We’re Finally Back Up…!

by R J Adams     May 1, 2016 at 10:07am


On behalf of our hosting server (who shall remain nameless!) Sparrow Chat apologises for the 36 hour downtime recently imposed by said hosting server due to their inefficiency and antiquated equipment.

Those of you attempting to access the website and receiving only an, “Unable to access database”, response were, hopefully, not too inconvenienced.

R J Adams     May 1, 2016 at 10:07am     No Comments

A Solution To The Statin Problem?

by R J Adams     April 27, 2016 at 11:43am


Millions of people worldwide take statins for heart and artery problems caused, we’re told, by high cholesterol. The side effects of these drugs can be alarming. Nevertheless, it’s a huge market for Big Pharma, and anything that might cause a drop in the sales of statins would not be welcome to Pzifer, Merck, and AstraZeneca, the leading manufacturers.

Despite the marketing hype for these drugs, there’s doubt over their real effectiveness in combating heart disease. As far back as 2011, the Telegraph reported:

Pfizer’s Lipitor was the world’s top-selling medicine last year, according to IMS, raking in sales of $13.3billion. AstraZeneca’s Crestor, which garnered $5.38billion in sales during 2009, is one of the company’s best selling medicines.
Total sales last year of cholesterol-treating medicines – including statins – were $35billion, according to IMS.
Dr Navid Malik, a pharmaceuticals analyst at Matrix Partners, said the global statin market has grown significantly over the past ten years.
“Statins enjoyed superior growth in the market because they could be shown to lower bad cholesterol whilst raising good cholesterol,” he added…
…Despite the commercial success of statins, Dr Malik pointed out that the peristence of heart disease does raise questions about the drugs’ value for money.
“Statins have been the fairy tale story in the industry. But heart disease is still the number one killer in the western world, so one could argue how much value for money have we really got out of their use,” he said.”[1]

Now there’s a new kid on the block, which could knock the statins off the dispensary shelves. UK company, OptiBiotix, has produced a tablet that could do just that.

According to the Pharmaceutical industry newsheet, Pharmaletter:

…the company released further details this month on a 12-week double blind placebo controlled study of the tablet, which is made up of hundreds of millions of freeze-dried and compressed bacteria. The trial recruited 50 volunteers and was designed to establish safety, compliance, and the extent of the cholesterol lowering potential of OptiBiotix’s Lactobacillus plantarum strain in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults.

When triallists took one pill daily for three months, their cholesterol level fell by an average of 37%. There was on average a 5.1% reduction in systolic blood pressure. No safety, compliance, or tolerance issues were reported by volunteers during the study in either group.

OptiBiotix stated that the study showed its strain has commercial potential as a safe, easy to use, low cost, cholesterol reducing supplement, and The Times reported that the company was in talks with food and pharma giants about putting the formula into yoghurts and cereal bars….”[2]

For the millions who take statins and suffer the side effects, as well as those of us who have refused to take them and feel ill, OptiBiotix may well have the solution.

It could be a revolution in heart medicine – that is, if Big Pharma allow it to survive!

[1] “Statins: the drug firms’ goldmine” Telegraph, January 19th 2011

[2] “OptiBiotix interesting big pharma with statin-free cholesterol pill” Pharmaletter, April 26th 2016

R J Adams     April 27, 2016 at 11:43am     2 Comments

But We Didn’t Mean That To Happen!

by R J Adams     April 26, 2016 at 10:06am


It’s thirty years since Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant blew up, spreading its poisonous radiation over much of the western hemisphere. One unintended consequence of that disaster is that the site now attracts the morbid fascination of tourists from all over the world.

Much of the dangerous radioactive material is still inside Reactor 4, including (it’s thought) the body of one man never found after the explosion. The town of Chernobyl was home to 60,000 people. Now, thirty years on, it’s a ghost town.

Much was hushed-up in the aftermath of the disaster. In Britain, radiation from the Russian plant was found in the grass growing on Welsh mountains. For a while, Welsh lamb was off the menu for many, to the consternation of Welsh sheep farmers.

Everywhere, including in Russia, folks were told not to worry, it had been contained, there were no health concerns. Today, children in the region around the disaster area have grown up. They are having children themselves. Many are deformed, with missing limbs. At least one was born with two heads. In western countries childhood thyroid cancer is rare; in Belarus, as many as fifty percent of children develop the disease. Many die at a young age.[1]

We live in a dangerous world. It seems the “Law of Unintended Consequences” is at play all the time. There was a time when lead was considered a wonder metal: it prevented car engines from ‘knocking’; it helped paint to adhere to surfaces. It was decades before the dangers of lead, or asbestos, or many other ‘wonder’ products of the industrial, and later ‘technological’ eras, made themselves known, with the resultant suffering that no-one had envisaged.

The internal combustion engine, a wonder of the 19th and 20th centuries, transformed the lives of virtually every human being on the planet. The cost is only now being gradually realized through global climate change.

It seems that almost everything we do as a species to make our lives better has a long-term detrimental effect on ourselves, and/or the environment and the species that share this planet with us.

Global warming demands we stop using fossil fuels for energy. The ‘natural’ alternatives of wind, wave, and solar power, will never be able to meet our requirements quickly enough to make significant difference. The only energy source we have, capable of supplying sufficient for our needs, is nuclear.

Even the greenest of conservationists have come to realize this fact. Nuclear power is the only alternative available. Does this mean we risk another ‘Chernobyl’, on an even greater scale?

“No!” cry the ‘experts. “We’ve come a long way technologically since 1986. Nuclear power is now completely safe.”

Of course, that was before Fukushima.

