Friday, January 06, 2006

In Other "News"

In the Times Notebook Mick Hume has a go at the detox industry ".. as leading scientists and clinicians ... pointed out this week, there is no real foundation to the detox industry’s claims. Despite their emphasis on "natural" treatments, the detox merchants seriously undersell the human body’s natural capacity to "detoxify" itself through our own organic gut, liver and kidneys...." Apropos the Jack Abramoff scandal, Gerard Baker writes about cash, corruption, charity and politics in the USA. "As Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, put it this week, US politics works as something like an incumbency protection racket. With the growth of the federal government in recent years, lawmakers have control over ever larger sums of money and ever greater influence over vast tracts of public life. At the same time, they have the essential task of ensuring they get re-elected. Fortunately these two responsibilities dovetail neatly into each other. By funnelling vast sums of public money to special interests in exchange for vast campaign contributions, they raise so much money that would-be opponents are scared off even before they can start." Scary stuff, I think we generally manage these things a bit better in Europe – but only a bit.

In the Guardian, Simon Jenkins is upbeat about the state and future of "upmarket newspapers" in the UK but irate over the cost and complexity of PCs. Like him I find it vexing that I want a machine to do a bit of word processing, a few difficult sums and to let me access the Internet yet I’ve had to buy a recording studio, a games machine and a film editing suite as well! (But my children enjoy the bits that leave a curmudgeon cold). Mark Lawson worries that 24 hour news broadcasting plays to our ghoulish tendancy. He concludes "the question that editors and audiences need to ask constantly is whether we are watching because we care or because we can. This week's events have strongly suggested that we need to cut back on our hospital visiting hours." What bothers me more are the rush to be first and ‘live’, the endless speculation before an event and the lack of analysis after.

In the Telegraph Tom Utley is enraged that he can’t blame Gordon Brown or the Government "for breaking the Utley family's central heating clock, or for the vicissitudes in the international gas market that have persuaded the suppliers to increase their prices". He is however convinced (although I’m not) that "the Government is almost entirely to blame .. for most of the other financial shocks awaiting families up and down the land in 2006." He grumpily concludes that "the Chancellor has had a very long wait for the keys to Number 10. It will serve him right if he takes possession of them at the very moment when the economy that he has abused for so long begins to collapse". Another triumph for hope over experience I think......

Please see my earlier post today for in depth (only teasing) analysis of the Kennedy and Galloway leadership issues....

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