December 2013

On the level of dangerous drinking

The lifetime risk of breast cancer for a woman drinking one bottle of wine each week rises by 10%, but breast cancer is a lot more common than liver disease, and one in 100 women drinking at this level will develop breast cancer as a result.

This is the level of drinking that the prodnoses are talking about. A bottle of wine a week.

The Home Office proposed a measured alcohol strategy, centred on a minimum unit price, and personally supported by David Cameron, and no one seems to understand why it was dropped

Because it’s illegal under EU law you dimwit. It’s also damn stupid. Why do you want to fatten the profit margins of the suppliers? If you want to make booze more expensive then raise the tax levels!

A range of figures from across British society

This is a very eclectic and wide ranging list, isn’t it?

Signatories include Grahame Morris MP of Labour Friends of Venezuela, Colin Burgon, Chair of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, filmmaker John Pilger and Frances O’Grady, Trade Union Congress General Secretary, alongside student leaders, peace campaigners, community represenatives and array of others from across British society.

In the political field, further signatories include MPs Dave Anderson, Michael Connarty, Frank Doran, Paul Farrelly, Hywel Francis, George Galloway, Fabian Hamilton, Kelvin Hopkins, Ian Lavery, John McDonnell, Linda Riordan, Jim Sheridan, Mike Weir, Chris Williamson and Mike Wood, alongside Baroness Margaret Prosser plus Elaine Smith MSP.

An impressive array of further supporters in the trade union and labour movement include the general secretaries Len McCluskey (Unite the Union,) Billy Hayes (CWU,) Steve Murphy (UCATT,) Bob Crow (RMT,) Manuel Cortes (TSSA,) Doug Nicholls (General Federation of Trade Unions) and John Smith (Musicians’ Union & President of the International Federation Musicians) plus UNISON Assistant General Secretary Roger Mckenzie.

Other prominent people to add their support from across British society include filmmaker Ken Loach, actor Andy De La Tour, lawyer Louise Christian, plus a range of academic and writers including Professor Ernesto Laclau, Professor Doreen Massey and Dr. Francisco Dominguez.

Prominent campaigners for peace and social justice include Bruce Kent, Zita Holbourne (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts,) Salma Yaqoob, Maggie Bowden (General Secretary of Liberation,) Lindsey German (Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition,) student leaders Aaron Kiely (NUS Black Students’ Officer) and Matt Stanley (NUS Executive) plus Bob Oram, Chair of the Morning Star Management Committee.

They’re missing John Hari and Ritchie though…..

Very clever indeed

But hold on. If “the information provided by think tanks is little more than another form of corporate lobbying,” doesn’t that mean that by contributing to think tanks and not revealing which think tanks they are contributing to, CEOs are expending “corporate resources” “in ways that advance the interests of [their] shareholders.?” So shouldn’t Elizabeth Warren be applauding them for not revealing which think tanks they are contributing to? After all, according to her, advancing the interests of their shareholders is the only justified use of corporate resources.

But that’s why we have an NHS

More than half a million people have been hospitalised in the past three years because of drink or drugs, with those in their 40s behind a surge in cases that is putting a strain on the NHS, official figures reveal.

A total of 533,302 people in England have been admitted to hospital as an emergency since 2010 with serious health problems related to their consumption of alcohol or illicit substances. The vast majority were admissions for conditions specifically related to alcohol abuse, such as liver problems. Of those, 60,738 were aged 40 to 44 and another 60,083 were 45 to 49 – together, more than a fifth of the total. Some were admitted a number of times between 2010 and 2013.


Doctors’ leaders and NHS bosses warned that alcohol’s burden on the NHS was unsustainable. “It is vital that we take more action to tackle the impact of excessive alcohol consumption on the UK’s population and the NHS,” said a spokesman for the British Medical Association. “As the Dr Foster research highlights, this is a problem that affects large numbers of people across all age groups and as a result places serious strain on a number of already overstretched NHS services.

Umm, but this is why we have an NHS. To provide us with health care. That’s why the organisation gets £100 billion a year of our cash: to treat us.

No, not to tell us we shouldn’t do things so they don’t have to treat us.

Other than that it’s all the usual nonsense about minimum pricing and so on. And the sums they are whining about the NHS having to spend on this are tiny when compared to the tax raised on the booze being drunk.

Well, yes

There are more working families living in poverty in the UK than non-working ones for the first time, a charity has found

Just over half of the 13 million people living below the poverty line, some 6.7 million, come from working families – an increase of 500,000 on last year.

If you reduce poverty among pensioners, the disabled and those not working, then the proportion of those in poverty who are working will rise.

A message just in from the Ukraine

“Today, December 8, data on individual politicians perpetrating illegal acts aimed at seizing power was entered in the universal register of pre-trial investigations,” said a statement from the State Security Service, Ukraine’s main successor agency to the KGBs.

That just sounds so terribly Russian to me. A threat from a bureaucrat.

This is about Hirst making money

Nowt wrong with making money of course.

Winsham Farm is a wildlife haven which Hirst bought for £900,000 ten years ago.


The artist, 48, has submitted a planning application to North Devon council for 750 homes, a school, shops, health centre, offices, sports pitches, playgrounds and cycle paths on the edge of the seaside town of Ilfracombe.

I’d put the profit on gaining planning for that at, oooh, what, £75 million?

Now this is a surprise

Ed Miliband’s plans to force energy companies to freeze bills would deter other firms from investing in more Britain’s power stations, the head of the world’s most influential economic group has warned.

Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said a freeze on customer energy bills would deter investors at a time when Britain needs more energy infrastructure.

