Thursday, March 13, 2008

Brainless Brits: Illegal immigrants vanish after being given rail tickets and told to 'make their way to detention centre'

Blundering police officers put a group of illegal immigrants on a train, gave each of them free tickets and told them to make their way to a detention centre 80 miles away under their own steam. Unsurprisingly, none of the nine reported to the centre and all nine disappeared on their journey from Cambridge to Croydon. But police have defended their actions, claiming they were only acting on the advice of immigration officials and the decision was out of their hands.

James Paice MP for South-East Cambridgeshire where the men of Afghan origin were found under a lorry last week, has hit out at officials who co-ordinated the men's travel. "This is a ludicrous policy and bound to lead to increased numbers of illegal immigrants. As the police have made clear, the buck clearly stops with the Home Office," he said.

The nine men, who were found at Fordham, near Newmarket, were given the train tickets at Cambridge and the name of the immigration facility in Croydon and told to report there without supervision. DI Alan Savile, of Cambs Police, said: "In matters of this nature, the police are led by the UK Immigration Service which in turns follows the Home Office instruction. "In this instance, the Immigration Service in St Ives was consulted and the decision taken to direct individuals to the immigration facility at Croydon, which is accepted practice."

Mr Paice, who has now raised the matter with Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, said: "If this is the action that the Immigration Service actually encourages, it is hardly surprising that we have vast numbers of illegal immigrants in this country. "Surely when they are apprehended, as in this case, they ought not then be released into the community without any trace of where they may go. "It is naive in the extreme to expect nine illegal immigrants found in Fordham to voluntarily report to a facility in Croydon."

The men are thought to have boarded a lorry owned by well-known haulage company Turners in Europe. When the men were discovered at the firm's base at Fordham, staff at Turners informed police. Staff said police arrived with a minibus, took the men straight to the train station in Cambridge, then gave them tickets and allowed them on their way.


A collusive silence in the British media

Today, I ask a simple, but immensely serious, question: "Why has the UK media, in pretty well all its forms, failed to report `The Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change', signed in New York on March 4, 2008?" The meeting at which the `Declaration' was agreed [`The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change', March 2 - March 4] was attended by over 500 people (scientists, economists, policy makers, etc.), with over 100 speakers delivering keynote addresses, or participating in panel discussions. Sadly, I think we know the answer, and it is one that reflects very badly on our supine UK media [the only exception of note appears to be The Sunday Telegraph, March 9: `Climate dissent grows hotter as chill deepens']. If ever evidence were needed of the dangerous `control' of our media by pernicious grand narratives, then this is surely it. Luckily, we bloggers can break the deafening silence. Here, then, is the `Declaration' for you to read for yourself, unadorned, unedited, and unfiltered by any media:
The Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change

`Global warming' is not a global crisis

We, the scientists and researchers in climate and related fields, economists, policymakers, and business leaders, assembled at Times Square, New York City, participating in the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change,

Resolving that scientific questions should be evaluated solely by the scientific method;

Affirming that global climate has always changed and always will, independent of the actions of humans, and that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant but rather a necessity for all life;

Recognising that the causes and extent of recently observed climatic change are the subject of intense debates in the climate science community and that oft-repeated assertions of a supposed `consensus' among climate experts are false;

Affirming that attempts by governments to legislate costly regulations on industry and individual citizens to encourage CO2 emission reduction will slow development while having no appreciable impact on the future trajectory of global climate change. Such policies will markedly diminish future prosperity and so reduce the ability of societies to adapt to inevitable climate change, thereby increasing, not decreasing, human suffering;

Noting that warmer weather is generally less harmful to life on Earth than colder:

Hereby declare:

That current plans to restrict anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a dangerous misallocation of intellectual capital and resources that should be dedicated to solving humanity's real and serious problems.

That there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change.

That attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing nations without affecting climate.

That adaptation as needed is massively more cost-effective than any attempted mitigation and that a focus on such mitigation will divert the attention and resources of governments away from addressing the real problems of their peoples.

