Saturday, December 31, 2011

Enjoy Today,

Dorothea Tanning.

Well here it is the last day of 2011; because it’s raining I do not have to endure too many sounds of fireworks.

Here there have already, been weeks of fireworks being let off, despite it being illegal to set off fireworks before midnight on the 31st of December.

No one tries to enforce this law, shame as fireworks causes so much injury, and I wish they would stop selling fireworks, better to have big displays.

People here drive to Belgium for fireworks, where there are fewer restrictions, and so heavier fireworks can be bought and smuggled over the border.

Things that are more like mortar bombs and nothing like crackers or bangers or catherine wheels.

My first New Year here on my own in 1982, was very scary, no one told me about fireworks, it sounded like I was in the middle of a war zone, like Beirut.

I wish people pooled their fireworks, and organised more communal displays, but after 30 years I am less hopeful.

Hoping for rain tonight so the streets won’t be too noisy, and our 3 dogs won’t get too upset, although Cyril seems to have started howling already.

I intend to enjoy today,

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year Without New Year’s Resolutions

Dorothea Tanning.

Well it’s nearly the 31st of December and the end of this year, 2011 and the start of a new year.

Of 2012, a new year and a new chance, to do things in a different way, always good to try something else.

A new year is a great chance to do something else; I don’t do new years resolutions

I found I never stuck to them, it was always something I would say I intend to do, but by January 2 all was forgotten.

This way has worked better for me, much better, I feel free to use my imagination.

Instead of reciting a list of things I won’t do suddenly as if by magic, no wonder it can’t work because there is no magic, it does not exist.

I feel happier making decisions as I need to not just because everyone makes new years resolutions.

My best new year’s resolutions were promising never to do it ever again, to never set myself up to fail.

Happy New Year without New Year’s resolutions

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Syria: Human Rights Groups Challenge Leadership Of Arab League Mission.

The Chair, 1955.
Leonora Carrington.
 Doubts raised after Sudanese general says situation in Homs is 'reassuring' despite footage of monitors witnessing casualties
Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
The Guardian, Thursday 29 December
A Syrian tank moves through Homs where the Arab League observer mission began on Tuesday. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
The judgment of an Arab League observer mission in Syria has been called into question after its leader, the Sudanese general Mustafa al-Dabi, described the situation in the opposition stronghold of Homs as "reassuring", despite video footage of his monitors witnessing heavy gunfire and being shown civilian casualties.
Syrian opposition groups reported more deaths on Wednesday in Hama, where security forces allegedly used live ammunition against protesters attempting to stage a sit-in in the city centre before a scheduled Arab League mission on Thursday. Estimates of casualties range from seven wounded to six killed.
Al-Jazeera television footage from Hama showed gunfire, rising black smoke and men marching through the streets chanting "Where are the Arab monitors?" One man appeared to be bleeding from the neck.
The appointment of Dabi as the head of the observer mission was criticised on Wednesday by international human rights groups, who point to his past as a military intelligence chief and long-serving loyalist of President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the international criminal court for genocide and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region.
Dabi was a military commander in Darfur in 1999, when Arab Janjaweed militias, later accused of killing many of the local population, were co-opted by the army in a counterinsurgency against rebel groups.
Nearly 3 million people were forced to flee their homes in Darfur and the UN says about 300,000 have died, mostly from disease.
Amnesty International said Sudan's military intelligence under Dabi's command "was responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture or other ill-treatment of numerous people in Sudan".
Alex de Waal, co-author on a book on the Darfur conflict who now runs the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University, said of Dabi's time in the region: "Many were arrested during his tenure and the Darfur rebels say that his stint in the area was "the beginning of the organisation of the Janjaweed". Dabi argues that he was even-handed and that it was "necessary to show a firm hand in the face of dissent that threatened to spiral out of control".
The Arab League has defended its choice of Dabi to lead the monitoring team. Observers speculated that his selection represented a reward to the Sudanese government for its support of Qatar in opposing the Gaddafi regime in Libya and in taking a tough line on Syria.
The mission, currently 60-strong but eventually intended to comprise 150 observers, began its work on Tuesday in Homs, a city of 1 million people and stronghold of the rebel Free Syrian Army, where the government reportedly used tanks and armoured cars on Monday against the restive district of Baba Amr.
"Some places looked a bit of a mess but there was nothing frightening," Dabi told Reuters on Wednesdayby phone from Damascus. "The situation seemed reassuring so far … Yesterday was quiet and there were no clashes. We did not see tanks but we did see some armoured vehicles. But remember this was only the first day and it will need investigation. We have 20 people who will be there for a long time."
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed security forces killed 15 people across the country on Tuesday, six of them in Homs. It said 34 were killed the day before.
A video distributed by activists in Homs showed Arab League monitors in a battle-scarred area of the city on Wednesday, taking cover when heavy fire rang out. Another showed the body of a little boy, purportedly killed in this week's fighting in Homs, being laid on the bonnet of an Arab League monitors' vehicle.
Omar, a Baba Amr resident and activist, told Reuters: "I felt they didn't really acknowledge what they'd seen – maybe they had orders not to show sympathy. But they didn't seem enthusiastic about hearing people tell their stories.
"We felt like we were shouting into a void. We placed our hopes in the entire Arab League. But these monitors don't seem to understand how the regime works, they don't seem interested in the suffering and death people have faced."
The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad said it was fighting a terrorist insurgency, which has killed 2,000 soldiers and police. The regime claimed to have freed 755 detainees "whose hands were not stained with Syrian blood", but according to Amnesty International 15,000 Syrians remain in detention.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

