News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

27 years on and the curtain of lies is ripped to shreds as jury blames police for all 96 deaths at Hillsborough


April 15 1989 started off, for me, with a leisurely drive from London northwards on the M1 motorway to the midlands city of Coventry.

There, on that day, my second oldest nephew as well as being my only godson, was marrying his fiancée in the city’s cathedral.

After leaving the reception my then wife and I drove to another midlands town, Loughborough in Leicestershire, to visit long-standing friends of her family.

We didn’t have the car radio on, no news reports and so we had no idea what was going on in the world. In particular, we had no idea of the terrible events happening that afternoon in the ground of Sheffield Wednesday football (soccer) club. A ground that goes by the name of Hillsborough. My nephew’s wedding day was also that of the Hillsborough disaster but we only found out about that when we reached our destination in Loughborough.

A total of 96 Liverpool football fans died that day. They were crushed to death in appalling circumstances that have been argued about ever since. Another 500-plus were injured.

There have been stories, excuses, misinformation and lies – and that was just from the police as they sought to avoid any responsibility. Even the Press were taken in. Horrendous stories were written, most notoriously in The Sun daily newspaper. It published a front-page story headlined The Truth in which awful untrue allegations were made, placing the blame on Liverpool’s fans. It is now known that The Sun’s story was based on untrue ‘information’ from senior officers in South Yorkshire Police.

A coroner’s inquest was followed by other investigations as the families of those who died fought on, fought on for justice. Eventually, the original inquest verdicts were set aside and a new inquest was ordered.

This week, after hearing evidence for two years, the jury reached its verdicts. There is no need to go through all of them but the key ones are:

  • The 96 who died were ‘unlawfully killed’.
  • The behaviour of Liverpool fans did not add to a dangerous situation.
  • The police did make ‘errors or omissions’ that caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the match and the crush on the terraces.

How those families have fought for justice for so long is beyond me but, four days ago, their amazing dedication and hard work brought tears of relief to a proud city and its people.

The current head of South Yorkshire Police, Chief Constable David Crompton, has since been suspended and I am sure that prosecutions of others must follow.

DuckenfieldIn fact, the man who was in overall command of police at Hillsborough, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield (now retired) has admitted lying about events that day and must be in line for prosecution. The inquest jurors were instructed that they could only decide that the victims were ‘unlawfully killed’ if they were ‘sure’ that Duckenfield was ‘responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence’ of those who died. By a majority of 7-2, that is what they decided.

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Restless legs affect our sleep and contribute to fatigue


Sometimes it hits while sitting in the living room, sometimes once in bed. In fact, in my experience, bed is worse as it often prevents me from getting to sleep. What is it? Restless legs syndrome (RLS).

Apparently, and these figures are not being quoted from exact research, people with multiple sclerosis, like me, are about five times more likely to have RLS than those in the general population and just over 30% of people with MS also have RLS.

We find various ways of overcoming, or at least relieving, the problem of getting to sleep including various prescription medications.

Generally, depending on the frequency of RLS troubles, these actions may be helpful:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin) might be good for people with MS, as it is fairly well-tolerated and used for spasticity and neuropathic pain symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
  • Low potency opioid-based drugs or opioid agonists, such as propoxyphene napsylate, ropoxyphene hydrochloride, codeine or tramadol, may be tried, but be careful as they may contribute to daytime fatigue.

In my case, the analgesic co-codamol has worked so far although what the future holds there is no way of knowing.

So, exactly what is restless leg syndrome? According to UpToDate, an evidence-based, physician-authored clinical decision support resource which clinicians trust to make the right point-of-care decisions, “Restless legs syndrome refers to symptoms of spontaneous, continuous leg movements associated with unpleasant paresthesias. These sensations occur only at rest and are relieved by movement. Sleep disturbance and a frequent association with involuntary, jerking movements of the legs during sleep, known as periodic leg movements of sleep (PLMS), are common.”

It also says: “Mounting evidence suggests that RLS is associated with multiple sclerosis (MS)” but admits that data is conflicting.

Restless legs syndrome is diagnosed when the following criteria are met:

  • There is an urge to move the legs (usually caused by or accompanied by uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in the legs).
  • This urge to move gets worse when you are still, usually lying down, but can also occur when sitting.
  • Moving around relieves (at least partially) the urge to move or unpleasant sensation, while the movement continues.
  • The urge is much worse at night than during the day.

As RLS causes loss of sleep, it surely has an impact on MS-related fatigue. While good sleep might not eliminate fatigue, a sleepless night due to restless legs syndrome may mean the difference between ‘getting by’ and complete inability to function. Technically, this is called secondary fatigue as the tiredness is a result of other symptoms, ie RLS.

UpToDate explains: “The primary cause of fatigue for people with MS, however, is the demyelination of the disease process of MS itself. Much of what those of us living with MS are feeling is called ‘lassitude’, which is an overwhelming tiredness that is not directly related to increased activity. This is the terrible, impossible-to-explain, crushing exhaustion that is one of the most common symptoms of MS.”


This is the first in an occasional series of posts touching on conditions often associated with multiple sclerosis.

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HSCT for MS from Russia with Love – Julia’s tale

julia hat red square_edited

This is the story of Julia Summers, Facebook regular and now HSCT veteran


Something struck me, when reading Julia’s posts on Facebook that this was a determined woman, a loving wife, mother and a devoted dog lover.  Julia has Relapsing Remitting multiple sclerosis and had been keen on HSCT since first hearing about it in 2011 but her then British neurologist had talked her out of it saying that it was still unproven.

