The Writing on the Wall

Submitted by Anon on 18 June, 2003 - 1:00
  • An obsession with cottaging
  • The dangers of Seroxat
  • Iraq to be privatised
  • Gypsy killed
  • New Labour backs down on John McDonnell


The Lords (and Ladies) have been at it again with their obsession with cottaging. A Tory amendment to the Sexual Offences Bill will make it illegal and anybody caught involving in "cottaging" should face prosecution and face jail terms of up to two years. Home Office Minister Hilary Benn, said the government would rely on the existing common law offence of "outraging public decency".

But the Conservatives argue that for public decency to be outraged, the activity will need to have been committed in public and capable of being seen by two or more members of the public. They say this does not cover being able to hear a sex act going on in the next cubicle. Lady Noakes said the Tory amendment would be "gender neutral", applying to both homosexual and heterosexual activity as well as sexual activity carried out by an individual.

In other words, any sexual activity, in a closed cubicle (even solo) could land you in nick.

It "…should be completely outlawed because of the effect on other people. It creates places that ordinary people don't want to go and certainly don't want their children to use."

Quite so. I don't want to hear this kind of thing and I certainly don't want my children believing this sort of disgusting behaviour is acceptable. Unelected, homophobic busybodies pursuing their peculiar obsessions: it may be all right in the privacy of their own mansions, but it's outrageous they should be allowed to do it in public institutions, in full view of the press, no less.

GlaxoSmithKline: get set for a killing

Doctors are being warned that Seroxat, the most commonly prescribed antidepressant in Britain, could cause young people under 18 to kill or harm themselves.

The warning from the head of the government's drug regulatory agency will undermine the drug companies' repeated assertions that the pills have no such effect on adults. The medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency (MHRA), which licenses drugs in the UK, says Glaxo should have drawn its attention earlier to clinical trials among children which showed that some suffered damaging side effects. Some of the young people on Seroxat became agitated, aggressive and suicidal, a trend that was not matched among similar young people given a placebo. The review - sparked by complaints of adverse reactions in Seroxat patients - found an increase in the rate of self harm and potentially suicidal behaviour in children and teenagers under 18. "It has become clear that the benefits of Seroxat in children for the treatment of depressive illnesses do not outweigh the risks," the agency said.

Last October, GlaxoSmithKline were found to be in breach of the industry's code of marketing practice by playing down the side effects of Seroxat. Thousands of people have complained of severe withdrawal symptoms including nausea, dizziness and agitation after trying to give up the drug, which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like Prozac.

In February, the first working group investigating the safety of SSRIs was disbanded after revelations in the Guardian that some of the members had shareholdings in Glaxo. The group was recently re-formed.

Any informed decision on the risks to adults has to be based on knowledge. And GSK have clearly put the pursuit of profit above any openness with their research findings.

Iraq: sell-off to the highest bidder

Dozens of Iraq's state-owned companies could be earmarked for privatisation within a year. Tim Carney, the senior coalition adviser to the Iraqi ministry of industry and minerals, told the Financial Times newspaper that the need for foreign investment was too great for sell-offs to be delayed. Previously the US-led coalition had said it would wait until an elected Iraqi government was in place before starting privatisation.

The FT said Mr Carney had met officials from the industry ministry for a first "brainstorming session" on how to begin the privatisation. The ministry controls 48 state companies employing 96,000 people. The Iraq National Oil Company, which has run the country's oil industry, is not among them.

Sold off in under a year? Wonder if they'll have found those WMDs by then. That was what it was all for, wasn't it, the destruction that's crying out for foreign investment to rebuild?

Waiting for the barbarians

A boy aged 15 is left to die in the middle of a playing field in Ellesmere Port. His family believe he was killed for "being a Gypsy". Johnny Delaney, killed in what seems an unprovoked attack, would have been 16 on Thursday 12 June. The Delaneys are travelling people, living on a caravan site next to Liverpool's docks. They said: "We can't think why anybody would attack him, except because he was a traveller. No matter how much we have, we are still dirty Gypsy bastards. No matter how good you can be to people, they still treat us the same way."

What an example Blair's 'democratic' Britain is to those poor third world savages.

New Labour backs down on John McDonnell

New Labour has backed down on threats to expel John McDonnell MP.

McDonnell, a longstanding left-winger, made a speech on 29 May in which he said that we should "honour" the "bravery" and "sacrifice" of IRA members like Bobby Sands, who died on hunger strike in 1981.

McDonnell gives full support to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and focuses on pressing for its speedy implementation. However, and whatever your view of the IRA's politics, he is right about the bravery of people like Sands.

The Labour Party, through unnamed spokespeople, let it be "understood" by the Guardian (31 May) that "Mr McDonnell's speech will be formally looked in to, and... it could end in his expulsion from the party".

Following wide protests at this Stalinistic move, no charges have been made, and we understand that none will be made.

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