Pyramid Comment

This journal takes an alternative view on current affairs and other subjects. The approach is likely to be contentious and is arguably speculative. The content of any article is also a reminder of the status of those affairs at that date. All comments have been disabled. Any and all unsolicited or unauthorised links are absolutely disavowed.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cameron, David: A Profile

The (unauthorised) biography of David Cameron by Francis Elliot and James Hanning reveals some interesting information. A Channel Four film by Peter Hitchens also provides some detail. As expected, what David Cameron says should be monitored very carefully. He may have said it, but it was possibly penned by a speechwriter (ghostwriter).

The 'ordinary man, call me Dave' being portrayed by the Cameron public relations camp seems to be somewhat distorted and the leopard doesn't change its spots even using the device of a paradigm shift. Viewing the leopard from a different angle creates the illusion that something has changed, but it's nothing more than just the same leopard seen from a different angle.

Changing attitudes can be exemplified: David Cameron had described wind farms (2005) as giant bird-blenders. A wind turbine was placed prominantly, but incorrectly positioned, on the roof of his house (2006). The structure had been attached to the outside wall of the house on the other side of the chimney, about a metre away from the intended location. A spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association said: "If a commercial wind farm was even a metre off it could lead to being sued in the High Court.

This is the current stance on ID cards and so...

...watch this space.

In 2005 he called for "a massive road-building programme":

  • "The CBI itself has estimated that the costs to employers of transport congestion are around £20 billion a year. Britain now needs a concerted programme of road building, accompanied by the introduction of advanced traffic management methods, including new solutions for road charging based on usage and the time of day."
Presumably, " time of day" means the heaviest 'congestion' during business hours and will attract the highest charge. The wringing hands justification probably being that it is a "necessity" in order to reduce congestion. The truth would be to maximise revenue, of course. Business traffic during the working day can never be reduced unless...

...we all go on holiday forever.

It is increasingly becoming a 'Them' and 'Us' Britain: 'Them' being the government and 'rich' friends and 'Us' the citizens of UQ (aka UK) Ltd who provide for 'Them'.

I await the day that the British government is taken to court for its neglect of duty of looking after the interests of those citizens who elected it. Championing the cause of Human Rights on behalf of The British nation would be, of course,
Cherie Blair
QC.


In April 2006 Cameron travelled across the Arctic, pulled by huskies to view melting glaciers. Exciting stuff: like watching grass grow.

  • "This, along with better market incentives for low or zero-carbon fuel sources, will enable us to meet the need for an efficient transport network while tackling the even more important challenge of climate change," so says David Cameron.
Tim Yeo (MP for Suffolk South)

Reference to Cameron's opposition to "homosexuality in schools" and this had been supported by Tony Blair, promising to repeal Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 (24th May), which deals with outlawing such behaviour. Repealed 18th November, 2003. It is, of course, the Opposition's duty to oppose.


Around three years later this had been spun around into supporting gay marriages.

But can school days influence behaviour or attitudes in later life?

Extreme privilege is not disguised very easily. Being born with a silver (platinum - DA) spoon in your mouth. The claim of a "normal childhood" and "normal university experience" depends on your paradigm shifting viewpoint. "Normal" can be described as being born to a millionaire stockbroker and a debutante, with a bloodline that connects to Elizabeth Windsor. And having a swimming pool, tennis court in the backyard (backacre?).

In 1974 (aged 8), Cameron was starting at Prince Andrew and Prince Edward's prep school. "Normal" ‘run-of-the-mill’ is a prep school with a background that included "eight honourables, four sirs, two captains, two doctors, two majors, two marchionesses, two princesses, one brigadier, one commodore, one earl, one lord, one queen (the Queen as parent of Prince Andrew and Prince Edward) and one viscount. In 1979 (aged 13), Cameron entered Eton. In 1987 (aged 21), Oxford. In December 2005 (aged 39) elected Leader of the Party.

All fairly ‘normal’.

He denies he is rich since he doesn't "own a private jet" and he describes the richest 6% of the British who have to pay inheritance tax (a rapidly increasing figure) as "ordinary tax-payers". That statement is becoming truer by the day. Mind you, his first flatmate was, apparently, one Peter Czernin, heir to a £1.5bn fortune.

This is "normal".

Such wealth can cause total blindness to others' perception of "normal". The "rich kid-poor kid" divide. Gordon Brown's Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA) gives up to £30 a week to stay on at school for children between 16 and 19 and parents earning £30,810/year household income threshold before tax. (Kids in full-time schooling don’t appear in the unemployed figures - DA). A potential big difference to the future prospects for tens of thousands of "poor kids". But according to Cameron's frontbench the EMA (now [04.09.2011] defunct, but see Department for Education)  is "a bribe":

  • "The problem with society today is that no one will do anything for free, they always expect something in return. Now the government has resorted to paying people to stay at school and in Scotland children are given Xboxes if they buy healthy options at lunchtime. This bribery sets an impression in childrens minds [sic] that doing the right thing isn't expected, it's unexpected hence the rewards."
The European Social Chapter gives part-time workers, the right to parental leave, regular holidays and other basic protections. One of Cameron's "top priorities" is to pull out:

  • David Cameron today pledged that a future Conservative government would pull out of the EU social chapter as a "top priority".
The Tory leader made the commitment in a rare Brussels speech, to his new Eurosceptic umbrella group, the "Movement for European Reform".

