Christmas agony for parents of girl, 15, who lost cancer fight after NHS doctors mistook THREE tumours for migraines
Scan refused! They cost money, you know!
A teenage girl who was falsely diagnosed with migraines when she had three tumours has died. Danica Maxwell, 15, of Egremont, Cumbria, was told by doctors in January that she was suffering from migraines after getting agonising headaches, violent sickness, memory loss, confusion and drowsiness. But a later scan revealed three tumours – with one the size of a golf ball pressing on her spine.
She was taken to Newcastle General Hospital where she was operated on, followed by months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. But Miss Maxwell lost her fight against cancer on Wednesday and died at home with her family.
Doctors repeatedly mistook the teenage girl’s cancer for migraines – spotting three tumours only after her father John Maxwell refused to leave the hospital unless she had a CT scan.
At the time of her diagnosis Miss Maxwell said she felt like ‘a nuisance’ and ‘just another kid with a migraine who was making a fuss’ when she was seen at the West Cumberland Hospital, in Whitehaven, Cumbria. When she was eventually operated on she was told she would have died had the cancer gone unnoticed any longer.
The tumours removed from her body were deemed so unusual they were sent to America for analysis.
Before falling ill Miss Maxwell was a typical active teenager who loved to dance and play sports.
Politics doesn’t need the stamp of state approval
The BNP may be racist, but it should still have the right to decide who can join and what it stands for
Last Friday, British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin, the panto season’s very own neo-Nazi, stood on the steps of the High Court in London, posing for all he was worth like some hero of the English Revolution. ‘We have won a spectacular David and Goliath victory for freedom’, he declared.
Even the BNP’s dozen or so supporters would have to admit that Nick Griffin is an unlikely freedom fighter. What he and his party – something better grasped as a self-help group for the socially inadequate – know (or care) about liberty proper could be engraved on a pinhead. It is their anti-freedom credentials that are impressive: since its inglorious inception in 1982, the BNP has been committed to separating the ‘indigenous British’ from their dark-skinned cohabitants and packing off the non-whites ‘back to where they came from’: ‘repatriation’ as the BNP would put it. Racist in principle and authoritarian in practice, the BNP would be a threat to freedom if they had any kind of substantial base of support – which, of course, they don’t.
But thanks to the state-funded-and-endorsed Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Griffin and the BNP have been able to pose as the voice of liberty. It’s an incredible reversal. The BNP and its chief henchman Griffin come over like Thomas Paine while its persecutor, the official vehicle of tolerance that is the EHRC, appears like a parody of autarchy.
And the reason for this reversal? That’s simple: the EHRC is autocratic. For over 18 months, the commission has attempted to dictate to a political association which principles it can organise around and who should be allowed to join.
The legal pursuit of the BNP has been jawdroppingly illiberal. It was back in June 2009 that the EHRC decided that the BNP’s racist ‘indigenous peoples only’ membership criteria might not only be racist, but ‘illegal’ under the Race Relations Act. With prosecution in the offing, the BNP – wily old beast that it is – decided in a meeting in February this year to change its constitution to allow non-whites to sign up.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for the EHRC. Realising that non-whites might still be put off joining the BNP because they would have to support ‘the integrity of the indigenous British’ and resist any form ‘of integration or assimilation’, the EHRC obtained a Central London County Court order demanding that the BNP make further alterations to its constitution. All the BNP had to do was stop being so discriminatory against non-indigenous peoples, not just in terms of membership criteria, but in principle, too.
The whole point of the BNP is its ‘Britain for the British’ opposition to so-called non-indigenous people. Take the new-fangled, multiculturalist-sounding racism out of the BNP and there’s nothing left: nothing ‘British’ and nothing ‘Nationalist’. Clearly reluctant to rebrand the BNP as simply ‘The Party’, Griffin resisted the court order, and last week, after months of expensive legal wrangling, the High Court finally let the BNP off the hook.
Unpalatable as it may seem to those of us who hate racism, the BNP – as an association of like-minded individuals – should be free to discriminate against those who are not of the opinion that ‘non-indigenous’ peoples should be sent back to where they came from. No one would expect a traditional political party to accept members who are fundamentally opposed to its view of how society ought to be. Just because the BNP’s outlook is racist and promotes discriminatory policies does not mean that the state should forcibly change that association’s principles.
Everyone should be free to associate with whoever they choose, on whatever basis – even if the views of those involved are offensive to the majority of society. Equally, in an open, democratic society people should be free to judge political parties for themselves rather than having the judgement of a court or a quango imposed instead. Only then will the ideas – racist or otherwise – be properly interrogated.
