Flatulent tosspottery

This is fun

Anti-smoking campaigners and politicians were horrified; Vectura’s inhalers help treat asthma and lung disease — conditions exacerbated by smoking. Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, said the bid was “deeply alarming and wrong”. He wrote to Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary and Sajid Javid, the health secretary, urging them to intervene.

Last week, the charities Cancer Research UK, Asthma UK, the British Lung Foundation and Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) called on the government to block the deal, saying there was a “real prospect” that PMI would use the takeover to “legitimise tobacco industry participation in health debates”.

Big Tobacco must not change its business model to reduce harms done.

At the same time Shell and BP etc must invest in solar and windmills. Big Oil must change its business model to reduce the harms done.

These people have never met a human, have they?

So, bird sends kid to private school. Guardian reading friend asks newspaper’s readers what she should say about this:

On average, private schools have nearly four times the income of state schools (figures from my recent report for Common-Wealth). Could they justify why their child is worth four times more than another? Prof Sol Gamsu, Durham University

What sort of idiot tosspottery is this?

It’s *my* child. The most precious thing in the world to me. Sure, intellectually I know that other people have children, they might even quite like them. There’s a certain importance to there being those other children otherwise I’m not going to have grandchildren, am I?

But how can anyone who has actually met the occasional human being wonder why or whether parents value their own children more highly than those of other people?

Significant parts of life are going to be difficult to explain with this

The survey was circulated to Oxfam’s 1,800 staff in Britain — 88 per cent of whom are white — and describes racism as “a power construct created by white nations for the benefit of white people”.

The document says “white privilege” is a by-product of a racist system and adds: “Oxfam does not recognise reverse racism.”

An assumption that no one non-white can be racist – whether towards whites or not – is going to leave large areas of life and the world unexplainable.

It’s even possible to recast the concept they really have in mind so that it makes sense. Power constructs are constructed to preserve the power of those constructing them. That makes sense. And who is the power structure and who it benefits depends. One of the things it doesn’t depend upon being the colour of the skin of the people either constructing or benefiting from that power structure.

It’s even possible that power structures and race will coincide. But defining them as being the same thing is a category error.

Jolyon is a snivelling little git

The Good Law Project has dropped its legal challenge to the government’s recruitment of Kate Bingham as chair of the vaccines taskforce, which had alleged it failed to follow a valid process and gave key roles in the pandemic to people well-connected to the Conservative party.

In the same legal action, the GLP is maintaining its challenge to the appointments of Dido Harding as head of NHS test and trace, and of Mike Coupe, who formerly worked with Harding at Sainsbury’s, as director of testing.

That argument against Countess Kate always was going to be difficult to support. But look what the snivelling little git is doing here. Risky decisions, taken against the clock, let’s prosecute the one that didn’t work and ignore the one that did. As a condemnation of the process of taking risky decisions against the clock.

Emotionally balanced people – those not charging after a title in order to recover from their father’s rejection of them – wouldn’t do this, would they?

From the PR emails

“This extension will only provide temporary relief. We need to secure an EU-UK veterinary arrangement as a long term solution. The only reason the Government would refuse to do this, is if their real goal is to reduce our food and animal welfare standards in order to secure deals with countries like the USA.

“The Government needs to start acting like a global leader, respecting international law, honouring the commitments we make, and rebuilding trust with our closest neighbours and allies.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
About Best for Britain: Best for Britain is a pro-internationalist campaign group that strives for the best social, economic, environmental, and democratic outcomes for the British people. We believe this requires re-engagement with Europe, open, internationalist policies, and cooperation with business, all parties in parliament, and like-minded groups.

Note that a trade deal with the US is defined as not meeting open, internationalist, policies.

It’s necessary to prove this contention

We have the power to end this pandemic. We have the technology, materials and productive capacity to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 this year. We can save millions of lives, protect billions of livelihoods and reclaim trillions of dollars worth of economic activity along the way.

But instead, our countries are now moving into the pandemic’s deadliest phase. Mutant strains are spreading into regions where the vaccines are not only scarce; they have barely arrived. At present rates of vaccination, the pandemic will continue to rage until at least 2024.

This is not a coincidence. The system of pharmaceutical patents at the World Trade Organization was designed to prioritize corporate profit over human life. Even in the midst of a deadly pandemic, a coalition of pharmaceutical companies and global north governments refuses to re-order these priorities – blocking patent waivers, refusing to share vaccine technologies and underfunding multilateral responses.

It might be true, that’s possible. But everyone else not in alliance with that ghastly oil, Nick Dearden, seems to be saying that it’s not patents which are the problem. It’s the ability to spin up factories to make the stuff. Which isn’t a problem that is solved by voiding the patents.

No matter how many times people claim it is.

