Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Majority in Britain want tougher immigration policy

The majority of people living in Britain, from all political and ethnic backgrounds, think too many people are settling in the country and favour tougher immigration policies, a poll showed on Monday. According to the YouGov poll, 57 percent of adults think there should be less immigration than emigration and 28 percent favour keeping the number of people moving to Britain the same as the number leaving, so-called balanced migration.

With immigration high on the political agenda following an influx of workers from eastern Europe, a parliamentary cross-party committee asked pressure group Migrationwatch to commission the survey on balanced migration.

According to the Office of National Statistics, more people have moved to Britain than left every year since 1993, when there was a net outflow of 1,000. The net inflow was 223,000 in 2004, 185,000 in 2005 and 191,000 in 2006.

The YouGov survey showed there was overwhelming support for lower immigration from backers of the three main political parties, as well as among black and minority ethnic respondents. Among supporters of Labour, 36 percent said balanced migration was about right and 45 percent said that would still mean immigration was too high. For Conservative voters, 23 percent supported a balanced approach while 66 percent wanted tougher limits.

Among black and minority ethnic respondents to the YouGov survey, 36 percent favoured balanced migration and 39 percent wanted tighter immigration policies

More here

Revealed: The wild variation in how NHS trusts spend money on treating the same conditions

The NHS spends three times more in some areas on treating the same conditions, it has emerged. A report highlighted huge variations in amounts spent locally, even after the needs of different communities were accounted for. Spending varies by up to 3.4 times for mental health, 2.5 times for cancer and 2.2 times for heart and circulatory diseases.

The study by health charity the King's Fund analysed primary care trust spending from 2004 to 2007. Islington, North London, spent 332 pounds per head of population on mental health, while in West Kent it was just 98 - a 3.4-fold gap.

The proportion devoted to mental health ranged from 7.6 to 25 per cent of trusts' budgets. Knowsley, Merseyside, paid 118 a head on cancer, while Ealing, West London, allocated 47.

Middlesbrough spent 167 on circulatory diseases compared with 76 in Southwark, South-East London.

Professor John Appleby, of the King's Fund, said: 'It does raise questions about the consistency of the decisions PCTs make.' Chief executive Niall Dickson said: 'There are unexplained spending variations - some are almost certainly not justified.' David Stout, of the PCT Network, representing trusts, said: 'Many of these variations are expected. 'However, some are not explained. It may reveal unacceptable variation in clinical practice.'


OK to call GWB a "retard"

I noted on August 12 how vastly incorrect the word "retard" seems to be. Some hairy British Leftist, however, thought nothing of applying the word to GWB:
"If his aim was to be noticed by America, Russell Brand more than achieved his goal last night as he ranted that President Bush was a "retarded cowboy" while hosting the MTV awards.

The British comedian, who is a virtual unknown in America, left the creme of the music world stunned as he championed Barack Obama, ran down George Bush and made lewd jokes about the Christian pop band Jonas Brothers.

Brand told the Hollywood audience they must vote for Barrack Obama "on behalf of the world", before insinuating that America had lower standards than Britain when it came to picking leaders.

"Some people, I think they're called racists, say America is not ready for a black president. "But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retard and cowboy fella be president for eight years?


Predictably, The New York Times loved it! But many listeners did not.

No link between MMR and autism say doctors after recreating controversial study

A fresh study has ruled out a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Scientists said they hoped their findings - which contradict an identical British study ten years ago - would encourage parents to immunise their children. Fears over the combined measles, mumps and rubella jab have contributed to the highest numbers of measles cases seen in Britain and the U.S. and parts of Europe in many years. The disease kills about 250,000 a year globally, mostly children in poor nations.

This latest U.S. study attempted to replicate 1998 research led by Dr Andrew Wakefield, then of the Royal Free Hospital, in London, which suggested the MMR vaccine was linked to autism and gastro-intestinal problems. His study has since been discredited and he is currently undergoing disciplinary action for professional misconduct.

Scientists at Columbia University in New York looked for evidence of genetic material from the measles virus in intestinal tissue samples taken from 25 children with autism who also had gastro-intestinal problems. They compared these to samples from 13 children who had gastro-intestinal problems but no autism, and found no differences. The team also collected data about the children's immunisation histories but found no relationship between the timing of the MMR vaccine and the onset of either gastrointestinal complaints or autism. However, the study did find evidence that children with autism have persistent bowel troubles that should be addressed.

The samples were analysed in three laboratories that were not told which came from the children with autism. One of the labs had been involved in the original study suggesting a link between measles virus and autism. 'We found no difference in children who had GI complaints and no autism and children who had autism but no GI complaints,' Dr Ian Lipkin of Columbia University said.

