Sunday, September 21, 2008

British child footballers banned from reading results

Children have been banned from reading their football results in local newspapers because it makes them too competitive.

Football Association laws dictate that from this season, the results of matches between children aged seven and eight must not be published, league tables must not be kept and prizes must not be given out. Some local associations have chosen to extend the regulations even further, it has emerged, banning league tables and trophies for 9, 10 and 11-year olds as well.

Scott Ager, who last season managed Priory Parkside under-9s 'A' team in Huntingdon, was sharply reprimanded after declaring that his team had won the league and having them photographed with a trophy by their local newspaper. Mr Ager said: "I find it bizarre. It seems to me to work against talented players, as the teams who may lose heavily are likely to be ones with players who just play for a bit of fun. It is very frustrating. Kids put all this effort in but there is no reward. "All the other managers in the league acknowledged that we had been the best team as we had won the most games. Football is our national sport, yet there are some strange rules around it."

A spokesman for Hunts FA said: "We were very angry. We do not allow competitive leagues until after under-11s. Mr Ager was chastened very severely and eventually left his club."

The FA handbook states: "Under-7s and Under-8s are not permitted to play in leagues where results are collected or published or winner trophies are presented." The move was designed to allow young children to nurture their skills without facing the pressure to win. Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development, said: "In the youngest age groups there's too much emphasis on winning leagues, often to satisfy parents and coaches. "That's what we're looking to change. We need better, more skilful players coming through. Undoubtedly having league tables at this age is not helping their development."

Andy Szczepanski, whose son plays for Brampton Spartans under-8s, said: "I understand where they are coming from but I also think there is a need for competition. "It will make it more difficult for managers trying to arrange friendlies against sides of a similar standard because without seeing results there is no frame of reference."

During a visit to the Olympics in Beijing last month, Gordon Brown admitted that Labour's decision to reduce competitive school sport had been a "tragic mistake" and promised to re-introduce it. "We want to encourage competitive sports in schools, not the 'medals for all' culture we have seen in previous years," the Prime Minister said. "It was wrong because it doesn't work. In sport you get better by challenging yourself against other people."

The Conservatives said that last year 3.1 million school children - 42 per cent of all pupils - did not compete in intra-school sport. Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, said the figures showed Mr Brown's promise was hollow. He said: "Gordon Brown talks the talk on competitive sport but doesn't get past the starting blocks when it comes to delivery of policy. "If he wants to end a 'medals for all' culture, why has the number of children doing competitive sport at school gone down by nearly a million last year alone?"


Thousands of British elderly ‘denied best thinning bones treatment’

Thousands of women with thinning bones are being denied the best available therapies because of “unethical and shortsighted” NHS rationing, senior osteoporosis specialists say today. Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are unfairly restricting access to osteoporosis drugs that can prevent pain, disability and even death, leading doctors and charity executives say.

In a letter to The Times, a group of 36 experts has called on NICE to revise restrictive draft guidance, which is the subject of an appeal that begins today. They urge NICE to widen access to alendronate, the cheapest generic osteoporosis drug, which costs only £50 a year, and to ease strict eligibility criteria for slightly more expensive options. NICE approves alendronate only for patients older than 75. It is also unsuitable for a quarter of patients.


Another Golliwog furore

Golliwogs are old-fashioned soft toys for children modelled on the appearance of an African. They are still popular with children in England and Australia.
"A mother ended up getting arrested in a bizarre case of political correctness gone mad when her six-year-old daughter stuck a golliwog doll on their windowsill. English 39-year-old Amanda Schofield was quizzed on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence after a neighbour complained.

Schofield, of Stockport, Greater Manchester, had removed the toy from the window as she put little Eboni to bed - yet was still visited by cops the same night. She was asked to attend a police station and was not charged.

Schofield told our sister paper The Sun: "I feel like a criminal. I can't believe it." A police spokesman said: "It was the latest in a number of previous incidents that the victim perceived to be race-related."



Writing about anything other than the financial crisis today seems akin to the house journalist on the Titanic penning an article on flower arranging - two hours after the ship hit the iceberg. The tale is told, though, of passengers on the deck some hours after the impact enjoying snowball fights, heedless of the danger they were in.

One is also conscious of the Jo Moore dictum that days like today are an extremely good time to bury bad news. While the media attention is focused on the gathering storm of the financial meltdown (or not), many other things are happening. One of those things is the latest bizarre (a word I am beginning to over-use . does anyone know a better one?) development in the long-running saga of the European emissions trading scheme (ETS) - that arcane subject which no one really wants to talk about but which, in the fullness of time is going to cost us all (collectively) many billions.

Anyhow, pushing the story on is The Guardian which tells us that "leaked papers" show that Britain is "trying to weaken plan for EU carbon cuts." See here. This is a move, storms this distinctly greenie paper which would "reduce efforts to cut domestic pollution" - by which, of course it means carbon dioxide, which isn't pollution at all, but never mind.

