Posts Tagged ‘Cancer’

Right Said Fred and the Lotus Eaters Take on Drag Queen Story Hour in Britain

August 2, 2022

Remember Right Said Fred, the pair of baldies who set the charts alight with their hit ‘I’m Too Sexy’ a few years ago before fading once more into pop obscurity? The two brothers have emerged recently to give their considered opinions on various issues. They were on GB News a few days or so ago, and the Lotus Eaters put up this video in which they discuss the Drag Queen Story Hour tour round Britain with infamous ex-kipper, Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad. Or as I dub him, Sargon of Gasbag. This drag tour has met with protests in Reading, and in two libraries in Bristol, whose library service I think is behind the tour. One of the brothers is gay and the other straight, but gay friendly. That brother describes how he worked in gay pubs because everyone thought he was gay. They come across as normal blokes with a common sense attitude towards drag and Drag Queen Story Hour.

They don’t believe in Drag Queen Story Hour because they don’t consider it suitable for children. It’s a highly sexualised performance, and, as they explain, there’s a reason why it’s put on between midnight and one O’clock in the morning in gay clubs. I think this is part of the problem. I don’t know what the performances are like over here in Blighty, but some of the protests in America have been directed at grossly inappropriate drag events aimed at children. There was one a week or so ago in Texas, where children were taken to a bar to see the drag queens go through very sexual dance routines, including scantily clad trans strippers having money shoved into their underwear. Whatever you believe about gay or trans acceptance, it seems very clear to me that this went way too far. You wouldn’t take young children to an ordinary, straight bar to see such performances, so it shouldn’t be acceptable to take children to this kind of display either.

Regarding transgender people themselves, one of the brothers had a friend who transitioned from male to female. The brother states that it was his friend’s decision, and he met with her for a drink afterwards. He just accepted it. This was before the issue became politicised, and it is this politicisation that he dislikes. He believes that Stonewall and the other gay organisations have taken up promoting the trans issue in order to remain relevant and continue as organisations. I’ve heard this from other gay critics of the transgender ideology. The former head of Stonewall looked forward to a time when it would be obsolete as completely unnecessary. There’s a feeling that this was achieved when gay marriage was finally legalised. At this point, gays finally had equality, at least de jure. It now seems to some gender critical gays that the new head of the organisation seized on the transgender issue as a way of continuing its existence. And many gay people are unhappy with the emphasis on trans because of the way it appears to them to have taken over the gay rights movement to the exclusion of gays themselves.

The two brothers also aren’t fans of the Pride festivals and marches. One of the brothers says he doesn’t like it because of all the banners boasting corporate sponsorship. He states that for every person at the march, there are 10 gay people at home wondering what on Earth it all has to do with them. The other brother says he doesn’t understand what they have to be proud about, because it’s like him being proud of being 5’10”. To his credit, Sargon of Gasbag puts him right and says it was all about fighting the terrible prejudice a few decades ago, as with the infamous Clause 28. This sought to ban the discussion of homosexuality in schools, but was met with very strong opposition so that it could not be enforced.

The brother is also not impressed with gays resenting the presence of heterosexual couples in their pubs and clubs. He sees it as another form of prejudice, and so nonsensical coming from the gay community. It is, he says, like being a Jewish Nazi.

Then they move on to one of the books the drag queen, Ada H. Dee, had written and from which he was reading. This was about three goats uniting against a threatening wolf. I believe this may have been the book with the anti-bullying message one of the great commenters on this blog mentioned in his comments to my post about the protests in Reading and Bristol. They see this book as another example of intersectional woke propaganda, as the goats are coloured pink, brown and black, while the wolf is white.At one time I would have said that they were reading too much into it, but unfortunately there are sections of the LGBTQ+ movement which is highly politicised and does support intersectional feminism and Critical Race Theory.

The video includes footage of the protests in Reading and Bristol, though it’s mostly about Reading.

I’ve made clear many times my attitude towards the Lotus Eaters and their rotten libertarianism. But this time they do seem to have a point and the anti-left sneering is kept to a minimum. And regardless of where you stand on the trans issue, there is one thing the brothers have done which I hope most people can support. They went round children’s hospitals meeting children with cancer who’d lost their hair, just show them that it wasn’t all bad being bald like them. I thinks that’s great, so kudos to them for doing it.

And here’s the video for their song from 2006, from Radial By The Orchard’s channel on YouTube.

Information on Cancer of the Oesophagus from Macmillan Nursing

February 1, 2022

Like very many other cancer patients I’ve been excellently supported in my treatment by the Macmillan nurses and the organisation’s support team. Yesterday I got an email from them informing me that it was oesophageal cancer awareness month, and they were hoping to spread awareness of the disease and its treatment. From what I remember from school biology all those decades ago, yer oesophagus, otherwise known as yer alimentary canal, is the passage that carries yer food down from yer throat to yer stomach. Now I don’t think I’ve got problems in that area just yet, touch wood, but I’m putting this information out there for anyone who does, or knows someone who does.

Oesophageal Cancer Awareness month

February is Oesophageal Cancer Awareness month, helping to raise awareness of the risks and symptoms associated with cancer that develops in the Oesophagus.

If you or someone you know would like to find out more, we have lots of information and support available on the Macmillan website.

Oesophageal cancer information https://macmillan-email.org.uk/FY7-7PU4L-7UUFHT-4P0AT2-1/c.aspx

Information on other types of cancer https://macmillan-email.org.uk/FY7-7PU4L-7UUFHT-4P0ASW-1/c.aspx

Learn more about our support https://macmillan-email.org.uk/FY7-7PU4L-7UUFHT-4P0ATB-1/c.aspx

Need help with an urgent question?

