Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fish and chips

Fish and chips is not only one of Britain’s favourite dishes - it is also the nation’s favourite smell, according to a study.
Britons judged the mouth-watering aroma of fish and chips to be even better than the scent of freshly baked bread and clean sheets.
The survey, of 3,000 people, also saw freshly cut grass, frying bacon, lemon zest and the smell of a roast dinner, in the top ten favourite smells.
Fish and chips was the overall favourite scent, but when it came to the smell that is cleanest and freshest, the majority of people rated lemon as top.
Researchers also found more than 53 per cent of people felt happy when they caught a smell of their favourite scent, while 46 per cent said it relaxes them.
Professor Tim Jacob, a scent expert at Cardiff University, said: “The sense of smell connects the deep subconscious regions of the brain and triggers different emotions and behaviours.

UK Awaits Return Of Long-Lost Sun

UK Awaits Return Of Long-Lost Sun
12:09pm UK, Monday August 25, 2008
British skygazers are bracing themselves for a rare meteorological phenomenon later this week when a mysterious yellow glow will appear overhead.
The sun has not set on this summer yet, experts say
It is called the sun, and forecasters are predicting that it will come out for at least a while before the summer is gone for good.
Sky News weather presenter Sarah Pennock said: "Just when you thought the summer was over, there is a hint of hope on the horizon.
"The last weekend in August promises a drier and sunnier few days with temperatures in the mid-20s for central and southern parts."
Despite some places having the wettest August on record - Northern Ireland, south east Scotland and Northumberland have all had a soaking - Pennock said some parts of the country were heading for "a cracking end to the month".
"It is definitely time to try to squeeze in one last barbecue before the kids go back to school," she said.
But it is by no means certain that the nicer weather will herald an Indian summer.
The warm spell will most likely be bracketed by cloud and showers for most parts - and some regions will be denied this better-late-than-never show of sun.
"It'll be a cloudy week for the bulk of the UK, with the best of the brightness reserved for eastern Scotland, Lincolnshire and East Anglia," Pennock said.
"As the weekend approaches, we'll see more in the way of warm, sunny days in the south east, but the far north west will still be plagued with light and patchy rain."

UK's Weather Turned Upsidedown

4:21am UK, Wednesday August 27, 2008
One of the most northerly places in Britain has been the sunniest in the UK this month.

Lerwick was the sunniest place to be in August
Lerwick in the Shetland islands basked in 136 hours of sunshine in the first 25 days of August, according to MeteoGroup UK, the weather division of the Press Association.
It had far better weather than the second sunniest place in the UK, Wittering in Cambridgeshire, which has seen 107 hours of sun for far this month.
Much of the rest of the country did not even reach 100 hours of sun.
John Hutchinson, a Meteogroup forecaster, said Shetland had been lucky to escape the bad weather which has hit the rest of the UK.
He said: "Normally the low pressure moves to the north of Scotland but the lows have been further south than normal so the worst of the weather has been across central areas of the UK.
"Lerwick has been above all the bad weather so it has had sunny spells.
"Shetland really has been fizzing above the gloom and rain that has been affecting everywhere else."
Lerwick is the only place in the UK which has seen more sun than average so far this month.
Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway has yet to reach 40 hours of sun, while many places have yet to see half their average August sunshine.


Tuesday, 26 August 2008



French... have surrounded food with so much commentary, learning and connoisseurship as to clothe it in the vestments of civilization itself... Cooking is viewed as a major art form: innovations are celebrated and talked about as though they were phrases in the development of a style of painting or poetry... A meal at a truly great restaurant is a sort of theatre you can eat."

Richard Bernstein, The Fragile Glory

Indisputably, one of modern France's greatest treasures is its rich cuisine. The French have an ongoing love affair with food, and their reverence for time spent eating is evident in any culinary establishment nationwide. It is also manifested in the traditional family gatherings around the home dinner table, particularly the Sunday mid-day feast which is prepared lovingly over many hours and consumed leisurely through a bevy of appetizers and main courses, usually accompanied by a number of wines and often lively discussion which tends to center on political topics.
What is perhaps less widely recognized is that France's reputation for fine food is not so much based on long-held traditions but on constant change. In fact, the general expectation of good eating is a relatively new experience for the French. At the time the Bastille was stormed in 1789, at least 80% of the French population were subsistence farmers, with bread and cereals as the basis of their diet, essentially unchanged since the time of the ancient Gauls nearly two millenia before. In the mid-nineteenth century, following the demise of the aristocracy, food was a conspicuous symbol of social position, swiftly adopted by a new ruling class of bourgeoisie, who recreated the sumptuous meals of the very aristocracy they had once criticized. At the same time, two-thirds of Parisians were either starving or ill-fed, five times more likely to be nourished from vegetable proteins than from any meats or dairy products. The golden age of haute cuisine benefited only those at the very top of the social ladder.
It took a world war at the beginning of the twentieth century to halt the gross inequality of wealth at the table, and to bring about a more even distribution of the nation's produce. The advent of improved transportation, especially by train, brought culinary revolution to the regions, and slowly the spreading affluence could put a chicken on every peasant's table. Eventually, tourism fanned the flames of change in France's commercial kitchens, as chefs were obliged to create dishes appealing to an ever-widening audience of British, Japanese, Middle Easterners, and Americans, as well as French travelers hungering for new experiences. In some instances the reasons for change in regional products were a pragmatic reaction to a decline in other industries (such a silk) or to the economic disaster brought about by the Phylloxera pest, which wiped out most of France's grape vines at the turn of the century

The "French Paradox"

