Saturday, November 22, 2008

Attempted German attack on free speech defeated

The current version of the Gestapo wanted to prosecute a guy in Germany for things he quite legally wrote while at home in Australia. They seemed to think that they could extend their intolerant German law worldwide.
"Australian Holocaust denier Fredrik Toben has won his legal battle with the German Government after it ended its attempt to extradite him from Britain. German prosecutors have withdrawn their appeal against a British court's refusal last month to extradite the controversial historian, who was detained at Heathrow airport on a European arrest warrant for denying the extent of Adolf Hitler's crimes against the Jews.

Dr Toben had been expected to face a tough legal fight over his extradition early next year in the High Court in London. He was arrested while in transit at London's Heathrow airport on October1 under a warrant accusing him of racism and publishing anti-Semitic views. But Westminster Magistrates Court district judge Daphne Wickham ruled the extradition could not go ahead because the warrant contained only "sparse" details about Dr Toben's alleged offences, including exactly what they were, as well as where and when they took place.

Lawyers acting on Germany's behalf had said Dr Toben should be extradited so he could be put on trial for posting anti-Semitic and revisionist material on the internet between 2000 and 2004 in Australia, Germany and in other countries.

The case caused alarm in Britain about freedom of speech because, unlike in Australia and Britain, Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany and offenders can face up to five years in jail.


If they had gotten away with it, visiting any EU country would have been risky unless you checked that you were OK with German law first. Note that even homeschooling is illegal in Germany, under laws dating from the Nazi era. And FORGET about owning a gun! But hate-speech against America is just fine, of course.

Officious British school checking pupils' underwear to make they are wearing the right colour bras and pants

Big backpedal under the glare of publicity, of course. Maybe now they can concentrate on actually teaching the kids something

A row erupted today over claims that teachers were checking pupils' underwear to make sure they comply with a new school uniform policy. Parents said their children were told what colour pants and bras they can wear and teachers were doing 'spot checks' under the new rules introduced at Kings School in Winchester. Staff at the mixed 11 to 16-year-old comprehensive dismissed the claims and said they only issued guidance on what was appropriate to wear. But parents said it was 'ridiculous' and an invasion of their children's privacy.

The boys were told to wear white or black underpants and a belt if needed to stop their trousers hanging low, in line with fashion, and exposing their underwear. Girls were told to wear white or light-coloured, unpadded bras underneath their blouses.

Stuart Gander's two daughters 15-year-old Chelsea Hay and 13-year-old Kirby Moore were told at a girls' assembly that coloured bras were 'offensive'. The 35-year-old foreman from Winchester said: 'They were told they had to wear white ones or very light pale bras and they would be spot checked. 'It's just a case of the girls putting out their bra strap and them having a look. 'It's obviously caused a bit of upset. Friends of mine have sons at the school and two days later they had an assembly about boxer shorts.' He added: 'It's just ridiculous. Parents I have spoken to are annoyed by it. The kids feel it's an invasion of their privacy. 'You wouldn't be able to do that in a work place so why should you be able to do that at school?'

Leanne Hosking, who has three children aged 14, 13 and 11 at the school, said her elder daughter did not like male teachers turning her around and checking her bra.

The latest dispute comes just a week after Kirby Moore was told she would be taught in isolation at Kings after she dyed her hair a darker shade of brown while her sister, Chelsea Hay, who dyed her hair a lighter shade, was not disciplined by the school.

A spokeswoman for the school said: 'The assembly was to bring to the attention of Year 10 girls what is appropriate dress for the working environment, preparing them for work experience. 'There is no rule, we are not checking underwear. We are not checking girls' bra straps and we have certainly not had an assembly with any of the boys telling them what colour underwear to wear.'


More stupid laws proposed for Britain

The feminist approach to prostitution is like their approach to everything: Blame men! Similar laws are already in place in Sweden. The Left were once big advocates of sexual permissiveness but we once again see that no actual principles were involved in that

For someone who never gambles, I am an unlikely member of a posh London casino. To be honest, I only go now and again because the casino has a lovely 18th-century bar, where you can drink a perfectly mixed cocktail in comfort.

