The C*nt Wants To Close Our Hospitals


Jeremy Cun… sorry, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, wants to close hospitals. He’s tried to close hospitals before, but has been stopped. So he’s added a clause to the Care Bill, which will be up in the House of Commons *next Monday*!! Last October, a court ruled that Hunt acted illegally when he tried to cut A&E and maternity services at Lewisham hospital in south-east London.. So now, he’s come up with Clause 119 of the Care Bill, which will let him close hospital facilities whenever and wherever he wants. Check out the video, then please share it with your friends. Facebook, Twitter, email, even face-to-face! When enough people know what he’s up to, we can stop him. Hopefully. But if we just sit on our arses and do or say nothing, it might be *you* or *your child* who dies because your local hospital has been closed!



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Don’t let them destroy the NHS!


I got an email from 38 Degrees earlier, regarding the government’s plans to reform the National Health Service here in England, and the government’s constant refusal to publish the risk report (a report commissioned by the government to find out what negative blowback the reforms may cause).

Of course, there must be something bad in that report, otherwise the government would be showing it off.  We need to know what bad stuff is in the report, and quickly – the House of Lords will be debating and voting on the reforms this Monday 19 March.  David Babbs of 38 Degrees explains it better than I do, so here’s the email he sent to me:

Dear Martin,

On Monday afternoon, the House of Lords starts the final voting on the NHS changes. An influential crossbench Lord, Lord David Owen, has agreed to deliver the Save Our NHS petition. He will carry it right into the House of Lords chamber, just before the debate starts.

Thepetition bears the names of over half a million of us. It speaks of our fears for the future of our NHS: services broken up, creeping privatisation, money diverted from patient care. These are the kind of risks which could be in the government’s risk report. But the government is still won’t publish that report, despite legal orders to do so.

During Monday’s debate, Lord Owen will call a vote blocking the NHS changes until the risk report is published. [1] Our petition will remind Lords that the public care about these risks to the future of our health service. It could persuade some wavering Lords to vote the right way.

It’s quite a long shot, to be honest. The government seems determined to ignore everyone’s concerns and force things through. But incredible things can happen even this late in the day – it’s definitely worth a try.

You’re one of the 500,000 names already on the petition. But the bigger it is, the more powerful our message to the Lords. So please can you forward this email to your friends, family and workmates, and ask them to sign by Monday morning?

As the Lords gather to decide whether or not to press on with changing the NHS without knowing all the risks, let’s send them a reminder. Let’s remind them that across the UK, hundreds of thousands of us know what it feels like to arrive at a hospital or a doctor’s surgery, tired, sick or frightened for someone you love. And that we know how much we rely on our NHS in those situations to give us the care we need.

Each name on our petition is a reason for the Lords to think twice before gambling with the future of our NHS. It will show them that although we all know the NHS isn’t perfect, we know that it’s pretty amazing. It will remind them that when we talk about risk registers, we’re talking about threats to a health service which is the envy of the world.

This could be the final opportunity for your friends, workmates and family to stand up for the NHS before the key votes happen. So please can you forward this email and ask them to sign the petition?

Thanks for being involved,

David, Hannah, Marie, James, Becky, Cian and the 38 Degrees team.

PS: Whatever happens next week, we know we’ve tried pretty much everything to stop these changes going ahead. Legal teams, billboard adverts, local meetings, letters to MPs, and big petitions. The petition will need to be printed by Monday morning. This could be one of our last opportunities to make sure politicians hear our message, so please ask people to sign before then. Can we get it past 600,000?

So please please pleeeze sign the petition, and forward 38 Degree’s message to your friends.  We have to try and get the Lords to stop this insane act in its tracks.  Cheers!

UK shops to sell cigarettes in plain packaging… whose stupid idea was *that*?


It was UK health secretary Andrew Lansley’s idea, apparently. He has announced his intention over the next 5 years to reduce the number of smokers in Britain by a greater number than was reduced in the past 5 years. And he has identified cigarettes’ allegedly gaudy, inviting packaging as a chief reason why people take up the habit in the first place. He has also announced a “consultation” into the idea of banning cigarette displays entirely, so tobacco products will have to be sold from “under the counter”.

Obviously, Lansley is a massive tit. Plain packaging and discreet under-the-counter sales will make cigarettes seem very illicit… and we all know what teenagers in general think of illicit activities. I predict that these measures will not reduce the number of smokers at all. Maybe it’ll even increase the number of smokers. Which is, of course, no bad thing for a political party that counts amongst its members the very tobacco barons the government claims it wants to destroy.