That human-caused climate change is not a global crisis.

Now, therefore, we recommend -

That world leaders reject the views expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as popular, but misguided works such as An Inconvenient Truth.

That all taxes, regulations, and other interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2 be abandoned forthwith.

Agreed at New York, 4 March 2008.

I should also like to leave you with the following interesting commentary on the proceedings: `NY Climate Conference: Journey to the Center of Warming Sanity' (American Thinker, March 6), which begins with the seminal point:
"If you rely solely on the mainstream media to keep informed, you may not have heard that the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change concluded in New York City on Tuesday. And if you have heard anything - this being primarily a forum of skeptics - it was likely of a last gasp effort by `flat-Earthers' sponsored by right-wingers in the pockets of big-oil to breathe life into their dying warming denial agenda. Well, having just returned from the 3 day event, I'm happy to report that the struggle against the ravages of warming alarmism is not only alive, but healthier than ever."

Now you know - but no thanks indeed to our UK media. We should be asking some urgent questions about media independence and balance.


In Britain Christianity must not be erotic

Sad for Christians. "GHD" is a British company that makes hair-curling and straightening gadgets

"A series of hair-styler adverts has been banned after 'eroticising' religious symbols such as rosary beads and the Lord's Prayer. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said three adverts for GHD should not be shown again as they caused "serious offence" to Christians. The Archdeacon of Liverpool was among 23 people who complained after the ads were broadcast on television.

In one advert, a woman wearing lingerie was shown sitting on a bed holding what appeared to be rosary beads. Her inner monologue was heard in Italian while on-screen text provided a translation. "May my new curls make her feel choked with jealousy," the text read. "GHD IV thy Will Be Done," it continued, with the letter T appearing as a Christian cross.

"GHD. A new religion for hair," the text concluded. Complainants criticised the lifting of "thy will be done" from the Lord's Prayer and said the transposing of the letter T into a cross was offensive to the Christian faith.

In response, GHD owner Jemella said it "had not intended to cause offence". It claimed the use of the word 'thy' was to "add drama and weight to the intensity of the girls' wishes". The firm insisted "thy will be done" had been accepted into common usage in a similar way to other biblical phrases such as "turning the other cheek", "give us today our daily bread" and "lead me not into temptation".


More details here

Pregnant woman injected with cleaning fluid by NHS

A BRITISH hospital that gave a woman anaesthetic contaminated with cleaning fluid as she gave birth is likely to face a multimillion-pound legal action. Angelique Sutcliffe, 47, was left paralysed after being injected in the spine with the fluid before her daughter Abigail's birth in January 2001. The anaesthetic was contaminated with chlorhexidine, which is used to clean patients before surgery. Following a caesarian, Mrs Sutcliffe went into a convulsion. She also suffered neurological damage. The incident caused a rare condition called chronic adhesive arachnoiditis - debilitating pain in the back, neck and other limbs.

Judges at London's High Court overnight rejected an appeal by Aintree Hospital in Liverpool, against a ruling it was negligent, the British Press Association reported.

Mrs Sutcliffe, who cannot use her legs, has limited use of her hands and requires around-the-clock care, welcomed the legal decision. She is now preparing to sue. The hospital's decision to appeal an April 2007 ruling increased the pressure on her family, she said. "You think you've won because the court finds in your favour and then you find that it may be taken away from you because the NHS (National Health Service) decides to appeal," she said. "I hope that today's finding will ensure that procedures in operating theatres are tightened up. "I would not want this to happen to anyone else."


Many Brits 'driven' to treatment abroad

Avoiding infections such as MRSA and NHS waiting lists are driving people abroad for medical treatment, according to a poll. A survey of 648 patients who had treatments overseas found that 83% also wanted to save money on the cost of private procedures in the UK. Most (97%) had a good experience and would be willing to go abroad for treatment again. Saving cash was the main motivating factor, but 63% of those having elective procedures wanted to avoid NHS waiting lists while 56% were worried about infections like MRSA.