We’re not going anywhere. We’re still doing everything we can to give you the support you need now.

We’re getting lots of emails at the moment, so unfortunately we can’t guarantee we will be able to respond if you reply to this email. If it’s something that can’t wait, call our support line on 0808 808 00 00 for help 7 days a week, 8am – 8pm.

Please take extra care of yourself.

The Macmillan Information and Support Team

Macmillan Cancer Support

Private Eye on New Labour Rigging Party Election in Rotherham

October 26, 2021

This comes from the ‘H.P. Sauce’ column in Private Eye’s edition for 30th November – 13th December 2012 nine years ago. It’s about how Tom Watson, Angela Eagle and Keith Vaz nobbled the party election in Rotherham to exclude the popular candidate and get their people in, to the disgust of the local party. The piece runs

Labour has a dismal record of fixing selection contests, but the “Rotherham fiasco” marks a new low.

After local MP Denis “expenses fiddler” MacShane was belatedly expelled from parliament, the party’s “special selections” committee arrived in South Yorkshire to draw up a shortlist for the by-election on 29 November.

MP Tom Watson presided, supported by Keith Vaz and Angela Eagle, and their first casualty was popular local councillor Mahroof Hussain. He was followed out the door by Yorkshire-based solicitor Richard Burgon, who had the support of nine affiliated trade unions – a record for any potential Labour candidate in recent times.

Watson and chums opted instead for the chief executive of a cancer relief charity, Sarah Champion, and one Sophy Gardner, an RAF Wing Commander. Realising their decision might not go down too well with the comrades, Watson demanded that the vote of the selections committee “not be recorded”.

Hearing of the “fix”, more than 80 members of Rotherham Labour Party duly walked out in disgust, leaving the two endorsed candidates to slug it out, with Champion receiving all of 13 votes to her rival’s 11.

Not everyone was cowed by the order “not to speak to the media.” After the mass exit, one disgruntled comrade told the Rotherham Advertiser: “These people who ‘arrive’ in Rotherham to further their careers and then decide they know enough about us to represent us, make me sick. What a slap in the face to impose someone who has been a card carrying member for two years and a union member for two weeks. You would have thought they had learned a lesson because they imposed MacShane and they say we aren’t capable of choosing a candidate! Excuse me while I go and puke.”‘

This shows just how long the Blairites have been rigging elections, though I’ve no doubt that there were cases going even further back when Blair was parachuting in his preferred candidates to safe Labour seats over the wishes of the local party. Given this piece of prime Blairite corruption, it should have been no surprise when Starmer started changing the selection rules against the Left.

History Debunked on Bristol University’s Statue to Henrietta Lacks

October 8, 2021

There was news yesterday that Bristol University had put up a statue of Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman outside its medical buildings. This was accompanied with rather grandiose statements hailing her as the mother of modern medicine. This surprises me, as you would expect from such a description that Lacks herself was a doctor, surgeon or biologist of some kind. As Webb’s video shows, she was actually none of these. She was an ordinary Black American woman, who died of cervical cancer. What makes her different is that cells were taken from her body, cultured so that the line has carried on, and were studied by doctors and biologists. This has led to a number of cures and treatments for diseases like the Polio vaccine. Some of this research was done at the university. Hence the statue. I think the decision to put one up to her may well have been influenced by a book that was published about her a few years ago, The Case of Henrietta Lacks.

Webb considers that the statue is part of a general campaign to pull down monuments to White men and put up statues instead to Black women, even if their contribution to British history and culture is actually quite minor. He talks about a monument put up in Wales to honour a Black headmistress. He feels that while the woman would hardly warrant a statue if she were White, at least she did something more worthwhile than Smiley Culture. He was a pop star in the 1980s who was promoted yesterday as a hero of Black British history in an article in the Metro by Alicia Adjoa. But Culture’s end was rather less than heroic. He committed suicide after being caught importing a massive amount of cocaine. Bristol, in his view, is trying to put up a statue to a Black person to replace the one of Edward Colston, pulled down by Black Lives Matter protesters.

There is indeed pressure to put up statues of great Black British figures. The argument is that there are too few monuments to Black people and that this doesn’t represent to the diversity of contemporary British society. The problem is that while Blacks have been present in Bristol since the 16th century, they’ve only been here in large numbers since the Empire Windrush. And the majority of Black Britons led largely humble, unspectacular lives. Hence the fact that many of these statues honour people, whose achievements, while worthy, are relatively small.

I also think the statue has been erected for reasons quite specific to Bristol University. The University has considerably benefited from donations from the Colston charities. This, not surprisingly, is resented by Black activists, and so the University responded a few years ago by appointing a Black woman to be its first professor of the history of slavery. As far as I can make out, her job is really to work out what to do with the money from the Colston charities in the way of anti-racism and pro-Black policies.

The University was also in the local news this week for having set up a bursary solely for Black students. BBC Points West announced that the current Black population on campus is only less than 3 per cent of the total. This seems to me to be a response to another accusation. Bristol has a large Black population. I don’t know what the situation is now, but London, Birmingham and Bristol were the cities with largest Black populations in the UK. But the number of Black students at the university was small. The problem with this criticism is that Bristol, as one of the country’s leading universities, has, or used to have, very high entrance standards. Blacks perform less well academically than the other races, and so consequently have less opportunity to enter further education without the benefit of such affirmative action programmes. Also, when I was at school back in the 1980s you were actively discouraged from applying to the university in your home town. Thus it wouldn’t have mattered how large Bristol’s Black population were, they would have been advised by their teachers at that time to apply to universities and colleges elsewhere. Of course, this has changed somewhat with the ending of the student grant and the introduction of tuition fees. More students are applying to local universities through the sheer necessity of keeping costs down by staying in their home town.

