Saturday, March 21, 2009

More than three-quarters of Britons want to see jobless immigrants forced to leave UK

The Government has failed to 'get control' of the issue of immigration, ministers admitted today. Phill Woolas, the Immigration Minister, said he was not surprised by findings of a poll which showed that nearly eight out of ten people believe all unemployed foreign migrants should be asked to leave the UK. Mr Woolas said the the British people would never be comfortable with immigration until they believe ministers have a firm grip on the nation's borders. Mr Woolas said: 'The poll figures are not a surprise. They are a concern, and in significant part they are because the public don't believe that the government has got control.' He added: 'The central goal of my immigration policy is to provide the assurance to the public that we know who's here and who's not here.'

The minister claimed opposition to foreign workers was 'based on the belief that the immigrant has no legitimate right to be here,' adding: 'We will only get a country that is comfortable with immigration when we can show the Government has it under control.'
Mr Woolas's admission highlights the Labour Government's defensiveness over immigration - following years of increasingly tough rhetoric and repeated efforts to tighten controls. More than half of those surveyed in the poll for the Financial Times opposed giving other EU citizens the right to live and work in Britain - one of the cornerstone principles of the European Union. It questioned thousands of people across the UK, Europe and the United States regarding immigration and the economy. Among the British public it highlights widespread ill-feeling towards foreign workers at a time when unemployment is nearing the two million mark. In the UK a huge majority - 78 per cent - believed immigrants should be asked to leave the country if they do not have a job, with only 14 per cent disagreeing and eight per cent undecided. A similar number held the same view in Italy along with sizeable majorities in Spain, Germany and the U.S. and around half of those questioned in France.

Just over half of British adults opposed the right of all EU citizens to settle and work in Britain. A narrow majority of Germans agreed, while there was slightly more support for the right of free movement and access to Labour markets among French, Italians and Spaniards.

An estimated one million foreign workers flocked to the UK after eight eastern European states joined the union in 2004. Most other member states exercised a treaty right to bar eastern Europeans from their own job markets, but Britain allowed a free-for-all and the huge numbers arriving massively exceeded the Government's expectations.

Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green said: 'What this poll represents is the combination of that policy failure with the obvious pressures on the job market because of the recession.' Phil Woolas suffered a further setback yesterday when watchdogs rejected his criticism of the Office for National Statistics over its release of immigrant population figures last month. The ONS brought forward the published of the startling figures - showing that one in nine UK residents was born overseas - because of officials judged that the material was topical and important to the immigration debate. But Phil Woolas, who faced embarrassment over the figures, unleashed a ferocious attack on the independent statisticians accusing them of straying into 'the most inflamed debate in British politics' and claiming the release was 'at best naive, or, at worst, sinister.'

Today the UK Statistics Authority gave its strong backing to the ONS, concluding that the publication was 'consistent' with the rules and the timing was 'influenced by the level of public interest in the topic.' The ONS's press release was 'factually accurate' and 'neutral and impartial' in tone, the watchdog added, whereas failing to publish the figures could have led to a misinformed debate based on flawed figures - although it said the ONS should have made a formal announcement explaining why it was bringing the publication forward, and included more supporting information.


When it comes to wound healing, the maggot cleans up

Flesh-eating maggots and blood-sucking leeches might be considered more medieval than modern, but if you want a wound treated with maximum efficiency, few therapies can compete with 200 million years of evolution. A study by a team of British scientists, published today, lends support to the use of the maggot in high-tech healthcare. They found that, left to graze on the skin, maggots can clean wounds that fail to heal five times faster than conventional treatments.

In a trial to investigate the clinical effectiveness of maggots for wound treatment, the leg ulcers of patients treated with larvae were found to heal just as quickly as the water-based gel normally used. The study also showed that the process of debridement — the removal of dead tissue, in this case eaten by the maggots — occurred far faster, suggesting that larvae could be used to clean sites at high speed before urgent surgery, such as skin grafts.

Leeches have also been shown to be a highly effective tool in microsurgery. The excess blood that builds up when an appendage is reattached — because of the inability to link all the broken veins — is drained off with leeches, which can consume five times their weight in a single blood-sucking.

While the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has yet to issue licences for the medical use of maggots and leeches, the US Food and Drug Administration passed both invertebrates for use in 2005.

Britain’s biggest leech and maggot providers, both based in South Wales, have experienced an increase in interest in recent years. At Biopharm, the leech specialist, annual sales have doubled to more than 70,000 of the animals in the past 15 years.

Professor Nicky Cullum, a specialist in wound care, who led the maggot therapy study published in today’s British Medical Journal, said that maggots had cleaned wounds in 14 days — compared with 72 days with gel treatment. She said there was anecdotal evidence of increasing maggot use in the NHS.

The trial, which received health service funding, involved 267 participants who had at least one diseased vein leg ulcer — common in the elderly and those who have suffered deep vein thrombosis. Participants were randomised to receive loose larvae, bagged larvae — where the maggots are placed on the skin inside a gauze bag — or gel during the debridement, followed by standard treatment.