The team also collected data about the children's health and immunisation histories from parents and physicians to see if vaccinations preceded either their autism or bowel trouble. 'We found no relationship between the timing of MMR vaccine and the onset of either GI complaints or autism,' Dr Mady Hornig, also of Columbia, added. Recent research suggests that around 1 in 100 people have some form of autism in the UK.


Doomed by mother's diet: Calorie- cutting during pregnancy 'puts your baby at risk of obesity in later life'

A nice little dilemma the food Fascists have dreamed up for mothers

Women who count calories during pregnancy could be condemning their unborn children to a lifetime of obesity, scientists have warned. It is thought that a lack of food in the womb alters the programming of the baby's fat cells, leading to weight problems in later life. As they grown into adulthood the child may find their body is still trying to compensate for the food shortages it experienced years before, a science conference heard yesterday.

Dr Helen Budge, of University Hospital Nottingham, warned that dieting during pregnancy or when trying to conceive could have long-lasting consequences. She said: 'Women diet to get pregnant and try to restrict their food intake during pregnancy because they don't want to become overweight. 'But the baby needs them to gain some weight. 'Whether we become obese is often established before, and soon after, we are born and is influenced by both the eating habits of our mothers and by the nutrition we receive as babies in the months after birth. 'Processes set in motion early on in our lives can have life-long effects.'

Dr Budge's work shows that lack of nutrition in the womb alters the chemistry of the developing fat cells. 'We know the chemistry of these cells is upset,' she said. 'There is more inflammation and stress on the cells and the hormone balance is upset.' With overweight mothers-to-be also running the risk of obese children, Dr Budge said a balanced diet was essential during pregnancy.

She told the British Association's Festival of Science in Liverpool: 'They should avoid food fads and diets and avoid over-eating. 'The message is about getting the balance right. 'If we want to successfully tackle obesity, it is essential that we improve understanding amongst women of the importance of having a healthy balanced diet before and during pregnancy and how this can affect the health of their child for decades at a time.'

Their average daily calorie intake was lower than both that recommended during pregnancy and that for women who aren't pregnant. They also put on less weight than advised by the Department of Health - gaining around 2.5lb under the recommended 27.5lb. The women were also lacking in iron, which prevents anemia, and folic acid, a form of vitamin B which helps prevent brain and spine defects such as spina bifida.

And research on rats suggest that children develop a taste for junk food in the womb, raising their risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in the years to come. Even babies fed a healthy diet after birth - meaning they had never eaten junk food themselves - tended to be overweight.

Dr Pat Goodwin, of the Wellcome Trust, which funded the junk food research, said: 'Obesity has increased dramatically over the last few years and needs to be tackled urgently. 'Pregnancy can be a difficult time for many mothers, but it is important that they are aware that what they eat may affect their offspring.'


The agonies of educational choice in Britain

The quality of British government ("State") schools is very uneven and is often very low, depending in part on where the school is located. Only the many private schools offer a reasonable guarantee of a good education. So the middle class try to send their kids to private schools in the hope of catching up with the upper class. But the upper class have the last laugh. They often send their kids to government schools! So what's a good British Leftist to do? The one below feels he has been cheated but still feels he has to send his kids to a private school! He explains:

Arabella Weir: "Why I would never send my kids to private school," she wrote in another newspaper last week. "The underlying snobbery and racism are shocking." Oh, I know. It's like the thought of another four years of Christian rightwingers in the White House. Don't get wound up, my wife says. But I can't help it. My kids dwell in a school playground that looks like happy hour at the United Nations but apparently we're all racists. I'm picking them up with Peter the plumber and Tom the builder but in Arabella's mind we're snobs. I wonder if her kids ever got met at the gates by a bloke in a van.

Apparently not, because she wrote that her ten-year-old daughter walks home from school through several council estates "without even thinking about it". I reckon mummy thinks about it, though. I reckon if you know how many council estates your children walk through you are not quite as down with the working class as you would like us to believe.

Really posh people don't send their children private these days. They go state and smug, judging all the hapless arrivistes scrabbling to give their children the half-chance that might protect them from having to get up before dawn each morning to run a greengrocer's like their dad. Gordon Brown's son, John, is going to the local community school where almost half the pupils have free meals, apparently. Big deal. Chances are that what with his father being the Prime Minister, junior might need less of a leg-up in his teenage years than some of his schoolfriends.

Ms Weir talked about sending her children to the less desirable of the two state primaries in her area - Camden, naturally - as if she were bestowing her bounteous gifts of spawn on the poor. She said that when her parents moved to Camden they were advised against it by friends because "people like us" didn't live near council-house folk. And that was the clue. Something was not quite right in that sentence. You know what it is. I'm talking to the state school attendees here. Were any of your classmates called Arabella? No, me neither. [In Britain, Arabella is a famously upper-class name]

Arabella may have attended state school in Camden, but there the gamble ended. Her father was Sir Michael Weir, Balliol scholar, Foreign Office diplomat, former Ambassador to Egypt and the man Jim Callaghan referred to as his mentor on Middle East politics. When Anwar Sadat was assassinated, Sir Michael was seated two rows behind. Sir Michael died two years ago leaving an obituary that read like a Who's Who of 20th-century history. It said that he persuaded Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah al-Thani of Qatar to abolish slavery, which my dad was definitely going to get round to, if he had not had 400 boiling chickens to gut at a market stall each day in East London.