Now the statue of Lacks is all very well, but I feel that if statues are going to be put up, it should be to people with some connection to the city. If we’re talking medicine, perhaps the first Black nurse to serve in one of the city’s hospitals. Or the person or people who started St. Paul’s carnival, if there isn’t one already. My mother also remembers there being a Black Bristolian boxer of her parents’ generation. A statue could have been put up of him as a local sporting hero. You could even go back to the depictions of Black Bristolians published in the 19th century.

While these people wouldn’t have been great scientists, they would at least have had a genuine connection to the city.

Maureen Lipman Shows Us She’s Really A Tory on Gogglebox

July 12, 2021

Maureen Lipman’s the veteran British actress and comedienne who’s resigned several times from the Labour party whining about anti-Semitism. She did it a few years ago when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour party because he was a terrible anti-Semite as shown by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Chief Rabbi and the noxiously misnamed Campaigned Against Anti-Semitism and the British press, media and political establishment. Well, the British Jewish establishment hated Corbyn because they’re Zionists, and Israel had defined Corbyn and Jackie Walker – yep, a Black Jewish academic and grannie, who I don’t believe has a single anti-Semitic bone in her body – the No. 10 threat to Israel. Because they stand up for the Palestinians for the same reason they stood up against apartheid South Africa, the campaigns against real racism here in Blighty. And that included firm opposition against anti-Semitism. One of the piccies Mike put up about the former Labour leader shows him warmly greeting a group of Orthodox Jewish gents, who were there to express their appreciation for his support to stop the historic North London synagogue from being redeveloped. I think it was the first, or at least one of the first Haredi synagogues in the UK. Which the Board of Deputies, the political wing of the United Synagogue, wished to tear down and redevelop. But the good Lord forbid anyone from seeing anything sectarian or ‘anti-Semitic’ in their attempt to demolish what is clearly an historic site dear to another part of Britain’s diverse Jewish community. Corbyn definitely ain’t an anti-Semite by any stretch of the imagination, and neither was ever a Communist, Trotskyite or whatever other bogeyman haunts the imaginations of our right-leaning press and political elite.

Lipman’s claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour leadership are also weakened by the fact that she left the Labour party, again citing anti-Semitism, years before, when Ed Miliband was leader. Yes, Miliband, who’s Jewish, the son of Ralph Miliband, highly respected Marxist scholar and immigrant from Belgium, who fought for this country against the Nazi jackboot during WWII. And who was monstered for his trouble by the Heil, who ran a hit piece against him as ‘the man who hated Britain’. Well, he hated the public schools and the British class system, which is entirely reasonable and proper. Especially when it creates thugs and parasites like David Cameron and Boris Johnson. But Miliband senior actually fought for this country, unlike Paul Dacre’s father, who stayed at home and was the rag’s showbiz correspondent. Or Geordie Grieg’s old dad, who was a member of one of the pro-Nazi appeasement groups. Why did she think the Labour party was ridden with Jew-hatred? Again, Israel. Miliband had offered mild criticism of the Israeli state’s abominable treatment of the Palestinians. This was too much for Lipman’s fanatical Zionism, and she stormed out.

Well, she was on Gogglebox last Friday with Giles Brandreth watching and commenting on last week’s ‘great telly’ (sic). One of the pieces they were watching was Matt Hancock’s resignation because of his Ugandan discussions, as Private Eye calls it, with his secretary. Lipman thought that all the abuse was dreadful, considering how well he’d done as Health Secretary. Yep! She really said that. Well, as Kryton once said about Rimmer on Red Dwarf, ‘Oh for a world class psychiatrist!’ Either that or she’s been taking some, er, heavy duty non-prescribed medication with her evening glass of Horlicks. Because Hancock’s record as Health Secretary has been abysmal. He’s corrupt, giving vital contracts away to companies, simply because his mates run them. He was unable to get proper supplies of PPE, thus causing some of our professional and heroic frontline staff to die unnecessarily and putting the lives of others in serious danger. Especially staff from the Black and Asian communities, who were particularly vulnerable and hard hit. Care homes were left exempt from measures that were in place to protect hospital patients, thus causing even more deaths among the elderly and infirm. He is responsible for running down and privatising the NHS, as part of long term Tory and Blairite policy, so that waiting lists are growing. And it’s thanks to him and Boris that Britain had the worst death rate in Europe and the second worse in the world.

There are three explanations why Lipman believes a glaring incompetent like Hancock has done a good job. The shame at appearing in Carry On Columbus back in 1992 has, after 21 years, finally caught up with her and driven her mad. Arguing against this is that Julian Clary and Alexei Sayle also appeared in it, and although it wasn’t their finest hour, both of them are still mentally hale and happy. On the other hand, perhaps whatever herbal tea she may take contains the active ingredient in Cannabis. There are strong arguments for its medical use, such as to treat the pain from some diseases as well as the sickness some cancer patients experience. But I don’t think Lipman is on it, or anything containing it or other drugs. She seems far too genteel and personally wholesome.

Which leaves the third explanation: she never was really Labour. She may have joined the party or supported it for tribal reasons. Her family, like many Jews a generation or so ago, supported Labour. But as the very Jewish Tony Greenstein has shown, that allegiance changed as the Jewish community became more prosperous. 62 per cent of Britain’s Jews are upper middle class, and accordingly vote Tory. Lipman appears to have been a Blairite Red Tory, who particularly liked Blair because he was an outright supporter of Israel. That changed when Miliband became leader and showed he had something of a backbone when it came to condemning the Jewish state’s atrocities against the Palestinians.

