Saturday, June 20, 2009

Welsh IVF blunder clinic lost another couple's embryos

The HFEA should have closed this clinic down after earlier reports of negligence but they were instead obsessed with pursuing Dr. Taranissi over paperwork issues

The fertility clinic that transferred a woman’s last embryo into another patient has apologised for losing the embryos of another couple. The latest couple, who do not want to be identified, said that they were devastated by the loss of their embryos at the IVF Wales clinic in Cardiff in 2004, which happened when the tube and needle transferring them to the woman’s womb became disconnected. The clinic said in a statement that an apology had been made to the couple and that the incident happened because of an equipment error.

The man, from the South Wales valleys, told BBC Radio Wales that the doctor dealing with them had at first been looking at the wrong notes. “It became apparent the doctor was referring to a different couple’s notes, from Swansea, I believe. When we raised that issue, that we weren’t actually from Swansea, they realised. If they can’t get something as relatively straightforward as record-keeping right it doesn’t bode well,” he said.

His partner said that when they went back to the clinic for the embryo transfer, “unfortunately during this time they lost our embryos. I can’t put it into words, I really can’t. I just cried. We were devastated. We viewed our embryos seconds before it happened. You look at these embryos and think they’re your babies.”

The couple decided to talk about their experience after hearing about the couple from Bridgend, South Wales, whose last remaining embryo was implanted in the wrong woman by mistake. The woman who had had the wrong embryo implanted had a termination when she found out about the error.

The Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust has paid the couple, identified only as Deborah and Paul, whose embryo was wrongly transplanted an unidentified sum after admitting liability for gross failures in care. The couple had been hoping to try for a second baby with their last remaining embryo in 2007 when they were told that it had been implanted in another woman. The mistake occurred when more than one patient’s embryos were temporarily stored in an incubator. A trainee embryologist failed to carry out “fail-safe” witnessing procedures.

The trust said that systems had since been improved, in line with recommendations made in a report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority investigators in relation to the case. In the latest incident the couple were not charged and they accepted the offer of a further free cycle of treatment.

Janet Evans, the clinical director of IVF Wales, said: “This was an unfortunate but extremely rare failure in a standard piece of equipment used for embryo transfer around the world. We have since changed the equipment that we use. The incident was investigated by IVF Wales staff and a personal apology was made. “The incident was reported to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) as part of the incident alert register so other centres could benefit from the information.

“IVF Wales is regularly inspected, as are all units in the UK, by the HFEA. The unit maintains its licence with no conditions, which demonstrates HFEA satisfaction with our quality of care.”


Lies, Damned Lies and BBC Climate Reports

When the global warming alarmist house of cards finally collapses, exposing the pseudo-science/scare-journalism axis that has perpetrated the world's greatest mass delusion, among the first led out into the public square for ritual humiliation ought to be BBC ‘science' and ‘environment' correspondents.

Firstly, for submitting fraudulent CV's to BBC Human Resources claiming they actually knew something about science. Secondly, for asserting, as public service (public-paid) broadcasters, that they were only reporting ‘what scientists were saying.'

No doubt they will also adopt the same mitigation Scoop's William Boot called upon - that they were really only Gardening Correspondents who took a wrong turn in the BBC corridor one day. They will claim that their news editors ‘water-boarded' destroying their ‘testicular fortitude' thereby forcing them to concoct a veritable cornucopia of journalistic drivel to feed the public angst. That resulting in warnings of global apocalypse via everything -- everything from swine flu to SARS to the Mad Cow Disease (not to mention their ‘toxic' farts) -- but, mainly by employing the daddy of all scare scams: warm-mongering.

So science is turned on its head. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is reported by the BBC as a ‘pollutant' and thus all exhaling humans are ‘toxic'. Faith, not science, now prophesies that ‘higher CO2 emissions cause global warming' - even though the actual data reveals global warming ended in 1998, while CO2 emissions continued to rise. Planet Gore-ism propaganda finds a ready home displaying its wares via the ‘world's broadcaster'. Next an epidemic of teenage sleep-denying stress is brought on by viewing science-fiction horror flicks entitled ‘An Inconvenient Bunch of Statistical Crap', as media-induced hysteria invades our schoolrooms. And the evening news presents us with a steady procession of reports warn us that if we don't sell our SUV's and buy dull light-bulbs, dire prognostications will befall us. We will see the end of the Gulf Stream, the demise of islands (various), the loss of both polar ice caps and the bulk of the world's population - not to mention the nightly re-showing of those cuddly polar bears floating about on a chunk of ice.

