A shedload of pills to combat old age
Something not mentioned below but akin to it is that the side-effects of statins are very similar to Alzheimers. Both the use of statins and the incidence of Alzheimers have increased in recent years. Draw your own conclusions
In a telling commentary on our times, Mr Andrew Brain from south London, now in his eighties, writes to tell how his family doctor, the practice nurse and an optician have each on separate occasions expressed the same astonishment (even indignation) on reviewing his medical records, “But Mr Brain, you are not on any medication!”
The hazards of the “medicalisation of ageing” when everyone over a certain age is expected to be taking a fistful of pills every day are confirmed by a recent (and shocking) analysis in The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine of over 500,000 admissions to hospital associated with Adverse Drug Reactions (as they are known) – revealing a 7 per cent increase over the past 10 years.
The dynamic behind this trend is well illustrated by another revealing remark reported by a reader started on drugs to lower his blood pressure after it was found to be “raised” on a routine visit to his local surgery. Soon after, he was also found to have a raised blood sugar leading to his being diagnosed as having diabetes.
Then he developed visual disturbances warranting being referred to the eye clinic at the local hospital, where the registrar casually remarked that both the diabetes and the visual problems are “commonly associated with blood-pressure medication”.
This might be described as the knock-on or multiplier effect where, for example, the commonly prescribed blood-pressure-lowering drug bendroflumethiazide induces diabetes, requiring treatment – as well as the prescribing of statins.
These, in turn, cause the usual muscular aches and pains leading to the prescribing of anti-inflammatory drugs that cause gastritis or irritation of the lining of the stomach, requiring yet more pills – and so on.
What to do? Mr Brain suggests that perhaps more people should follow the example of a relative, recently deceased at the age of 91, whose wife on clearing out his garden shed found “3,000 pills and a stack of uncashed prescriptions”.
British Town hall snoopers get personal in intrusive ‘diversity’ questionnaires
Millions are being bombarded by town halls with intrusive questions about their private lives. People are being routinely grilled about their sex lives, disabilities, religion, ethnicity and employment. Questionnaires are often sent out unsolicited after someone contacts the council with a complaint or for advice.
Some authorities are spending tens of thousands of pounds a year on printing and postage at a time when they are cutting frontline services.
The practice fuels the controversial multi-million pound equality and diversity industry in local government, where hundreds of officials are employed on generous salaries and gold-plated pension schemes.
A snapshot survey of councils by the Daily Mail found that around 85 per cent of those that responded send out the forms, despite the fact they replicate much of the information gathered in this year’s census.
Questions include whether householders are bisexual, gay, lesbian or straight, whether they have a long-term illness or disability and how this affects them, and their ethnicity. Other sections gather information on employment status and age.
They are despatched by councils under a requirement to ‘promote and ensure’ diversity under the Equality Act 2010, which was brought in by the last Labour government and consolidated numerous legislation including the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Yet there is considerable confusion over whether the gathering of such information is a legal requirement. Some councils believe it is, yet others said they did not send out the forms.
The Mail contacted 30 local authorities and had responses from 14. Of these, 12 said they used the forms to gather information on residents, including Labour-run Luton borough council, Tory-led Southend council and Tower Hamlets council in London, which has an independent elected mayor.
If the proportion were applied across England and Wales, it would mean 359 of the 419 local authorities request information from residents.
John O’Connell of the TaxPayers’ Alliance accused council chiefs of wasting funds on the ‘irrelevant’ and ‘bizarre’ schemes. ‘Spending reductions have to be made and this is exactly the sort of thing that can be cut with no effect on services,’ he said. ‘Central government must remove ridiculous statutory burdens from councils but in the meantime local authorities should ensure that they aren’t doing more than is absolutely necessary to comply with barmy legislation.’
A spokesman for the Home Office, which is responsible for the Equality Act 2010, said: ‘There is nothing in the legislation that states these forms have to be sent out.’
Grandmother Richenda Legge was so outraged when North Norfolk District Council sent her an equality monitoring form after she rang to complain about her bin collections that she shredded it. ‘I really saw red when I read the question about my sexual orientation.
There was a choice including heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual,’ said Mrs Legge, 56, who lives with her husband Bill, a retired engineer, in Beeston Regis.
‘As it happens, I am happily married to Mr Legge. But I can’t see what any of this has to do with the fact that my rubbish wasn’t taken away. At a time when the council is making cuts it seems an absolute waste of money to send out things like this. There was even a reply-paid envelope.’
Helen Eales, leader of the Tory-run council, admitted the forms were ‘intrusive’ and served ‘no practical use whatsoever’. She said: ‘The rules state we have to demonstrate that we are being fair to everyone. But I fail to see how knowing that a transsexual called us about their wheelie bin would help us in any way.’
