Thursday, July 26, 2007

Muslim rapists must get special protection from capture

A police force withdrew plans for a televised appeal to help catch an Afghan suspected of sexually assaulting women after a race watchdog warned that it might spark a violent backlash.

The decision to cancel the appeal was criticised by victim support organisations. Yvonne Traynor, of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, said the case set a dangerous precedent. "I think that everybody is so afraid of being labelled a racist that no one's taking into consideration the crimes that have allegedly been committed here," she said. "The fact that this man was originally from Afghanistan is beside the point. The police obviously need to be sensitive to issues of race, but they also need to be able to get on with their jobs."

Sonia Francis-Mills, the director of the Devon Racial Equality Council, said police officers had been angered when she asked them to withdraw from Manhunt, which profiled 10 of the country's most wanted criminals. "I don't think they were happy," she said. "In the end it had to go to the Chief Constable to make the decision. I think the police often just want to feel collars. "If they had contacted us earlier we may have been able to help track him down through people within the community." She said previous public appeals for information on the case had led to ethnic minority taxi drivers in Exeter, where Seddiqi was suspected of committing the crimes, being subjected to verbal and physical abuse.

Mr Otter, a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, is known to be sensitive to issues of race since the publication of a book, Not One of Us, documented his falling out with the Iranian officer Ali Dizaei.

A CRE spokesman said it was not policy to stop the police from televising appeals for information and the racial equality council had acted independently. "If it is relevant to the investigation, we don't have a problem with the police describing people's skin colour and or ethnicity," she said.

Seddiqi went on the run in January. His alleged victims got into taxis in Exeter between October 2005 and October 2006. Formerly a resident of Wonford, Exeter, he was arrested on Nov 12 last year over the alleged offences. The four alleged victims were all in their 20s and 30s. They had been drinking when they got lifts in a taxi. Devon and Cornwall police confirmed that they were still searching for Seddiqi but declined to comment further. Police say that Seddiqi may go by other names. He is 5ft 10in tall and slim


Cancer risk: Will the statin fad now come to an end?

The British government recently decided that statins should be given even to healthy people if their serum cholesterol is high. Will they now back down? One hopes that they will. Amusing that the report below says that the cancer risk is low so don't worry. Similar risks elsewhere -- e.g. with HRT -- have led to loud cries for the medication concerned to be withdrawn from use. So we have another example of a "scientific" recommendation that is agenda-driven rather than fact driven. As it happens, the recommendation attached to this research is right. It is just a pity that similar recommendations are not routinely offered for low probability risks. They often are not. Note however that there are substantial other reasons not to take statins: Muscle-wasting anybody?

Lowering cholesterol with statins may slightly increase the risk of cancer, a study suggests. It is not clear whether the cancer cases are caused by the drugs, or are a consequence of the low levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol produced by taking them. The result, which amounts to one extra case of cancer for every 1,000 patients treated, surprised the researchers who discovered it. They were looking for new evidence on the known side-effects of statins on the liver and muscle wasting.

"This analysis doesn't implicate the statin in increasing the risk of cancer," said the study leader, Professor Richard Karas, of Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston. "The demonstrated benefits of statins in lowering the risk of heart disease remain clear. However, certain aspects of lowering LDL with statins remain controversial and merit further research." The team reviewed the results of 13 previous trials, involving more than 41,000 patients and all published before November 2005. They detected higher rates of cancer among the patients whose use of statins achieved the lowest levels of LDL cholesterol.

This may be important because recent statin trials have shown that a more aggressive lowering of LDL produces greater benefits to the heart. There are moves to lower the cholesterol targets aimed at by GPs, on the assumption that doing so will do no harm. But there have been suggestions that there may be a greater risk of side-effects if a more aggressive statin treatment is used.

The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the degree of damage to the liver increased with greater statin doses, but that there was no such effect in muscle wastage. They said the best strategy may be to combine statins at moderate doses with other drugs.

As for cancer, conclusions are difficult to draw. No single form of cancer predominated, so if there is a side-effect of having a very low level of LDL, it would have to apply to all types of cancer. And previous statin trials have not shown any direct effect on cancer risk. But those trials did not compare cancer risk with the degree of lowering of LDL cholesterol.

John LaRosa, of the State University of New York, cast doubt on the findings. If they were caused by a lowering of cholesterol, the effect must have been very rapid, as the trials lasted five years or less. Other explanations, he said, were chance, or simply that people who would otherwise have died of heart disease were living longer, and dying of cancer.

June Davison, cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, said: "We have known about the association between low cholesterol levels and cancer for some time now. While this [research] highlights an association between low levels of LDL and cancer, this is not the same as saying that low LDL or statin use increases the risk of cancer. There is overwhelming evidence that lowering LDL cholesterol through statins saves lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes. These findings do not change the message that the benefits of taking statins greatly outweigh any potential risks. People should not stop taking statin treatment on the basis of this research."


Another wonderful triumph for goodwill -- but no thanks to NHS bungling: "A couple were advised to abort their unborn child amid fears he would be severely disabled - but he was born healthy. Heather O'Connor, 19, and Jamie Bramley, 24, from Stockport, were told by St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, that scans indicated part of baby Jake's brain could be missing. But after seeking a second opinion the couple continued with the pregnancy. The Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals NHS Trust said it would "not actively recommend or dissuade" patients from choosing a termination."

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