As If We Were Immortal..

Leonora Carrington.

Today has been pleasant, this afternoon Anne, a friend visited us which was nice, good to see someone else.

Often the only person that comes round every week is my physiotherapist who comes here twice; we often can go weeks without seeing anyone else here.

In the late seventies when I worked for the gas board, reading gas meters, I meet many people, who saw no one.

Apart from the meter reader, every three months and the milk delivery person once per week, to pay.

I recall being very surprised at this as I had never considered the possibility of such a thing, of people being so isolated.

Amazingly this is happening to us now; I guess its something, that must happen alot more then I ever thought it were possible.

I never thought it would happen to me, but then again, I didn’t’ think I would be as sick as I am.

I just always thought that I would be fit and healthy and be able to look after myself.

Never considered the alternative but I think I am not the only one, I think its something that we all do without thinking, living as if we were immortal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Syria, Something That Can't Be Ignored.

Leonora Carrington.

I have been enjoying a day of relaxing, which has been very pleasant, so much so I am going to keep doing this.

It is much better than getting stressed, hopefully quite soon I will be able to say goodbye to advisors and there will be no need for any more appointments.

A very fine prospect that I am looking forward to tremendously in fact I can’t hardly wait for that moment to b here.

Being relaxed is nice but it has not stopped me being aware of what is happening in the world I live in.

All the killing and suffering that has been inflicted on the Syrian people by the Dictator Assad’s regime is something that can’t be ignored.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Last Christmas Day.

Leonora Carrington.

I am still enjoying the Christmas days, today was much too quickly the last day, abit sad, but keen for the New Year now.

So glad I can still type with my left index finger, it never fails to amaze me how little, I seem to need for me to have quality of life.

Being positive is a must, as I have discovered so often over the years since my diagnosis, that, and a working index finger, so I can send e-mails, type posts, surf the net, it makes me happy.

Since I started writing my blog everyday in February 2009, I found out that I love to write, writing everyday, it is a pleasure not a chore.

I wish I had known this was a way to make a living, being a paid writer would have been a dream comes true.

No point crying over what could have been, instead I think I will try to just enjoy writing now; everyday I can do it, is a huge bonus for me.

My darling Richie is the person who looks out for me, he makes my life very good, Richie is always looking out for ways to make life even better for me.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Winter Days.

Leonora Carrington

Yesterday was a lovely day; I thoroughly enjoyed myself with Richie, its always good fun spending time together.

Today Christmas day has been a very pleasant relaxed day, which I am also finding rather enjoyable.

These two lovely days in mid winter, are such beautiful days which I am enjoying as always.

It’s nice to have a break from the usual routine even if only for a few days, it’s brilliant not to have any appointments until next year.

Nice not to have to deal with advisors, nice to have my own time and space, just my darling and I and the dogs, happy days.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Beautifully, Relaxed And Enjoyable Christmas Eve.


Leonora Carrington

Yesterday afternoon my dear friend Anja visited us, it was really good to see her, especially just before Christmas, it meant a lot to me to see her here, she brought me a present.

Today has been a truly lovely Christmas Eve, I have thoroughly enjoyed my day, this afternoon I listened to the opera Tosca, being performed, and it was glorious.

I had a late afternoon shower so I could be in the front room until midnight which we both really enjoyed, it felt good.

I got Richie, Professor Brian Cox’s Quantum Physics and the Wonders of the Solar System, Cesar Milan’s Dog Training book, Wilco Johnson’s 2 cd’s and a box set of Phil Spector’s Philly Sound.

Richie got me three perfumes, two Kylie Minogue as well as Chanel Nr. 5, a big box of Mon Cheri, 4 pairs of pyjamas, two t-shirts, and a pair of casual pants.

Well spoiled, I also got lovely lavender body lotion, lavender sachets, and a heat pad for my cold hands from Gareth and Paul from Wales.

They also sent us cheddar cheese and cream crackers, I also got two beautiful presents from Aud, Richie’s sister, and she sent me two incredibly lovely pairs of earrings and necklaces.