Cameron claims to enhance social mobility and the chances of "poor kids" getting on. But consider this:

  • In the summer of 1988, the deputy director of the revered Conservative Research Department (CRD) received a mysterious phonecall. "The voice announced that it was calling from Buckingham Palace," write Elliott and Hanning. The anonymous caller went on: "I understand that you are to see David Cameron ... I am ringing to tell you that you are about to meet a truly remarkable young man."
A few weeks later, Cameron started work at the CRD and began a swift ascent of the party bureaucracy.

Another description:

  • He got his first job in business because his father was the CEO's stockbroker. His first paid job because an uncle (the Queen's equerry) put pressure on in the right place: he wanted to know why he had been turned down. We don't know why he was "turned down" (how dare you! - DA), but unsuitability doesn't matter in "normal" backgrounds.
Tax cuts:

George Osborne (what they want you to know)
heir to a baronetcy (what they'd prefer you didn't)


There is a need for "flatter taxes". According to Robert Hall and Alvin Rabushka, the creators of the concept of flat taxes:

  • "it is an obvious mathematical law that [flatter] taxes on the successful will have to be made up for by higher taxes on average people."Cameron has also pledged to reintroduce the Married Couple's Allowance.
Cameron's method of describing Gordon Brown's adjustments and it seems reasonable since these are in order since 1997:

  • He abolished Family Credit
  • He introduced the Working Families' Tax Credit
  • He introduced the Disabled Person's Tax Credit
  • He introduced the Childcare Tax Credit
  • He introduced the Employment Credit
  • He abolished the Married Couple's Allowance
  • He introduced the Children's Tax Credit
  • He introduced the baby tax credit (sic)
  • He abolished the Working Families' Tax Credit
  • He abolished the Disabled Person's Tax Credit
  • He abolished the Children's Tax Credit
  • He abolished the baby tax credit (sic)
  • He introduced the Child Tax Credit
  • He abolished the Employment Credit
(Introduced) - (Abolished) = Zero

This provides a good example of:

"the best place to hide a tree is in a forest"

Put another more enlightening way would be the introduction of, and the subsequent removal of, various credits. The only credits that have been introduced AND remain:

Introduced:
Childcare Tax Credit

Introduced: Child Tax Credit
Introduced: Working Tax Credit

ADDITIONALLY
Abolished:
Family Credit
Married Couple's Allowance

Baby Tax credit: Introduced
Baby Tax Credit: Abolished

Children's Tax Credit: Introduced
Children's Tax Credit: Abolished

Disabled Person's Tax Credit: Introduced
Disabled Person's Tax Credit: Abolished

Employment Credit: Introduced
Employment Credit:
Abolished

Working Families' Tax Credit:
Introduced
Working Families' Tax Cred
it: Abolished

Determine the significant differences between:

  • Childcare Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Children's Tax Credit (Abolished)
Child Tax Credit is a replacement of Children's Tax Credit
(started: 6th April 2001 and ended: 5th April 2003
ie Introduced and Abolished 2 years later)
  • Working Tax Credit and Working Families' Tax Credit (Abolished)
And note the position of the apostrophe:

  • Working Families' Tax Credit could be a generic term for the tax credit applying to more than one family, but why not Working Family's Tax Credit.
A pedantic point perhaps, but the legal definition could be significant. This is academic anyway since it's been abolished, but it's worth noting.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer probably takes a few minutes looking after the interests of the majority ('Us'). The rest of the year is consumed with providing for 'Them'.

"What kind of incentives does this system create?" Cameron asks.

zzzzz...

It should, of course, be mentioned that the wealthy generally employ a tax accountant who looks after the every day tax changes that might be applicable. I would suggest that the tax credits that Gordon Brown "tinkers" with aren't of much interest to those with the "real money". All of us 'Us' can spend our time doing exciting things like sorting out our complicated lives. It isn't really that complicated, but the forms to complete suggest it's complicated.

  • I remember completing my first tax return "book". It took up about 2hrs of a Sunday afternoon. It was incredibly non-sensical, and so very confusing, quite often a calculation involving multiplying by zero to get zero. The status sheet I eventually received from the Inland Revenue (as it was called then) was a simple calculation that probably took 2 minutes to prepare and work out.
There are only three tax credits that remain:


Not difficult so you could be misled into imagining. It could be simple, but unless you really need to examine the verbose disaster do something else. These are classic examples of how not to write, unless it is deliberate and calculated intention to confuse. It is very easy to give something away and then take it back. All this will apparently reduce any chances of getting what you're owed and so leads to the disgrace of the state claiming back from low income families who have unwittingly been overpaid.

Is that 'unwittingly' been overpaid by incompetent government or the 'unwittingly' accepted over-payment by those who assume government cannot be wrong?