It is well-known that the stereotypical French meal is heavy in saturated fats; heavy creams and butter are a staple in many dishes. Despite this fact, the French populace suffers from lower incidences of cardiac disease than many other western nations, including the U.S. Much research and medical opinion seems to credit their consumption of red wines with an overall reduction in cholesterol levels (see "The French Paradox"). Whatever creedence one might place in this theory, it is a given that all French food is best accompanied by wine to be enjoyed to its fullest.
SOURCE: discover

Knives out as Gordon Ramsay restaurant opens in France

March 22 2008
He was skewered in New York, roasted in Ireland, and now a top French food critic has warned against his "unexciting" cooking driven by the money-making ambitions of a global brand.
But Gordon Ramsay's quest for world domination continues next week when he launches a restaurant outside Paris to "take a fucking stand" for British food.
Ramsay said he had expected to be "kicked in the nuts" at the troubled and delayed opening of his New York restaurant in 2006. The food at his recent County Wicklow venture was branded "wretched" by the Irish Times, which balked at leathery ravioli and a beignet of blue cheese that "tasted largely of ammonia".
But France, which Ramsay calls "the cradle of haute cuisine", drives an even harder bargain. The Scottish chef has created a brasserie and fine-dining restaurant at the Trianon Palace hotel near the Palace of Versailles, where he will have humorous British twists on concepts such as the English breakfast, but largely deliver his classics. He wants to win three Michelin stars in London, Paris and New York.
France's fiercest food critic, François Simon at Le Figaro, has already warned French diners not to bother. Though respectful of Ramsay as an excellent chef, he felt the dishes were no more adventurous than those by scores of French chefs. "The cream of Jerusalem artichoke with cauliflower and lardons could be tasted in any old bistro gourmand," he said.
"If Gordon Ramsay is coming to Paris, it's just to see what these 'fucking Frenchies' think of his 'fucking cuisine'," he wrote. "Why is Ramsay coming to Paris? Money," he added, cautioning against the trend for global culinary empires where the masterchef is only in town for 20 nights a year.
He said the greatest interest would come from British and American tourists visiting Versailles. Whether Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, will visit remains to be seen; their weekend retreat is a hunting lodge in the grounds of Versailles and the president is keen to stress his new special friendship with Britain.
Last year Ramsay told a British interviewer: "I've had a bellyful of the French coming over here and telling us how shit our food is. We have cheese on toast, they have croque-monsieur. They just have posher names."

Monday, 25 August 2008

Jamie Oliver launches attack on British culture

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has launched an extraordinary attack on the British - portraying them as uncivilised materialists obsessed with a "culture of alcohol".
Jamie Oliver's joke was met with an uncomfortable silence by the 300-strong audience at the Edinburgh Television Festival, among them several Germans Photo: AP
The 33-year-old describes his fellow countrymen's materialistic attraction to widescreen TVs, cars, mobile phones, and - above all else - beer as being symptomatic of "the new poverty" blighting the UK.

Oliver's latest attack follows a joke he made about the Holocaust last week, when dozens of Germans complained that he was insulting them.

This time the cook, who made his name as The Naked Chef in the late 90s, has turned his fire on everything from the paucity of British cooking to binge drinking.

In an interview in the latest edition of Paris Match magazine published in French, Oliver contrasts the country with France, where old fashioned cutoms are still observed.

Oliver even claims that he had found a better range of food in African slums than in his home country, where people were more interested in getting "drunk in pubs" than eating well.

Commenting on the fact that 80 per of the British do not even bother sitting round a table for dinner any more, Oliver says: "It's true in the centre of London and in the big northern cities. It's linked to the new poverty.

"It's nothing to do with famine or war - quite the opposite. England is one of the richest countries in the world.

"The people I'm telling you about have huge TV sets - a lot bigger than mine! - they have state-of-the-art mobile phones, cars, and they go and get drunk in pubs at the weekend - their poverty shows in the way they feed themselves.

"I found the cooking of the inhabitants of the slum in Soweto in South Africa a lot more diverse than ours. It's true! I'm going to be harsh, but I think a lot of English people's food lacks heart. It's bland." When it was suggested that the English can't savour food because they drink too much, Oliver says: "It's true. Historically we've never produced wine. We have a culture of alcohol and we're more beer orientated: the only people who drink more than us are the Irish and the Scottish."

Asked by French interviewer Mariana Grepinet how British cuisine compared with French cuisine, Oliver says: "In the past British cuisine was similar to Italian cuisine nowadays, without the pasta and risotto. Steam cooking, grilled meat, herbs, spices - we used to cook fabulous dishes. It's all in the past!

"Unlike French people, and I regret it, we lost our traditions. In gastronomy, the world evolves and changes. And right in front of us, isolated from everything, you have France where nothing changes.

"It's not a judgement, it's an observation. In terms of grand restaurants, it seems to me that only one country competes with France, and that's Japan."

Significantly Oliver is planning a TV show in France. Asked what his links were with France, he says: "I don't have many. But I would like to shoot a TV programme soon.

"The French-English relationship amuses me. As neighbours, we criticise each other. We mock each other, but behind all this, we appreciate each other and we respect each other.

"I'd like to watch French women and observe them behind their ovens in their kitchens. "I'm sure that the rest of the world would love a series on French cuisine directed by an English chef! It would be crazy!" Oliver was born in Clavering, Essex, and learning to cook in his father's local pub. He is now said to be worth an estimated £25 million.

Despite his views on British culture, Olivier has always set himself up as a people's champion.

In 2005 he launched a school dinners campaign to improve the quality of food fed to pupils.

Last week Oliver told a live audience how his Jamie's Fowl Dinners show, about the treatment of intensively farmed chickens, was shown around the world.

In an apparent reference to the Holocaust, the presenter quipped that only German viewers had complained about the controversial scene in which a group of chicks was gassed in an example of cruel industry practices.