The poll was carried out for the website, which estimated that 100,000 people travelled abroad for surgery and dental treatment in 2007. Around 6% of those questioned for the survey had spent more than œ10,000 on treatment. Nine out of 10 (92%) of cosmetic surgery patients were women, while 69% of those having elective surgery and scans were men. More than half of people choosing to have treatment abroad were aged between 40 and 59.

The top destinations for treatment include Hungary, mostly for dental treatment, Cyprus for cosmetic surgery, and India for surgery and scans. Spain, Belgium and the Czech Republic were also among the most popular destinations, according to the poll.


The big bang implosion of Physics

In cutting their funding of the physical sciences, and devaluing science education, the US and UK governments are committing `scientific vandalism'.

We are on the cusp of some of the biggest breakthroughs in physics in over three decades. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a massive particle collider built deep beneath the Swiss/French border, is nearing completion. Together with Fermilab's Tevatron, a proton-antiproton collider near Chicago, the European and US facilities are in a race to discover the Higg's Boson. This is the gaping hole in our theory of everything, the standard model of matter. Predicted by Peter Higgs in Edinburgh in 1964, the Higgs Boson is our best bet at explaining the nature of mass, that ubiquitous property of matter that has evaded explanation to date.

Now, particle physics is about to be kicked out of its speculative doldrums by the influx of long-awaited experimental data that may result in the revelation of a new fundamental force of nature, and could even allow us to create mini black holes here on Earth. But just as physics is about to receive a massive shot in the arm, its political masters seem prepared to pull the plug on fundamental research, introducing massive budget cutbacks both in the UK and in the US. Is this the beginning of the end for Big Physics?

Both Fermilab and the Standford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) in California, the two big particle physics labs in the US, are in near meltdown. Fermilab is cutting 10 per cent of its staff and has had the budgets for both its next generation projects cut to zero this year. SLAC looks likely to lose 300 staff at its facility. As Pier Oddone, Fermilab's director put it: `The greatest impact is on the future of the lab, we have no ability now to develop our future.' (1)

In the UK, the budget cuts imposed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) are even more detrimental. In removing o80million from the physics budget, the UK faces losing its participation in the next generation particle physics projects to which it has already committed; it is also pulling out of two telescope collaborations: the Isaac Newton facility in the Canary Islands and the new o8million Gemini telescope in Hawaii. There are no equivalent facilities for UK astronomers to use in the northern hemisphere. Brian Foster, professor of experimental physics at Oxford University, described the cuts as `scientific vandalism' (2).

There has been considerable discussion within the scientific community as to whether the swingeing cutbacks occurring on both sides of the Atlantic are the product, in the words of Manchester University's Dr Brian Cox, of `accident, design or just sheer incompetence'. But even if you believe that, given better financial circumstances, things will right themselves in the future, we should be aware that something significant has changed.

Big Physics no longer has the same kudos with our political rulers as it once did. In the UK, the recent Sainsbury Review of the government's science and innovation policies made it clear that the days of universities focusing on basic research are numbered. The key emphasis is now on `knowledge transfer'. The government is now only interested in the capacity of university research departments to kickstart high-end product development or `useful' spin-offs from basic research. As Lord Sainsbury put it: `Today, we are seeing a transformation in the purpose and self-image of universities. Politicians, industrialists and economists are beginning to see universities as major agents of economic growth as well as creators of knowledge, developers of young minds and transmitters of culture.' (3)

Over the past two or three decades, the era of backing for knowledge for its own sake has been dispensed with, both on economic and educational grounds. So even though US President George W Bush has promised increased spending in the physical sciences in 2009, no one is holding their breath in the US; the president promised the same in 2007 and 2008, but it did not materialise.

In truth, in the US Big Physics no longer has the political protection it once had when it comes to pushing a budget through Congress. In Britain, scientists have been promised a review of current spending priorities in the summer, but there is little chance that the STFC will rescind its decision to withdraw from the major international collaborations.