"It's only information," sniffed Arabella of private education; but it isn't. It is an often forlorn attempt to level the playing field by those not born with connections that will put them at the front of every queue. State education can never provide the same opportunities for all because there will remain the sons and daughters of the truly powerful, the truly wealthy, the famous, who can call in favours from a network forever closed to the bloke with the plumbing business that has just had a good year. All he can do is try to buy his way in; this is why you rarely hear of a black guy with a guilt complex about getting his children privately educated.

My kids watch Doctor Who. The godfather to Arabella's kids is Doctor Who. David Tennant. You see the difference, Arabella, don't you? You don't need to send your little angels to private school. They are already in the Tardis, just like their mum.


Green activists 'are keeping Africa poor' by promoting traditional farming

And it's King of climate change saying it

Western do-gooders are impoverishing Africa by promoting traditional farming at the expense of modern scientific agriculture, according to Britain's former chief scientist. Anti-science attitudes among aid agencies, poverty campaigners and green activists are denying the continent access to technology that could improve millions of lives, Professor Sir David King will say today. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from Europe and America are turning African countries against sophisticated farming methods, including GM crops, in favour of indigenous and organic approaches that cannot deliver the continent's much needed "green revolution", he believes.

Speaking before a keynote lecture tonight to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, of which he is president, Sir David said that the slow pace of African development was linked directly to Western influence. "I'm going to suggest, and I believe this very strongly, that a big part has been played in the impoverishment of that continent by the focus on nontechnological agricultural techniques, on techniques of farming that pertain to the history of that continent rather than techniques that pertain to modern technological capability.

Why has that continent not joined Asia in the big green revolutions that have taken place over the past few decades? The suffering within that continent, I believe, is largely driven by attitudes developed in the West which are somewhat anti-science, anti-technology - attitudes that lead towards organic farming, for example, attitudes that lead against the use of genetic technology for crops that could deal with increased salinity in the water, that can deal with flooding for rice crops, that can deal with drought resistance."

Sir David, who stepped down in December as the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, will use his presidential address to the BA Festival of Science in Liverpool to accuse governments and NGOs of confused thinking about African development. "Solutions will only emerge if full use is made of modern agricultural technology methods, under progressive, scientifically informed regulation," he will say.

"The most advanced form of plant breeding, using modern genetic techniques, is now available to us. Plant breeding needs to meet a range of demands, including defences against evolving plant diseases, drought resistance, saline resistance, and flood tolerance. The problem is that the Western-world move toward organic farming - a lifestyle choice for a community with surplus food - and against agricultural technology in general and GM in particular, has been adopted across Africa, with the exception of South Africa, with devastating consequences."

His remarks will place him in direct opposition to former Whitehall colleagues. The Government endorsed recently the International Assessement of Agricultural Science and Technology, a report from 400 scientists and development experts published in April, which championed small-scale farming and traditional knowledge. The exercise was led by Professor Bob Watson, the chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Sir David said that its findings were short-sighted. "I hesitate to criticise Bob Watson, who I admire enormously, but I think that we have been overwhelmed by attitudes to Africa that for some reason are qualitatively different to attitudes elsewhere. "We have the technology to feed the population of the planet. The question is do we have the ability to understand that we have it, and to deliver?"

Sir David, who was born and brought up in South Africa, added: "I think there is a tremendous groundswell of feeling that we need to support tradition in Africa. What that actually means in practice is if you go to a marketplace in a lovely town like Livingstone in Zambia, near Victoria Falls, you will see hundreds of people with little piles of their crops for sale. "This is an extremely inefficient process. The sort of thing we're seeing existed in this country hundreds of years ago. I don't believe that will lead to the economic development of Africa."

He will cite the example of rice that can resist flooding, which has been developed by the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. Its development has been held up for several years because scientists felt they could not use GM techniques, such is the scale of Western-influenced opposition to the technology.

He will also accuse green groups such as the UN Environment Programme of agitating against new technologies on the basis of speculative risks, while ignoring potential benefits. "For example, Friends of the Earth in 1999 worried that drought-tolerant crops may have the potential to grow in habitats unavailable' to conventional crops.

The priority of providing food to an area of the world in greatest need appears to not have been noted.For decades, approaches to international development have been dominated by this well-meaning but fatally flawed doctrine."


