Linklog entries in December 2013

Monday, 30 December 2013

Cable questions Hunt about safety concerns over sale of PRUK 

The government sold an 80% stake in Plasma Resources UK to Bain Capital back in June, despite warnings that this could jeopardise the UK’s supply of safe blood plasma.

Vince Cable has recently written to Jeremy Hunt at the Department of Health, saying:

Professor Holland and Dr Reynolds put to me the view that, with the involvement of a profit making company, there will now be increased risk of contamination. They fear this is a scandal waiting to happen and that it is NHS patients who will suffer in this worst of all possible outcomes. Obviously this is now after the event but I would nonetheless appreciate some personal reassurances from you on the security of the UK plasma supply following this sale.

It is indeed now after the event. If only politicians like Cable had submitted the public health implications of selling PRUK to real scrutiny before selling it. Dr Lucy Reynolds wrote extensively about the risks associated with selling PRUK. Lord David Owen wrote to David Cameron urging him to intervene to stop the sale.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

UKIP leader Nigel Farage calls for Syrian refugees to be allowed into the UK 

Nigel Farage said:

I think refugees are a very different thing to economic migration and I think this country should honour the 1951 declaration on refugee status that was agreed.

I think, actually, there is a responsibility on all of us in the free West to try and help some of those people fleeing Syria, literally in fear of their lives.

Great that Farage has taken this humanitarian stand and he should be applauded. It is also a sad indictment of Britain as a country that he is ahead of the government in taking it. A few weeks ago Amnesty International said that “European leaders should hang their heads in shame” over the pitifully low numbers of Syrian refugees they are prepared to resettle.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Dave Eggers explains why we should care about NSA revelations 

Most citizens would object to their government searching their homes without a warrant. If you were told that while you were at work, your government was coming into your home and rifling through without cause, you might be unsettled. You might even consider this a violation of your rights specifically and the Bill of Rights generally.

But what if your government, in its defence, said: “First of all, we’re searching everyone’s home, so you’re not being singled out. Second, we don’t connect your address to your name, so don’t worry about it. All we’re doing is searching every home in the United States, every day, without exception, and if we find something noteworthy, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, proceed as usual.”

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Russian parliament votes for amnesty for Arctic 30 

The Greenpeace activists who spent two months in jail after a peaceful protest in the Arctic have expressed relief after the Russian parliament voted to grant them amnesty. But they also declared: “There is no amnesty for the Arctic.”

Great news for the activists and two journalists and their families before Christmas.

Greenpeace’s campaign to Save the Arctic continues - calling for the Arctic to be made a global sanctuary, protected from off-shore drilling and destructive industry.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Government’s plan to finance extra student places by selling future student loans looks like a Ponzi scheme 

The Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) have released a report which questions the government’s plan to finance the expansion of student places (announced in the Autumn Statement) with sales first of the pre-2012 student loan book, and then post-2012 loans.

John Morgan reports for Times Higher Education:

The plan “has many of the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme, relying on diminishing future income to make good increasing present deficits”, Hepi says.

Martin Wolf best articulated the fundamental folly of the planned sell-off back in May:

No private party has a lower borrowing cost than the government, since the government is the most creditworthy entity in the country. So the value of the student loan book to the government, given its low discount rate, is higher than to any potential private buyer.

Wolf concluded that the student loan book was best left in government hands.

How will the government justify their plans to sell? Hopefully we’ll find out when David Willetts gives evidence to the BIS Select Committee in January.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Archbishop speaks up about the immigration policy dividing families 

Archbishop Vincent Nichols:

The new regulations make demands that are, in practice, very difficult to meet. One is that British spouses prove a disposable annual income of £18,600 if they want to sponsor a foreign spouse. This sum is well above the earnings of full-time workers receiving the national minimum wage, and research shows that it excludes up to 47% of Britain’s working population.

I should clarify that it’s not only for spouses. These rules apply for any partner.

Only the well-off are permitted to live here with whomever they choose to love.

The Archbishop also says that he was upset when he heard the heartbreaking stories of families divided by these new rules. I was too when I read through the stories collected by BritCits. Have a read. These inhumane rules need to be changed.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Friday, 6 December 2013

Daniel Bye sells his theatre show on eBay 

Daniel Bye is selling a performance of his show ‘The Price of Everything’ on eBay and uses this to discuss how we value art.

This feeds into the twitter debate under the hashtag #illshowyoumine kicked off by Bryony Kimmings’ blog You Show Me Yours - there is a good round-up of recent contributions to the discussion on A Younger Theatre.

From my experience in theatre the artist is the last person to be paid in the arts industry.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Violent policing of student protests 

Such events should be understood within a wider context. In the past two months, both the president and vice-president of ULU have been arrested

Students protesting at the University of London say that the police are “punching people indiscriminately”. I have also been told this directly by a trusted source who was horrified by what they saw.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013