If freedom is not universal, it is not freedom. It becomes something else, something particular, something partial. That is, it becomes a privilege dished out by the state to those with views considered acceptable, and withheld from those with views considered unacceptable. That is the most conservative idea of all.
‘The Most Anti-Manufacturing Energy Policy Of Any Government In British History’
A recent speech below by Lord Lawson of Blaby to the House of Lords
My Lords, let me first declare an interest as chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, of which I gave fuller details in this House on 2 November. I must say that I am not the slightest bit surprised that this Bill has the support of the party opposite. It is the most dirigiste legislation the present Government have so far produced.
What I propose to do today is to look at the philosophy and policy that lie behind the Bill, to which the Minister alluded in his opening remarks. It is an area in which I have form, as it were. As the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, my right honourable friend Mr Huhne, wrote in the Daily Telegraph on 16 December:
“So today the Coalition begins a consultation on a reform that would reshape this market more fundamentally than at any time since the 1980s, when the Lawson reforms were the pioneer of Europe’s deregulation”.
Nor were those reforms simply a matter of energy privatisation, although that was an important part of them. They went much further than that. As Oxford’s Professor Dieter Helm has written in his definitive work, Energy, the State , and the Market: British Energy Policy since 1979,
“the principles of energy policy were rewritten, notably after Nigel Lawson moved to the Department of Energy. His restatement of energy policy in his speech on ‘The Market for Energy’ in 1982 can be seen, in retrospect, as a defining moment. A new philosophy was set out, motivating much of what followed. His rejection of planning and many of the activities then going on within the Department of Energy was revolutionary at the time”.
That new approach produced well over a quarter of a century of reliable energy supplies at the lowest practicable cost. It should not be torn up, as it is now being torn up, without very good reason.
So what is the reason? According to Mr Huhne, in his Statement on so-called “Electricity Market Reform” last week:
“The current energy market has served us well, but it cannot deliver long-term investment on the scale that we need, nor can it give customers the best deal. Left untouched, it would lock carbon emissions into the system for decades to come.”
So there we have it. Pace Mr Huhne the market can certainly deliver adequate investment, provided it is free from arbitrary government impositions and from major uncertainties about future government energy policy. It can undoubtedly give customers the best deal, as it has for more than a quarter of a century. But it is true that it may well lock carbon emissions into the system, to use Mr Huhne’s phrase, for decades to come. That is precisely because it is carbon-based energy that now, and for the foreseeable future, gives energy customers, both corporate and individual, the best deal. Indeed, Mr Huhne freely admitted as much when later in his Statement he said:
“At the moment, there is a bias towards low-cost, low-risk fossil fuel generation”. Indeed there is, and quite right too—except that it is not a bias. It is the market providing UK energy customers with the best available deal.
The purpose of this Bill, or, rather, the policy behind it, is to bring that to an end in an obsession to eliminate United Kingdom carbon emissions. Again I will quote from the Statement for what I promise to be the last time. Mr Huhne said that: “we face growing demand, shrinking supply and ambitious emissions reductions targets”.—[Official Report, Commons, 16/12/10; col. 1064.]
We do indeed face growing demand, although the massive economic burden imposed by the energy policy that lies behind this Bill will certainly damage the economy sufficiently to reduce the growth in demand. We are undoubtedly lumbered with self-imposed unilateral emissions reductions targets. The reference to “shrinking supply” is complete nonsense. It is the very reverse of the truth. Indeed, Mr Huhne admitted as much when he explained to the CBI: “Left untouched, the electricity market would allow a new dash for gas”.
Indeed, so it would and so it should. The most dramatic technological breakthrough in the world of energy since my time as Secretary of State almost 30 years ago is the very recent development of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which together have made the production of gas from shale economic and highly competitive. As a result, the official US Energy Information Administration, for example, announced only last week that America’s technically and commercially recoverable shale gas reserves are twice as abundant as they previously thought them to be. Indeed, the United States is already set to overtake Russia—if it has not already done so—as the world’s largest gas producer, and this is just the start.
Although America has been first in the field—a result of a technological breakthrough by the private sector, incidentally, which owes nothing to any government support or technology stimulus—the world is awash with shale, in Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. We now know that we live in a world in which there will be an abundance of gas far into the foreseeable future and beyond. Because it is spread throughout the world, we no longer need to fear the strategic insecurity of being overdependent on either Russia or the Middle East.