Wanting a traditional Christian church service is “bullying”?
A vicar was forced out of his rural parish when his ‘bullying’ congregation rebelled against his attempts to modernise the traditional Christmas service. The Reverend Jonathan Cruickshank fell out of favour with church wardens after introducing modern hymns to the service and welcoming those who didn’t attend the church all year round, a friend said.
A whispering campaign then apparently began behind his back, with villagers claiming he had abandoned tradition in favour of ‘happy-clappy’ informal services.
He and his wife Pauline left the parish in May after claiming they were ‘not made to feel welcome’ during his two-year tenure at the three churches in Holbeton, Noss Mayo and Newton Ferrers near Plymouth, Devon.
The Bishop of Exeter, Dr Michael Langrish, wrote a letter to the three congregations, blaming them for creating a ‘culture of bullying’ that drove Mr Cruickshank away. He wrote that this would ‘never be acceptable within the Christian church’ and blamed people working to ‘different agendas’ for the problems.
A friend of the vicar, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The wardens call the shots and Jonathan simply fell out of favour with them. ‘These people are traditional and don’t like change. At the end of the day, they run the church.
‘He made the Christmas service more informal by introducing modern hymns and welcoming people who don’t come to church all year round. ‘The wardens didn’t like this and a whispering campaign started behind his back. ‘People started to get the idea in their heads that the old order of service was being ditched in favour for a more “happy clappy” service, but it wasn’t like that.
‘The bishop had asked Jonathan to try to modernise the church and he was just following orders while trying to be sympathetic to the traditional values of the church.’
Bishop Langrish’s letter was recently read out to the stunned congregations in Holy Cross, St Peter’s and All Saints churches.
It said: ‘It’s clear there are a number of issues which need to be addressed if the church in this area is to move on and fulfil its purpose of furthering God’s mission. ‘It is very difficult for a parish priest to be an effective minister when different places and people are working to different agendas.’
The bishop said he was looking for a new priest who had the skills and experience to ‘address these issues’. A member of the congregation said hearing the letter was ‘quite a shock initially because it was a letter really condemning the parishes and the way they had obviously treated the outgoing vicar’.
The village, which has a population of around 1,100 and house prices averaging £400,000, tends to be home to retired executives and businessmen.
Mr Cruickshank, a former Royal Navy chaplain, is now the vicar of St Peter’s Church in St Peter-in-Thanet, Broadstairs, Kent. He described his vocation in life as ‘reaching out with tender, loving care to welcome all to the Christian faith and to teach and grow that faith for all ages’.
If the Labor Party leader is such a hero, why won’t he tackle the REAL threat to our way of life – the BBC?
By Melanie Phillips
By common consent among political commentators, Ed Miliband’s lamentable leadership of the Labour Party has been miraculously transformed by the News of the World scandal.
With the Prime Minister seemingly paralysed by his unwise friendships with now-compromised News International executives, the Labour leader has been making the political running.
He has achieved this through the simple trick of demanding what had already become inevitable, such as the resignation of Rebekah Brooks or the termination of Rupert Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB. The result is that the formerly reviled Miliband has gone from zero to hero.
Apparently intoxicated by the novel experience of not being scorned, he has now ratcheted up his demands by calling for News International to be broken up.
But far from reinforcing his newly-discovered statesman credentials, this merely exposes his agenda as callow and partisan. For sure, the News of the World did things that were wrong; and when the full extent of this behaviour is established, those responsible should be held to account, however high up the chain of command they happened to be.
But why should it follow that News International should therefore be broken up? After all, it is possible to imagine that everyone involved in this affair — including the entire Murdoch clan — might be replaced by people with totally clean hands to run the company.
The reason, says Miliband, is that Murdoch has ‘too much power over British public life’. But this is transparently disingenuous. For there is a media oligarchy which exercises far more power in Britain than News International. And that is the BBC.
The BBC’s monopoly over the media is indeed a running scandal. After all, just imagine if News International had been given the legal power to levy a tax on everyone who bought a newspaper in order to fund the Murdoch empire.
People wouldn’t stand it for a moment. It would be considered an utter abuse of democracy. Yet that is precisely the privileged position the BBC occupies.
Ah, say its defenders, but the BBC is a public service broadcaster, and therefore of course merits a public subsidy as a great British institution which must be preserved at all costs.
Well, that argument just won’t wash any more. For the BBC wraps itself in the heroic mantle of a public service remit which it has systematically betrayed.
