Thursday, July 30, 2009

Elderly Brits kept impoverished by a socialist government that spends most of its money on a myriad of bureaucrats

Retired elderly better treated in Romania and Poland!!?? That's "caring" British socialism for you

Britain has a higher proportion of pensioners living below the poverty line than Romania, figures show. The elderly in this country are among the poorest in Europe, according to a breakdown by charities. Only in Estonia, Latvia and Cyprus are the aged more likely to be among the poorest in society. The comparisons, based on EU figures, follow a decade in which pensioners have been slipping down the league table of wealth in Britain.

This is largely because state benefits for the worst-off pensioners have slipped behind those available to the other poorest group in society, single mothers. Ministers have also acknowledged that elderly people with their own incomes and homes suffer because of the impact of soaring council tax bills.

The figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical arm, were compiled by the charities Age Concern and Help the Aged. They reveal the proportion of pensioners in each EU country who live on incomes below 60 per cent of average.

The measure does not identify how many older people have plentiful material goods such as houses and cars despite low incomes, and is often regarded as a measure of equality rather than real poverty. But the charities said they were useful to show the number of older people who are at risk of living in poverty.

In Britain nearly one in three over-65s, or 30 per cent, are on incomes below the poverty threshold. That is lower only than the 51 per cent in Cyprus, 33 per cent in Latvia, and 33 per cent in Estonia.

Britain’s 30 per cent is equal to the 30 per cent poverty risk rate in the other Baltic republic, Lithuania. In comparison, only 19 percent fall below the threshold in Romania and in Poland that figure is just eight per cent. The elderly also fare considerably better in Germany where the proportion below the poverty line is 17 per cent, in France 13 per cent and Holland 10 per cent.

Least likely pensioners to be poor are in the Czech republic, where only one in 20, five per cent, falls below the 60 per cent poverty line.

The figures also show that pensioners are more likely to be poor in Britain than other groups. While pensioners here come fourth from bottom of the table, for child poverty Britain ranks fifth from bottom and for poverty risk among adults under 65 ninth.

The study comes ahead of a major Government review of pensioner poverty due to be published this week. The charities said other research has shown that older people are skipping meals to save money and two out of five cannot afford to buy essential items.

Age Concern director Michelle Mitchell said: ‘Even before the recession set in, many older people were not keeping up with the pace at which the general wealth of the nation has increased.’


Special privileges for gypsy children in Britain

More than a thousand gipsy and traveller children have been given laptop computers to help them with their schoolwork. The free equipment and wireless internet access is estimated to be worth up to £750 per pupil, and is costing the taxpayer £300,000 a year. Some children are also being handed printers and digital cameras under a controversial Government-backed scheme aimed at encouraging them to stay in education.

Figures have revealed that free IT equipment has been handed to 1,317 pupils from gipsy and traveller families since 2004. However, ministers have admitted that some of the laptops have been used by parents to buy and sell goods, and book foreign holidays online.

Last night, the Conservatives, who obtained the figures, warned that the scheme risked fuelling resentment among taxpayers. Only days ago it emerged that gipsy and traveller children are being given priority admission to popular state schools. In addition, gipsy and traveller families are getting priority to see GPs and dentists.

The Electronic Learning and Mobility Programme (E-LAMP) is designed to offer 'quality distance learning opportunities' to gipsy and traveller children who regularly change schools and are on the move throughout large parts of the school year. Under the scheme, being run in 330 schools, the children are given laptops with, for example, 3G wireless internet software, which enables them to study while travelling and keep in touch with their 'base' school.

There are an estimated one million children from around 350,000 gipsy and traveller families in the UK, but fewer than 9 per cent obtain five good GCSEs including maths and English.

Studies have shown that children who relocate regularly quickly become demotivated with learning and disengaged with their school friends and school life. In addition, many traveller parents provide little support for their children's academic learning, with a small number believing that formal education offers little or no value to their children's futures.

