Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stupid immigration swoop in Wales

This is typical of the lazy British bureaucracy. Just to show that they are doing something, they pick on the easy targets. Anybody can find illegals working in restaurants any time but as the restaurant workers are hard-working and providing a useful service they should be bottom priority. But grabbing the problem illegals -- parasitical Muslims and blacks -- would need work.

Note: I am NOT saying that ALL blacks and Muslims are parasitical. But I am saying that there are many in that category. In this age of political correctness, one has to guard against wilful misrepresentation of what one is saying.

Eight Malaysian and Chinese nationals found working illegally at restaurants and a takeaway in a Gwynedd town have been arrested. The Thai Emperor, Everyday Takeaway and Honour Chinese restaurants in Caernarfon were visited by a Border and Immigration Agency team and police. Six of those arrested, who had such jobs as cooking and serving customers, are due to be removed from the UK. The owner of all three premises was given a formal written warning. He will also face future visits by immigration officers, said the agency.

The operation on Wednesday evening followed intelligence. Officers went into all three places at the same time and checked the documents of staff to discover if they had the right to work in the UK. At Thai Emperor, a Malaysian man, 34, and woman, 31, were arrested and are due to be removed from the UK in the coming days. Next door, in Everyday Takeaway, a Malaysian man, 32, was arrested and is also due to be removed. Five illegal workers were arrested at the Honour Chinese restaurant, in Castle Square, including two Chinese men, aged 29 and 33, who were both failed asylum seekers. Steps are being taken to remove them from the UK as soon as possible, said the agency.

Two Malaysian women, aged 24 and 29, and a 39-year-old Malaysian man will be removed from the UK in the coming days. Another Chinese man arrested was later released after producing evidence he was working legally. All those arrested were taken to Caernarfon and St Asaph police stations for questioning. Jane Farleigh, regional director of the Border and Immigration Agency in Wales and the South West said: "This successful operation shows that we will find and arrest illegal workers wherever they are in Wales." [BULLSHIT! When a British bureaucrat's mouth is moving in public, you can be sure that he/she is misrepresenting something] She added: "Illegal working hurts good business, undercuts legal workers and law-abiding businesses, creates illegal profits and puts those employed at risk."


Britain: Privileged children excel, even at low-performing "comprehensive" schools

Charles Murray pointed out long ago that richer people have higher IQs and that IQ is the main factor in educational attainment. What the report below skates over is the safety concerns many British parents have about sending their children to "sink" schools

Middle-class parents obsessed with getting their children into the best schools may be wasting their time and money, academics say today. They found that children from privileged backgrounds excelled when they were deliberately sent to inner-city comprehensives by parents opposed to private schooling. Most of the children "performed brilliantly" at GCSE and A level and 15 per cent of those who went on to university took places at Oxford or Cambridge.

To give their children "the best start in life", many parents choose to live in catchment areas of high-performing schools, "find God" to gain their child a place at a faith establishment or make financial sacrifices to pay for their child's independent schooling. However, the researchers decided to analyse the progress of the offspring of "those white, urban, middle-class parents who consciously choose for their children to be educated at their local state secondary, whatever the league table positioning".

This group attended average or poorly performing schools in working-class or racially mixed areas. Here they thrived academically and were often given special attention by teachers keen to improve the school's results, according to the study by professors in education from the universities of Cambridge, Sunderland and West of England (UWE).

The only failure was in social integration, which had been the very reason most parents sent their child to the school. Most children from middle-class families mixed only with pupils from identical backgrounds. The research found "segregation within schools, with white middle-class children clustered in top sets, with little interaction with children from other backgrounds".

Professor David James, from UWE, said: "But we wanted to discover what motivates parents who instead choose to send their children to local comprehensives that appear to be performing poorly. "Most children who had this choice made for them have gone on to perform brilliantly in GCSEs, A levels and then on to university entrance, including a much higher than average entry to Oxbridge."