Carl Peters-Bond, the assistant manager at Biopharm, said that he was not surprised at increased interest in the use of maggots, having seen his leech business grow steadily in recent years. “These are creatures that have evolved over millions of years to remove blood or tissue — to do a job.

Nature's nurses

Maggot: (such as Lucilia sericata) Use of maggots for wound healing has been linked to Maya Indians and Aboriginal tribes, as well as during the Renaissance. Military physicians, including Napoleon’s surgeon-general, observed that soldiers whose wounds had become colonised with maggots experienced significantly less morbidity than other wounded soldiers. Maggots were popular into the 1900s, but went out of vogue with the rise of antibiotics

Leech: (such as Hirudo medicinalis) Medical use was first recorded in 200BC, while George Washington is said to have died when too much blood was drained during an illness. The leech is a segmented worm related to the earthworm. The front suction cup has three sharp jaws, each with 125 teeth, that make a Y-shaped bite — leaving a mark compared to the badge of a Mercedes-Benz.

The leech can feed for six hours or more, enough to last it for as long as two years. Leech saliva contains chemicals that prevent clotting, so a wound might bleed for hours after the leech is removed


Shocked British mother sent 100 miles to have her baby

A PREGNANT woman was sent nearly 100 miles away to have her baby after being told the city's maternity ward was full. Sophie Jacobs, 22, was rushed to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital when her waters broke. She was terrified for the health of her baby, which was not due for another six weeks. But to her dismay, Miss Jacobs learned the maternity unit at the hospital was already full and she would have to be sent elsewhere.

Staff at the ward gave her a steroid injection to try to develop the baby's lungs and stop the labour. Others frantically phoned to try to find her a bed elsewhere with facilities for a premature baby. She was devastated when she learned the nearest place was The Royal Gwent, in Newport, South Wales — 96 miles away.

She said: "My pregnancy was all straightforward until the last few weeks, when I started developing signs of pre-eclampsia. "When I got to the RD&E, they gave me an injection to try to stop labour. "They didn't know if it was going to work. They had to find somewhere with a bed. "They tried everywhere from Cornwall up, and said the nearest place they could find was Newport."

She said: "They put me in an ambulance and I was driven up there. Jason, my partner, had to make his own way there. "It took ages in the ambulance because of the traffic. I didn't want to go up there, but I didn't have a choice. "I had the second injection in Newport but it didn't stop the labour and I got more severe signs of pre-eclampsia."

As previously revealed in the Echo, the RD&E has closed its maternity unit twice since 2006 because of overcrowding or staffing issues.

Miss Jacobs ended up having a Caesarean section, and Zachariah was born weighing 4lb 6oz. She added: "I ended up with a very small baby and we had to stay there for 10 days. Because Zachariah was so small and early he needed to be monitored and cared for on the special care baby unit. "He was also a little jaundiced so had to spend a few days under the UV light. The staff were lovely but it was horrible because it was such a long way from home. I wanted to be home and close to my friends and family. They kept ringing to see if there was room for us in Exeter, but there never was. After being let down so many times about being transferred back, we put our efforts into concentrating on getting discharged and eventually managed to get home."

Miss Jacobs, a secretary, said her partner Jason North, 36, had been able to stay locally while she was in Newport. Zachariah, who has a 10-year-old half-sister, Olivia, was born in September and, months on, is healthy and well.

A spokeswoman from the RD&E said: "The incident was the only one of its kind in the last three years and the transfer happened despite our very best efforts to provide more local care. "It was unfortunate that in the four-hour window that the maternity unit was closed, a patient had to be transferred to another hospital but all the decisions were made with patient safety being our priority," she said.


Britain fails to shut down a single extremist website in two years

The Home Office has failed to shut down a single terrorist website despite a pledge to do so from Tony Blair four years ago.

Stopping extremist websites operating was one of the measures unveiled by Mr Blair in the aftermath of the 7 July suicide bombings in London in 2005. Although the powers were enshrined in law with the Terrorism Act 2006, the Home Office has now admitted that not a single website has been shut down in the past two years. The Tories said the news "smacks of dangerous complacency and incompetence".

Under Section 3 of the legislation, a police officer can order that "unlawfully terrorism-related material is removed or modified within two working days". However, Vernon Coaker, a Home Office minister, said: "The preferred route of the police is to use informal contact with the communication service providers to request that the material is removed. "To date no Section 3 notices have been issued as this informal route has proved effective."

Last year a leaked report from the Security Service highlighted the importance of the internet in radicalising young people.

Mr Coaker insisted that some sites were shut down after informal contact with the sites' hosts with the police. Yet the Home Office had no idea how many were shut down after the informal talks. Mr Coaker added: "Statistics covering the number of sites removed through such informal contact are not collected."