In a written Parliamentary answer, schools minister Jim Knight said 1,317 laptops were issued from 2004 to 2009. He said: 'The vast majority are still out on loan to the students. There have only been seven incidents of minor accidental damage. One laptop was sold by the family, but recovered quickly as it had been tagged.'

A survey by the National Association of Teachers of Travellers has found adult travellers are using their children's laptops to book holidays, shop and sell goods online. It said: 'Initially the restriction on data transfer allowed, due to shared group tariff packages, caused issues when the students became more confident workers and their parents discovered the joys of Amazon, eBay and booking flights online.'

Tory local government spokesman Bob Neill said: 'However well-meaning, I am concerned the Government's policies on travellers threaten to undermine community cohesion and inflame community tensions. 'The British people believe in fair play - it's not fair that one small group get privileged access to public services, whilst hard-working families who struggle to pay their bills and taxes are pushed to the back of the queue.'


British Met Office/CRU Finds the Mole

Climate data must be kept secret!

by Steve McIntyre

Late yesterday (Eastern time), I learned that the Met Office/CRU had identified the mole. They are now aware that there has in fact been a breach of security. They have confirmed that I am in fact in possession of CRU temperature data, data so sensitive that, according to the UK Met Office, my being in possession of this data would, “damage the trust that scientists have in those scientists who happen to be employed in the public sector”, interfere with the “effective conduct of international relations”, “hamper the ability to protect and promote United Kingdom interests through international relations” and “seriously affect the relationship between the United Kingdom and other Countries and Institutions.” [Wow! If that's not a confession that they deceive the public about their data, I don't know what would be]

Although they have confirmed the breach of security, neither the Met Office nor CRU have issued a statement warning the public of the newCRU_tar leak. Nor, it seems, have they notified the various parties to the alleged confidentiality agreements that there has been a breach in those confidentiality agreements, so that the opposite parties can take appropriate counter-measures to cope with the breach of security by UK institutions. Thus far, the only actions by either the Met Office or CRU appear to have been a concerted and prompt effort to cover up the breach of security by attempting to eradicate all traces of the mole’s activities. My guess is that they will not make the slightest effort to discipline the mole.

Nor have either the Met Office or CRU contacted me asking me not to further disseminate the sensitive data nor to destroy the data that I have in my possession.

By not doing so, they are surely opening themselves up to further charges of negligence for the following reasons. Their stated position is that, as a “non-academic”, my possession of the data would be wrongful (a position with which I do not agree, by the way). Now that they are aware that I am in possession of the data (and they are aware, don’t kid yourselves), any prudent lawyer would advise them to immediately to notify me that I am not entitled to be in possession of the data and to ask/instruct me to destroy the data that I have in my possession and not to further disseminate the sensitive data. You send out that sort of letter even if you think that the letter is going to fall on deaf ears.

Since I am always eager to help climate scientists with these conundrums, I’ll help them out a little here. If, prior to midnight Eastern time on Thursday, a senior executive of the Met Office or the University of East Anglia notifies me that I am in wrongful possession of the data and directly requests me to destroy my copies of the CRU station data in question and thereby do my part in the avoidance of newCRU_tar proliferation, I will do so.

I will, of course, continue my FOI requests since I do not believe, for a minute, that their excuses have any validity nor am I convinced that the alleged confidentiality agreements actually exist nor, if they exist, am I convinced that they prohibit the provision of the data to me.


British Air passenger tax is just another burden for families that will stop those nasty average people from messing up tourist spots

WITH so much grim news at home, from the recession to swine flu, plenty of us are hoping that summer holidays will be a much needed respite from the doom and gloom. Unfortunately, even when we try to get away from it all and take a holiday, the Government uses that as another excuse to raid our bank account. Last summer, the TaxPayers' Alliance revealed that a family of four travelling to Florida for a summer holiday faced a £200 tax bill before they even got on the aircraft.