The researchers interviewed 124 families from London and two other cities. Eighty-three per cent of the parents had degrees and a quarter were educated to postgraduate level. They included three Labour Party activists and two who worked in a social exclusion research unit. In 70 per cent of families, one or both parents worked in the public sector. Most described themselves as left-wing or liberal.

The report found: "Some parents were motivated by a commitment to state-funded education and egalitarian ideals and many had an active dislike for privileged educational routes on the grounds that they were socially divisive. Many wanted their children to have an educational experience that would prepare them for a globalised, socially diverse world. "These parents positioned themselves in a way we termed `a darker shade of pale', as part of a more culturally tolerant and even anti-racist white middle class. "They felt strongly that higher-achieving schools would not provide the kind of experience of the `real world' that their children needed."

However, the researchers said such parents did not consider that they were sacrificing their children's education, with many seeing it as a worthwhile, if risky, strategy. "Many parents said they could and would pull out if things did not go well," the report said. Some parents who attended privileged schools made the choice as a "conscious reaction to their own schooling". Others wanted their children "to compete in ordinary circumstances". It added: "Anxiety was not absent, especially when their children were attending schools that were pathologised - or even demonised - by other white middle-class parents."

But even though those sending their children to comprehensives were open and tolerant of other backgrounds, in some cases researchers noted "elitism and a sense of intellectual and social superiority - a sense that would be confirmed by their own child's relative success".


Parents defeat Sharia imposition in England

Parent power has prompted an Oxford primary school to rethink a plan to serve only halal meat. Rose Hill Primary School used halal meat, which is slaughtered under Muslim religious law, in several dishes last year and in all meat dishes for a month-long trial last month. It was the first school in the county to ask school meals provider Food with Thought to provide a purely halal menu.

The school has now decided to offer youngsters a choice of normal meat, a halal option or a vegetarian dish, and will use a wristband system to make sure pupils get the correct meal.

Lyndsy Johnson, 35, of Radford Close, said: "We're glad now that we have got the three options. That is how it should have been to start off with. "It was a very big issue. Everyone was talking about it on the estate. We have definitely got parent power."

Parents only found out about the menu change on the last day of winter term - after halal meat had begun to be served. Some parents were opposed to their children eating halal food, because they felt the animals were slaughtered in a cruel way. They said they should have been consulted about the changes. Within days parents raised a petition with 220 signatures, calling for three choices for school meals - meat, halal meat and vegetarian - and met headteacher Sue Mortimer and school governors to discuss their concerns.

On February 8, Mrs Mortimer sent home a letter which read: "Whilst the trial was on I continued to have discussions with Food with Thought and am now able to confirm the school could have three choices at lunchtime." The new menus will begin on Monday with children at the school in The Oval choosing meals at morning registration. They will be given coloured wristbands to show dinner ladies their choice for the day, with a red wristband for meat, blue for halal meat and green for vegetarian.

Mrs Mortimer had told parents the school introduced halal meat as part of its inclusion policy. She said because halal meat was not forbidden by any religion or culture it would allow every pupil to choose a meat dish for lunch. She refused to comment on the new system when approached by the Oxford Mail. A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said the school had bought new equipment to ensure halal meat and non-halal meat was kept separate during preparation.

Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford, said: "This is the best solution to improving community relations."


Foreign brides who plan to live in Britain 'must speak English'

Thousands of foreigners who want to marry a British person and move to Britain will have to take an English language test, the Prime Minister announced yesterday. Gordon Brown said that the test would help to prevent foreign brides being exploited. He made his surprise announcement only five hours after a Home Office Green Paper on overhauling citizenship rules said that consultations on English tests for foreigners were continuing.

The Prime Minister said in a speech in North London: "We will introduce a new English language requirement for those applying for a marriage visa and planning to settle in the UK - both as part of our determination that everyone who comes here to live should be able to speak English and to make sure that they cannot be exploited."

