The measles outbreak in Wales may have claimed its first victim.
According to the Guardian, a 25-year-old man was found dead in his apartment in Swansea Thursday. Gareth Colfer-Williams was known to have measles at the time of his death. What’s not clear is what the actual cause of death was; he was an ill man, apparently suffering from severe asthma. We’ll know what the exact cause of death was soon enough, I imagine. But his having measles at the time is very, very suspicious, and more tests will be run next week.
Either way, this tragic death has focused attention again on what’s happening in Wales. More than 800 people have been diagnosed with measles in Swansea in this recent outbreak. People are lining up to get their vaccinations, and a campaign has been started to get more people vaccinated, which is a good thing; I just hope it’s in time. But with so many people contracting the illness, serious repercussions are almost inevitable.
Wales has had low Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccination rates for some time … since about 1998, in fact, when Andrew Wakefield published his bogus study in the Lancet falsely linking the MMR vaccine to autism.
It’s easy to lay all this misery at Wakefield’s feet, but there’s plenty to go around. The Lancet should never have published it (many of the co-authors later withdrew their names from the paper). Tony Blair, then prime minister of Britain, declined to reveal whether his own son had gotten the MMR vaccine, prompting rumors it wasn’t safe.
It’s always good to see people doing it right, stretching out their hands to help each other instead of trying to smack each other down.
The BBC has an excellent short video that shows how beautiful the synagogue is and provides some comments from the people working together to save it (unfortunately, they don’t provide a way to embed their videos, so I’ll just link to it): Bradford’s last synagogue gets financial lifeline
From the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency):
(JTA) — A Muslim organization in northern England announced it would raise funds and lobby for the preservation of the last remaining synagogue in Bradford.
“…it was a challenge which didn’t take us long to decide on.” —Zulfi KarimThe Bradford Council for Mosques recently began working together with the local municipality to raise funds for the Bradford synagogue to ensure the building remains a sacred space for future generations, the Telegraph reported. The building was founded in 1880 and uses Moorish Victorian architecture.
“When the chair of the Bradford synagogue approached the Muslim community for help and assistance towards the maintenance of this building, it was a challenge which didn’t take us long to decide on,” said Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council for Mosques. […]
From Bradford’s local paper, Telegraph and Argus:
Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council for Mosques said: “In Bradford we are working hard to bring people of different faiths together, and to support one another as good neighbours.
“We are delighted by the way people have rallied to save the Bradford Synagogue, which is not only a work of art in itself, but represents so much in the way of Bradford’s heritage, faith and culture.” […]
Chair of the Bradford Synagogue, Rudi Leavor, said: “The contribution of immigrants to this region has been outstanding, and the current wave has followed in that tradition of mutual help, communal involvement and harmony. […]
- An article from 2009 describing the plight of the Bradford Reform Synagogue
MPs are told of synagogue plight
- Additional information about the history of the synagogue, from their website
About the Synagogue
- An very interesting piece on the history of Judaism in Bradford by the BBC
The Jewish connection!
LONDON (AP) — A new database launched Wednesday lets Britons curious about their family history uncover some potentially uncomfortable information — whether their ancestors owned slaves.
Researchers at University College London spent three years compiling a searchable listing of thousands of people who received compensation for loss of their “possessions” when slave ownership was outlawed by Britain in 1833.
About 46,000 people were paid a total of 20 million pounds — the equivalent of 40 percent of all annual government spending at the time — after the freeing of slaves in British colonies in the Caribbean, Mauritius and southern Africa.
“This is a huge bailout,” said Keith McClelland, a research associate on the project. “Relatively speaking, it is bigger than the bailout of the bankers in recent years.”
Compensation for slave-owners was opposed by some abolitionists, who argued it was immoral, but it was approved as the political price of getting the 1833 abolition bill passed.
The database includes details on the 3,000 compensated slave owners who lived in Britain — rather than its colonies — and includes the ancestors of several present-day politicians and the writers Graham Greene and George Orwell. Orwell’s real name was Eric Blair, and the trustees of his great-grandfather, Charles Blair, were paid 4,442 pounds for 218 slaves on a plantation in Jamaica.
Not all the slave-owners were ultra-wealthy. Middle-class Britons up and down the country were paid compensation — evidence, the researchers say, of how far the tentacles of slavery spread through society.