Part of that big tax bill is the Air Passenger Duty (APD) that is charged on airline tickets. You would hope that the Government might try to help out and cut the burden on ordinary families when the country is in recession. Since 2006, however, APD for one-way, short-haul flights to Europe has doubled to £10 and it is set to rise to £12 by the end of next year – that means we'll have had a 140 per cent increase in four years.

This week we've discovered that APD isn't just pushing up the cost of travelling abroad. It is also contributing to a cut in the number of flights available, making it less likely that we can go where we want, when we want. The no-frills airline Ryanair, Europe's largest operator, has announced that it is to cut flights from UK airports. These cuts, which amount to a 40 per cent reduction in capacity, are most likely to fall on London Stansted, the start of many families' holidays.

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, blamed the "Scottish misers", as he described the Chancellor and Prime Minister, and said the move was a protest against plans to increase Air Passenger Duty on short flights, which he branded "insane and damaging". It is not just Ryanair which has criticised excessive APD rates. Easyjet, Ryanair's chief rival, has attacked the tax, branding it "certifiably bonkers".

Virgin Atlantic has also come out against the tax and started printing anti-APD messages on their e-tickets. BALPA, the airline pilots' union, has said that the rise will cripple the industry and put long-haul holidays out of reach of ordinary families while the Association of British Travel Agents has said the rise in APD will have a substantial impact on the airline industry.

Attacking the airlines like this will have serious consequences for the British economy. Ryanair's cuts are set to cost 2,500 jobs – from its own staff and among workers such as baggage handlers.

Air Passenger Duty isn't just hurting airlines and travel agents. With the pound so low against the dollar and euro, we should be attracting more tourists, but visits from abroad are down by 32.8 million. Big taxes on flights put off people from visiting the UK.

Ironically, earlier rises in APD probably increased emissions from air travel. Air Passenger Duty encourages people to fly further within its "bands", to Sydney instead of New York or the south of Italy instead of the north of France for example, and that means higher emissions. That issue has been addressed to a certain extent by the new bands introduced this year, but it is still doing little to reduce emissions.

There are other anomalies, too. For example the distance is measured to each country's capital city, so flights to Barbados, an eight-hour flight from London, are charged at a higher rate than flights to Los Angeles, which is 11 hours away. That can mean punishing extra bills for families – for example a family of four travelling to Egypt, just a couple of hours from Europe, will pay an extra £240 from 2010.

APD is supposed to be a green tax designed to correct negative externalities. Put simply, the Government makes polluters pay for the costs they impose on everyone else by increasing the level of climate change in the years to come, that way they will only pollute if the benefits of doing so really outweigh the costs.

TaxPayers' Alliance research has shown that we are already being charged more than we should in green taxes to compensate for the greenhouse gases that Britain produces. The Department for Transport itself has produced research which shows taxes on flights are higher than necessary to compensate for the environmental harm created by aircrafts' emissions.

It is clear that Air Passenger Duty is functioning not as a green tax but as another means to raise revenue. All that is achieved by increasing the cost of air travel is to make it harder for ordinary families to enjoy a much-needed break, as the higher taxes mean not just more expensive flights but fewer options over when and where to fly.

It really is sad that the people who suffer the most are those who were able to enjoy foreign holidays for the first time when budget airlines made them affordable.


Some wind power disillusionment from Britain

An aquarium in Devon has taken down two wind turbines after seagulls were killed when they collided with the blades.

The 15m (50ft) high 6kW turbines at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth were installed in 2006 for a £3.6m sustainable energies project. But the Hoe-based attraction has taken them down after several birds died, it said. The aquarium also said they had not produced as much electricity as hoped.

Caroline Johnson, of the aquarium, said: "The major problems included where they were positioned. "The eddying effect of the wind meant they weren't producing as much energy as they potentially could have. "The loss of life of seagulls flying into the turbines was also a problem and, following a gale, the turbines were damaged."


