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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Suicide Rates Higher under Conservative Rule; Plastic Bags (funny video); Climate Change & Australia; Republicans/Libertarians Bash Unions-The Result, Lower Wages, Lost Jobs; Oil Spill Really Bad

- Australia On the Frontline of Climate Change Irrigated by one of the world's mightiest river systems, the Murray-Darling Basin yields nearly half of Australia's fresh produce. But the basin is ailing, and scientists fear that as climate change grips the driest inhabited continent, its main foodbowl could become a global warming ground zero.

- Some US Troops Out of Iraq, More Mercenaries to Go In The US State Department is to more than double the number of security contractors it employs in Iraq to around 7000, filling a gap left by departing troops, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

- Kucinich Urges Colleagues to End 'Longest War in US History' According to the article, General Petraeus and U.S. military officials are "building the case to minimize the planned withdrawal of some troops from Afghanistan starting next summer." General Petraeus and senior administration officials are arguing that while we've been in Afghanistan for nine years now, we have only just started "doing this right." A quick look at statistics this year reveals that not much has been going right since we increased our military presence in Afghanistan.

Since January of this year, approximately $104 billion has been appropriated for the war in Afghanistan and over 270 U.S. soldiers have died. The so-called cornerstone of our counterinsurgency strategy is the protection of Afghan civilians. Yet a new mid-year report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan by the United Nations reveals that civilian casualties have risen 31% since this same time last year.

- Scientists Dispute Government Stance on the Lingering Effects of Gulf Oil As we've noted, scientists seemed, on the whole, rather skeptical when a government report said most of the oil from BP's well was gone from the Gulf of Mexico. [1] Now the pushback against the government's stance has grown, with several scientific reports released this week.... "The news media's tendency to interpret ‘dispersed' and ‘dissolved' as ‘gone' is wrong," the report read. "Dispersed and dissolved forms can be highly toxic."

- Conservative Book Burning in Florida Officials of Gainesville, Fla. have denied  a bonfire permit to the hilariously named Dove World Outreach Center, which has planned an "International Burn A Quran Day" to mark the anniversary of 9/11 and "stand against the evil of Islam." The Church, which doesn't like gay people either, says "We WILL STILL BURN KORANS," because nothing reveals the loving word of God like a little book burning. Here's ten reasons why. Here's their weird Facebook page.

- Would You Like A Suicide Net With That iPhone? The Taiwanese company that makes hardware for Apple and other electronic giants is holding rallies at its factories in the wake of multiple suicides by workers reportedly done in by low pay and brutal working conditions [if they had Unions, this wouldn't happen]. Foxconn Technology Group, which admits it's been "blinded by our success," also offered pay raises - but left  earlier-installed suicide nets in place, just in case. Apple says it's not a sweatshop.

- Labor’s Popularity Declines Amid Conservative Criticism Of Public-Sector Unions With increasing attacks on public sector unions, it’s not surprising that labor has become unpopular in the court of public opinion. A new Gallup survey reveals that approval ratings for labor unions continues to struggle one year after their popularity reached a historic low.

- Obama's Pledge to Close Down Guantanamo is 'Not Even Close' Barack Obama's pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay will not be honoured until at least a year after the President's self-imposed deadline - and may not be completed in his first administration.

- The Majestic Plastic Bag - A Mockumentary

More Suicides Under Conservative Rule
Published wednesday, 18 September, 2002 by the BBC
Margaret Thatcher
The suicide rate increased under Margaret Thatcher
The suicide rate increases under Conservative governments, research suggests.
Australian scientists found the suicide rate in the country increased significantly when a Conservative government was in power.

And an analysis of figures in the UK seems to suggest a similar trend.

The Australian team analysed suicide statistics for New South Wales between 1901, when the federal government was established, and 1998.

Click here to see suicide rates under British prime ministers 
They then looked at the political regimes dominating both state and federal governments in New South Wales, which have consistently been under either Labour or Conservative control.

The researchers took into account periods of drought and World War II, because of their economic and psychological impact.

Suicide rates were higher during periods of drought and lower during WWII.

But after adjusting for these factors, the figures clearly showed the highest rates of suicide occurred when both Conservative state and federal governments were in power.

Men at risk

Conversely, the lowest rates occurred when state and federal governments were both Labour.
Middle aged and older people were most at risk.

When the Conservatives ruled both state and federal governments, men were 17% more likely to commit suicide than when Labour was in power. Women were 40% more likely to kill themselves.
Suicide rates were higher under post-war than pre-war Conservative governments.

John Major
The rate dipped under moderate John Major
The authors argue that Conservative rule traditionally implies a less interventionist and more market-orientated policy than Labour rule.

This may make people feel more detached from society, they added.

The researchers concede that ideological distinctions between Conservative and Labour politicians have become more blurred over the past 20 years.

But they say public perceptions that their policies differ may still remain intact.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Taylor, of the University of Sydney, told BBC News Online: "We think that it may be because material conditions in lower socio-economic groups may be relatively better under labour because of government programmes, and there may be a perception of greater hope by these groups under labour.

"There is a strong relationship between socio-economic status and suicide."
The research is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

British situation
In one of a series of accompanying editorials, Dr Mary Shaw and colleagues from the University of Bristol say the same patterns were evident in England and Wales between 1901 and 2000.
Rates have been lower under Labour governments and soared under the last Conservative regime, which began in 1979 under Margaret Thatcher.

They fell under 'the more moderate' John Major and after a slight rise when Tony Blair came to power, have since fallen again.

Interestingly, the authors point out that although suicide rates tend to increase when unemployment is high, they were also above average during the 1950s when Britain "never had it so good," but was ruled by the Conservative party.

Overall, they say, the figures suggest that 35,000 people would not have died had the Conservatives not been in power, equivalent to one suicide for every day of the 20th century or two for every day that the Conservatives ruled.

The UK Conservative Party refused to comment on the research.

Suicide rates per million 1901-1998 England and Wales by prime minister

Period Suicide rate Main prime minister in power
1901-1905 101 Balfour (Conservative)
1906-1910 102 Campbell-Bannerman (Liberal)
1911-1915 96 Asquith (Liberal)
1916-1920 85 Lloyd-George (Liberal)
1921-1925 101 Baldwin (Conservative)
1926-1930 123 Baldwin (Conservative)
1931-1935 135 MacDonald (National coalition)
1936-1940 124 Chamberlain (Conservative)
1941-1945 92 Churchill (Conservative)
1946-1950 106 Atlee (Labour)
1951-1955 107 Churchill (Conservative)
1956-1960 116 Eden (Conservative)
1961-1965 137 Macmillan (Conservative)
1966-1970 118 Wilson (Labour)
1971-1975 101 Heath (Conservative)
1976-1980 112 Callaghan (Labour)
1981-1985 121 Thatcher (Conservative)
1986-1990 118 Thatcher (Conservative)
1991-1995 110 Major (Conservative)
1996-1998 103 Blair (Labour)