Apparently, only 56% of people entitled to the Working Tax Credit actually receive it (that is surprisingly, to me, an incedibly high %age). This could be because of the confusion introduced using similar names for credits. Introduction then subsequent removal of a tax credit over time has led people to believe no credit remains. Introduction of a similar sounding name is easily overlooked by:


"...people face a hugely complicated system that soaks up their time"

According to Cameron:

  • "...even with all the difficulties, we should acknowledge the value of in-work benefits. Conservatives first introduced tax credits to Britain, and we will keep them."
Along with the cut in inheritance tax proposed these two items account for some tinkering with the redistribution of wealth. The rich will benefit much, much more than the poor or "middle-rich".

This is a perfect example of the student (rich and so by definition incredibly bright) instructing the less intelligent teacher how to 'get it right'. Wealth is often perceived as demonstrating a higher understanding of things that "ordinary" people cannot comprehend.

It's a predictably patronising and hugely arrogant stance. The background of public school and Oxford can lead to this rather odd belief:


The "I'm better than you" syndrome.

Paradoxical scientist
Truth

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Canary Wharf And The Olympics

Canary Wharf has been named as one of the top economic drivers under revised (?) government plans for the Thames Gateway project. This will involve the doubling of the workforce by 2026 to 200,000. Currently, very few, but in 20 years... Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Women (one of two such Ministers) unveiled plans for the 'dramatic' expansion to create more than 150,000 extra jobs. Confusing: doubling workforce to 200,000 by 2026 and create more than 150,000 extra jobs by when? This project, billed as the largest regeneration project in western Europe (so described presumably by this 'Masters-of-spin-government'), is predicted, by the government, that it could contribute:

£12bn a year TO the UK economy

That sounds rather like a 'maybe could'. Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for the Olympics is responsible for the Olympic regeneration program and this will cost:

£4.5bn a week FROM the taxpayer


A slight disparity there between £4.5bn a week out and £12bn a year in and this equates to about £0.23bn/week. It will take

considerably

longer than 20 years to pay for the Olympic justification.

More like 40 years
£0.23 x 40 = £9.2bn

And that's according to estimates of March 2007. What does 'to the economy' actually mean? It does involve the difference between spending our money and 'creating' new money though. The Lottery 'loan' wll be paid back so it is alleged, but no mention of any interest or when has been made. Never is a long time. The idea of a loan has only been aired once to my knowledge and this was on BBC's Question Time at Newport (Mike O'Brien, Solicitor General for England and Wales, 15th March 2007).
Honest guv, it'll get paid and the cheque's in the post.
Isn't it one of those strange coincidences that the name O'Brien features in George Orwell's 1984 and the world of Big Brother and thoughtcrime?

Quote:

"Thoughtcrime does not entail death:
thoughtcrime is death."


Another coincidence? The real name of George Orwell was Eric Blair. Animal Farm was another satire.
The cash cow with its changing label lives on. The 30,000 homes already built have been criticised for being of poor quality. According to Richard McCarthy, Director General of Programmes, Policy and Innovation: "Thames Gateway is about bringing benefits for existing residents and creating real growth [what is unreal growth?]. It is an economic project (sic), not just a housing project. We now have a detailed (master) plan which is not just a glossy document [just glossy documents do exist then]. It's about getting people to recognise the scale of what we are doing."

Conditioned to Accept

Anshutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is planning to build a cable car service which would link Canary Wharf South Dock to the AEG-owned The O2 (re-branded millennium dome). The 28 cabins will each carry 24 people and the journey is expected to take around 4 minutes. AEG hope to have it built by 2009. Who pays and when can we expect the announcement of the switch of for a Super Casino to be built? To this huge regeneration area, 40 miles east from the Docklands along the Thames estuary to Southend in Essex and Sheerness in Kent? All this Manchester misdirection. Concentrate all effort to this strategic part of England. It's where the control centre exists: Westminster, allowing everywhere else to disappear. This will centralise business (financial) in the London area. After all, it is only financial business that matters. Money is worshipped.

It's enough to make you
just need to throw up.

Devil's Advocate?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Give And Take, Take

A way of viewing the removal of money through taxation is that it's part of the mechanism for the redistribution of wealth. Consider the huge amount paid out in benefits. By taking money from taxpayers, always justifying it with it's never enough so we need more and more and more..., this provides the means to make the beneficiaries even more dependent on the state.

Control leads to absolute control.

Make the so-called middle rich poorer and provide the 'poor' with funds in the process making them 'grateful' to the generous state. It also enables the benefit claimant to become a fully fledged consumer funded by the taxpayer. The clear winner here is business. But for every winner there must be a loser. Divide the nation of poor and not quite so poor, leaving the minority of the wealthy to bleed everyone else. And it's virtually invisible, certainly not really noticed. All covered up by capitalism and the belief that everyone is getting richer.

Tax breaks. Increasing the tax allowances of all taxpayers may sound reasonable, but the 'super-rich' benefit hugely. The 'ordinary' taxpayer subsidises the wealthy. What goes out comes back in, but with more in.

