Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A "Dangerous" Santa hat???

Britain gets battier by the day. Senile decay?

When Santa got stuck up a chimney, there was no fire service on hand to give him help. But when a student threw a Santa hat onto a roof at Cambridge University, three fire trucks turned up to remove it over health and safety fears. Students fastened the red hat to the spire of the famous Gate of Humility at Gonville and Caius College as an end of term joke.

But college authorities failed to see the funny side and phoned the fire brigade to remove the hat from the top of the 60ft building in case it fell on someone's head. A team of more than 10 firemen and three fire engines then spent more than an hour using a hydraulic platform to get the hat down. 'When we saw three fire engines turn up we thought they must be there to tackle a really big fire,' said a local shopkeeper. 'We couldn't believe it when we discovered they were all there just to rescue a Santa hat. 'They used the hydraulic platform to reach it and took a long time. Quite a crowd gathered to watch.'

An unnamed student, who saw the incident, added: 'I watched it all and found it hilarious. 'They even had to cordon off the road, which caused a tailback of cars.' A Santa hat has also been spotted on The Octagon of nearby Clare Chapel, although this one has not yet been removed. The culprit currently remains a mystery, but it is thought to be a student playing a practical joke. It is also not known how anyone managed to scale the buildings, particularly the spire of Humility, which is thought to be impossible to climb.

One suggestion is that the person used the famous book The Night Climbers of Cambridge, originally published in 1937, which offers a guide onto the roofs of the city's ancient buildings. 'In my experience the spire of Humility can not be climbed, although if there's a similar hat at Clare's it suggests someone has scaled the buildings,' said a student, who does not want to be named. 'A likely possibility is that someone has accessed the spire from inside the college.'

According to Cambridge University's Varsity newspaper, the Senior Tutor for Gonville and Caius College said the prank was 'disturbing' because of the danger it posed to passers-by and said anyone found taking part would face serious disciplinary measures. Gonville and Caius was founded in 1348 and now has nearly 100 fellows and more than 700 students. Famous alumni include Alastair Campbell, Jimmy Carr and Ken Clarke, while Professor Stephen Hawking is a current fellow of the College.

Physician John Caius was responsible for the building of the College's three gates, which symbolise the path of academic life. Students enter the Gate of Humility when they matriculate, then pass through the Gate of Virtue and finally go through the Gate of Honour on graduation.


How NHS betrayed Alzheimer's patients: A third of services are slashed

The scandal of widespread cutbacks in NHS care affecting thousands of Alzheimer's patients is exposed today. Almost one in three health trusts admits axing vital services such as district nurses and day centres, leaving desperate families to struggle alone. Fewer than half are running clinics to spot early signs of Alzheimer's despite soaring numbers of patients. And, most damningly, two in five trusts fail to provide any dementia services at all.

The disturbing findings are unveiled as the Daily Mail launches Action on Alzheimer's, our Christmas appeal to raise funds for those with this devastating disease and other dementia conditions. Celebrities including Sir Cliff Richard and broadcaster Angela Rippon have given their heartfelt support to the campaign.

The findings on NHS care, from a survey carried out for the Alzheimer's Society, shows that help has never been more needed. Around 700,000 people have dementia in Britain, costing the nation 17billion pounds a year. This number is on course to reach a million by 2025 as the population ages, according to official estimates.

Best-selling author Terry Pratchett, who was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia last year, recently warned Prime Minister Gordon Brown that Britain faces a 'tsunami of Alzheimer's' unless more funding for a cure is found.

Given the scale of the emergency, 98 per cent of primary care trusts insist dementia is one of their top priorities. Yet the survey carried out for the Alzheimer's Society by GP magazine lays bare the reality for thousands of sufferers and their families. It shows services may be getting worse - not better - despite the NHS budget doubling to almost 100billion a year and a new dementia strategy for healthcare staff.

Results from Freedom of Information requests found 30 per cent of primary care trusts have closed or downgraded dementia services in the past three years. This includes slashing the number of district nurses providing support for those with the disease, or closing day centres for Alzheimer's sufferers. An astonishing 40 per cent of trusts admitted they did not provide any specific dementia service at all. Forty-one per cent said they had no early detection services or clinics. The figures could be far worse because only 57 out of England's 152 primary care trusts responded to the survey. Campaigners fear those who did not reply had even worse services.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'The NHS is completely failing to face to the fact that we have a serious issue here, not just in terms of numbers but in terms of the terrible impact of dementia on an increasing number of sufferers or their families. 'If we were talking about cuts to services for another disease, such as cancer, there would be a national outcry, and the NHS would not be able to get away with it.

'What we need the NHS to do is to detect the signs of dementia, diagnose it early, break the news properly and offer sources of help. That is not happening. 'Patients have told us that early diagnosis helps them make plans and get support in place before things get really bad. 'Services have always been patchy across the NHS but to hear PCTs are cutting them back is too much.'



HOUSEHOLDS are facing large rises in their electricity bills in the coming decade because of the "dash" for renewables, according to an influential House of Lords report.

Consumers across Britain face an extra œ80 a year on their energy bills as a result of the Government's commitment to source 15% of the UK's power from renewables by 2020. In Scotland, the target is higher, with ministers pledging to source 50% of the country's electricity from renewables by that year.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said it was "sceptical" that the UK Government's 20% target could be met by 2020 and warned that the plans could lead to an over-reliance on "intermittent sources" such as wind.

Other sources of energy would be required to back up wind as a result, the committee warned, meaning that the costs of electricity production would rise to œ6.8bn a year - or œ80 a year more on annual fuel bills.

The report - entitled the Economics of Renewables Energy - comes amid a growing row between UK and Scottish ministers over energy generation. It comes with the EU demanding that all member states boost the amount of energy they source from renewables sources over the coming decade. Scottish ministers have ruled out the use of nuclear energy, insisting that Scotland can rely on wind, wave and carbon capture storage.

The House of Lords committee has now warned that even the UK Government's less ambitious plans are a cause of concern.

It declared that the full costs of wind power "remained significantly higher" than coal, gas or nuclear energy. It also warned that wind power "cannot be relied upon to meet peak demand".

More here

Premature babies grow into happier adults

Cheesh! This is pretty dumb. They look at just one event in an individual's life and think that tells them everything. But what is important is ALL the treatment that the individual receives. And when parents nearly lose a child, they are usually going to be more appreciative of it. So premmie babies get more solicitous treatment throughout their lives and feel the love of their parents more clearly and strongly. And it is THAT which makes them less prone to depression

Babies placed in incubators when they are born are up to three times less likely to develop depression as adults. The results came as a shock to researchers, who expected to find infants separated from their mothers at birth would be more at risk of mental health problems later in life. In mammals, separation at birth has always been considered a major source of stress that causes behavioural problems well into adulthood.

The study, by a team including researchers from King's College, London, set out to explore whether the same was true in babies. They studied 1,200 children. The results, published in Psychiatric Research, showed incubator babies were two to three times less likely to be depressed as adults. Researchers said it may be due to the incubator affecting brain cell development, or that sick babies tend to be cared for closely.


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