Do you agree with Jamie Oliver?
Read more here: The Telegraph uk

Military secrets missing on Ministry of Defence computer files

British military secrets held in portable computer drives have gone missing, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.

This year, 22 portable memory sticks containing classified information had been either stolen or lost, the MoD said.

More than 700 MoD laptops have gone missing or been stolen in the last four years.

The disclosure sparked claims that the Government has not learned from previous Whitehall information-handling blunders.

Earlier this year, an independent review of the MoD's information security systems warned that a "Facebook generation" of young officials had not learned the disciplines of the Cold War and were often careless with sensitive data.

In a written parliamentary answer, the MoD said that 131 of the department's portable USB memory sticks had been taken or misplaced since 2004.

Twenty six of the small storage devices have been lost this year. Three of those held information classified as "secret." Another 19 carried "restricted" data.

The MoD also said that between 2004 and 2007, a total of 658 laptops were stolen, and another 89 were lost. Only 32 have been recovered.

Previously the MoD had confessed to 347 laptops being stolen, but the total was raised after "anomalies in the reporting process" were discovered.

USB memory sticks are only a few inches long and easily fit in pocket, but they can store tens of thousands of computer files.

Many IT security professionals advise that their use is carefully controlled in sensitive sites, because they can easily be used either to steal copies of files.

Intelligence agencies including MI5 screen visitors to their buildings for USB sticks and tightly limit their use by staff.

The MoD figures were obtained by Sarah Teather, a Lib Dem MP.

She said: "It seems that this Government simply cannot be trusted with keeping sensitive information safe.

"It is frightening to think that secret MoD information can be lost or stolen."

Liam Fox, the Tory shadow defence secretary: "This is yet another example of the Government's inability to protect confidential information. To treat national security in such a cavalier fashion is unforgivable."

The MoD said: "Any loss of data is investigated fully.

"The recent report on data losses by Sir Edmund Burton found that MoD policies and procedures are generally fit for purpose, but also identified a number of areas where MoD needs to do better in protecting personal data.

"MoD has developed, and is now working through, an action plan to address all of the report's recommendations and bring the department's handling of personal data to an acceptable state."

Child protection database 'will be used to prosecute young people'

A flagship database intended to protect every child in the country will be used by police to hunt for evidence of crime in a "shocking" extension of its original purpose, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The £224 million computer system was announced in the wake of the death of Victoria Climbié Photo: PA
ContactPoint will include the names, ages and addresses of all 11 million under-18s in England as well as information on their parents, GPs, schools and support services such as social workers.

The £224 million computer system was announced in the wake of the death of Victoria Climbié, who was abused and then murdered after a string of missed opportunities to intervene by the authorities, as a way to connect the different services dealing with children.

It has always been portrayed as a way for professionals to find out which other agencies are working with a particular child, to make their work easier and provide a better service for young people.

However, it has now emerged that police officers, council staff, head teachers, doctors and care workers will use the records to search for evidence of criminality and wrongdoing to help them launch prosecutions against those on the database - even long after they have reached adulthood.

It comes amid growing concern about the increasing criminalisation of Britain's youth and the extent of the country's surveillance society.

Only this week a report warned that teenagers were being dragged into the criminal justice system rather than being given an old-fashioned "ticking-off", while it has also been disclosed that the DNA profiles of almost 40,000 innocent children are now being kept on the national database.

An estimated 330,000 people will have access to the data stored on ContactPoint, which is due to launch this autumn despite fears the Government's poor record on data security will mean it puts children at risk from paedophiles.

The records will be updated until children turn 18 then kept in an archive for six years before being destroyed, meaning they can be accessed until a young person reaches 24. Those who have learning difficulties or who are in care will remain on the live system until they turn 25, so their archived records will be available into their 30s.

Little-noticed guidance published by the Government discloses that ContactPoint users can request administrators to give them archived data for a number of reasons, including "for the prevention or detection of crime" and "for the prosecution of offenders".

The disclosure has led civil liberties campaigners to warn the entire database will be open for investigators to trawl for evidence that links young people to crime or anti-social behaviour.

ContactPoint will not include detailed case information on children, but will record if they have contact with a Youth Offending Team or "sensitive services" such as drug abuse workers, which critics say will mean it is obvious which young people have criminal records.

Investigators opening a ContactPoint file would be able to see at a glance where they had lived throughout their childhood, where they had gone to school, what contact they had with social services and who their parents or carers were, and use the information to link them to known gangs or areas of criminal or anti-social activity.

Baroness Miller, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman in the House of Lords, said: "This is truly shocking. It's exactly the definition of a police state. The police will have the details of a whole generation for so-called crime prevention.

"It raises a lot of issues and we haven't had a debate in Parliament about it."

The proposed use of ContactPoint to collect evidence will raise further fears about the extent to which citizens are being spied on by the state.

Britain has more CCTV cameras than any other country, and its local authorities are increasingly using powers designed to prevent terrorism to spy on people suspected of petty crimes such as littering and failing to pick up dog mess. Ministers are also pressing ahead with a £20 billion scheme to issue all UK residents over the age of 16 with ID cards.

The launch of ContactPoint was delayed following the loss of data discs containing 25 million child benefit records by HM Revenue & Customs last year. A review of its security - which the Government refused to publish in full - found the risk of a data breach could never be eliminated.

Because of fears that certain children, including those of MPs and celebrities as well as abuse victims, will be at particular risk, a "shield function" has been created within ContactPoint to hide their addresses.

However, the new guidance states that this can be overridden if police or social workers deem it an emergency. One of the stated reasons why this may be carried out is "an investigation of a crime toward or by the child", in a further confirmation of the intended uses of the database.

Prof Ross Anderson, an expert in security at Cambridge University, said: "This is yet another revelation about the database state that is shocking but not surprising.