They are both very striking I have never seen anything like this before, I shall get Richie to take photos so I can post on my blog

Anja’s present was a beautifully presented and wrapped, rose body lotion, rose shower gel, rose body scrub and a pretty pink sponge.

It was a truly lovely day, a beautifully, relaxed and enjoyable Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quite A Day.


Quite a day, today it started with me having to call our doctor and request a house call, Dr Smit agreed to visit at 12.00.

Turns out it was exactly what I thought it would be, not a simple yeast infection but it had gone to another stage, it was now another fungal infection, it was now trichamonas.

Which I thought it was, shame the locum I spoke to did not come here as I requested Wednesday, then I would not have been experiencing three more days of painful discomfort.

I hate being preoccupied with something like this, no wonder I have not been myself, I have been tired, listless lacking my usual sense of humour.

Richie has just gone to the chemist to pick up medication, seems that there is a huge queue, so my darling is waiting in line for my pills.

Luckily he just returned with them so my week long pain party will be finally over later tonight when I take them before I go to sleep.

Apart from that I also had to mail agis, about the seemingly never ending saga of Seetech and which company will get the contract.

RTD Het Dorp thought they had it; however I heard they were so keen to get the contract that they have put together a limited version which won’t allow me to keep communicating like now.

 Because they left out giving me English or German, I grew up bilingual, plus no installation nor instructions how to use, I explained to Agis that the RTD het Dorp were looking after their own interests not mine.

Agis are reviewing the bids, so I hope there will be good news before my finger stop working, which is happening now.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Can Information Be Too Dangerous.

Steve Connor.

A deadly strain of bird flu with the potential to infect and kill millions of people has been created in a laboratory by European scientists – who now want to publish full details of how they did it.     

The discovery has prompted fears within the US Government that the knowledge will fall into the hands of terrorists wanting to use it as a bio-weapon of mass destruction.

Some scientists are questioning whether the research should ever have been undertaken in a university laboratory, instead of at a military facility.

The US Government is now taking advice on whether the information is too dangerous to be published.

"The fear is that if you create something this deadly and it goes into a global pandemic, the mortality and cost to the world could be massive," a senior scientific adviser to the US Government told The Independent, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The worst-case scenario here is worse than anything you can imagine."

For the first time the researchers have been able to mutate the H5N1 strain of avian influenza so that it can be transmitted easily through the air in coughs and sneezes. 

Until now, it was thought that H5N1 bird flu could only be transmitted between humans via very close physical contact.

Dutch scientists carried out the controversial research to discover how easy it was to genetically mutate H5N1 into a highly infectious "airborne" strain of human flu. They believe that the knowledge gained will be vital for the development of new vaccines and drugs.

But critics say the scientists have endangered the world by creating a highly dangerous form of flu which could escape from the laboratory – as well as opening a Pandora's box for fanatical terrorists wishing to make a bio-weapon.

The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has killed hundreds of millions of birds since it first appeared in 1996, but has so far infected only about 600 people who came into direct contact with infected poultry.

What makes H5N1 so dangerous, though, is that it has killed about 60 per cent of those it has infected, making it one of the most lethal known forms of influenza in modern history – a deadliness moderated only by its inability (so far) to spread easily through airborne water droplets.

Scientists are in little doubt that the newly created strain of H5N1 – resulting from just five mutations in two key genes – has the potential to cause a devastating human pandemic that could kill tens of millions of people. The study was carried out on ferrets, which when infected with influenza are the best animal "model" of the human disease.

The details of the study are so sensitive that they are being scrutinised by the US Government's own National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which is understood to have advised American officials that key parts of the scientific paper should be redacted to prevent terrorists from using the information to reverse-engineer their own lethal strain of flu virus.

In an unprecedented move, the Biosecurity board is believed to have told the US Government that there is a serious possibility of potentially dangerous information being misused if the full genetic sequence of the mutated H5N1 virus were to be published in open scientific literature.

A senior source close to the Biosecurity board, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Independent that the National Institutes of Health, which funded the work, is about to make a decision on how much of the scientific paper on the H5N1 super strain should be published, and how much held back.

"There are areas of science where information needs to be controlled," the scientist said. "The most extreme examples are, for instance, how to make a nuclear weapon or any weapon that is going to be used primarily to kill people. The life sciences really haven't encountered this situation before. It's really a new age."

The study was carried out by a Dutch team of scientists led by Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, where the mutated virus is stored under lock and key, but without armed guards, in a basement building.

Dr Fouchier, who declined to answer questions until a decision is made on publication, said in a statement released on the university's website that it only took a small number of mutations to change the avian flu virus into a form that could spread more easily between humans.

"We have discovered that this is indeed possible, and more easily than previously thought. In the laboratory, it was possible to change H5N1 into an aerosol-transmissible virus that can easily be rapidly spread through the air," Dr Fouchier said. "This process could also take place in a natural setting.

