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Thursday, 9 August 2018

Why Banning The Burka Wouldn't Help Integration

Image by IB Time UK

Unless you've been asleep for the past week, you will know all about the furore unleashed by Boris Johnson's comments on women in burkas.

Opinions currently differ over whether banning the burka is a good thing or not - some say that an outright ban would be the solution. Take away the problem and then we can all forget about it. Others, including myself, feel that it should be a woman's right to choose how she dresses, so long as she is making the choice of her own volition and not because she is forced to.

However, I have recently experienced something that has made me question the whole subject of the integration of ethnic minorities into our western culture and I have come to the conclusion that it is not that these group of people are unable to integrate - they simply don't want to!

Just last night, my partner and I were leaving a friend's flat, in Blackburn, Lancashire. She is Blackburn born and bred, British and white. She lives next door to an Asian family and they share an access pathway to their respective flats.

As we were leaving, a car pulled up outside on the road and a young Asian lady, in her late twenties, wearing normal western clothes, got out of the car and walked up the pathway towards the flats. My partner, who is always polite, said "Good evening" to her and she totally ignored him. Personally, so far as I am concerned, if someone chooses to ignore you, you don't bother to push the issue, but Jim being Jim, said to her "Why are you ignoring me?".

The young lady immediately flew into a rage and shouted at the top of her voice "Why are you speaking to me? I don't know you!" to which Jim replied, "I was just being polite by saying "Good evening" to you."

Immediately after this, the front door to her flat flew open and a very angry young man stormed out and verbally attacked Jim whilst shouting "Why do you speak to my sister? You have no right! You should go!"

Again, Jim calmly replied "I was just being polite. I said "Good evening".

By now, I was becoming slightly concerned for his welfare. He is 71 and has terminal cancer. I ushered him into our car and as he got into it, the Asian man flew at the window, which was open, and grabbed Jim threatening to hit him!

By now, there was a group of about six people, all Asian males, stood on the pathway, shouting and gesticulating about how upset they were because Jim said "Good evening" to the Asian lady.

Fearing that they might damage my car, or worse still...Jim, I started up the engine and as I did, the original young man stuck his face into the car and shouted: "Get the f**k out of here!". So we haste, unfortunately, leaving our friend, who presumably knows them, to try to pacify the baying crowd on her pathway.

It was very scary and I can only draw the conclusion that, in this particular instance, this group of people simply did not want to have anything to do with us. So, even without the burka, how on earth are we going to get certain "ethnic minorities" to integrate into our society when they really, quite obviously, don't want to!

Could someone please explain what is so wrong about saying "Good evening" to someone, even if you don't know them? Is it really so wrong to be polite to people? Or am I missing something?



Monday, 6 August 2018

In Which Countries is Euthanasia Legal?

Presently,  human euthanasia is legitimate in the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, Canada, India and South Korea. Assisted suicide is lawful in Switzerland, Germany, South Korea and Japan.  In the US states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, Washington DC, and California, assisted suicide is also legitimate.