We don’t hear much about Fukushima. One of the deadliest problems with radiation is its invisible, silent, invasion of the body tissues. No-one knows it’s there, or what it’s doing, until the cancer is diagnosed, or the deformed child is born.

Governments are silent on Fukushima, just as they were with Chernobyl. When questioned, assurances are quick to be vocalized. No danger! Nothing to worry about. It’s all under control.

We have to build more nuclear power stations to stand any chance of averting the worst effects of climate change. It would be ironic, if by so doing we destroyed ourselves and much of the planet by radiation poisoning from our own creations, rather than the sun doing it for us.

That old “Law of Unintended Consequences” can sometimes be a real bummer.

[1] “Chernobyl’s legacy 30 years on” BBC, April 26th 2016

R J Adams     April 26, 2016 at 10:06am     5 Comments

Jeremy Hunt Couldn’t Even Sell Marmalade – What Chance The NHS?

by R J Adams     April 25, 2016 at 11:29am

Doctors Strike

Politicians are amazing people. They are born with an innate ability to lay the blame for their failures on others. It’s never them, it’s the unions, or the workers, or the ‘other political party’, or possibly ‘Mrs Jones down at number 37’.

Health minister Jeremy Hunt tops them all. His attacks on the junior doctors of the UK’s National Health Service are vitriolic, simply because they refuse to comply with an unfair contract he’s trying to force upon them.[1]

That old standby, “Patients will suffer”, is trotted out on every occasion, as though the doctors have suddenly turned into cold-blooded, unfeeling, automatons overnight.

It’s time Jeremy Hunt realised the blame for the state of the NHS lies at his door. He’s an out and out failure. He couldn’t even sell marmalade to the Japanese[2]. It’s time he resigned, and was replaced by someone who actually has a knowledge of how a national health service should be properly run. Jeremy Hunt knows less about hospital management than a cashier at Argos.

It’s time the staff made a real stand against Hunt’s demolition of the NHS and joined doctors in an all-out walk-out. It’s about the only way to persuade David Cameron to get rid of this pretentious idiot once and for all.

There’s only one person to blame for the present state of the NHS and the buck stops at Jeremy Hunt.

[1] “Junior doctors’ strike risks patient safety – Jeremy Hunt” BBC, April 25th 2016

[2] ““La La La La – Not Listening” – Says Jeremy Hunt”

R J Adams     April 25, 2016 at 11:29am     No Comments

Too Many Forked Tongues…

by R J Adams     April 24, 2016 at 9:55am

Forked Tongue

This week saw US President Barack Obama in the UK supporting the official British government view that that nation should vote to remain within the European Union. Readers of Sparrow Chat will be aware that the writer also supports that view, though perhaps for somewhat differing reasons from either the UK government, or Barack Obama.

President Obama has been one of the most glib and polished presidents of recent years. His popularity, particularly among young people, verges on legend. But a way with words, an ability to charm, does not necessarily prove the worth of the person behind the speeches and smiles.

In many ways Barack Obama oozes a similar charm to the once British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Blair was able to woo the British electorate sufficient to retain power for ten years, yet has become living proof of the corrupting effect such elevated status can bestow.

In a carefully worded speech to the British people, President Obama lithely spelled out the virtues of remaining ‘European’, while adding just a soupçon of warning. A ‘No’ vote could mean repercussions drastically affecting the “special relationship” between the two nations.

It was all said with a smile and much intermittent hand-shaking between the president and the UK Prime Minister, but the threat was sufficient for the BBC to carry this main headline on its website for two days:

“UK-US trade deal could take years – Obama

The UK could take up to 10 years to negotiate trade deals with the US if it leaves the EU, Barack Obama has said.
In a BBC interview, the US president said: “It could be five years from now, 10 years from now before we were able to actually get something done.”
Britain would also have less influence globally if it left, he added.[1]

Just what are the trade deals to which he refers, and how will they effect the UK and Europe?

Yesterday, Saturday April 23rd, in excess of 30,000 people marched through the streets of Hannover in Germany, to protest over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). President Obama arrives in Germany today. He is to hold talks with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in an attempt to move forward discussions on that very Trade Agreement.

It’s the second part of Obama’s crusade to create a World View trade agreement between the US and the rest of the planet that will have serious repercussions for us all if it succeeds.

The first segment, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), has already been provisionally signed by twelve nations, including Australia and New Zealand, Canada, and of course, the United States, despite huge protests by the citizenry of these nations.

The TPP is being backed by Big Business, which stands to benefit enormously from the treaty. In a totally undemocratic and underhand manner, allowing no consultation with democratic watchdogs (or even the US Congress), the TTP is going ahead. It has Barack Obama’s full backing. On October 5th 2015, then Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, stated he expected:

…signatures on the finalized text and deal early in the new year, and ratification over the next two years.”

It seems that, at least for those nations on the Pacific rim, democracy is taking a back seat to corporate power. If European leaders are persuaded to act similarly, against the wishes of their citizens, a similar fate will await Europe.

The demise of democracy in America is plain (for all those who take note of such things) to see. Corporate power is king, and the US Congress bows the knee to its reign. US politicians are like a football team, long time holders of the title, but now relegated to the lower divisions.

Today we are seeing the first corporate to make a bid for the US Presidency. Donald Trump may cut a comic figure to many, he may well never make the final cut, but it can only be a matter of time before the Office of President of the United States is held by a Trump, or a Zukerberg[2], or a Koch.

One can only hope we Europeans are not sold off in a similar manner to the highest corporate bidder.

It is, perhaps, a forlorn hope.

[1] “Post-Brexit trade deal with US could take 10 years, Obama warns” BBC, April 23rd 2016

[2] “How Facebook plans to take over the world” Guardian, April 23rd 2016

R J Adams     April 24, 2016 at 9:55am     2 Comments