It’s not going to stop the economically incompetent advocating it but still, ice to see it being said out loud.

Err, Willy?

And this is unrelieved by any attempt to look for tax revenue to mitigate the impact, as every other country does and is advised to do. Instead, more asset disposals are proposed. The east coast mainline, generating £209m of surplus on £700m turnover, will be sold despite its fabulous returns to the taxpayer. The same will take place with EuroStar. To give up such great financial returns along with the benefits of ownership is daft. The new owners will demand even higher returns on their investment, with only enfeebled regulators left to protect “hard-working” people from being skinned. Ownership matters.

Err, you privatise the asset for the value of those future profits. You’re not giving anything up.

This might be, just a little bit, ever so slightly, de trop

When Farage argues for zero interference by the nanny state, this inevitably makes him an unhealth campaigner – for lung cancer, for obesity and for an epidemic of diabetes, not forgetting his party’s enthusiasm for higher speed limits, thereby adding thousands more to Ukip’s morbidity targets. Why Farage should be 100% in love with easeful death is anyone’s guess, but, for pure, cautionary value, he could still be the best thing to happen to the nanny state since the foundation of the NHS.

They’re getting worried, aren’t they?

Ritchie’s old plan for pensions again

He’s still touting the same old plan for pensions:

In the same year the total cost of subsidies to the private UK pension industry through tax and national insurance reliefs on contributions made and from the tax exemption of income of pension funds amounted to £37.6 billion. The result was that, albeit indirectly, the entire cost of private sector pensions paid in that year was covered by tax reliefs given to the private sector pension funds that paid them. To put it another way, every single penny of the cost of UK pension payments in 2007/08 was in effect paid by the UK government.

Yep, still making that mistake. Looking at the current subsidy to future pensions and comparing it to the current pensions being paid.

Twattish, isn’t it?

Most importantly we suggest that if those pension funds are to attract tax relief in future they must use a significant part of the £80 billion of contributions they receive each year to invest in new jobs, new technology and new infrastructure for the UK so that the wealth that is needed to grow our economy, to create jobs and to build the real capital base that must be passed to the next generation is built on the back of pension fund investment. As the report shows they do not do this at present. Most of the assets of pension funds are currently invested in short term speculation that has no impact on real growth prospects in our economy, and may actually harm it.

And their solution is that pensions must be handed over to the venture capitalists.

Because that is what we call the people who invest in new businesses. VCs.

This is a bit of a social change, isn’t it?

Much of the custom comes from France where official attitudes to prostitution are not as relaxed as in Germany

I don’t think we would have put it that way a century ago…..or even 50 years ago, would we?

And does anyone think this number is correct?

But prostitute activist groups representing many of the 400,000 registered hookers in the country,

There’s 80 million Germans, 50% are female (about) so one in 100 in the country is a tart? And each will need (in order to stay in the trade at least) three or four punters a day or 20 a week. Are we really sure that 20% of German men shag a tart once a week?

I suppose these numbers are possible but I’m really not sure….


After ore is pried from the ground and unwanted minerals are sifted away to make a concentrate of minerals, complex acid and chemical treatments are required to separate individual rare earths into quantities that are useful. Many of the 17 rare earths share such similar physical properties that separating individual elements can require several months and 1,000 chemical treatments.

Grr. No, many of them share such similar chemical properties that we have to use physical differences to separate them.

This is an interesting view:

The now-defunct apartheid system of South Africa presented a fascinating instance of interest-group competition for political advantage. In light of the extreme human rights abuses stemming from apartheid, it is remarkable that so little attention has been paid to the economic foundations of that torturous social structure. The conventional view is that apartheid was devised by affluent whites to suppress poor blacks. In fact, the system sprang from class warfare and was largely the creation of white workers struggling against both the black majority and white capitalists. Apartheid was born in the political victory of radical white trade unions over both of their rivals. In short, this cruelly oppressive economic system was socialism with a racist face.

I’m not sure I agree (I would describe it more as a racist form of corporatism) but interesting….

Given this news should I claim to be in good health or bad?

It is a subject that has provoked a host of myths, from causing blindness and insanity to the loss of vital organs.

Now two academics are on a mission to set the record straight about masturbation – and highlight all the health benefits it can bring.

Anthony Santella, a public health scientist at the University of Sydney and his colleague Spring Chenoa Cooper, a senior lecturer, say self-pleasuring can ward off a host of illnesses, from cystitis, diabetes to prostate cancer.

On those wages at McDonalds

This is a slightly excessive ambition for a fast food job isn’t it?

2. There’s been a lot of talk lately about people wanting work/life balance. Does your job provide that?

It’s very tough. I get paid $9.15 an hour. I have to depend on the father of my children for a lot, always asking him for money. It would be nice to be able to support my kids on my own. That’s why I decided to work. I applied to McDonald’s and they called me right away. I was hired right on the spot.

Seriously? Someone expecting that part time work in McD’s is going to support 5 people?

Alternatively teach them that a bit of shagging isn’t the end of the world

Married couples need to be taught about monogamy to help stem a tide of family breakdown which could blight life in Britain for decades, a leading High Court judge will say today.

Sir Paul Coleridge, the family division judge, will warn of “yawning public ignorance” about the damaging mental effects on children of conflict between parents, even from birth.

It emerged last week that Sir Paul, who is retiring next year, decided to step down because of opposition from within the judiciary to his support for traditional marriage.

Some relationships don’t change with a bit of extra-marital shagging, some are destroyed by it and some thrive on it.

There simply isn’t a one fits all model that we should be teaching anyone.