or to public sector agencies (such as the BBC, local government bureaucracies and the NHS), which are still explicitly committed to "diversity programmes" that positively encourage the continuing separateness of ethnic communities.

It would be easy to see this as simply an accident, a kind of absent-minded philosophy creep in which the original good intentions just got out of hand, as things so often do when they are administered by bureaucrats. So deeply entrenched - and so embedded in the employment practices of the public sector - was the idea of "tolerating differences" that nobody noticed for the longest time that it had slipped over into "encouraging differences".

If that were the case, this would be a relatively easy problem to solve: a few stern ministerial guidelines and departmental directives ("URGENT: the word 'diversity' to be replaced by 'unity' in all official policy pronouncements") could, over a period of a year or two, turn the situation round. But everybody recognises that it is not that simple. Which is to say that everybody knows that we have a far more profound dilemma: Britain does not have a unified, coherent, identifiable self-image, either as a people or as a political entity, which it can offer to incomers as an inspiration and a ready-made value system.

There is a reason why all the attempts to define Britishness seem to end in fatuity: not only because they dribble off into nebulous virtues such as tolerance and decency, which should be common to all civilised people, but because the British opinion-forming classes tend to find the whole concept of national identity either sinister or risible. And it is perfectly plausible to see this as a virtue: a strong, cohesive sense of national loyalty certainly can transmogrify into blood-and-soil nationalism of a horrifying kind, and the ironic distance which the British maintain from even their most important historical institutions has the unmistakeable ring of grown-up wit.

Even in my more sentimental American-expatriate moments, I can see why, to most British eyes, flag-waving US patriotism seems childlike and naive. In many respects, the American model is peculiarly unhelpful, even though it is the one to which Gordon Brown and now Jack Straw cleave as they desperately seek a way out of the crisis that their own party's policies have created. Mr Straw hinted only last week that perhaps the written constitution idea was the way out of our mess since it seemed to be so successful in the US at implanting what he called an "enviable notion of civic duty". Indeed it does. But that is there, and we are here.

Americans are unlike almost all other peoples of the world in that they all either are themselves, or are descended from, people who went to the country as an act of will (apart from those who were taken there against their will whose descendants, unsurprisingly, have had more difficulty in assimilating than almost all later migrant groups). This makes them ideal subjects for the great 18th-century Enlightenment experiment: a newly invented country with a carefully devised written constitution and a self-conscious assumption of an identity that was defined in deliberate rebellion against an old aristocratic order.

To settle in the US is, in effect, to sign the "social contract" that the founding fathers envisaged: accept the rules and the principles on which this country is established and you can belong here. That's the deal that is spelt out very clearly to every prospective citizen and, for the most part, it works. Older nations that chose to redefine themselves by overthrowing their history - such as France, where the revolution turned into the Terror - have had less happy results.

Britain is particularly ill-suited to adopting the apparatus of a revolutionary republic. You know what a Brown-Straw (not to say Cameron) written constitution would look like, don't you? A list of bland aspirations with a presumptuous and irritating "Bill of Rights" attached.

Britain's historical identity has been produced by accretion, subtle accommodation and fudge: to define it is impossible because it has had no consistent conscious intent. Which is fine, because we don't need to define ourselves, we just need to stop hating ourselves. [Or having self-hatred preached at us]

What is at the heart of the aggressive form of "multiculturalism", as most ordinary people suspect, is not tolerance but self-loathing: the deprecation of our own culture and history that elevates almost anybody else's values above our own. It is not the indoctrination of some mystical sense of Britishness that is required but a restoration of the quiet pride and conviction that used to enable Britons to maintain the highest standards of civil behaviour in the world.