That remit was to educate and elevate public taste, as well as to entertain. But for years now, the BBC has instead been playing to the lowest common denominator, competing in the ratings market as ruthlessly as any commercial broadcaster.
In addition, it has also used its public subsidy to gain a wildly unfair competitive edge, with an enormous market share in television, radio and on the internet which has crowded out smaller competitors. Ofcom figures show that its share of TV news is more than ten times bigger than Sky’s and that BBC websites have ten times the market share.
Indeed, since it is a direct competitor of BSkyB, the disproportion and relish with which the BBC has been reporting the News of the World scandal — allowing it on some current affairs shows to drive out all other news — leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. Moreover, the BBC’s role in all this is even more questionable when you factor in the real reason for Miliband’s double standard.
For his motives surely have precious little to do with any criminal behaviour or monopoly power. No, the real reason is that for the past three decades the Left has been desperate to bring Murdoch down. For such people, he is a hate figure of diabolical proportions. The venom and hysteria he inspires are truly irrational. He ignites passions far more incendiary than are generated by any tyrant or war criminal. Indeed, to them the Left turns a blind eye, while treating Murdoch as if he dismembers babies before breakfast.
The reason is that he acts as a kind of lightning rod for Left-wingers — the object of a massive displacement neurosis arising from all their rage and disappointment, not least with themselves.
For example, both Left-wing newspapers and the BBC blame Murdoch for the decline of standards in the media, from high seriousness to celebrity culture and tacky trivia.
But at the BBC, that was the result of its own misguided response to the explosion of digital channels and the arrival of a cornucopia of broadcasting choice. And even high-minded newspapers such as the Guardian decided more than two decades ago to fill their pages with trivia because they judged that the general public was becoming dumber and shallower.
No, Murdoch’s real crime in the eyes of the Left-wing intelligentsia is simply that he has stood in the way of their total capture of the culture.
The dominance of Left-wing ideas has been such that even among so-called conservatives, many of them have become accepted as mainstream. And one of the most powerful architects of that shift has been the BBC.
Even its own executives have sometimes been forced to admit that, far from the objectivity required by its public service remit, the BBC generally subscribes to a Left-wing ‘group-think’ which dictates the agenda both in its journalism and entertainment programmes.
With some honourable exceptions, whether in its drama, comedy, news reporting or current affairs, the BBC’s output rests upon certain articles of faith.
For example, traditional Christians are all fundamentalist bigots; the science of man-made global warming is settled; opponents of mass immigration are racist; Eurosceptics are swivel-eyed fanatics; and all who oppose these opinions and more are Right-wing extremists. And then to add insult to injury, the BBC forces people to pay for the privilege of being told day in, day out that their own views are stupid or prejudiced.
What’s more, such is the enormous power and influence of the BBC through its reputation for trustworthiness and fairness that it has arguably moved the very centre of political gravity in Britain to the Left.
By contrast, Murdoch’s popular papers have tended mainly to follow public opinion once voters’ minds are made up. So they respond to and then amplify what people already think. But for the Left that is anathema, because nothing can be allowed to disrupt the great project to tell people what to think and shut down all opinion to the contrary.
Murdoch’s empire has acted as at least a partial antidote to that agenda by defending America, Israel and the interests of the West. Which is why he provokes near-apoplexy on the Left. And which is why they are all slavering at the prospect of bringing down a media organisation which provided an element of competition to the true monopoly of the BBC and the Left-wing intelligentsia.
The great irony, of course, is that for all those years while this scandal was taking place, the Labour Party fawned over Murdoch and his lieutenants. While he was riding high, none of them saw fit to challenge the power they now purport to find so unacceptable.
Only now Murdoch is lying bleeding on the ropes does Miliband flex his puny muscles. And they call that leadership.
The Murdoch empire may need to be brought sternly to book over the hacking scandal. But the media monopoly that really has undermined and demoralised British society and deserves to be broken up is the BBC. And that is one monopoly over British public life which Ed Miliband unsurprisingly finds to be no abuse of power at all.
The nightmare of Greenie rubbish rules in Britain
One of the army of bin policemen employed to make sure households are recycling properly has been sacked after complaints about his over-zealous approach. Lester Murphy was paid £20,000 a year to help homeowners understand the new recycling rules, but his ‘full-on’ approach resulted in chaos.
Mr Murphy, a 50-year-old Army veteran, used a camera to collect ‘evidence’ against householders confused by the new rules. He engaged in doorstep slanging matches about the definitions of recyclable and landfill waste and in one day ordered bin men not to empty 122 bins on an estate because residents had put rubbish in the wrong ones. In many instances, bins stacked with rubbish were left to rot.