But Blair wanted the privatisation of the Health Service, something no real Labour party member or supporter should ever back. And it appears Lipman supports it too from her comments about how well Matt Hancock has done as Health Secretary.

That bit on Gogglebox tore the liberal mask off, and showed the Tory face underneath. She never was a real member of the Labour party, and the party lost nothing from her loud and mendacious departure.

Bristol South’s Motion Condemning Keira Bell Decision

February 19, 2021

My local constituency Labour party, Bristol South, passed another motion at the monthly meeting last Thursday, to which I am very strongly opposed. This motion was brought by the LGBTQ+ officer and another, long-standing local party officer and activist condemning the judge’s decision on a case brought by a detransitioning transperson, Keira Bell. As I understand it, Bell had been a minor when she decided that she was in the wrong body. This was supported by the medical professionals who treated her, and she was given gender reassignment treatment, transitioning from a girl to a young man. However, she now believes that this was wrong, and that as a child she was unable to make a proper decision on this immensely serious, life-changing process, and therefore sued. The judge has concurred, ruling in her favour.

This has upset the trans rights lobby and very many LGBTQ+ activists. One of the complaints of a number of gays is that the mainstream, established gay rights organisations such as Stonewall have been captured, as they see it, by the trans lobby, and a proper concern for securing the equality and dignity of ordinary gay and bisexual men and women has been ditched in favour of an inflexible, doctrinaire demand for gay rights. It is an immensely controversial issue. Gender critical feminists, who believe in the reality and primacy of biological sex over gender and the idea that someone can be a member of the opposite sex simply by identifying with it mentally, have been abused as ‘Terfs’ (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and worse. They have received threats of death, rape and sexual mutilation by enraged transgender activists. J.K. Rowling, the author of the ‘Harry Potter’ novels, has been accused of hating transpeople and wanting to kill them simply because she posted a tweet stating that ‘transwomen are not women’. Nothing she said was remotely hateful. Far from it. She actually urged transpeople to have the best life they could, dress how they want and sleep with whoever would have them. She just didn’t regard them as real women. That’s it. But because of this she has been mercilessly pilloried and vilified.

The transition of children is of particular concern. The American lawyer and writer Abigail Shrier has argued in her book that the sudden rise in young girls feeling unhappy with their sex and wishing to transition into boys does not come from an authentic confusion or dissatisfaction with their sexual identity. Many of the young people affected have previously shown no unhappiness with it, or any desire to transition. Rather this sudden desire to change sex is a psychological illness created partly by the promotion of gender and trans ideology on the internet acting on deep-seated but common anxieties about sex and their bodies that many girls go through when entering puberty. She compares it to other, pernicious and destructive psychological diseases such as anorexia and bulimia. There have also been concerns that many of the young people, who were persuaded by organisations like the Tavistock institute, that they are transgender are in fact merely autistic, and that the psychological symptoms of that condition have been misinterpreted. Gender critical gays and lesbians have also claimed that many of the children, who are put forward for gender treatment, are in fact not transgender but simply gays, who don’t conform to gender-typical norms. Again, Linehan and his friends and conversationalists in the gay community have expressed concerns that many of the parents of children treated by the Tavistock institute and elsewhere, were homophobic. They were unable to come to terms with the possibility that their child might be gay, finding it easier to believe instead that they were in the wrong body. If this is true, then these gender critical gays are absolutely correct to condemn the transitioning of such children as a form of anti-gay conversion therapy, as nasty as the other forms which enlightened governments around the world are seeking to proscribe.

At the moment children confused about their gender identity are given puberty blockers to stave off the onset of physical adulthood. This is intended to give them time to consider properly whether they really want to go through with transition. The drugs are supposed to be safe and fully reversible.

The drugs’ opponents are convinced they are not. In interview on Newsnight, the writer, comedian and broadcaster Graham Linehan stated that the drug used, Lupron, was developed to treat men with terminal prostate cancer. Its effects on teenage girls is unknown.

See: Father Ted creator Graham Linehan on trans rights – BBC Newsnight – YouTube

He and others, who share his concerns, argue that the drugs are not reversible and may have serious physical side effects, such as lower bone density leading to a greater vulnerability to osteoporosis. It is also claimed that 80 to 90 per cent of children, who identify as members of the opposite sex, actually grow out of it once they become adults. They mature into either straight or gay members of their sex. On the other hand, according to one study, the overwhelming majority of children put on puberty blockers go on to cross-sex hormones and then gender reassignment surgery. If this is also true, then the use of puberty blockers as treatment is leading to the transition of children, who don’t need it. Especially as cross section hormones seem to have very serious effects.

I tried to raise these issues with the LGBTQ+ officer in the time allowed for us to ask questions regarding the motion she had proposed. I am not a medical person, and admit that in this matter I am merely an ordinary member of the British public who is influenced by what he sees and reads on the Net. The LGTBQ+ officer’s motion was impressive. She clearly laid out her case and it was supported by footnotes. It was also clear that she was acting from a position of genuine concern with the potential harm done by the judicial decision.