"The police have always been able to look into whatever they want, but the information age changes the scale of that completely."

Phil Booth, national co-ordinator for the civil liberties campaign group No2ID, added: "Parents should know that this is not for the protection of their children, it could be used to prosecute them. This is a serious step on from what little has been told to the public."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families insisted: "The purpose of ContactPoint is not crime detection, it is to help improve services to children, including safeguarding vulnerable children.

"To access ContactPoint for the purposes of prevention or detection of crime or for the prosecution of offenders, police would have to make a special request directly to the Secretary of State or Local Authority and make a case for disclosure."

ContactPoint will be put into use by 17 councils in the North West in October and then rolled out across the country.

" Simply another step in the Big Brother agenda. Next it'll be micro-chips for everyone. The Government doesn't give a toss about little kids, its a cover for extending control over us. Time to wake up Britain"

"Dear Sir,

as usual, another informative report by the Daily Telegraph, which entirely misses the point, which is;
We all know that we are way past George Orwell and 1984 and what we all need to informed off is who is responsible, their names positions and by what authority they are acting.
If the public do not know the animal they then are unable to tackle it.
So why does the Daily Telegraph not do their job and inform their readers, or are they just knobbled like most otheres and enjoy the official wine and cheese parties.
What about some good informative investigation reporting. Something your readers are starved for is the names and positions of those who in back rooms know more that the people,

" read that Ministers are re-negotiating with America about allowing young people with a criminal record to visit their country. This is because so many now have criminal records for trivial offences. It is not surprising that UNICEF report that children in this country have the worst quality of life of any in the western world, villified and demonised by their own society. I have a boistrous 11 year old who gets into mischeif quite often as boys do. He doesn't stand a chance of reaching 18 without a criminal record for some petty misdemeanour which would have been considered trivial a few years ago. This country has become a vile place in which to try and raise children and the Tories don't seem much better when you look at their record at local level, using terrorism laws to hound people for minor offences. The first move Boris made in London was to ban booze on the tube and he's supposed to be a libertarian. The future does not bode well for the young people of this country and there is no one to vote for if you don't like this ghastly authoritarianism"

"We now have the George Orwell 'Big Brother'Scenario. It is only a question of time before the information is in the wrong hands.What have New Labour done, with their paranoia for centralised systems, done to our once great country. They are a disgrace."

"Simply another step in the Big Brother agenda. Next it'll be micro-chips for everyone. The Government doesn't give a toss about little kids, its a cover for extending control over us. Time to wake up Britain"


A million bank customers' details sold on eBay for £35

Personal details of more than a million bank customers have been found on a computer sold on eBay.
26 Aug 2008

Information on American Express, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland customers were found on the computer's hard drive.

The data includes names, addresses, mobile phone numbers, bank account numbers, sort codes, credit card numbers, mothers' maiden names and even signatures.

It comes just days after the Home Office admitted confidential information on every prisoner in the country has been lost.

And it was revealed that more than 3,200 laptops and mobile phones containing sensitive information have gone missing or have been stolen from Government departments since 2001.

The latest blunder was discovered by an IT manager who checked the hard-drive of a second hand computer he bought on internet auction site eBay.

Andrew Chapman, 56, from Oxford, said: "I couldn't believe it. In front of me was reams of extremely confidential information about thousands and thousands of people."

The computer was sold by a former employee of archive firm Graphic Data which stores the records of some of Britain's biggest financial organisations at its headquarters in Shoeburyness, Essex. A second computer has also gone missing.

Graphic Data admitted IT equipment had been removed from a security area and said it was seeking to recover it.

NatWest/RBS said they have strict procedures to ensure data security.

"Any breach of these procedures is totally unacceptable and is investigated as a matter of urgency," said a spokesman.

American Express said it was 'looking into it'.

The Information Commissioner's Office has launched an investigation.

New figures released in a series of written Parliamentary answers to MPs, has revealed the true scale of Governmental data losses in the last seven years.

The worst offender was the Ministry of Defence, which lost 994 laptops, eight mobile phones and 12 palmtop computers. Defence chiefs have admitted the devices contained some secret and classified material.

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather, who uncovered the statistics, said: "The Labour government has a disgraceful history of recklessness with personal data, showing a complete disrespect for our privacy.

"Year after year the taxpayer is footing the bill for this Government's shocking carelessness."
Source: The Telegraph uk

Friday, 22 August 2008

M25 Voted Britain's Worst Road

The M25, infamous for its crashes and long tailbacks, has been voted Britain's worst road in a survey by Sky News Online.

Respondents claim the notorious 119 mile motorway around London is a "racetrack for idiots" and heavily congested.

Three more of Britain’s busiest routes were high up the list: The M1 motorway from London to Leeds, the A9 from Perth to Inverness and the A1 from London to Edinburgh.

The A537 to Buxton, known as the Cat and Fiddle, received a disproportionate number of complaints. Narrow and windy, the road has been highlighted as a danger hotspot and a "magnet for fast cars and motorbikes".

The survey of 2000 people asked which is the most dangerous road in the UK and why - three major themes echoed throughout the responses.

These related to: the speed and carelessness of other drivers; the volumes of traffic; and the merging of motorways.

One respondent said: "M25, so congested, makes normal drivers of any age see red!"

Vicki Burn from the RAC told Sky News Online it is hard to solve the dire traffic problems on the M25.

"The trouble is the more you create capacity the more cars will use it. It's a vicious circle."

She said small problems can escalate at peak times. "The slightest mishap causes great tailbacks and it can be a real nightmare if you are stuck between junctions.

But the people who look after the London Orbital insist they're doing all they can to improve drivers' journeys.