The English language test will apply to tens of thousands of spouses, particularly those from the Indian sub-continent. A total of 47,000 spouses and fianc‚es, including 17,000 from the sub-continent, were admitted to the UK in 2006. Ministers have for some time been concerned that some of those arriving from the sub-continent have no knowledge of English, are vulnerable to exploitation and cannot get access to the job market. It was unclear last night whether failure to pass the English language test would lead to outright refusal to come to Britain or whether a temporary visa would be granted.

Mr Brown's announcement came after proposals to reform citizenship rules under which migrants who want a British passport or to settle permanently in the country will have to undergo a probationary period of up to three years. Foreigners will be expected to leave the country if they fail to take citizenship or apply to settle permanently, as the Government seeks to end the situation where migrants "languish in limbo" having been allowed to stay. The Government is also considering ending the "ancestral visa" scheme under which Commonwealth citizens aged over 17 with a British grandparent are allowed to enter Britain to seek work and settle. [That would be very offensive to Australians. The Australian government has in the past retaliated against British restrictions on Australians by introducing similar restrictions on Brits] A scheme under which retired migrants with an annual income of at least 25,000 pounds are allowed to enter Britain, receive free healthcare and then settle may also be scrapped.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, made clear that she expected the number of new citizens - more than 1.1 million since Labour came to power 1997 - to increase as a result of the overhaul of citizenship rules. She said: "I would want to see a larger proportion of those that are here moving to full British citizenship. You will not be able to languish in limbo. Once your period of temporary residence comes to an end you will need to apply for the next stage or leave."

Gaining citizenship will take at least six years from arrival in the UK instead of the current five years, and could take as long as eight years. The probation period will last a year if the foreigner takes part in community activities such as charity fundraising, running a sports group or other voluntary work. Migrants who undertake no community or voluntary work will have to wait the existing five years plus a minimum three years on probation. Full access to non-contributory benefits will not be granted after a person has been in the UK for five years, but only after an applicant has completed the probationary period.

A fund financed by a surcharge on immigration applications will be set up to give cash to areas that experience problems because of immigration, such as oversubscribed schools. The fund is expected to raise tens of millions of pounds a year.

Migrants who have served a prison sentence will be barred from citizenship and minor offenders given a non-custodial sentence may have to serve three years on probation. A draft Bill based on the proposals is due this summer, and full legislation is expected in November.


Disgraceful treatment of elderly ex-soldier

Warrant officer is a very distinguished military rank -- indicating that the man was a first class soldier in the service of his country

Now let's look at the lot of the pensioners [social security dependants], highlighted by the imprisoning of 76-year-old, ex Warrant Officer, Richard Fitzmaurice.

Mr Fitzmaurice was shackled and humiliated by a British court (they are no longer fit to be called courts of justice). Eight hours in a holding cell, an hour and a half handcuffed to a guard in a security van and a lengthy wait in a police station custody unit for a prison space. When a jail cell comes free, Mr Fitzmaurice, who has four children, 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, will be stripped, searched and locked up with criminals for company. Then at the end of a long traumatic day, finally, at 9.30 in the evening, this 76-year-old veteran , was allowed one phone call to his family. He told his son: "I'm okay. Don't worry about me."

His crime: non-payment of council tax. For that heinous offence, Mr Fitzmaurice, who has seen the bill on his Band D property soar hugely over the years, could spend the next 34 days behind bars. The sum owed - 1,359 pounds - may not seem much to our MPs whose noses sink ever deeper into the trough, but it represents 16 per cent of Mr Fitzmaurice's 8,406 Army pension. Read that again! Mr Fitzmaurice's 8,406 Army pension! Now note that in 1998-1999, the cost of Band D council tax in Heacham was 699. By 2007-2008 this had risen to 1,359 - an increase of 94 per cent.

Faced with demands to pay ever increasing Council Tax on a meagre fixed income meant that he and his wife were being forced to choose: Reduce their spending on food and heating, or pay their council tax in full. Mr Fitzmaurice chose to put the needs of his frail wife of 55 years before the demands of his Councillors.

