Another “No” to treatment from the NHS

A cancer sufferer who inspired David Cameron to promise a £200m fund so patients could no longer be denied drugs on cost grounds is facing a new battle for NHS treatment.

His campaign against NHS rationing inspired David Cameron to create a £200 million fund so that cancer sufferers would never again be denied drugs on grounds of cost.

Now Clive Stone is facing a new battle – after being told he will be refused treatment now that the disease has spread to his brain.

The former bank manager, 64, started campaigning in 2007 after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer and refused the drug Sutent.

His work on behalf of thousands of patients so impressed Mr Cameron that during the 2010 general election campaign, the Conservative leader announced the pledge to bring an end to the lottery in cancer drug treatment from Mr Stone’s home.

Since then, almost 10,000 patients have had their treatment paid for via the fund, with an estimated £60 million left over from last year’s budget.

However, the fund only pays for medication, and not for other treatments which could save or extend lives, in cases where the local NHS has refused to pay.

NHS consultants say gamma knife radiosurgery, a type of targeted radiotherapy which Mr Stone has successfully undergone twice, is the only way to remove tumours in his brain without damaging the surrounding tissue.

But Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) is among several counties which have drawn up a draft policy which states that the NHS will only pay for patients to have one round of the £7,000 radiosurgery, and will not fund cases at all if patients have cancer elsewhere in their body.

Doctors have told the campaigner that under the rules he will not be allowed funding for the treatment which is his only hope to extend his life.

That warning came after his wife Jan died from breast cancer six months ago, leaving a son, 34 and a 31-year-old daughter.

Mr Stone, who lives in Mr Cameron’s constituency of Witney, said the decision meant he and others with advanced forms of the disease were being condemned to “an early and very painful death”.

He said: “I was so grateful to the Prime Minister for setting up the fund – I saw him a few weeks ago in the village and said to him ‘You’ve given a lot of people the chance of extra life with their families’ – but it seems unfair to me that when the treatment needed is radiotherapy, rather than drugs, the NHS will not pay for it.”

The campaigner has written to Mr Cameron asking for his help to secure funding for treatment for him and others in the same situation.

Mr Stone said: “I know I have got a limited time left, but apart from this ticking timebomb in my head, I am feeling fit and well – I just want to keep going for as long as I can.”

He said the rules being introduced across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes were draconian, and appeared to be based on unreliable evidence, ignoring the fact that tumours in the brain often follow the spread of cancer from elsewhere.

Mr Stone has been told that the PCT would consider a bid to fund him as an “exceptional case” – but only if doctors can come up with reasons why he would benefit from treatment more than anyone else in the same situation.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2007, Mr Stone was refused funding for drug treatment Sutent, which costs around £27,000 a year and was then not supported by NICE. He set up the campaign group Justice for Kidney Cancer Patients, and brought more than 100 patients and relatives to the rationing body’s headquarters to protest against NICE’s decision, which was then reversed.

Since then, he has continued battling for access for treatment for all patients and last year was awarded an MBE for services to cancer patients.

Mr Cameron announced the drugs fund pledge from Mr Stone’s living room, sitting on the campaigner’s sofa, in April 2010.

Mr Stone said that on the day, he urged the Prime Minister: “Don’t let us down”. He said he felt disappointed that he had heard nothing back from Mr Cameron’s office since writing to him four weeks ago. “I know he has a lot on, but I’m not giving up on this,” Mr Stone said.

“This isn’t just about me, it is about having a system which is fair, and treats patients the same, regardless of the type of illness they suffer. The cancer drugs fund is underspent, so I cannot see why they cannot fund treatment from that.”

He said he felt angry that despite Government pledges to help cancer sufferers, local NHS administrators were routinely blocking requests for many types of treatment.

Mr Stone said he had been told that if he has the treatment privately, it would cost him £16,500 per session, more than twice the cost to the NHS.

The Royal College of Radiologists has criticised the decision to exclude radiotherapy from the cancer drugs fund, despite the fact treatments could be more successful than drugs in curing cancers or extending life in many cases.

Duleep Allirajah, head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the NHS should not put patients at a disadvantage because they needed treatments other than medication.

He said: “Cancer patients do not choose which cancer they get. Every patient deserves equal access to drugs and treatments that their doctors believe could improve the quality of their lives, and give them more time with their families and friends.”

Decisions on funding are taken by individual PCTs, or groups of them, allowing a postcode lottery so the treatment is automatically funded in some parts of the country, such as Yorkshire, while other PCTs decide their own criteria about who is eligible for it.