You know that it’s fantasy, playing dress up?

Last Wednesday, one London-based composer accused the production of “yellow washing”, explaining on Twitter: “It’s like blackface, but applied to East and South-East Asian characters [EASA]. It’s offensive and dehumanising for ESEA people. Opera folks, please learn about this and do better.”

Julian Chou-Lambert added that it was “not good enough” that out of six lead Chinese roles, just one is of ESEA descent.

He went on to say, “I don’t see any ESEA heritage people in the backstage/creative team” even though it is an opera set in China.

And the stage hands have to be Chinee too?

What’s really glorious about this is that they’d be happy if there were a couple of Thais, a Japanee and a Nepali in this. Which, to Chinese eyes would be more racist than just using whites. Because it would be saying that anyone sallow with slightly slitty eyes counts……which is in fact pretty racist.

It’s the pomposity that grates

Oxfam said: “We can confirm that we reluctantly took the decision to withdraw the right to volunteer from four people from the Hay-on-Wye shop. We were disappointed that, despite extensive efforts by both Oxfam and the volunteers, including undertaking mediation, it has proved impossible to resolve the situation in any other way. The four volunteers felt that they were unable to accept the ways of working which are standard across our shop network or commit to fully uphold our values.”

The very worst of corporatespeak applied to volunteers in a charity shop.

And how do you withdraw a right anyway? Isn’t a right something that one simply has, not something that is granted?

Or is this a right as in Soviet, anyone has the right to stand for election as long as they’re a Party Member?

Ms. Burchill

Burchill – who was recently forced to pay “substantial damages” for her racist posts about journalist Ash Sarkar – tweeted: “What a missed opportunity! They could have called it Georgina Floydina!”

The comment references George Floyd just over a year after he was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis. Burchill was widely condemned for the “racist” remark, and for calling the newborn baby “it”.

“I called the baby IT as a nod to non-binary b*****ks – and if you think you can make me respect a violent criminal who once held a gun to a pregnant woman’s stomach, you’re in for a VERY long wait,” she wrote in a now-deleted tweet.

The Telegraph is entirely free to employ whoever it wishes. But it all seems fair comment to me.

It’s also difficult to see where that’s racist….for racism is not a synonym for “someone saying something I don;t like”.

That new California math book

Which insists that it should all be antiracist. In which “objectivity” is declared to be a symptom of white supremacy culture. And which contains this:

We’re to take teaching advice from those who cannot proof read?

From the source material we get this:

We cannot dismantle racism
in a system that exploits
people for private profit. If
we want to dismantle
racism, then we must build a
movement for economic
justice.

Therefore to beat racism we must abolish capitalism. Hmm, that’s gonna make antiracist economics difficult.

Umm, what?

“…the kind of water filtration system that you might expect in a Beverly Hills spa (Taylor lives in north Lancashire). It contains activated charcoal cylinders (of course), which take out “all the chemicals, all the gross hormones, and then I put it [the water] in there” – at this she points to a machine that resembles a particularly glossy food processor – “which will infuse the water with hydrogen molecules and enable me to become my best self.”

I’m sorry? Infusing water with hydrogen molecules?

‘Being sober wasn’t a thing in the Nineties’
The first of the Primrose Hill set to clean up, Davinia Taylor reveals how she gave up alcohol and sugar to become a wellbeing ‘bio-hacker’

You might not quite be yet sobered up, Love.

Giving money to poor people is now colonialist

The controversy has reignited debate over international child sponsorship schemes and whether, amid growing calls to decolonise aid, the benefits they offer can outweigh the north-south power relations they re-enforce.

Carol Sherman, an independent humanitarian consultant who has held senior director roles in international NGOs for two decades, said the schemes perpetuate “racist and paternalistic thinking” similar to the “poverty porn” images of poor black children used by charities in the past.

“For years, we didn’t talk about the white gaze, myself included,” said Sherman. “Child sponsorship is a small part of decolonising aid, but it’s a part NGOs need to change. It is a relic of the past.”

Sherman acknowledges that many large schemes have evolved in recent years to provide benefits to communities, not individuals, while others, such as World Vision, allow the child involvement in choosing a donor. But “tweaking” the model is not enough, she said.

“Many agencies have moved away from sponsors of individual children to sponsors of communities, but they are still using individual children to ‘sell’ to donors,” said Sherman.

“Donors stick a picture of a child on their fridge and think of them as ‘our child’. They are well intentioned, but the parents of that child can’t refuse the money because they are living in poverty.”

This is a woman who can righteously be told to go boil her head.

Is this woo or wokenist hype?

It’s clearly terribly stupid:

Federal authorities have ordered a complete recall of the Las Vegas-based bottled water brand Real Water and ordered the company to surrender records in investigations of at least one death and multiple cases of liver illness among people who reported drinking it.