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative backbench MP who obtained the information, said he was shocked that despite spending over 100 million pounds on preventing radicalization, not a single extremist website had been closed down. He said: "Websites are a crucial means of communication for the terrorist and unless the Government takes action against them, they will continue to be one of the terrorist's most powerful weapons."

Baroness Neville-Jones, the shadow Security Minister, added: "We have known for years that organisations like al-Qaeda are increasingly using the internet as a tool for radicalisation. "So it is shocking that the Government has failed to shut down a single terrorist website, even though Parliament gave them the power to do so more than two years ago. "They claim that they haven't closed any down because they prefer to put pressure on internet service providers to remove dangerous material. But they're not even able to tell us what they've achieved by this route."

A Home Office spokesman said: "If material is hosted in the UK, informal contact between the police and the Internet Service Provider has, to-date, proven sufficient to have material removed from the internet. We hope that this continues." [Must be nice to Muslims -- which also precludes checkups on them, apparently]


Children don't make you happy... says an expert who hasn't any!

A baby's first smile, a toddler's first steps... all the way through to seeing your child walking up the aisle. These are the moments parents treasure - but one social scientist says they give us an unduly rosy impression of raising a family. Dr Nattavudh Powdthavee - who does not have children himself - is pouring cold water on the idea that being a parent makes you happier.

'Social scientists have found almost zero association between having children and happiness,' he said. 'In a recent study of British adults, for example, we found that parents and non-parents reported the same levels of life satisfaction.'

The economist, from the University of York, believes he can explain why the benefits of parenthood have been repeatedly overstated. He said most parents remember milestones like a first smile, and think these rewards more than compensate them for the challenging task of raising children. But Dr Powdthavee claims that any small bursts of happiness are cancelled out by the day-to-day chores of having a family.

His comments are published in the latest issue of The Psychologist, the magazine of The British Psychological Society. The widespread belief that having children makes you happy is a 'focusing illusion', he argued. 'To imagine what it's like being a mother or a father we're likely to focus more on the good things about being a parent than the bad things. 'This is mainly because we believe that the rare but meaningful experiences like a child's first smile or graduating from university or seeing them get married will give us massive and long-lasting increases in happiness.'

But he added: 'These boosts in wellbeing tend not to last for very long. Instead, parents spend much of their time attending to the very core processes of childcare - problems at school, cooking and laundry - which are much more frequent. 'And it is these small but negative experiences that are more likely to impact on our day-to-day levels of happiness and life satisfaction.'

Despite his research, the 30-year-old and his girlfriend are thinking about starting a family of their own. He said that 'deep down' everyone knows that raising children is probably the 'toughest and dullest job in the world'. 'But what if all of us decided one day - for the sake of our own personal happiness - not have children any more?' he asked. 'Then chances are that the future will stop at our generation, which is perhaps worse.'


A clanger from the Green/Left "New Scientist" magazine

An email from Mike O'Ceirin []

I recently happened across an article on the New Scientist Web Site the title is "Climate myths: We can't trust computer models"

The article was written by one Fred Pearce who seems to be one of the leading lights in the AGW debate. You can find some information on him here - which gives quite a lot of detail about his journalism, but nothing about his educational background.

I have done a web search and even looked for such information. For instance he wrote a book called "Confessions of an Eco-Sinner" on Amazon Books the best I can find is he is a "Veteran Science Journalist". Despite any apparent expertise in the field he has this to say about computer models:
"Even though the climate is chaotic to some extent, it can be predicted long in advance.... The validity of models can be tested against climate history. If they can predict the past (which the best models are pretty good at) they are probably on the right track for predicting the future - and indeed have successfully done so."

The article also trots out the usual arguments and then the clanger:
"Finally, the claim is sometimes made that if computer models were any good, people would be using them to predict the stock market. Well, they are! A lot of trading in the financial markets is already carried out by computers. Many base their decisions on fairly simple algorithms designed to exploit tiny profit margins, but others rely on more sophisticated long-term models.

Major financial institutions are investing huge amounts in automated trading systems, the proportion of trading carried out by computers is growing rapidly and a few individuals have made a fortune from them. The smart money is being bet on computer models.

Of course, in some ways financial markets are much trickier to model than the climate, depending as they do on human behaviour. What's more, trading based on computer models alters the nature of the very thing you're trying to predict."

Now this article was written in 2007 when there were many who had faith in such modelling. Now stating as evidence that General Climate Models must be valid because computer modelling of stock markets have worked so well is now obviously ridiculous. Then it was just a logical fallacy.

Pearce sets himself up as an expert on this when he obviously is not and he has been caught out by the fact that it is foolish to believe computers can foretell the future. Further to this, his extreme ignorance is shown by saying "financial markets are much trickier to model than the climate". It shows the author to lack an understanding of the complexity in the creation of a GCM and the weather.

There is also a link to prove GCMs have already predicted the future. It is J Hansen's 1988 prediction that is referenced. I thought that prediction failed!

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