Oxfordshire PCT said it had not yet finalised its policies on the radiosurgery, and would consider individual funding requests in cases when patients did not meet their specified criteria. [i.e. in response too publicity]


New immigration clampdown demands £20,000 salary for Brits to marry a foreigner

This may seem rather draconian but Britain’s incredibly useless  bureaucracy gives Britain little ability to enforce its immigration and citizenship laws — so this latest brainwave is unlikely to have much effect.  People who simply ignore British citizenship law usually have untroubled lives and may even receive generous welfare benefits!

British citizens who marry foreigners will have to earn at least £20,000 a year if they want to set up their family home in the UK under a new immigration clampdown.

The planned changes mean lower-paid Britons would be forced to emigrate if they wanted to live with a loved one from overseas.

And if the foreign-born spouse had children, their British partner would have to earn £30,000 or more, depending on how many children they had.

They will also have to pass a strict new ‘combined attachment test’ to prove they share a genuine loyalty to Britain, not another country, and they will remain on probation for five years instead of the current two.

The proposals, to be announced by Home Secretary Theresa May, are expected to cut immigration, currently standing at 250,000 a year, by 25,000.

They are designed primarily to combat claims that some foreigners are marrying Britons to take advantage of the UK’s generous welfare system.

Tory MPs last night welcomed the move, but Labour spokesman Chris Bryant said: ‘These new measures have more to do with Theresa May’s abject failure to live up to her promise to cut immigration than fairness.’

He claimed the idea was ‘poorly thought out’, adding: ‘It seems very unfair that a poor British man or woman can fall in love with someone from America or Thailand and be prevented from getting married and making a home here, while a rich person can.’

He said a better way to deal with the problem would be to insist that Britons who marry foreigners and settle here provide a bond worth ‘a substantial sum’. If the immigrant went on to claim benefits, the money would be deducted from the bond.

And immigration campaigners are expected to denounce the measures, claiming the new curbs would effectively give low-earning Britons who fall in love with foreigners the choice of indefinite ‘exile’ – or  breaking up their family if they want to stay in the UK.

Ms May is also expected to confirm stringent English-speaking test for husbands, wives or partners of UK citizens applying to come to live in Britain on a family visa.

The new clampdown will not apply to partners from within the European Union, as they will continue to have the right to settle here.

A senior Government source said last night: ‘The welfare system has abused for years under Labour by people who marry Britons and within a short period are living off benefits.

‘There is little we can do to stop them claiming benefits but we can implement better controls on people who come here to marry in the first place. We are confident these moves will command widespread support from the public. Labour’s lamentable record on immigration is one of the main reasons they lost the election. We are going to put the system right.’

Ms May said earlier this year that it was obvious that British citizens and those settled here should be able to marry or enter into a civil partnership with whomever they choose.

But she added: ‘If they want to establish their family life in the UK, rather than overseas, then their spouse or partner must have a genuine attachment to the UK, be able to speak English, and integrate into our society, and they must not be a burden on the taxpayer. Families should be able to manage their own lives. If a British citizen or a person settled here cannot support their foreign spouse or partner they cannot expect the taxpayer to do it for them.’

She also plans to make it easier to deport illegal migrants or convicted foreign nationals.  At present they can use the European Convention on Human Rights to avoid being thrown out, claiming they have a ‘right to a family life’ here.  But in future, if they want to continue their family life they will have to take their British-based partner overseas.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants says an extension of the probationary period for foreign spouses could trap more women in violent marriages because of the fear of being deported if they complain.

Mr Bryant added: ‘At a time when our national finances are hard-stretched it is only fair that anyone wanting to bring someone new to this country should be able to prove that they will not be a burden on the State. But I worry that the Government will not achieve what it hopes with this measure, and that they have rejected options that could provide better protection for the taxpayer and be fairer too.

‘In today’s climate, someone on £20,000 today could all too easily be earning nothing tomorrow.  ‘So simply relying on income as a measure may lead to the taxpayer still being exposed.’


It’s time to stop the peculiar British use of the word  ‘Asians’

When the events in the news about “Asians” mostly are in fact about Muslims. British political correctness dishonours fine Sikh and Hindu families who want nothing to do with Muslim barbarism and who have in fact themselves suffered from it

Is it time to stop using the word “Asian”? In recent weeks Britain’s Sikh and Hindu communities have complained angrily about the use of the misleading term in reporting of the Rochdale grooming convictions of men of Muslim Pakistani descent. Headlines like “Asian grooming – why we need to talk about sex crime”, “Child sex grooming: the Asian question”, and “Grooming offences committed mostly by Asian men, says ex-Barnardo’s chief” show the problem.