She replied that the drugs are fully reversible, that the loss of bone density was not a danger and that children were not being wrongly transitioned. One of the objections to transgender therapy is that it demands that the patient’s trans identity should also be reinforced and supported. Hence medical professionals may be wrongly convincing confused people that they are transgender. The young woman responded instead that this was not the case, but it had been found that patients responded better if their trans identity was supported. But if the patients decided transitioning was not for them, that would be supported too. She was also worried that the judge’s decision would undermine Gillick, which provides for children to receive contraceptive or abortion advice and assistance without the knowledge or consent of their parents. She dismissed the objections to the use of puberty blockers as misinformation. It was bad science, like climate change denial, especially as much of it came from the religious right.

I strongly disagree. I believe instead that the bad science is that embraced by those supporting the use of puberty blocker and trans ideology. For example, according to the website, Transgender Trend, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on June 30th 2020, reported that NHS England was no longer saying that puberty blockers were fully reversible. The NHS’ website states that GIDS, an organisation closely associated with the Tavistock Institute, advises that puberty blockers are fully reversible if stopped. But it also says that their long-term psychological effects are not known. It also states that the possible side effects of puberty blockers are hot flushes, fatigue and mood changes. The website also removes the previous claim that without such treatment, trans children are vulnerable to self-harm and suicide. I believe this was a claim made by the LGBTQ+ officer, but my memory may well be playing tricks. Instead the NHS simply states that they may suffer from depression, anxiety and distress.

The World.wng.org website also cites a report by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust of December 2nd, 2020, that all but one of a group of children put on puberty blockers then went on to cross sex hormones. This also noted changes in children’s bone density and that their normal growth flatlined. There was also no improvement in their psychological wellbeing. The website also cited Michael Laidlaw, and endocrinologist of Rocklin, California, that there was also a loss of bone density which put such children at risk of stunted height and osteoporosis.

See: Are puberty blockers reversible? The NHS no longer says so (transgendertrend.com)

Study: Effects of puberty-blockers can last a lifetime – Sexuality – WORLD (wng.org)

It may well be that these sites are aligned with the right. The WORLD site seems to be. But their articles are properly referenced with links to their sources, which includes NHS England and the Beeb’s Woman’s Hour. I therefore believe that objections to this information because of the overall political bias of the sites are false, and trust the information they provide. Which supports what Linehan and others have been saying, as well as the American endocrinology Dr. William Malone in his interview with YouTuber Benjamin Boyce.

As for the objection that the Keira Bell judgement undermines Gillick, I do not believe that the two are entirely comparable. Transgender treatment leads to profound, permanent physical changes that affect a person for the rest of their life. It also has to be said that the children coming for such treatment are too young that in law they are barred from seeing certain types of film, buying alcohol and tobacco and so on. The fact the law deems them incapable of purchasing those items in the views of the gender critical movement supports the idea that children are not capable of deciding whether or not they wish to change gender.

I say here that I certainly do not hate transpeople. I have every sympathy with those who are confused about their gender. I do not wish them, nor anyone else, to be harmed or victimised in any way. But I think the current transgender ideology, and particularly as it is applied to children, is doing immense unintended harm.

I therefore believe that while Bristol South’s motion was proposed and passed in entirely good faith and from the very best motives, it is utterly and profoundly wrong and mistaken. I therefore fully support the Keira Bell judgement.

‘I’: British Government Considering Solar Power Satellites

November 17, 2020

A bit more space technology news now. The weekend edition of the I, for Saturday 14th November 2020 carried a piece by Tom Bawden, ‘The final frontier for energy’ with the subtitle ‘Revealed: the UK is supporting a plan to create a giant solar power station in space’. The article ran

Millions of British homes could be powered by a giant solar power station 24,000 miles up in space within three decades, under proposals being considered by the government.

Under the plan, a system of five huge satellites – each more than a mile wide, covered in solar panels and weighing several thousand tons – would deliver laser beams of energy down to Earth.

These would provide up to 15 per cent of the country’s electricity supply by 2050, enough to power four million households – with the first space energy expected to be delivered by 2040. Each satellite would be made from tens of thousands of small modules, propelled into space through 200 separate rocket launches, and then assembled by robots.

The satellites would use thousands of mirrors to concentrate the sunlight on to the solar panels, which would be converted into high frequency radio waves. These would be beamed to a receiving antenna on the Earth, converted into electricity and delivered to our homes.

While the prospect of a solar space station beaming energy into our homes might seem outlandish, advocates are hopeful it can be done. The Government and the UK Space Agency are taking the technology extremely seriously, believing it could play a crucial role in helping the country to fulfil its promise of becoming carbon neutral – or net zero – by 2050, while keeping the lights on.

They have appointed the engineering consultancy Frazer-Nash to look into the technical and economic feasibility and it will report back next year.

“Solar space stations may sound like science fiction, but they could be a game-changing new source of energy for the UK and the rest of the world,” the science minister, Amanda Solloway, said.

“This pioneering study will help shine a light on the possibilities for a space-based solar power system which, if successful, could play an important role in reducing our emissions and meeting the UK’s ambitious climate-change targets,” she said.

Martin Soltau, of Frazer-Nash, who is leading the feasibility study, said: “This technology is really exciting and could be a real force for good. It has the potential to transform the energy market and make the net-zero target achievable – and from an engineering perspective it looks feasible.”

Previous analysis by other researchers on economic viability suggests space solar could be “competitive” with existing methods of electricity generation but that will need to be independently assessed, Mr Soltau said.

If the UK is to become net zero it needs to find a green source of energy that is totally dependable because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun definitely doesn’t always shine.

This is where solar space comes in, with its panels sufficiently much closer to the sun that they are not blighted by clouds and darkness.

“This would provide a baseload of energy 24/7 and 365 days a year – and has a fuel supply for the next five billion years,” said Mr Soltau, referring to the predicted date of the sun’s eventual demise.