An assisted-dying scheme in the Australian province of Victoria will become effective in mid-2019. Assisted suicide will be dying with the assistance of someone else, usually a doctor. The term is frequently utilized conversely with physician-assisted suicide (PAS), which includes a specialist “knowingly and intentionally providing a person with the knowledge and means required to commit suicide, including counselling about lethal doses of drugs, prescribing such lethal doses or supplying.”
Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland allow doctor involvement in the patient’s death. In the United States, six states permit medical assistance in passing on.
Euthanasia is portrayed as a non-treatment decision (NTD), which incorporates withholding and pulling back life-sustaining treatment, followed by death from the underlying illness. It is designed to assist the person to die rather than carry on with persistent, intolerable pain. The lawfulness of this varies throughout the different nations. It is defined as willful, non-deliberate, or automatic. Willful euthanasia is legal in a few nations. Non-willful killing (patient’s assent inaccessible) is illegal in all nations. Automatically euthanising without the patient’s consent or against their will) is also illegal in all nations and is typically considered to be murder.
In April 2002, the Netherlands was the first country to legitimize euthanasia and assisted suicide. There are very strict rules and conditions: the patient must be suffering considerably, they must be terminally ill and the request must be made in “full cognizance” by the patient.
Belgium passed a law in 2002 legitimizing euthanasia, becoming only the second nation on the planet to do so. The law says specialists can assist patients with ending their lives when they openly express a desire to die if they are enduring interminable suffering. Patients can likewise be euthanised where they have overtly expressed it before entering a coma or comparable vegetative state.
Neither in The Netherlands nor in Belgium is there a necessity that the patient is at death’s door. The two key components of the laws in the two nations are that the misery must be (subjectively) “excruciating” and that there (objectively) is “no prospect of change”.This potentially opens up euthanasia for those who are chronically and mentally ill. In The Netherlands, there is a lower age limit of 12 years, but there are no such limits in Belgium.
Colombia’s Constitutional Court decided in 1997 that “no person can be held criminally responsible for taking the life of a terminally ill patient who has given clear authorization to do so.”The court characterized a “terminally ill” individual as one with sicknesses, for example, “cancer, AIDS, and kidney or liver disease being the “cause of extreme suffering”. The decision particularly declined to approve euthanasia for individuals with degenerative diseases, for example, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Lou Gehrig’s illness. The nation’s parliament passed a bill legitimizing euthanasia on 20 February 2008.
In Canada,”doctor-assisted dying”, is legal for all people over 18 years old who have a terminal illness that has advanced to the point where natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.”
In every one of the six American states above, a patient may request doctor-assisted suicide on the basis of having only six months to live.
Physician-assisted suicide (PAS), involves a specialist “knowingly and intentionally providing a person with the knowledge and means required to commit suicide, including counselling about lethal doses of drugs, prescribing such lethal doses or supplying.”
Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland enable doctors to physically aid the demise of patients. In the United States, six states permit therapeutic assistance to die.
Doctor-assisted suicide is frequently mistaken for euthanasia. In instances of euthanasia the doctor oversees the methods for death, for the most part, a deadly medication. In doctor-assisted suicide, it is required that a man of sound mind intentionally communicates his or her desire to die and demands a sufficient dosage of medicine that will end his or her life. The main defining adjunct is that doctor-assisted suicide requires the patient to self-administer the medicine.
Assisted-suicide is legally supported in Switzerland’s penal code, even though there is no law about it. A specialist must analyze the patient and compose the deadly solution, however regularly does not take an interest past that. Rather, the patient is given control by a right-to-die organisation  (like EXIT), which at that point utilizes its own particular strategies to help the demise.
Recently, the UK Supreme Court has decided that where a patient is in a lasting vegetative state, or minimally conscious, specialists may, with the agreement of close relatives, pull back sustenance and water to enable the patient to die. As this is simply starving the patient to death this controversial law will most likely prompt dissent from pro-life associations in view of the length of time it can take for the patient to die – in some cases up to a month from the sustenance being withdrawn. No-one can deny that this is a horrible way to die, even if the patient appears to be unaware of the process. It is euthanasia in all but name and no doubt further discussions and possible legislation will take place in the future.

Friday, 20 July 2018

What Do Rabbits Eat and Drink?

So, you’ve got yourself a rabbit and you’re asking yourself, what you can safely feed it? Or maybe you’re just randomly interested in what rabbits like to eat and drink. If you want to have a happy, safe and friendly bunny, read on.
The most important thing your bunny needs is fresh, clean water…and lots of it. Water is the ONLY liquid it needs to survive. Ideally, it should be changed twice daily and served in a ceramic bowl that cannot be tipped over. In warm weather, you can also add a couple of ice cubes to it. Without water, your rabbit would be dead within three days…that’s how important it is!
Rabbits need water to keep their vital organs functioning and their blood healthy. It also helps their digestive systems and flushes away the excess calcium that they build up. They do drink a lot of water, but if you notice that they are drinking excessively, it is possible that they are in pain or in distress. It is always a good idea to take them to the vet to be checked over.
80/90 per cent of your rabbit’s food should be fresh hay. It gives them fibre and also helps to wear down their teeth. Not only that but it helps to keep them occupied. You could also add some foraging material in the form of tree bark, twigs and sprouts, seeds and small amounts of fruit (but only as a treat). In addition, you can feed them with certain plants, herbs and weeds. If your rabbit has his own enclosure, you could even have some live plants growing there for him.