This June, in the wake of Japanese scientists disputing the UN IPCC's anthropogenic warming orthodoxy (which, needless to say, the BBC didn't report), the Japanese Government put forward what the BBC's Environment Correspondent Richard Black called "weak" carbon targets. Writer/blogger Maurizio Morabito helpfully provides us with stark ‘numerical evidence' of Black's - thus the BBC's - biased reporting. Morabito says: "The article is made up of 469 words. Of those, 249 make up "neutral" sentences (54%). Negative comments are made of 156 words (34%). Only 58 words (13%...a mere three sentences!!) are left to explain the reasons for the Japanese government's decision."

It wasn't so long ago - April 2008 to be precise - that the actions of the BBC's environment reporter Roger Harrabin epitomised the lack of integrity in the BBC news reporting. Having confirmed (for once) that global warming appeared to have peaked in 1998 Harrabin went as far ‘change the news' to accommodate the anger of a climate activist.

Then there is Susan Watts, BBC TV's Newsnight's science editor, who informed the British public that "Scientists calculate that President Obama has just four years to save the world". It was unclear whether she meant from climate catastrophe or a prospective Palin White House. (I assume the former, liberal hand-wringing angst over Sarah Palin will come soon enough.) Watts later confirmed, via her blog, that she was referring to comments by Dr James Hansen. For the uninitiated Hansen is the resident alarmist nut-job at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies - a man whose ‘science' his more serious NASA colleagues are queuing up to skewer publicly.

In ‘BBC Abandons "impartiality" on warming' Chris Booker provides other examples of Watts' "bizarre" reporting, including editing Obama's inaugural speech "to convey a considerably stronger impression of what Obama has said on global warming than his careful wording justified." Booker also reminds us that, "as late as August 28, 2008, it [the BBC] was still predicting the Arctic ice might soon disappear". By the end of the year, the Arctic ice was reported as having grown by 30 percent. Needless to say, those reports too were frozen out of BBC reports. Then there was the controversy over an ‘impartial' BBC devoting 15 hours of airtime to the Live Earth/Al Gore Propaganda Show in 2007. It featured at one point a giant poster of Michael Mann's famous computer modelled "hockey stick" temperature graph. As Booker points out, "one of the most discredited artefacts in the history of science".

Okay, so why pick on the BBC? Haven't they enough troubles playing down internal reports that confirm their ideologically leftwing and liberal biases? True enough. But the BBC loves to call itself, as we have noted, the ‘world's broadcaster'. Fair enough. But its scientifically-challenged science/enviro correspondents, as Dr Richard North's excellent 2006 report ‘The BBC's Climate Change Meltdown' notes concerning those that know more science than they (mentioning Harrabin and Watts by name), they "give us every sign that they think sceptics are fools or knaves or both". Cometh the time then, only the highest profile ritual humiliation will do.

The BBC, replete with its increasingly shabby values, is now a growing player in the American and Canadian markets too, with shows including Dancing With The Stars - a programme, by the way, that cause celebrities to rush around expelling enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. If I sound a tad peevish, it's with good reason. As a British citizen I am forced annually to subsidize the BBC (British Bias Corporation) via Britain's iniquitous TV licence fee ‘tax'. Fact is, there was a time in Britain when ‘end is nigh' placarders and other much-loved eccentrics, operated at the margins of society. Sadly, today they have moved indoors, gained a degree in journalism and become proficient at state of the art graphics. Novelist Graham Greene once wrote, "A petty reason...why novelists more and more try to keep a distance from journalists is that novelists are trying to write the truth and journalists are trying to write fiction". We might add, given the BBC's appalling reporting record on climate issues, "mostly science-fiction, too".


British corruptocrats still trying to hide

MPs were shamed yesterday after the much vaunted opening of their expenses files produced a humiliating cover-up of the most serious abuses. Parliament and its officials were accused of colluding in a £2 million ($4 million) operation to protect the greedy as the supposed new era of transparency was drowned in a sea of black ink.

More than a million pieces of paper - bills, receipts and claim forms - were posted on the House of Commons website shortly before 6am, but thousands of them were indecipherable. Much of the information was blacked out as the MPs, helped by the authorities, censored incriminating material, citing security and privacy. The redactions included addresses, making it impossible to tell from the official version which MPs "flipped" their second homes to maximise returns from the taxpayer or changed the designation of their homes to avoid paying capital gains tax.