Until recently, this project really would have been a pipe dream – but two developments mean it is now a realistic prospect, Mr Soltau says.

The first is the new generation of reusable rockets, such as the Falcon 9 launcher from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which mean satellites can be sent into space far more cheaply.

The cost of launching objects into low Earth orbit has gone from about $20,000 (£15,000) a kilogram in the early 2000s to less $3,000 now – and looks to fall below $1,000 in the coming years, he says.

At the same time, solar panels are much cheaper and more than three times as efficient as they were in the 1990s, meaning far fewer need to be sent into orbit to produce the same amount of energy.

Mr Soltau is hopeful, although by no means certain, that his study will find the technology to be feasible in economic and engineering terms – with the technology looking like it’s on track.

The five satellite solar power station system envisaged by the Government will probably cost more than £10bn – and potentially quite a lot more – more than the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, which would produce roughly similar amounts of electricity, is expected to cost about £30bn, including decommissioning, Mr Soltau points out.

When all is said and done, there’s no getting away from the fact that building a satellite of that size and complexity in orbit is a mindboggling task. But it could well be feasible.

The article was accompanied by this diagram.

The captions read

  1. Solar reflectors: Orientation of satellite with respect to the Sun controlled to constantly reflect sunlight onto the solar power array below.
  2. Solar panels and transmitters: Approximately 60,000 layers of solar panels that collect the sunlight from the reflectors, and convert this to transmit high frequency radio waves.
  3. Power transmission: High frequency radio wave transmission from satellite to receiver on ground.
  4. Ground station: approximately 5k in diameter rectenna (a special type of receiving antenna that is used for converting electromagnetic energy into direct current (DC) electricity), generating 2 gigawatts of power enough for 2 million people at peak demand.

The solar reflectors are the objects which look rather like DVDs/CDs. The box at the top of the diagram gives the heights of a few other objects for comparison.

The ISS – 110m

The London Shard – 310m

The Burj Khalifa – 830m

The Cassiopeia solar satellite 1,700m.

The use of solar power satellites as a source of cheap, green energy was proposed decades ago, way back when I was at school in the 1970s. I first read about it in the Usborne Book of the Future. I don’t doubt that everything in the article is correct, and that the construction of such satellites would be comparable in price, or even possibly cheaper, than conventional terrestrial engineering projects. I went to a symposium on the popular commercialisation space at the headquarters of the British Interplanetary Society way back at the beginning of this century. One of the speakers was an engineer, who stated that the construction of space stations, including space hotels, was actually comparable in cost to building a tower block here on Earth. There was just a difference in attitude. Although comparable in cost, such space stations were viewed as prohibitively expensive compared to similar terrestrial structures.

Apart from the expense involved, the other problem solar power satellites have is the method of transmission. All the previous systems I’ve seen beamed the power back to Earth as microwaves, which means that there is a possible danger from cancer. The use of laser beams might be a way round that, but I still wonder what the health and environmental impact would be, especially if the receiving station is around 5 km long.

I also wonder if the project would ever be able to overcome the opposition of vested interests, such as the nuclear and fossil fuel industries. One of the reasons the Trump government has been so keen to repeal environmental legislation and put in place measures to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from doing its job, is because the Republican party receives very generous funding from the oil industry, and particularly the Koch brothers. And there are plenty of Tory MPs who also possess links to big oil.

At the moment this looks like a piece of industry PR material. It’s an interesting idea, and I’ve no doubt that it’s factually correct, but given the resistance of the British establishment to new ideas, and especially those which might involve government expenditure, I have grave doubts about whether it will actually ever become a reality. Fossil fuels might be destroying the planet, but there are enough people on the right who don’t believe that’s happening and who get a very tidy profit from it, that I can see the oil industry being promoted against such projects for decades to come.

The Tory Attacks on Health and Safety Legislation Is Causing Carnage

January 21, 2020

Since almost as long as I can remember, the Tories and their lackeys in the press have been attacking health and safety legislation. The common reasons trotted out are that it is an unnecessary burden to employers, binding them with complicated red tape and costs. More recently the authors of Britannia Unchained and similar works have demanded that such legislation protecting people at work should be rolled back in order to make Britain more competitive against countries in the Developing World, whose workers don’t benefit by such protection. The Tories have tried to make this assault popular by making health and safety legislation seem not only cumbrous, interfering and bureaucratic, but also massively overprotective and silly. Remember all those stories from the Heil years ago claiming that, thanks to the ‘Nanny state’, schools were having to make children wear goggles before playing conkers?

The truth is that when health and safety legislation was introduced in the ’70s, it massively cut down on deaths and injuries among working people – and that’s basically why the Tories would like to get rid of it. They want labour to be cheap and easily disposable, and health and safety laws are an obstacle to that. And the chapter by Hilda Palmer and David Whyte in The Violence of Austerity by Whyte and Vickie Cooper shows exactly how devastating in terms of lives and injuries their attacks on the legislation has been. The government watchdog in charge of overseeing the implementation of the legislation, the Health and Safety Executive, has had its funding cut by 47 per cent. The Tories have also threatened to close it down altogether. In 2013 the government launched a review in order to see whether there was still a need for its functions and if it complied with good governance. The number of staff employed at the executive fell from 3,702 in April 2010 to 2,706 in December 2013. Since the Tories came to power, the number of inspections by the Executive has fallen by a third.