"We know which mutation to watch for in the case of an outbreak and we can then stop the outbreak before it is too late. Furthermore, the finding will help in the timely development of vaccinations and medication."

A second, independent team of researchers led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the universities of Wisconsin and Tokyo is understood to have carried out similar work with similar results, which has underlined how easy it is to create the super virus with a combination of deliberate mutations and random genetic changes brought about by passing avian flu manually from the nose of one ferret to another.

Some scientists have privately questioned whether such research should have been done in a university department that does not have the sophisticated anti-terrorist security of a military facility. 

They also point out that experimental viruses kept in seemingly secure laboratories have escaped in the past to cause human epidemics – such as a 1977 flu outbreak.

"There are people who say that the work should never have been done, or if it was done it should have been done in a setting where the information could be better controlled," said the source close to the biosecurity board.

"With influenza now it is possible to reverse engineer the virus. It's pretty common technology in many parts of the world. With the genomic sequence, you can reconstruct it. That's where the information is dangerous," he said.

"It's scary from a number of different angles. You want to have the vaccines and therapeutics in place, and you need to have a much information as you can about a particular virus, but you also worry about it from a biosecurity perspective."

Profile: researcher behind the science
Ron Fouchier
The Dutch virologist started as an expert in HIV, having received his PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 1995. After research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, he began a new career in the virology department at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, studying the molecular biology of the influenza A virus.

At a conference in Malta in September, he described his work as something that was "really, really stupid," but ultimately useful for the development of vaccines

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

May Have Saved Myra’s Life.

Today it’s the winter solstice, the shortest day and tonight is the longest night, from tomorrow the days will be slowly getting slowly longer.

That is nice to look forward to, in the meantime, I am enjoying the dark December days, and excitingly, it’s nearly Christmas now, three more days to go.  

Today has been another quiet day, I got some goods news, heard from my friend Angela that her mother Myra has successfully completed her course of i.v antibiotics.

Brilliant news that Myra has recovered from the serious bladder infection, she developed because no one had kept an eye on her liquid intake.

Really good news, especially as one week ago it looked like she was fading away, seemingly for no reason.

Now she has recovered, she has made friends in the ward, Myra has even become popular with the staff; good job one member of staff was alert.

 An auxiliary nurses requested tests to see why after coming out of her operation so well and being so engaged with her environment she suddenly started drifting off an couldn’t talk.

Not Myra, who is a great communicator, a very dynamic woman, so glad, one member of staff doing their job and being attentive to her patients, may have saved Myra’s life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Am Who I Am.

18 to 21 are my favourite days before Christmas, I have always liked those days, even more in Europe, but it started in Trinidad.

I well remember the excitement of Christmas in Port of Spain, Trinidad; we lived on a hill, so it was lovely seeing people putting up lights on their homes below us.

Great to see that was still happening, when I visited in 1997; then the decorations were truly wonderful, funny seeing so much billowing fake snow in gardens in the baking heat of the midday sun.

There were lots of houses with Santa with sleigh plus reindeer, some were really too small, but that did not stop anyone, it was an amazing sight.

So glad I got back to my beautiful island in the sun, it was the best thing for me, I had many questions about where I came from.

Being there in 1997 gave me myself back, that’s how it felt, and it was truly wonderful to meet cousins, and their kids as well as my favourite auntie Josephine.

In 1997 I rediscovered my roots, my background, it truly helped me feel more me, more happy and understanding where i am from, that was aso important to know where I was born and why and how I am who I am.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Remembering An Unforgetable Day.

Conroy Maddox.

Amazingly Beenhakker sent some one to fit a new emergency cut off switch; they are such a good company very customer orientated.

Unlike Welzorg, Beenhakker are efficient, attentive and seem to be interested in their customers.

Nice to have a positive experience, it makes such a huge difference and is such a boost, especially after the way other companies have been.

If it had been Welzorg, I would have needed to phone, e-mail them for days, and if I were really lucky they probably would have come back next week or in the New Year.

Getting the shower chair fixed totally unexpectedly today was almost like getting an extra present for our anniversary.

Having it fixed makes all the difference to us, lovely to have it all sorted out without any stress.

Today has been quite a pleasant day, which we both enjoyed very much; I think it has been a relaxing day.

I can hardly believe that it’s already ten years since that wonderful day, 19th December in 2001 when we married.

We had such a great party, with good friends; Richie made a feast for it, which was wonderful, an unforgettable day.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Surprise.

Emmy Bridgwater

Today has been a pleasant day, I enjoyed sitting in bed editing two Dutch posts, for Friday and Saturday.

As usual I was doing several things at the same time as editing; I was also listening to the radio, watching football on TV.

Richie got me out of bed to shower me; which was lovely, I am still getting extra enjoyment from showers, after the shower chair drama on Friday.

