Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Nazi salute?

The 1930's photo below is said to show the Duke of Windsor, a British Royal, giving the Nazi salute.  What rubbish!  Like a lot of elite Brits in the 30s he did see Hitler's achievements in reviving Germany as admirable but what appears below is just a Royal wave.  The Nazi salute is straight-armed.  It is true that the salute can be given carelessly in a variety of ways that are not straight-armed but that does not prove that this was a Nazi salute.  If it did, all sorts of casual waves would have to be regarded as Nazi.  Only if the Duke were found to be giving a straight-armed salute could the Nazi accusation stick

UPDATE: A good comment from a reader:

"I agree that the Duke of Windsor is not giving the Nazi salute. If it were a Nazi salute, the Duke would be giving it as a greeting to Der Fuehrer, and if that were so, then all the other Nazis present would be giving it as well. It's just a wave to the crowd."



Gov. Brown Signs Law Ending Personal, Religious Exemptions to School Vaccine Requirements

Libertarians don't like compulsory medical treatment of any kind but in this instance the importance of "herd immunity"  in protecting newborns makes a purely libertarian stance difficult to maintain.  And most anti-vaxxers are not libertarians.  They are just egotistical "We know better" claimants who pay no regard to the balance of the evidence on the matter

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed into law one of the nation’s strictest childhood vaccination requirements, approving a bill that generated multiple protests and controversy as it moved through the Legislature.

Senate Bill 277, authored by Sacramento pediatrician state Sen. Richard Pan and former Santa Monica-Malibu school board president state Sen. Ben Allen, eliminates parents’ ability to claim “personal belief” exemptions to schoolchildren’s vaccine requirements at both private and public schools in California.

Only medical exemptions, approved by a doctor, will be allowed under the law. A licensed physician will have to write a letter explaining the child’s medical circumstances that make immunization unsafe for that child.

Children who are not vaccinated must be home-schooled or participate in public school independent study. The law goes into effect July 1, 2016.

The bill was approved by the Assembly on a 46-31 vote Thursday; the amended version was approved by the state Senate, 24-14, Monday.

Brown acknowledged in a signing statement Tuesday that the bill had generated controversy, saying both sides expressed “their positions with eloquence and sincerity.”

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Brown said. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

Existing law allows unvaccinated children to attend school if their parents file a form claiming an exemption based personal beliefs — including religion. A law authored by Pan that went into effect in 2014 required that exemption-seeking parents talk to a health care provider about vaccination benefits and risks, or that they state their membership in a religion that prohibits them seeking medical care.

In fall of 2014, 2.54 percent of kindergarteners in California had personal belief exemptions on file, down from 3.15 percent the previous year, according to state data. Pan connected the drop in exemptions from 2013 to 2014 to the requirement that parents talk to licensed health care practitioner.

In 1998, only 0.77 percent of the state’s kindergarteners had a personal belief exemption, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The bill approved Tuesday by Brown was introduced after an outbreak of measles that began at Disneyland last year and sickened some 131 Californians. The legislation prompted protests by anti-vaccination parents, often clad in red.

Opponents include the group Californians for Vaccine Choice, whose members emphasize risks related to vaccination.

“The passage of any bill to repeal the personal belief exemption will create an even more hostile environment for California families who don’t agree with safety, efficacy, or necessity of every single dose of every single government mandated vaccine,” the group’s website states.

In a statement earlier this month, Dr. Pan said that the growth of opposition to vaccination was based in part on a now-retracted 1998 study that “falsified data to purport a link between autism and the measles vaccine.”

“Years of anti-science, anti-vaccine misinformation have taken its toll on immunization rates to the point that the public is now endanger,” Pan said in the statement.

Pan has emphasized “herd immunity” in many of his comments on the bill, saying that when immunization rates fall below 90 percent, those who cannot be vaccinated become at greater risk for infection, including infants and those with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated.

A report from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, released Tuesday, indicated that only 86 percent of the county’s kindergarteners were up to date with vaccinations in 2014, compared to 90 percent statewide.

The “West Service Planning Area” of the county — including largely wealthy areas such as Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica — had the highest rate of personal belief exemptions, 6.4 percent, the report indicated.



Donald Trump is winning BECAUSE he never says sorry


 ‘It is a good rule in life never to apologize,’ said the great English author P.G. Wodehouse. ‘The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.’

I think of this advice whenever I think about Donald Trump; a man for whom the words ‘I’m sorry’ are as unthinkable in his personal lexicon as ‘I surrender’ or ‘I’m broke’.

When Trump first entered the GOP candidate race, I predicted he would electrify the U.S. election and I warned his rivals they would underestimate him at their peril.

Here we are, four weeks later, and he’s topping the Republican polls.  Not just by a small margin, but by a gigantic Trump-ego-sized margin.  You can mock him, taunt him, berate him, but you can’t ignore him.

America is currently in the fevered grip of Trump mania and if you want to know why, then look no further than his point blank refusal to apologise to anyone for anything.

Every other politician, business leader or celebrity I know would have immediately, shame-facedly backtracked after he outrageously suggested that all Mexican illegal immigrants were ‘rapists’.

Not Trump.  Instead, he doubled-down on his comments, swiftly turned them into a wider national debate on the undeniably important issue of illegal immigration in the United States, and insisted he’d win the Latino vote at the election.