These cuts have resulted in an increase in work-related accidents and injuries, although the authors warn that the government’s figures are almost certainly too low. The real figures are almost certainly higher. They write

Typically, the official ‘headline figure’ published by the HSE records between 140 and 240 deaths per year resulting from sudden injury and 13,000 deaths caused by occupational diseases and illnesses. Those figures, however, only reflect a small proportion of total deaths caused by work. The first figure does not include key categories of deaths cause by work. The Hazards Campaign estimates that seven times more deaths are caused by work incidents than the figure official cited by the HSE. HSE figures exclude work-related road traffic deaths, the workplace deaths recorded in other industries that the HSE does not have formal responsibility for, like the maritime and civil aviation industries, or deaths to members of the public killed by a work activity, such as scaffold collapses or train crashes. A more complete estimate would also include suicides attributed to work related stress. There are approximately 6,000 suicides involving working-age people in the UK each year, and a number of those involve workers driven to despair by work-related stress. In Japan, where work-related suicides are officially recognised and compensated, it is estimated that 5 per cent of suicides are work-related. This estimate, if applied to the UK, would amount to roughly 300 people killed through work related strees.

In sum, a more complete figure of workplace deaths caused by sudden injury, which takes into account all of the above exclusions, would amount to between 1,000 and 1,400 deaths every year, or 3-4 deaths per day. (p. 142).

They also argue that the estimated number of deaths from occupational diseases are also probably grossly underestimated once recent academic studies are taken into account. For example, a 2005 study of the causes of occupational and environmental cancer by Richard Clapp estimated that about 8-16 per cent of all cancer deaths came from occupational cancer. If the mid-range figure of 12 per cent is taken as the number of occupational deaths from cancer, the number of people dying through work-related cancer is 18,000 per year.

A 2005 paper in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine estimated tath 15-20 per cent of all cases of COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – could be work related. Which means 6,000 deaths per year. There is also evidence that up to 20 per cent of all deaths from heart disease are related to conditions at work. This figure adds up to 20,000 deaths per year.

A further conservative estimate that diseases in which work can be a contributory cause, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and so on comprise a further 6,000 deaths per annum.

They state

All of this adds up to an overall estimate by the Hazards Campaign of up to 50,000 deaths from work-related illness every year – four times the typical HSE estimate of around 13,000 per year. Our contention then, is that the HSE figures grossly underestimate the number of workers whose current working conditions expose them to both the well-known and the newer risk factors, that will produce the workers deaths of the future. (p. 143).

They also make the point that the death toll is still rising, because of toxins to which people may have been exposed to as much as 40 years previously, such as some carcinogens. The EU has estimated that in the 1990s five million workers, or 22 per cent of the working population, were exposed to cancer-causing substances.

They also argue that, thanks to austerity, more workers are suffering under poor working conditions that are damaging their health. These include bullying and harassment, long hours, and the zero hours contracts imposed on 5.5 million workers. The insecurity these contracts cause are linked to stress, heart and circulatory diseases. Workers are also still exposed to dusts and chemicals that cause or contribute to respiratory and heart diseases. They also point to the connection between low paid work and poor safety standards

Low paid work guarantees more than hardship: low pay goes hand in hand with low safety standards. Occupational injuries and diseases such as diabetes and cancer are directly linked to low paid jobs. (p. 144).

They also make the point that the ‘compensation culture’ the Tories have claimed exists is actually a myth. In fact, many workers don’t receive the compensation to which they’re entitled. They write

One of the first moves of the Coalition government, in October 2010, was to appoint Lord Young, a former Cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher, to deliver ‘a Whitehall-wide review of the operation of health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture.’ He found absolutely no evidence of this ‘compensation culture’, citing figures which actually showed a downward trend to legal claims, but still demanded action to deal with ‘red tape’. Indeed, figures obtained by Hazards Magazine show that fewer than one in seven people suffering an occupational injury or disease ever receive compensation. For occupational diseases alone, this drops to just one in twenty-six. For most occupational cancers, there is barely any prospect of compensation at all.  (p. 145).

They also show that the government’s division of work into high and low risk is also highly dubious and has resulted in an increase in deaths at work. It was done by Cameron’s government in order to restrict HSE inspections to those jobs considered high risk. But the low risk category is wide, and includes textiles, clothing, footwear, light engineering, road and air transport and docks, electricity generation and the postal and courier services. Hazards Magazine found that 53 per cent of all deaths at work caused by sudden injury were in the low risk sector. Palmer and Whyte state ‘In other words, the government’s fiscal purge of health and safety enforcement has meant abandoning scrutiny of the workplaces where the majority of deaths occur’. (p. 145).

Palmer and Whyte state that this death toll should be a ‘call to arms. to any government, regardless of its political stance. But instead, despite the ‘glaring’ evidence that the red tape is good for workers, employers and the economy, governments have doubled down and insisted that such legislation is an intolerable nuisance. This has reached the point where the HSE doesn’t even both to ask ‘what’s so wrong with red tape anyway?’ The government’s ideological obsession with red tape means that ‘there is no room for argument or evidence that health and safety legislation doesn’t burden business, while its absence carries a high cost to business, workers and the public purse.’

This means that when some rag like the Heil, the Depress, or the Scum claims that health and safety legislation is unnecessary, costly and stifling business, they are lying. And lying to defend an attitude to workplace safety that is murderously dangerous to working people.

But then, as the disabled have found, Tory responsibility for mass injury and death is nothing new.

 

 

Tories Going Ahead with NHS Privatisation

December 31, 2019

Here’s another broken promise from Bozo the Clown Prime Minister – but it’s one everyone on the left knew very well was going to happen. Johnson’s going full ahead with the Tory privatisation of the NHS, despite Tory claims that we still have a publicly-owned healthcare system that’s supposed to provide care free at the point of use.