Cut size of chocolate bars to fight obesity, says British food watchdog

Some people will never learn. Such cuts tend to cause people to buy TWO amounts of the shrunken food item -- with a total INCREASE in the amounts consumed

Chocolate fans, be warned: your sugary snack is set to get smaller. The Food Standards Agency wants manufacturers to reduce the size of chocolate bars by about a fifth to help to cut calorie intake. It proposes that by 2012 standard-sized bars should be no more than 50g. Currently, Mars bars are 58g and twin Bounty bars are 57g.

Manufacturers have also been asked to sell bite-size bars as single items, of 40g or under, instead of in multi-bar bags. The agency hopes to discourage companies from marketing giant-sized bars and will urge manufacturers to promote lower-calorie treats. The aim is to help consumers to reduce the number of calories and the amount of saturated fat that they eat.

By 2050, 60 per cent of Britons will be obese unless the nation’s diet is improved, according to health chiefs, with the cost to the National Health Service estimated to reach more than £8.4 billion. Officials decided to push for smaller bite-size bars rather than developing healthier recipes because European Union rules restrict sugar and fat reductions in chocolate.

Restrictions on the size of carbonated drinks were also put forward yesterday as part of the consultation with the food industry. It is also proposed that, within six years, fizzy drinks should be sold in smaller containers, with 250ml (8.8 fl.oz) suggested as the norm instead of the current standard 330ml for most brands. Added sugar levels to drinks should be reduced by 4 per cent within three years — the idea being that consumers will be weaned off very sweet drinks without noticing the lower sugar content.

Gill Fine, of the agency, said: “We are not telling people what to eat. We want to make it easier for people to make healthier choices — to choose foods with reduced saturated fat and sugar — or smaller portion sizes.” Saturated fat should be cut by 10 per cent in cakes, biscuits, and pastry. The agency is hoping for voluntary action by the industry but if companies fail to respond, ministers might force their hand by threatening to legislate.

The Food and Drink Federation expressed disappointment at moves to set what are seen as arbitrary targets for specific nutrients in certain foods, rather than encouraging consumers to follow a balanced diet and lifestyle


Pay donors to end the shortage of IVF eggs, says British watchdog

Official authoritarianism wilting under the pressure of reality

A longstanding ban on selling sperm and eggs should be reconsidered to address a national shortage of donors, the head of the Government’s fertility watchdog says.

Payments to donors could cut the number of childless couples travelling abroad for treatment, Lisa Jardine, of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, told The Times.

The removal of anonymity for donors in 2005 and strict rules against payments have provoked a crisis in fertility treatment, forcing many couples to wait years for the therapy they need to start a family. A recent study showed that access to eggs and sperm was the main reason why hundreds of British couples became “fertility tourists” each month.

The number of treatment cycles using donated eggs fell by 25 per cent between 2004 and 2006; the number of women using donated sperm fell by 30 per cent. These trends have convinced Professor Jardine that the authority should reconsider its 2006 ruling that donors can get up to £250 in expenses but no direct payments.

Her move will raise concerns about a market in human tissue and exploitation of women as egg donation is invasive and involves an element of risk. In countries that allow payment, such as the United States, Spain and Russia, young women often donate to wipe out debts or to fund university fees.

Professor Jardine said that the law already treated eggs, sperm and embryos differently from other tissues, so there was no danger of setting a precedent for the sale of organs such as kidneys. Payment would also ensure that more women were treated in licensed domestic clinics, rather than in countries with less stringent regulations.

“I’m not saying the decision arrived at before I became chair wasn’t the right one at the time,” she said. “But given the evidence that egg shortage is driving women overseas, I feel a responsibility to look at it again.”

She said the principle that women could be compensated for donating had been established already through egg-sharing schemes, in which women were offered cheaper IVF for agreeing to give away some of their eggs.

