Daily Archives: February 4, 2007

Obese deliberately gorging themselves to qualify for free gastric bypass surgery

Metro | Jan 24, 2007  

Fat people are being accused of deliberately over-eating so they qualify for free surgery.

Obese patients are increasingly exploiting Government guidelines restricting those eligible for NHS stomach-stapling, experts have said.

Anyone with a body mass index of 35 and a medical condition can get the surgery.

But now some primary care trusts are so overwhelmed by demand, they are increasing the limit to a BMI of 45.

The British Obesity Surgery Patients Association says some people with diabetes or high blood pressure are now deliberately fattening up to qualify.

Spokeswoman Chrissie Palmer said: ‘This is yet another process that has been turned into a postcode lottery.’

One of the PCTs to raise the bar is Somerset, where the number of stomach-stapling operations has tripled since 2004 and cost the trust £300,000 each year.

Diabetic Sig Lonegren, who weighs 20st but no longer qualifies due to a BMI of 37.3, said: ‘It’s grossly unfair.

‘There are hundreds of other people like me who can’t afford private surgery, so the message seems to be pay up or pig out.’

But the PCT insisted each case would be judged on merits, and other less drastic options offered.

Operations, including gastric by-passes or lap bands, can cost between £7,000 and £14,000 on average.

If successful, they can eliminate up to about 70 per cent of a person’s excess weight.

Child stomach surgeries more popular

Yahoo News | Feb 4, 2007 

Does anyone care about the actual causes of the skyrocketing global childhood obesity epidemic? No, because that would require that parents learn about nutrition, avoid the ubiquitous junkfood phenomenon, keep their kids exercising and away from the boob-tube. That is just too difficult, so the “solution” is to staple stomachs. In fact, the elite establishment wants us all to be fat, stupid and sickly in order to control us. Obesity is just one of the symptoms of the enslavement and mind-control.

PW

Not everyone is pleased that kids might be next.

As the popularity of stomach surgery has skyrocketed among obese adults, a growing number of doctors are asking, “Why not children, too?”

For decades, the number of kids trying weight-loss surgery has been tiny. The operations themselves were risky, with a death rate of about 1 in 50. Children rarely got that fat, and when they did, pediatricians hesitated to put the developing bodies under the knife. Only 350 U.S. kids had such an operation in 2004, according to federal statistics.

But improvements in surgical technique and huge increases in the number of dangerously obese children have begun fueling a change of heart.

A group of four hospitals, led by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, are starting a large-scale study this spring examining how children respond to various types of weight-loss surgery, including the gastric bypass, in which a pouch is stapled off from the rest of the stomach and connected to the small intestine.

Three more hospitals have approval from the Food and Drug Administration to test how teens fare with a procedure called laparoscopic gastric banding, where an elastic collar installed around the stomach limits how much someone can eat.

The FDA has hesitated to approve the gastric band for children, but surgeons at New York University Medical Center reported in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery this month that the device holds promise.

Eco-millionaire’s land grab prompts fury

The Observer | Feb 4, 2007

Argentinian critics say an American campaigner is buying up vast wetlands for US strategic goals

The Argentinian press has suggested Tompkins might be a covert CIA operative securing US access to the aquifer.

Douglas Tompkinscalls himself a ‘deep ecologist’. He is a millionaire on a quest to preserve some of Argentina’s last frontier lands from human encroachment by buying them and turning them into ecological reserves.
But Argentina may not permit him such philanthropy. Opponents are branding him a new-age ‘imperialist gringo’ and claim he has a secret aim: to help the US military gain control of the country’s natural resources. Tompkins, who sold his Esprit clothing firm in 1989 for a reported $150m to devote his time and wealth to ecology, takes such attacks in his stride. ‘Land ownership is a political act; it arouses passions,’ he says.

Tompkins, 63, holds to a very severe brand of environmentalism and is fond of reminding listeners that, unless runaway consumerism is halted, ‘we humans will be building ourselves a beautiful coffin in space called planet Earth’.

