Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pesky gene

The power of do-gooder propaganda seems unlikely to alter this:

A gene linked to obesity causes people to put on weight by keeping them hungry, scientists say. Previous research had shown that the gene, known as FTO, was strongly associated with obesity. But it was not clear whether this was to do with increasing appetite or burning calories.

The new study of 3,337 children shows that the gene's effects are due to a lack of normal appetite control. Usually the act of eating "switches off" the appetite and creates a feeling of satiety or "fullness". The FTO gene stops this happening, scientists at University College London found. Children with two copies of a high-risk version of the gene were less likely to have their appetite suppressed by eating. FTO is the first common obesity gene to be identified in Caucasian populations.

Jane Wardle, the study leader, said: "People who carry the risky variant of this gene are more vulnerable to the modern environment with big portion sizes."

The new findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.


The BBC goes too far (?)

We read:
"During the Beeb's normally sedate and contemplative Thought For The Day, journalist Clifford Longley mused on the subject of Africa. The problem with the continent was: "African culture has always lacked a developed sense of common humanity," before going on to claim that Africa suffered from a propensity to "turn to massacre and genocide".

Of course, no genocide has ever occurred in Africa. The mass murders in Rwanda, the Congo, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and countless other African countries are actually our fault, and the West must take all the blame.

Quite rightly, such insensitive comments led to the BBC's Black and Asian Forum to complain that the comments were "racist and xenophobic" as well as the usual rot about Longley being insensitive to other people's hurt feelings.

There's just one flaw -- Longley wasn't making these points himself. He was actually quoting a Nigerian theologian who has long bemoaned the refusal of African countries to take responsibility for their own actions. Ooops...


British doctors criticise surgery bonuses

Doctors' leaders have warned that plans to pay bonuses to surgeons based on the outcomes of operations could discourage doctors from treating high-risk patients. The country's largest hospital trust, Imperial College Healthcare Trust in London, is discussing a pilot scheme in which doctors would be rewarded financially for operations that are particularly successful.

But the British Medical Association, the professional association which represents doctors, warned that this could deter doctors from carrying out complex surgery or operations on frail and elderly patients. It added its voice to other critics of proposals to extend NHS cash reward schemes to reflect performance against a number of quality indicators such as mobility after surgery. Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA's consultants committee, said: "The outcome of an operation is based on multiple factors ... Other members of the medical team would also have fundamental roles in the care a patient receives and the outcome achieved."

A spokesman for the Imperial College trust would not say which operation the scheme would apply to, but he added: "It's about rewarding excellence." Katherine Murphy, from the charity the Patients Association, said: "Patients will be horrified."


Cadet forces in schools would restore discipline says British union

Military cadet forces should be set up in schools to restore discipline and control unruly pupils, a teaching union will hear this week. Voice, which has 38,000 members, will discuss a motion that it should welcome the establishment of cadet units in state schools. This clashes with the stance of the NUT, the biggest teaching union, which voted in March to oppose military recruitment campaigns in schools. One teacher told that debate that military cadet forces should be barred from schools because they were used for recruitment.

But two months later, a report commissioned by Gordon Brown said more cadet corps should be set up in schools, and recommended the inclusion of lessons on the Armed Forces’ role in society in the national curriculum. It also said more military personnel should visit schools. This has found favour with Peter Morris, the retired teacher who is making the latest proposal. He will tell the Voice annual conference on Wednesday that a military presence at school would foster patriotism, integrity, loyalty and courage. “Society as a whole is becoming less disciplined,” he is due to say. “As a profession, we continually complain about the indiscipline of pupils. The establishment of cadet units will, I am sure, help with discipline in our schools. They will give pupils an insight into the role of the armed forces.”

Mr Morris will tell the event in Northamptonshire that having a cadet force on site will help prevent low-achieving pupils from dropping out of school and drifting into crime. He is expected to say: “I have seen a pupil lift a computer monitor above his head ready to throw it at a teacher. I have seen pupils barring the way of a teacher along a corridor. “Pupils are well aware of their rights these days and exercise those rights to the full, often leaving teachers with little or no power to restore discipline.”

An IT teacher for 15 years, Mr Morris was formerly a policeman, but retired after suffering assault while on duty. In an apparent allusion to the NUT stance, he will tell delegates: “No doubt left-wingers in our profession will try to sabotage the government’s plan for cadet units, just as many colleagues in another teaching union recently voted to ‘actively oppose’ the army making visits to schools. “The structure which is lacking in the lives of so many young people today is offered by cadet units, and there is nowhere better to house these cadet units than in schools. “These units can work well for high achievers as well as those who will drop out of school early - with the consequential risk of falling into a life of crime.”

Mr Morris will tell the conference that cadet forces will “inculcate some of the values which we, as a society, are missing: self discipline, self-reliance, loyalty to one’s comrades, to one unit and to one’s country, courage, respect and integrity.”

Voice, formed from what was the Professional Association of Teachers, and other unions, counts teachers, lecturers, heads, support staff, nannies and childcare professionals among its members. Speaking to The Times, Mr Morris said many discipline problems in the classroom were caused by having mixed-ability lessons, during which both high and low achievers became bored. He said cadet units could engage some pupils by giving them a sense of purpose and achievement, and showing them how a career in catering or music could be pursued within the military. They could also be used to help schools provide after-hours activities. The Government wants all schools to become “extended” by opening from 8am to 6pm.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said at the time of the report to Gordon Brown: “I believe combined cadet forces can make a huge difference to the young people who join them and the schools and communities in which they are based.”