Once I was dressed and sitting in my wheelchair, Richie announced he had got me a10th anniversary present.

He left me waiting, for what seemed ages, wondering what the present would be, I was very excited.

Then Richie returned with a chicque little black shiny bag, pulled out a ring box, he opened it and took out a beautiful ring and placed it on my finger.

It is the most beautiful ring I have ever seen, I am over the moon with Richie’s beautiful surprise anniversary present.

‘It is gorgeous ring, a really amazing present; I had no idea, none, not even when he went off to buy olive oil, not unusual for him to go to one of the excellent Turkish shops 5 minutes away.

My darling Richie has really surprised me, it is not often I am speechless, today I was, totally and utterly amazed, that’s what I call a surprise.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hospital Negligegnce And Incompetence.

Emmy Bridgewater,The Kill,1942.

What started as a relaxed day yesterday became quite tense and worrying, but once the Beenhakker engineer had fixed the shower chair, those tensions vanished.

Feel very lucky that Arjan was on call last night, and thought he could make the difference; he made an amazing quick fix, which allows Richie to fully use the shower chair.

So today, I finally can be showered by Richie, which will be an incredibly lovely experience, looking forward to it.

Because of being distracted yesterday, I hadn’t written a post, thought 23.00 not the time to start to write, instead I wrote yesterdays post today.

There was even more stress worrying about my good friends Angela’s mother Myra, who got rushed to hospital, when she fell; broke her good right arm and dislocated and broke her shoulder last week Wednesday.

She had an operation right away, two more are due, because the staff took too long getting the commode last Saturday, Myra wet the bed, a nurse shouted at her and roughly put diapers on her.

Myra was bright over last weekend, starting to get worse on Monday, poor Angela frantically, trying to find the cause of her mother’s deterioration and getting no help from the doctors and nurses.

There was excellent news from Angela last night, that there had been positive developments thanks to an auxiliary nurse, who could not believe the change in Myra since being admitted the previous Wednesday.

She had been off duty until Thursday; she insisted that tests were done, turns out the cause of Myra’s deterioration was a serious UTI, something that could have killed an 80 year old like Myra.

Once Myra could communicate again she told Angela that after the nurse shouted at her she limited her intake of liquids so she did not need to pee too much, this caused the UTI.

I called the hospital yesterday, to check how Myra was doing, I wanted them to realise that there were people who are concerned about her, and I heard she was on an antibiotic drip.

Strange the hospital did not it  give Myra a catheter and drip for fluids right away, as it must have been clear she would not be mobile,  nor did they monitor her fluid intake.

I think the hospital have been negligent, Angela will put in a formal compliant, she could have lost her mother due to the incompetence in dealing with a handicapped woman with broken bones.

Beenhakker Look After Their Customers.

Elsa Schiaparelli.

Today was a pretty relaxed day until Richie got the shower chair to take me to the bathroom and discovered it didn’t work.

Richie put the battery onto charge again, to see if that was the problem, after half an hour it became clear it wasn’t.

It could not be used, so that Richie can place me above the toilet, then undresses me, showers me, dries and dresses me all on the Carendo shower chair.

Luckily it was high enough for me to use the toilet, it was just possible, sadly no shower, as the shower chair won’t be adjusted, so Richie wouldn’t be able to wash nor dry me adequately.

What a nasty surprise, had been so looking forward to a lovely shower, I contacted Beenhakker, the supplier.

Happily they could send someone to hopefully repair the shower chair, the engineer arrived at 22.00, and he worked for 40 minutes, at the end it worked.   

Which was the best news ever, no sooner had Arjan the engineer left, when I needed to go to the toilet, and happily the shower chair could be used.

 We just couldn’t manage without, so glad Arjan cares for his work; once I explained the importance to me he agreed to come.

 After nearly an hour, Arjan had managed a quick fix, the problem, had occurred because the emergency button had been activated.

Three cheers for Arjan, from Beenhakker who solved the problem; they are a good company, who look after their customers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Brave Whistle Blower Taking On Pharmaceutical Companies.

Jacqueline Lamba.

Rhys Morgan: 'They are trying to silence me'

A 17-year-old schoolboy from Cardiff is proving an unlikely but effective opponent of powerful organisations pushing miracle cures for serious diseases
By Steven Morris

Rhys Morgan … 'I was a little bit scared'.

Like many teenage boys, Rhys Morgan loves video games, rock music and hanging around with his friends. He works hard at school and tries to do his bit helping out at home. But what makes this 17-year-old a little different is that he also finds time to join battle with powerful, wealthy organisations that promote miracle alternative cures for serious diseases.

Morgan's burgeoning campaign, run from the front room of his family's house in a cul-de-sac in Cardiff, is gaining him friends and enemies. He is winning plaudits from within the sceptical community and from some journalists impressed at his gumption, but is berated by those desperate to believe in the treatments offered – and has spent countless hours in recent weeks batting away threats of legal action.