Yet such statements do not carry much weight with Argentinian nationalists. The heaviest fire has come from radicals in the ruling Peronist party. Left-wing legislator Araceli Mendez introduced draft legislation in Congress a few months ago to confiscate the American’s vast holdings. At the centre of the storm is a 310,000-acre estate Tompkins owns in the Ibera wetlands, a labyrinth of marshes, lakes and floating islands of nearly 2 million acres. ‘He says he’s worried about the birds and the wildlife,’ said Mendez. ‘But his land is above the Guarani aquifer, one of the most important fresh water reserves in the world, only 700km from an airbase the United States plans to build in neighbouring Paraguay.’

Fury at social services over latest in a string of child abuse cases

The Observer | Feb 4, 2007 

Independent review into torture of a four-year-old girl uncovers social service failures similar to the Victoria Climbie scandal

Britain’s child protection services will face severe criticism this week when a couple are sentenced for torturing their four-year-old daughter in a case that has alarming echoes of that of Victoria Climbie.

Kimberley Harte, 23 and Samuel Duncan, 26, poured boiling liquid over the child’s hands, ripped out her hair, kicked her repeatedly in the groin and locked her in the toilet over seven terrifying weeks of the worst abuse experts said they had ever seen.

The attacks happened only weeks after the girl had been returned to the parents by social services despite warnings from her foster carers that the child was distressed. She had been in care because of domestic violence between her parents.

At their home in Maida Vale, London, Harte and Duncan forced the little girl, who has cerebral palsy, to eat her own faeces and take cold baths. This week, the pair, who have both been found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, could face life sentences.

This is the latest in a string of cases that have caused questions to be asked about social services’ decisions. In 2005, Ukleigha Batten-Froggatt, a six-year-old who was on the ‘at risk’ register, was strangled by her mother’s boyfriend in their flat in north London. In 2003, Toni-Ann Byfield, was shot in north-west London while in the care of Birmingham social services.

It has emerged that Westminster social services handed the child back to Harte and Duncan last January. The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was discovered more than two months later close to death. The abuse had lasted from 1 February until 18 March.

British Political Police Attempt to Recruit Indymedia Reporters

IMC UK | Feb 2, 2007  

spy_camera

Polical policeman using a spy camera for street surveillance

Indymedia and British Intelligence Services

Indyspies

Being the ‘activist hub’ it is, Indymedia is surely ‘kept an eye on’. Since it was established in 1999, the network has had many encounters with ‘security’ services, both in the UK and elsewhere in the world. From assaulting Indymedia reports and photographers, IMC volunteers being put under surveillence, to seizing the actual servers where Indymedia sites are hosted.

Yet, it is not that common for dedicated IMCers to be approached directly by MI5 or Special Branch officers, trying to recruit them as spies, when they already know who they are and what they do.

Following the American pattern after 9/11, the UK government has used its own alleged terrorist attacks to push towards a police state, which is not exactly a new phenomenon, as Nafeez Ahmed, for example, explains. This has involved increasing the funds allocated to ‘security services’ and granting them extra-judicial powers; the systematic assault on civil liberties and human rights; media-spun fear based on dubious ‘terror plots’; the clamp-down on activists and the relentless attempts to infiltrate their networks. Even Indymedia, it seems, has not been spared. At least two Indymedia activists have recently been, in one way or another, approached by British intelligence services, offering them better-paid jobs.

National ‘Security’

For the first time in its nearly-100-year history, the MI6 last April openly advertised in the British press for recruitments. The Secret Intelligence Service had also launched a website a few months before, supplying a P.O. box number where people could apply for jobs. The agency already has a total staff of some 2,000 (the actual figure is an ‘official secret’) and its budget has increased significantly over the last few years, but nothing compared to the fast-expanding domestic security service, MI5.

Within a context of media-fuelled terrorism hysteria, this was widely portrayed (or, rather, justified) as the increasing need for security. Almost none of the ‘highly professional’ corporate media mentioned that, between them, British intelligence agencies (MI5, MI6 and GCHQ) spend £1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money annually; that the ‘intelligence budget’ has increased by about 35% since 2001. Compare this to the £56,529m spent on education in England in 2005-2006. Billions more are spent on the various police forces, which include the Special Branch and the Anti-Terrorism Branch. And the increase in the ‘defence’ budget from £29.7bn in 2004/05 to £33.4bn in 2007/08 is a whole separate story.