Obviously Sikhs and Hindus and other “Asian” non-Muslims, including Jains, Zoroastrians, Christians and Buddhists, don’t want to be associated with sexual grooming of vulnerable white girls. The vast majority of Muslims don’t want to either. The girls targeted in Rochdale, Derby and now in Luton are all non-Muslim. This is nothing new for British Hindus and Sikhs, who have complained about targeting of their girls for decades; Indians refer to the practice as “love-jihad”.

Judge Gerald Clifton, who sentenced the men in Rochdale, indicated they thought the victims were “worthless” and “beyond any respect”. He asserted that one of the motivations behind this was “they were not part of your community or religion”.

This is not the first time that this has been suggested: at a Hindu Forum conference in 2007, the then Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, revealed how the police were working to clamp down on “aggressive conversions” of vulnerable girls. The following year, a blog site called “Sikh4aweek” which called on Muslim “soldiers” to “hunt” down Sikh university students during freshers week was forced to close following complaints to the police and Google. The common denominator: targeting of non-Muslim girls.

It is for the Muslim community and its leaders to decide what is behind the trend, and what to do about it; but it is time for politicians and the press to bear in mind that in the context of these sex crimes, as with violent extremism, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour killings, the vague term “Asian” serves no purpose. Worse, it besmirches entire swathes of Britons with roots in the Indian subcontinent.

It’s encouraging to hear some brave voices filtering through the political minefield: Baroness Warsi recently hit out at the “small minority” of Pakistani men who see white girls as “fair game”; last year, Jack Straw braved criticism for his claim that some Pakistani men see white girls as “easy meat.” But the problem continues: commentators are unwilling to label the perpetrators “Muslim”, opting instead to hide behind the fudge of “Asian”.

Lessons can be learned from Britain’s own colonial history. The Empire’s attitudes towards natives may have been problematic from a modern perspective, but it was careful to distinguish between the different inhabitants of the subcontinent. In Charles Allen’s book Soldier Sahibs: The Men who made the North West Frontier, the Indian-born historian quotes the soldier Herbert Edwardes, who was dispatched to a distant corner of the Sikh Empire in the mid-18th century. He describes four main groups in a mountainous district called Banu:

“The mongrel and vicious Bunnoochee peasantry, ill-ruled by Mullicks, and ill-righted by factions; the greedy Syuds and other religious mendicants, sucking the blood of the superstitious people; the mean Hindoo traders, enduring a life of degradation, that they may cheat their Muhommudan employers; and the Vizeree [Waziri] interlopers, half pastoral, half agricultural, wholly without law, but neither destitute of honour or virtue.”

As Edwardes discovered, people of the Indian subcontinent have various cultural, traditional and religious affiliations: identities are both convoluted and complex. They shouldn’t be oversimplified for the sake of political expediency. Of course we have to be careful not to label all Muslims sex offenders: but it is simple cowardice to pretend that grooming is not a problem for the Muslim community, but Asians in general.


Grandad’s words made Churchill and the Queen cry. How sad Beardy misquoted them this week…

This may seem a minor matter but it is eloquent testimony to the decay of the Church of England that on an important occasion   the Archbishop of Canterbury could get so wrong one of the Queen’s most significant and beloved speeches.

One of my mother’s proudest possessions is a touching letter written by King George VI’s Private Secretary to her father, thanking and congratulating my grandfather on a speech he had written for the then Princess Elizabeth.

It was a speech that has been much quoted in the public prints over the past few days, the one that contained the future Queen’s ‘solemn act of dedication’: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’

On Tuesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury even took it as his starting-point and basis for his Jubilee thanksgiving sermon in St Paul’s. As usual, however, dear old Dr Rowan Williams got it all slightly wrong. But more of that in a minute.

The letter from Sir Alan ‘Tommy’ Lascelles to my grandfather, Dermot Morrah, is dated March 10, 1947, and headed in English and Afrikaans ‘The White Train, Die Wittrein’ — the special ivory-painted, air-conditioned saloons ordered for the three-month royal tour of South Africa that year.

It opens by revealing that the draft of the now famous speech had at last turned up, having got lost somewhere between my grandfather’s typewriter and the Princess’s in-tray.

‘The steward in the Protea diner had put it in the bar, among his bottles,’ explains Lascelles, ‘little knowing that it was itself of premier cru.’

He then piles on the praise, in language that makes my family’s hearts swell to this day.

‘I have been reading drafts for many years now,’ writes the King’s right-hand man, ‘but I cannot recall one that has so completely satisfied me and left me feeling that no single word should be altered.