Expressed mathematically:

Give 1 = Take 1 + Take 2

Take 2 is the subsidy paid to the rich that makes them richer at the expense of those with less ability to afford it.

IVF

IVF In Africa

Babies conceived using assisted reproductive technologies (ART) seem to be at higher risk of birth defects, but doctors don't yet know why. Researchers analysed the health records of 61,208 deliveries in Ontario, Canada, during 2005 (latest study) and found that the 1394 babies born via ART (IVF, ovulation induction and intra-uterine insemination) were about 60% more likely to have birth defects than children conceived naturally.

The most common abnormalities were gastrointestinal, though the babies also had a higher risk of bone, muscle and heart-related defects. To put these results in perspective, the increase in the absolute risk of birth defects was still relatively low (40%) affecting just 2.62% of ART babies, compared to 1.87% of naturally conceived babies (Darine El-Chaar at the University of Ottawa, study leader).

However, it remains unclear why there is a difference at all and scientists are still struggling for an explanation. The drugs prospective mothers take to induce ovulation is one possibility, while an as-yet-unidentified aspect of a couple's infertility is another. Spending three days in a Petri dish could disrupt DNA imprinting, and this controls how genes are expressed, has been suggested by Richard Paulsen at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The research was presented at a meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in San Francisco.

What is IVF?

IVF is a technique where fertilisation of the egg and sperm will take place outside the body, in a laboratory Petri dish. In conventional IVF, lots of sperm are added to the Petri dish next to an egg. Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a form of IVF where a single sperm is injected inside an egg to facilitate fertilisation if there is a severe sperm problem.

What are the side effects and health risks of drugs given in IVF treatment?

Ovarian suppression drugs can give you occasional headaches and hot flushes. Stimulation injections can make you feel bloated and premenstrual. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Ask if you are at risk of developing this complication. Its severe form is very rare but can be life threatening. If you are advised to take steroids, viagra, intravenous injections, please check with the consultant regarding safety of such drugs. They are not necessary and can be associated with risks. There are concerns about long-term effects of repeated ovarian stimulation but further studies are necessary. Ask your consultant about this.

Cloning 'could beat gene disease'

Professor Wilmut is proposing altering cells from early-stage embryos A scientist involved in creating Dolly the cloned sheep has proposed using cloning and gene alteration to create babies free from hereditary diseases. Professor Ian Wilmut argues in a new book that cloning a 100-cell IVF embryo is not the same as cloning a human. Professor Wilmut, of the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, says it would be "immoral" not to use the promise of new technology to help families. But opponents called the plan "unethical" and "utterly perverse". Wilmut says he simply can't see anything immoral about the use of these methods to prevent disease and suffering and describes how it would be possible to take an embryo affected by an hereditary disease and then remove its stem cells and modify the genetic fault which, left unchecked, would cause a condition such as Huntington's disease or cystic fibrosis. These defect-free cells would then be cloned and used to create a new embryo which was not affected by disease. This would then be implanted and allowed to develop into a baby.  

'Drawing a line'

Professor Wilmut has in the past said he is "implacable opposed" to cloning a human being. But in his book, After Dolly, which is being serialised in the Daily Telegraph, he argues that is not what he is now suggesting. The quest for perfection knows no bounds: Julia Millington, ProLife Alliance.

  • "An early embryo is not a person, and I see the use of cloning to prevent a child having a dreadful hereditary disease as far less controversial."
  • "I simply can't see anything immoral about the use of these methods to prevent disease and suffering."

Professor Wilmut says many moral, ethical and practical questions would be raised by the use of the technique, as well as arguments over where to "draw the line between eradicating the disease and enhancing a child". He said it was "easy to understand" the desire to prevent the birth of a child with a serious genetic disease such as Huntington's, or to be able to administer a synthetic growth hormone to ensure a stunted child grows to a normal height. But he questioned what would happen if couples wanted to have a tall child - because taller people have been shown to fare better in many areas of life. Professor Wilmut writes:

  • "Whatever the shades of grey between enhancement and therapy, I believe that society has an obligation to intervene on the embryo's behalf when it comes to weighing the risks and benefits of genetic alteration." 
'Science without sense'

However, he said the technique did raise other issues. Any such manipulation would not only affect the resulting child's genetic make-up, but also that of its own offspring. And, if it was introduced, the technology would, at least initially, be very expensive, suggesting, Professor Wilmut says, there will be "genetic haves and have-nots".

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates any scientific work involving embryos, said the replacement of a cloned embryo into a woman would be banned under the Human Reproductive Cloning Act (2001). Julia Millington, political director of the ProLife Alliance, said:


"The quest for perfection knows no bounds."

Selecting healthy cells from an embryo with genetic defects in order to clone it; thereby creating a healthy identical twin is not only unethical, it is utterly perverse."

Matthew O'Gorman, spokesman for the pro-life group LIFE, said: 

"What Professor Wilmut fails to mention is that the cloned embryos will be deliberately destroyed once they have provided useful genetic material." 

Such a proposal is abhorrent for it treats the embryo as an instrument rather than an individual. 


