Friday, January 14, 2005
Last Wednesday's lecture was by Jeff Maxwell, a member of the governments commission on GM. His job was, in a civil service way, to establish a meeting of minds between GM scientists & anti-GM activists, failing that to find out what the public really think, to find out what the facts are & to communicate that to the public.
Obviously such a meeting of minds is impossible. The public's opinion is that they don't know because the facts aren't communicated to them. Interestingly, & somewhat disappointingly, while they don't like GM foods much (they are mainly of benefit to the hungry) they generally strongly approve of GM to produce medicines (which may benefit them) even though genetic modification of animals is both more dangerous |(animals can run away unlike plants) & more ethically problematic.
The fact is, despite the USA, Argentina, Canada, China & Brazil having hundreds of millions of acres given over to GM no human being has ever been physically harmed. This brought us to the last part of the remit - to communicate the facts to the public. Here Mr Maxwell was rather scathing of the press willingness to publish any scare story given them by any anti-GM source "whether their tactics were morally justified or not" & not to be interested in the more sedate (ie boring) facts given by reputable scientists. He said that he had "as much skepticism as most of you about the press presenting a true story" a sentiment obviously overwhelmingly shared by the audience.
The next lecture (26 Jan) will be by Prof Brian Ashcroft of the Allander Institue on the seminars they have been running on the Scottish economy - that is one I am definitely going to.
Lib Dem Motion 8 - Children's Hearing Panels
Conference recognises and supports the work of the Scottish Children’s Hearing system, based on the underlying principle that children who offend and children who are neglected or abused are in need of comprehensive support and protection and should receive this care through a single system designed to address their needs.
Conference is concerned at the difficulties faced by the Children’s Hearing system as a result of shortages of social workers, volunteer panel members, and youth workers, and the lack of sufficient support for initiatives such as alternative education and early intervention programmes, family advice centres, restorative justice projects and other successful disposals which support young people and reduce the risk factors in their lives which can lead to educational and social under-achievement, addiction, anti-social behaviour and homelessness.
Conference welcomes the widespread public support shown by the Scottish Executive consultation for the basic principles of the Children’s Hearing system, and calls for:
1)the over-riding objective of the system to remain the furthering of the best interests of the children or young people concerned; NO. THIS IS A BIT PHILOSOPHICAL BUT, ACCORDING TO ROUSSEAU'S SOCIAL CONTRACT & HOBBES & BASICALLY THE FORMERS OF LIBERALISM AS A DOCTRINE THE PRIME PURPOSE & JUSTIFICATION FOR THE EXISTENCE OF THE STATE IS TO KEEP THE CITIZEN SAFE FROM CRIME. IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW CHERUBIC THE CRIMINAL IS IT IS NEVER!! THE PRIME DUTY OF THE STATE TO HELP THE CRIMINAL. THERE MAY WELL BE A CASE THAT BEING NICE TO THE BRATS STOPS THEM STICKING TO A LIFE OF CRIME (OR THE OPPOSITE CASE) BUT EVEN IF THAT IS SO THE PRIME PURPOSE IS TO PROTECT THE VICTIM NOW & IN THE FUTURE
2)greater emphasis on identifying and monitoring policies which work most effectively to support young people in a secure family setting and to better their life chances; IDENTIFYING POLICIES THAT WORK IS ALWAYS WORTHWHILE
3)the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 10 years; NO ARGUMENT IS PUT FOR THIS & I AM NOT CONVINCED THAT TELLING KIDS THAT CRIME WILL NOT BE PUNISHED IS DOING EITHER THEM OR SOCIETY ANY GOOD. WE ARE ALWAYS BEING TOLD THAT CHILDREN NOWADAYS ARE MATURING EARLIER & PHYSICALLY THAT IS TRUE (THO' I AM NOT CONVINCED THAT A 13 YEAR OLD MIDSHIPMAN IN NELSON'S FLEET WAS MENTALLY LESS MATURE)
4)support for advocacy for vulnerable young people in the Hearings System; THIS CONVERTS THE HEARINGS INTO AN ADVERSARIAL SYSTEM
5)additional resources to ensure that every child and young person under the supervision of the Panel receives an effective and adequate quality care package; ADEQUATE RESOURCES = MORE MONEY. AS A GENERAL PRINCIPLE I WOULD LIKE TO SEE ANYBODY PUTTING FORWARD A MOTION REQUIRED TO PUT IN A COSTING
6)a nation-wide effort to build on initiatives that promote social work as an important and attractive profession vital to the people of Scotland; BULL. COUNCIL EMPLOYEES HAVE RECENTLY RISEN 15%, ALMOST ALL AMONG SOCIAL WORKERS & TEACHING SUPPORT (IE NOT TEACHERS). IF WE WANT TO PROMOTE ANY FORM OF WORK IT SHOULD BE SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS. IF IT IS PURELY COUNCIL EMPLOYEES WE WANT TO PROMOTE IT SHOULD BE BIN MEN - A NOTORIOUSLY LOW STATUS JOB, WHOSE MANAGEMENT IS AVOIDED BY ANYBODY AMBITIOUS YET, ALONG WITH TEACHING, IS THE ONLY COUNCIL FUNCTION PEOPLE REALLY COMPLAIN ABOUT WHEN IT GOES WRONG
7)a wider and more creative range of disposals (including restorative justice options where appropriate) to be available to Panels, including programmes to address drug and alcohol problems, mental and physical health, learning
difficulties, under-achievement and family and community issues; LONG AS IT WORKS
8)Panels to be enabled more effectively to use these wider disposals by providing them with the information and training to do so; THIS SOUNDS LIKE MORE SUPPORT STAFF AS MENTIONED EARLIER ABOUT TEACHING
9)pilot schemes to be established on the use of family conferencing linked, where appropriate, to acceptable behaviour contracts for parents; SOCIAL WORKERS TELLING PARENTS HOW TO PARENT
10)the continued use of fast-track hearings for repeat child offenders; ABSOLUTELY - JUDGE DREDD RULES
11)comprehensive information to be collected and made available to the public, local communities and the Panels on the costs and benefits of the system and its disposals in their area, and showing the effectiveness of different disposal options; and ABSOLUTELY
13)an independent professional group to provide research on the Hearings System and monitoring of Panels’ decisions and outcomes in order to enhance the accountability of the system and guide the development of future policy. ABSOLUTELY - WHAT DO WE DO IF A TRULY INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT GROUP FINDS THAT SERIOUS PUNISHMENTS DETER
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace apparently have reversed their long-standing opposition to the use of DDT to fight malaria. In his column in the New York Times (Jan. 8), Nicholas Kristof quotes spokesmen from WWF and Greenpeace as supporting the use of DDT in anti-malarial programs:
* "I called the World Wildlife Fund, thinking I would get a fight. But Richard Liroff, its expert on toxins, said he could accept the use of DDT when necessary in anti-malaria programs. 'South Africa was right to use DDT,' he said. 'If the alternatives to DDT aren't working, as they weren't in South Africa, geez, you've got to use it. In South Africa it prevented tens of thousands of malaria cases and saved lots of lives.'"