The other day I was waiting in the queue for the tobacco counter at my local Sainsbury’s, and I was struck by the current packaging of cigarettes. Every single pack has emblazoned across its front in bold letters sentences like SMOKING KILLS and SMOKING WILL TURN YOUR UNBORN CHILD INTO A STUMP-HEADED MUTANT. If that hasn’t reduced the number of smokers by the “desired” amount, what in hell makes Lansley think his stupid idea will do any better? The answer, of course, is stupidity. And hypocrisy. We must never forget the hypocrisy factor when trying to figure out our Con-Dem government’s motives.

Incidentally, that same Guardian story says that 21.2% of adults in Britain are smokers. It’s a minority, for sure, but it’s one heck of a big minority. Who the hell do the government think they are, messing with more than 8 million people’s right to choose what they do? Plus the government makes a lot of money by taxing tobacco products. What are they going to do if we all stop smoking – increase the tax on road fuel (which, incidentally, is far more harmful to the general population’s health than a damn cigarette)? These pin-headed ministers really do need to think these things through…

Cigarette displays like this may soon be outlawed if the UK govt gets its way

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The unions are on their way back Gordon!!

Gordon gives the thumbs-up to people power

Gordon gives the thumbs-up to people power

In the 1980s, Maggie Thatcher emasculated the unions (that’s fancy talk for “She ripped their balls off”).  Bans on flying pickets and secondary striking, stringent requirements for ballots on industrial action, the abolition of the right to strike so employers could sack workers for striking for better conditions – and of course, once the unions had been reduced to toothless pussy cats, she set about wrecking employees’ rights to fair working conditions.  By the time she was carted off, the British workforce was the hardest-pressed, poorest paid in Western Europe.

When the Labour party came to power in 1997, they made a show of “righting wrongs” but didn’t really do too much to change the status quo.  Tony Blair introduced a minimum wage to Britain, but it was a paltry amount that couldn’t support a family – it was barely enough for a single person to live on!  Blair had done as much as he could to cut the ties between the Labour party and the unions.

But he couldn’t finish the job to his satisfaction thanks to the fact that his party depended on the unions for funding.  And now, here they come again! Thank the Lord!

There’s a big Labour policy forum coming up, and, as the Guardian reported yesterday, the trades unions are taking advantage of the current economic crisis and Gordon Brown’s unpopularity to force through a number of demands.

But they are not the awful socialistic demands that right-wing commentators would have you believe.  What the unions want to do is restore some of the social justice that existed in the UK before Thatcher waged her war on the working class. Here are a few of their terrible demands:

The right to take supportive strike action; scrapping NHS prescription charges (bringing England into line with the rest of the UK); bringing all hospital cleaning back in-house to combat the rise in “super-bugs” that came with the privatisation of NHS sanitation; extending the adult minimum wage to cover workers aged 18-21 and apprentices; a change in the law so that councils will be able to demand that companies tendering for their contracts will have to treat their employees fairly; free school meals for all primary school children (an important issue when record numbers of British children are obese and healthy eating is a priority).

As rail franchises start to expire, the unions want the “not for profit model” to be extended across the rail network, so the trains are run for the benefit of the passengers not the shareholders; they want to break up the monopoly held by the six major power companies so household fuel can become affordable again; and they want to place a duty on company directors to take all reasonable steps to ensure health and safety in the workplace – so workers won’t have to worry about being killed on the job.

On union rights, they want the right to strike, internet balloting, tax deductions for union membership subscriptions, and an extension of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to construction.  The right-wing press and the government will bleat about this, but it’s only a small step towarsd rectifying the damage Thatcher inflicted on the working man.

On equality, the unions propose extending a duty to promote equality to the voluntary and private sectors, reducing the lower earnings threshold to £30 a week to allow low-paid workers access to sick pay, a tightening of the equal pay laws, and a new right for unions to collectively bargain on equality issues. On parental leave, they want an extension of the child’s age limit from six to 16. All fair, measured and sane proposals.

Gordon Brown is going to fight each and every one of these proposals.  He has already tried to say that they are a throwback to “the worst of the militant 70s”.  But the unions are organized to fight this battle.  They are believed to already have ministerial support for many of their suggestions.  And they command enough voting power in the upcoming policy meetings to ensure that there will be a democratic vote on their proposals by rank-and-file Labour party members.

