Sunday, November 16, 2008

British bureaucratic rigidity kills a man

Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead after photographs of the real terror suspect reached police too late, as officers were only able to order them "during office hours", an inquest has heard.

Det Insp Kevin Southworth claimed officers were unable to order copies of a driving licence belonging to Hussain Osman, one of the failed bombers, out of hours. As a result the images did not arrive at New Scotland Yard until noon, almost two hours after innocent Mr de Menezes was killed on July 22 2005. When asked why the pictures were not obtained quicker, Mr Southworth, a member of the SO13 anti-terror branch, said officers did not have out-of-hours contact with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). He said: "You could not just contact the DVLA directly. We had a dedicated point of contact which opened during office hours. "We went to those people and they obtained the images as soon as possible."

Pictures of Osman were also available from immigration authorities, the inquest heard. However, as only hard copies existed, there was no way of obtaining them in time either. Police shot the 27-year-old Brazilian seven times in the head on a train carriage at Stockwell Tube station, south London. He had been mistaken for Osman, one of the terrorists behind the previous day's failed attacks on the capital....


'Economic benefits of mass immigration are close to zero', House of Lords told

The economic benefits from record levels of immigration to Britain are 'small and close to zero', the Lords was told today. A report by a committee of peers, including two former Chancellors and several former Cabinet ministers, called on ministers to set an 'explicit target range' for immigration and make rules to keep within that limit.

Tory former Cabinet Minister Lord Wakeham said the report by the Economic Affairs Committee, which he chaired, rejected the Government's claim that immigration is needed to prevent labour shortages as 'fundamentally flawed'. He told peers the Government had said immigrants brought large economic benefits to the UK in boosting economic growth, filling job vacancies that Britons could not or would not do and paying more tax than British-born workers. But there was no evidence of such benefits, which had been 'wildly overstated' by ministers.

In a debate on the report, Lord Wakeham said: 'The committee found no evidence of these large economic benefits. 'What we did find was serious flaws in the Government's arguments and we concluded that on average the economic benefits of immigration were small and close to zero.' The report found certain groups in Britain - the low-paid, some ethnic minorities and some young people looking for a foot on the job ladder - may have suffered because of competition from immigrants. It said ministers should set an 'explicit target range' for immigration and set the rules to keep within that limit. And it raised the prospect of cutting the number of partners and other family members allowed to settle in Britain because a relative is already here.

Peers also warned that the much-trumpeted new points-based immigration system carried a 'clear danger of inconsistencies and overlap'.

The Government's decision to use GDP as the main measure of immigration's economic contribution was 'irrelevant and misleading', added the report. Instead, the yardstick should be income per head of population or GDP per capita. [Amazing that something so basic has been ignored]

The Tories last month said the Government's immigration policy was in 'chaos' after new Immigration Minister Phil Woolas suggested there could be a population cap of 70 million, before appearing to row back. Last week a Commons cross-party group on Balanced Migration said immigration rules should be further tightened during the economic downturn.

Lord Wakeham stressed that Britain 'as a whole' had not lost out from immigration and neither had particular groups lost out significantly. The committee also recognised the very 'valuable contribution' made by immigrants, he added. He said the Government had rejected the committee's report - suggesting it contained 'combined conclusions that were overspun with analysis'. 'Thoughts of pots and kettles immediately came to mind. The minister's words accurately describe the Government's position - not our report,' Lord Wakeham added.

Liberal Democrat Lord Vallance of Tummel, former BT chairman, said that when large numbers of immigrants arrived in a limited number of locations, the 'shoe will begin to pinch'. Councils, particularly in the popular parts of London and the south east, complained they had not had the right resources to deal with this.

Crossbencher Baroness Valentine, chief executive of the London First business organisation, said the report asked the right questions and she agreed with some of its conclusions. 'We must have better and more meaningful data if we are to fully understand the implications - both positive and negative - that immigration has for our country. 'Our challenge is to ensure that the best talent is found in, and keeps coming to, the UK. 'Allowing British businesses to recruit globally does not open the doors to an unstoppable influx of immigrants if education and training systems equip British workers to compete. 'I'd like UK workers to win on merit not because we have changed the rules to prevent the best competing at all.'