Indeed, in so far as there is an energy security problem in this country, it stems entirely from the Government’s obsession of ensuring by means of massive subsidies, combined with growing penalties and restrictions on the use of gas, that we become heavily dependent on wind power. That government-imposed insecurity has three dimensions. First, there is the inherently unreliable nature of wind, which sometimes blows and sometimes does not. Secondly, there is the question of whether it is practically possible to build and install wind turbines on the scale required to meet our energy needs, leaving aside the huge economic and environmental costs of doing so. Thirdly, there is the fact that an indispensable component of wind turbines is neodymium, a rare mineral, which is mined and refined—in a highly polluting way, incidentally—only in China, so we are dependent completely on China.
What are the consequences of the new energy policy which lies behind this Bill, whose essential purpose is substantially to raise the cost of UK energy by turning our back on abundant low-cost gas and relying on higher cost nuclear power and, to an even greater degree, on very much higher cost wind power? There are three consequences, two of them certain and the third quite likely.
The first is that by substantially raising the cost of energy, the policy will do great damage to the economy in general and to manufacturing in particular, at a time when it is clear that our principal competitors overseas have not the slightest intention of following suit. It is indeed curious, to say the least, that a Government that came to power saying they wished to rebalance our economy so as to reduce our relative dependence on financial services, which implies having a stronger manufacturing sector, should be determined to impose the most anti-manufacturing energy policy of any Government in British history.
The second consequence is that, despite the provisions in the Bill before us today, the massive rise in energy costs, which is the clear purpose of this policy, will lead to a huge increase in fuel poverty at a time when conditions are tough enough as it is for those on low incomes. Those two consequences of this policy are certain.
The third, which is not certain but quite likely, is that the dysfunctional energy policy to which the Government are committed will prove unable to provide sufficient reliable electricity to meet the nation’s demand, and the lights will go out. The noble Lord, Lord McFall, warned of that in his intervention earlier in the debate. And all this in the cause of eliminating UK carbon emissions.
Moreover, there is a further irony. Per kilowatt of electricity generated, gas produces only half the carbon emissions of coal, so it is quite possible that by switching from coal to gas, the UK might be able to meet or at least get very close to the 2020 target for emissions reductions enshrined in the Climate Change Act. It would not, of course, make it possible to meet the near total decarbonisation enshrined in the 2050 target, but by 2020, or more likely well before that, it will have become abundantly clear that global decarbonisation is simply not going to happen, and that for this country to persist with a policy of unilateral national decarbonisation will be manifestly absurd and indefensible. Indeed, as we suffer the coldest winter since records began 100 years ago, well before 2020 it might just begin to dawn even on green-obsessed government Ministers that there may not be any case for doing so.
At present, the coalition Government are having to tackle with determination and vigour an unenviable fiscal inheritance in a tough economic climate. I wish them well. But to make that task substantially harder by embracing, for no good reason whatever, the massive self-imposed economic burden embodied in the policy which lies behind this Bill is madness.
Britain’s one time chief alarmist rejects the Warmist Met office advice
The row over the need for a multimillion-pound investment in snowploughs, de-icing equipment and salt stocks deepened this morning with the publication of a government-backed report using Met Office predictions that successive hard winters are rare.
The report by David Quarmby, chairman of the RAC Foundation, said the Met Office remained convinced that harsh winters do not come in clusters. Asked whether there should be concerted investment in snow-clearing equipment, following the third snowbound winter in a row, Quarmby said: “Are you happy to invest more in kit that may sit at the back of the depot and won’t be used?”
But the findings of the government-commissioned study were contradicted by Sir David King, the government’s chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007, who warned that ministers should plan for more cold winters.
This morning, King, the chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “My advice would be prepare for it [cold winters]. It may not happen but the risk to our economy is very significant if we are not prepared.”
Quarmby said the Met Office remained convinced that the severe cold snap is a one-off phenomenon. “We cannot say this is an annual event,” he said.
He estimated that the 2009-2010 cold snap may have cost the economy around £1.5bn, adding that his grandchildren had not even seen snow until last year.
However, Quarmby said politicians may have to go against Met Office advice. “Unless we have got advice to the contrary we have to build the business case on what we have been told about the statistical probability of severe weather. It is the politicians and local government who have to stand up and make the decisions.
Met office blames a ‘stupid’ public for being unimpressed by its refined — and misleading — analyses
As Britain remains cold and snowy, an interesting little dispute has boiled up between the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and the Met Office over the quality of longer-range weather forecasting.