What this is all about is a British inspired idea (although other have had the same thought) of using carbon credits awarded to con artists entrepreneurs in the developing world who have learnt how to milk the system installed energy-saving technology and thus done their bit to make money save the planet.

Behind all this is that monument to insanity the ETS which, as readers will be aware, creates carbon allowances (called EU allowances or EUAs in the trade) to auction to industry, thus giving them permission to produce carbon dioxide and thus stay in business. Tied in with this is a plan, year on year, to reduce the number of allowances available, the theory being that this increases the cost of the allowances and thus creates a financial incentive to invest in carbon reduction measures which, collectively will reduce emissions and enable the EU to meet its self-imposed emission reduction targets.

That, at least, is the theory, with the major target being the electricity generation industry. And when the scheme was dreamed up, the EU was convinced that this would be achieve by moving away from burning fossil fuel - and especially coal - and creating zillions of giant subsidy wind farms, all with "zero" emissions.

However, no one with more than two brain cells (which of course excludes most greenies) is now labouring under the impression that wind energy is going to deliver the goods. And, far from coal disappearing, if anything usage is set to increase as pressure on gas supplies is set to make this energy source far more expensive.

This set the scene for the next fantasy option - carbon capture. Again, though no one with any brains is under any illusions that this will work, which means that we have a slight problem. As the years progress and the carbon allowances are cut, UK plc faces the situation of having electricity generators standing idle - fully tanked up and ready to go - but unable to operate because their owners have run out of allocations. This, as you can imagine, would not go down too well with the great unwashed.

Hence, someone in government with a residual capacity for thinking has come up with this bright idea of buying carbon credits off the developing world, an idea which now has The Guardian whipping up its frenzy. This would allow Europe to make less effort to cut its pollution, it says, enabling it to emit "an extra billion tonnes of CO2 from 2013-2020." The paper could have said it will also enable it to keep the lights on, but that is not the game here.

And, of course, the move has been "condemned" by the climate change industry environment campaigners, who are accusing the UK of "trying to undermine efforts to get European industry to reduce emissions." Says that great self-publicist and self-centred little madam Caroline Lucas, MEP extraordinaire and leader of the Green party: "The British government is trying to buy its way out of climate change targets using unreliable credits from abroad. It shows how much of the political talk on climate is empty rhetoric, when you have the UK talking up the need for action on one hand, and carrying out this kind of irresponsible climate vandalism on the other." Don't you just love the rhetoric: "climate vandalism". Never mind daubing power station chimneys - trying to keep the lights on is now "climate vandalism".

In the very near future, however, la Lucas had better turn her attention to her beloved EU - which pays her a salary ten time more than she would get if she had to market her skills. The commission and her MEP "colleagues" are working on proposals to combine the ETS with what is called the "clean development mechanism" (CDM) run by the UN to create a global money-making empire emissions market along the same lines that the British are mooting.

Still, when "climate vandalism" gravitates to "climate crime", la Lucas can lock us up in windowless cells with no lights and we can all reduce our carbon footprints that way. Before that, however, if would be nice if someone could actually demonstrate to this stupid woman the true meaning of vandalism, before she does any more damage.


England most crowded country in Europe

ENGLAND is the most densely populated major country in the European Union, overtaking the Netherlands, data from the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows. In a written answer to parliament, the ONS said today the projected population density of England in 2008 was 395 persons per square kilometre. The most recent United Nations figures available for the Netherlands are from 2005, when it had 393 people per square kilometre. Since then its population is believed to have remained steady or fallen slightly.

Tiny island nation Malta is the most densely populated of the 27 EU member states, with 1274 people per square kilometre.

The United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - has undergone a recent surge in immigration, which remains a hot topic in the country, with critics saying the system is in chaos. The latest figures could fuel the debate. The ONS said the projected population density of the whole of the UK in 2008 was 253 persons per square kilometre - which would place it fourth in the EU behind Malta, the Netherlands and Belgium - with Scotland at 66 per square kilometre, Wales at 144 and Northern Ireland at 131.

The UK has seen a surge in immigration over the last 10 years, with the resident population swelling to 60,975,000 in mid-2007. Many immigrants have settled in London and the wider south-east England region. The ONS estimates that England's population density will rise to 464 people per square kilometre by 2031. The UK population in 2031, if recently observed trends in fertility, mortality and migration were to continue, is likely to reach 71 million, a rise "attributable to a net inward flow of migrants'', according to National Statistician Karen Dunnell.

Last week an all-party group of MPs, led by Frank Field and Nicholas Soames, called for a "balanced'' approach to immigration, where the numbers allowed to settle in the country equalled those leaving. "This is a milestone in the immigration debate as immigration accounts for 70 per cent of our population growth,'' the pair said in response to the fresh figures. "The government's points-based system places no limit on the number of people allowed to settle in the UK. If ever there was a case for balanced migration, it is now,'' they said


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