More here

NHS gives "tumour" woman 20 years of hell

For 20 years she lived under a death sentence, having been told that the tumour inside her was terminal cancer. Mary Stranack believed that her survival against such odds was a miracle. But it wasn't. The grandmother has now discovered that the tumour was in fact a harmless cyst. In a five-hour operation at Poole Hospital in Dorset, surgeons removed a one-and-a-half stone [21lb.] fibroid from her stomach. 'They told me it was a benign fibroid and not cancer - it was amazing,' said Mrs Stranack, 58. 'I came out of hospital on my birthday and began buying new clothes.'

Her years of torment began in 1988 after she went to hospital complaining of a swollen stomach. At the time her six sons were aged between three and 19 and doctors suggested she may be expecting a baby with her husband Bob. Mrs Stanack said: 'I went to see the doctor and he said I could be pregnant but I knew I wasn't so I had to go to hospital that very afternoon.

They did a scan and a blood test and it came back that I had ovarian and stomach cancer. 'They told me I only had months to live. I wasn't asked to go back for treatment - there was no chance for me apparently. I was devastated and said I would go home and pray for a miracle.' Years passed while she waited for the end to come. She was invited back to the hospital for a reassessment but says she was too frightened to attend.

She said: 'One day I told Bob: "I want everything to go on as it was before. I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me." But gradually the years passed and my weight went up and up. 'After 15 years, I was a size 24 and huge but I didn't have any pain.' It was only when she was diagnosed with anaemia and thyroid problems earlier this year that she finally asked to be examined again.

A spokesman for Poole Hospital, where Mrs Stranack was originally diagnosed as terminally ill, refused to discuss her patient history, but said: 'We are delighted to hear that Mrs Stranack is doing so well.' Mr Stranack, a crane operator, added: 'It's been 20 years of hell.'


Empty out your bathroom cabinet... this $8 cream does EVERYTHING

I am inclined to regard cosmetics and such things as all a lot of nonsense but if the British goo below sidetracks people from wasting their money on more expensive stuff I am all for it

They say that for the credit crunch, it's the cream of the crop. The packaging isn't swish - but neither is the price tag. And for $8, it'll do almost everything you need. Boots's Aqueous Cream has become a top seller as shoppers tighten the purse strings during the economic downturn, according to the store. It has been billed as a one-stop bathroom essential for the budget conscious.

The cream can be used as a moisturiser, cleanser, shaving cream, shower gel, and an aid for chapped lips. 'This product is really versatile, effective and doesn't cost the earth,' said Angela Chalmers, a pharmacist at the high-street chemist. 'It's a phenomenal seller. Some stores are ordering 10-20 tubes a day just to keep it on the shelves.'

The main ingredient for the fragrance-free product is paraffin wax - used in some of the most expensive face creams. Miss Chalmers said consumers have been attracted by the 'simple formula and versatility' of the 500g tubs. 'The whole family can use it. When you think about the winter, it really is a wonderful product. 'When you rub it on to dry skin, it acts as a moisturiser. But mix it with water in the shower and it acts as a great emollient that just washes off. 'A lot of people use it instead of shower gel. It is also a good shaving cream and leaves your skin feeling soft and moisturised and not irritated. 'It's also great for chapped lips, it's good for massaging into fingers and cuticles and it's also fantastic for those suffering from chilblains. You can even use it as a cleanser.

'That's what's quite unique about this product. It really is the cream for the credit crunch. 'There are other branded moisturisers that come in 500g quantities but they tend to be very expensive, you're talking about $20 to $24. You can also get it in 100g tubes so it's easy to carry around with you.' The recent bad weather is also thought to have provoked a rise in demand for the cream, Miss Chalmers added.

Last year, a Boots anti-ageing cream became a sell-out after tests established that it really worked. Scientists discovered that No 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum can rejuvenate skin, beating wrinkles. The product quickly flew off shelves after it was shown to work on BBC2's Horizon and then featured in the Daily Mail. Its appeal was boosted by the cost of $35 for a 30ml jar, a fraction of the price of other products.


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