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Cuts to BBC World Service

Two days ago, the BBC announced that it had selected its cuts to the BBC World Service to reduce its budget by 16%. It will have to cut to an annual saving of £46 million by April 2014, after which it will be funded entirely by licence. It’s saying goodbye to some of its 180 million listeners. More here: Beeb World Service cuts.

MMR vaccine protects children against asthma

Ben Goldacre is indignant about one-sided reporting on medical research, and rightly so. In not reporting the facts but only the hysteria, mainstream media publications are ensuring that children will become ill, and go to hospital, unnecessarily. Sooner or later, some will die. For example: “It’s not what the papers say, it’s what they don’t.”

Amateur physicians have long enjoyed speculating that MMR and other vaccines are somehow “harmful to the immune system” and responsible for the rise in conditions such as asthma and hay fever. Doubtless they must have been waiting some time for evidence to appear.

This month a significant paper was published by Hviid and Melbye in the December 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. They examined 871,234 children in a Danish birth cohort, comparing asthma in those who had MMR against those who didn’t. MMR-vaccinated children were massively and significantly less often hospitalised with an asthma diagnosis, and used fewer courses of anti-asthma medication than unvaccinated children. This “protective” effect of the MMR vaccine was more pronounced for hospitalisations with severe asthma diagnoses.

Those results aren’t just incompatible with an increased risk of asthma following MMR vaccination, they actually support the hypothesis that MMR vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of asthma in young children.

Nearly a million children studied. Conclusion: MMR vaccine protects against asthma. Newspapers? Silence.

Whose good are they serving?

Keith Olbermann falls for anti-vax lies

Orac over at Respectful Insolence points out how (and why) news commenter Keith Olbermann was goaded into repeating anti-vaccination talking points by a publicist.

Nature magazine endorses Obama


Cognition and Language Lab blog points out that Nature science magazine endorsed Barack Obama, but not because of his science policy. Instead they like him because he listens to a diverse group of advisers.

On a range of topics, science included, Obama has surrounded himself with a wider and more able cadre of advisers than McCain. This is not a panacea. Some of the policies Obama supports — continued subsidies for corn ethanol, for example — seem misguided. The advice of experts is all the more valuable when it is diverse: ‘groupthink’ is a problem in any job. Obama seems to understands [sic] this. He tends to seek a range of opinions and analyses to ensure that his opinion, when reached, has been well considered and exposed to alternatives. He also exhibits pragmatism — for example in his proposals for health-care reform — that suggests a keen sense for the tests reality can bring to bear on policy.

Fox News: McCain tactics frightening

Cynthia C. says:

I never thought I’d see the day when a conservative political figure went so far over to the dark side that even FOX “NEWS” couldn’t stomach it.

So it is with McCain’s “Joe the Plumber” – Joe Six Pack – the dude that just seemed to show up in the crowd one day at a campaign rally and suddenly became the guy McCain pinned his hopes on for helping him to win the election.

Unfortunately “Joe” whose real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher and who actually does not even HAVE a plumbers license, is even more of a wacko than Sarah Palin. But that doesn’t stop McCain from using him as a surrogate to push the only tool in McCain’s campaign chest, FEAR OF OBAMA. So it has become Joe’s (Or Samuel’s) job to push the notion that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel.

“Joe” is also a relative of Keating.

Horrific car-bike accident in Mexico

One thing that bothers me about getting around by bike is the fragility of the vehicle. Drivers don’t often see us; in fact, the other day I saw a driver turn left into the path of a cyclist who had the right of way, strike him amidships and bounce him off the hood. Luckily, the car was going slowly; but the driver had just seen the cyclist and discounted him because “cyclists don’t move that fast.” The cyclist was unhurt and went on his way after a brief lecture on rules of the road and a sarcastic comment. So that’s one car-bike interaction that won’t get into the city’s statistics.  This cyclist was in the right, but about 80% of those I see make dangerous and unpredictable moves. I’m amazed that more don’t get hurt.

Still, the nightmare is to be riding along, minding your own business, when a car ploughs into you or your group. It happened a few weeks ago in the U.S. when a deputy “fell asleep at the wheel” and killed someone. He may have been drunk but we won’t know because no one took a blood sample on the scene and secured it. Any blood sample that turns up later is questionable. And it happened the other day in Mexico when a driver, apparently drunk, “fell asleep at the wheel” and slammed into a bicycle race at speed.

car slams into cyclists, Mexico

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