Herbs, Vegetables and Plants
You can ring the changes by feeding a variety of fresh, pesticide-free vegetables on a regular basis. Feed him approximately 1 cup of vegetables per 4lbs of body weight daily.
Here are a few suggestions to try:
  • Artichoke(leaves)
  • Asparagus
  • Baby sweetcorn
  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Broccoli (leaves only)
  • Brussels sprouts (limited)
  • Butternut squash
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Carrot (tops, but sparingly as they contain a lot of calcium)
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chickweed
  • Clover (leaves and flowers)
  • Coltsfoot
  • Comfrey
  • Coriander
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Dandelion leaves
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Kale (a little)
  • Lavender
  • Dark leaf lettuce (not ice-burg)
  • Mint
  • Nasturtium
  • Nettle
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Peas (including leaves and pods)
  • Peppers(all colours)
  • Plantain
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish (tops, limited)
  • Rocket
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Spinach (occasional)
  • Swedes
  • Thyme
  • Turnip (occasionally)
  • Watercress
  • Yarrow
  • Plants
  • Agrimony
  • Apple (leaves and twigs)
  • Blackberry (leaves)
  • Burdock
  • Calendula
  • Echinacea
  • Hawthorn
  • Hazel
  • Lemon balm
  • Pansies
  • Raspberry (leaves)
  • Roses (leaves and flowers)
  • Strawberry (greens)
  • Tulips
These can be purchased at most supermarkets and should be high in fibre and low in protein and not mixed with anything else. As your rabbit gets older you should reduce the number of pellets gradually. Just a small handful daily is sufficient.
These should only be fed in moderation and as the occasional treat, up to two tablespoons a day. This is because they contain a lot of sugar which is not good for your rabbit’s health, but they really enjoy the taste!
However, don’t give them any pips, stones or plants unless it is in the preceding list.
Try some of these:
  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • KiwiFruit
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Nectarines
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
Forbidden foods (Never to be given)
Bread, crackers, pasta, pretzels, yoghurt chips, chocolate, milk or cereal. Potatoes, avocado, daffodils, rhubarb, lilies, mushrooms, sweet peas, iceberg lettuce, broad beans, buttercups, kidney beans, jasmine foxgloves. All of these can make your rabbit very ill and sometimes it can be fatal.
So, as you can see, your bunny doesn’t need much to keep him healthy, but by feeding a varied and interesting diet he will be one very happy bunny too!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Health Benefits of Turmeric For Dogs

Many of us know of the health benefits of taking turmeric, in moderation, as part of our daily routine but have you ever considered that is can also be good for your furry friend? Yes, even dogs can benefit from a daily dose of turmeric in their diet and it certainly won't harm them!
The healing part of the turmeric herb is in the root. Turmeric contains the compound known as curcumin, which also gives it its bright yellow colour. It helps to boost the immune system and can also help with the following conditions:
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Infections
  • Heart conditions
  • Cancer
  • Aids digestion
  • Parasites
  • Eye health
  • Diabetes
  • Liver health
  • Allergies
  • Epilepsy
  • Pain-relief
  • Diarrhoea
  • Memory
With all these possible benefits, turmeric truly is a wonder-herb! Many dogs, particularly older ones, suffer from joint diseases like hip dysplasia and arthritis. Turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties can significantly help to reduce the symptoms and give pain relief. Studies have also shown that cancers, allergies, dental disease, digestive disease and more can be treated with the herb, which helps the immune system to heal the body by increasing the number of white blood corpuscles.