And who can blame him, for, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, who brought the case brought against him have been indulging in a little trough feeding themselves. Last year his borough councillors voted themselves a 35 per cent increase in allowances - 50 per cent more than an independent panel had recommended. The total extra cost to taxpayers was more than 91,000 pounds!!!

This council, like too many others has also routinely wasted so much of the money they extract from the people! In 2003, the council was criticised for spending 50,000 on a beach-cleaning tractor and mechanical rake that proved a waste of time. The previous year, two spa pools in North Lynn built for the disabled at a cost of 30,000 were closed without being used because the construction was found to be sub-standard. And let's not even look at the gold plated pensions and other perks that all council officials now enjoy - at our expense!

Yesterday a cold hearted spokesman for King's Lynn Borough Council said: "Mr Fitzmaurice does not qualify for council tax benefit, so although he can afford to pay he is choosing not to. "He has chosen to pursue the matter in this manner, rather than settle his liability and raise his concerns through legitimate methods. The decision to impose a custodial sentence, and the length of that sentence, rests with the magistrates."

Before he went into court, Mr Fitzmaurice said he was standing up for older people on fixed incomes but faced with steeply rising living costs. "Where is the money supposed to come from?" he asked. "We are on some of the lowest pensions in Europe yet Britain is one of the richest countries in the world. We are being disregarded and shoved on the back burner because it's convenient for the Government. "People are actually sacrificing food so that they can have the heating on. Pensioners are being betrayed by the Government, yet they are the people who put this country where it is today."

And whilst pensioners choose whether to freeze to death or starve to death, our elected MPs will be dining on steak and drinking champagne in Westminster today.

So there you have the connection! It's the link between the haves and the have nots. It's the link between the modern day Marie Antoinette's and the starving peasants! If you don't feel a burning anger at the base wrongness of that and despise those greedy men and women put into Parliament to serve us, but who only think of themselves, then you should do!


See also here. The gentleman has now been freed after some kind soul paid his bill

Protein boosts early babies' brains

Brain damage with premmies is always a worry so this is very encouraging news

Premature babies given a diet richer in proteins have higher IQs as adolescents, a study at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London has found. The improved diet also changed the structure of their brains later in life, the scientists found, by increasing the size of the caudate nucleus. This is linked to higher intelligence.

The study tested verbal IQ levels and carried out brain scans among two groups of adolescents born prematurely in the 1980s. One group was given a high-protein diet in the four weeks after birth; the other a standard diet.

Elizabeth Isaacs, who led the research, published in Pediatric Research, said: "The data presented here are among the first to show that the structure of the human brain can be influenced by early nutrition. "Scientists have speculated that the size of the caudate nucleus might be influenced by nutrition in infancy, when the brain is undergoing its chief growth spurt. We now see that cognitive effects of early diet that we previously reported in childhood persist into adolescence."


Was the recent British airliner crash the result of global cooling?

The plane's engines were OK and it was not short of fuel. But it had just flown through exceptionally cold temperatures right across the Northern hemisphere and part of the fuel may have frozen. Read here and here to decide for yourself. A small excerpt:

Another pilot commented that "the air temp over the UK at the time [of the accident] was some of the coldest I've ever experienced with OAT [outside air temperature] at higher levels down to -70 degrees Celsius."

There is an unconfirmed report that the BA038 pilots did not descend during cruise to lower altitude.

At very low temperatures, wax crystals form in the fuel and "flowability" may be impeded (akin to the way a blood clot or embolus can cause a stroke). The cold fuel approaches a semi rigid state. Jet fuel also contains some amount of water, and at very low temperatures it will freeze. Icing may not have been an immediate issue here, but rather a contributory one, like paraffin waxing, to the clogging of sensor points/connections. This is particularly relevant to the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), which metered fuel to the airplane's Rolls Royce Trent engines. FADECs use reference air and fuel pressures to perform their function; loss of those due to ice obstruction or clogging from waxing can lead to the FADEC's logic becoming confused or unresponsive. Indeed, both FADECs could be affected almost simultaneously by dint of exposure to an identical environment.