"Embryos will be commanded into existence; cloned simply to service another which is a shameful example of science without sense."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Size Zero

Energy Fuels


Update (14.12.2011): Dangerous Diets
Update (22.10.2009): Negative Double Zero?
Update (14.06.2009): Size Zero - Sense At Last

One description of such a concept as size zero could run along the lines of vanity of size, but another is the idea of this American size zero. The British equivalent is a size 4. In a word:

STUPID

Lethally, stupid. Bizarrely, a double zero size is now being promoted. Double zero. How incredibly pathetic. Double zero. Thinner than thin. Skinnier than skinny. Stupider than stupid. Dimmer than dim. Deader than dead.

Case study
Unfortunately, those with the clearly wrongly perceived responsibility of behaving as rôle models, just demonstrate how they are intellectually lacking. Slimming down is the misguided understanding of such women. To look almost anorexic by choice is repugnant. Anorexia is an illness, but to appear like this by choice is staggering.

Signs, symptoms, causes, effects and treatments.

The so-called models are now dying. Doesn't that provide a wake-up call? Screaming out the dangers. Apparently not. Playing Russian roulette with a 6-chambered gun loaded with 6 bullets. The outcome is inevitable. Crazy.

Unless you choose to die for the
misguided perception of looking good

This perception is, of course, my own (male) opinion, but skinny women do not even make me look once. Ghastly.

There is a HUGE difference between having long narrow bones and maintaining a good and healthy diet, and so being naturally slim, to just being skinny.

  • Take a look at Keira Knightley.

  • A fine example of a well-toned body.
  • Naturally slim.

  • But the jealously ignorant or those with some sort of axe to grind imagine this is an example of anorexia. Absolutely no chance of that. A lovely and very healthy young woman. As for the idiotic 'celebs' who pander to the concept of size zero (and now size double zero), well they are just too gullible to take seriously. A 'diet' of no protein, no fat and no carbohydrate or any micronutrients and vitamins will quickly result in muscle wastage and ultimately death. The body gets thin and reaches size zero or smaller, but the result will certainly be rotten health closely followed by very probable...

DEATH

How anyone can find a skeleton covered with skin attractive is quite beyond me. But then I am a male considering the appearance of women and not a woman trying to impress other women. It's not rocket science to work out that less fabric is used, so the garments are cheaper to manufacture, but since they are fashionable, justify pushing up the price. And who makes them be seen as fashionable? The fashion industry, of course. Impressionable young girls are being ruthlessly encouraged to play a very, very dangerous game. This isn't responsibility. It's tantamount to an inducement to risk life, by pandering to the greed of others. The risk is wholly one-sided.

Look to the shoes that are fashionable. The design of an athlete's running shoe is based on science, but the design and success of women's products relies on the 'holy' trinity:

Gullibility, Stupidity, Vanity

Osteoporosis

The winklepicker (and they look absolutely grotesque - DA) pinches the toes together, crushing bones. Add a raised heel and with the aid of total body weight forcing the entire foot into the shoe, it represents a disaster waiting to happen. Hammer toe, bunions... It happened with high-heeled shoes. Ankle sprains, ruptured calf muscles. Short women looking ridiculous on stilts. But that was yesterday. Today's bucks are more valuable, yet only because yesterday's market has been saturated and so today's product can sell at a higher price to the conditioned consumer. Conditioned by the:


Devil's Advocate


Why are services like a web log free?

The input from bloggers (Journal reporters: Comment, Philosophical, Science) is freely given thought, but could be used to keep a watchful eye on potential threats. George Orwell's (fictional concept through the eyes of Winston Smith) Thought Police provides an historical literary example.

Question: was George Orwell (aka Eric Blair) a conspiracy theorist?

A current example could be controlling web logs.

But does it provide a freely given "confession" to how I think?

Maybe. Maybe not. Am I playing Devil's Advocate?

Sometimes, yes

Sometimes, no

Keeps you guessing, but stimulates thinking.

It is noteworthy to observe that when favourable things are said, they tend to be believed. Distasteful things to one individual, but not to another, perhaps, are not believed. Certainly, a skeptical outlook can prevail (by itself not necessarily a bad thing). However, politicians pander to this fact and can change their tune in a heartbeat if it's carries an advantage and this is probably the main reason for their inconsistency. They seem to forget that the earlier audience still hears the tune that used to be played just a heartbeat before.

But, of course, such 'politicians' probably couldn't care less. What is it to sacrifice a few thousand voters when there are millions of fresh and uncorrupted newer and younger gullible and credulous fools? The new crop for the future. A new audience (generation) hears the tune of the day, but the earlier audience now hears the first one AND the second one. Probably, the third and fourth as well...

So what?

Telling a lie only creates an awareness of telling one if you possess a conscience. If you don't there is no such thing as a lie. There cannot be. It's self-defining. Allegiance of the corrupted is to the one who corrupts, but this is a greasy pole: the one who corrupts may change it's tune. However, the change will be fairly minor, so it's probably a safe bet. And the previous generation may imagine that they misunderstood and that the new version of events corrects their misunderstanding.

