Sunday, October 15, 2006


The big bold British police are great at harassing schoolgirls but don't ask them to do anything about real criminals. See here for one example of how utterly useless they are at catching real crooks -- even when the crooks are in effect handed to them on a platter

A teenage schoolgirl was arrested by police for racism after refusing to sit with a group of Asian students because some of them did not speak English. Codie Stott's family claim she was forced to spend three-and-a-half hours in a police cell after she was reported by her teachers. The 14-year-old - who was released without charge - said it had been a simple matter of commonsense and accused the school and police of an over-the-top reaction.

The incident happened in the same local education authority where a ten-year-old boy was prosecuted earlier this year for calling a schoolfriend racist names in the playground, a move branded by a judge "political correctness gone mad."

Codie was attending a GCSE science class at Harrop Fold High School in Worsley, Greater Manchester, when the incident happened. The teenager had not been in school the day before due to a hospital appointment and had missed the start of a project, so the teacher allocated her a group to sit with. "She said I had to sit there with five Asian pupils," said Codie yesterday. "Only one could speak English, so she had to tell that one what to do so she could explain in their language. Then she sat me with them and said 'Discuss'."

According to Codie, the five - four boys and a girl - then began talking in a language she didn't understand, thought to be Urdu, so she went to speak to the teacher. "I said 'I'm not being funny, but can I change groups because I can't understand them?' But she started shouting and screaming, saying 'It's racist, you're going to get done by the police'." Codie said she went outside to calm down where another teacher found her and, after speaking to her class teacher, put her in isolation for the rest of the day.

A complaint was made to a police officer based full-time at the school, and more than a week after the incident on September 26 she was taken to Swinton police station and placed under arrest. "They told me to take my laces out of my shoes and remove my jewellery, and I had my fingerprints and photograph taken," said Codie. "It was awful." After questioning on suspicion of committing a section five racial public order offence, her mother Nicola says she was placed in a bare cell for three-and-a-half hours then released without charge. She only returned to lessons this week and has been put in a different science class.

Yesterday Miss Stott, 37, a cleaner, said: "Codie was not being racist." "The reaction from the school and police is totally over the top and I am furious my daughter had to go through this trauma when all she was saying was common sense. " "She'd have been better off not saying anything and getting into trouble for not being able to do the work." Miss Stott, who is separated from Codie and her 18-year-old brother Ashley's father, lives with her partner Keith Seanor, a 36-year-old cable layer, in Walkden.

School insiders acknowledge that at least three of the students Codie refused to sit with had recently arrived in this country and spoke little English. But they say her comments afterwards raised further concerns, for example allegedly referring to the students as "blacks" - something she denied yesterday. The school is now investigating exactly what happened before deciding what action - if any - to take against Codie.

Headteacher Dr Antony Edkins said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark by one student towards a group of Asian students new to the school and new to the country." "We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards people and pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form."

Fewer than two per cent of pupils at Harrop Fold come from an ethnic minority. It had the worst GCSE results in the entire Salford LEA last year with just 15 per cent of pupils achieving five good passes including English and maths, a third of the national average. Since being placed in special measures, Ofsted inspectors say it has improved, not least as a result of Dr Edkins's "outstanding" leadership.

Salford was at the centre of a storm last April after a ten-year-old boy was hauled before a court for allegedly calling an 11-year-old mixed race pupil a 'Paki' and 'Bin Laden' in a playground argument at a primary school in Irlam. When the case came before District Judge Jonathan Finestein he said the decision to prosecute showed "how stupid the whole system is getting". But was himself fiercely attacked by teaching union leaders for "feeding a pernicious agenda" that aided the BNP. The prosecution was eventually dropped.

Last night Robert Whelan, deputy director of the Civitas think-tank, said: "It's obviously common sense that pupils who don't speak English cause problems for other pupils and for teachers." "I'm sure this sort of thing happens all the time, but it's a sad reflection on the school if they can't deal with it without involving the police." "A lot of these arrests don't result in prosecutions - they aim is to frighten us into self-censorship until we watch everything we say." Greater Manchester Police denied Codie had been kept in a cell but would not comment further.


Why can't British patients pay for their own drugs?

The NHS often will not

The developers of a groundbreaking new breast cancer drug are expected to file for a licence to sell it in this country within the next few days. Trials suggest Lapatinib (brand name Tykerb) is effective on some women with advanced breast cancer who no longer get benefits from taking the drug Herceptin, and on women who are unable to take Herceptin because of side effects. Like Herceptin, it targets the HER2 protein, which can fuel the growth of breast tumours. About one in five beast cancers carry an excess of HER2 proteins. Unlike Herceptin, it also targets the HER1 receptor, and it may also act on secondary tumours in the brain. It is not a cure for cancer, but it appears to give patients an average of a few months longer to live.

Anni Matthews has advanced breast cancer which has spread to her lungs, and in 2002 she was told she only had two years to live. She took Herceptin for two and a half years, and began taking Lapatinib in March when Herceptin stopped being effective. She had seven tumours in her lungs, and she says all but one seems to have disappeared since she began her new treatment. She has experienced side effects, including stomach upsets and bleeding from her eyes, nose and fingernails, but she feels so well she is still able to lead a normal life including playing tennis twice a week.

Anni is lucky, though. She is getting Lapatinib because she is taking part in a medical trial. If the drug is licensed in Europe, other patients will have to pay for it, unless the NHS decides to fund it. Cancer experts estimate it will cost about 25,000 pounds a year. And patients would also have to pay for the rest of their cancer treatment privately, which would cost at least another 25,000 pounds, because they are not allowed to "top up" their NHS treatment by paying privately for new drugs.

Anni believes Lapatinib should be available on the NHS. "I can't see how this country can spend millions of pounds on drug research - encouraging companies to seek a cure for cancer - and then turn round and say, I'm terribly sorry we can't afford it," she said.

A leading oncologist, Professor Karol Sikora, says the time has come for the NHS to rethink the way expensive cancer drugs are funded. He believes patients should be allowed to "top up" their NHS treatment and pay for drugs themselves if their Primary Care Trusts won't fund them. "I think there's no alternative," he said. "In the next five years there are about 40 new cancer drugs coming along. They will all cost about 40,000 or 50,000 pounds a year. "The NHS simply can't afford them unless it gets an even bigger increase than it's had in the last ten years."

But the medical think tank, the King's Fund, is fundamentally opposed. "The NHS is based on equal treatment for equal need," says Tony Harrison, a senior fellow in health policy. "This could mean you'd get a patient in one NHS bed who can't have the drug next to a patient in the next bed who can, and that would be so obviously inequitable."

The Department of Health said it's not an option being considered at the moment. A spokesperson said it would risk creating a two-tier health service and be in direct contravention with the principles and values of the NHS.

Research is ongoing into whether Lapatinib might be effective against other forms of cancer. And while that continues, so will the debate about how this and other new cancer drugs might be funded in the future.


LSD helps alcoholics put down the botttle: "A single dose of the hallucinogenic drug LSD is an effective treatment for alcoholism -- according to research led by a British doctor more than 40 years ago. Studies on thousands of alcoholics treated with the drug in the early 1960s -- before it became popular as a psychedelic street drug -- showed it helped trigger a change in mental attitude leading drinkers to quit. But, in spite of its promise, the therapeutic potential of the drug has been ignored since it was banned worldwide in the late 1960s as a threat to public safety. Now a historian who unearthed the research, led by British psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond and carried out in Canada, has interviewed the participants four decades on and says the results are dramatic."

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