However, there are rituals to be observed. 'Are you gaming tonight, madam?' the polite receptionist always asks us lady members. Even though he must know, as I do, that more than a few of our number are actually madams on the game. Like migratory birds sinking their feet into the soft, welcome mud of an African lakeside, prostitutes flock to casinos. Anywhere rich men congregate, so do the call girls. The smarter ones, at any rate. The ones not yet fogged by heroin and hopelessness. Or who live in a twilight pinball world; whizzing between punter, pimp and dealer before the jackpot of an opiate-induced haze and oblivion.

Yet Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, under whose care all these lost girls are found, is not interested in prostitutes. Not really. She hasn't actually ever met one, or personally canvassed an opinion from one. This week, she announced that her focus is on the men who use their services instead. And like the casino doorman, she turns a coy, blind eye to the antics of the independent high-class hooker and escort girl.

Smith has just unveiled a steaming mess of new laws aimed at criminalising men who pay for sex with trafficked or exploited women. Ignorance of the girl's background will be no defence for punters, and men who knowingly pay for sex with trafficked women may be charged with rape. You may ask yourself how a commercial transaction, no matter how distasteful or amoral it may seem to others, can be suddenly reclassified as rape. Answer: it can't.

This is just the worst kind of gesture politics from a politician desperate to recast herself in the rosy glow of sexual reform. Patronisingly, she sees every prostitute as a helpless victim. And to the suggestion that many 'trafficked' women are actually just economic migrants, she says: 'I do not buy that argument.' End of. Men need to think twice about paying for sex, says the Home Secretary, who wants to obliterate the sex industry by strangling demand for it - rather like trying to stop tooth decay by banning the baking of cupcakes.

Do you know, her naivety would be endearing, if it wasn't so petty and dangerous. Jacqui, there are lots of things that men need to think twice about, but as they usually go right ahead and please themselves anyway, what is the point?

Smith's mad ramblings and ideals, forged in the hairy armpit heat of Seventies feminism and untrammelled by a sliver of practical common sense ever since, make me want to scream. All she will succeed in doing is driving the trafficked women further underground - making them more vulnerable to deeper depravity - and undermining the country's rape laws while she is at it. In all the years of New Labour lunacy, in all their obsessive, spirit-sapping social tinkering, has there ever been anything quite so mad, or ill thought out?

This country is in a bigger mess than it has been since the war. Toddlers are murdered in their cots. Teenagers are shot going home from school. Half a million migrants poured into the UK last year - and that's just the official number - while hundreds of businesses are going bust every day. And what is the Government doing to stop the rot? Getting its knickers in a twist about prostitution. It is indeed true that women have been trafficked across borders and are being held as sex slaves in this country. This is a dreadful business, but it is a criminal matter, not a civic one. The people who hold these girls and sell them are breaking the law. It is the job of the police to deal with them - to prosecute and send them to prison - not to chase around after some dumb cluck looking for a Friday night thrill.

He is hardly an innocent, but putting the moral onus on Joe Punter, his sweaty fivers clutched in his hand, is a waste of time. Is he even capable of making a decision based on principles rather than lust? His very presence at the kerbside suggests not. Prostitution in this country is a problem buttressed by two even bigger problems which are rooted in border control: illegal immigration and drug abuse. Energies should be concentrated in these areas, not trying to spray stardust on a Tinkerbell package of useless reforms.

Yes, offences are being committed but these half-baked, modish new laws will never make it through the courts. The policing of them is unenforceable. They will make no impression and no difference, while millions of pounds of public money - which we can ill afford - will go straight into the gutter because of them. On the roulette wheel of life, we have all lost out. Again.


Foggy immigration debate in the U.K. Parliament

Comment from Britain by the satirical Ann Treneman, parliamentary reporter for "The Times". She reports what happened, but with an eye to the absurdities involved. And with characters like the unusually frank Phil Woolas and the slimy Keith Vaz, she has much to amuse her (and us)

Phil Woolas, the new Immigration Minister with special responsibility for putting his foot in it, came before MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, supposedly ungagged. I was pleased to see him, for I had been under the impression that Mr Woolas was being kept under office arrest. I couldn't see his leg, though, and I suspected that he had probably been tagged.

