“The Tories last year voted against a housing bill, right, this bill, it wasn’t asking much, it wasn’t attempting to turn Buckingham Palace into temporary housing for sex offenders. It was suggesting that private landlords have a legal obligation to ensure their properties are fit for human habitation. What sort of fucker votes against that? I wonder how many of the seventy Tory MPs, who are also private landlords, voted against that, including David Cameron? I’ll give you a clue: it was all of them!” Jonathan Pie, played by British actor Tom Walker, suggests that a healthy UK economy would need to do more than to create an environment in which only the wealthy do well.
“We must also tackle the scandal of the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research to produce treatments and vaccines, something they refuse to do because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don’t justify the investment. This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of an ethical and social framework.” Dr John Ashton asks us to respond to the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa as if it took place in Kensington, Chelsea, and Westminster.
Also see Face to face with Ebola, a report by Anja Wolz on working for Médecins sans Frontières in Sierra Leone.
“Shrouded in secrecy, our world leaders are currently negotiating a deal that will let multinational corporations wield power over national governments; lower environmental and safety standards across the EU; bring workers’ rights down to appalling US levels; and threaten the NHS as we know it.” Jim Sheridan expresses his concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its implications for the United Kingdom. Similar anxieties exist in Germany. Is Europe about to be sold down the river?
“In contrast to the easy cross-border flow of capital, commodities and profits, the Commission notes the lack of freedom for ordinary people to migrate in pursuit of a safe and secure life, and it deplores the plight of undocumented migrants who are denied essential health care in spite of international treaties that are supposed to guarantee universal rights and entitlements.” After correctly identifying the undemocratic and unequal distribution of power as an underlying cause of health inequities, David McCoy sees The Lancet-UiO Commission on Global Governance For Health Commissioners falling disappointingly short in its recommendations.
“What’s most momentous about the new biology of loneliness is that it offers concrete proof, obtained through the best empirical means, that the poets and bluesmen and movie directors who for centuries have deplored the ravages of lonesomeness on both body and soul were right all along.” Judith Shulevitz concludes that natural selecton favoured people who needed people.
“Ever since the tightening of security after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, scientists have worried that a scientific development would pit the need for safety against the need to share information. Now, it seems, that day has come.” Denise Grady and William Broad report on moves by the US government to effectively censor influenza research.
“Doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little.” Meanwhile, Ken Murray is determined to go gently into that good night.
“Evidence based cycling is not high on the bicycle salesman’s agenda. No one will tell you how much more efficient one bicycle is over another; they just say it is better.” Steel or carbon? Jeremy Groves buys a new bike in the hope of saving up to five minutes on his daily commute…
With thanks to Lutz Meißner
“Cameron’s government can be voted out but it will be virtually impossible to return services to a public realm that no longer exists. Ownership of the contracts and companies moves on, and the public sector loses any capacity to take them back.” Polly Toynbee casts doubt on public service reforms in the UK.
“Tom Dolphin, a member of the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee, backed the motion. He said he had previously described homeopathy as witchcraft, but now wanted to apologise to witches for making that link.” The British Medical Association calls for an effective end to the funding of homeopathic remedies by the NHS.
“25 years ago I read a newspaper article which said that one day syringes would be one of the major causes for the transmission of AIDS. I thought this was unacceptable so I decided to do something about it.” Marc Koska’s K1 syringe improves on an old design.
“The war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.”
“It would be unfortunate if the proliferation of ghost bikes frightened off nervous waverers, because there is quite a lot of evidence that the more cyclists there are, the safer cycling becomes. But if white bikes grab the attention of motorists, give them pause and remind them to take care, they will mark the past and help safeguard the future.” Geraldine Bedell reports on the phenomenon of the white bike reaching the UK.
Fact: A regular London cyclist enjoys a longer life expectancy than a Londoner who takes no exercise.
“If everything we did had to be absolutely safe, risk-free, proven to have no adverse outcomes for anyone or anything, we’d never get anywhere.” Professor Sir Colin Berry talks to Brendan O’Neill on why the precautionary principle is making life more dangerous for all of us.