There is another good reason for web logs (journals: Comment, Philosophical, Science) and the internet in general: 'original' files can be altered in a minor (almost unnoticed) way to provide a major shift in meaning. Personal files do not suffer from this lack of integrity and would only be changed deliberately if there is an intent to deceive (or strengthen that original intention - DA).

These pages don't have any single political persuasion or allegiance and are not confined to any one philosophy or confined into any box. Like styles of music: some are appreciated more than others, but all can be listened to (with the absolute exception of rap as this is definitely not music - DA).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Testing the Success of Indoctrination

There has been an effective veto in relaxing the curriculum testing of children and it has been claimed that UK children are the most tested in the Western world. Subjecting children to testing has an obvious reason that is generally accepted as being the justification. Are the children learning, the children being 7, 11 and 14 year olds?

There is a more sinister side to this. Testing means asking questions and getting a written response about knowledge. The answer is either right or wrong. The information taught and the response must be identical to be correct. But what is a 'correct' answer? Who determines the 'correctness' of the responses.

This implies that accepted fact can be distorted. How do you know that historical facts are actually factual? The living example would be so-called 'spin', a very short description of what happens. A longer one could be:

'the distortion of the facts
to tell the real truth'

Usually, turned around (spun around) to reveal what really happened. Basically, tell a lie and if a lie is told often enough, it will be accepted as the truth.

So, the 'correct' solution that has been taught and subsequently tested for accuracy is simply the 'proof' that indoctrination of corrupted information is working. Brainwashing the young who grow up with beliefs that are planted.

Look to the effects of religion

This has been happening for centuries. Still endosed by FEAR (Factual Exchange for Accepted Reasoning). If you do the 'correct' action you will be right and live a happy and contented life, but if you do the 'incorrect' action you will be wrong and hounded for ever or put in prison until you mend your ways. Consider this or this or...

Logical? But 'spin' it around:

'correct' = lie
'incorrect' = truth

Look around carefully. What do you see? How do you view or test what is true or false?

Sally Clark: Obituary


Sally Clark with husband Stephen
Sally Clark, with husband Stephen, after being cleared on appeal

Sally Clark, who was wrongly jailed for the murder of her two sons, has been found dead at her home.
Her family say she never recovered from the trauma of her ordeal.
 
Sally Clark was wrongly jailed for three years after being found guilty of murdering her newborn sons Christopher and Harry. Although cleared by the Court of Appeal in January 2003, a family statement following her death at the age of 42 said she never fully recovered from the effects of this "appalling miscarriage of justice".
Three judges decided that the conviction of the solicitor, who used to live in Wilmslow, Cheshire, was "unsafe". Reacting to the appeal court decision, she said: "Today is not a victory. We are not victorious. There are no winners here. We have all lost out. We simply feel relief that our nightmare is finally at an end."
Full statement

She had always protested her innocence since being jailed for life in November 1999 at Chester Crown Court. She was accused of smothering 11-week-old Christopher in December 1996 and shaking eight-week-old Harry to death in January 1998 at the luxury home she shared with her husband Stephen.
Cause of death
A first attempt to have her conviction quashed was thrown out by the Court of Appeal in October 2000. It was evidence uncovered by her husband Stephen, which had not been revealed to the jury or defence team, which proved the key to unlocking her cell door. Home Office tests on Harry had found "lethal" levels of bacterial infection - indicating he died of natural causes. The crux of the case revolved around whether it was conceivable the "cot deaths" of Christopher and Harry - Sally Clark said she found both babies lifeless - were coincidences.
Paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who appeared for the prosecution, estimated the likelihood of two siblings dying of "cot death syndrome" were one in 73 million. This proved to be damning evidence. But the Royal Statistical Society took the unprecedented step of writing to the Lord Chancellor stating that there was no statistical basis for the figure, and that the odds were much lower.
Flawed
Among other bodies, the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths had evidence that second cot deaths in the same family occur "roughly once a year". Despite this her first appeal in 2000 failed. The Court of Appeal said that while it accepted that Sir Roy's statistic was flawed, the judges remained convinced that there was "overwhelming" evidence of her guilt. In 2001, scientists at Manchester University found a genetic link among cases of sudden infant death syndrome - suggesting multiple cases could be more likely than previously thought.
Sir Roy was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck off the medical register - but both decisions were later overturned on appeal at the High Court.
'Loving wife'
Little more information is known yet about her death, and the matter is now in the hands of the coroner. In a statement, her family paid tribute to a "loving and talented wife, mother, daughter and friend". The statement added: "Sally, aged 42, was released in 2003 having been wrongfully imprisoned for more than three years, falsely accused of the murder of her two sons.
"Sadly, she never fully recovered from the effects of this appalling miscarriage of justice."

Sally Clark: The Expert Witness

Professor Sir Roy Meadow
Sir Roy denied serious professional misconduct won his appeal against being struck off the medical register
Professor Sir Roy Meadow has won his High Court appeal against the decision by the General Medical Council to strike him off the medical register and
is one of the most influential and respected paediatricians of his generation.

