Questions in The Guardian we can answer

A new study shows first-born children are more able and ambitious. So, why have we been ruled by a succession of younger siblings as prime ministers?

Because the able and ambitious go off to do something more interesting than tell the rest of us how to live our lives.

I mean seriously: where’s the sodding ambition in straining to reach a position that Gordon Fucking Brown managed to gain?

Interesting about proton beam therapy for cancer in Prague

That the NHS does not do this but it is available in the Czech Republic:

Here in Prague, ordinary Czechs are horrified. On social media there is talk of little else. No one can understand why any child would be denied access to this state-of-the-art clinic – which was opened two years ago and built at a cost of £30 million by telecommunication tycoon brothers Pavel and Vaclav Lastovka, who had a relative cured of cancer using proton therapy in the US – and were determined fellow Europeans should be able to access the treatment.

Whether they’re money grubbing entrepreneurs or it’s a charitable foundation, still, interesting that a much (and it is *much*) poorer country has more advanced treatment, no?

Initially sceptical, their doctors agreed to approve the therapy as long as the family’s insurance company paid the bill, which it agreed to do.

Oh. Look at that. The Czech Republic works on something like the French system. A part of your wages is paid to an insurance company which then organises your health care.

Of course, as absolutely everyone knows, this is obviously, must be, much worse than the NHS.

BTW, CR has one of the best lung cancer survival rates in the world…..



Anyone care to send me this paper?…I have this now, thank you

At this rate it might almost be worth signing up as a student somewhere to get access to a university library. In the interim, anyone want to send me this paper?


He appears to be trying to measure productivity growth by looking at the productivity of government employees. Which is simply barmy. By definition their output is what they’re paid…..unless he’s using some non-standard measure.

Heidi Moore does it again

Yup, glaring evidence of not quite knowing what she’s talking about:

Labor’s share of income measures the percentage of corporate profits that go to pay wages to employees – as opposed to enriching shareholders and other owners.

In 2013, labor’s share of income fell to 72.7%, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In the first half of 2014, however, the number spiked up.

No, just no.

The labour share of income is, as the EPI has measured it here, the share of corporate income, not profits, that goes to labour. As, actually the EPI report itself says:

The figure below shows a particularly stark measure: the share of corporate sector income accounted for by workers’ wages and benefits.

Obviously, I know that you don’t need to know much economics to write for The Guardian but not being able to understand what you’re copying out is still pretty bad.

Con Coughlin and boots on the ground

Finally, our political classes have finally woken up to reality of what needs to be done to tackle the threat posed by Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq.

Having stuck to the ludicrous mantra that, whatever action was authorised against the fanatical supporters of the self-styled Islamic State, there would be “no boots on the ground”, it now appears the Government is facing up to the reality that the campaign cannot prevail without at least some military presence on the ground.

Yes, that’s right, fresh, this week in fact, from insisting that Britain should have “boots on the ground” in Eastern Ukraine he’s now insisting that we should also have them in Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq.

How big does he think the British Army is?

Newsflash: it’s rather smaller than it used to be Mr. Coughlin.

Why rebuild Gaza?

Rebuilding Gaza will cost $7.8 billion (£4.7 billion), the Palestinian Authority said on Thursday, in the most comprehensive assessment yet of damage from a seven-week war with Israel during which whole neighbourhoods and vital infrastructure were flattened.

It’s, essentially, a refugee camp. So why spend all that money on rebuilding it?

I understand the political desires of some: to keep the Palestinians locked up in such an area provides a useful excuse as to why Israel is the most evil place ever. But this all dates from many decades ago. Those Germans thrown out of the Sudetenland, about 50 of them turn up each year in Usti nad Labem (Aussig as was) to shout about the injustice of it all (and it was indeed an injustice) but the rest have dispersed and built new lives elsewhere. The Poles kicked out of what is now Western Ukraine, they’ve dispersed and built new lives (often in those parts of what was Eastern Germany that became Western Poland). These events weren’t directly contemporaneous, I agree, but they’re of a similar vintage.

Why keep 1.8 million people festering in a scrap of desert? Whack out an Arab nation passport of the Gazan’s choice to each and every one of them and have done with this pimple?

Yeah, yeah, I know, Zionist oppression and all that. But damnit, why in hell is this the one group of people who have lost a war that are still, 60 odd years later, being punished for that loss? Why in buggery isn’t it just a bad memory, just as those population movements post WWII are?

Plus ca change, c’est la meme chose

Shweta Prasad, one of India’s best known former Bollywood child stars, has been arrested for prostitution during a police raid in Hyderabad.

Now 23, she is best known as the 11-year-old star of Makdee, in which she played a young girl captured by a witch.

More Bollywood roles followed her debut and she won parts in India’s popular Telugu and Bengali films as well.

But her arrest on Sunday highlighted Bollywood’s sleazy dark side.

In a statement to the police, she said how she and many other actresses had been lured into prostitution when Bollywood roles dried up and the money ran out. She had not found a film role in eight years.