Residents of Test Valley in Hampshire complained to the council following disagreements with Mr Murphy, from Froxfield near Marlborough in Wiltshire.
His sacking makes him one of the first casualties of the Town Hall recycling strategy which is costing taxpayers up to £20 million a year in jobs and initiatives that many believe are unnecessary.
Test Valley operates a two-bin system using a black wheelie bin for food waste, glass bottles, plastics and other waste destined for landfill. A brown bin is supplied for recyclable materials such as paper, cans, cardboard and plastic bottles. However, many households assume glass bottles can be recycled and put them in the brown bin, which led to disputes.
Businessman Paul Ashton, 45, from Eastleigh in Hampshire, said his 21-year-old daughter Sam was reduced to tears in October when Mr Murphy said he found a plastic carrier bag containing rotting food in the recyclable brown bin. ‘He was so aggressive it was unreal, and all over a plastic bag,’ said Miss Ashton, a swimming-pool lifeguard. ‘I didn’t even put it there. My dad was furious because this guy was a bit of a jobsworth and really upset me. Enough was enough.’
In July last year, Mr Murphy, who served in the first Gulf War campaign in 1990, also ticked off Malcolm Rolls from nearby Romsey after he found a stale loaf of bread in the recyclable waste bin and ordered bin men not to empty it. Mr Murphy was hauled before a disciplinary hearing at the council’s Andover offices in April, and sacked after 11 months in the job.
In the letter of termination, Test Valley Council said his ‘pattern of behaviour’ had attracted a ‘disproportionate level of complaints’.
Mr Murphy, a married father of two who served as a corporal in the Army’s Royal Logistic Corps for 15 years and prides himself on self- discipline, said: ‘They sacked me because people were complaining about me doing my job.
‘They told me I was taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. But if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. ‘As far as I’m concerned, I was doing my job well and that job was to inform people what waste went in what bin. ‘If they kept getting it wrong, I was empowered to tell them and have their rubbish collection stopped until they sorted it out. ‘I don’t see how I could have done anything different. I only started keeping the photographic evidence to cover my back when the complaints started flooding in.’
Ben Alcock, 29, a lift engineer from the Cricketers Way estate in Andover, where Mr Murphy red-tagged 122 bins in one day for non-collection, said: ‘People do their best with all these new rules but it is confusing and no way should this guy have been going around doing what he was doing. He was a bit full-on.’
Hundreds of jobs similar to Mr Murphy’s have been created up and down the country over the past five years. Nearly all the 410 councils in England and Wales employ at least one full-time official with responsibility for recycling, landing council taxpayers with an estimated bill of £20 million a year.
A spokesman for Test Valley Borough Council said: ‘The circumstances surrounding the departure of anyone leaving council employment are confidential. ‘The council has an excellent employment record and has robust procedures in place to ensure that employment-related matters are dealt with appropriately. ‘We would, however, say that the circumstances in this particular case were not related in any way to recycling.’
It is understood Mr Murphy has been replaced by another inspector.
British MP seeks to stop criminals using human rights law to avoid deportation
The first plan to reduce drastically the number of foreign criminals who use human rights law to avoid deportation from Britain has been drawn up by a Conservative MP.
Dominic Raab has devised a crucial change to immigration law which aims to limit the use of the controversial Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the “right to family life”.
Mr Raab believes his proposal will prevent judges from making increasingly wide interpretations of Article 8, which The Sunday Telegraph is campaigning to reform. He is now seeking cross-party support for the measure.
His proposed amendment to Labour’s UK Borders Act 2007 would remove a reference to Article 8 from the law on deportation in a bid to ensure that the only way for foreign criminals to avoid being thrown out of the country would be to show that they face a “serious risk of torture”.
Mr Raab said: “There are now around 400 cases each year where serious criminals defy deportation by claiming family or social ties. “They can be as loose as a casual girlfriend or non-dependent relatives. “This is a direct result of judicial legislation since the Human Rights Act.
“My proposal would maintain the ban on sending anyone back to the arms of a torturing state, but prevent creeping exceptions to deportation based on the ever-expanding right to family life – unless our elected lawmakers expressly approve them.”
Mr Raab will now seek support for the amendment from the Labour benches in the Commons as well as within the Coalition. He expects to introduce the proposal to Parliament later this year.
The MP also urged members of the public to give their views on Article 8 in response to the consultation paper launched by the Home Office last week, which asks a series of questions about whether the law on deportation should be toughened.
The document refers to a series of cases highlighted by this newspaper in our End the Human Rights Farce campaign. The consultation also indicates that ministers want to revoke another controversial aspect of immigration law highlighted by The Sunday Telegraph. It suggests that the “long residence rule”, under which illegal immigrants can claim settlement in Britain if they avoid detection for 14 years, could be scrapped.
