Thursday, September 04, 2008

Soda Ad Inflames British Consumers and Kids' Advocacy Groups

We read:
"Ads in the UK for children's drink Orangina, which feature scantily dressed anthropomorphised gazelles, giraffes and flamingos, have generated a wave of criticism since it hit British TV screens earlier this month, with viewers, children's charities and equal rights groups up in arms over its sexual - and, some believe, sexist - content. Equal rights groups are unhappy with the way in which female animals are depicted as lap dancers, gyrating around and pandering to the male animals, the UK's Independent reports.

"Orangina is a drink which is mainly aimed at children and young people, but this new advert places the product in a very sexualised [sic] and provocative context" said Claude Knights, director of children's charity Kidscape. "The almost sinister portrayal of animals in an animation style filled with sexual innuendo leads to very mixed and confused messages," she told Independent writer Rachel Shields.


See two more of the ads here. They are pretty weird but kids do tend to be amused by weird things.

Even the Left-leaning "Lancet" upholds the need for counseling after Abortion

The Lancet, one of the most reputable medical journals in the world, has published a report that opposes the American Psychological Association's (APA) dismissal of abortion-related psychological trauma, and calls for post-abortion counseling as an important part of patient care, reports

The Lancet states that, "The fact that some women do experience psychological problems after a termination should not be trivialized. ... Women choosing to terminate must be offered an appropriate package of follow-up care, which includes psychological counselling when needed."

The August 23 article was published in response to a recent report by the American Psychological Association (APA) claiming that there is no meaningful connection between abortion and later psychological trauma. The 90-page report stated that a first-trimester abortion of an "unwanted" baby was no more likely to cause psychological harm than carrying the baby to term. (See here)

Critics of the APA, which has long been known for its advocacy of abortion as a civil right, pointed out that most of the members of the committee behind the report were publicly pro-abortion. (See here).

Research published by the Elliott Institute supports The Lancet's call for post-abortive care with evidence that women commonly experience several psychological problems after abortion, including post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual dysfunction, suicidal thoughts, alcohol and drug abuse, and eating disorders.


Mixed-ability teaching fails to make the grade in Britain

The 750,000 teenagers who collected their GCSE results yesterday are the first cohort of pupils whose entire schooling has taken place under Labour. They have plenty to be proud of. The number of top grades has risen more sharply than at any time in the past 20 years.

Inevitably, this will prompt complaints about grade inflation (so demoralising for pupils who have worked hard for their As) and the growing tendency for target-driven schools to steer children towards "easier" subjects to punch the right buttons for their Whitehall masters. In fact, it is not quite as simple as that.

Entries in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, for example, increased significantly this summer, although the numbers taking other "hard" subjects such as French, German and History fell.

There remains a worrying tendency for too many subjects to be taken - 10 appearing to be a sort of informal minimum - adding weight to the calls for a smaller number of core GCSEs including English, Maths, a science and a language to become the norm, allowing more time in the curriculum for wider-ranging, less exam-driven study.

But it is at the other end of the ability range that Labour's education policies have proved such a crushing disappointment. A quarter of pupils left secondary school this year without a single decent GCSE - that is, a Grade C or above.

Over the Labour decade, two million pupils have been let down in this way, with many of them emerging from 11 years of education unable even to read or write properly. This is Labour's core constituency; most of those being failed by the system are from poorer homes.

And Labour's spiteful decision to scrap the assisted places scheme kicked away the ladder of opportunity for bright working class children once provided by grammar schools; too many state comprehensives are showing themselves incapable of filling the gap.

This exposes weaknesses in teaching methods that go far beyond the mechanics of testing and examinations. The teaching establishment, shaped by a training structure that remains in thrall to clapped out liberal orthodoxies - to such an extent that most jobs are still advertised in The Guardian - refused to oblige.

Eleven years on, fewer than half of classes are set. In the remainder, mixed-ability teaching - which proceeds at the pace of the slowest - reigns. It is this enervating educational mindset that an incoming Conservative government will have to change.

Tory policies to give schools real control of their affairs - including admissions and staff recruitment - will in time break this ruinous consensus. But it will require immense political will. Just ask Tony Blair.


The Failures of Government-Run Healthcare

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, in a rare moment of honesty on what he'd really like to do about health care reform, recently asserted that if we were starting from scratch he would probably choose a single-payer health care system. That's a system in which people pay higher taxes and the government pays most medical bills. Obama's not alone in that opinion. Filmmaker Michael Moore took his "Sicko" audience to England, among other places, where we learned that doctors in that single-payer system made good salaries, had nice homes and cars, and patients were very satisfied.

But anyone who reads the English press will find a different message, including waiting lines, angry patients, rationed and often subquality care. Consider these recent news stories about England's National Health Service (NHS) quoted directly from the British press.

Twice Katie asked for a [Pap] smear test, but was told she was "too young" to need one. Now 24, she is dying from cervical cancer, one of many young women who have fallen victim to a scandalous change in health policy. (London's Daily Mail, June)

A man with terminal cancer has been refused a drug by the NHS that could extend his life - despite offering to pay part of the cost himself. . . . David Swain's offer to meet the monthly $4,000 cost of Erbitux was refused, he said, because the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence [a government body] ruled it was too expensive. (Yorkshire Post, March, emphasis added)

Health service dentists have been forced to go on holiday or spend time on the golf course this month despite millions of patients being denied dental care. . . . Many [dentists] have fulfilled their annual work quotas allotted by the National Health Service and have been turning patients away because they are not paid to do extra work. This is despite the fact that more than 7m[illion] people in Britain are unable to find an NHS dentist. (The Times of London, March)

Does that sound like your idea of a great health care system? The British press - as well as the Canadian press and other countries - regularly runs stories like these about patients who are denied treatment because they are too old, too young, too sick or too costly. Indeed, The Times of London ran a story in 2006 asserting: "Patients are being denied appointments with consultants in a systematic attempt to ration care and save the NHS money, The Times has learnt. . . . Leaked documents passed to The Times show that while ministers promise patients choice, a series of barriers are being erected limiting GPs' [general practitioners] rights to refer people to consultants."