It has been shown to effectively shut down the blood vessels that feed cancer and can also help to shrink and kill the cancer cells Cancer Research UK  Turmeric is extremely beneficial for dogs as well as humans, but, like everything else, too much of it can be bad for your health so you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and take the necessary precautions.

If your dog is on blood-thinning medication, please be careful as turmeric is a natural blood thinner and too much could cause internal bleeding. ALWAYS consult your vet if in doubt! In any event, the best way is to start with small doses, as little as a quarter of a teaspoon daily mixed in with his food until you begin to see results and then increase slowly until you reach the optimum dosage.
If your dog becomes nauseous, constipated or excessively hot then he, or she, may not be a suitable candidate for turmeric therapy. Also, turmeric and aspirin should not be taken together so do not give both of these at the same time.
Turmeric Paste Recipe for Dogs

½cup turmeric powder
2cups water
¼cup coconut oil
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Warm the turmeric powder, water, and coconut oil in a pan on a low heat until it thickens. 
Add the black pepper when cooked and extra water if too thick. 
Allow cooling. The paste can be stored for up to a month in your refrigerator.
Mix a small teaspoonful with your dog's normal food on a daily basis and increase gradually depending on the results. The maximum recommended dose for larger dogs is one teaspoon daily.

A visitation from beyond. Coincidence...or not?

My dad died suddenly, in January. My personal belief is that the soul continues to survive in death and that our loved ones will always find a way to let us know that they are still with us, in spirit.

I have always suggested to my mum that, if she ever needs to contact me, she use my dad's mobile phone, rather than the house phone which comes up as a private number and which I would choose to ignore as a spam call.

I had just finished reading a book on healthy diets, "How Not To Die" by Michael Greger M.D. as part of my research into anti-cancer food therapies. In the book was a paragraph on the benefits of blueberry juice. My dad was always drinking the stuff and was 80 when he died. I remembered this and was thinking about him when my mobile started ringing. I looked to see who it was and it came up as "Dad mobile". Assuming it was my mum, I answered the phone and...... Nothing! Not a sound! Thinking that there was something wrong with my mum, I called the number back and it went to voicemail. So, I rang Mum on her house phone.

She answered it and I asked if she had rung me from my dad's mobile. She hadn't. All she had done was take it out of her bag and put it down on the table.

Spooky.... Or what???

To me, just more proof of yet more that we just don't comprehend. I'd like to think that Dad knew I was thinking of him and responded in the only way he could.

Like me, you may have concluded that Mum may have accidentally touched the speed dial button as she put the phone down. 

Well, I am not too high up on her speed dial list - there are at least three others who she keeps on the list.

Surely, if that was the case, I would have been able to hear her in the background but there was only absolute silence! And why me, at that precise moment???

Have YOU ever had a similar experience? Please share your comments here and if I get a good response I'll write a book on the findings.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

An Audience With Kevin Maguire

This was a fairly informal event hosted by The Word, library in South Shields, Tyneside on the 25th May, a date that had been firmly booked in my diary since early March. As I huge fan of this unflinchingly outspoken Trump-hating, anti-monarchist, politically opinionated but lovable “leftie”, this was one date I was not going to miss, even though it cost me a 300-mile round trip to be there!

I've met Kevin only once before, at the Hugh Cudlip lecture in London where he was chosen to give the presentation and after that encounter, I was hooked!

Our hostess for the evening was the very lovely, Anna Foster, from BBC Radio Newcastle and she certainly kept Kevin on his toes, but he answered all her questions with complete honesty and openness and more importantly, without hesitation and for once, it was nice to see him dressed down for the occasion, wearing jeans and trainers and looking very relaxed.

The evening began with questions about his early life and school days. One of six children born into the family, he never considered himself “special” in any way, but he enjoyed his early life and being at school, and considers himself lucky to have been selected to go onto university where he found out that there were definite “class” divisions. He earned himself a degree in Politics. Could this have been the beginning of his anti-establishmentarianism and Republican leanings?

