The government is to ban payments to witnesses by newspapers seeking to buy up people involved in prominent cases such as the trial of Rosemary West.
In a significant tightening of legal controls over the press, Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, will introduce a draft bill that will propose making payments to witnesses illegal and will strictly control the amount of publicity that can be given to a case before a trial begins.
"Large numbers of physicians seem unconcerned with the pain their patients are needlessly and predictably suffering," to the extent that it constitutes "systematic patient abuse."
On another level, many in the medical community acknowledge that the assisted-suicide debate has been fueled in part by the despair of patients for whom modern medicine has prolonged the physical agony of dying.
It identifies the undertreatment of pain and the aggressive use of "ineffectual and forced medical procedures that may prolong and even dishonor the period of dying" as the twin problems of end-of-life care.
The OECD estimates in its latest Economic Outlook that, if oil prices averaged $22 a barrel for a full year, compared with $13 in 1998, this would increase the oil import bill in rich economies by only 0.25-0.5% of GDP.
Strengthening economic growth, at the same time as winter grips the northern hemisphere, could push the price higher still in the short term.
In Europe, taxes account for up to four-fifths of the retail price, so even quite big changes in the price of crude have a more muted effect on pump prices than in the past.
This near-tripling of oil prices calls up scary memories of the 1973 oil shock, when prices quadrupled, and 1979-80, when they also almost tripled.
George Annas, chair of the health law department at Boston University, maintains that, as long as a doctor prescribes a drug for a legitimate medical purpose, the doctor has done nothing illegal even if the patient uses the drug to hasten death.
Nancy Dubler, director of Montefiore Medical Center, contends that the principle will shield doctors who "until now have very, very strongly insisted that they could not give patients sufficient medication to control their pain if that might hasten death."
The Supreme Court's decisions on physician-assisted suicide carry important implications for how medicine seeks to relieve dying patients of pain and suffering.
Although it ruled that there is no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, the Court in effect supported the medical principle of "double effect," a centuries-old moral principle holding that an action having two effects — a good one that is intended and a harmful one that is foreseen — is permissible if the actor intends only the good effect.
On the other hand, oil-importing emerging economies — to which heavy industry has shifted — have become more energy-intensive, and so could be more seriously squeezed.
One more reason not to lose sleep over the rise in oil prices is that, unlike the rises in the 1970s, it has not occurred against the background of general commodity-price inflation and global excess demand.
But the human mind can glimpse a rapidly changing scene and immediately disregard the 98 percent that is irrelevant, instantaneously focusing on the monkey at the side of a winding forest road or the single suspicious face in a big crowd.
What they found, in attempting to model thought, is that the human brain's roughly one hundred billion nerve cells are much more talented — and human perception far more complicated — than previously imagined.
"While we know how to tell a robot to handle a specific error," says Dave Lavery, manager of a robotics program at NASA, "we can't yet give a robot enough 'common sense' to reliably interact with a dynamic world."
Despite a spell of initial optimism in the 1960s and 1970s when it appeared that transistor circuits and microprocessors might be able to copy the action of the human brain by the year 2010, researchers lately have begun to extend that forecast by decades if not centuries.
But if robots are to reach the next stage of laborsaving utility, they will have to operate with less human supervision and be able to make at least a few decisions for themselves — goals that pose a real challenge.
As a result, the modern world is increasingly populated by intelligent gizmos whose presence we barely notice but whose universal existence has removed much human labor.
And thanks to the continual miniaturization of electronics and micro-mechanics, there are already robot systems that can perform some kinds of brain and bone surgery with submillimeter accuracy — far greater precision than highly skilled physicians can achieve with their hands alone.
With other audiences you mustn't attempt to cut in with humor as they will resent an outsider making disparaging remarks about their canteen or their chairman.
Often it's the delivery which causes the audience to smile, so speak slowly and remember that a raised eyebrow or an unbelieving look may help to show that you are making a light-hearted remark.
Here is an example, which I heard at a nurses' convention, of a story which works well because the audience all shared the same view of doctors.
Your humor must be relevant to the audience and should help to show them that you are one of them or that you understand their situation and are in sympathy with their point of view.
If you are part of the group, which you are addressing, you will be in a position to know the experiences and problems which are common to all of you and it'll be appropriate for you to make a passing remark about the inedible canteen food or the chairman's notorious bad taste in ties.
Everyone is very peaceful, polite and friendly until, waiting in a line for lunch, the new arrival is suddenly pushed aside by a man in a white coat, who rushes to the head of the line, grabs his food and stomps over to a table by himself.
The behavioral sciences have been slow to change partly because the explanatory items often seem to be directly observed and partly because other kinds of explanations have been hard to find.
One difficulty is that almost all of what is called behavioral science continues to trace behavior to states of mind, feelings, traits of character, human nature, and so on.