Girl, 17, dies just 48 hours after contracting swine flu IN HOSPITAL
A teenage girl is the latest person to die from swine flu after she contracted the virus in hospital. Natalie Hill, 17, passed away less than 48 hours after doctors at Hull Royal Infirmary discovered she had the H1N1 virus. She was also suffering from a heart condition and blood poisoning.
Yesterday her devastated parents paid tribute to a ‘delightful’ daughter. The teenager suffered from serious health problems all her life and was in hospital because of complications from a rare condition she has battled since birth, when she picked up swine flu.
Born weighing just 2lbs and with a condition that destroys part of the intestines, she spent the first nine months of her life in a specialist intensive care unit. Initially doctors didn’t said it would be a ‘miracle’ if she lived past five years of age, but she defied expectations.
Her mother Mother Carol Hill, 50, from Hull, said:’She was a blessing in so many ways and made our family stronger. We just tried to give her everything a child would ever want. she has brought us all great joy.’
Over the years, her condition worsened, resulting in the loss of her sight and hearing. To protect her organs from the condition necrotising enterocolitis, she was fitted with a feeding tube. To add to her problems Miss Hill was also diagnosed with another condition in which the heart’s main artery stops functioning.
Miss Hill was admitted to the hospital’s high dependency unit five months ago because of weight loss associated with the feeding tube.
Mrs Hill said she believed Natalie caught swine flu from someone in the hospital, but the family was not blaming the hospital for her death. Her husband Michael, 58, added:’We were getting worried because she was not feeding and was losing a lot of weight. The septicaemia was detected 72 hours before she passed away and a day or so later they said she had swine flu. ‘She gave us so much love – something that parents with healthy children can so easily take for granted.’
Miss Hill died on 15 December leaving sisters Clare, 26, Deborah, 25, Julie, 22, and Kimberley, 18.
Hull And East Riding Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Hull Royal Infirmary, said swine flu played a part in her death. A spokeswoman said swine flu was a ‘contributory factor’ but Natalie had ‘serious underlying illness.’ ‘This is clearly a tragic case and we would extend our sympathies to the family at this very difficult time,’ she said.
Let’s make 2011 the year of free speech
We should take to task the film censors, advert-banners and political blacklisters who think they know better than us
Unfortunately, in 2010 the idea that the public needs to be protected from ‘dangerous ideas’ did not get ousted alongside the New Labour government. Instead, in the disparate spheres of politics, culture, education and advertising, words, opinions and images continue to be censured, corrected, silenced and removed from public view in the name of protecting us from harm.
The busybodies who take the liberty to decide what we, the public, are allowed to hear clearly cannot tell the difference between words and deeds, and do not understand that without the right to hear all sides of an argument or to see full versions of movies or plays, we don’t actually have genuine freedom of expression and conscience. Without access to a broad range of views and aesthetic judgements, we can’t truly work out for ourselves what is wrong or right, what is good or bad.
Here in Britain, many civil liberties campaigners were hopeful that the Lib-Con coalition government would help us reclaim the freedoms robbed by New Labour micro-managers. We heard that the database state was being rolled back, the ID cards scheme was getting slashed, and some surveillance cameras would be disassembled. Yet while some of the intrusive and unwieldy symbols of the surveillance society have certainly come to feel out-of-date and so New Labour, our new rulers continue to treat our minds as play dough to be kneaded and moulded into an ‘acceptable’ shape.
The Lib-Cons and their social psychology advisers call it ‘nudging’: it’s about gently pushing us, ‘empowering us’, to make the right choices, to think pleasant thoughts, to do good. And so anyone or anything that can potentially lead us to behave badly must be removed. We’ve gone from ‘the politics of behaviour’ to ‘the politics of the brain’.
The idea that a minority should determine for the rest of us what we are allowed to say, think or listen to now spans the political spectrum. Remember, for instance, when the Conservative home secretary Theresa May used exclusion powers for the first time? It was to disallow Mumbai-based televangelist Dr Zakir Naik from giving a series of lectures in Britain in the summer. May was very much following in the footsteps of the former Labour home secretary, Jacqui Smith, who barred from Britain hundreds of people deemed not ‘conducive to the public good’. Such bogeymen have ranged from Muslim preachers to an American ‘shock jock’, from neo-Nazis to an Israeli politician. May used the same rhetoric as Smith, helping to make Naik’s crackpot views seem somehow mysterious and dangerously persuasive when they are nothing of the sort.
