It is sad to watch a nation long admired as essentially civilised and progressive, losing its reputation piece by piece, day by day. But that is what is happening to Israel: events in Gaza are being portrayed as a massacre and humanitarian outrage principally of their making. This is in spite of the fact that their opponents Hamas are a manifestly evil, totalitarian set-up, part of a wider terrorist network stretching across the Middle East and beyond: and which like all such organisations will stop at nothing to make their point, even using children as human shields. This is of course a proxy war: Israel tacitly backed by Egypt, Saudi and most of the rest of the old guard, against Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, with Qatar and other various trouble makers stirring the pot. It is a battle that may need to be fought: but for the beleaguered residents of Gaza it is a human disaster. For Israel it is a propaganda catastrophe.
One of our Madrid speakers the learned medical Dean from Hong Kong was asked about statins. I am not surprised, as I suspect a good many in the audience were consumers thereof. I do not take statins, despite advice to do so. I am old-fashioned enough to think they are for people with high cholesterol, whereas mine is so low as to be almost off the scale. In communicating this to my doctor, and implicitly accusing him of practicing defensive medicine, he became noticeably antagonistic: I was relieved that he is “fee for service”. It is also interesting that NICE (which advises the UK government on new treatments, and it seems much else besides) want an even greater share of our population to take them. The fact that many of the experts involved in this are in receipt of handsome grants from the pharma industry may or may not be a factor. And can it be it entirely a coincidence that others gurus are suddenly casting doubt on the efficacy of a much loved (and less profitable) blood thinner, the dear old 75mg aspirin?
An editorial in the London Times hails the campaign by the Australian government to slash spending and balance the budget. I don’t know much about Mr. Abbott, except that like most who challenge the soggy left assumption that we all need to pay huge taxes to pay for others not to work, he is branded as an extremist. I also could not miss the election photos of his attractive daughters, surely a point in his favour. What I do know is that most Western governments are bankrupt, with debt ratios far higher than Australia’s, and no credible plans to dig themselves out of the hole. So whatever the political wisdom of Mr. Abbott’s actions by advocating such a thing he is doing us all a favour.