Category Archives: Politics

Postings related to elections and general political stuff

Liberal Amsterdam plans to create 'scum villages'

This story has been picked up by a couple of papers – essentially Amsterdam is taking their problem social housing tenants and

rather than bouncing them between regular housing blocks is putting them in all together in converted shipping containers.

Reaction to this seems to vary often depending on whether the person reading the story has had their life blighted by neighbours from hell. It certainly is a controversial move…

Amsterdam still looks liberal to tourists, who were recently assured by the Labour mayor that the city’s marijuana-selling coffee shops would stay open despite a new national law tackling drug tourism. But the Dutch capital may lose its reputation for tolerance over plans to dispatch nuisance neighbours to “scum villages” made from shipping containers.

The mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, insists his controversial new £810,000 policy to tackle antisocial behaviour is to protect victims of abuse and homophobia from harassment.

The camps where antisocial tenants will be rehoused for three to six months have been called “scum villages” because the policy echoes proposals from Geert Wilders, the far-right populist, who last year demanded that “repeat offenders” be “sent to a village for scum”.

Click here to view original web page at www.guardian.co.uk

Is third-class Britain really on the right track?

Today was the Autumn Statement, supposed to be just an update but once again a mini-budget this was Osborne and the coalition attempting to convince the country that he knows what he’s doing, despite the fact that he’s continuing with austerity, a policy that isn’t working now, in the same way as it has never worked before.

Sadly I fear we’re stuck with this policy which if we go the same way as previous austerity programmes will see us spiralling into further recession. Considering that the other news of the day was South West Trains inability to run a railway service after 2mm of snow the Guardian combined the two stories quite nicely…

Deficit reduction that was first going to take five years was later revised to a seven-year austerity programme. That became eight on Wednesday when George Osborne admitted that a flatlining economy meant his fiscal timetable was now as reliable as Thameslink’s on a bad day. The chancellor insisted that Britain was on the right track. What he didn’t tell us was that it’s a slow moving train, with expensive tickets and uncomfortable conditions for those travelling third class.

Click here to view original web page at www.guardian.co.uk

5 prescription drugs doctors had no idea could hurt their patients

I posted a link to a Daily Mail article by Dr Ben Goldacre a couple of days ago. A couple of months ago the TED Blog published this

post with more comment on the issue of selective publishing of medical trials, along with a video of Goldacre’s talk to TEDMed 2012.

It is well worth watching, but at the same time is pretty terrifying when you consider the implications of what is going on. Most people wouldn’t buy a car for example purely on the sales patter of the car salesman, or the information in the brochure – we know it is going to be biased and selective, we look for independent tests, maybe in the motoring press. That’s not what happens with drugs. Drugs are tested by the manufacturers, and they choose whether or not to publish the results. If the results are positive they publish, negative they’re less likely to. Medical practitioners therefore do not have a full picture when prescribing drugs that could potentially be life or death to a patient…

“People will do lots and lots of studies and on the occasions that it works, they’ll publish. On the ones it doesn’t, they won’t,” says Goldacre in his talk. “This is a problem because it sends us all down blind alleys.”

Is government too scared of Google, Amazon and Starbucks?

The tax arrangements of Google, Amazon and Starbucks have been big news recently. Essentially these are big multi-national companies that arrange themselves financially such that they make large amounts of money from British consumers, but pay little or no tax because the profits are transferred out of the country.

Robert Peston, the well known BBC financial journalist published a great post questioning whether our government is scared of these big companies…

If the UK had an industrial strategy over the past 30 years, it could perhaps have been characterised as “foreigners more than welcome”.

To a greater extent than any developed economy, British governments have been almost wholly lacking in concerns when overseas companies set up shop in the UK or bought businesses here – because of the conviction that these overseas companies would bring decent management, useful competition and investment capital to this country.

Against this government policy backdrop, Google, Starbucks and Amazon seem to be examples of huge American companies doing as well or better in the UK than anywhere apart – perhaps – from their home market in the US.

That, at least, would be the case if success is measured in terms of revenues or market share.

Click here to view original web page at www.bbc.co.uk

Measuring the National Mood

Christmas Tree in the Stair WellDavid Cameron is spending loads of money trying to gauge the happiness of the peoples of the UK.

Seriously, he doesn’t need to spend all this money, there is a simple way to gauge the mood of a nation – how early do the Christmas decorations go up…

After a drought that became one of the wettest summers in years, with the non-stop rain leading to floods, a recession whose predicted length gets longer every week (now predicted to last well past the next election), and now a sudden cold snap, this weekend the country seems to have taken a collective decision that we need some cheering up!

American Petroleum Institute Calls For Obama To Aid 'Economic Catastrophe' Due To Warming-Fueled Drought

In a perverse way this story is kind of amusing, aside from the fact that this isn’t some great Damascus Road experience on the part of the American Petroleum Institute and others, they are purely asking for President Obama to dynamite a deeper channel down the Mississipi and drain the Missouri River reservoir so they can keep hauling more oil that if we continue to burn it at the rate we are is going to lead to more droughts like this in the future… Oh the irony…

These conditions have caused many members of congress and the business community to call on President Barack Obama to help Mississippi River shipping businesses get back to normal. They want the president to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to dynamite the rocky riverbed near two southern Illinois towns ? Thebes and Grand Tower ? to deepen the shipping channel, allowing ships to pass through on less water. They also want the Corps to stop reducing water flow from a Missouri River reservoir, which the Corps does each

year to conserve water for the spring. Members of congress have sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers and spoken out about the issue, and on Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other trade groups and organizations sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to declare emergency in the region and calling for ?immediate assistance in averting an economic catastrophe in the heartland.?

Click here to view original web page at www.care2.com

Has Dr Ben Goldacre crossed to the Dark Side?


It was quite a surprise to find out this morning that Dr Ben Goldacre had an article running in the Mail on Sunday. He is more usually found writing his column on Bad Science in the Guardian and certainly the quality of science reporting in papers like the Daily Mail has been a big subject of comment on his part, but it is indeed the same Dr Ben Goldacre writing for a tabloid!

The subject for his article is an important one, picking up themes from his latest book . In this case he is talking about Tamiflu, the drug that the UK government spent £500,000,000 on stockpiling in the wake of the bird-flu epidemic and which the manufacturers are surprisingly unwilling to publish any data on the success of. Essentially GP’s are prescribing this, and a number of other drugs on nothing more than sales patter, with no detailed evidence of whether the drug actually works. Shocking stuff…

Tamiflu is supposed to be the miracle flu drug. Patients across the UK rely on it. In medicine cupboards everywhere patients have eagerly stockpiled it, and in some winters there has even been talk of rationing.

The Government itself has spent £500?million on stockpiling the drug to keep the country from collapse in the wake of a bird-flu epidemic, since it’s supposed to reduce the risk of pneumonia and death.

And yet for all we know, Tamiflu might be no better than paracetamol: because

Roche, the company making it, still withholds vital information on the risks and benefits from researchers, doctors and patients.

Click here to view original web page at www.dailymail.co.uk