The British Labour party's 3,600 new ways of making you a criminal

Ever tried selling a grey squirrel, impersonating a traffic warden, importing Polish potatoes or disturbing a pack of eggs without permission? If you do, you will be breaking the law. These are among the 3,605 new criminal offences created by the Labour Government since it won power in 1997 - almost one for every day it has been in office. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne has described the plethora of new laws as 'legislative diarrhoea'.

The new offences are made up of 1,238 which were brought in as primary legislation - meaning they were debated in Parliament - and 2,367 by secondary legislation, such as orders in council and statutory instruments. Under Tony Blair, Labour introduced 160 new offences in its first year, but in 2003, 493 offences were created. Offences brought in during the past five years include:

Sell types of flora and fauna not native to the UK, such as the grey squirrel, ruddy duck or Japanese knotweed

Disturb a pack of eggs when instructed not to by an authorised officer

Offer for sale a game bird killed on a Sunday or Christmas Day

It has slowed slightly in the past two years with 288 new offences in 2007 and 148 so far this year. Mr Huhne said: 'In what conceivable way can the introduction of a new criminal offence every day help tackle crime when most crimes that people care about have been illegal for years. 'This legislative diarrhoea is not about making us safer, because it does not help enforce the laws that we have one jot. It is about the Government's posturing on punishments.'

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has proved the most prolific law creators, introducing some 852 new offences. Meanwhile the Home Office has been responsible for 455 new offences.

Mr Huhne said minor criminals should be kept out of jail to allow the Home Office to redirect funding from prisons to the police. It is the fear of being caught - and not the severity of punishment after conviction - which deters people from committing crime, he said outlining the Lib Dem's vision for policing and criminal justice.

Mr Huhne - whose party is already committed to funding 10,000 more police by scrapping ID cards - said: 'We rely on prison far too much. 'First, reoffending is appallingly high, as prisons are colleges of crime. Secondly, the chances of being caught are still far too low, as only one in 100 crimes leads to a conviction. 'We do not need to increase the severity of punishments, but we do need to increase the chances of being caught. Catching criminals works better than posturing about penalties.'

Some more offences introduced in the past five years:

To wilfully pretend to be a barrister (A provision of the Legal Services Act 2007 aimed at modernising the legal profession and increasing competition between barristers).

(Part of a detailed set of regulations last year controlling the production and marketing of eggs).

Obstruct workers carrying out repairs to the Dockland Light Railway (The offence is created under legislation designed to boost capacity on the DLR in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics in London).

Attach an ear tag to an animal when it has previously been used to identify another animal (A regulation introduced last year to tighten up identification of cattle).

Land a catch at a harbour that includes unsorted fish without permission (Regulations two years ago controlling fish taken from seas around Britain).

Fail to use an approved technique for weighing herring, mackerel and horse mackerel (Banned under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006).

Allow an unlicensed concert in a church hall or community centre (The 2003 Licensing Act introduced a maximum penalty of six months' prison for breaking the law).


British officialdom still losing data: "Jack Straw, the justice secretary, has called for an urgent inquiry into the latest government loss of computer data, a disk containing the personal details of 5,000 prison staff. Although the prison service was informed of the loss in July, Straw, who is the minister responsible, was only made aware of it yesterday when he was contacted by a Sunday newspaper. The hard disk containing personal details of up to 5,000 staff, including probation workers, was mislaid by a computing firm working for the Ministry of Justice more than a year ago. According to a letter sent by the firm, EDS, on July 4, the 500GB portable hard disk contained names, dates of birth, National Insurance numbers and prison service employee numbers of about 11% of the UK prison service's 45,000 workers. A copy of the letter, entitled Security Incident Interim Report, was obtained by the News of the World, which informed the justice secretary. "I am extremely concerned about this missing data," Straw said last night. "I was informed of its loss at lunchtime and have ordered an urgent inquiry into the circumstances and the implications of the data loss and the level of risk involved."

A British government bungle that would be funny if it were not so stupid: "Further flooding is feared across Britain this week as residents of the worst-hit town complained that a government-backed alternative for traditional sandbags had floated away... Some residents complained yesterday that flood defences simply floated away. They had been given packs of expanding pillows, designed like nappies, to soak up 20 litres of water. Simon Richell, 40 and wife, Gez, 38, saved their three sons, aged 11, 4 and 9 months, then tried to protect their riverside home. "We got handed these bags which expand to absorb water but they just floated off," said Mr Richell. "We ended up filling sandbags from the kids' sandpit." The "Floodsax" bags had been provided as part of a pilot scheme this year. It had been supported by John Healey, the Floods Recovery Minister, who visited Morpeth yesterday. The Environment Agency said that it was the first time that the bags had been used in the pilot zones." [How come the moronic bureaucrats did not test the things first?]

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