Nowhere is the clampdown on extreme views felt more acutely than in universities. These institutions should ideally be offering young people a unique chance to engage in free-flowing debate, to listen to – and question – everything. Yet in 2010, academia continued its transformation into the frontline of the ‘war against terror’. With universities viewed as hotbeds of ‘radicalisation’, higher education lecturers have been co-opted into keeping students in check. And student bodies, too, have been all too willing to ‘no platform’ ideas deemed too wacky, un-PC, or too potentially harmful for public airing.
Many people have internalised the idea that they have the right to decide on behalf of others what is acceptable or what is not – and that they should be thanked for doing so. So in 2010, eight people complained that an advert showing a pregnant nun with a tub of ice-cream, beneath which it said ‘Immaculate Conception’, was in poor taste. The Advertising Standards Authority duly banned it.
For others, the expression ‘the means justify the ends’ has no bounds. Take the National Health Service smoking cessation group. It recently demanded that children should be banned from watching films like 101 Dalmatians and Lord of the Rings because they show people smoking. In this instance, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) said banning was inappropriate. Yet in other cases, the BBFC has seen fit to cut and slash movies in the name of protecting adults from supposedly harmful images. Forty-nine scenes were cut out from the political horror flick A Serbian Film, severely compromising, in the view of the filmmakers, the movie’s message. The BBFC also gave a fairly tough 15 certificate to the British film Made in Dagenham simply because it featured swearing factory workers.
All of which begs the question: who the f**k do these prudes think they are? They are little more than jumped-up, self-styled guardians of morality who think they know better than the rest of us.
Whether it’s the government sending a message about what opinions are acceptable, the Advertising Standards Authority upholding the complaints of tiny, easily offended minorities, or the BBFC determining what kind of violent scenes or foul words audiences can stomach – today censorship is repeatedly dressed up as being for our benefit. And that’s one idea we should seriously challenge in 2011.
British High school courses ‘failing to prepare students for university’
British students face missing out on university places because A-levels fail to prepare them for degree courses, Michael Gove warns today. The Education Secretary says even the brightest students often lack the levels of knowledge boasted by undergraduates from abroad – putting them at a disadvantage in the race for the most sought-after institutions.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he pledges to allow universities to help script A-level questions and exam syllabuses to make sure they act as a better preparation for higher education.
His comments come after it emerged that one-in-five universities are being forced to set their own entrance tests because they can no longer rely on the results of school and college exams to pick out exceptional candidates. It is likely to make it even harder for students to get on to degree courses in 2011 following a dramatic 12 per cent surge in university applications for next year.
In an article today, Mr Gove says: “Colleges can no longer rely on the existing A level to identify the best candidates, so they have to set their own tests. And academics report that even the brightest of our students don’t have the level of knowledge which undergraduates from abroad can boast, so when they arrive at college they need remedial work, especially on subjects like maths, to compete. “We can’t afford to waste time while our students fall further behind in the race for the best university places and jobs, which is why we’re accelerating the pace of reform.”
The Education Secretary says a proposed overhaul of A-levels should restore faith in the so-called “gold standard” qualification, leading to a cut in the number of universities setting their own entrance tests.
An education Bill being published in the New Year will require exam boards to consult universities before setting A-levels and benchmark exams against tests set by some of the world’s best education systems.
A reform of school league tables will also be made to stop teachers pushing pupils on to “soft” courses used to inflate their position in official rankings.
Another “minstrel” show — with the usual protests
Britain: White comedians dress up in “blackface” (actually brownface) makeup.
“Thousands of viewers have complained that the Christmas Day show by comedy duo Matt Lucas and David Walliams on BBC1 was racist.
The spoof documentary set in an airport and called Come Fly With Me featured the pair as a range of minority characters. Lucas darkens his face and wears a beard to play a Muslim worker called Taaj. He also adopts a strong West Indian accent to play a black woman called Precious who works in the coffee shop.
However, many viewers failed to see the funny side and took to internet forums to complain about the programme – the first of a six-part series – likening it to ‘a minstrel show’.
The show, broadcast at 10pm, was the second most-watched show on Christmas Day, attracting an audience of 10.3million. BBC1 bosses said they had not yet established how many complained to the corporation.
Must not laugh at exaggerated minority characteristics