Having his degree would, he thought, be a guarantee of work in his chosen field of journalism, but he was wrong. Having applied for 60 jobs which included one fruitless interview, he moved to London in search of opportunity and for a time was employed as a security guard. Frustrated, but undeterred, he then applied to Cardiff University for a place on a journalism course, and finally, his persistence was rewarded with a three-year job for a newspaper based in Plymouth.

Almost 40 years later, he is rarely off the television and in huge demand from many radio stations, but he admits that BBC Rado Newcastle is his favourite, no doubt because it is close to his beloved South Shields where, he says, his heart belongs. Although Kevin and his wife, the successful novelist, Emma Burstall, live in suburbian Kingston-upon-Thames, when asked if he had ever thought about moving back “home”, he replied that he had but his wife would probably never agree to it, because he would just go back to his roots and spend most of his time in the pub with his mates. So, for now, he visits as often as he can, up to twelve times a year, to catch up with his “mam” and family and friends. Watching him chatting with some of them in the pub after the event, it was very clear to me that this is definitely where he feels the most comfortable and “at home”.

During the course of his one and a half hours of intense scrutiny from Anna, he entertained us with anecdotes and personal recollections of some of the politicians he encounters in the halls of Westminster and the tales he wrote about in his book, “Great Parliamentary Scandals”, that he co-wrote with Mathew Parris, the Conservative MP. Well-known characters like Piers Morgan, Andrew Neal, Boris Johnson, John Prescott and even the new Countess of Sussex were all up for grabs, along with the Duke of Edinburgh to whom he refused, as a matter of principle, to bow, much to the disdain of the Duke. This disdain, is quite obviously mutual, with Kevin stating that they live in a world apart from the common man. “They know little of us, and they care even less”.

He talked about his late father, who was a miner, and the Durham Miner's Gala which is a regular annual jaunt for Kevin and a large number of Labour politicians, including, of course, Jeremy Corbyn. I got the feeling that Corbyn has gone up in Kevin's estimation in the past couple of years, especially after the relative success of the General Election 2017. When I met him in London, he was not sure that Corbyn was the right material for the Labour leadership.

Kevin also made his views clear on Trident – a waste of money, and Terrorism – don't give in to it. When asked if he had ever considered going into politics himself, he told us that Gordon Brown had once asked him to work for his government and that, in his opinion, the next Labour Leader would probably be a woman. Angela Raynor is his current favourite. One got the impression that he would rather be writing about it that actually involved in it.

He discussed his working relationship with his well-known colleague and nemesis, Andrew Pearce, and promised to try to arrange for him to accompany him should he ever come back to The Word for another session. They are obviously the best of mates off-screen despite their political differences of opinion.

Afterwards, I was delighted to come across him in the pub where he was as charming as ever, and although we didn't quite get to exchanging telephone numbers, I feel sure that our paths will cross again very soon. In summary, a very interesting and entertaining couple of hours in the company of an unassuming, highly approachable and “grateful” gentleman who, in his own words, got lucky.

Fame and fortune apart. Mr Maguire is still very much “one of us”. Hopefully, one day he may get his wish and go “home” to South Shields for good, but I am sure he has many more places to visit and people to talk about before he finally lays down his notebook!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Local Hero Raises £800 For Eye Cancer Charity

On Saturday 5th May, from 12 noon until 12 pm, at The Plough, Chorley, a Charity “Dartathon” was held. The event was organised by Keith Thomson, a darts player for Chorley District Darts and Dominoes Singles League in aid of OcumelUK Patient and Family Support Group.

OcumelUK is a registered charity offering support to patients and families who have been affected by a rare form of eye cancer, ocular melanoma.

The event was supported by local businesses who donated raffle and tombola prizes and the generosity of personal and business sponsors. A total in excess of £800 was raised for the charity.

Keith, who personally scored five 180's and a 12 dart leg during the twelve-hour session, said, “We have had an excellent afternoon and evening. Andrea Brannelly, the landlady at The Plough, made it feel like home from home”. He is now planning to organise another fund-raising “Dartathon” on August Bank Holiday which will run for 24 hours, also to be held at The Plough.

Further information on the charity is available at  

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