Britain's Worst Roads

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Wine: Top ten rosés

Source . telegraph ukLast Updated: 12:01am BST 08/08/2008
Versatile with food and perfect for summer, the latest rosés are fresh, vibrant and surprisingly subtle, says Jonathan Ray

Telegraph Wine Offers
Rosé sales continue to rocket. This year, it is estimated that one in every nine bottles of wine sold in the UK will be pink. Ten years ago it was nearer one in 30. Sales last year broke all records and this year they are up yet another 25 per cent. What was once seen as an irredeemably naff drink is now regarded as de rigueur.
It's that thorny chicken-and-egg thing: are we demanding more than ever before because finer rosés are now being produced, or are finer rosés now being produced because we're demanding more than ever before? Suffice to say that pink wine, once the preserve of Provence, the Loire and Portugal - anyone for Mateus Rosé? - is now being made in almost every conceivable wine region. I've had some wonderful examples recently from Italy, Spain, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia - you name it, they make it.

France, where sales of rosé are now outstripping those of white, is also fighting back, with ever-more stylish examples coming from regions that had previously been very sniffy about pink production. California, though, is the daddy, accounting for 50 per cent of all rosé sales in the UK. Its best-sellers are the rather less than wonderful Gallo, Blossom Hill and Echo Falls.

This trio apart, the new-wave rosés tend to be drier and a lot more sophisticated than of old. Rosés are made from red (in fact, black) grapes. The wines are pink rather than red because the juice spends only a short time on the grape skins and pips, from where the colour and tannin come. As a result, rosés tend to be soft, light, fresh, quaffable and rarely complex. Pink champagnes, on the other hand, are made by vinifying red and white wines separately and then mixing them.

Rosés make great aperitifs and are wonderfully versatile partners to food. Hugely enjoyable examples can be picked up for less than a fiver (though you can pay five times that for the most serious examples) and I now drink buckets of the stuff, vindicated at last.

Here are 10 current favourites. Six of them come from France, a measure of its success at producing high-quality examples at every price level.

2007 Viajero Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, 13% vol, Chile (£3.99; Lidl 0870 444 1234). Absurdly cheap, I know, but this little gem from Chile's Curicó Valley recently got the gong for Best Rosé Under £5.99 at the Quality Drink Awards. And quite right, too: it is surprisingly refreshing, with decent fruit and a savoury, bitter cherry finish. Ideal for impromptu summer get-togethers, it goes well with spicy pizzas topped with anchovies, chillies and olives.

2006/7 Fetzer Valley Oaks Syrah Rosé, 13.5% vol, California (widely available at £6.99, but reduced to £4.99 until Aug 19 at Tesco and £4.49 until Aug 24 at Co-op). From vineyards in California's Central Valley region, this wonderfully juicy 100 per cent Syrah rosé is crammed with peppery strawberry/blackberry fruit and, thanks to well-balanced acidity, is backed by a crisp dry finish. Serve well-chilled with smoked chicken and avocado salad.

2007 CVNE Rioja Rosado, 14%vol, Spain (£5.49 if you buy two as part of a mixed case; Majestic). There are some cracking rosés coming out of Spain at the moment and this is one of my favourites, especially at this discounted price. A raspberry-pink 100 per cent tempranillo from one of the best-known names in rioja, it is fresh, fruity, flavoursome and surprisingly high in alcohol. Less surprisingly, it's spot on with mixed Spanish tapas.

2007 Foncaussade Les Parcelles Rosé, 12.5% vol, France (£5.69; Waitrose). A 50-50 blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot from Bergerac that is awash with ripe red and dark berries. Although sweet-edged, it has a good dry finish and firm structure. Versatile, it goes as well with rare-beef sandwiches as with sushi and sashimi.

Pinot Rosa Frizzante Di Paolo (Sacchetto), 11% vol, Italy (£6.99; The Real Wine Co 01753 885619). This delight should be on everyone's picnic table: a light, fruity, thirst-quenching pinot noir sparkler from the Veneto. A delicate, beguiling pale pink, it almost doesn't count as a rosé. Enjoy it on its own, unless you have wild strawberries to hand.

2007 Rousseau Frères Touraine Noble Joué Rosé, 13.5% vol, France (£7.99 or £45 per 6 until Aug 31, quoting code TW410; Telegraph Wine 0870 066 6889). An intriguing rarity from the Loire Valley, this is a beautifully-judged full-flavoured blend of three pinot varieties: blanc, meunier and noir. With appealingly fragrant aromas on the nose and luscious juicy fruit on the palate, it is classy stuff indeed. Enjoy it with seared tuna steak and vegetable stir-fry.

2007 Château de Sours Rosé, 13% vol, France (£94.80 per dozen, reduced from £101.52 exclusively for Telegraph readers while stocks last; Private Cellar 01353 721999). A silky smooth, red berry fruit blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, this is one of the best-known, consistently fine rosés around. A very limited number of double magnums are available at £55 each and would make a striking talking point at summer parties.

Langlois Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé, 12.5% vol, France (£11.99; Oddbins). A charming salmon-pink, 100 per cent cabernet franc sparkler from Saumur in the Loire Valley. Owned by Bollinger Champagne and made in the champagne method, it is vibrantly fresh and invigorating and provides a sophisticated alternative to the more famous fizz of northern France. Ideal for summer picnics, it goes particularly well with fruit-based puddings.

2006 Château Simone Rosé, 12.5%vol, France (£22.75; Yapp Bros 01747 860423). Pricey for a rosé, but it's serious stuff: a wonderfully complex Provençal blend of grenache (mainly), mourvèdre, cinsault, syrah, carignan, cabernet sauvignon, castet, manosquin and muscat noir. Fuller-bodied that most rosés, it has spicy cherry fruit and a firm, dry finish. Enjoy it with rustic pork terrines and French bread or barbecued spare ribs.