‘Moreover, dusty cynic though I am, it moved me greatly. It has the trumpet-ring of the other Elizabeth’s Tilbury speech, combined with the immortal simplicity of Victoria’s “I will be good”.’

I can imagine my grandfather preening with pleasure. It’s not often that we humble hacks (his day job on the royal tour was reporting it for the Times) have our work likened to the timeless words addressed by Elizabeth I to her troops on the approach of the Spanish Armada: ‘I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a King, and of a King of England too.’

But, for me, Lascelles’s letter becomes most moving when he gets on to the personal stuff about how the Queen and the Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, had reacted on reading the speech.

‘The ladies concerned, you will be glad to hear, feel just as I do,’ he writes. ‘The speaker herself told me that it had made her cry. Good, said I, for if it makes you cry now, it will make 200 million other people cry when they hear you deliver it, and that is what we want.’

As it happens, among those who admitted to being reduced to tears by the speech was Winston Churchill — as I learned only this week, from my colleague Robert Hardman, who is omniscient in matters royal.

Now scroll forward six decades, to Tuesday’s clunking sermon in St Paul’s by muddle-headed old Archbishop Beardie — a man I’ve long thought could do with a decent speechwriter himself.

‘What we remember,’ he said, ‘is the simple statement of commitment made by a very young woman, away from home, suddenly and devastatingly bereaved, a statement that she would be there for those she governed, that she was dedicating herself to them.’

Well, if that’s what we remember, all I can say is that our archiepiscopal memories must be playing tricks with us.

To be absolutely fair, I suppose it is just possible that Dr Williams was referring to some other speech the Queen may have made nearly five years later, before she flew back from Kenya in 1952 after hearing of her father’s death. If so, neither I nor the royal historians I’ve consulted can find any trace of it.

It is just conceivable, too — though surely stretching credulity a bit — that the ‘sudden and devastating bereavement’ he mentioned referred to some other death than her father’s. A corgi’s, perhaps.

No, let’s face it, he was just plain wrong to say she made her ‘act of dedication’ in a moment of sudden bereavement. For the only speech he can possibly have had in mind was the beautiful and famous one written by my grandfather to mark her 21st birthday in 1947.

Certainly, she was away from England at the time (although if the Archbishop had bothered to listen to the speech on the Buckingham Palace website, he would know that she insisted: ‘As I speak to you today from Cape Town [South Africa, not Kenya, you notice] I am 6,000 miles from the country where I was born. But I am certainly not 6,000 miles from home.’)

Far from being grief-stricken over the death of the King, who still had almost five years to live, she was having a very happy time with him on the tour. Madly in love and secretly engaged to Prince Philip, she was especially enjoying her 21st birthday (apart from an understandable twinge of nerves, detectable in her voice, over having to make the first really important speech of her life).

In his own really important sermon, perhaps his last at an historic state occasion, you might think the departing Archbishop would bother to get these little details right.

But what annoyed me almost more was his claim that the Queen promised in her speech to be ‘there for’ those she governed. No she didn’t. Unlike her late daughter-in law, Princess Di, she would never say anything so vulgar or touchy-feely (except when forced to read out Alastair Campbell’s bilge in a succession of toe-curling speeches at the State Opening of Parliament).

And I can assure you that my grandfather would sooner have cut off his arm than put such a banal Americanism into his sovereign’s mouth.

What she actually promised was to devote her life to the service of those she governed. And, by God, she has kept her word so far.


British social workers cover up for Muslim gang of sex predators

Social workers knew for six years that a teenage mother, murdered for bringing shame on the families of two Pakistani men who had used her for sex, was at clear risk from predatory Asian gangs.

Laura Wilson, 17, from Rotherham had been groomed by a string of British Pakistanis before she was stabbed and thrown into a canal to die for informing her abusers’ families of the sexual relationships.

Her killer Ashtiaq Asghar, who was 18 at the time, was given a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 17-and-a-half years after he pleaded guilty to murdering Laura in October 2010.

But it has now emerged that Rotherham County Council’s social services were well aware she was at risk and had received information about certain adults suspected of targeting her from the age of 11.

Last week the council’s Safeguarding Children Board published a serious case review but key passages which reveal they knew she was at particular risk from ‘Asian men’ had been blocked out with black lines.

The council went to court in an attempt to tried to suppress the hidden information after a uncensored copy of the report was leaked to the Times newspaper but they have now abandoned legal action.

The uncensored report confirms that Laura, identified as Child S, had dealings with 15 agencies and identified ‘numerous missed opportunities’ to protect her.  It states that she eventually became ‘almost invisible’ to care professionals.