The review of Article 8 was welcomed by Paul Houston, whose daughter Amy, 12, died after being knocked down by illegal immigrant Aso Mohammed Ibrahim in 2003.
But Mr Houston expressed concern that the Home Office proposals did not go far enough. “I fear that this could end up being simply more guidelines for the UK Border Agency and not actually make any practical difference to the decisions made by judges,” he said.
“This consultation is an opportunity for the general public to vent their anger about the Human Rights Act and the way it is being used for the wrong reasons. “The Act has been twisted and perverted in this country and in Europe, and now we all have an opportunity to let politicians know our feelings and actually make a Human Rights Act that we can be proud of.”
He added: “I welcome the fact that ministers have acknowledged that there is a problem, at last. It has been a long time coming. “We will have to wait and see what comes out in the recommendations.”
The latest flawed attempt to open British university doors to poor students
POLITICIANS of all stripes fulminate at the failure of posh universities to enroll a greater number of students from poor families. That more pupils from Eton, the prime minister’s alma mater, go to Oxford University than do boys from all over England who received free school meals because their family income was low is widely paraded as evidence of this failing. So the decision to raise the maximum tuition fee charged by universities to £9,000 a year from 2012 was tempered with policies designed to promote access: English universities were told they could charge high fees only if they did more to help the poor. On July 12th they unveiled plans to do both.
The government’s desire to create a market in which institutions compete for students on cost has been thwarted by the universities themselves: many students enrolled at middling redbricks will pay the same high fees as those who gaze at dreaming spires. To compensate for slashed state funding, all 130 English universities will substantially increase their tuition fees; two-thirds will charge the top rate for some subjects and a third will charge it for all their courses.
In order to gain permission to charge such prices, each university had to set itself targets for recruiting and retaining the sorts of students who do not enroll in massive numbers at present. Oxford, for example, says it will accept more state-school pupils; Imperial College, London, aims to ensure that fewer students from poor neighbourhoods drop out. If a university fails to meet its targets, it could be fined or have its permission to charge future students high fees revoked by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). The watchdog will monitor progress with a beady eye.
Efforts to encourage poor youngsters to go to university will cost £600m overall, thanks to further targets set by OFFA. It has insisted that those institutions which take mostly middle-class students spend a third of the extra money raised through higher tuition fees on fee waivers and bursaries for needy students, as well as on efforts to entice them into lecture theatres and keep them at their books.
Alas, neither setting targets nor throwing money at bursaries is likely to be particularly effective at promoting social mobility. A study published on July 8th by the Sutton Trust, a charity, concluded (perhaps unsurprisingly) that better exam results mostly explained why pupils from a small number of schools dominate Oxbridge entry. Meanwhile the government’s most recent bid to introduce market reforms by removing the cap on the number of highly-qualified students each university can enroll directs interest away from the down-at-heel: applicants who gain two As and a B or better at A-level, the exams most pupils sit at 18, tend to come from well-to-do families.
Claire Callender of Birkbeck College, part of the University of London, points out that students start to think about university at secondary school, which is one reason why the recent rise in tuition fees provoked such anger among the young. Raising standards in state schools and providing adequate advice on which subjects selective universities think important would do more for social mobility than introducing fee waivers and bursaries, which many students don’t consider until they have already applied to university.
Yet forcing universities to shell out on fee waivers may have an unintended but happy consequence: it could ease the pressure on the public purse. The state must lend students money to pay their tuition fees, recouping only some of the cost many years later. Lower fees for students from poor families would mean a smaller outlay for the exchequer.
Dangerous to joke about wildlife in Britain
“A Tory politician has sparked outrage after saying he supported a cull of badgers because it would ‘bring down the exorbitant price of shaving brushes’.
Roger Helmer, an MEP for the East Midlands, enraged animal rights activists after posting his views about the luxury shaving brushes, which are made from badger hair, on Twitter.
Tomorrow, the Government may announce the first badger cull since they became a protected species in 1973. Animal rights groups were already angry that farmers might be given licences to shoot badgers to prevent them passing TB to cattle.
The comments have been fiercely criticised by David Williams, chairman of the Badger Trust, which has a £100,000 war chest to mount a legal challenge to any culling. He said: ‘This is just contemptible and outrageous. He doesn’t even realise that firms in Britain import the hair from China.’
The mustachioed MEP, 67, said: ‘I was bleary-eyed and shaving in Brussels. With badger brush in hand I thought I’d tell people why a badger cull would be a good idea. ‘It was meant to be amusing. But, of course, the manic bunny-huggers have gone all po-faced.’