To cope with the ‘growing terrorist threat’, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the Director-General of MI5, has recently ‘switched’ another £16 million of her annual budget (some £200 million) towards ‘fighting international terrorism’. Over 70% of all MI5 resources is now supposed to be directed at ‘counter-terrorism operations’. But the agency, which is planning to open 8 new regional offices around the country, is still actively recruiting people, in a bid to increase its ‘workforce’ from the current (declared) 2,800 to around 3,500 by 2008. One of the funniest ways to do that was striking a deal with gymnasium chain Fitness First last July to put up MI5 recruitment posters in its women’s changing rooms. The poster featured the back view of a black woman with an African hairstyle. According to official figures, about 14 per cent of new recruits in the past financial year were from ethnic minorities.

In 2003, StateWatch published a special report on the role of the Special Branch, dubbed as ‘political police’, in conducting surveillance operations for MI5. It revealed that the number of police Special Branch officers had more than doubled in size, from 1,638 in 1978 to 4,247 in 2002. In addition, it now has far more civilian staff and means for mass surveillance of telecommunications and the payment of informers, which it never had in those days.

Bush draws repeated enthusiastic applause from Democrats at cozy retreat

Columbus Dispatch | Feb 4, 2007 

bush_pelosi_love_fest

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduces President Bush in his first visit in 6 years to the Democrats’ retreat in Williamsburg, Va. Reuters photo

Bush drew repeated, if not enthusiastic, applause from the Democrats. 

‘We can do some big things,’ Bush tells House Democrats

Three months removed from a campaign during which he blistered Democrats, President Bush showed up with rhetorical hat in hand yesterday for an unusual conciliatory address at a House Democratic retreat.

Bush, forced by voters into a new, bipartisan reality, sought cooperation on big issues like Iraq and the federal budget. The tone, far different from the aggressive campaign-trail bombast, drew repeated, if not enthusiastic, applause from the Democrats.

The weekend retreat of about 200 Democratic lawmakers was among the most potentially hostile political crowds Bush has appeared before since taking office in 2001.

“We can do some big things together,” Bush told the Democrats, who remained polite and respectful throughout. “In order to do big things, we’re going to have to do it together.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, gracious in her introduction of Bush, said later she heard nothing new from Bush during his speech and a closed-door question-and-answer session that followed.

“The president really stood his ground on Iraq,” she said.

As he enumerated major issues, Bush sought common ground, which generally meant talking more about goals than solutions.

Bush acknowledged opposition to his Iraq strategy.

“We share a common goal,” he said, “and that is to keep America safe.

Senior Citizens Drowning in Credit Card Debt

The Ledger | Feb 4, 2007 

Credit card debt for consumers 65 to 69 skyrocketed 217 percent over the last decade

The consumer advocacy group’s report blames the trend on a combination of seniors’ shrinking or stagnating incomes, higher expenses for housing, medical care and utilities, and creditor practices that push seniors to borrow.

Miss Daisy has retired in the red.

When she adds up her monthly bills for her mortgage, car loan, electricity, gas, water and phone, they exceed her income from Social Security and a part-time job by almost $200.

“I rely on my credit cards to make ends meet,” said the 65-year-old Dallas woman, who asked that her last name not be used. “I have no savings, so I have no choice.”

She owes more than $7,000 on three cards.

Seniors who grew up in frugal times and have usually been reluctant to go too far into debt are turning increasingly to credit cards to make do in retirement, says a study by the National Consumer Law Center.

“Older people have generally held less credit card debt than younger consumers, but their generation is catching up,” said Deanne Loonin, the principal author of the report by the Boston-based consumer advocacy group.

The study quantifies a trend that credit counselors have seen recently. It found that the average credit card debt for consumers 65 to 69 skyrocketed 217 percent over the last decade to $5,844. Researchers calculated the inflation-adjusted increase by examining Federal Reserve data on the assets and liabilities of American families.

The consumer advocacy group’s report blames the trend on a combination of seniors’ shrinking or stagnating incomes, higher expenses for housing, medical care and utilities, and creditor practices that push seniors to borrow.