Details hidden included the knowledge that at the age of 13 Laura and a friend had been given alcohol by men at a takeaway who then asked what she would give them in return.  She had also been referred to a child sexual exploitation project just three months after her 11th birthday.

Another censored passage reveals that Laura had been ‘mentioned’ during a 2009 police inquiry that eventually led to the conviction of five Pakistani men for sex offences against three underage girls.

While the published report mentioned the fact that a friend, who Laura knew when she was 10, was ‘thought to have become involved in sexual exploitation’, it concealed the succeeding passage which read: ‘with particular reference to Asian men’.

Laura was murdered in October 2010. She was repeatedly knifed by 18-year-old Ashtiaq Asghar before pushed her into a South Yorkshire Canal, where he used the point of the knife to force her head below the surface as she fought to stay alive.

Asghar was furious after the young mother revealed details of their sexual relationship to his Muslim family and was on ‘a mission to kill’.

He exchanged a series of texts with married friend and mentor Ishaq Hussain, 22, who had also had an affair with Laura, and who the judge described as a man who regarded white girls as  ‘sexual targets, not human beings’.

In one message, sent a day before he killed Miss Wilson, Asghar wrote: ‘I’m gonna send that kuffar (non-Muslim) bitch straight to Hell.’

In another he wrote: ‘I need to do a mission.’ He talked of buying a pistol and ‘making some beans on toast’, a reference to spilling blood used in Four Lions, a satirical film about suicide bombers.

Asghar is serving life in prison after he pleaded guilty to murder and was jailed for life. Mr Hussain was acquitted of murder by joint enterprise after a retrial.

Sentencing Asghar, Lord Justice Davis told him: ‘I take the view you came under the influence of Mr Hussain who is something of a mentor to you.  ‘He seems to have regarded girls, white girls, simply as sexual targets. He does not treat them as human beings at all. You got into that mindset yourself.  ‘You no doubt once had feelings for Laura but treated her with contempt in the latter stages.’

In 2007, when Laura was 13, she and her family appeared on The Jeremy Kyle Show. During the programme – about out-of-control children – her sister warned her that ‘your attitude is going to get you in big danger’.

Workers at a child sexual exploitation project later sent a report to social services, but no action was taken to remove her from what became a continuing spiral of sexual abuse.

By the time she was 16, she had embarked on an affair with Mr Hussain, who was then 20 and already married.

She gave birth to a daughter in June last year, but Mr Hussain refused to accept that the child was his.

Four months later, and just days before she was murdered on October 12, she ‘shamed’ Asghar and Mr Hussain by informing their families of her relationship with both men.

She told Asghar’s mother she loved her son and ‘wanted to have babies’ by him. But Mrs Asghar was furious and attempted to hit Miss Wilson with a shoe, branding her ‘a dirty white bitch’ who should ‘keep your legs closed’, the trial was told.

Alan Hazell, Chair of the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: ‘We refute in the strongest possible terms any suggestion that information was redacted from the published report for any reason other than to protect the interests of Laura’s daughter, immediate family and other third parties.’

In a statement following the publication of the review  Mr Hazell denied that more could have been done to save Laura.  He said: ‘This is a wide ranging study which shows a very complex situation surrounding Child S and her child which made it difficult for agencies to engage with her.

‘There is no suggestion that anyone could have saved Child S from what ultimately happened to her but clearly her care could have been improved.  There were chances for those agencies to be more proactive in how they dealt with the case and all agencies involved accept that and apologise that the standards of service were not as high as they should have been.

‘It is vital that agencies learn from what happened here and there is clearly a commitment in Rotherham to make that happen. As the report comments, there are already many initiatives in place to ensure that services are now improved.’

Last month following the trial of nine men, mainly of Pakistani origin, who were found guilty of raping and abusing up to 47 girls – some as young as 13 – after plying them with drink and drugs Tory cabinet minister Baroness Warsi hit out at the ‘small minority’ of Pakistani men who see white girls as ‘fair game’ for sexual abuse.

She told London’s Evening Standard newspaper: ‘There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game.  ‘And we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first.  ‘This small minority who see women as second class citizens, and white women probably as third class citizens, are to be spoken out against.’


Personality testing to screen out British teachers who lack social skills or cannot cope under pressure

Such tests are not very reliable but may be better than nothing

Trainee teachers face personality tests to weed out those who lack social skills or cannot cope under pressure.  Students will be asked to fill in questionnaires before they can begin training courses in a drive to boost the calibre of staff.

The tests are designed to gauge applicants’ abilities to manage their time, relate to pupils and handle pressure and criticism.