So why does this floppy-haired teenager bother? Wouldn't it be less hassle to focus on becoming even better at Team Fortress 2 or just kicking back and listening to his favourite bands, Muse and Radiohead?

"It can be nerve-wracking but I think that getting the message out there is a lot more important than me being sued," says Morgan. "I think there's a need for more people to speak out. I hate the idea of anyone being taken for a ride."

Morgan was not always a sceptic. His mother, Dawn, reveals that he believed in Father Christmas until he was 11 when she and his father, Paul, had to break the bad news. "I think they should have told me a little earlier," Morgan says. As a young boy he went to church with his grandparents, only becoming an atheist after attending a Christian camp. "I had a good time but a few weeks later stopped believing. I'm not quite sure how that happened."

Morgan's first contact with online scepticism dates to his early teens when he became interested in, a website devoted to debunking urban legends. Then he wrote an essay for his English language GCSE expressing doubts about the validity of many alternative medicines. This interest in medicine did not emerge out of nowhere: his father is an intensive care doctor, his mother a nurse.

But it was when Morgan was diagnosed with a serious illness – Crohn's disease – that he plunged deep into the world of scepticism. While off school last year, he set about researching the disease and was alarmed at some of the "miracle cures" on offer. One particularly grabbed his attention: Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), which is described on its website as the "answer" to Aids, hepatitis A, B and C, malaria, herpes, TB and "most cancer".

Morgan looked into MMS and was alarmed to find that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned that, when used as directed, the solution produced was "a potent bleach" and urged anyone using it to stop immediately and throw it away. Similar warnings have been issued in this country.

"A few people on support forums seemed to be pushing MMS on others. I started telling people on the forums, look, this treatment doesn't seem to be that great." He got "kicked off" one forum. "They told me I was being rude and inflammatory by questioning other people's choices."

Happily for Morgan, he went into remission at the start of this year (thanks to "conventional" drugs prescribed on the NHS, he is keen to emphasise). He returned to school and continued his studies. The teenager found he now had two groups of friends – his Cardiff pals and online colleagues from the increasingly well-organised sceptical community. The two groups do not overlap and Morgan says his local friends do not know much about his online activities. "I think they'd be bored by it. I don't tell them much about it all."

In this year's summer holidays, Morgan's eye was caught by a campaign aiming to raise money to send a young woman with inoperable brain cancer to a centre called the Burzynski clinic in Houston, Texas (motto: Tomorrow's cancer treatment today). The clinic says it uses "antineoplastons" – "molecular switches that turn off life processes in abnormal cells" – to treat cancer patients.

Morgan did some digging into the clinic and was not convinced. "I couldn't find anything substantial on the internet to support what was being claimed." He says he was angry at the idea of desperate people spending what could be the last days of their lives flying across the globe and putting their faith in what he believes are "unproven" treatments. He posted a blog about the clinic and again got on with his life and studies.

But at the start of November an email dropped in Morgan's inbox from one Marc Stephens, who accused him of libelling the Burzynski clinic.

"I was a little bit scared. I didn't know who this guy was," says Morgan. He told his mum and dad and asked for advice from fellow sceptics and sympathetic lawyers. Further emails followed. Morgan was worried that if he lost a libel case, his parents' assets, their house, cars and savings could be at risk.

It got even heavier. Stephens told Morgan he would contact his school about his activities and, most disturbingly, included a satellite view of the Morgan family home in one message.

"It was extremely odd. It was as if he was saying: 'I know where you live.'"

It was a tense time for the Morgans. When a suspicious brown package arrived addressed to "Dr Rhys Morgan", his mother was so worried about what it might contain that she thought it best to open it outside. It turned out to be a wristband sent by a friend.

Morgan went on the attack. He published the email exchanges on his blog and asked pointed questions about Stephens' legal credentials.

At the end of last month the clinic issued a press release distancing itself from Stephens. It said he had been hired as an "independent contractor" to "provide web optimisation services and to attempt to stop the dissemination of false and inaccurate information". It accepted that sending a Google map and making personal comments to bloggers had not been appropriate. The clinic apologised and said it "no longer has a professional relationship" with Stephens.

The press release does not name Morgan but says that bloggers who had made "false and defamatory" statements would be contacted by its lawyers. It also claims that the woman whose fund-raising campaign attracted Morgan's attention is doing well and that her tumour is shrinking. The press release goes on to list 13 articles that it said had been published since 2006 supporting antineoplaston therapy.

Morgan is unbowed. He believes he is right and will not back down. "It's quite clear that they are trying to intimidate me, silence me. Science should be settled through more papers and better understanding of the world as opposed to through lawsuits."