The product is sold as premium alkalized drinking water in distinctive boxy blue bottles touting “E2 Electron Energized Technology.” Labels say it is “infused with negative ions” and offers healthy detoxifying properties.

OK, so what the heck is it? Alkaline water apparently:

Documents say the commercial product is drawn from the Las Vegas-area municipal water supply, filtered and processed with potassium hydroxide, commonly called lye, the chemical potassium bicarbonate and a mineral salt, magnesium chloride.

They had people drinking caustic soda? Jeez.

Of course, it’s nice to boot a Miliband

But:

The former Labour MP David Miliband is facing criticism after it emerged that the charity he runs, for which he was paid more than £700,000, is offering unpaid internships at its headquarters in New York City.

The British culture is very down on unpaid internships. The American one markedly less so. The argument now being made is that an American organisation should operate by the British cultural rules.

And how colonialist is that? You know, we did try this once and it left boxes of tea floating in Boston Harbour.

Gonna be fun

Oxford University has suggested imperial measurements should be “decolonised” over links to the British Empire.

The mile, inch, yard, pound and ounce are “tied deeply to the idea of the Empire” and their presence in the curriculum could change, decolonising plans by Oxford’s maths, physics and life sciences faculty suggest.

Undergraduates have been recruited (on living wage) to conduct extensive research this summer, alongside scholars, into how Oxford’s science curricula can be made less “Eurocentric”.

Metric units being exactly as European and imperialist of course, just a different part of Europe and a different empire.

Plus, obviously, there’s not much left of the Imperial – our imperial – system left in a STEM course these days.

This is a worrying idea

It’s true that none of these projects saved Covid patients dying of respiratory failure. But in the long run, the pandemic may give proponents of the humanities an unexpected opening to change the way we train doctors and think about health care.

So the same tossery – post-modernism and critical studies essentially – that has destroyed the humanities should now be extended to technical fields.

Oh Joy.

On the subject of Alex Cobham

Alex Cobham, the chief executive of the Tax Justice Network, pointed out that under the Companies Act it was an offence for a person “knowingly or recklessly to make a statement that is misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular”, with potential penalties including imprisonment.

He said: “Mis-registering companies with sometimes very substantial assets or transactions as ‘dormant’ would certainly appear to be material. For an outside observer, it is difficult to see how this error could have been made for multiple companies and over the course of so many years, in a way that was neither knowing nor reckless – so an explanation from Mr Drax is badly needed.”

The explanation being that they were unlimited companies which don’t need to file accounts except when they’re subsidiaries of a limited company in which they do. Once drawn to attention the accounts were filed within a week or two. No doubt very naughty.

Also, yes, pretentious git.

And we need to recall the story about Zambia and copper. Alex Cobham, when working at CGD, released a report insisting that Glencore was ripping off Zambia over copper prices. He’d done this by comparing the customs price of copper leaving Zambia in tens of thousands of tonnes lots, by railroad, with the price of copper in 10 and 20 kg lots leaving Switzerland by courier. His result was that Glencore was ripping off Zambia to the tune of multiples of GDP or some such.

The problem with this being that customs prices are, by definition, inclusive of transport costs. So, a $3 kg of copper (about right, right order of magnitude at least) leaving Zambia might have 14 cents of transport costs (again, about right, $5,000 per 40 foot container from anywhere to everywhere for 36 tonnes) and a $3 kg of copper leaving Switzerland might have $10 (a DHL package of 10 kg of copper at $100 say) of transport costs.

On that and that alone was his accusation of massive fraud based. Of course, this was not due to malevolence nor the desire to construct some fatuous claim, it was just massive, gross, ignorance.

I think we should, every time we see Alex Cobham pronouncing upon this or that remind ourselves – and others – of that CGD report. Seems only fair. Especially here – people can get into the most lovely fuss over financial numbers, can’t they?

Aye up

Playgroup teachers need an “understanding about white privilege” so toddlers can learn to “recognise racist behaviours and develop anti-racist views”, according to new guidance.

The new advice, drawn up as an alternative to the Government’s statutory guidance by representatives from unions and charities, said it was “time to challenge the widespread notion that ‘children do not see race’ and are colour blind to difference”.

That march through the institutions is long, innit?

Upton Sinclair comes to mind

Broadcaster David Olusoga, professor of public history at Manchester University, made the comments in an article for the Guardian, as hundreds of experts on race, education, health and economics joined the criticism of the report for brazenly misrepresenting evidence of racism.

Of course, a truly institutionally racist society would not have a mixed race man as a professor now, would it? Actually, it would not have someone mixed race if the racism was being truly enforced……