If you want to read these stories and others like them for yourself, just go to the "Health Care Horror Stories" at, which regularly posts the negative press coming from those government-run health care countries (which has to be a full-time job!).

The fact is that every government-run health care system struggles to make ends meet. Money for health care in those systems has to compete with money for other government programs like education, defense and pension programs. That's why other countries spend less on health care. It's not that their systems are better or more efficient; it's because politicians control the funds and have to make trade-offs. That often means the more expensive treatments, the marginal members of society, and even preventive care and screening can get axed.

Yes, many people in those countries are satisfied with their care. And yes, everyone in those countries is "insured" - the apparent goal in the current health care reform debate. But having coverage doesn't count for much if patients can't get quality care in timely manner.

Health care reformers often claim or imply that the U.S. health care system is terrible, while countries like England provide quality care for everyone, and for less money. That's simply not a balanced assessment. U.S. health care is excellent, but it can be very expensive and, a not unrelated fact, too many people are uninsured. But copying other government-controlled systems isn't the solution. They have their problems; we have ours. Let's fix ours problems without importing theirs.


Combining drugs ‘sees off child fevers sooner’

Thousands of children could spend less time with a fever if they were given ibuprofen first and then a combination of paracetamol plus ibuprofen, according to research. Parents have been told not to combine the drugs because of a lack of evidence on the safety of doing so, but scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England found that children could recover more quickly if both drugs were used over 24 hours.

Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence says that it is “OK to give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen if they have a fever and they are distressed or unwell”, but that the drugs should not be given together.

Alastair Hay, consultant senior lecturer in primary healthcare at the University of Bristol, who led the study, said that parents should not combine liquid paracetamol and ibuprofen in one solution, but could provide the doses separately. The study is published online by the British Medical Journal.


Atkins diet and Weight Watchers 'the best ways to lose weight'

The Atkins diet and the calorie-counting Weight Watchers plan are the best ways for slimmers to lose weight, new findings suggest. Dieters lost an average of 11 pounds over two months by following the Atkins plan, while the calorie-counting Weight Watchers method helped people shed more than 10 pounds, a study of four popular weight loss plans shows. People following the Slim Fast Plan and a Rosemay Conley diet plan both lost between eight and nine pounds on average.

Despite claims that the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet could be dangerous due to its reliance on red meat and fat, researchers also found that all the diets tested were healthy. Dr Helen Truby, from the Royal Children's Hospital in Queensland, Australia, one of the co-authors of the study, said that it provided "reassuring and important evidence for the effectiveness and nutritional adequacy of the ... diets tested".

However, few slimmers increased their intake of fruit and vegetables, the research found, despite being recommended to do so by all of the diets except Atkins.

Scientists, including researchers from five British universities, tested the weight loss regimes on almost 300 overweight and obese volunteers. All of the slimmers were asked to try the slimming plans for eight weeks and keep a food diary of everything that they ate. The results, published in the journal Nutrition, show that dieters on the Atkins plan, in which slimmers cut out carbohydrates such as bread and pasta, as well as, initially, fruit and vegetables, performed best, losing an average of 11.4 pounds during the study.

A close second was the Weight Watchers diet, on which volunteers lost an average of 10.4 pounds, by limiting their food intake to a certain number of "points" a day. Both diets were significantly ahead of the other two tested, the Slim Fast Plan and the Rosemary Conley "Eat Yourself Slim" plan, although both of these still performed well. Following the Rosemary Conley plan reduced weight by an average of 8.8 pounds over the two months, while replacing some meals with Slim Fast "shakes" helped slimmers to lose 8.1 pounds.

The results also show that those on the Atkins diet did not substantially increase the total amount of fat that they ate, although the proportion of their meals that were made up of fat did rise. The findings suggest that the secret to the success of the diet, which has been condemned by critics who claim it could place undue stress on the heart and lead to extra weight gain when carbohydrates are reintroduced, could be that it reduces slimmers' appetite, decreasing the overall amount of food that they eat.

All four diets gave the volunteers enough crucial vitamins and minerals, the study found. However, those on the Atkins diet did have lower levels of iron, which the study suggests could be because bread and other carbohydrates are fortified with this and other vitamins.

Despite the fact that all of the diets apart from Atkins advise people to increase their fruit and vegetable intake, only those on the Weight Watchers diet actually did so, and even they only had one extra portion a day.

Dr Truby said: "These disappointing findings suggest that people remain resistant to the advice to 'eat more fruit and vegetables', even when they are advised to as part of a modified weight loss programme".


British Government Chooses Hitler-Loving Abortion Movement Pioneer for Stamps: "Marie Stopes, the notorious early 20th century contraception campaigner, eugenicist and anti-Semite, did for Britain what Margaret Sanger did for the US: preached the doctrines of eugenics and promoted contraception and sterilisation to achieve "racial hygiene." So successful was she at altering British society in favour of her eugenics doctrines, the British government has chosen her to be included in a "Women of Distinction" line of stamps. The Royal Mail announced this weekend that the face of Marie Stopes, who advocated the sterilisation of poor women to promote the "welfare of the race", will feature on the 50p stamp. The stamps will be available beginning 14 October 2008."

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