Taittinger Prestige Rosé Brut NV, 13% vol, France (from £34.99; Majestic, Oddbins, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Thresher, Fortnum & Mason etc). A scrumptious pink champagne: the chardonnay/pinot meunier/pinot noir blend is both creamy and zesty, with hints of wild strawberries, a fine mousse and a deeply satisfying finish.

Bank of England slashes UK growth forecasts

By Angela Monaghan
Last Updated: 11:11am BST 13/08/2008

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has warned that next year will be a 'painful' one for Britain as the slowdown in the housing market deepens and the cost of living rises further.

Its long-awaited quarterly Inflation Report provided gloomy reading with the Bank now expecting the economy to virtually ground to a halt in the first three months of next year as the surge in petrol and utility bills eat away at consumers' spending power.

The Bank expects the economy to grow just 0.1pc in the first quarter, down from a projection of just 1pc made at its last report in May.

The downward revisions will be embarrassing for Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is still forecasting that the flagging economy will muster growth of 2pc this year and 2.5pc in 2009.

Mr King said that the outlook for both growth and inflation had deteriorated more sharply than it had expected when it published its last quarterly report in May.

"It may still be summer but there is a feeling of chill in the economic air," Mr King said at a press conference today. "This adjustment to our economy cannot be avoided. As a result, inflation is rising and growth is slowing."

If the UK does grow at such a low level, the chance of a technical recession, with two successive quarters of contraction, is significant.

Calculate your inflation rate
Inflation: How to protect yourself
The Bank also warned today that inflation is likely to hit 5pc in the coming months, rather than the 4pc peak it was expecting earlier in the year.

The Consumer Prices Index - the Government's preferred measure of inflation - rose to 4.4pc in July compared with 3.8pc in May, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed yesterday.

Sterling tumbled to almost $1.88 in reaction to the news as City traders increased bets that the Bank will eventually have to cut interest rates.

However, the Bank said today that inflation will fall below its 2pc target within two years should the Monetary Policy Committee keep interest rates at their current level of 5pc.

Last week the MPC voted to hold rates at 5pc as it grapples with the twin threat of inflation, which is squeezing disposable incomes, and the economic slowdown.

Unemployment figures today delivered the Bank a sharp reminder of the slowdown, with the number of Britons claiming benefits rising in July for the six month in a row.


Cancer Rates 20% Higher In North

People living in the North of England have a 20% higher chance of dying from cancer than those living elsewhere, a report has revealed.

The North has higher rates of cancer

Higher rates of smoking and factors such as deprivation are likely to be behind the increased risk, researchers said.

The figures, for 2005, showed there were 68 deaths per 100,000 men from lung cancer in the North compared with an average of 51 deaths across the whole of England.

Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire had the lowest rate of deaths from lung cancer, with around 36 men in every 100,000 dying from the disease.

The data was contained in the first report produced by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). It collects data on deaths from 30 cancer networks covering the whole of England.

Cancer deaths overall were lowest in the South of England and the Midlands.

Prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease in men across each of the 30 cancer networks.

Breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women across the whole of the country, although rates were higher in the South than the North.

Women were more likely to die from lung cancer if they lived in the North but breast cancer if they lived in the South.

Professor David Forman, from the University of Leeds, who is an information and analysis lead for the NCIN, said: "These figures show us that some of the past trends aren't changing - cancer death rates remain higher in the North than the rest of England.

"The emergence of prostate cancer, ahead of lung cancer, as the most common cancer in men is, however, a relatively new development and could be due to a combination of a general decline in smoking rates among men and a greater awareness of prostate cancer, leading to more men asking their doctor for a test."

Source: SKY NEWS

Exploring The North South Divide

11:41am UK, Wednesday February 27, 2008

Gerard Tubb, North of England correspondent

The border towns of Alnwick and Kelso are very similar. They are almost the same size and share roughly the same employment levels and average household income.

But differences in public spending in Scotland and England mean a family could be thousands of pounds out of pocket just because the live the wrong side of the River Tweed.

Due to a historical quirk that was supposed to have been ironed out years ago, Edinburgh's devolved parliament gets £1,500 more from the public purse per head of population.

The main impact of the extra cash is felt in university education and care for the elderly, so we compared the cost to two similar families, one in each town.

Fiona Stanley spends much of the week in Alnwick without partner Andrew - he's working in London to fund university tuition fees for their three children, which would top £27,000 even at today's levels.

All elderly care is means tested in England, so six months part-time care at home for a relative with savings could add another £3,000.

In Kelso, the Berrett family would pay just £7,000 for their three children's university education at today's levels and elderly care at home is free for everyone, so they would 'save' £23,000 just by living in Scotland.

The so-called Barnett formula is blamed for the inequality in public spending, and even its creator has called for it to be reformed.

But political commentators say it would be a brave Westminster government that cut spending in Scotland in case it provided ammunition for those calling for independence.

:: Sky correspondents Gerard Tubb and James Matthews will be reporting live on the issue from Alnwick and Edinburgh this Saturday.

Source: SKY NEWS

Northerners Urged To Move South

Source:SKY NEWS 13/08/2008
6:25am UK, Wednesday August 13, 2008

Northerners should move to the South East if they want to improve their quality of life because regeneration policies in the North are doomed, a radical report has claimed.

Regeneration policies in cities including Manchester 'are failing'

Think tank Policy Exchange said a mass internal migration was the only solution to a decade of failed efforts to revive cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

Admitting that their findings might be seen as "plain barmy", the report authors said that coastal cities like Liverpool and Sunderland had "lost much of their raison d'etre" with the decline of shipping.