Even so, the exposure produced more dramatic developments in a saga that has shaken politics to the core. It was slipped out last night that about 200 MPs had rushed to pay back nearly £500,000 because of public outrage over their claims.

In four years Labour MPs have channelled £235,000 of taxpayers' money to a computing consultancy that operates from party headquarters. Several Cabinet ministers have used their Commons allowance to pay Computing for London to manage communications in their constituency offices.

The papers revealed that Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, asked his accountants to change the wording of an invoice for tax advice before he submitted it to the fees office and controversially claimed it back on expenses.

David Cameron said that he would repay almost £1,000 in overpayments on mortgage, electricity and phone bills. He blamed the overpayment on an "inadvertent administrative error".

The expenses scandal has already ended the careers of 20 MPs, and more are expected to follow.

The cover-up shocked campaigners. Commons officials had removed references to previously revealed absurdities such as the cleaning of moats and the purchase of houses for ducks. The names of companies providing goods and gardening services were also blanked out to avoid having to show where the work was done.

Without earlier disclosures no one would have known that Hazel Blears claimed second home expenses for three different properties in a year, or that the second home of Margaret Moran, who claimed £22,000 to treat dry rot, was in Southampton, 100 miles from her constituency. The official record would not have exposed the Labour MPs David Chaytor and Elliot Morley, who claimed thousands of pounds against mortgages that had already been paid off. This only emerged after their addresses were cross-checked against Land Registry records.

Nevertheless, the political establishment was smarting as the full tawdriness of its claims was laid bare to a public audience. By 4.30pm 250,000 people had visited the website and clicked on 1.5 million pages.

The receipts revealed that the Conservative MP Graham Brady claimed £71 to get back into his house after being locked out and that the former minister John Reid claimed £29.99 for a book explaining basic economics.

Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, spent £260 on shredding as he wound up his parliamentary affairs, and claimed £6,990 for repairing the roof of his constituency home two days before leaving No 10. The fees office reduced his claim to £4,453. Others spent a fortune on paper clips, matches, milk frothers, assertiveness training courses and the Racing Post.

MPs themselves were hugely embarrassed by the cover-up. Vince Cable, of the Liberal Democrats, said: "If people had had to rely on this information to find out about their MPs they would have been faced with swaths of black ink rather than information about the flipping of homes and the avoidance of capital gains tax. “It took a huge amount of effort from campaigners, my Liberal Democrat colleagues and other independent-minded MPs to get even this much information released. It's a shame that it is still far less transparent than it could have been."

The Commons authorities spent more than £140,000 trying to avoid publishing the expenses before being defeated in the High Court in May last year. The process of scanning and editing all the receipts from 2004-08 has cost a further 2 million pounds and taken 13 months to complete. Sir Stuart Bell, of the Commons Commission, described the disclosure as unprecedented and said that it was right that information was blacked out to protect MPs' privacy and security.

Maurice Frankel, of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: "The mood of the House of Commons was that they did not want any of this information to be published and, failing that, as little as possible."


Scandal of killers on probation

Criminals are just misunderstood, don't you know?

THE justice secretary, Jack Straw, was facing a scathing attack on Labour’s prison policy this weekend after it emerged that criminals on probation are charged with one in seven murders in Britain.

The Tories unearthed figures which show that in the past three years at least 300 criminals on parole have been charged with murder. A further 130 have faced trial for attempted murder or conspiracy.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice secretary, said the figures shattered Straw’s recent claim that the fiasco surrounding the brutal murder of two French students was a one-off case.

Gabriel Ferez and Laurent Bonomo, who were stabbed more than 200 times in a sadistic attack in London last June, were killed by Dano Sonnex and Nigel Farmer. Sonnex should have been in jail at the time in connection with an earlier crime he had committed while on probation.

“We are now learning the true scale of the systematic failings revealed in the tragic Sonnex case. Gordon Brown has released serious offenders early and relaxed the monitoring of those on probation,” Grieve said.

“Dangerous criminals under diluted probation supervision are now being charged with a shocking one in seven of all homicides in Britain. This amounts to a reckless dereliction of this government’s duty to protect the public.

“Only this week, the justice secretary claimed the Sonnex case was a one-off. This now looks complacent in the extreme, not least since the number of murders committed by those on probation is in fact rising,” he added.