Payouts range from wealthy merchant John Gladstone, father of 19th-century Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, who received more than 100,000 pounds in compensation for hundreds of slaves, to Jane Bayne, a Scottish doctor’s wife who received 84 pounds for 10 slaves on a plantation in Jamaica. Even that modest settlement was more than the annual salary of a skilled worker at the time.
There are a couple of reasons to explain this resurgence in so-called Rock Against Communism (RAC) gigs. First, the EDL and their various splinter groups have returned to the fascist marches of a much simpler, much more racist time. This has reinvigorated many of the original boneheads and inspired a younger generation to shave their heads and spout misguided political rhetoric that they don’t really understand. Secondly, the collapse of the organized far right over the last two years has seen fringe neo-Nazi groups grow to double-digit membership for the first time in over a decade, helped by an influx of Eastern European skinheads.
Militant antifascists stopped paying so much attention to the white-power skinhead scene in the mid 90s, instead choosing to focus on the BNP, whose move toward becoming a respectable political party after they parted ways with Blood & Honour was seen as a more significant threat than a bunch of thugs shouting about rights for whites in a country that awards its best rights to whites.
I’m sure this must be incorrect. EVEYONE knows Nazi’s were all Liberal Homosexuals!!1111! /////
Remember the debate about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction? It’s back for an encore, thanks to Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, who remarked at a hearing recently that whatever went wrong in the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi disaster, it wasn’t as bad as the Bush administration’s insistence that those weapons existed.
The blogosphere swiftly picked up the refrain, and so, once more, we have been treated to angry denunciation of the supposed cover-up of the true intelligence about Iraq’s weapons programs. A bracing challenge to this view is provided by “The Art of Betrayal,” Gordon Corera’s enthralling history of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, popularly known as MI6.
Corera, a widely respected British Broadcasting Corp. journalist with impeccable sources in the clandestine world, devotes a good deal of his narrative to the question of what went wrong in Iraq. But the wider focus is on the shadowy, yet colorful, figures who have populated the agency since the dawn of the Cold War.
The book is worth reading for Corera’s detailed recounting of largely unexamined swaths of secret history, which I will discuss in a future column. For the present, let us consider only what he has to say about Iraq — and, in particular, about the notion that U.S. President George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and their staffs fabricated the evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
The dead-parrot sketch debuted on episode eight of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which aired in Britain on December 7, 1969. The sketch epitomized everything that was striking about the new show: its impatience with the old formal rules, its ability to take good ideas and compress them into diamonds. The car-salesman sketch had been about the absurdity of bad service, but it had attacked that absurdity in a naturalistic way: it started with a plausible situation, and gradually made it sillier. The parrot sketch inverts that approach. It is absurd from the start, but its absurdity represents a compact, dreamlike way of telling the truth. This time the role of the aggrieved customer is taken by Cleese—who plays him not as a straight man but as a Brylcreemed, raincoated weirdo. In the world of Monty Python, even a guy with a valid beef is a lunatic. As for Palin’s salesman, this time his denials of the undeniable have an existential audacity: he is ready to claim, and keep claiming, that the palpably dead parrot is just resting. Cleese, indignantly brandishing the bird’s corpse, is the victim of the ultimate—the archetypal—rip-off; but he remains an Englishman. Nutty as he is, he declines to vault over the desk and punch Palin’s lights out. Language is the only weapon available to him. So his tamped-down rage becomes a torrent of increasingly baroque synonyms for death, which Cleese and Chapman composed with the aid of a thesaurus.
Monty Python’s signature move was to thrust something very salient into the wrong context.
When that outburst of manic poetry is over, the Pythons don’t bother forcing the parrot sketch toward a well-made conclusion. The quest for punch lines bored them. Instead the sketch collapses into a series of bizarre digressions, and finally Cleese’s character turns to the camera and declares that the situation has become “too silly.” And that’s that: we move on to the next item. I concede that there are people who don’t find the parrot sketch funny at all. I know a couple of them personally. They are unmoved by the sight of John Cleese in his raincoat, wielding that stuffed parrot and saying, “It’s bleeding demised.” I know them, but I can’t help them.
A Crumbling Union: A referendum on Britain’s EU membership is likely. And if the country secedes, others could soon follow
A referendum on Britain’s EU membership is likely. And if the country secedes, others could soon follow its example.