Mike reported a few days ago that Johnson’s government has drawn up a new framework for the NHS, the NHS Shared Business Services in which hospital trusts will buy services from a list of private companies. The services put out for tender include cardiology, gynaecology, paediatrics and oncology. That means it also covers children’s medicine and cancer care. The report Mike cites, at MirrorOnline, says it could mean services worth £117 million being contracted out over four years.

As Mike points out, we don’t have a system of universal healthcare anymore, as the private firms that supply the NHS with some services don’t cover the whole country. He also states clearly that it isn’t free at the point of use, as Tory policy is intended to make patients, who aren’t able to get proper NHS funded care are supposed to go private. Meanwhile, other NHS services are being starved of cash for the government to fund the private healthcare companies they’ve allowed into the NHS.

See:  https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/12/29/when-is-a-public-health-service-not-a-public-health-service-when-its-run-by-tories/

The Tory claim that this is private expertise making the NHS more efficient is a lie. Private healthcare is actually less efficient. It does not adequately cover – if at all – the poor and those with long-term health problems. Private hospitals are typically smaller than NHS hospitals. They’re also far more bureaucratic. About 10 per cent of private healthcare costs are management, though this can rise to 40 per cent. In America, something like 20 per cent of the American public can no longer afford their private health insurance. 40,000 people die every year because they can’t afford medical care. In Virginia, people actually sleep out in their cars for the weekend when the dentists offer their services free.

This is what will come to Britain if the Tories and Johnson have their way and run down the NHS completely. They do want it to become a second class service for the poor, who cannot afford private medicine. Or else introduce the American system, where everyone is supposed to go private, but there is medicare and medicaid to provide some limited care for the poor and elderly. Or else people can seek treatment at the local hospital’s Emergency Room.

Don’t believe the Tories’ lies – they are privatising the NHS purely for corporate profit. And Britain’s people will suffer.

Excellent News! Labour Plans to Abolish Fees for Dental Check-Ups

November 17, 2019

This is another really great policy from the Labour Party. They’ve announced that they plan to abolish the £22.70 fee for dental check-ups, and Corbyn has said that the ultimate aim is to abolish all fees for dentistry.

According to a piece Mike has reblogged from elsewhere, the fees were first introduced in 1951 to pay for the Korean War. It notes that one in five adults puts off going to the dentist because of the cost, and that ‘worrying numbers’ are turning to the internet for kits for scaling and makeshift fillings, which can cause serious problems.

515,000 patients a year go to A&E or their GPs for treatment for toothache, which costs the Health Service £38 million a year. Over a hundred children have rotten teeth removed in hospital every day, and decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions for children aged from five to nine. Ninety per cent of those cases can be prevented by early treatment.

In addition to abolishing the fees for ordinary check-ups, Labour also wish to remove them for oral cancer examinations, X-rays, clinical scaling and polishing and emergency treatment.

Mike adds that it would also be great if Labour could also ensure that everyone has access to an NHS dentist. He hasn’t seen one since June last year, 2018, because the dental service in mid-Wales was handed over to a private company. He concludes

Health service privatisation – it will always leave us short-changed. 

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/11/16/great-labour-election-promises-theyll-scrap-fees-for-dental-check-ups/

Mike’s right again, and this is an issue that goes back years. I’ve read a number of newspaper reports about people missing out on dental treatment because they can’t afford it. And there is a crushing shortage of NHS dentists. We’ve had problems finding suitable dentists in my part of south Bristol, as a number of them went private and immediately put their prices up. Some of this problem comes down to the profit motive at the heart of any system of private healthcare. Where it exists, there will always be the motive to charge inflated fees and concentrate on those, who are better health, rather than those who need much more treatment, because the latter aren’t as profitable.

And like the other issues with healthcare in this care, it was caused by Maggie Thatcher. I can remember how there was a massive dispute between her government and the dentists over funding, with the result that many split off from the NHS and went private. They claimed that they simply couldn’t survive with what the government was prepared to pay them. Thatcher, I remember, put the blame on them for demanding too much. I don’t know which side was right, but instinct tells me it wasn’t the Tories. Thatcher was determined to privatise the NHS in toto, but was prevented by a cabinet revolt. She carried on, however, with a campaign to encourage 10 per cent of the British population to take out private health insurance, and a programme of limited privatisation. Some of the auxiliary services for the NHS were opened up to private contractors. The department specialising in in vitro fertilisation – test tube children – was privatised. She also introduced fees for eye tests at the opticians.

The Tories are past masters at creating an industrial dispute, which will allow them to attack a particular industry and the trade unions or professional associations for its workers. We’ve seen how she did it to the miners, in order to break the NUM and close down most of the mining industry. I think she did something similar with the dentists. She manufactured a dispute with them, so that she could force some at least out of the NHS and created a private dental service.

And thanks to her, people are missing the dentist and their health is suffering.

Labour’s plan to abolish dental fees are needed. People really do need proper dental examinations. A few years ago I was diagnosed with a mouth condition that could have become serious and which needed monitoring, and I’m very sure I wasn’t alone. People are damaging their health, possibly seriously, by not going to the dentist and having the examinations and work they need done.

And it is the fault of the Tories.

Thatcher and her legacy have been catastrophic for this country, its industries and working people. But she’s still a molten idol to the Tories, Lib Dems and the Blairites. They have to be defeated, and Thatcher’s vile legacy consigned to the dustbin it deserves.

Our health, and our Health Service, cannot afford not to.