Many experts say his work has saved countless children from unnecessary suffering. However, his distinguished career has been blighted by controversy. After decades as a leading thinker in the field of child abuse, Sir Roy has become notorious as a central figure in three high profile miscarriages of justice. He gave expert evidence in the trials of Sally Clark, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony. All three women were convicted of killing their children - and all three have subsequently been exonerated by the Court of Appeal after lengthy periods in prison.

Mrs Clark, a solicitor, was jailed for life in 1999 for the murder of her two sons Christopher and Harry. At her trial, Sir Roy said the odds of two children from such an affluent family dying of natural causes were one in 73 million. His claim was later disputed by the Royal Statistical Society, which wrote to the Lord Chancellor to say there was "no statistical basis" for the figure. Others have said that once genetic and environmental factors are taken into consideration, the odds of a second cot death in the same family are closer to 200 to one.

Mrs Clark was eventually freed when she won her appeal in January 2003.

Sir Roy stood by his evidence at a General Medical Council hearing into his actions, but he admitted he had been insensitive to compare the odds of both boys dying naturally to those of four different horses winning the Grand National in consecutive years at odds of 80-1.

The retired paediatrician was found guilty of serious professional misconduct in July 2005, and was struck off the medical register. But Sir Roy appealed, and the GMC's verdicts have now been overturned.

Other cases

Angela Cannings served 18 months in prison for the murder of two of her baby sons. She was freed in December 2003. At her appeal QC Michael Mansfield heavily criticised Sir Roy's evidence at the original trial. He argued that, were the trial to take place now, it was unlikely the Crown would call Professor Meadow as a witness, or, if they did, it would "have to be done with a health warning attached to it".

Sir Roy's evidence in the Donna Anthony trial was similarly criticised. Ms Anthony was found guilty of killing her daughter Jordan, aged 11 months, and her son Michael, aged four months, in 1998. The prosecution in her case, relying on Sir Roy's evidence, had claimed the babies had been smothered, and that Donna Anthony had been trying to draw attention to herself. Sir Roy, and another expert witness, told the court the chances of two cot deaths in a case such as hers were one in a million.

But Ms Anthony had always claimed her children had died of cot death.

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Sir Roy first came to prominence in 1977 after publishing a paper in The Lancet medical journal on a condition he dubbed as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. This is a form of child abuse in which a parent induces real or apparent symptoms of a disease in a child. Perhaps the most high profile example was the case of nurse Beverly Allit, who murdered four children and harmed nine others. Professor Meadow worked on this case.

But even his work in this field has been subject to controversy.

In the House of Lords, Earl Howe, the Opposition spokesman on health, accused the professor of inventing a 'theory without science' and refusing to produce any real evidence to prove that Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy actually exists.

Meadow's law

Possibly, Sir Roy's most telling contribution is an observation in a book that became universally known as "Meadow's Law". This states that:

"One sudden infant death is a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder, unless proven otherwise."

Sally Clark was convicted on evidence from Sir Roy Meadow

Over the years he gained a reputation for being particularly severe when confronted with cases of multiple child deaths in one family. Many supporters, however, have championed Sir Roy, calling him a man of great skill and compassion. A spokeswoman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health "His work has undoubtedly saved the lives of many children. The judge also overturned the GMC's ruling that the paediatrician was guilty of serious professional misconduct. The case against him centred on his testimony at the 1999 trial of Sally Clark for the murder of her babies. She won her appeal against her imprisonment in 2003. During Mrs Clark's trial, Sir Roy said the probability of two natural unexplained cot deaths in the family was 73 million to one. The figure was later disputed by the Royal Statistical Society and other experts said that once genetic and environmental factors were taken into consideration, the odds of a second cot death in the same family were closer to 200 to one.

Sir Roy also gave evidence as an expert witness in the trials of two other women, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, who were both freed on appeal after being convicted of murdering their children.

He retired from clinical practice in 1998, but wanted to restore his reputation with this appeal. But the GMC has expressed concern, saying the verdict raised questions over whether doctors were immune from its investigations.

Fears

In a statement released after the verdict, Sir Roy said: "I am relieved that the court has quashed the GMC's decision. Children can only be protected from abuse if those who suspect abuse are able to give their honest opinion without fear of retribution.

"This is an important decision for paediatricians and all doctors, nurses, teachers and other professionals who may have to express difficult and sometimes unpopular opinions in the course of giving evidence in court. "They should be able to do so without the fear of prosecution by the GMC or other professional regulators." But Angela Cannings said she was "disappointed and disheartened" by the decision. High Court judge Mr Justice Collins explained his decision to overturn the GMC's verdicts by saying: "It is very difficult to think that the giving of honest, albeit mistaken evidence could - save in an exceptional case - properly lead to such a finding." The judge also ruled Sir Roy's actions could not "properly be regarded" as serious professional misconduct.

'Neutering'

In a statement, the GMC said it did not want its work to inhibit doctors from acting as expert witnesses. But it added: "Where there has been serious judicial criticism, we have sought to act to protect the public interest from experts who fall significantly short of accepted standards."