* "At Greenpeace, Rick Hind noted reasons to be wary of DDT, but added: 'If there's nothing else and it's going to save lives, we're all for it. Nobody's dogmatic about it.'"
DDT was banned by the U.S. -- and for practical purposes by the rest of the world -- in 1972 following an intense lobbying campaign by the Environmental Defense Fund. Tens of millions of people -- mostly pregnant women and children -- have died from malaria during the last 30 years. Many, if not most, of these deaths may have been avoided had DDT been more widely used.
The WWF nevertheless maintains on its web site that "DDT should be phased out and ultimately banned." Greenpeace has long called for banning DDT, and has been a leading advocate of the POPs Treaty, which would make DDT more difficult to use in anti-malaria programs, if not operate as a de facto ban.
It might be easy for some to dismiss the past 43 years of eco-hysteria over DDT with a simple "Nevermind..." -- a la Saturday Night Live's Emily Litella -- except for the blood of millions of people dripping from the hands of the WWF, Greenpeace, Rachel Carson, Environmental Defense Fund and other junk science-fueled opponents of DDT.
The fight against DDT was sffectively the start of the modern "ecological" movement. Inspired by Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring which forecaste chemicals building up in the food chain & poisoning higher up that chain (each link further up was assumed to & sometimes does concentrate the dose thus, theoretically, being more poisonous to higher animals). DDT fitted the case perfectly except for the fact that it is so sar from beingpoisonous to higher animals that you can eat it undiluted.
The other problem is that DDT is the only really effective way of getting rid of mosquitos & that the banning of it worldwide, at the behest of rich western "environmentalists", has been calculated to have caused the deaths by malaria of 500 million people.
Monday, January 10, 2005
"A MAJOR blaze brought more traffic misery for motorists in Glasgow today.
Rush-hour drivers were facing city-centre disruption after a mystery blaze ripped through a listed building on the corner of West Nile Street and Bath Street.
Experts were meeting to decide if the site - which houses the Bay Horse pub - would have to be demolished.
The news comes only days after an A-listed former church in Pitt Street, home to The Shack and Trash,
was torn down following a fire.
Nobody was injured in the latest blaze which broke out around 9pm yesterday, but firefighters took around three hours to bring the situation under control.
Police are treating the fire as suspicious, and say it started on the fourth floor of the building, occupied by the security firm Osiris consultants.
The Bay Horse is on the ground floor, but has been closed for several months due to flooding.
A spokesman for Scottish & Newcastle, owners of the Bay Horse, said today: "Luckily no-one has been injured.
"Our building control officers are on site looking at the damage and the consequences of the fire."
Nobody from Osiris was available for comment today.
The building was last year condemned as unsafe, and officials from Glasgow City Council were expected to approve its demolition after meeting today.
A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland confirmed that while the building itself was not listed, those on the other side of the street were C-listed.
Police brought in extra officers to help control traffic near the scene.
The area remained cordoned off and access to neighbouring businesses was denied.
The windows of the fourth floor building where the blaze began had all been blown out and there was believed to be significant damage to the other floors."
There have, over many years, been numerous suspicious fires in Glasgow properties where occupiers were unwilling to sell up to redevelopers. In a previous case a relative of mine was owner of part of a tenement near the George V bridge which developers wished to purchase. After refusing she came home one evening to find that our respected council had condemned the building as unsafe, despite the fact that shortly before an independent surveyor had passed it.
Some time after everybody was moved out a suspicious fire broke out & destroyed her home (I am glad to say that the insurers paid out accepting that whoever had started the fire it wasn't an owner). An interesting parallel with this case is obviously that the authorities had condemned it. I hope the police enquiry into this will check on whether this particular condemnation was justified.
Readers may be interested to know that the security firm involved here, Osiris, is one of a number of independent security firms in the Glasgow area whose owners are not well known in the wider business community. It is named after the Egyptian god of the dead. Hopefully they will have someone available for comment shortly.