The figures show that 129 criminals on parole were charged with murders in 2006-7. A further 107 faced murder charges in 2007-8, with an additional 64 charged in the six months to last September, the latest period for which figures are available.

Probation failures have proved a constant embarrassment to Labour ministers. They were highlighted by the killing of John Monckton, a City financier, at his home in Chelsea, London, in 2004.

He was killed by Damien Hanson and Elliot White, who were both supposed to be under the supervision of the probation service at the time.

After the Sonnex case, David Scott, the head of London probation, resigned. Straw insisted the failures which led to the murders could not be blamed on lack of resources.


Welfare payments the principal concern behind Britain's points-based migration system

Students are not the only people hurt by the UK’s points-based visa application system. Non-EU citizens who seek employment in the UK are also disadvantaged. The government intends to accomplish three objectives with the new migration control system. First, Gordon Brown’s government wants to curtail the number and type of non-EU citizens working in the UK. Second, the government wants to keep visa holders off the dole. The third government objective is to raise money from visa applications.

The first objective has been publicly stated by the Home Office. The second objective is revealed through a review of the new visa application forms. The points-based system requires all visa applicants to have sufficient funds to support themselves, and any dependants, throughout their stay. Applicants also certify that they will not receive welfare benefits whilst in the UK. The third objective is manifest by hike in visa application fees. For example, unsponsored visa applicants must now pay between £675 and £1020 for the application fee. Sponsored applicants must pay a £265 fee. Even students are required to pay £145 to apply for a visa. Applicants in these three categories who have dependents must pay the same application fee for each dependent. Visa application statistics are sparse for the period since the points-based system was launched, but in the 2006–2007 financial year, the UK government received 2.7 million visa applications. That translates into millions of pounds of revenue for the government.

The concerns underlying the government’s objectives can all be traced to the maladies of the welfare state. Welfare states attract people who are content to live on the dole. The new points-based system cracks down on would-be social loafers from non-EU nations, but European freeloaders are left undeterred. This is especially problematic due to the combination of the UK’s high standard of living and relatively generous welfare benefits. Welfare states are also expensive to run, which explains the high taxes and government fees.

The easy way to eliminate the government’s welfare-based concerns is to do away with the welfare system. That may not be politically practicable at the moment, but an effective compromise would be to pare down welfare benefits to the point that the UK’s dole is much less desirable than welfare programs in other EU nations. This will encourage net negative residents to look elsewhere for government handouts. With fewer freeloaders, many of the government’s immigration concerns will be allayed. The Home Office could then relax its points based system rules to make it easier for industrious, innovative applicants to make positive contributions to the UK economy.


British taste choices are defined by region, Nottingham food scientists find

In the Midlands they like the spicy flavour that triggers taste buds on the front of the tongue, while in Scotland it is rich, creamy flavours that linger on the palate

Research has indicated that people’s culinary preferences depend on where they were born. Scientists from the University of Nottingham found that taste preferences could be broken down like regional accents and were highly dependent on an area’s history. In the North East, for example, foods are enjoyed by taste buds on the tip of the tongue — which pick up sour flavours — because, claim the researchers, the region has a history of hungry industrial workers demanding meals that offer immediate sustenance.

The researchers, who surveyed 13,000 people on behalf of Costa Coffee, said that in contrast, across the Pennines in Manchester and Liverpool, foods with soft, rounded flavours that linger on the palate were popular, perhaps because of the region’s soft water.

Greg Tucker, a food psychologist, and Andy Taylor, Professor of Flavour Technology at the University of Nottingham and an adviser to Heston Blumenthal, the chef, said that the research was based on the fact that different parts of the tongue tend to pick up varying flavours. The front of the tongue is sensitive to sweet flavours and the back picks up the taste of bitter foods. The sides of the front of the tongue usually detect sour flavours, while the middle tastes salty foods and a little-known taste called umami, best represented by soy sauce.

Professor Taylor said: “Taste is determined by our genetic make-up and influenced by our upbringing and experience with flavours. “Just as with spoken dialects, where accent is placed on different syllables and vowel formations, people from different regions have developed enhanced sensitivities to certain taste sensations and seek foods that trigger these.” Mr Tucker, managing director of the Marketing Clinic, based in Cambridge, said: “I suspected that there might be some minor differences from region to region but I was quite surprised that the variations were so pronounced. “Taste preferences are predetermined by a combinations of economics, culture and genetics. ‘Taste dialect’ is a good phrase because just as you get dialects in any other countries, so you get taste dialects that are driven by different factors.”