So it’s time for Gordon to accept that in the 21st century, British workers and the people of Britain in general will have the right to decent working conditions and a reasonable standard of living. And it’s time for us to accept that the unions are not the monsters they were portrayed as for so long – they are for us, and of us… hell, they are us.  So let’s support the unions.  Let’s stand up for ourselves.

Gordon Brown pushes for cannabis reclassification


So get this: prime minister Gordon Brown wants cannabis to be reclassified as Class B again, even though his “experts” have advised him not to do it. What an ass!

Cannabis was a Class B drug in the UK for years, legally considered on a par with amphetamines for God’s sake! But in 2004, the government saw sense and reclassified it as Class C, the same as tranquillizers like Valium.

Unfortunately, some idiots in high places (no pun intended!) started to spread the story that “new”, “extra strong” strains of cannabis, for instance skunk, made users turn into schizophrenics. And other idiots, in the government, fell for the propaganda!

Brown called for an investigation into these claims. And now, even though his inquiry has concluded that the schizophrenia-link is bullshit, he’s determined to press ahead with the reclassification.

Some pro-prohibition voices have always criticized the declassification to Class C, on the grounds that people were confused by the law – apparently some people thought that dope had been legalized. Well, making cannabis Class B again is just going to confuse the issue more. And it will make the penalties for possession severe, when even the most harsh observers would agree that possession of cannabis is an honest-to-goodness victimless crime.

Oh, if you don’t agree with the government’s experts who have ruled out a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia, check out this study from – its authors note that schizophrenics are more likely to smoke (tobacco or dope), but deny that smoking in any way causes schizophrenia. Schizophrenics just like smoking.

The government’s willingness to ignore its experts proves that its plan to reclassify cannabis as Class B is driven by political considerations, not medical reasons.  The government’s entire drugs policy is political, not medical, legal or societal.


Medicinal marijuana – and why the hell not?!


The Liberal Democrats are predictably liberal in their stance on cannabis.  But I was surprised, and pleased, to discover that even the Conservatives are in favour of legalizing medicinal marijuana – David Cameron has said that he’d be “relaxed” about legalization if there was evidence of cannabis’ clinical efficacy. But the bloody Labour Party won’t go for it.

Not too long ago, things looked more hopeful. Mo Mowlam, the former cabinet minister in Blair’s government who died in 2005, supported the campaign to legalize cannabis for medical use; the Home Office started to investigate whether cannabis was medicinally beneficial, but that hasn’t gone anywhere – and now the government is strictly anti-cannabis, harping on about its “dangers” and pushing for it to be made a Class B drug again. There has been development of a “cannabis-based” pill for sufferers of multiple sclerosis… but the damn thing contains no THC, the Puritan authorities don’t want anyone to get high, and THC is very likely the active ingredient that makes cannabis a beneficial drug.  So the pill doesn’t work.  Idiots.

What really pisses me off is the fact that even the USA, the most anti-drug nation in the world, accepts that marijuana is an effective medicine.  Okay, so the federal government is anti-cannabis still; but a great many states have medicinal marijuana policies. Laws that legalize growing and/or possessing medical marijuana are in place in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon,  Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Twelve states have medical marijuana research laws, and only fifteen states have never had a positive medical marijuana law.

MS and glaucoma sufferers get great relief when they use cannabis.  Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy find that dope eases their otherwise debilitating nausea. AIDS, epilepsy, depression, chronic pain, are all ameliorated to some extent.  So why won’t the UK government legalize medicinal marijuana? Why are patients in Britain forced to live in fear of prison?


Spider girl of Bihar has arms and legs chopped off



This is an unusual girl – it’s Lakshmi, from a village in the north Indian state of Bihar. Well, she was unusual-looking; now she is recovering well after an operation to remove her extra arms and legs, according to the Guardian.

Lakshmi’s rare deformity – she had an extra set of arms and legs – was due to the fact that she was joined at the pelvis to a “parasitic twin” that stopped developing in the womb. The stronger fetus absorbed the arms, legs, and some organs from the other fetus.

In rural India, children with deformities are often considered to be reincarnated gods. Lakshmi is named after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth. Her parents have spent the past two years hiding the girl from superstitious neighbours, who alternately wanted to praise her as the incarnation of a deity and sell her to a circus.

Now, however, her ordeal is nearly over. Lakshmi still needs surgery for club feet. But the Spider Girl of Bihar is no more.


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