Category Archives: Exploitation

The Problem With Salt

We all need salt in our diets. It is the main constituent present in our body water and we have several mechanisms to keep our salt content within a narrow, healthy range. If there is too little salt present, these mechanisms decrease the salt content of urine, making it more dilute. If there is too much salt, the excess is excreted through the kidneys and our water intake is increased; we become thirsty. These mechanisms are not perfect; they deteriorate as we age.

We need salt in our food, but only so much.

Chronic excess salt intake overloads these mechanisms and leads to water retention and kidney damage. Blood pressure rises – high blood pressure is strongly linked to high salt intake – and this, with water retention, puts strin on the heart and coronary vessels leading to heart disease and heart failure. Exercise becomes difficult, further compounding the problems of high blood pressure and heart disease, and increasing the risk of stroke.

If this is not enough, a high salt intake is associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer and of osteoporosis – a significantly debilitating disease. Excess salt in the diet increases the risk of premature death. The excess does not have to be much; the margins are small.

Avoiding too much salt in the diet can only be good. Right?

Unfortunately, the western diet is overloaded with salt, most of which comes from processed food. Recognising this as a major component of a modern health epidemic, government agencies moved to reduce the salt content of processed foods by setting limits to the amount of salt present in food products. It was intended to be a gradual but progressive process, allowing the food companies time to accommodate the need for salt reduction.

When the Conservative government came to power in 2010, they scrapped this arrangement, reaching an self-regulation agreement with the food companies. They were to police the salt reduction targets themselves. The companies know that salt is addictive and helps to sell their produce. Guess what happened?

To me, this suggests that the Conservatives care more about the profits of their business colleagues than they do about the health of the people. There has been no suggestion that this attitude might change in the foreseeable future.

It concerns me that profits so obviously come before people, before welfare and well-being – apart from that of the rich.

I know which way I’ll be voting.

Tony rides to the rescue

Tony rides to the rescue!

Tony Blair, that acceptable face of socialism, has been offering his services to the Labour party for the coming election campaign. Tony, all teeth and diamond-sparkle grin, riding in on a stunning white charger to save the country from a government not easily distinguishable from the one that he led.

The multi-millionaire who presided over a disastrous military intervention in the Middle East, over the beginning privatisation of the National Health Service, who charges phenomenal sums to appear for after-dinner talks (what are they paying for?), and who sells his services as an advisor to some really dodgy regimes, thinks that the British Electorate would be so impressed by his presence that the Labour party would be propelled into power in May.

If Labour want to win this election, and I hope that they do win, they would be well advised to steer clear of Mr. Blair.

Foxhunting lives.

Despite foxhunting with hounds having been declared illegal by an act of parliament, it is still practiced regularly in England. 

This last weekend, a hunt in south-east Yorkshire made three kills when foxhunting with hounds. Apparently, if there had been any “Antis” around, the hunt would have gone ahead as a drag hunt. It seems that, as long as they are not detected breaking the law, the law doesn’t matter. Remember that these obnoxious people usually are from the monied classes – how many ordinary people can afford to buy and maintain the quality horses required for hunting? Many are magistrates and would expect others to obey the laws of the country. However, these people can break the law with impunity; the law doesn’t apply to them but they must keep up appearances.
The huntspeople, of course, would claim that they are removing pests. They ignore the fact that the animals they hunt are sentient beings. For these distasteful people the best way to overcome a problems is to go around killing things – better still if dressed up in ridiculous uniforms while they kill. Better still if the animal suffers.
They really are hideous.

Bloody scientists

Scientists have announced their discovery that rats exhibit a period of increased brain activity before dying. They suggest that this might explain out of body experiences or sensations of walking towards a light…
…or maybe it could be evidence of the soul disengaging from the body, or the rat panicking, or the rat equivalent of screaming “fuck off you evil, sadistic bastard!”.
When will these people stop torturing animals? After all, in many cases they only guess at what their findings mean. And this one is particularly hideous – “let’s kill some rats and see if we can guess at what they’re experiencing”. (To show increased brain activity, they could not have been anaesthetised properly).

So, let’s kill rats and make some guesses –  while we’re at it, why not slice open their abdomens and read fortunes from their entrails?
Then again, the idea of a rat walking towards the light does have beauty.

The Inglorious Twelfth

On the 12th of August every year, the most hideous members of our society – and, incidentally, the most wealthy (is there a link here?) – slither out onto our moorlands in search of ‘sport’.

“The Glorious Twelfth”, the start of the grouse shooting season, is the reserve of the (often obscenely) rich but is subsidised by the British public through the Environmental Stewardship Scheme where moors gamekeepeers can claim for maintenance costs. Yes, reader, you (if you are British) are partly funding the excesses of these vile people, even though they can buy you many times over. Just think French Riviera and yachts.

What do the gamekeepers do with the money?
Moors maintenance for grouse shooting hinges on maximising the heather coverage of the moor. The methods used to do this include burning off the old growth and competing plants in order to encourage the growth of heather shoots on which the grouse feed. The moors are an important national resource, but they are also underpinned by peat – a mass of locked-in carbon. Setting fire to the moors does not make a great deal of environmental sense to me. Burning that locked in carbon, releasing millions of tons into the environment in the form of greenhouse gases, is not doing the rest of us, those who cannot possibly afford the fees charged for grouse shooting, any favours.
Then there is the matter of the wholesale slaughter of wildlife. Animals who compete with or predate the grouse are killed off.
What for?
So that people that any fair-minded person with a social conscience and a sense of justice would never wish as a passing acquaintance let alone a friend can indulge in their manly ‘sport’ of slaughtering helpless birds.
Can grouse shooting actually be called a sport?
Consider the difficulty a grouse has in getting airborne and the blanket-bombing approach to shooting inherent in shotgun use – then tell me what you think.

BUPA criticised in court.

BUPA, the private medical services provider, was criticised severely by the judge in Liverpool crown court during a case brought against one of the company’s managers.  While passing sentence Judge Mark Brown spoke of BUPA’s culture of putting profits before patients.

“It is clear from the evidence presented during the trial that the nursing home was run very badly and that there was a great deal of under-funding and cost cutting. This impacted significantly on the resources that were available which meant there were often inadequate staffing levels and the unit itself was filthy and the premises in a tired and dilapidated state.”

From my own dealings with BUPA care homes, I can agree that the BUPA homes are underfunded and understaffed. BUPA care workers are, in my experience and in general, hard working, underpaid people who do their best for their residents in suboptimal conditions. The work is hard and demanding, and the pay is poor. BUPA pay careworkers at or around the national minimum wage, and unit managers only a few pounds an hour above this, despite the immense responsibility involved. Further, disciplinary action can be harsh. Those determined to have transgressed can be marched, disgraced, off the carehome site. It also appears that whistle-blowing is poorly tolerated. 

With the British government’s rush to sell off the NHS to private companies, – a rush to turn patients into corporate commodities – is this the future of healthcare in the UK?