Keith Vaz, the pugnacious committee chairman, feared for his human rights. "Was there an attempt to gag you?" he demanded. "Did the Home Secretary prevent you from appearing on Question Time?"

"We took the decision that. . . " Mr Woolas began. "We?" cried Mr Vaz. "Meaning you and the Home Secretary?" "We, meaning me and the Home Secretary and the Government," explained Mr Woolas. Mr Vaz chortled: "The whole Government was involved!" "The whole Government was NOT involved," Mr Woolas said, denying what he'd said only seconds before, which must be a record, even for him. "We took a decision that it was better. . . "

Mr Vaz pounced again. "So it was a collective gag!" "It was NOT a gag and it was a collective decision."

The only thing that was clear, after this exchange, was that Mr Woolas had now been gagged on the subject of the gag. Mr Vaz tested the conditions of Mr Woolas's bail further by asking him about comments he'd made to The Times about how the Government would not allow the population to reach 70 million. "So do you favour a numerical cap on immigration?" Mr Vaz asked. Mr Woolas said that he did not. "Therefore the comments you made in The Times were misinterpreted?" Mr Vaz asked.

"I find it interesting that the debate about immigration and population are confused," Mr Woolas mused. "Fertility and death rates are a major variable of population." Mr Vaz nodded briskly: "A cap is unenforceable, unless the Government is proposing to issue chastity belts to everybody in this country!"

Mr Woolas sat back. "Mr Chairman, we considered the electoral implication of that suggestion and we decided against it!" "That is one very good piece of news!" Mr Vaz exclaimed.

And so it went on. Denial followed denial. At times Mr Woolas became almost runic. When asked whether the economic nightmare would affect immigration levels, Mr Woolas announced: "That is what Donald Rumsfeld would call a known unknown."

There was a prolonged spat about whether Mr Woolas supported Gordon Brown's statement on British jobs for British workers. Mr Woolas said that he did and then repeated himself (his electronic tag may now have been zapping him). "But how can you enforce this?" Mr Vaz demanded. "It's actually EU jobs for EU workers!"

"I think that is slightly unfair," Mr Woolas said. Mr Vaz announced: "The statement is not worth making is it?" "It is very much worth making," Mr Woolas insisted.

"But you cannot enforce it, Minister!" "I see no contradiction," Mr Woolas said. The subject turned from immigration to curry (as it so often does at Westminster). Mr Woolas, after a recommendation from the committee, was allowing more curry chefs into the country, thus averting the much feared chicken tikka crisis. So had the minister had any reaction from the curry industry? "Mr Chairman!" cried Mr Woolas. "I think I should declare an interest. . . " Mr Vaz chortled: "On behalf of all of us!" Mr Woolas looked almost shy. "The Leeds Tandoori is extremely grateful."

So there you have it. Mr Woolas, unplugged though still clearly gagged and bound to government policy, tells all on chastity belts and curry. But on immigration, well, it's not so clear.


10,000 Britons die needlessly every year as NHS doctors with out-of-date training miss vital cancer symptoms

More than 10,000 people die needlessly each year because their cancers are not diagnosed in time, a study says. The charity Cancer Research UK found GPs too often miss symptoms or do not send enough patients for tests. In some cases their training is simply out of date. The report says some people are deterred from seeking treatment by the difficulty of getting an appointment.

And there is too little public awareness about cancer symptoms, meaning many victims do not see their GP until it is too late to save their lives. The result is that Britain's survival rates for cancer are still the worst in Western Europe, despite the billions poured into the Health Service by Labour. Only 53 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men with cancer survive for more than five years.

Of 14 major countries compared by the charity, Britain came 11th for women and 12th for men, alongside Poland and Slovenia. If our rates were as good as the best in Europe, the report says, there would be 10,744 fewer deaths a year.

Lead researcher Professor Michael Coleman said: 'We know many cases are being diagnosed too late and this is a major reason for our poor survival rates.' He said many GPs were not up to date on cancer treatment, and family doctors with an average practice size saw only around eight new cancer cases a year. 'Some GPs would benefit from guidance on identifying patients more successfully,' he said.