The GMC had said evidence given by Sir Roy in Mrs Clark's case had been misleading, although she was actually freed after it became apparent that another witness at her trial, pathologist Alan Williams, had failed to disclose key medical evidence. John Batt, a friend of the Clark family, expressed concern over the High Court verdict. "It's not right that the professional bodies should be neutered because of an immunity of their members for anything that is said in court."

Sanction was 'too draconian'

Dr Christine Tomkins, deputy chief executive of the Medical Defence Union, which has supported Sir Roy, said: "The MDU has been defending doctors for over 120 years and seldom have we come across a judgment that we consider to be as unfair and disproportionate as the GMC's erasure of Professor Meadow from the medical register. She added: "It is in the public interest that doctors should be able to provide expert opinion in cases where there are allegations of child abuse without fear that they will be the subject of a finding of serious professional misconduct for expressing a genuinely held belief."

Tom Magner, of the Society of Expert Witnesses added: "This verdict gives a heart-warming message to expert witnesses that they need not fear vexatious complaints." Professor Sir Alan Craft, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "This is a welcome result for Professor Meadow, the RCPCH and every paediatrician and doctors in general. "If the original decision had stood there is a real danger that doctors across all specialities would have become reluctant to undertake vital expert witness work."

Sally Clark: Served three years after being wrongly convicted of killing her two sons
Angela Cannings: Served 18 months after being wrongly convicted of killing her two sons
Donna Anthony: Served six years after being wrongly convicted of killing her son and daughter
Trupti Patel: Acquitted of killing three of her children
Sir Roy Meadow: Educated at a grammar school in Wigan and Oxford University
Worked as a GP in Banbury and became a senior lecturer at Leeds University
Took up chair in paediatrics and child health in 1980 at St James's University Hospital, Leeds
Former president of British Paediatric Association
Former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Knighted in 1998 for services to child health

Sally Clark: Cleared

This dates back to January, 2003 Sally Clark Sally Clark was cleared by the Court of Appeal of murdering her two baby boys after three judges ruled her 1999 conviction was unsafe. Here is the statement she read outside the court afterwards.

"Today is not a victory. We are not victorious. There are no winners here. We have all lost out. We simply feel relief that our nightmare is finally at an end. We are now back in a position we should have been in all along. At least we may now be allowed some privacy to grieve for our little boys in peace and try to make sense of what has happened to us. I would like to thank the hundreds of people who have written to me since my conviction to offer me their support.

These letters have been my lifeline and a source of great comfort, especially during my blacker times and I've read and re-read every single one. Not only was it incredibly kind and thoughtful of people to take the time and trouble to write to me, but a number of them have been courageous enough to share very personal memories and re-live painful experiences in the hope that it might be of some help. I promised them that one day their faith in me would have been seen to be justified. That day has come.

Prison bonds

I'd like to thank the governor, staff and inmates at Bullwood Hall prison for their compassion and understanding. Be in no doubt, it was a tough experience to be in prison, but the support that I received while I was there made it much more bearable. They say that friendships are often forged in the most unlikely situations. I leave behind a number of acquaintances and two close friends who have lived every moment of this ordeal with me. I would not have made it this far without them. It would not be appropriate to mention them by name. They know who they are. But my promise to one of them, that I would do all I can to ensure justice is done for her as it has done for me today, still stands. I will never forget them.

Loyal friends

I would like to say a particular thank you to my legal team - without whose tireless hard work and commitment in the face of adversity and ceaseless belief in my innocence, none of this would have been possible. I'm also grateful to the members of the solicitors' disciplinary tribunal, who in May 2001 had the courage and sufficient faith in me to allow me to re-member on the solicitors' roll and offered me my first glimmer of hope for many months. Thank you also to all my friends out here, many of whom have been in court today, who have shown me unwavering and unconditional support and loyalty. It would have been understandable, perhaps, for them to have written to me perhaps when this all first happened, but then who felt they had done all they could and that it was time to move on. But no, they have been at my side throughout. Their friendship means so much.

Family support

The same goes for my family and in particular, Dad. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted him to be proud of me and tried to live my life respectful of those in authority and in accordance with the morals and values taught to me by my parents as a child. Despite my innocence, there have been times throughout all of this when I felt I had let him down in some way. Yet he has stood by me, and not only that, worked tirelessly alongside my legal team to secure my release. Not what he had planned for his retirement. I only hope that he is proud of me today. I am certainly proud of him.

'My rock'

Finally, my husband, Steve, who together with our little boy, is my life. He has stood by me and supported me throughout this whole nightmare, not through blind love or unthinking loyalty, but because he knows me better than anyone else and knows how much I loved our babies. He has been my rock and I love him now more than ever. Being separated from him for so long has been a living hell. Being deprived of more than three years of being a mum to our little boy has been even worse. And yet somehow, despite our separation and against all the odds, we have managed to remain a family and stay close. My little boy knows that he has a mummy and daddy who love him very much and love each other very much and that's what counts. May we now be allowed the privacy to rebuild our lives, to move forward and to learn to be a proper family again."