Uk’s Labour Draws 2015 Election Battle Lines Against ‘privileged Few’

Photo credit: Wikipedia This just in: An example of what happens when people change conclusions based on the data rather than digging in their heels in favor of a pet hypothesis. In this case, the UK government has reversed a previous decision regarding the 2009-2010 European Pandemrix vaccine for swine flu and its link to narcolepsy , a sleep disorder that can seriously disrupt activities of daily living. As a result, per The Guardian : The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has contacted people turned down for compensation last year to explain that, after a review of fresh evidence, it now accepts the vaccine can cause the condition. The move leaves the government open to compensation claims from around 100 people in Britain, and substantial legal fees if a group action drawn up by solicitors is successful. According to the Guardian, heres why the UK is taking this step: The government U-turn follows a major study of four- to 18-year-olds by the Health Protection Agency which found that around one in every 55,000 jabs was associated with narcolepsy. A spokesman for (vaccine maker) GSK said it had details of around 900 people from 14 countries who had narcolepsy and were vaccinated. Emphasis mine. Its a good example of drawing new conclusions based on new information, otherwise known as the appropriate conduct of science, and then doing the right thing. A total of 100 people among 6 million who received this vaccination in the UK developed narcolepsy, for an adverse event rate of 0.0017%. The death rate from the swine flu in the UK was 0.026% . Put another way, 26 of every 100,000 people who had the flu died; 1.67 people of every 100,000 (1 in every 55,000 according to the study) receiving the vaccine developed narcolepsy. In addition, the vaccine in question evidently was given to groups at high risk for adverse events from contracting the swine flu. The Pandemrix vaccine is no longer in use and was applied for that specific pandemic.

UK mortgage approvals rise to highest since Dec 2009

The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) said on Tuesday that its members approved 38,228 mortgages in August, up from 37,428 in July and more than a quarter higher than in August last year. The figures act as a leading indicator for more comprehensive BoE data due on September 30. “Housing market activity is now really stepping up a gear, supported by markedly strengthening consumer confidence and elevated employment, and fuelled by the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) and the Help to Buy initiative,” said Howard Archer, chief UK economist for IHS Global Insight. The government launched the FLS last year and Help to Buy in March to help home buyers. The FLS has lowered banks’ finance costs, leading to cheaper mortgages, while Help to Buy assists home buyers struggling to find a large deposit for house purchase. The BBA reported that net mortgage lending remained muted, however, with the total amount outstanding on British mortgages dropping by 47 million pounds as repayments slightly exceeded new lending. Mortgage approvals are also still well below the levels seen in the boom running up to the 2008 financial crisis. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has promised to be “vigilant” about the risk of another house price bubble and has indicated a preference to use more intensive supervision of lending, rather than interest rates, as an initial response. Unsecured consumer lending also rose modestly, with net new credit card lending of 175 million pounds slightly exceeding 99 million pounds in repayment of personal loans and overdrafts. “These figures suggest that consumer confidence is growing. For the first time in four years, annual growth in household borrowing on credit cards and personal loans has turned positive,” said David Dooks, the BBA’s director of statistics. The picture on business lending was more mixed, with net lending continuing to fall but at a more modest rate than earlier this year. The BBA said that this was due to larger firms increasingly raising funds from sources other than banks, and added that lending to smaller firms – a source of concern for some politicians and the Bank of England – had stabilised.

Saddled with bleak personal ratings and doubt within his own party that he can lead Britain, Miliband said Labour would help squeezed families by freezing energy bills for two years and cutting taxes for small firms if it wins in two years’ time. In an attempt to restore Labour’s economic reputation, he blamed Prime Minister David Cameron’s cuts for delaying the recovery from the worst crisis since World War Two and for the longest fall in living standards for more than a century. Miliband spoke without notes for over an hour at a Labour conference, casting Cameron’s Conservatives as the party of the privileged few. He said only Labour would help voters bruised by years of stagnation, public cuts and weak wage growth. “The cost of living crisis isn’t an accident of David Cameron’s economic policy: it is his economic policy,” Miliband said to huge applause from delegates in the south coast seaside resort of Brighton. “Unless we put things right, it will only be a recovery for the few.” Standing on a triangular stage with no lectern, surrounded on all sides by activists, Miliband accused Cameron – who was educated at Britain’s most exclusive school – of running a “race to the bottom”, with low wages and weak employment rights. Echoing former U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s phrase in his 1980 White House campaign, Miliband asked voters “are you better off now than you were five years ago?”. His energy bill freeze would cost major energy companies 4.5 billion pounds ($7.21 billion). Miliband, who has faced criticism from some party opponents for perceived lackluster leadership, strolled through a cheering audience with his wife Justine, hugging and kissing supporters as a dance track called “Lifted” boomed out. POOR RATINGS Labour, leading the Conservatives in the polls, lost power in 2010 after its second worst election defeat since 1918. But the public’s view of Miliband is worse than that of the party.

Here’s the UK Pricing for Microsoft’s New Surface Tablets

Microsoft this morning announced two brand new iterations of the Surface laptop. The company is kicking off pre-orders today, and the tablets are launching at the end of next month. So what will they set you back when they finally do go on sale? Microsoft’s Surface 2 (that’s the second iteration of the Surface RT without the RT branding) will come in two variations, a 32 GB model and a 64 GB model. The 32 GB model will cost 349 while the 64 GB model will cost 439. Of course, if you want one of the new Type Covers, or Touch Cover 2.0, that price will climb significantly. If you’re looking at the Surface Pro 2, the 64 GB Pro 2 will cost you 719. Stepping up to the 128 GB model will bring the price up to 799. The 256 GB variation will cost 1,039 while the top of the range 512 GB model will cost 1,439. The Surface 2 will run Windows RT 8.1, and boasts a 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display and comes with support for microSD, USB 3.0, and HD video out. The tablet comes in two varaitions, 32 GB or 64 GB, and ships with Office 2013 RT and 200 GB of SkyDrive storage (for two years).