Another problem was access, said Professor Coleman. 'Patients find it difficult to make appointments or park their cars, and many are worried about taking time off work and losing money.' Only a half of GP practices see patients outside working hours - and even these open for an average of only three more hours a week.

The failure of GPs comes despite their pay soaring by more than 50 per cent - to over 100,000 pounds - since a new contract was agreed in 2004. They are also working fewer hours a week.

Better survival rates in Europe are partly due to the fact that patients in many countries can have direct access to a specialist, while in Britain they must go through their GP.

The Government's cancer 'czar', Professor Mike Richards, said: 'We want to work with GPs to find out which patients and which symptoms they are most likely to miss. They need to be more alert and send people for tests much earlier.'

Britain's poor record has also been blamed on drug rationing by NICE - which can take up to 18 months to decide whether the NHS should fund new treatments - and low spending on cancer drugs, 76 pounds a head a year, compared to 143 in Germany and 121 in France.

Professor Karol Sikora, professor of cancer medicine at London's Imperial College, said last night the low survival rates were a failure of the whole NHS, not just GPs. He said: 'People have to wait too long for scans and biopsies. There is undercapacity in radiography and chemotherapy. 'We don't get access to the drugs they get in Europe. Huge amounts of money have been thrown at cancer over the past decade so it is surprising to see these problems are still here. 'The main culprit is the NHS itself - it's a bureaucratic monolith.'


Is your Omega-3 fish oil supplement any good - or a load of old codswallop?

Good to see SOME skepticism below: A sort of falling out among thieves

We have been told to take more of it, and there's strong evidence that Omega 3 really is crucial for our brains, hearts and immune systems. We don't need any more convincing, it seems - keen to improve our brainpower, we now spend 60million pounds a year on Omega 3 pills. But according to an expert, many people may be wasting their money, because they end up with supplements providing little or no benefit.

Dr Alex Richardson, of the charity Food & Behaviour Research, and one of the world's leading researchers into Omega 3, says the poor quality of many supplements is a concern. 'There are different kinds of Omega 3 - not all of which have the same health benefits,' she says. One of the main problems, she explains, is that supplements often contain little, if any, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) - the most important forms of Omega 3. 'What's more, at the moment there is no official recommended daily allowance of Omega 3.'

So taking a pill to boost your brainpower and health is far from straightforward. Dr Richardson believes this confusion is 'disastrous - because consuming more of the vital Omega 3 fats found in fish and seafood is probably the single most important dietary change that most people could make to improve their health'. 'It's well-known that Omega 3s are important for staving off heart attacks and strokes, and are good for eyesight and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. But it's less well-known that EPA and DHA are crucial for brain function and mental well-being. 'However, surveys show that nine out of ten Britons don't get the minimum they need to maintain a healthy heart (around 500mg/day), let alone to support optimal brain and immune system functioning (1000mg/day).'

The best way to get nutrients is from food; for Omega 3s, this means everyone should eat two to four portions of fish a week, one of them oily. But if this isn't possible, taking a supplement is the next best option, says Dr Richardson.

So if you do resort to an Omega-3 pill, how can you make sure you find ones that make a difference? 'In the absence of an official recommended daily amount, start by choosing products that contain EPA and DHA,' says Dr Richardson. 'This usually means fish oils. Vegetarian Omega 3 supplements usually contain none at all: instead, they are made with linseed or flax oil, which provide a different form of Omega 3.' They're not a complete waste of money, she adds, but vegetarians would be better off taking ones containing DHA from algae. Next, ignore any doses suggested on the packet, and focus on the small print to find out how much EPA and DHA combined the product provides. 'A good target for mental well-being and performance is 1000mg per day,' she says. And to get this amount, you may well need to take more than the manufacturer's suggested dose.

And don't bother splashing out on the more expensive combination supplements containing Omega 3, 6 and 9. Our bodies produce our own Omega 9 - and it is also found in nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil. And as for Omega 6, found in vegetable oils, meat, eggs and dairy, we should be trying to reduce rather than boost it - a diet low in Omega 3 and high in Omega 6 is linked to a range of conditions, including heart disease, depression, allergies and cancer.

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