He is not a fan of the libel laws in the UK. "They favour the person making the claims of libel very heavily. People can be sued for things published in academic journals. That can't be right."

Morgan now plans to delve into the work of a second cancer clinic and is also interested in tackling other alternative medicines and beauty products.

When he leaves school he plans to go to university and then become a doctor and journalist.

On his Twitter page, he already describes himself as "Journalist.
Skeptic." He thinks he'll be able to juggle all his callings.

So what does he believe in? Morgan does not hesitate: "Evidence-based medicine.

If evidence can support something, I'm all for it.

One thing that really gets me is when people claim sceptics have closed minds. That's not true: a true sceptic will be convinced by evidence. And even if the evidence supported the most absurd claims, the sceptic would agree that it's true."

A Brave Whistle Blower Taking On Pharmaceutical Companies;


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not The Present I Wanted.

 Jacqueline Lamba.

 Last night suddenly, without any warning my index finger stopped working, it occurred not long after I published yesterdays post.
 Although I knew this would be happening soon, nevertheless it still shocked me.

Especially horrible as it was not only my index finger but sadly the other fingers were also not working, not even my thumb could be used.

I ended up using the keyboard mouse with the palm of my hand, which became almost impossible to do, but being a stubborn woman I persisted.

Typing was difficult Richie helped me with the last part, and then finally I could make the purchase.

Normally an online form takes approximately 5-10 minutes, last night it took me nearly two hours. 

As I was in the middle of ordering a present for Philip, the husband of my favourite cousin Aileen in Trinidad, it had been a frustrating experience.

Not a pleasant thing to have happen, not something I wanted to have happen right now.

I hoped my index would still be functioning until next spring not stop this Christmas, this is not the present I wanted.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Enjoy While I Can.

cquelineJa Lamba.

Today has been a quick day; first I had my physiotherapy appointment with the wonderful Mathilde, my physiotherapist.

Doing the arm exercises, has become almost too much for me, I used to be able to do the exercises with light weights strapped to my wrists.

Now however my arms have become too weak to cope with any weight, it’s a shame, I miss feeling the strength in my arms, miss it very much, and I hate feeling like I do already now.

I hate it, don’t like it at all, its not pleasant to feel myself becoming so weak, must try to stop myself getting sombre too

After all there is absolutely no point in my becoming anxious and depressed, I am very aware that I have a virulent strain of a nasty progressive disease.

That is not getting better just worse, my plan now is to enjoy life, while I can, I am aware that life is finite; I intend to make the most of every moment I have got left.

I am going to enjoy this Christmas very much with my beautiful darling Richie; I love this time of year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Almost Blasé.

Jacqueline Lamba.

One minute I was sitting happily in bed, receiving my mails, opening my blog, answering comments, feeling very relaxed, then the day got derailed.

As the next minute my guts were gripped by horrible sensations, which I immediately recognized as me needing to get to the toilet extremely quickly

What it actually meant was, I should be there right now; because whatever Richie, does now will be too late, I will have crapped in my leggings in bed.

Not my favourite thing to occur, but today, I was not for one moment embarrassed or ashamed, which was good.

Not wasting my time and energy on being pointlessly upset, glad I can be like this, better then getting unnecessarily upset.

A really hateful situation, being incontinent is awful but there is nothing I can do to change it, no matter how much I may want to.

Better to be calm, like I managed to be this afternoon, knowing that once Richie showered me I would feel good once more.

Soon after I was indeed  dressed, perfumed and feeling restored which was a wonderful ending to an unpleasant experience.

Not the Sunday we were expecting, glad we can be so calm and relaxed, almost blasé, better then getting upset, when there is nothing to be done to change things.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hustle And Bustle Of Christmas Eve.

Rachel Baes.

Today started very nicely with a phone call from our lovely friend Gareth, phoning from Wales, nice to hear from him, funnily just yesterday I spoke to our other lovely friend from Wales, Cari.

Really good speaking with friends, especially good ones, so like to hear about their lives, catch up, get aquainted with what’s going on with them.

Easy to lose touch, often quite simple to remake the contact by just doing so nothing else, so simple, you do not need to complicate it, mind you sometimes I do.

Just realised that it is once more nearly Christmas, it always sneaks up on me before I know, there it is the 25th December.

Luckily I have done my shopping already, via eBay, which was enjoyable, perhaps not such good fun as the shop, but its good option for me.

My favourite used to be doing my Christmas shopping on 24th December, loved the hustle and bustle, great fun.

Never like liked doing my shopping months beforehand like my mother, who did all her’s in the summer, because it was cheaper then.

Not my idea of fun, but guess that was not the point of the exercise, it was money saving not fun.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Just Being.

Rachel Baes.

Today has been lovely day, quite dreamy in bits, then abruptly disturbed with the noise of sudden dog games happening, great to see the three of them getting on so well.