The researchers found that those living in the South had the least defined taste dialect of all the regions. The Scots are the slowest eaters.

South West: Sweet flavours. Apples are a favourite and often used in Cornish pasties, as the region is rural and fruit-growing. Sage is often used in dishes from the region

South East: The region has perhaps lost its distinctive palate owing to the number of different ethnic groups that have moved here. People tend to be the most adventurous about food

Wales: An industrial past, so strong-tasting foods that have cut through the dirt and grime down mines have always proved popular. Onions and leeks are a hit, as is Worcestershire sauce

The Midlands: Curry is a favourite, but not necessarily because of the large Asian communities

North West: People here like to eat comforting food. Lancashire hotpot contains many of the flavours enjoyed in the region

North East: Food that provides an instant hit of satisfaction is appreciated most. Fish and chip shops serve scrapings of overcooked chips from the corner of the deep fat fryer to customers who use their incisors to crunch food and taste chips at the front of their tongues

Scotland: Scots like rich, creamy foods that are comforting and linger on the palate. A rich fudge known as tablet is a delicacy, perhaps replaced by deep-fried Mars bars


Schools 'too safe' British teachers say

Daily Mail report

Children are being made to wear goggles before handling Blu Tack and are forbidden to run in the playground as a health and safety culture sweeps through schools. A survey of nearly 600 teachers revealed the most restrictive rules being imposed in an attempt to avoid injuries and lawsuits.

Pupils at one school are forced to put on goggles before using Blu Tack to prevent them rubbing the common adhesive into their eyes. In another, teachers are given a five-page briefing note on the dangers of Pritt Stick before they may use it with their charges. Generations of youngsters who made things out of empty egg boxes will be dismayed to learn that some schools have banned them for fear of salmonella poisoning. And many teachers reported bans on footballs, snowball fights, conker games and running in the playground.

Nearly half of teachers and classroom assistants polled by Teachers TV believe health and safety regulations are holding children back at school.

The findings emerged days after the Local Government Association urged parents and schools to shake off the 'cotton wool' culture. It vowed that town halls would not 'bow to the compensation culture' and would build new adventure-playgrounds. Judith Hackitt, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive, said the examples cited were 'frankly ridiculous'.

She added: 'Health and safety is blamed for a lot of things not going ahead, but they're often about something else - high costs, an event that requires a lot of organising or fear of getting sued. 'Children cannot be wrapped in cotton wool - risk is part of growing up and our children need to learn how to manage risks in the real world.'

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: 'We urge schools to take a commonsense approach to keeping safe. 'Health and safety should not be a major burden and it shouldn't stop pupils from learning and playing. 'A small amount of risk is part and parcel of growing up and we do not subscribe to a cotton wool culture-of a sanitised childhood.'

The survey also revealed that two in five teachers are concerned about being alone in a room with a pupil in case they are falsely accused of inappropriate behaviour. And more than half have had to deal with a situation where they feared a child was being abused. But almost a third did not feel properly prepared and trained to deal with such situations.


Schools 'too safe' British teachers say

BBC report

Nearly half of teachers questioned for a survey believe the health and safety culture in schools is damaging children's learning. When questioned by Teachers TV, teachers complained about a five-page briefing on using glue sticks and being told to wear goggles to put up posters. Others said pupils were not allowed to enjoy the sun or snow without taking health and safety precautions.

Teachers TV surveyed 585 subscribers to the channel by questionnaire. Around 45% of those who took part thought health and safety precautions had a negative effect on teachers, as well as on students' personal development and learning. However, 45% said they did not think health and safety regulations were too restrictive. And just over 10% of teachers surveyed thought accidents in schools had increased during the last five years.

The teachers were also asked about general safety - their own and that of their pupils. More than half of those who responded - 56% - said they had had to deal with a situation where they suspected a child was being abused. More than two in five said they were afraid to be alone in a room with a pupil in case they were falsely accused of inappropriate behaviour. Just under a third of respondents said they were under-prepared in this area.

Questions regarding weapons checks in schools appeared to divide teachers. Exactly half said they favoured weapons checks in schools and half opposed it.

Chief executive of Teachers TV Andrew Bethell said: "The more extreme examples [of health and safety] are thankfully not the norm but schools still need to take into consideration the workforce's concerns when trying to protect pupils. "It is worrying that almost a third of the education workforce feel under-prepared to deal with the very complicated issues surrounding abuse and potential abuse."


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