You don’t have to agree with him to recognise that this was a master-class in how to turn a potentially overwhelming, campaign-ending negative into a vote-winning positive.

Trump deployed the same tactic when he said Senator John McCain wasn’t a real war hero because he got captured. (Although he qualified this in the same sentence by saying he might be, he wasn’t sure…and then clearly said McCain WAS a hero, several times)

Daring to question the heroism of a man who by any yardstick is a true American war hero was an extraordinarily inflammatory thing to even imply.

I know John McCain well, and respect him enormously.  He once showed me the citation that hangs on his office wall in Washington, detailing his valour in Vietnam.  Tears filled his eyes as he recounted some of what happened to him.

There is no doubt; McCain was astoundingly brave, to his own physical and psychological detriment, and deserves every plaudit.

Trump, in my opinion, was wrong to doubt that heroism, and he probably knows it, which is why he corrected himself as soon as he’d said it.

But it was also wrong of McCain to say that Trump’s supporters are a bunch of ‘crazies’.  Trump sniped at him because McCain sniped first.

They used to be good friends. I know this because when I interviewed Trump for GQ just before the 2009 Election, he said: ‘I know John well, and I like him. We had dinner together recently.’

Now it’s open war between them, and I have to admit I’m rather enjoying it – as I suspect is every journalist in America.

After Trump’s comments, all hell predictably broke loose. He was condemned from all sides for his ‘outrageous’, ‘disgusting’ and ‘unpatriotic’ assault on America’s hero PoWs.  There were furious calls for him to quit the GOP race in disgrace.  He listened to them, and declined.

Politics is a rough old game and if you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the DC kitchen.

Trump is straight from the ‘smack ‘em in the eyeballs’ school of political fighting.  Not for him the niceties of polite to-ing and fro-ing, of calmly debating the issues and leaving it to the American people to decide who they like best.

The best-selling of Trump’s many best-selling books is entitled ‘Think Big And Kick Ass.’

This is a man with unshakable self-confidence and quite breath-taking bravado who takes a battering ram to every point he makes and every argument he has.

As McCain demands Trump apologises to every PoW veteran in America, Trump instead attacks McCain for letting down EVERY veteran, PoW or otherwise, in America with his supposed failed involvement in policies relating to the VA.

As with the Mexican immigrants ‘scandal’, Trump has switched the debate from an unacceptable, personally offensive quip to a far larger issue.  He’s done it by simply refusing to apologise.

And again, whether you agree with Trump or not, it’s hard not to admire his resolute strength and resilience under colossal fire.

America is crying out for leadership right now.  On the domestic and world stage, there’s a sense among many of the population that this once unassailable superpower is slipping behind.  President Obama is seen as weak in dealing with everyone from ISIS and Russia to China and OPEC.

Trump has tapped into that insecurity and nervousness by sounding ever more aggressive, dominant, and strong.

And it’s working. A lot of Americans love the way he speaks, behaves and takes his enemies down.  And they especially like the way he never says sorry. For anything.

That’s why he’s soaring in the polls, and that’s why I think he will continue to be a hugely significant presence in this GOP race.  Particularly as he has the wealth to go on as long as he chooses.

Whether he can win the GOP nomination or not remains to be seen, but I’d never bet against him.

I’m not an apologist for Trump, as some claim. Apart from anything else, if I were, he’d see that as weakness!

But I’ve known him a long time, I like the man personally, and it’s frankly a breath of fresh air in this ever more timid, turgid PC world of ours to see a political figure speak his mind, even at the risk of offending people, and brush off the inevitable indignant clamour for slavering apologies.

I’m sorry, but I’m glad Donald Trump never says sorry.



Bad news for a lot of old folk

Millions of Britons who take vitamin D and calcium pills to prevent bone thinning may be wasting their time, scientists warn today.  There is little evidence the supplements prevent fractures – and they may even cause harm through kidney complications and strokes.

Researchers say the benefits of the pills may have been hugely overplayed by their manufacturers. Around a third of men and just under half of women take supplements including vitamin D and calcium, and many get them on prescription from their GP.

The pills are thought to prevent osteoporosis, the bone-thinning condition that occurs in middle age which is particularly common in women after the menopause.

Calcium is a naturally occurring mineral which helps strengthen the bones while vitamin D is thought to help the body absorb it. But several major studies published in the last decade have found no evidence that adults taking these pills are any less likely to suffer bone fractures.

Researchers say most get enough calcium in their diets anyway, mainly from dairy products, while vitamin D may not actually help our bodies absorb it. In an editorial in the BMJ Open online journal, academics from New Zealand also highlight evidence that supplements increase the risk of strokes, kidney stones and heart attacks.

They say over-65s ‘should not have been recommended’ to take daily vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis under Government guidelines in the UK and elsewhere.

Professor Andrew Grey and Professor Mark Bolland, of the Department of Medicine in the University of Auckland, point out that evidence has emerged since 2002 that such supplements ‘do not reduce the risk of fracture and may result in harm’.

A separate BMJ Open article by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, calls for the public to be made aware of the ‘lack of evidence’ that vitamin D does them any good. They found the number of prescriptions for vitamin D in one East London health trust had increased ten-fold in the past five years.



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