Richie had to post a letter today, it had to be sent registered so the court will sign when it arrives, it is my court appeal against having my airco application refused.

While doing this, he made the happy discovery of a pet shop, right near the shop that does the post; it actually sold rubber duck toys for dogs.

When Richie got back, there were three excited dogs, who I think must have smelled the dog treats well before Richie got in the door.
Once Richie took everything out of the bag, he then produced three new toys, one duck for an extremely happy Cyril, he seemed ecstatic rushing round honking it.

Luckily he soon killed the squeak himself just before we had more then enough of the persistent honking rushing madly between rooms.

Nice to see a happy Cyril, glad we are doing things right for him, giving him the chance to be happy, he will never totally lose his panic attacks completely, however they will get less in time.

He has been here with us now for 11 months; it’s only now that Cyril is finally letting his guard down and relaxing and being a dog at last.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Syria: Homs Massacre Warning.

Horasani Melati.
Evidence received from reports, videos and information obtained by activists on the ground in Homs, indicate that the regime paving the way to commit a massacre in order to extinguish the Revolution in Homs and to discipline by example, other Syrian cities that have joined the Revolution.
In a blogpost headline "Prelude to Mayhem" Abdulahamid warns:
Unless world leaders make up their mind and decide that intervention to prevent a crisis is better than intervention to manage, the powder keg that is today's Syria will surely blow and soon.
Soldiers and activists close to the rebel Free Syrian Army are frustrated by the defensive tactics adopted by the group after talks with the opposition Syrian National Council, according to the New York Times. Abdulsatar Maksur, who helps supply the renegade troops, said: helping to coordinate the Free Syrian Army's supply network, said:
We don't like their strategy. They just talk and are interested in politics, while the Assad regime is slaughtering our people. We favor more aggressive military action.
Former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri says he "openly and proudly" supports the uprising of the Syrian people, after Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah repeated his support for the Syrian regime. "If Hezbollah openly supports the Syrian regime, we openly and proudly support the Syrian revolution and the Syrian people," Hariri told his Twitter followers, Lebanon's Daily Star reports.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Relaxed Wednesday.

British Surrealists
Today I am having a relaxing day unwinding, well trying to, what has helped is getting my new authorisation that I will get mediwiet free on prescription again next year.

One thing less to worry about, hopefully I will hear this week about the software and more support in bed, then I will be very relaxed indeed.

I won’t need constant appointments, all of which, the advisors appear to drag out, to create, and maximise more pay days for themselves from funds designated for the disabled budget.

All of which I aim becoming convinced happens because of the lumbering creaking burocracy which runs the show, it’s not even efficient, just tick boxes

Really wish this could be changed-, everyone gets what they need, quickly, that would be better than the way things are done now.

In 2006 as well as 2007, Welzorg seemed to have a deal with a mobility company, to buy hundreds of the same model wheelchair.

Great if it had been a good wheelchair, one that was light, easy to move with, sadly they were clumsy, difficult to move around in.

Never forget how many people I met at the rehabilitation clinic, literally stranded in wheelchairs too heavy to move on their own.

One couple, she could do nothing, he had asthma and heart problem, they also had one of the heavy models.

I wish I could help to somehow get the lengthy procedure changed, but fear that there will be little progress, oh well first relax then think some more.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

No Future For Many In Cameron's Britian.

Gragoire Michonze.
We watched Newsnight on BBC TV, last night; it started with joint research on the riots in England, this summer, by the London School of Economics and the Guardian newspaper.

The study highlighted the fact that the riots, were not just about criminality, caused by gangs as Prime Minister Cameron tried to dismiss them, declaring any investigation as not only unnecessary but irrelevant.

The riots according to Cameron and the coalition government were nothing to do with political unrest they were the work of criminals, it was purely criminality organised by gangs.

And nothing else declared David Cameron, who dismissed out of hand, calls in parliament for a public enquiry into the causes of the London riots.

But as the research showed they weren’t principally about looting; they were the response from the population who were sick and tired of police brutality, intimidation, and violence and the lack of any perspectives for a future for them or their families.

This was the response of people with nowhere to go nothing to look forward to, and now with nothing to lose; they did not feel as if they had a place in society

For the last couple of years they have been inundated by revelations about members of parliament fiddling their expenses, whilst living extremely well at tax payers cost.

They have heard all about the ‘’criminal’’ behaviour of financial institutions, endless stories of financial slease seemingly without sanctions being taken against the perpetrators.

Since the coalition government everyday all they hear about is cuts in their living standards, tax increases, and rise in cost of petrol, loss of jobs, loss of libraries, and loss of legal aid.

As well as youngsters at school losing their education maintenance allowance, which was introduced to encourage students to remain in school after age 16, additionally universities have trebled their fees to 9,000 per year, so no hope of  education for the working class youth..