Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lots of antisemitism in British universities

A massive rise in anti-semitic incidents involving students and campus life has contributed towards a overall increase in cases of hate against Jews, according to new statistics released today. The Community Security Trust recorded a total of 266 incidents during the first half of 2008, representing a nine percent hike on the same period last year and including many more incidents of abusive behaviour and mass-produced anti-semitic literature. One of the few positives seemed to be the fall in violent assaults by 24 percent.

However, "particular concern" was expressed over the fact there were almost double the number of incidents reported to the CST involving Jewish students, student bodies or academics, 49 compared with 26. Among them were 41 classified under the category of abusive behaviour', 27 of which involved anti-semitic verbal abuse, while there were also 12 cases of anti-semitic graffiti on property belonging to universities or non-Jewish students including graffiti saying Kill the Jews at leeds University. There were also two minor assaults off campus.

"We will work with the Union of Jewish Students, university authorities and the government to tackle what is clearly a growing problem," said CST spokesman Mark Gardner. UJS, for its part, challenged "all relevant organisations to take a firmer stance against anti-semitism, which affects students either on or off campus", but claimed the increased numbers reflect the attitude of students not to accept anti-semitism.

"One of the main campus related recommendations of the All Party Inquiry into Antisemitism was that UJS and CST "set up reporting facilities that allow unchallengeable, evidences examples of abusive behaviour" associated with university life. These latest figures show that the recommendation has been, and continues to be, implemented. The next step is for the sector to work with UJS to find effective and creative methods to tackle the problem."

Nevertheless, the union's Campaigns Director Yair Zivan insisted "really good progress" was being made with government and higher education sector "in our strategy to confront the problem. Last year UJS and Jewish students had a fantastic year with key political victories across the country. We are confident that these will play a vital role in firmly tackling anti-semitic incidents over the next year. "At the National Union of Students conference this year we set the precedent of how we expect anti-semitism to be dealt with when an organisation handing out antisemitic material was removed and banned. The stance taken by the NUS should be an example to the rest of the higher education sector."

The CST's report - which represents the first time the organisation has supplemented its annual incidents report by also publishing figures for the first six months of a year - showed schools, synagogues and individuals all fell victim. One of the worst incidents came when a visibly Jewish man was walking down the street when a gang of youths on bicycles surrounded him, called him a "f***ing Jew" and kicked and punched him.

While the number of incidents in London and Manchester were almost identical to the period between January and June last year, the overall rise was attributed largely to a significant increase in incidents reported from elsewhere - 98 in 38 towns and cities compared to 70 in 25 separate places. This was put partly down to the orgaisation's efforts to improve contact with less populous Jewish areas.

The final figures do not include a further 158 incidents reported to the CST that on investigation did not appear to be anti-semitic.



Britain's Conservative Party tried to exploit global warming alarmism. It backfired enormously. Lesson learned?

Britain's Conservative Party has surged to an historic 22-point opinion-poll lead over the incumbent Labour Party. This turnabout has followed an energetic campaign by the Tory leader, David Cameron, to wrench the party out of its ideological comfort zone and overhaul its public image. Cameron has indeed handled many issues deftly. However, his initial attempt to spark a bidding war over climate alarmism backfired enormously, and it should serve as a warning to other Western political parties that are trying to burnish their green credentials.

From the moment he was elected Conservative leader in 2005, Cameron was eager to woo the upper-class voters who had shunned the party in the post-Thatcher era. He chose to make environmental policy the focus of his stylistic revolution, and he commissioned Zac Goldsmith (a fellow Eton graduate and director of The Ecologist magazine) to chair a "Quality of Life" policy group. Goldsmith, an heir to a billion-dollar fortune and well-known green activist, claimed "an invitation to be radical."

Goldsmith's policy group soon unleashed a fury of impractical ideas. It proposed placing prohibitive taxes on landfill and big cars, halting investment in air and road infrastructure, taxing parking at out-of-town malls, and even mandating that car advertisements include emissions statistics. The Conservative MP Tim Yeo, who chairs the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, declared that domestic plane flights should be taxed out of existence. (Yeo boasted that he now travels to Scotland by train "as a matter of conscience.")

Without doing much to appeal to suburbanites interested in clean rivers and parks, the new Tory agenda threatened the low-cost flights that had only recently made European travel affordable for millions. It also confirmed the suspicion of many working-class voters that the Conservatives were rich elitists who cared little about job loss.

While many of the Tories' environmental proposals were harmlessly ridiculous and had no real prospect of enactment, the empty rhetoric proved very costly. The Labour government, refusing to let the Conservative Party claim the mantle of environmental champion, swung left on the issue. The failure of environmental taxes to change behavior was taken as a sign that those taxes should be raised even further. Big increases in annual road taxes were rolled out; drivers of Honda Accords will owe over $500 per year by 2010-11. Taxes on gasoline went up, forcing motorists to pay nearly $9 a gallon. Meanwhile, taxes on plane flights were doubled, despite evidence that such a change may actually increase emissions.

British leaders have long struggled to convince the public that significant resources should be allocated to fight climate change. Yet the burgeoning global warming industry-a motley assortment of activists and NGOs-has relentlessly driven its agenda through bureaucratic and legal channels that are cut off from democratic accountability. Further insulated from political attack by Cameron's green posturing, the climate change alarmists were able to set the terms of the debate.