Add in a second factor: Heathrow has adopted a new air traffic control procedure known as the Continuous Descent Approach (CDA). The procedure is more fuel efficient than the traditional step-down approach, and basically the engines are at idle power. During aircraft operation, fuel is withdrawn from the fuel tanks and passed to a filter at the inlet to the engine fuel system. To prevent blocking of the filter due to formation of wax or ice in the fuel, a heat exchanger warms the fuel upstream of the filter. Such heat exchangers use hot air bleed from the engine compressor or heat from engine or hydraulic oil. Of note, the times when the greatest heating is required are often those times when the engine is not operating at maximum, for example, during a lengthy descent at idle from high altitude.

With ultra-cold en route temperatures inducing clumps of paraffin or ice, and a cool engine during descent at flight idle, perhaps the stage was set. Any blockages occurring at different times during the descent, and the simultaneity of the thrust loss, would have been seen only when (and because) the auto-throttle called for a thrust increment on finals after gear and flap extension. There is an account that the aircraft did not hold during the approach, which would tend to support the low-power, low-temperature scenario.

Prof. Stott explains his dissent

I am often challenged as follows: "Philip, I know you are critical of the science and politics of `global warming'. But why don't you just play along with it all, because it will be good for energy policy and for the world in general? And, like Pascal's wager, it means you won't lose out either way."

My reply is identical to that reported by James Boswell in his magisterial Life of Johnson (1791) on asking the great man why he wasn't a Papist [just replace the relevant words with `Global Warming', or `Global Warmers']:

"On the Roman Catholick religion he said, `If you join the Papists externally, they will not interrogate you strictly as to your belief in their tenets. No reasoning Papist believes every article of their faith. There is one side on which a good man might be persuaded to embrace it. A good man, of a timorous disposition, in great doubt of his acceptance with God, and pretty credulous, might be glad to be of a church where there are so many helps to get to Heaven. I would be a Papist if I could. I have fear enough; but an obstinate rationality prevents me.'"

Likewise, whenever I hear politicians and activists talking about "stopping climate change", or "saving the planet"; when I see the rich buying indulgences in the form of carbon credits, or carbon offsets; when I hear politicians talking about "zero-carbon houses", when no such thing exists; when I hear scientists declaring that we can manage the most complex, coupled, non-linear, semi-chaotic system known to humans by fiddling at the margins with one factor - and to a degree Celsius; when I see the blatant hypocrisy of newspapers like The Independent and The Guardian, which lecture us all, while selling foreign holidays, page after page; when I hear academics planning to fly to another world conference on climate change; when I watch one more hyped-up report,with shelving ice and doleful polar bears, on the tele; when I see yet another celebrity flying in to yet another world gig to tell us how to live the `Green' life; when I hear claims that wind turbines will save the world; ..... I could go on and on ..... but,

..... an obstinate rationality prevents me from having anything to do with the carbon claptrap of the Global Warming Religion and the trivial pieties of our shallow Age.

And, though I have many faults, I cannot cant. The witch hunters, and the McCarthyists, will thus always find me unrepentant. Above all, we must hold on to our reason, and to our honest understanding of things.

Moreover, I fear that it will be `global warming' hysteria which will ultimately prove to be the witchcraft and the devil of the Age. I refuse to acknowledge its familiar spirits, and I trust, like John Proctor in Arthur Miller's 1953 masterpiece, The Crucible, I shall, to the last, stand firm.


Nationalized medicine and the incentives they face

The role of incentives are too easily ignored by individuals who have the idea that the State is somehow, magically, the solution to whatever problem we face. And government-run health care is supposed to be the solution to the scarcity problem in health care. Economists argue that incentives matter and that political-provision of services creates distorted and perverse incentives. And here is a perfect example.