These places had "little prospect of offering their residents the standard of living to which they aspire", the report added.

"No one is suggesting that residents should be forced to move, but we do argue that they should be told the reality of the position: regeneration, in the sense of convergence, will not happen, because it is not possible," it concluded.

It also argued that the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge were well placed to become the economic power-houses of the 21st century and should be expanded dramatically, like Liverpool and Manchester expanded in the 19th century.

The authors included Tim Leunig, a lecturer in economic history at the London School of Economics, who said: "No doubt some people will claim that these proposals are unworkable, unreasonable and perhaps plain barmy.

"But the issue is clear: current regeneration policies are failing the very people they are supposed to be helping and there is no evidence that the trend will be reversed without radical changes. Internal migration has always been an important part of a dynamic economy."

Report urges move south

He went on: "For the last decade British politics has been dominated by ministers who represent poorer urban areas and the New Labour government has invested heavily in urban regeneration.

"A future Conservative administration more representative of suburbs and the South would most probably have a very different set of priorities."

The Government rejected the findings of the report.

"No Government has done more to turn around decades of neglect, and since 1997 cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle have benefited from thousands of new jobs, lower crime rates and better living standards thanks to our sustained
commitment to regeneration, and investment in public services," said a Communities and Local Government spokesperson.

"It's alarming that this 'think tank' is labelling our great cities as 'beyond revival' and arguing that we should target less effort on them, when those areas that have received regeneration funding have shown the greatest improvements."

The Conservatives said the report did not reflect party policy.

Source/ Sky NEWS

Tuesday, 12 August 2008



Britons and NHS

Hepatitis test results can easily be misread


A survey published today shows that more than two thirds of doctors do not know how to read hepatitis C test results.

That means that as many of 90% of sufferers do not even know they are ill.

Catherine Ridgeway contracted the virus as a baby but despite displaying symptoms went undiagnosed for decades.

Hepatitis Factbox
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that infects liver cells
It was discovered in the 1980s
There are an around 200 million people worldwide infected
Around 20% will naturally clear the virus - the other 80% experience long-term affects
Hepatitis C is know as a 'silent epidemic' because its symptoms do not always show and when they do they can be misinterpreted by doctors

"My GP used to test me for diabetes and anaemia, but I knew it wasn't either of those because the blood tests always showed up negative," she said.

"I was shocked, but I also felt relief because I'd always suffered illness as a child and I knew I wasn't normal, like my friends."

Hepatitus C is a chronic, potentially fatal liver virus which is transmitted through blood or blood products, but can be passed on by sharing razors or toothbrushes.

Patients can live for years without suffering symptoms, meaning the illness goes undiagnosed, and can be passed on unwittingly.

Symptons of hepatitis C include weight loss, fatigue, nausea and tiredness.

"We do have to do more," said Charles Gore of the Hepatitis C Trust.

"The reason we have to do more is that we're going to have profound consequences.

"First of all on the NHS, which is going to have to spend a great deal of money managing people with liver disease.

"And then for the individuals who are going to die, and lots of them, just because somebody didn't offer them a test."

He added: "More must be done to equip GPs with the right information so they can correctly identify those who should be offered a hepatitis C test and interpret any result correctly."

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C but treatment can provide a cure in over half of patients.

It is a major cause of chronic liver disease in the UK, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Britons abroad

Article from MSN UK

Bad behaviour by Britons abroad has seen a soaring number of arrests in Spain and France, Foreign Office (FO) figures have confirmed.

Britons on foreign trips have also particularly fallen foul of the authorities in Cyprus, the USA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the FO statistics showed.

Based on figures covering the period April 2006 to March 2007, the FO statistics showed that 2,032 Britons were arrested in Spain - 32% more than in 2005/06 and the highest number of any country visited.

Based on the number of Britons travelling to a particular country, the likeliest destination to be arrested was Cyprus, followed by the USA and UAE.

The FO said that many of the arrests abroad were due to "behaviour caused by excessive drinking" while many of the hospital stays in Thailand were the result of motorbike accidents.

Also, a number of UAE arrests were due to the area's zero-tolerance policy on drugs which affected Britons transiting the UAE on the way elsewhere.

In a separate survey, two thirds of British holidaymakers said they would be spending less on their foreign holiday preparations this year due to the credit crunch.

This has prompted concerns that people will opt out of getting comprehensive travel insurance, adding potential financial ruin to the trauma of experiencing a serious problem abroad.

Foreign Office minister Meg Munn said: "This report highlights what can go wrong on holiday. It is a reminder to all that taking out comprehensive travel insurance is a crucial part of your holiday planning and not something that should be sacrificed in order to save a few pounds.

"Helping British nationals in distress overseas is one of our most important tasks but many of the problems faced by holidaymakers are preventable. By carrying out some simple research on the laws, customs and health requirements of a country in advance, many people could prevent their holidays being ruined."

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Ideas with Impact

Ideas with Impact

Outlook 'worse than predicted'

The UK's largest employers' organisation has said the downturn in the UK economy was worse than previously thought and warned of "uncomfortable" times ahead.

Business body CBI told members that there was "no doubt that the mood has darkened in the last two or three months" and admitted that its initial growth estimates were over-optimistic.

Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, said in a letter to members that the economy's growth prospects for next year and into 2010 "look no better than anaemic".

It has already cut its forecasts for growth in 2009 from 1% to 0.4%.

The U-turn on its economic outlook came as it said the credit crunch had turned out to be bigger and more prolonged than first feared, while inflation has also soared higher than predicted.

"A year ago, it seemed reasonable to hope that the worst would be over by now. This has turned out not to be the case," wrote Mr Lambert.

He added it was now clear that "the CBI, along with most other forecasters, has been consistently over-optimistic about the economic outlook over the past 12 months".