A petition on the Downing Street website to `reverse the decision to cut vital UK contributions to Particle Physics and Astronomy' has attracted 17,380 signatures (4). But the petition has somewhat missed the point, since the writing has been on the wall for some time: physics just isn't a vital priority for the political class. The UK government has happily turned our school science curriculum into a course on scientific literacy for the masses, allowed numerous university physics departments to close, and sponsored the creation of physics degrees that don't require mathematics.

In the US, this is not the first time that funding priorities have forced drastic cuts in investment in fundamental physics research. In 1993, despite protestations from then president Bill Clinton, Congress cancelled the proposed Superconducting Super Collider, which would have challenged the dominance of the LHC in Europe.

Britain has until now retained its participation at the front-end of particle physics with its contribution to the LHC. The International Linear Collider was to be the next big step forward beyond the LHC. It would be able to explore matter at a finer detail than the LHC. The UK initially contributed to this project, yet it now seems stillborn: the UK pulled out last month, and the US is removing any further funding for it.

Even more perplexing is the American decision to cancel its funding for ITER, the new international fusion reactor to be built in France. This is the next stage in the project to develop commercial fusion power which will potentially produce energy from water by mimicking the action of the sun. This clean nuclear energy could replace the more conventional nuclear fission reactors in 30 years time.

Robert Wilson, Fermilab's first director, when asked by a congressional committee if the lab would aid national defence, famously responded: `No, but it will help keep the nation worth defending.' Today, such a strident belief in the quest for knowledge does not fit well within the constraints of an education system orientated towards skills, not knowledge, and access, not excellence. The political class does not think young people are interested enough in science to believe that any youngster could aspire to an understanding of the nature of the universe without somehow making it relevant to their everyday lives.

Even the physicists at the European Programme for Nuclear Research (CERN) and Fermilab are prone to justify their work feebly in terms of the potential spin-offs to medical research. That is like trying to justify the Apollo space programme because it gave us Teflon non-stick saucepans. Rationalising fundamental research on the basis of a few spin-offs just won't wash. As Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, put it, the discovery of magnetic resonance imaging, a powerful way of identifying cancers, was discovered by a physicist `whose work would never have been possible without funding or basic physics' (5).

In truth, fundamental research is a necessity, not a luxury. Most of the technological developments made in the past 100 years have been fuelled by fundamental research into science. Albert Einstein famously dismissed Enrico Fermi's idea that massive amounts of energy could be released by splitting the atom. The unintended consequences of the theory of relativity gave us nuclear power. Similarly, from the esoteric beauty of the theory of quantum mechanics has emerged electronics, computing and laser optics, to name but a few developments.

We cannot foretell where research into the fundamental constituents of matter will take us, but to not travel down that path is to shut the door on the future. Our ability to understand and control nature is what gives us the capacity to carve out a different future not constrained by the fetters of the immediate problems of finite resources. It is our lack of vision and our preoccupation with the limitations of our society that holds us back from venturing further.

As a society, if we relinquish our quest to understand the universe within which we live, we curtail our ambition. This reflects a lesser view of humanity, capable at best of patching up the damage we have done to the planet, rather than seeking to expand our horizons. It seems that in a world dominated by the politics of eco-doom and sustainable development, there is little room for the ambition of Big Physics and the capacity it gives us to transform our future destiny. Now, more than ever, scientists need to argue for the vision to allow such research to continue.


More British bungling: "A disciplinary inquiry was under way last night after a report found that thousands of convicted offenders had not been listed on the Police National Computer because of a catalogue of court errors, while hundreds of other suspects had escaped trial. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, announced that an investigation would take place into the "lamentable" failings at Leeds Magistrates' Court, possibly leading to criminal charges against court staff involved. Up to 555 defendants who had their warrants to appear in court withdrawn may now be recalled over the 1,709 charges that they faced. Most were for motoring or other minor matters, but 115 were for serious offences that should be recorded on the Police National Computer." [If a bureaucracy cannot even keep records, what the hell is it good for?]

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