The professor also called for a debate on the ethics of sperm and egg donation across generations and within families. She pointed to a case in which a lesbian couple had conceived with eggs donated by one partner, which were fertilised by the other woman’s brother. Each partner had one of the resulting embryos implanted and carried to term.


Britain's Left-run NHS deliberately kills off older people

Do you really think Obamacare will be different?

Older women with breast cancer are less likely to receive “standard” treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery than younger women, a report says today. Only 16 per cent of patients over 65 received chemotherapy compared with 77 per cent of patients under 50, according to an audit of British health services by the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer. A total of 48 per cent of women aged 80 and over did not receive any type of surgery, compared with 3.5 per cent of women aged under 50. Only 42 per cent of women aged 65 and over received breast-conserving surgery, compared with 51 per cent of women under 65. Meanwhile, only 31 per cent of breast cancer patients over 80 received radiotherapy, compared with 78 per cent of patients under 50.

The audit, which was published in the British Journal of Cancer, analysed 48,983 cancer patients from 11 regional cancer networks. Breakthrough Breast Cancer said that although some of the findings could be accounted for by some women not wanting some of the treatments or surgery, the figures were too high to be explained through patient choice alone.

Maggie Alexander, the charity’s director of policy and campaigns, said: “Breakthrough is concerned that there appear to be significant differences in treatment given to patients depending on their age. “All women should be offered appropriate treatment options no matter what their age, and that’s why we are now investigating this issue to find out what lies behind these differences.”

Gill Lawrence, the director of the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit, who led the project, added: “We encourage breast units to review their services and to identify ways in which they can be improved. “Although the data in this report are for breast cancers diagnosed in 2004, we are confident that the data highlight issues that still exist today.”


British police must not wear British flag -- but homosexual flags are OK

This shows how far Leftism has gone in Britain. They despise their own country.
"Scores of Scotland Yard officers are in open revolt after being banned from wearing Union Flag badges in support of British troops. Met chiefs have decreed that the tiny emblems – which cost £1 with proceeds going to charity – must be removed after a complaint that they are offensive. But furious junior officers are continuing to wear them in defiance at the politically correct stance.

The row started when 200 officers at Heathrow Airport were barred from wearing the badges last month on the grounds that they were in breach of the Met’s strict dress code.

The order is thought to have followed a complaint from a member of public that the symbol is ‘offensive’. But about 70 officers, many of whom have been in the Services or have relatives fighting in Afghanistan, have ignored the directive despite warnings of disciplinary action.

Mr Smyth, who represents more than 30,000 rank and file officers, said staff in the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group, CO19 firearms squad and dog units have joined the revolt. In a statement on the Metropolitan Police Federation’s website, he said: ‘As the country mourned the deaths of young soldiers and saluted the heroism of the men and women fighting in Afghanistan, Met officers at the airport were ordered to take off small, one-inch square Union Flag badges because someone had complained they were offensive.’

Officers at Heathrow were also ordered to take down a Union Flag hoisted on June 27 – Armed Forces Day – because it was not an ‘approved ensign’. Strict rules are in place about when the Union Flag can be flown at individual police stations.

In February, Scotland Yard was hit by another row over political correctness after the Union Flag hanging outside a police station was replaced by a gay rights flag to mark Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history month. This is despite Met rules stating that only the Union Flag and its own flag can fly from force buildings.


An utterly disgraceful British bureaucracy: "The Ministry of Defence faced mounting public anger yesterday as it tried to cut the compensation awarded to a soldier who is fighting in Afghanistan after recovering from a gunshot wound that left him with one leg shorter than the other. Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, also wants to reduce the payout to a Marine who fractured his right thigh while on a training exercise. The case at the Court of Appeal could prevent hundreds of servicemen and women from receiving larger compensation packages for their injuries. If the MoD fails in its appeal, it could lead to the rewriting of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, a tariff listing sums to be awarded for different types of injury. Critics have accused the MoD of failing in its duty of care towards soldiers."

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