The new checks – introduced from September – are part of an overhaul of teacher training with the aim of raising standards in state education.

An estimated £68million is spent each year by the Government on training teachers who quickly move on to other jobs.

Officials said ‘easily measurable competencies’ are already assessed during recruitment to teacher training courses.  But the ‘more difficult competencies’ which are ‘also deemed essential to becoming a successful teacher’ are not covered.

From September, training providers will be supplied with an approved list of ‘non-cognitive assessments’ to use during the recruitment process. The tests will be used to ‘complement’ existing procedures such as interviews and group exercises.

Tests used in trials assessed criteria such as interpersonal skills, time management and emotional resilience, including the ability to ‘perform when under pressure’, ‘keep emotions in check’ and ‘handle criticism and learn from it’.

Sample questions included ‘Which of the following best describes you?’, with candidates asked to tick one of six boxes on a spectrum between ‘methodical’ and ‘flexible’.

About 35,000 students are accepted on to teacher training courses each year, but around one-third drop out of teaching soon afterwards.  While some quit for personal reasons, many are simply ill-suited to the job.

Earlier this year, the Department for Education demanded ‘better testing of candidates’ interpersonal skills’ before teacher training.  Following trials, the Government this week announced that screening tests will be available to all recruiters for training courses.

While the personality tests will not be compulsory, most course leaders are expected to insist their candidates take them.

Ofsted will for the first time be inspecting teacher training providers for the quality of their selection processes.

Further measures already announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove include a toughening up of literacy and numeracy tests for trainee teachers.

Ministers are concerned that existing tests are too easy and allow trainees with a poor mastery of English and maths to slip through.

A spokesman for the Government’s Teaching Agency said: ‘By screening applicants for a  range of attributes and behavioural competencies that are considered essential to good teaching, we will reinforce what is already a rigorous selection process.’  He added that the testing would ‘help select and recruit the most suitable, high-quality trainee teachers’.


Tomatoes ‘help keep skin young’ and protect against sunburn

Tomatoes are very widely eaten so we should all be brimming with good health. And regular pizza eaters should  be a health elite.  The study was however a very small one and appears to have been supported by Heinz, a major supplier of tomato paste

Forget the expensive skin creams, tomatoes may provide the best defence to keeping skin looking young and safe from sun damage, say scientists.

Tests show that eating tomato paste could help protect against sunburn and skin ageing caused by sunlight exposure.

The age-defying ingredient is lycopene – the natural pigment that makes tomatoes red – with highest levels found in processed or cooked tomatoes used in ketchup, paste, soup and juice.

Professor Mark Birch-Machin from Newcastle University, will present details of the research today (thurs) at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.

In the study, women eating a diet rich in processed tomatoes had increased skin protection, as seen by a reduction in skin redness and less DNA damage from ultraviolet (UV) exposure.

Researchers compared the skin of 20 women, half of whom were given five tablespoons (55g) of standard tomato paste with 10g of olive oil every day for 12 weeks.

The effects on their skin were compared with the remaining volunteers, aged between 21 and 47, eating just olive oil for the same length of time.

The volunteers were exposed to UV rays found in sunlight at the beginning and end of the trial.

The researchers found significant improvement in the skin’s ability to protect itself against UV among those eating tomato paste.

Compared with the other women, the tomato-eating group had 33 per cent more protection against sunburn in the form of less redness.

The researchers calculated that protection offered by the tomato paste to be equivalent to a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 1.3.

Skin samples taken from groups before and after trial showed an increase in levels of procollagen, a molecule which gives skin its structure and loss of which leads to skin ageing and lack of elasticity.

There was also less damage to mitochondrial DNA in the skin, which is also believed to be linked to skin ageing.

Dermatology scientist Prof Birch-Machin said the tomato paste eaten was not overly excessive, but the amount that would be consumed from a lot of tomato-based meals.

He said ‘Eating tomatoes will not make you invincible in the sun but it may be a useful addition to sun protection along with sunscreen, shade and clothing.

‘The protective effect of eating tomatoes on our mitochondria is important as they are the energy producers in all our body cells including skin.

‘Therefore being kind to our mitochondria is likely to contribute to improved skin health, which in turn may have an anti-ageing effect.’

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, which can reduce the inflammatory response to UV damage by neutralising harmful molecules that are produced in the skin as a result.

Sun damage from UV exposure includes premature wrinkles and skin cancer.

The highest levels of lycopene are found in processed tomatoes used in ketchup, soup and juice which are more easily absorbed into the body.

The typical daily intake of a British adult is less than one milligram, about 25 times less than the amount found in studies to protect against disease.