And this is illuminated by documents obtained by the BBC under freedom of information from the Met Office. These shed new light on the problems faced by the Met Office in its public communications and the strategies it has adopted for tackling them.
The Met Office is under attack from the GWPF, for its “poor advice” on the likelihood of a harsh and cold winter. The GWPF is drawing attention to a map published on the Met Office website in October which indicated that the UK was likely to experience above-normal temperatures in the ensuing three-month period.
For the GPWF, which is sceptical of the Met Office and other mainstream analysis of global warming, this is evidence of a Met Office tendency to under-predict cold weather and over-predict mild winters.
The Met Office replies that these maps, which feature in the scientific research section of its website, are probabilistic estimates of the chances of a range of outcomes and are not to be taken as simple weather forecasts that can be right or wrong. It tried to squash news stories in October that it was predicting a mild winter.
It should also be noted that, according to the Quarmby report on transport and winter resilience earlier this week, the Met Office did give “early indications of the onset of a cold spell from late November at the end of October”.
This argument is linked to views about climate change, but part of the background is the major difficulty the Met Office has faced for some time over forecasting seasonal weather and conveying its views to the public.
It goes back to the well-publicised (and in due course much ridiculed) Met Office forecast of “a barbecue summer” for summer 2009, which turned out to be true if you use your barbecue for collecting rainwater. It became one of the wettest summers in the past century. The widespread derision that resulted left the Met Office feeling badly burnt (while the nation’s sausages were not).
The documents we requested show that scientists within the Met Office were uneasy about the language of this prediction. One internal report states:
“The strapline ‘odds on for a barbeque summer’ was created by the operations and communications teams to reflect the probability of a good summer. Concern over the use of the strapline and its relationship to the scientific information available was expressed by the scientific community, who were not consulted prior to the media release.”
The Met Office then resolved to use “more conservative terminology” in future. But its seasonal prediction for last winter was also awry, failing to signal sufficiently the long and severe cold spell.
An internal executive paper noted the impact as follows: “Unfortunately, less ‘intelligent’ (and potentially hostile) sections of the press, competitors and politicos have been able to maintain a sustained attack on the Met Office … The opprobrium is leaking across to areas where we have much higher skill such as in short range forecasting and climate change – our brand is coming under pressure and there is some evidence we are losing the respect of the public.”
This report argued that one downside of the seasonal forecasts was that they remained on the website and could easily be later compared to reality. It said:
“One of the weaknesses of the presentation of seasonal forecasts is that they were issued with much media involvement and then remain, unchanged, on our website for extended lengths of time – making us a hostage to fortune if the public perception is that the forecast is wrong for a long time before it is updated.”
In contrast it noted that the “medium range forecast (out to 15 days ahead) is updated daily on the website which means that no single forecast is ever seen as ‘wrong’ because long before the weather happens, the forecast has been updated many times.”
The intense embarrassment over the seasonal calculations prompted the Met Office to rethink its approach to predictions for several months ahead. It stopped publishing a seasonal forecast for the UK for public consumption (although it added a rolling 30-day view to its main forecast page). Instead it decided to put probabilistic seasonal data on the scientific pages of its website where, in the words of a board paper, such figures can be “more targeted towards users who appreciate their value and limitations”.
As another document put it, “‘Intelligent’ customers (such as the Cabinet Office) find probabilistic forecasts helpful in planning their resource deployment.”
A communications plan in February 2010 instructed staff that “interested customers” should be told the three-month outlook will be available on the research pages of the website but that “this message should not be used with our mainstream audiences”.
Met Office staff clearly feel the general British public find it difficult to cope with probabilistic statements. A board paper from September 2009 states: “Feedback from Met Office surveys suggests that users would rather receive a deterministic forecast.”
It adds: “It is considered that the task of educating the UK public in interpreting probabilistic information will be neither a short-term, nor simple task.” It compares this unfavourably with the apparently greater ability of the US public to grasp such material.
British comedian in strife after using “n*gger” and “Paki”
“Paki” is just an abbreviation of “Pakistani” so it is hard to see what is wrong with that. “Thou shalt not abbreviate”?
“Viewers, politicians and charities last night called for Channel 4 to sack comedian Frankie Boyle for making racist jokes and ridiculing the disabled.
Boyle has caused fury by using the most offensive words to describe black and Asian people in his television routines, as well as abhorrent comments about those with physical and mental health problems.
‘There is also growing fury that Channel 4 executives allowed the comedian to use two of the most racially offensive terms in the English language during his show Tramadol Nights.
He also made some comments about disabled people which are disallowed too, of course.