Madness: British appeals court outlaws hitting delinquent children in custody

Someone should confine these judges to one of the "training" centres concerned. They would soon change their tune

Controversial methods of disciplining young people in custody have been abolished by the Court of Appeal today, only a year after they were introduced by the Government. Three judges ruled that the Secure Training Centre (Amendment) rules - which included advice to hit unruly children on the nose or ribs, or bend back their thumbs to distract them if they were disobedient - breached human rights.

Sally Keeble, Labour MP for Northampton North, who has been campaigning for a change in the law over physical restraint methods since 15-year-old Gareth Myatt died in custody in Northamptonshire four years ago, said she was delighted at the ruling She said: "This court victory is absolutely stunning. The Government has ducked and dived and refused to recognise the fact that these holds are barbaric and have no place in the British system."

Ms Keeble said that at their peak, the holds, which included a karate chop to the nose, were used up to twice a day in the four secure units in England and Wales run by private companies on behalf of the Department of Justice "These inhumane methods should be withdrawn and a new, safe system introduced for managing behaviour of young people in detention," she said. [Like what?] "There also needs to be a proper training system for staff, better monitoring and oversight by the Ministry of Justice of what happens in these privately-run secure training centres."

Adam Rickwood, 14, was on remand in Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in Co Durham in 2004 when he became the youngest child in Britain to die in custody. He hanged himself with his shoelaces shortly after being restrained for the first time. Gareth Myatt, 15, who weighed six and half stone, was asphyxiated whilst being restrained by three members of staff. He was three days into a six-month sentence at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Northamptonshire. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has been involved in a test case about physically restraining young people in custody in the wake of the two deaths, said today that the inquests had showed that staff at the STCs employed restraint as a way of maintaining order.

Yet despite grave concerns about the two deaths, the Ministry of Justice had chosen in 2007 to extend the use of restraint at Oakhill, Hassockfield, Medway and Rainsbrook STCs. Until June 2007 staff at STCs were only permitted to use physical restraint when it was necessary for the prevention of escape, damage to property or injury. The new rules, brought in after the deaths, allowed restraint when it was thought necessary to ensure good order and discipline.


Wind power is responsible for a LOT of CO2 emissions!

The Brits have a goal of getting 30% of their electricity from the wind in 12 years. But the wind is not reliable. A backup will be needed. Which led to a study headed by James Oswald, an engineering consultant and former head of research and development at Rolls Royce Turbines.

He said: "Wind power does not obviate the need for fossil fuel plants, which will continue to be indispensable. The problem is that wind power volatility requires fossil fuel plant to be switched on and off, which damages them and means that even more plants will have to be built. Carbon savings will be less than expected, because cheaper, less efficient plant will be used to support these wind power fluctuations. Neither these extra costs nor the increased carbon production are being taken into account in the government figures for wind power."

Lewis Page of the Register interviewed Oswald. Page wrote: "The trouble is, according to Oswald, that human demand variance is predictable and smooth compared to wind output variance. Coping with the sudden ups and downs of wind is going to mean a lot more gas turbines - ones which will be thrashed especially hard as wind output surges up and down, and which will be fired up for less of the time."

Every generation wants to save the world from some calamity, usually depicted as karma for man's sin. The nature of the sin varies - Sodom and Gomorrah had no SUVs - but the call is the same: Repent and sin no more and save the world.


Bungling Iranian hostage commander fired: "The captain of the [British] ship at the centre of the Iranian hostage debacle last year has been removed from his post, the Minstry of Defence said today. Commander Jeremy Woods was in charge of the frigate HMS Cornwall when 15 sailors and Royal Marines were seized by Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf last March. They were detained at gunpoint and held for 13 days after Tehran claimed they had strayed into Iranian waters. A parliamentary inquiry in December called the episode a "national embarrassment" and said formal action has been taken against a number of service personnel. The MoD said Commander Woods would keep his rank but has been moved "to a post where his talents and experience can be used to best effect". A spokesman said: "We can confirm that Commander Jeremy Woods, Commanding Officer of HMS Cornwall, has been removed from command. This is an internal administrative matter between the individual and his senior officers and we will not give further details of the removal."

British Labour Party doomed with or without Gordon Brown: "Voters are increasingly writing off Labour as fewer people believe that a change of leader or policy would help the party to win the next general election. A Populus poll for The Times, undertaken over the weekend after Labour's defeat in Glasgow East, suggests that its dramatic slide in popularity is being driven by a collapse in economic confidence. Labour is on 27 per cent, down one point on the last Populus poll three weeks ago, and about the level it has been for the past three months. This is the lowest since the early 1980s. The Conservatives are on 43 per cent - up two points - with the Liberal Democrats down one point at 18 per cent. Other parties are unchanged on 12 per cent. Ministers plotting to remove Gordon Brown receive a warning that barely half the electorate (52 per cent) believe that it would improve the party's fortunes"

1 comment:

TheFatBigot said...

Jane Wardle, the study leader, said: "People who carry the risky variant of this gene are more vulnerable to the modern environment with big portion sizes."

I find that sort of comment thoroughly irritating. What she said is not a conclusion from the study, it is a political slant put on the conclusion.

The conclusion (in my words) is "people with the risky variant of this gene have a disposition to eat more than other people."

The lady has reversed the conclusion and, instead of putting obesity down to individual disposition, is finding something to blame. And, what a surprise, she is blaming decadent Britain.

In this country we are lucky enough to have more than enough food for everyone. That is something to celebrate. That it might cause a problem for a tiny number of people is unfortunate, but not as unfortunate as the plight of those living in countries with insufficient food for their population.

It is typical of the way so many studies go these days. Find your conclusion then give it a twist to find fault with developed countries.