Previous research suggests 8oz of tomato juice, 150gm of pasta sauce, or one lycopene tablet a day are sufficient to boost blood lycopene levels.

Other international experts at the meeting, which is supported by Heinz, include Professor Indika Edirisinghe, from the Illinois Institute of Technology in the US, who suggests processed tomatoes can improve high blood pressure in people at risk of heart disease.

Studies on 28 volunteers following high and low tomato diets for 6 weeks found that blood pressure in men and women was significantly lower in those with elevated blood pressure.

Work by Dr Mridula Chopra from the University of Portsmouth suggests cooked tomatoes may intercept cancer growth or even kill prostate cancer cells.

Dr Chopra’s research shows that lycopene inhibits the proliferation of prostate cancer lines.

In test tube studies, lycopene reduced the adhesion and invasion properties of prostate cancer and has been shown to intercept mechanisms important to cancer initiation, progression and cell death.

While further clinical trials are needed, Dr Chopra said further trials are need, but in the meantime he recommends eating three to four servings of processed tomato products per week for prostate health.


Britain blows hot and cold on wind farms

The arrogant, greedy wind power industry is doing the most harm to popular opinion.

Hill Farm, Tallentire, is squeezed between two of Britain’s loveliest landscapes, the Lake District National Park and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), just at the point where they most nearly touch each other. Yet work will begin there next month on erecting six 300ft wind turbines.

Local planners had rejected the wind farm because of its “harmful effect on the landscape”, only to be overruled earlier this year by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate. The men from Whitehall agreed that the turbines would “reduce the sense of wildness and remoteness” of both specially protected areas and admitted that the they would make only a “small” energy contribution. But they still ruled that this outweighed the spoiled views.

The development is just one among many that show, as the Campaign to Protect Rural England says, that wind farms “are increasingly being directed towards more remote, tranquil areas”. Political concern, fuelled by this trend, came to a head this week when George Osborne proposed action against them.

Twenty-two turbines have already been built next to a National Nature Reserve at Thorne Moors, Humberside. Another 12 are proposed for an exposed hillside in the Forest of Bowland AONB. Permission has been granted for wind farms overlooking the site of the Battle of Naseby and the dramatic Grade I-listed Lyveden New Bield, near Oundle. And beautiful areas of the country like Cornwall – which has 94 turbines, with 29 more approved or planned – are beginning to get distinctly crowded.

Now a backlash is gathering pace. Ten days ago, East Anglian villagers won a landmark High Court ruling against a wind farm near the Norfolk Broads and the Norfolk Coast AONB. This week, Lincolnshire County Council announced that it would try to “call a halt to the unrestrained invasion of wind turbines”. And, following an appeal by 101 Tory MPs, the Chancellor wants a 25 per cent cut in subsidies to onshore wind farms, threatening sharply to reduce the number built.

Supporters are striking back. On Monday the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute will launch a report designed to “dispel myths” on wind power. And television presenter Kate Humble told the Hay Festival on Thursday that it is necessary to help keep the lights on. “People don’t like wind farms,” she said. “But the fact is that we need to have alternative sources of energy and wind farms are one of them.”

Actually, she is wrong – but, perhaps surprisingly, not about the need for wind energy, but about its popularity. For despite passionate opposition from many local groups, and increasing hostility among the chattering and political classes, the great majority of Britons back it. This week, in the latest of a series of similar opinion polls, 68 per cent of respondents told ComRes that new wind farms were “an acceptable price to pay” for greener energy. Some other polls have even shown that communities living near existing installations like them.

Yet an Ipsos Mori poll, published in March, suggests opinion is polarising. While 60 per cent still said they would support building a wind farm within five miles of their home, the numbers strongly in favour had risen from 30 to 35 per cent over the past two years, while the proportion strongly opposed had risen threefold to 21 per cent. This trend may well grow as onshore turbines proliferate: the present 3,000 or so are projected to double this decade.

Certainly the wind industry does not help its case. It should have a lot going for it: wind power produces no carbon dioxide or other pollution. Its fuel will never be exhausted – unlike oil, gas or coal – and does not have to be imported. Turbines can quickly be removed when no longer wanted, leaving uncontaminated land behind, in contrast to nuclear and fossil fuel power stations. Wind is growing fast worldwide – doubling in capacity every three years – and Britain has the best resources in Europe.

But the industry has been arrogant, overbearing, greedy and bullying. It has often ridden roughshod over local communities and (apart from enriching landowners, who can now expect a risk-free £40,000 a year for every large turbine on their land) has mopped up the financial gains, giving little back. No wonder that, while wind power remains broadly supported, the industry is increasingly hated by those who have come into contact with it.