While most peer-reviewed cost-benefit analyses of climate change tend to find that the costs of global warming do not merit a radical and immediate shift away from carbon-based fuels, moderate anti-carbon policies have failed to satisfy the demands of climate activists. In response to the inconvenient economics, the Labour government decided to base all its policymaking on a Treasury study by Nicholas Stern. The Stern report used an extremely low discount rate to grossly magnify the future environmental costs of climate change.

Yet, far from rebuking this folly, the Conservative Party's Quality of Life policy group criticised the Stern report for tolerating too much planetary warming. As the Labour government advocated a 60 percent reduction in British carbon emissions by the year 2050, the Tories shot back with a demand that the nation roll back 80 percent of its emissions by that time. This merely upped the ante. The third-party Liberal Democrats responded with a call for complete decarbonization-a 100 percent reduction in emissions. No matter how hard the Tories tried, they could never "out-green" their rivals on the left.

The popular press were less indulgent of such nonsense, and many media outlets lampooned the proposed climate initiatives. Voters did not like having wealthy politicians lecture them on the demerits of prosperity, and every green policy that the Tories promoted was greeted with derision or worse. When the Tory Quality of Life group's disastrous report was eventually released in September 2007, the Conservatives were in disarray. They were so far behind in the opinion polls that Prime Minister Gordon Brown even considered calling an early election.

Cameron had no choice but to change tack. The recovery that saw the Tories rise to their present poll lead began with a call to significantly reduce the inheritance tax. This was followed by proposals for comprehensive school choice and welfare reform. The Conservatives also suggested some tough new anti-crime initiatives. The idea that proved most useful in de-stigmatizing the Tory brand was a plan to rebuild poverty-stricken communities in disadvantaged areas.

To be sure, the Conservatives have also benefited from a complete collapse of popular support for the Labour government. Indeed, this has been perhaps the biggest factor in the Tories' resurgence. The British economy has faltered, and voters have become less tolerant of fiscal extravagance. They are especially angry about an increase in the annual car tax, which was sold as a green measure. In a recent YouGov poll commissioned by the TaxPayers' Alliance, 63 percent agreed with this statement: "politicians are not serious about the environment and are using the issue as an excuse to raise more revenue from green taxes." When a recent Mori poll asked voters to name important issues facing Great Britain, only 7 percent cited the environment, while 42 percent named immigration and 35 percent said crime.

None of this is to say that conservatives should neglect the environment. Over the past few months, Cameron has been trumpeting a more holistic environmentalism, arguing that being green is "not just about the stratosphere, it's about the street corner." He stresses the need to eliminate graffiti and cut crime in local parks. While there is little public appetite for raising energy taxes or overhauling the British economy to deal with climate change, there is widespread support for boosting investment in green-friendly technologies, and the Tories are well-placed to advance this.

The recent success of the Conservative Party has owed little to quixotic environmentalism, and almost every Tory attempt to play the green card has been a disaster. The party seems to have learned its lesson, and is now embracing a results-driven conservation policy that defends green spaces and promotes the development of efficient clean-energy technologies. While the climate debate is often dominated by clamorous activists, ordinary voters tend to favor a more pragmatic approach. If the Tories want to maintain their huge lead over Labour, that is the type of approach they should endorse.


Breast cancer hope as brittle bone drug gets clinical trial in UK

A treatment for brittle bones can have a dramatic effect on breast cancer when combined with chemotherapy, research has shown. Scientists found that the two drugs acted together to slow down the growth of tumours. In mice given the therapy, growing breast tumours were almost stopped in their tracks.

A clinical trial is under way in the UK that could lead to the treatment becoming widely available to patients. Since both drugs are already well established, and need only the terms of their use to be changed, this may not take long, the researchers suggest. The therapy involves the breast cancer chemotherapy agent doxorubicin and the bisphosphonate drug zoledronic acid.

In the mouse study, doxorubicin was given first, followed 24 hours later by zoledronic acid. When the order was reversed, or the drugs administered on their own, the treatment had little effect. The scientists said that the chemotherapy drug appeared to "prime" the tumour and make it sensitive to the bisphosphonate. Tests showed that the treatment triggered a "suicide" response known as apoptosis in the cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct. It also blocked angiogenesis, the process by which blood vessels are created that fuel tumours with oxygen and nutrients.

The researchers, from the University of Sheffield and the University of Kuopio in Finland, published their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Bisphosphonates are normally used to prevent bone thinning in patients with osteoporosis. They also protect bones from the destructive effects of tumours. For this reason they are sometimes given to men with prostate cancer, which has a habit of spreading to the bones. The new study showed that zoledronic acid can have a powerful direct effect on breast cancer without any bone involvement.

The results of the clinical trial, led by Professor Robert Coleman, of the University of Sheffield, should be known this year.


The destructive British Left on view: "The Conservatives tried to preempt Gordon Brown's autumn offensive with the launch yesterday of a 19-page paper, called An Unfair Britain, in which they attempt to show that Labour policies have made Britain more unfair. They claim that the number of people in deep poverty has risen by 900,000 since Labour came to power and that the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor is the highest since the Victorian age. They also claim that Labour's "stealth" tax policies meant that the poorest now pay more than the rich, while a failure to reform schools meant that the education gap between poorer and better-off students is getting worse."

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