The CBI's downbeat assessment of the UK's economic prospects comes just days ahead of the official inflation figures for July and the Bank of England's latest quarterly inflation report, both of which are expected to make for grim reading.

Economists are expecting the Consumer Prices Index - the official measure of inflation - to have soared past 4% last month, up from 3.8% in June.

Predictions are for CPI to race towards the 5% mark this autumn as energy firms such as British Gas and EDF hike gas and electricity prices.
source : msn uk

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The return of Victorian diseases

Illnesses such as tuberculosis, rickets and gout may summon visions of filthy street urchins and extravagant Victorian poets, but doctors are warning that old-fashioned afflictions such as these may be making a comeback.

Recent research has shown that there are a number of conditions associated with a bygone age that are reappearing and even flourishing in 21st century Britain.

The primary causes have not changed much since Charles Dickens wrote about the sufferings of the poor over 150 years ago, but new factors have emerged, such as immigration, rising obesity rates and the decision of some parents not to give their children the controversial measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

We bring you the latest on the Victorian diseases that, despite a century of medical breakthroughs, just refuse to go away.

Tuberculosis (TB), also referred to as consumption, is a disease of the lungs which causes fever, weight loss, chronic coughing, fatigue and sweating. TB was rampant in the 19th century; almost 25% of deaths were caused by the disease and urban inhabitants lived in fear of developing the tell-tale symptoms.

Why is it coming back?
Effective antibiotics and a national screening programme (remember your BCG jab at school?) all but eradicated TB in this country, but now cases are on the rise. In 2000, 6,323 cases were reported in Britain, but by 2006 the number had increased to 8,113 and experts say that figure has risen again by 10% in the last year. Worldwide, there are now more people with TB than there were in 1950.

Experts say that immigration is partly to blame; infection rates are highest among arrivals from Africa where the disease is common, but low standards of living and poverty also contribute.

What can you do to avoid it?
The national BCG programme has been stopped, but children living in high risk areas can still receive the vaccine. If you are travelling to a country with high rates of the disease, make sure you get vaccinated before you go. Exercise lots, eat a healthy diet and see a doctor if you have a cough for longer than three weeks.

What is it?
Common in Victorian Britain, rickets affected children who suffered from a lack of vitamin D, which is needed to maintain healthy bones and joints and is absorbed into the body through food such as oily fish and through the skin via sunlight. The deficiency causes aches and pains in the bones and joints and leaves sufferers with bow legs.

Why is it coming back?
Once again, we really thought we had the better of rickets in this country, but recent research suggests otherwise. Studies carried out in Birmingham and Bradford found that the condition is returning at an alarming rate, particularly in cities and built-up areas.

Researchers at Birmingham Children’s Hospital found dozens of victims under the age of five in one short period. Meanwhile, children under the age of two in Bradford are now given a free vitamin D supplement after a study discovered that 300 youngsters in the city were deficient in the nutrient.

Most UK sufferers are from black or Asian families as dark skin is more resistant to sunlight.

What can you do to avoid it?
Eat plenty of dairy, oily fish and get lots of sun.

(Image © Rex Features)

What is it?
Unlike most Victorian afflictions, gout did not traditionally target the poor. The disease was instead most commonly associated with the wealthy population, who could afford to overindulge in wine and rich food. Gout is caused by a build up of uric acid on the joints and tissue, causing them to swell and become painful, most commonly in the big toe and lower limbs.

Why is it coming back?
Gout is no longer the ‘Affliction of kings’. The obesity epidemic has brought it to the masses, with around 250,000 people in the UK suffering from the condition. Diets high in red meat and binge drinking have led to the spread of gout, yet the vast majority of people are unaware that the condition still exists, or that they might have it.

What can you do to avoid it?
Don’t drink too much alcohol and cut down on rich food such as red meat. US and Canadian researchers also found that two or more fizzy drinks a day can significantly raise the risk of developing gout, so lay off these as well.


What is it?
Measles is one of the most contagious and lethal children’s diseases and claimed countless lives in the Victorian era due to cramped housing. Fever, coughing and rash would often lead to complications resulting in death.

Why is it coming back?
Numerous outbreaks, most recently in South London where 500 people, mostly children, caught the disease, suggest that earlier predictions by doctors have come true: measles is back.

This is largely down to parents choosing not to give their children the MMR jab. Ideally, 90% of children need to be given the injection to prevent the disease spreading, but in some areas numbers fall way short of this figure.

What can you do to avoid it?
Easy – get your child immunised.


(Image © Rex Features)

What is it?
Another common childhood illness, mumps spreads via airborne droplets from the nose or mouth. Even though it is not as contagious as measles, the condition killed many living in, once again, cramped conditions.

Why is it coming back?
Again, the disease has returned because of the rebellion against the MMR jab, but mumps also spread easily amongst students who were too old to benefit from the immunisation programme. For example, there were more than 3,000 cases of mumps in Wales in 2005. In 2001 there were just 72. This rise mirrors what is happening across the UK.

What can you do to avoid it?
You don’t have to be a child to get the MMR jab – the Welsh assembly has urged people aged 11-25 to receive the vaccine.


What is it?
If you believe US researchers, then you can blame Christopher Columbus for bringing syphilis to Europe. But whatever its origins, syphilis hasn’t gone away. The condition, which spread like wildfire in the Victorian era, is transmitted sexually or from mother to child and the condition can lead to flu-like symptoms, followed eventually by insanity, heart problems and possibly death.

Why is it coming back?
Just a decade ago syphilis was practically non-existent in this country, but since then numbers have increased alarmingly. The number of men with the condition has gone up by more than 2000%, while for women the figure is 870%. The reason? Unprotected sex.