There was a time in England that to be an actress was really a method of showing off one’s charms for the wealthier members of the audience who might be interested in a more intimate performance later on.

One such famously ended up as a Duchess as a result (umm, perhaps of Bolton?).

Human nature tends not to change all that much. And being both very good looking and also a good actress is pretty much the required qualification for working at the high end of the trade really.

Blimey, good sense on e-cigarettes

The experts from the department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, the National Addiction Centre at King’s College London and the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, have published the rebuttal of the WHO report in the journal Addiction.

They said the WHO report says e-cigarette use in the young is a major problem and could act as a gateway to smoking cigarettes where as in fact less than one per cent of children who have never smoked have tried them.

The WHO also said e-cigarettes contain toxins, the health effects are unknown and they should be banned indoors, but the group said the amounts are tiny and similar to that breathed in when walking down a city street.

Finally they said the WHO assertion that e-cigarettes prevent people from giving up cigarettes is not true and that they are actually as helpful as buying nicotine replacement patches from the chemist.

Prof Peter Hajek, from Queen Mary University said: “These WHO recommendations are actually detrimental to public health.

“E-cigarettes could have a revolutionary effect on public health if smokers switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.”

He said banning them would be akin to saying everyone should keep an open fire in every room of their own in winter because central heating systems may malfunction.

He added that e-cigarettes should be made cheaper than their alternative and they should be permitted in public places where cigarettes are not.

Prof Robert West from UCL said the WHO recommendations were ‘puritanical’ and ‘ridiculous’ and did not represent the current evidence on safety or use of e-cigarettes.

They can be made cheaper simply by not taxing them as ‘baccy is. And that public use point is vastly important: this does indeed mean that people should be able to use them in pubs.

Now that we’ve had the actual health experts talking about it, who is going to win? Them, or WHO nutters?

On the subject of Valerie Trierweiler


Ms Trierweiler recounts how she spoke to Miss Gayet on the telephone, asking her to deny the rumours of the affair. She said that Miss Gayet replied that her lawyer had threatened to sue anyone who spread them.

“How can anyone lie so much?” Ms Trierweiler asks.
Much of Ms Trierweiler’s fire is turned on Ségolène Royal, the mother of the president’s four children and his ecology minister. Their relationship ended due to his affair with Ms Trierweiler. To make a point about how hard it was to deal with Miss Royal being constantly in the media eye, she put photographs of her ex-husband on the walls until Mr Hollande complained.

I realise that they often do things differently in France but we English have a little phrase that describes this all rather well. What goes around comes around. Being the younger woman that seduces the man of power away from his family does leave one open, at some point, to a younger woman doing that to you. It’s rather one of those occupational hazards, you know?

Having chosen a man you know is open to this sort of behaviour……

Of course, in this modern day and age there’s nothing wrong at all with such behaviour, we don’t moralise these days. But please, do stop complaining about it.

Amusing from Ritchie

It is very obvious that there can only be one national grid

And only one national school system

And one NHS

Etc etc

To pretend otherwise is just dogmatic pretence at the end of the day

Blimey. How the hell have we survived all these years without that one national school system?

Why a one year wait for Scotland to leave?

Because, assuming the vote yes, that’s just the way you leave the UK:

The agreement was signed in London on 6 December 1921, by representatives of the British government (which included Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who was head of the British delegates) and Irish representatives including Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith. The Irish representatives regarded themselves as having plenipotentiary status (negotiators empowered to sign a treaty without reference back to their superiors) acting on behalf of the Irish Republic though this was never accepted by the British government. As required by its terms, the agreement was ratified by the members elected to sit in the House of Commons of Southern Ireland and the British Parliament. In that sense it could be regarded as a treaty but it was not between two states. Dáil Éireann for the de facto Irish Republic also ratified the treaty. Though the treaty was narrowly ratified, the split led to the Irish Civil War, which was ultimately won by the pro-treaty side.

The Irish Free State as contemplated by the treaty came into existence when its constitution became law on 6 December 1922 by a royal proclamation giving the force of law to the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922.

Makes sense to me anyway.

Quite right: Cameron is a stupid twat

But as I explained in parliament, I find it difficult to see how a proposal to prevent a British national from returning to our country could be carried out, even temporarily, without legal, practical and reputational problems for us. The prime minister rightly emphasised that we must not breach international law by rendering a person stateless. But what is refusing to allow a person back with no other nationality, but an assertion of just such statelessness? How would my friend and colleague the home secretary have felt if, at the last minute, the Jordanian government had done the same to us over Abu Qatada? Where are the common law principles of freedom under the law and the presumption of innocence if individuals cannot return to face prosecution and trial in their own country on grave allegations that are being levelled at them? How would a temporary ban assist security, except temporarily?

That’s Cameron’s
own lawyer (well, the government’s) making that argument.

As I’ve repeatedly said, I’m a great deal less worried about what the jihadis might do to us than I am about what the politicians might do to our freedom and liberty using the excuse of the jihadis.