In 1991 I founded the Anti-Federalist League, which changed its name in 1993 to the UK Independence Party (Ukip). I remained party leader until 1997 when, for a variety of reasons, I quit. One reason was that the party was becoming too right-wing for my liberal sensitivities. The major one was that I thought Sir James Goldmith, who had led the Referendum Party in the 1997 election, would be the torch-bearer for British Euro-scepticism in future. However, Sir James died a few months later and his party disappeared.
Hence Ukip, soon under the baleful leadership of Nigel Farage, continued to hold the torch. Farage has not been a particularly successful leader—the party has never won a seat in Parliament and has only a tiny handful of councillors. In the House of Lords it has the support of only three very right-wing peers—all Tory defectors— and in opinion polls it registers still only about 4% of the national vote. In two recent by-elections, however, it has beaten the Tories and Liberal Democrats in seats where they had no chance of winning anyway. And the coalition parties, given the state of the economy, are highly unpopular. The odd, freak poll, however, puts Ukip at 10%.
What does this mean? Probably only that, since the Liberal Democrats have entered government, the mindless, protest vote has switched to some extent to Ukip. The anti-foreign, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant vote, however, is going Ukip’s way as well. Does it mean that the country is about to vote Ukip to leave the EU? That is more difficult to say. The EU is certainly hugely unpopular but that is not due to Ukip.
SINCE THE GOVERNMENT of David Cameron came to power in 2010, the United Kingdom has been subjected to a brutally masochistic economic joke—“policy” is too kind a word—for which, the prime minister confirmed in an October interview, there is no end in sight. For Cameron and George Osborne, his chancellor of the exchequer, austerity is always the answer: any bit of good news is proof that austerity works, while the more frequent bad news proves that deeper cuts are the only way forward. They have hit everything from hospitals to the civil service, and the result has been a sharp double-dip contraction worse than most other OECD countries, with the prospect of a third one near. The British economy, even without the straitjacket of the euro, is performing worse at this point than it did at the equivalent pass in the 1930s. Welcome to the depression, chaps!
In just a few years Britain—which last decade could call itself the most dynamic country in Europe—has simply accepted mass unemployment, stagnated growth, and a ravaged urban landscape one Tory columnist called “Detroit UK.” And the economic disaster has far-reaching social consequences: far more than the United States, Britain is now suffering from a crisis not just of finance but also of institutions. The four-years-and-counting News International phone-hacking scandal (which reaches all the way to Cameron’s desk) is only the largest: from the giant Libor scam to the recent upheaval at the BBC, what may once have elicited democratic anger now only prompts Italian-style acceptance of establishment rot.
And still it comes, for Cameron’s Britain is a land where ideology can be so strong that its defenders are willing to burn money in order to preserve their convictions. The 1980s this is not. The old Thatcherites wanted to cut the state mostly in order to get rich, but Britain’s new austerity enthusiasts have left the poor poorer and the rich poorer, too. Outdated fantasies about soaring interest rates (in fact, borrowing costs are at a 300-year low, essentially free) keep getting trotted out, while clueless intonations that the country has “no more money” continue to appear in respectable newspapers and magazines; the case for Keynesian stimulus remains far afield. At the Tory party conference in October, Cameron used the notion of government spending as a laugh line. And a traumatized nation mired in a preventable depression keeps calm and carries on.
Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.
Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”
This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.
News outlets have debunked this claim time and again.[…]
Here’s the White House debunking a pernicious wingnut lie about Obama’s supposed anticolonialist and antiBritish mindset. It’s no surprise that Charles Krauthammer would swallow it whole.
In second place for wingnut lie of the week: the supposed antisemitism of The Obama administration, as revealed by a reluctance to call Jerusalem the capital of Israel: reminder, GWB didn’t, and neither did Saint Reagan.
All around the world, governments are spending time and money to figure out the best way to attract the attention of entrepreneurs. New startups are a great way to stimulate the economy because they are seen as innovative and exciting, create new jobs and are in a unique position to generate real value just from an idea. Over the last five years, the British Government has announced changes in every annual budget to help nurture the growing ecosystem that had already started to establish itself organically in the United Kingdom. In my opinion, the effect of this has been to make Britain the best place to start a new business in 2012. Here’s why: