Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Scared? They Should Be

As always, it begins in California.
(Reuters) - Beverage industry groups are planning ways to oppose a proposed soda tax in the California city of El Monte because of fears other U.S. cities across America might adopt similar taxes on sugary drinks.

The El Monte city council on Tuesday approved a measure that would add a 1 cent tax for every ounce of "sugar sweetened" drinks. The proposal is scheduled to be voted on by city residents in November's election.
In case you're baffled by the US system of measuring liquids, a 16 ounce drink is the equivalent of around 475ml. So, this would mean adding 16 cents to the selling price of a bottle smaller than the standard 500ml version sold in Tesco Express over here (a portion, incidentally, which is deemed as too much by New York's Mayor Bloomberg).

This, according to Cali-based jewel robber David G who pointed out the article, on top of the existing 9.5% state sales tax and 5% recycling tax. Too right the soda industry is trying to fight the idea.

Because, despite their protestations, those who dedicate their lives to pissing all over yours very much love a precedent. Just ask arch-bansturbator Simon Chapman, the geriatric control freak who conned Australia into banning colours because of his personal prejudice.
"The dominos are lining up," Chapman says, referring to the countries that are seriously considering enforcing plain packs inside their own borders. Seventeen states, including Britain, attended a recent World Health Organisation meeting in Brunei on plain packs. New Zealand will be next, then Thailand and Panama, and possibly Canada, Chapman reckons.
Sure as California is home to the most sinister nest of deluded, financially-illiterate hippies in the world, once a soda tax is implemented in El Monte, it will spread like a plague.

In the digital age, some mentally-challenged MP will see the daft proposal via the medium of global kneejerk idiocy and advocate it here. Nothing will be gained for the health of the nation once a soda tax is brought in, but government will have more of your cash and further rights as to what you do with your own body.

With the Mail publishing panic-mongering rot like this, I give it five years.

'Nanny' Has Never Been A More Accurate Description

Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction.

At the start of June, the Center for Consumer Freedom took out a full page advert in the New York Times accusing Mayor Bloomberg of being the archetypal hectoring nanny (click for the full enlarged horror).

Being a driven and determined kind of health nutjob, he naturally shrugged it off.

Less than two months later, though, we find out that the picture must have turned him on somewhat. It never pays to give these people ideas, you know.
Mayor Bloomberg has demanded that hospitals stop handing out baby formula to persuade more new mothers to breastfeed their babies.

The New York City health department will monitor the number of formula bottles being given out and demand a medical reason for each one.

From September 3, 27 out of 40 hospitals in the city have agreed to the terms of the Latch On initiative - which will also see them stop handing out free bags of formula and bottles.
Considering some within his administration also consider milk to be something which needs to be portion controlled, it'll be interesting to see how he tackles the problem of large-breasted mums dispensing 'Big Gulp' measures without a nudge to stop them. Perhaps Nanny Mike will pass a law insisting babies change tit mid-suck.

For New Yorkers used to his hypocritically installing himself as mother and father over their food choices, they now have the prospect of he being wet nurse in chief too.

Rumours that he first flew into New York under an umbrella singing "a spoonful of sugar makes the medic kick your ass" are yet to be confirmed.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Meat-Only Monday

If you think scare tactics using 'the chiiildren' and health junk science are bad enough, pity the agricultural industry who are being accused of destroying the world, no less.

Much like alcohol, tobacco and fast food controllers just happen to share the same wish for destruction of big business as the traditional left, a similar stunning coincidence is occurring with climate change dovetailing in nicely with the fantasies of vegetarian evangelists.

In ageing hippie-infested California, Meatless Monday is a movement which has aggressively promoted vegetarianism for all on one day of the week. Nothing to worry about, is it? After all, the tobacco control industry only ever wanted non-smoking areas in restaurants and they have been scrupulously true to their word.

However, the US Department of Agriculture have been caught up in this ideological nonsense, after briefly advocating its employees follow this advice last week. For some reason, they forgot that meat producers are part of the agriculture they are supposed to be promoting and protecting!

The anti 'Big Agriculture' lobby were, naturally, enraged that the USDA drew back from such a stupid position, and the language used might seem rather familiar to readers here.
It's quite telling that the Ag industry is so worried about Meatless Mondays. In all actuality, vegetarians and vegans, while growing, still make up such a small segment of our society. These organizations obviously know the harm they are causing to our planet and to the health of consumers... and they must realize that one day, the atrocities that take place on farms around the country will no longer be tolerated.
Perhaps meat-eating will one day, I dunno, be 'denormalised' perhaps?

The people behind Meatless Monday are a who's who of interlocking highly-funded righteous vested interests, amongst which you won't be surprised to find a certain Mayor Bloomberg. Just another strand of the wider religion-like effort to control and restrict the things that you enjoy.

And we have our own version over here too, complete with Sir Paul McCartney welcoming visitors to the website by describing how they are going into schools and getting in the heads of children ...
"One of the teachers was having a bacon butty and the kid said "err, excuse me Sir", he said "yeah, why, what's wrong?", and he said "you're eating bacon!". And he said "oh yeah" (looking guilty)."
... before weighing in with the emotional blackmail that it's not actually your choice to eat meat because - denormalisation always needs a threat - the planet will die if you do. Ta-dah!

Now, call me cynical, but I reckon they're being a bit melodramatic, as well as hanging their personal crusade on whatever they think they can get away with in order to make others live how they dictate.

So, in the same gentle vein (initially), how about you consider eating only meat on Mondays?

Sauces optional

Why? Well, err, you'll be much happier not having to be led through a supermarket by some spotty kid to find mung beans and pine nuts, and you'll have enough energy not to look emaciated and spaced like McCartney in the aforementioned video.

Of course, it's only voluntary but, if you don't participate, children of livestock farmers all over the world will most likely die of starvation (see what I did there?).

The meat only cookbook (and donation begging website) will be available very soon but, until then, how about some diet suggestions? Cold processed meats for breakfast if you're feeling continental, a bowl of Colman's meatballs for lunch as they are easily microwaved in the office, and a rare sirloin steak for evening meal.

I realise it will be difficult to go straight for the full meat only diet, so you might want to incorporate bread or chips etc as you get into it. However, you will one day notice that you really enjoy testing your molars on some of the finest animal flesh our brave agricultural industry strive to produce for you, and will soon learn to love the lifestyle.

Your breakfast bacon sarnie doesn't need the bread, just make more bacon to make up for it. Pre-cooked chicken is only a couple minutes warm in a 750w for lunch, as is a big bowl of chilli (leave out the kidney beans). And, for dinner, well, it's only traditional as a Brit to support your local kebab shop, tell them to hold the salad, and toss the pitta and chips in the bin on the way home.

It's only a grassroots initiative at the moment, so your own suggestions are welcome, but this is a campaign whose time has come. I don't want to scare you or anything, but there are poor starvation-threatened kids in Dorset who are relying on YOU to protect them.

Eat a cow today! You know it makes sense.

Dick Out And About: On The Olympics In The Kitchen

One problem behind empty seats at the Olympics is still being wilfully ignored, but I've written about it here before.

So I've guested at the Devil's place with something further. Please do go have a read.

Previous DP exports can be viewed here and here.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

More Fun With Debs

I know it's a bit too easy to shoot down - yet again - Deborah Arnott's laughable claims in defence of plain packaging, but Sunday is known as a day for not working hard. So let's have even more fun with her piss poor attempt at advocacy from February.
"[...] The “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false. The same argument was used against the ban on tobacco advertising, but 9 years after the tobacco ban in the UK, alcohol advertising is still permitted with no sign of it being prohibited."
It's not been difficult, since then, to find a glut of examples proving her to be disastrously deluded with regard to alcohol.

She's also hilariously wrong when it comes to food, fizzy drinks and chocolate though.
Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s are being given an “unrivalled platform” to promote unhealthy brands and products at the Olympics, says a new study.

According to its authors the Children’s Food Campaign, the junk food companies have been given a global platform by London 2012 despite contributing only around 2 per cent of the International Olympic Association’s income.

The campaigners called for a ban on junk food brands from sponsoring future sporting events.
After all, it's all written in the public health holy scriptures tobacco control template. How can one of the sect's High Priestesses forget that, eh?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Well, If You Insist On Stifling The Free Market ...

Questions are being asked about this, but I'm pretty sure they won't come up with the correct answers.
An investigation has been launched by the London 2012 organisers Locog after large numbers of empty seats were evident in multiple sporting venues on the opening day of the Games.

Despite tickets for the events being sold out, television images revealed scores of empty seats at the swimming, dressage, volleyball and tennis.

Commentators noted the unfilled seats and members of the public who were unable to purchase tickets took to social media websites like Twitter to express their anger.
Predictably, LOCOG fall in neatly with the authoritarian theme of these games with their response.
"[...] we are in the process of finding out who should have been in the seats and why they weren’t there.”
Quite an ugly undertone there, I thought. What are they going to do? Start issuing fines? Punish those who are not overwhelmingly positive with a blacklisting for future sporting events? Send someone round to put the frighteners on?

They've obviously never heard of the proverb "no crying over spilt milk", as investigating who should have been there and why they didn't attend is hardly going to fill seats for an event that has already taken place, is it?

Yes, I'm aware it's merely a kneejerk public relations exercise prompted by the screams of outrage from disgruntled fans who were not able to procure tickets, but they perhaps shouldn't have been in that position in the first place.

For example, search eBay for Olympics 2012 tickets - and I mean ones which have yet to be used - and you won't find any as they've been deemed a banned item. I'm sure eBay would have been happy for users to list them so must assume that re-selling has been frowned on by LOCOG and pressure put on sites which could re-allocate tickets to those who really want them.

I know this because, unbeknownst to me, the boy little P put himself into a school ballot for tickets and managed to get two for the basketball. I had no inclination to arrive - according to the accompanying literature - two hours prior to the event to ensure I passed security, as well as not relishing spending seven hours being ripped off for refreshments in a non-smoking venue where there is no re-entry (you leave, you stay outside) to watch one of the few sports I don't understand and couldn't give a chuff about. So he is going with a couple of friends and their parents, leaving my ticket unused.

Someone, somewhere might really like to use that ticket, but I'm not allowed to know who they are as I can't sell it by the usual method of finding a happy recipient of junk I don't need.

What is valuable to me is not the same as what is valuable to someone else. That's how the free market works.

There is much angst that the tickets being unused could be corporate freebies, but they're not free. They've cost the corporations much more than most people would be prepared to pay for them, and if they result in empty seats, so what? If LOCOG demand that they should be returned, are they going to refund the sponsorship they received for the privilege? I'll let you make your own conclusions on that.

So what's the reason that tickets aren't allowable on eBay? Almost definitely because they don't want them going to those hideous people who can afford to pay a lot of money for them. The inevitable result of such ideology is the empty seats that social media users are getting right upset about. But what's the difference? If they were corporate tickets, they were unavailable anyway - the fact they weren't used is irrelevant.

What did they expect? Businesses to pay top dollar for them only to give them away gratis? And, even so, how are the companies expected to know if those they have given tickets to are going to attend or not? Are they to be as dictatorial with their terms as LOCOG?

Excluding the free market from ticketing arrangements is quite obviously going to result in empty seats. If you receive tickets for an event you don't fancy, you'd try to shift them to someone who does. If that fails, and you're not allowed to sell them, the bums don't reach the seats.

If LOCOG wanted packed stadiums for every event, and if Olympics fans wanted a better chance of being able to secure tickets for the spectacle, perhaps those who were organising London 2012 should have been less righteous and at least given the free market a chance.

Not doing so seems to have left just about everyone unhappy.

Link Tank 28/07

In case you're not a fan of the sunshine.

Why critics of Facebook gambling games are wrong

UN Commission calls for legalising prostitution worldwide

These Olympic Games are nothing to be proud of

The Freedom of Information Act is safe from tampering, for now

Glorious! Anti-smoking nutter evicted as a 'nuisance'

New York store opens up a "man aisle" featuring beer, razors and condoms

Lake District hotel replaces Gideon bibles with 50 Shades of Grey

KFC launches three year university degree with DeMontfort University

Canadian strip clubs to recruit at high schools if immigration rules aren't relaxed

Pop music really is too loud and all sounds the same

Explosive termites

Friday, 27 July 2012

Freedom Of Information: Use It Or Lose It

See, this from Bucko is how to use FOI requests as a means of embarrassing and disquieting our pathologically-lying government.
One of [an idiot MP's] quotes [on minimum alcohol pricing] was taken directly from the home office website:
Alcohol has been so heavily discounted that it is now possible to buy a can of lager for as little as 20p and a two litre bottle of cider for £1.69.
Now I know what alcohol he is referring to and I've no doubt you do too, dear reader, but just to be absolutely certain, I fired off an FOI and asked for a source to prove these figures.

It came back today, and sure enough, four cans of Tesco value lager costs 80p and a two litre bottle of Tesco value cider costs £1.69.

They provided a PDF with screenshots from the Tesco website which can be viewed here.
It's good to have it confirmed that the massive threat they use for their alarmist sound bites is, indeed, the weak piss you would have trouble getting a 5 year old drunk on (that's if they could withstand the gag reflex from the disgustingly yeasty taste).

Quite apart from the fact that the cider mentioned isn't available at that price anymore (making the response reportable in my opinion), even the most thrifty of our population would advocate it more for cooking recipes than for getting bladdered and causing trouble.

To use dishwater like this to hammer the entire population who overwhelmingly shun it - and for which teens would be so shamed that they'd be instantly unfriended by every Facebook connection for being such an embarrassment if they admitted to buying the stuff - is a lie, close as dammit.

Of course, we've known for many a year that all the utter guff spouted at us by the dangerous trolls in Westminster is designed only to feather the nests of their state-funded chums, and to make mentally lightweight MPs look like they have a clue what they're doing.

But FOIs like this document their bare-faced, tawdry and self-serving exclusion of the public from any meaningful debate. In just this one small area, we have ample proof that their oily clique is lying to us with every breath they take.

Extend this to thousands of other policies that they work on in parliament and the civil service on any particular day, and you can estimate that a politician lies to you in some medium or other - on average - probably about once a minute. That's once a minute on every single day that they drag their sorry arses through the parliamentary security system to dedicate their privileged lives to destroying your humble one.

May I remind you that we are forced to pay for this. We have our wages deducted so that politicians can use the cash to lie to us; impose bans and restrictions 'for our own good'; and ignore us as much as they possibly can; all based on fantasy that can sometimes only be uncovered thanks to our beating it out of them with the only stick that we have been left with - the Freedom of Information Act.

It's why the FOIA should be used extensively and at every opportunity, and also why this week's news that Westminster bubble grumbles over the Act have rightly been squashed was a blessed relief. Without it, these hideous career egotistical self-servers have carte blanche to do as they deem fit for you with no right of reply.

I know many of you don't need to be reminded to use the act extensively whenever the opportunity presents itself, as your many regular shares - for which I am always grateful - have produced stunning results at times.

But for others, please, if you're concerned about anything these people do, ask them the question. If you want clarification about what they are saying, request they tell you more. If you're only mildly inquisitive even, order them to reply to you anyway.

It's the only way that they will ever start to think about ceasing the waterfall of outrageous lies they throw your way.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

London 2012: An Anthem

On the eve of the glorious London 2012 OlympicsTM©, so kindly given to us for nine billion of our tax pounds by our benevolent government, here is an anthem with which to greet the world as they converge on our fair nation.

I present The Beer Olympics, a thing of beauty crafted by The Lancashire Hotpots for the cost of go faster stripes on a Ford Focus and a slap up breakfast at Fat Boys' caff.

From the album A Hard Day's Pint featuring other classic tracks including Lets's Get Leathered, The Barmaid's Baps, and The Girl From Bargain Booze.

Righteous Advisory Warning: Not safe for those of a joy-challenged disposition.

H/T That there red-topped Nat

Voices We Should Safely Ignore

I've counted to ten so many times with this guy recently. Lord knows I've tried but, Jamie Oliver, please stop with this stuff already.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has criticised sports stars David Beckham and Gary Lineker for promoting junk food.

The television presenter, who forced the Government to introduce nutrition rules in schools after highlighting the unhealthy meals served to pupils, has added his name to a letter which condemns the use of athletes in commercials.
Look, guys and gals, "television presenter" are the operative words here. Say it was "London Black Cab driver", what would be your reaction? Shut your trap? Couldn't agree with you more.

Especially since the country won't even listen to them on the subject of transport in London, yes. Perish the thought, eh?

So why is anyone listening to someone who has such a loose link with his subject matter, and seriously believes that the young will die before their parents because of a few cans of coke or a Big Mac here and there. The man is quite insane, or at the very least a bit of an easily-conned dick.
The letter, published in the Times, reads: 'On the eve of the London Olympics we, a group with a vested interest in improving the health and wellbeing of young people, express our grave concern about this trend.'
Well, we know what Jamie's vested interest is, don't we? It's shifted thousands of books via a TV series, and got him over to the US for another version ... where they told him to poke his mockney nose where the sun don't shine.

And why not? Because as others have mentioned, Jamie's brand of holier-than-thou is nothing more than self-aggrandising snobbery.

I mean, let's talk about Oliver's pristine credentials, shall we? This is the guy who is absolutely certain that he doesn't want things banned. Oh no, billy-oh.
A spokesman for Jamie Oliver, who has championed improved nutrition in schools, said: 'He is completely against a ban on butter. He uses butter in his recipes, for example for roasting potatoes in his Christmas programme.

'He doesn't like the whole kind of food police, we must ban everything, point of view.'
Course not, except when ... err, hold on, did that say "a spokesman for Jamie Oliver"? Good grief with bells on, that our sad bovine world has come to this.

I digress.

Course not, except when he is advocating a ban on butter ... for others who don't earn millions for their point of view, like he does.
School cooks are being told to stop using butter in sandwiches to help tackle childhood obesity.

They are being urged to use a reduced-fat spread or none at all as part of a tough nutrition regime coming into force today.

However, the directive – part of the school meals revolution demanded by Jamie Oliver – was greeted with shock and bemusement last night.
Nothing from the 'spokesman', but then it doesn't hurt Jamie's income, that one.
Other signatories to the letter are [...] and London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra.

Dr Malhotra, who has called for a ban on junk food sponsorship of the Olympics, said: 'It is totally perverse that some of the main sponsors of the greatest sporting spectacle in the world are McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.
It's also quite perverse that anyone takes an agenda-driven crank like Malhotra with any degree of seriousness.

This is the company Oliver keeps these days. The guy appears to be so malleable and credulous that I truly think he would believe that Screw Fix Direct is a dating agency if someone pranked him.
'The very lucrative financial gain for these athletes is sadly at the expense of our children’s health and we should not allow this to continue.'
Much of the very lucrative financial gain for Jamie Oliver is also sadly at the expense of everyone else except Jamie bastard Oliver!
'With celebrity status comes responsibility. So rather than helping to fuel this nation’s growing obesity crisis, these stars can play a key role in helping stem it.'
Hey, Jamie! With celebrity status also comes the responsibility to not be an over-bearing bore who forces one's opinions on the public who are very happy with Pepsi, McDonald's and other consumer products, thank you very much. It might not be the view in Hoxton where they name their kids after fairies, flowers and teddy bears, but in the real world your cash-trousering should have no effect on anyone else whatsoever. How arrogant that you think it should.

Yet one more example of how the public is sucked into a position where they feel it perfectly acceptable to interfere in the lives and choices of others. The producers being promoted are rich simply through the massive support they receive from the public. The celebrities advertising their products are entirely in keeping with the proper order of the world.

A letter from a collection of state-funded career prohibitionists, self-described vested interests, utter lunatics, and profit-chasing hypocrites like Jamie Oliver should be discarded as irrelevant, but you just know some airhead in Westminster will think it the most important thing he's ever seen.

Sadly, Oliver is one of the 1% of irritating dickheads that incessantly use their ill-gained influence to negatively affect the lives of the other 99% of us.

Hmmm. 1% controlling 99% for self-interest? I reckon there's a publicity angle there.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Nothing Is More 'Morally Wrong' Than Ignoring The Public

Seeing as one of government's thieves brought it up yesterday, let's talk about things which are "morally wrong", shall we?

This is happening in the US, but could equally apply to any westernised democracy (ha!) you might mention, including ours. New York's Mayor Bloomberg has initiated a law banning the sale of large soda drinks - plus, by the by, the use of the cups they are served in - and looks like making absolutely sure no public voice will be listened to if it objects.
Over the course of 11 years, since the unfortunate election of a man named Michael Bloomberg as Dear Leader of this city, we have learned through personal participation in the process that any hearing held on matters of alleged "public health" that seek to infringe upon the free choice of individuals to enjoy otherwise legal products by eliminating choice through force of law are nothing more than theatrical productions. The matter was decided the minute the idea entered Bloomberg's and his health police's (aka Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, aka hearing board members) heads.

The invitation to testify is motivated not by sought after genuine fairness but to create a perception of such. Where it's long held that government answers to the people a hearing should be "this is our idea, tell us what you think," instead of "this is what we're going to do, now convince us (ha ha) otherwise if you can."
Ring any bells?
There is no convincing men on a mission, like Commissioner Farley, of anything else when he ludicrously says, in order to support his position that this is any of goverment's business, that, "If a virus were killing 5,800 people this year, people would be clamoring for government action to stop it," as if an uninvited contagious disease ("virus") is comparable to a beverage choice by personal invitation.

Dropping off written comments strictly for the record and then snubbing this sham of a "hearing" would have a greater impact than attending in some tremendously blind misguided belief that anything said there will make one bit of difference. Especially now, in light of the fact that yesterday Bloomberg vindicated C.L.A.S.H.'s position by snorting, when asked what he thinks of the protests, "Nobody's going to stop this."
It's the modern way, unfortunately.

The state and its hired goons will happily take every penny possible from you; spend it on whatever lunacy enters their tiny minds on a whim; and then spend even more denying you any way of raising your concerns.

"Morally wrong"? There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more morally wrong with the world than governments which have deliberately and systematically manoeuvred themselves into a position of immunity from criticism and censure by their electorate.

Pass those laws, fuckers, just don't expect them to be respected or anyone to believe you are acting 'democratically' unless you start listening to those who disagree with you (forlorn hope, I know). That façade collapsed years ago.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

There IS Another Way

My, didn't David Gauke kick off a bit of a storm today?
Treasury minister David Gauke has said it is "morally wrong" to pay tradesmen such as plumbers, builders and cleaners in cash in the hope of avoiding tax.
The Devil's henchman, Counting Cats's SAoT and - with a terrific rant - Raedwald all pointed out the laughable situation where a politician can be so arrogant as to lecture us on morals. So there's not really much left to say.

Except ...
"Getting a discount with your plumber by paying cash in hand is something that is a big cost to the Revenue and means others have to pay more in tax."
Doesn't this perfectly exhibit the permanently closed mind of the modern MP? That their receipts being lessened automatically means that someone else has to pay more.

Here's an idea. How about - because, you see, we're all being told that we should live within financial constraints during a recession - how about, just for a fucking change, you spend less of our money rather than insisting others pay even more tax to prop up your monumentally disastrous waste?

The thought never entered the idiot's head, did it?

So addicted to our cash are these cretins; so accustomed to having their thieving fingers thrust into every conceivable transaction between any of us; so pompously 'entitled' to ripping us off hourly in umpteen different ways, that they can't contemplate living with the cash they do collect without putting the frighteners on someone else to replace what escapes them.

Morals? When government thieves from the dead, and still screws the country by spending what they haven't got, how on Earth can this guy speak of morals?

If You Disagree, You Will Be Silenced

The tobacco control industry, pictured recently

If there is one very beneficial aspect of the ongoing plain packaging consultation, it is how the dictatorial nature of the tobacco control industry has been laid more bare than ever before.

They've never really been happy with the whole 'impartial debate' thing, hence why they engineered a situation whereby their untruths and misdirection are not allowed to be challenged by their opponents. However, they are now intent on erasing any objecting voices, including the public themselves ... during a 'public' consultation, no less.

In short. They're quite happy to help themselves to your taxes, but will do everything in their power to silence your democratic rights unless you agree with them.

There were signs of this ploy when 25,000 responses to the tobacco display ban consultation were made to vanish while others generated the same way but for the proposal were allowed, and it looks like our spoiled tax-sponging brats are gearing up to pull the same disgusting trick again with plain packaging.
The tobacco industry and its affiliates have stepped up their lobbying in the United Kingdom against proposals to introduce standardised plain packaging on cigarettes and other tobacco products, say health campaigners and industry observers.

The rise in campaigning against plain packaging since the Department of Health launched its consultation in April has been “massive,” said Andrew Rowell, a research fellow at the University of Bath. He added, “There has been a huge amount of lobbying by industry, both direct and indirect. It is reaching a crescendo to coincide with the end of the consultation.”
I put this into Google Translate and it came up with the following.
"Our opponents are conducting a very effective campaign. As such, there are far too many people rightly complaining that plain packaging is a silly idea, and submitting their objections to the consultation, so we're going to try to convince the Department of Health that they should be ignored as tobacco stooges. All of them."
How else can you take such a petulant stance as being surprised that an opposing lobby have - shock, horror! - constructed a campaign to coincide with the end of the consultation it was designed to address?

The rest of the article - kindly sent to me by my trusty university-based fellow jewel robber - goes on to detail how the Hands Off Our Packs campaign has been deliberately disagreeing with tobacco control's finest. How very dare they!

It also suggests that a similar Tobacco Retailers' Alliance campaign forced 30,000 retailers to sign postcards in objection and send them off to the Department of Health. They didn't want to, of course, it was the tobacco companies and their baseball bats that made 'em, see?

Most jaw-droppingly hypocritical, though, was pointing an outraged finger at JTI who have committed the heinous offence of disagreeing with a proposed law which would see their brands and logos stolen from them by government on the basis of quite pathetic 'evidence'.

There is, naturally, no mention anywhere in the BMJ document of the huge amounts of taxpayer cash thrown at lobbying government - by organisations who have no business doing so - with a campaign of quite astounding mendacity in favour of the daft idea. No mention, either, of the hundreds of thousands (probably more) being committed by Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, or any of the hundreds of other PCTs and NHS trusts to bully the DoH into letting them have their own selfish (and ill-informed) way.

They can spend what they like, you see. The other side shouldn't be allowed to even speak!

So, not content with rigging the consultation, as well as rigging the evidence for the consultation, despite there being no evidence at all, a fact that the RPC pointed out in the impact assessment, the massed babies of tobacco control are now throwing an almighty tantrum in an attempt to sway the Department of Health into ignoring any responses which don't wildly endorse the implementation of plain packaging.

Err, didn't we used to laugh uneasily at such tactics being employed by totalitarian regimes in the USSR, Cuba, East Germany etc?

Time will tell if these odious methods will be successful, but if the DoH does indeed try to airbrush out huge numbers of responses, serious questions will need to be asked about the people entrusted to handle their public consultations.

And on the bright side, tobacco control must be very worried at the strength of feeling against their pathetic plan if they have decided to sink to such obscene depths with over a fortnight left before the consultation closes.

If you haven't yet given them the finger, you can do easily here or by submitting a personal response to the Department of Health here by August 10th (my own little guide is here).

H/T Mag01

Monday, 23 July 2012

Proud Of Yourselves, Tobacco Control Industry?

I bring you incredible news, so brace yourself!

A report from The Wirral appears to suggest that anti-smoking lunatics might not have the best interests of the public at heart after all!
A PENSIONER went back to smoking after his fake cigarette saw him kicked out of pubs and slung off buses.

Bert Wright from Irby managed to kick his 56-year-habit by using an ‘electronic cigarette’.

But after being asked to leave public transport and public houses because of the vapour emitted from the gadget, he reached breaking point and bought a packet of cigarettes.
Yes, I was ragging you with the intro. anti-smoking lunatics have never had the best interests of the public anywhere remotely near their miserable minds.

Of course, we all know where this hysteria came from and who encouraged it, don't we (in fact, the Ashtray blog carries a very good item on the subject today)? Because e-cigs don't fit in with the pre-planned - pharmaceutical - solution the tobacco control industry has laid out, there's no appetite to educate the public in harm reduction alternatives. There's no money in it for the biggest loudmouths, you see.

And this is the deeply dangerous aspect of tobacco control. Their ethos of advocating 'quit or die' over more realistic methods of shifting away from smoking - mostly due to the debt they owe to pharmaceutical funders - is causing damage which they don't seem to be in any rush to fix.

It's written throughout all their policies too. Their modus operandi relies on demonising smokers and tobacco companies however destructive such a pathetic approach turns out to be, as ruthlessly highlighted by the wicked EU ban on snus.

Stubborn intransigence on snus has been estimated to be costing 200,000 European lives every year so tobacco control can keep their snouts in the trough - up to 49,000 per year in the UK according to another study - yet the global tobacco control juggernaut still refuses to change course.

I was going to express a view of how appalling this is, but Snowdon has done it already.
History will not look favourably on the dangerous idiots who banned snus in the EU - especially those who still support the prohibition now that the facts are clear. There were rational voices thirty years ago which went unheeded.

One of Russell's co-authors for the Lancet letter was Martin Jarvis. Today, Jarvis is a trustee of ASH. ASH is truculent, devious and unreliable on almost every matter on which they claim to have expertise. None of their pronouncements of the last fifteen years has not involved at least a half-lie, but their failure to speak out against the EU ban adds cowardice, hypocrisy and gross negligence to the charge sheet.
Quite. On this evidence, we may have to wait another thirty years before ASH and their equally disgraceful chums pull their heads out of their state-paid arses and start getting e-cigs - a viable alternative to smoking - accepted by government and the public they claim to be 'protecting'.

In the meantime, Bert Wright of Irby is just another statistic to add to the long list of people disgustingly let down by the self-serving tobacco control industry.

Mascot Watch 18: "Rebel, Rebel" Edition

"Sorry, but I ain't having that!"

I don't know whether to be proud or disappointed.

Our esteemed mascot was on BBC Radio 4 last night defending his record of rebelling against the government on numerous occasions. But he only came in at number three of coalition MPs! For shame. We strive for excellence here!

Quips aside, it's incredibly refreshing to hear one of our elected rabble saying that he does/did "what I genuinely thought was the right thing to do", however unpalatable that may be to the idiots we have running the Westminster agenda. Precisely the reason we found it so easy to vote him the Spectator's Reader's Choice Parliamentarian of the Year, eh?

In discussion with Labour MP Jeremey Corbyn, our Phil managed to squeeze the little nugget in that boundary changes could lead to honest and proper-thinking MPs like himself being cut out of parliament altogether.

It's a 15 minute slot conducted in a non-confrontational - and sometimes humourous - manner so well worth a listen. Especially since our top geezer gave up part of his Sunday night to do it.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A Gold Medal In Misery For Mike Daube

The eagle-eyed NannyingTyrants has spotted former ASH UK Director, Mike "slippery slope is my living" Daube, further exhibiting the latest creep of the tobacco template. This time, with a joy-vaccuumed article on Olympics sponsorship.

Reading it, you could be forgiven for thinking that the overwhelming enjoyment of popular consumer products has ceased to exist.
What does the Olympics stand for: is it the inspiration for a healthier, sportier community? Or is it just another way to sell junk food and booze to an ever-fatter, ever-drunker population of couch potatoes?
Yes, it's one of those type of articles. Dripping in archetypal public health wild exaggeration and miserabilism, and - of course - as many references to children that it is possible to crowbar into the word count.
Nobody could doubt that kids as well as adults are being targeted – Coca Cola’s own marketing materials include activities and competitions for children, alongside promotions that make full and creative use of social media.
Drinks that children enjoy - and are able to buy legally - being advertised to the kids who drink them? Quelle horreur!
Both [Cadbury and Trebor] are already promoting their association with the Olympics through marketing materials, such as the Cadbury Australia “Cadbury Catch Up at the Olympics” competition.

All this at a time when obesity is one of our most pressing public health threats. More than 60% of adults and a quarter of our children are overweight or obese.
Err, our children, Mike? When did the public health industry purchase them?
Heineken UK is the “official lager supplier and sponsor of London 2012”. Heineken is also active in all media, including online,and through massive outdoor displays that will presumably be magically invisible to children.
Marvellous veiled straw man there. They're not invisible to children because we (currently) assume them to be clever enough to understand that the ads are not directed at them. Their being banned by law from buying the stuff may give them a clue. Plus, an ad exec would be rather stupid, anyway, to commit resources at an age group which isn't able to reciprocate by, you know, spending money on their products.

Still, it helps crank up the emotional blackmail, which is the entire point of the article. And also a major plank in Mike's determination to waste his precious time on this Earth preaching doom and death to a largely happy public.
Why would the IOC not want to protect children and young people from exposure to promotion for beer and wine as well as for spirits and other alcoholic products?
Probably because the IOC - unlike Mike - doesn't get paid for advancing bans on ads for products which people like to buy.
If previous Olympic Games are a precedent, media coverage of the Olympics will be associated with a tsunami of direct and indirect promotion for junk food and alcohol.
A 'tsunami'? Laying the terminology a bit thick by comparing mostly benign products with natural disasters which instantly slaughter innocents, isn't he? Perhaps something to remember next time his kind object to the 'health nazis' tag for being a hideous parallel to draw.

Oh yeah, and did he mention the word 'precedent'?
By the time the next Olympics come around, perhaps the IOC will have taken a more responsible approach to promotion of its wonderful product, and will consign all association of sporting success with alcohol and junk food to the promotional graveyard where tobacco sponsorship now resides.
I do believe Mike is invoking a precedent here. Or I would do, except that current ASH UK Director, Debs Arnott, insists that there cannot possibly be one for banning advertising of alcohol. So, former ASH UK Director Mike must be just pulling our leg. Right?

Still, even if the public would de deprived and the Olympics would be massively poorer, I suppose Mike would be blissfully happy if the companies involved were to voluntarily remove their association with the games, yes?

Probably not, no. You see, this BBC article contains a telling quote which tells you everything you need to know about the tedious depression-peddlers who plague 21st century life.
Last year, ministers launched a responsibility deal which involved a series of pledges by drink firms as well as supermarkets and food producers about how they would make their products healthier and act more responsibly.

But committee chairman Stephen Dorrell said the industry should not receive credit for this as it was their "civic duty" to act responsibly.
And this is the impasse we are faced with. The tobacco template doesn't have a clause in it about industry 'doing their bit'. The only thing they are supposed to do is to succumb to pathetic sad-sacks like Mike and be demonised into pariah status. They don't want us to drink less, they want us to stop drinking full stop. They don't want McDonald's to be more 'responsible', they want them to cease to exist. The whole exercise relies on painting drinks, food, and chocolate suppliers - along with every other popular producer - as evil and not to be listened to.

They don't want the public to enjoy what the public likes to enjoy. Instead, they wish us all to have a miserable life while Mike and his pals get paid handsomely out of our taxes for burbling this shit.

In such circumstances, these businesses should have only one goal in life, and that is to make the lives of people like Mike as miserable as possible by not backing down. Appeasement, as we have seen, simply encourages them, so best to not even consider it. In fact, industries concerned should be getting in the faces of public health bores like Mike and fighting them as sternly and dirtily as is humanly possible.

They would have the overwhelming support of the sane majority, too. We're heartily sick of boring, whey-faced, turgid, finger-wagging, depressive, weapons grade misery-mongering chimps like Mike Daube.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Plain Packaging Advocates Can't Even Agree With Each Other!

A highly-observant fellow jewel robber sent me this document last week, a revealing part of which I tweeted here.

It is the latest of many progress reports from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS) and takes a while to plough through. It's worth it, though, not just for an insight into what these people are wasting our taxes on, but also for contravening idiotic claims being spouted by tobacco control in defence of the plain packs campaign.

Take this nonsense, for example, which we've already had a lot of fun with here.
Myth #7: It may be tobacco today but other consumer products will follow

FACT: Tobacco is not like any other product, it is the only legal consumer product on the market which is lethal when used as intended. That is why the UK and over 170 other governments have signed up to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which places legal obligations on governments to strictly regulate tobacco products. Plain packs for tobacco will not therefore set a precedent for other consumer products
Bzzz. Objection.

Not really confirmed by the UKCTCS. You see, they're actively working to set up as many precedents as they possibly can.
FP31 - Application of tobacco control experience to alcohol and food: In progress: Funding secured to develop independent alcohol strategy for the UK, building on tobacco control lessons; group of tobacco and alcohol researchers (including UKCTCS members), advocates and clinicians is developing the strategy for publication late 2012.
Presumably why we've seen many examples of tobacco control tactics transferred to alcohol recently, and also signs of the same for certain foods.

UKCTCS also make a mockery of Deborah Arnott's February claim - with fingers firmly crossed behind her back, one must assume - that plain packaging won't set a precedent for the same in other areas.
"[...] The “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false. The same argument was used against the ban on tobacco advertising, but 9 years after the tobacco ban in the UK, alcohol advertising is still permitted with no sign of it being prohibited."
Perhaps she should be networking more with the UKCTCS, then. Because they disagree vehemently.
FP44 - Continue research and advocacy work to ensure maximal representation of effective tobacco control measures in government policy and NHS service provision. Continue to expand our work into prevention of harmful use of alcohol, and obesity prevention.


(5) Provided input to alcohol policy through working with the Alcohol Health Alliance and Alcohol Focus Scotland in particular to make the case for minimum unit pricing of alcohol and restrictions on alcohol promotion.
Here's the current position of the AHA on 'alcohol promotion', which Alcohol Focus Scotland are presumably happy with.
Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), said extreme measures were required to "reset society's norms" and protect children from marketing messages which glamorise drinking and fuel excess consumption.

He said: "We know that young people are heavily affected by advertising and marketing. The evidence shows that when children are exposed to adverts they tend to drink at an earlier age, to drink more, and are more likely to end up developing a problem with alcohol in later life."
Revealing, huh?

You see, throughout the whole plain packs campaign Debs and her pals have been absolutely certain that packaging is a form of advertising and marketing, 'the most ubiquitous', in fact. Specifically to children, too. They have been in no doubt.

So here are the UKCTCS advising the AHA and others how to go about banning advertising and marketing of alcohol products, which presumably must include the packaging.

Either tobacco control is advising anti-alcohol campaigners how to ban marketing to kids - which includes colours and branding according to Arnott et al, and therefore rubbishes her 'no domino effect' claim - or they're not including colours and branding for alcohol, which rubbishes the plain packs campaign's claim that they are a form of advertising/marketing and should be banned. For the children.

Isn't it fun seeing so many state-funded lobbyists treading on each other's toes, eh?

More Risk, Less Danger

As an example of media and government's penchant for pumping out scare stories, and the public's unquenchable thirst for sucking it all in, the high billing of today's "government blasted on road deaths" story is from the top drawer.
The government has been criticised for a lack of leadership after the first increase in road deaths for nearly a decade.
The tone of the article was a surprise to me because this news pinged into my inbox on the 10th, and seemed to be a pretty unremarkable set of stats. Indeed, it was only prioritised as 7th article of 12 in my regular VOSA bulletin.

Here's how it looks in a graph produced by the ONS.

OK, so it's a blip, yes. However, as the report itself points out, once road conditions are taken into account, there's really not a lot to see here.
Adverse weather (heavy snow falls) experienced in the first and last quarters of 2010 but not in 2011 are likely to be a factor in the increase in serious road casualties and fatalities recorded in 2011.
Or, to put it another way, unusually cautious driving during those periods - plus the least confident not taking to the road at all - led to a bigger fall in deaths for 2010 than would have otherwise been the case.

Sadly, as has become customary, the usual groups have taken this opportunity to call for more road schemes, interventions and - of course - money (cuts were inevitably mentioned by implication as a blame factor), and MPs are puffing their chests out and declaring that "something must be done".

It's the ministerial and single issue version of empire-building; the Westminster equivalent of trying to look busy instead of being caught shuffling paper clips around the desk through lack of work (when most of the time, it would be preferable if they just stuck to the paper clips).

In reality, these figures merely lend further credence to the theory that making drivers take more notice of what is around them is a far better road safety approach than convincing them that they needn't worry because government has their back and is eradicating all risk.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

More Plain Packs Campaign Stupid

'Facepalm' and 'muppets' spring to mind

In the desperate search for any old tripe to hide the fact that there is, quite simply, no evidence in favour of plain packaging, Cancer Research UK today tweeted this.
Why do people choose particular tobacco brands? It’s not just the cigarette, so end the ‪#packetracket‬! ‪#justsayin‬
Coupled with this 1990s quote, presumably from a tobacco company employee (I'm giving the benefit of the doubt, because Lord have mercy on their sanity if they really have chosen a quote from Stanton 'wibble' Glantz).
"In other words, the product itself is only one element that contributes to the consumer's decision to buy a particular cigarette"
Ain't that a body blow for those of us opposed to plain packaging, eh? A right bombshell, and no mistake! It's check mate with bells on, so it is.

Unless, of course, you're not an easily-gulled tobacco control groupie with little grasp of nuances in the English language. Because all the unthinking drones who robotically retweeted this were kindly making the tobacco industry's case for them.

The clue is in the word "particular", see?

I know CRUK's faithful lapdogs won't understand this, but any business - and tobacco companies are just like any other - attempts to distinguish itself from its rivals so that you buy their product rather than someone else's. It's called competition.

The tobacco industry has said all along that their branding and logos are designed specifically for this purpose, that is to buy their 'particular' (see how the word works?) brands rather than those of their competitors. It's a major plank of their defence against the government's barking mad plan, for heaven's sake!

You know what I think happened? I think CRUK believe their supporters are so very stupid that they aren't able to recognise the difference between consumers choosing a 'particular' brand over another, and choosing cigarettes over not choosing cigarettes.

CRUK were correct. They fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Sadly for CRUK and the wider tobacco control industry, this still isn't any evidence to prove that people start buying tobacco products because of the branding, which is kinda the point, isn't it?

I'm beginning to wonder if we will ever see anything more than water-muddying and dancing around the tricky questions from the plain packs campaign. Well, that and incompetence, of course.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Do As We Say, Not As We Do

It was nagging at me, but thanks to a fellow blogger, we can close the file on something which had been baffling about a Telegraph article I referred to on Sunday.

Specifically. This part.
During hearings, MPs were sceptical about examples given by the drinks industry of progress made since the deal, such as plans by one company to reduce the strength of a premium lager by 0.2 per cent.

MPs said a person would need to drink 25 pints before the change made any impact to the number of units that they drank.
This is by far the most baffling stanza in the whole piece. 25 pints? Why 25 pints? However much I play around with this, there is no reference point, they may as well say reducing by 0.2% won't do anything to help paint Emperor penguins blue by 2015.
The Pub Curmudgeon, knowledgeable stick that he is, has at least identified the brand in question, along with his customary sane commentary.
One point they make is that reducing the strength of some premium lagers by 0.2% ABV is no more than a token gesture. Maybe it is, but in a competitive market there must come a point when such strength reductions start to encounter consumer resistance, especially if not everyone moves at once.

I’m not normally a buyer of the mainstream premium lagers, but I wonder whether even now there is an effect of some customers rejecting 4.8% Stella in favour of competitors like Heineken that are still the full 5%, or even the 5.6% Polish brews like Tyskie and Zywiec.
So, it's Stella, is it? It figures. The scapegoat for everything anti-drink campaigners hate.

Strong. Successful. Popular. And like McDonald's is to food snobs, singled out by the generally left of centre public health industry for scaremongery in their drive to raise government funding for their next exclusive Caribbean holiday, while simultaneously shitting on the working class folk who quite enjoy drinking the stuff.

Stella, being corporates who still believe appeasement will work with these self-shilling frauds, reduce the strength to below 5% and get hammered for it anyway. "It's pathetic", they cry!

But the Curmudgeon is correct in saying that they have already gone beyond the call of duty by exposing themselves to market losses. If the alcohol control industry were not so hideously self-indulgent, manufacturers of Stella should have been congratulated rather than ridiculed.

After all, public health - of all people - should know that acceptance by the public comes very gradually. There is no way in the world that ASH would have driven through a smoking ban in pubs in, say, 1998. They knew that very well, which is why their Director at the time denied it as vehemently as he could muster.
Clive Bates, director of anti-smoking group ASH, said: "This is a scaremongering story by a tobacco industry front group.

"No-one is seriously talking about a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants."
At that point in history, they knew they would risk turning the whole pub-going population against them for good if they admitted their true agenda. So they decided instead to pare off little salami slices until their lies were embedded more firmly.

With that in mind, you could call Stella's approach - an inoffensive 0.2% slice from their ABV - entirely in keeping with previous public health methodology. If Stella are to be criticised for their lack of action, so should ASH be condemned for their utter cowardice in 1998.

But the game has changed, as Deborah Arnott helpfully - and stupidly - revealed in the Guardian in 2006.
First, frame the argument. For years, action on smoking in public places was mired in discussion about the claimed "freedom" and "rights" of smokers, and the need for "voluntary" shifts towards compromise solutions, particularly in pubs, restaurants and clubs. We changed the terms of the debate to health and safety at work. We argued that secondhand smoke is a killer
There you have it. The 'argument' for reducing alcohol harm has now been 'framed' in the same way.

"Freedom" and "rights" of drinkers are no longer considered. Small steps which were once a ploy of anti-smokers are now not acceptable for drinks manufacturers to copy.

Whereas ASH were rightly cautious, the same approach by the makers of Stella is condemned as being derisory.

The "terms of the debate" have changed, and drink is from now on to be deemed "a killer", with no baby steps or salami slices allowed by the hypocrites of public health. The tobacco template is not so much being followed, as being done so at a world record sprint.

At this rate, the tobacco industry's 40 year demise is going to look like it was filmed in super slo-mo compared with the swift dagger to the heart alcohol is going to suffer unless they start fighting back properly. And Soon.

The World Watches, But Might Not Be Impressed

Considering we're talking about Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul McCartney here, this story has flown around the world.
[E-Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt] said: "One of the great gigs ever in my opinion. But seriously, when did England become a police state? Is there just too much fun in the world? We would have been off by 11 if we'd done one more. On a Saturday night! Who were we disturbing?"
Maybe the Olympics could leave a very useful legacy, after all. The pathetic state of risk and offence-terrified, jobsworth, authoritarian, and utterly joyless Britain is beginning to be noticed.

Personally, I hope there are many more examples like this in the coming weeks. If our own bovine public can't be bothered to get these people off our backs, we'll just have to hope that international embarrassment and ridicule might do the job instead.

Well, you never know.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Another Sunday, Another Department Of Health Stitch-Up

I suppose it wouldn't be Sunday without some form prohibitionist effluence being thrown in our general direction to ruin the relaxation, and it wouldn't be the prohibition industry if they weren't still sticking to their tobacco template.
The alcohol industry is in the "last chance saloon" and should face heavier regulation if it does not take action to discourage dangerous drinking, a report by MPs will warn.
Is that a threat? Of course it is. Exactly the same threat used by the tobacco control industry in 2007. "Do everything we demand, or we'll come at you with the might of taxpayer funds poor saps unknowingly gave to us for the purpose".

Despite foolishly playing the appeasement game, the drinks industry have patently failed to halt the production lines, sack their entire staff, close up shop and hand the keys to Barratt so they can build affordable homes on the land.

Nothing short of this was ever going to be acceptable to unproductive, tax-leeching career nags - you know, the type whose BMW 5 series has a sticker in the back window saying "my other car is a broom" - because, you see, they're the ones 'advising' MPs with a such a sorry grasp of reality that they believe someone whose bank balance depends on ever increasing regulation.

There are some corkers in the Telegraph article, and it starts from para 2 with the biggest lie sold to the public in recent years.
MPs will say that a "Responsibility Deal" agreed between the Coalition and the food and drink industry has not curbed the excesses of the industry, which has done little to reduce discounted drinking which means beer can be bought more cheaply than water.
See links above for why this is quite demonstrably untrue on a plethora of different levels, but still it gets trotted out.

If this is the kind of casual lying the state is happy to indulge in for consumer goods with which the public is very familiar, the mind boggles as to the huge whoppers they must be telling us daily on matters which are more complicated. On this evidence, there is - quite simply - nothing at all we should believe from anyone who has anything to do with Westminster. Not a word. If government tell you that it's Tuesday, check the calendar. And if that still tells you it's Tuesday, take the calendar back to the shop and ask for a refund as you've been sold a shoddy rip-off from Hong Kong.

Remember the alcohol cheaper than water lie, by the way, because it will be relevant later on.
The Commons health select committee is expected to call for a statutory price limit for alcohol, at between 40 pence and 50 pence a unit.
Because they're fucking idiots and they hate the poor. It's all too predictable, isn't it?
The inquiry is expected to call for major changes to tackle Britain's culture of binge drinking, and to persuade those who regularly drink more than recommended limits to cut down.
By 'cut down', they mean stop entirely and go teetotal. Because, as Snowdon points out today yet again, the limits are quite ludicrous.
"Binge drinking" is defined as having more than 6 units for a woman and more than 8 units for a man on one or more occasions in a week, ie. four or more average drinks in an evening would do the trick for both genders. That is not "binge drinking", that is "drinking".
Or, for a wider weekly view, here's my take on it from 2010.
General Household Survey data from 2006 show that 31 per cent. of men are drinking hazardously, consuming more than 21 units per week
So, drink more than 8 cans of Stella per week, for example, and you must be tackled. You're hazardous.
With such paltry 'limits', set by government's temperance pals remember, there will never be a time when you are behaving as the government wishes you to. This hectoring will end only when the four horsemen come galloping up to claim your soul for eternity. Even then, the BMA's Vivienne Nathanson will probably still be wagging her finger as they sweep her up and throw her into the abyss.
During hearings, MPs were sceptical about examples given by the drinks industry of progress made since the deal, such as plans by one company to reduce the strength of a premium lager by 0.2 per cent.

MPs said a person would need to drink 25 pints before the change made any impact to the number of units that they drank.
This is by far the most baffling stanza in the whole piece. 25 pints? Why 25 pints? However much I play around with this, there is no reference point, they may as well say reducing by 0.2% won't do anything to help paint Emperor penguins blue by 2015.

And if we are fiddling around with small amounts of alcohol and playing the dick-waggling game, why does this belong in the same article as one which pumps out the old lie of getting drunk on lager which is cheaper than water?
Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted something about the own-brand lager—it is piss-weak (2% ABV). Frankly, you might as well drink the water. 4 cans of this stuff equates to about a can and a half of Stella. Hardly enough to get "drunk for £1"
These hideous freaks work exclusively on canards. While we have Sarah Wollaston lying about the cost to moderate drinkers of minimum pricing - which is only apparently £12 per year but will save over 2,000 deaths - small margins the other way are dismissed as useless.

No. The only response to a non-existent problem is whatever government have paid their stooges for, coupled with a steady withdrawal of alcohol companies from the UK market.

There is, after all, no safe level of alcohol consumption and, as such, someday the government will have to declare that the drinks industry is not welcome.

Perhaps some dangerously hypnotised fuckwit might term it something like this.
"We don't want to work in partnership with the drinks companies because we are trying to arrive at a point where they have no business in this country,"
Still, we're not at that point just yet. Because, you see, there is no precedent for ridiculous hysteria in one area to seep into another. We know this thanks to those fine, upstanding, honest people in the tobacco control industry.
The “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false. The same argument was used against the ban on tobacco advertising, but 9 years after the tobacco ban in the UK, alcohol advertising is still permitted with no sign of it being prohibited."
Deborah Arnott said that in February, and she's "an 'expert', Dave". So this part of today's article is quite obviously a fabrication.
In evidence submitted to the inquiry, 30 leading medical bodies and charities also called for a total ban on advertising for alcohol on television.

The groups said Britain's "alcohol problem" has become so entrenched that drastic action – which would also include an end to sponsorship of sporting events – is required to protect children and teenagers.
Worry not, though. Just let them have that, and minimum pricing, and early morning restriction orders, and late night levies, and pubs shutting at 10pm, and graphic warnings on alcohol, and plain packaging, and they might, just might shut up and allow us a relaxing beer of a weekend.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Herr Bartlett Still Delivering Top Comedy

Politics is truly a strange place sometimes.

Take the case of a certain Paul Bartlett, for example. Some of you may have heard of the barking mad berk before.

Well, he's had an emotional week, so he has.
FORMER councillor Paul Bartlett will retain his Alderman title after surviving a poll by Milton Keynes Council by a single vote to strip him of the honour.


Former Tory turned Independent councillor Mr Bartlett [...] hit the national headlines last year when he called for a bye-law to ban outdoor and indoor smoking in the town.
Yes, I vaguely remember reading something about that.
The controversial proposal helped fuel an alleged row with the landlady of the town’s Duke of Wellington pub, according to the Standards Committee.

The landlady claimed Mr Bartlett “bullied and harassed” her, made a highly offensive comment and threatened twice to get her pub closed down.

A further complaint came from a Stony Stratford art gallery, where the owner alleges she locked Mr Bartlett out of her premises because he was being offensive.

The Standards Committee found Mr Bartlett guilty of breaching conduct codes by swearing, shouting and abusing his position.
Car crash behaviour, I think you'll agree. Some might even consider it rather embarrassing for the town of Milton Keynes, therefore understandable that withdrawal of a bestowed honour should be considered. Right?
At the meeting, former council leader Councillor Cec Tallack said that many people didn’t like Mr Bartlett
Cllr Tallack is a master in the art of subtle understatement.
Members met on Wednesday night to discuss whether Mr Bartlett should be stripped of the honorary title of Alderman – the first time in history such a decision would have been made.
He is, err, unique, there's certainly no debate about that!
Councillors voted 17 in favour of Mr Bartlett losing his title, though 18 voted against, with 14 abstaining, meaning he will keep the title for now.
Phew. So close that I'm sure the guy will be contrite and shed that misplaced superiority complex now, eh?
“I feel vindicated,” he said on Thursday.
Or maybe not.
"I have missed out on job promotions, lost girlfriends, missed holidays and birthdays because of the work I put in as a councillor"
Look, I can just about buy the promotion thing - even for a guy who drives a clapped out non-emergency ambulance (I'm an optimist, at heart) - but ... girlfriends? You're stretching the imagination a tad there, snowflake.

Anyway, I digress.

Only in the weird and wonderful world of Herr Bartlett can abject failure, blanket disapproval, and public derision, followed by a squeaky bum one vote escape from an unprecedented stripping of stature be described as 'vindication'.

Someone should make a film about this guy, it'll have 'em rolling in the aisles!

H/T Misanthrope Girl

Link Tank 14/07

Is it raining? How unusual!

Just shut up about school meals

Music gets in your head and changes your brain

Bloomberg's daft law sees New Yorkers fined for drinking beer on their own property

McDonald's reveal how to make their Big Mac 'special sauce'

Did Olympics organisers fail to plan for London's rain?

Single men banned from Abu Dhabi beach areas

Alcohol prohibition not going too well in Iran

Approved and unapproved hate speech

The strategy, arguments and psychology of bans

Dinosaur porn

Friday, 13 July 2012

Modern Democracy, Eh? Grubby And Deceitful To The Core

When is a supporters page not a supporters page? When it carries a disclaimer, of course.
"These comments have been taken from the public domain and do not necessarily represent an endorsement of the Plain Packs Protect campaign."
How odd to have a page showing supporters of a campaign ... when those pictured can't be said to be actually endorsing it!

Oh yeah, and Andrew Lansley has disappeared too according to Jay in the comments.

What isn't clear is how long this deceit has been going on at the Plain Packs Protect website, because that's exactly what it was. It's quite fitting that a campaign to back a proposal based on shoddy evidence and manipulation of the truth has been itself exposed to have been deliberately disingenuous.

A government with scruples would take such underhand and dishonest behaviour into account when assessing consultation responses, but you can be sure that certain mandarins within the Department of Health will do their damnedest to sweep the campaign's devious methods under the carpet.

Be sure to read Tom Paine's conclusions as to what this whole farce says about how our modern "democracy" works.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Open Mind, Mr Lansley?

The government's line on plain packaging has always been that they are keeping an open mind on the idea. You know, waiting to see what comes out of the consultation. They've been very consistent about that.

Andrew Lansley, himself, could not have been clearer on the matter.
"Would plain packaging of the type you are demonstrating, would it offer a significant additional health benefit? At the moment actually our minds are open on this subject - mine too."
Strange, then, that he is listed amongst other enthusiastic supporters of the proposal on the Plain Packs Protect campaign site, eh?

Now, either Lansley is a liar or plain packs campaigners are trying to con the public into believing that the Secretary of State for Health - and thereby the government - are fully behind the plan.

So who is lying? The Plain Packs Protect Campaign, or Andrew Lansley? I think we should be told, don't you?

(by the way, Tory policy-former Oliver Letwin is listed too, which explains a lot)