Contrast Germany, which with less favourable resources than Britain, gets much more of its electricity from the wind. There, the development of renewable energy has been achieved largely by communities themselves, rather than being imposed on them. Two thirds of turbines are owned by individuals and groups of people, while in Britain 90 per cent are in the hands of large companies. Unsurprisingly, wind enjoys wide social acceptance there.

The industry needs to change, as we are going to need wind as part of the energy mix. Indeed, it is the healthiest of the four main low-carbon technologies. Nuclear power is increasingly in trouble, with construction companies pulling out and plants delayed.

Cleaning up fossil fuel emissions with carbon capture and storage remains well over the horizon. And energy efficiency, which should be the absolute priority, is faltering along with the Government’s much?vaunted Green Deal. So there’s a heavy burden on renewables – and on wind as the cheapest and most developed of them.

Shale gas, unfortunately, is unlikely to save the day. Britain seems to have less of it, and it is expected to be much more expensive to exploit, than has been hoped. It emits carbon dioxide, and is likely to run into local protests that will far overshadow those against wind.

Though exploiting the wind also presents inherent problems, these are less severe than is often made out. While remaining more expensive than gas, wind’s costs are falling fast, even as the fossil fuel’s price is rising rapidly. Contrary to widespread perception, more than 80 per cent of the recent energy price increase comes from gas, not renewables. And though wind is subsidised, as are all energy sources, it is much less so than fossil fuels: just one fifth as much in Britain, OECD figures indicate.

More fundamental is the objection that the wind does not blow all the time – and when it does, it may be too light or too strong to be of any use. But even this problem has been widely exaggerated – for example, by assertions that new fossil fuel power plants will have to be built to back up every kilowatt produced by the wind.

That back-up is already there, built into every grid, for the simple reason that fossil fuel and nuclear plants fail, too; 27 per cent of US nuclear reactors have gone offline for a year or more. And their failures are usually more sudden, last much longer and are more serious – since they are bigger and so bring a greater loss of power – than a passing and usually predictable drop in the wind.

Of course, we could not rely 100 per cent on the wind, but no one suggests that. National grids are relaxed about such intermittency, and studies worldwide conclude that it presents no problem when less than 20 per cent of electricity comes from the wind (at present it supplies 5 per cent of our power) and it only marginally increases costs up to some 40 per cent. After that, storage and other ways of ironing out peaks and troughs will have to be developed, but there is time for that.

Wind also requires a great deal of space: hence the increasing opposition. The answer is to go offshore – less than 4 per cent of British waters could provide some 40 per cent of our power – but, though costs will come down there as well, it is at present three times more expensive than on land.

So the industry will have to be much more careful about where it sites its turbines, and a lot more ready to consult communities and share the benefits with them. And the Government will need to encourage community ownership – and do very much more to boost the development of other renewable sources like tidal power.


Facebook ordered to unmask online ‘trolls’

Britain has very severe hate speech laws so these guys are going to be in a heap of trouble,  with jail sentences likely.  I can’t say I have any sympathy for them.  They will almost certainly turn out to be nothing but a bunch of cowardly losers

IN a landmark ruling, a London court has ordered Facebook to reveal the identities of internet “trolls” who abused and tormented a British mother after she wrote a message in support of a reality TV contestant.

Nicola Brookes’ ordeal began last November when she learned that an ousted singer on the UK version of The X Factor had received hateful comments on the social networking website, The Argus reported.

In a bid to cheer up the besieged contestant, Frankie Cocozza, Brookes wrote on Facebook, “Keep your chin up, Frankie, they’ll move on to someone else soon”.

Within 24 hours, Brookes was flooded with hundreds of abusive messages.  Her attackers also set up a fake Facebook profile in her name, and published her home address in Brighton, Sussex, 87km south of London.

The 45-year-old, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease, said she reported the matter to local police but they did nothing.

Brookes took the matter to the High Court in London which ruled that Facebook had four weeks to release the internet protocol (IP) addresses and other personal information of the accused trolls.

“These people are breaking the law so it is fantastic that we should now be able to find out who they are,” Brookes said. “Hopefully these people are now scared in the same way that I was scared when they were harassing me.”

A Facebook spokesman said there was “no place for harassment” on the social networking website, adding that the company, which is based in California, would comply with the order.

Once the information is released, Brookes will take legal action against her abusers, The Independent reported.

“I’m going for the strongest possible prosecution against these people,” she said. “I want them exposed. They exposed me and they invaded my life. I didn’t ask for it. They wanted a reaction from me and now they have got it.”

More here

About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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