The British National Health Service is notoriously slow in treating patients. Some people deny this is the case and point to various numbers released by the NHS itself to show how efficient it is. And one number the NHS takes seriously is that they require patients admitted to the emergency ward to be seen within 4 hours of admission. Doesn't that sound peachy?

Don't get too excited. Let me point out how well-intentioned interventions can create unintended incentives. A town in a poor country is faced with too many rats. They offer a bounty for each rat that is killed. Proof of a kill required the bounty hunters to hand in a rat's tail. Alas, a bevy of tailess rats were soon seen running about town. To solve that problem the city required the entire carcass of the rat be handed in. And they were inundated with dead rats. But it seemed to have no impact on the number of rats running about. Apparently individuals took to breeding rats.

There was a time when the South African government decided that they would offer an award for every AK-47 that was turned into the police. These weapons were frequently used in major crimes and it was a bit embarrassing to the ANC government that they had been the importers of the weapons in question when they were trying to overthrow the previous government. So they offered a nice hefty bounty on each AK-47 that was turned in. The only problem was that AK-47s could be purchased in neighboring countries for a lower price. One could buy it in Zimbabwe and legally sell it to the South African government at a premium. AK-47s were duly imported in record numbers in order to collect the awards the government was handing out. To say the least they merely increased the number of such weapons in the country.

Governments are very good at establishing perverse incentives without realizing it. And so it was with the NHS. The 4-hour rule is simple. A patient must be seen within 4 fours of admission. If too many patients are not seen in that time the health service could lose funding. Of course the ability to see patients that quickly is not increased by the rule. Instead the local hospitals have incentives to act in very strange ways.

If you know you can't see a patient in emergency care for at least six hours, but you are required to see them within four hours of admission, then the easiest way to solve the problem is to delay admission for an additional two hours. And that is what is happening according to the Left-of-center Guardian. The paper reports, "thousands of seriously ill patients in ambulance `holding patterns'" were being kept outside in the ambulances "to meet a government pledge that all patients are treated within four hours of admission."

The story was originally broken by The Observer. The Guardian notes:
Those affected by 'patient stacking' include people with broken limbs or those suffering fits or breathing problems. An Observer investigation has also found that some wait for up to five hours in ambulances because A&E units have refused to admit them until they can guarantee to treat them within the time limit. Apart from the danger posed to patients, the detaining of ambulances means vehicles and trained crew are not available to answer new 999 calls because they are being kept on hospital sites.

Notice the knock-on effect of this incentive. The hospital can't see the patients within the required 4 hour period. So it refuses to admit the patient until it can see them and meet government edicts. That means the patients is left in the ambulance. That means the ambulance can't treat other patients.

Under normal conditions the government says that it ought to take 15 minutes from the time an ambulance arrives with a patient until they prepared to depart. Ambulance crews say it is usually 5 to 10 minutes. But reports now show that on 14,700 occasions at 35 hospitals in London alone, in the last year, an ambulance mysteriously took over one hour before they could turn around. And on 332 occasions they took more than two hours. The total for the entire country is probably three times that.

For a moment I want you to think about a fast food restaurant -- say McDonalds. Let us say that the manager notices that they aren't serving customers as quickly as they should. So he sets a 4 minutes rule. From the time a customer enters the line, he should not wait more than four minutes to be served his meal. Do you really think that the way they would meet this target is to lock the doors so customers can't get in?

Why is it that clerks at the local grocery store can process your purchase within a few minutes while government departments around the world can keep you waiting for hours at a time? Are clerks at the local Safeway just that much more efficient than those at the DMV? Or do they face entirely different incentives?

Does the DMV fear losing customers? Does Safeway? Does the salary of the checkout clerk at Safeway depend on keeping customers happy? How about the DMV clerks? I don't think the people differ that much. The problem isn't the personnel -- as some Republicans tends to think -- the problem is systemic. Government just hasn't found a way to create the right set of incentives. And people who work for government are responding to the incentives they do face.

Source. See also here on British "patient stacking"

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