Julia’s name went onto the Russian waiting list and she was given a 2017 date for treatment.  After Dr Fedorenko studied her latest MRI she was pushed forward to March 2016.  She had since embraced HSCT and was about to head off to Moscow from her home in the Bahamas.

Let’s follow Julia’s experiences as, first of all, she prepares to start her journey of life in her fight with MS.

It is March 14 2016:

OMG, Josh sat on his bed and cried tonight. He told me how he was going to miss me and asked me what I would like him to do with his life if I don’t make it through this treatment! The stress is starting to show in both the boys now. I hate having to leave them!

Just took Baxter to the beach in search of his buddies for a rough play before I leave and there was no one around. Now to start packing. I leave here in one hour.

At the airport waiting to board. Sad goodbye to Baxter, who seemed to know, and then horrible saying goodbye to the family! Now my mission to heal starts!

Having said her goodbyes, she flew to London where she needed to appear in person to obtain a visa to visit Russia. Two days have passed:

Just back in from the visa office. Tomorrow I need to get my fingerprints taken and back again on Friday at 5:00pm to (hopefully) collect the visa and pay the fees. I was collected from my hotel and taken to the visa company by a young taxi driver. On the way we were chatting and because of my head shave we got onto the subject of cancer. It turns out his four-year-old niece had cancer and had chemo and is now strong again. He wouldn’t let me pay my fare!

Fingerprints were taken the following day and Julia was able to collect the visa on Friday 18th, as planned. She then enjoyed a couple of days in London seeing family, friends and her breeder’s dog group who met especially to wish her well, before flying on to Moscow, arriving late at night on March 21.

I met Anastasia this morning. She came in at 6:00am to welcome me. She is everything I was told. So sweet and helpful. I have now just met Dr. Fedorenko. These people are so caring!

I have arrived to a beautiful full moon and -7C. Kristina, you are correct, it is a different type of cold here.  Didn’t get any sleep on the plane, so have been given today to rest. They start testing tomorrow … three days of testing, not like the other joke I went through. This is real, I am going to heal.

Not all was peaceful, though, as was explained the following day:

I have a couch outside my door that the Russian people seem to love sitting on and chatting on their phones. Think I will sneak out in the middle of the night and move it! The constant drone is driving me crazy.

A testing time

Had to drop everything and go for my MRI during lunch. I cannot get over what a clean hospital this is … and so big. One more test and then I wait to hear whether I will be treated or not. Fingers crossed!

The waiting was a time of hope and tension that was partially relieved on March 24:

Anastasia told me she had seen my MRI and that I have active lesions on the brain and spinal canal. Apparently that works well for the treatment! Here’s hoping.

Just back from test. Another one later today and then my results tomorrow. I am also moving to the 4th floor, along with my neighbour Chris, to join the other MS patients. It was only -8C last night

fedorenkoResults arrived the next day:

Dr Fedorenko (pictured left) came to my room early. We went through all my tests and my MRI. I am very healthy, except for the MS. I have a 90% chance that this treatment will work for me. He says with my strong, positive mind and heart that I will heal myself and he says with his team’s 90% and my 90% we’ll make it 180% chance that I will heal. He held me while I cried … relief!  I start tomorrow.


The treatment begins

An important date, March 26, the time had arrived for the most serious business.

The nurse who gave me my steroid infusion is so sweet. She chatted away to me in Russian, even though she knew I had no clue what she was saying. Everyone here is just so kind and caring! And so today my journey to being MS free has started.

The following morning, Julia was given instructions to take her last walk outside for a while.

Cannot go out after tomorrow. Going to explore the underground section of the hospital now.  I have never seen anything like it before.

I heard last night that three people have arrived, had testing and been turned down in the last month. Thank goodness I didn’t hear that before Dr. Fedorenko came to speak to me.  As it was, I was a bundle of nerves.

steroid infusionSecond steroid infusion done. This stimulates the stem cells. The injections we have at 11:00pm and 3:00am are to start breaking down the bone marrow. Two more like this and then the neck gear will be installed for the final steroids and then the stem cell collection will take place. Here’s to many millions being collected.

Understandably, despite the warrior-like determination, Julia experienced apprehension at some of the stages – but never doubted HSCT.

So scared about tomorrow morning’s procedure. Trying to relax and breathe! This has been my biggest fear all along. I hope it turns out to be minor in the whole process.

Had a lovely walk this afternoon. Managed to leave the hospital grounds and found a supermarket where I bought some butter, a big chunk of cheese, a jar of jam, a sesame seed snack, a Snickers (because I need some comfort food) and a bar of hand soap. It all cost me a whopping $4.49. I then took a stroll and found a beautiful park but didn’t have the right shoes to walk there. Saw my @$$ a couple of times. Met a gorgeous German Pointer named Nora. We had a few hugs and kisses while her Mum was trying to get her to walk, but she (Nora) was happy for my attention. A kind Russian man stopped his car and held the traffic up to let me cross the road. Made it back to the entrance gate where the guard pretended he was considering letting me back into the grounds. My last walk of freedom for a while! Thoroughly enjoyed it but now my legs are wobbly from walking too far.

The following day, March 29, and the medical team made an early start.

PICC line is in … not too comfortable going in and not great to have in my neck, but eyes on the prize! Have had my x-ray and all looks good. Severe bone pain but that means that the neupogen shots are doing their work and loosening the bone marrow. Tomorrow we start the stem cell collection from the bone marrow. A five-hour procedure. If all goes well, it will just be one day, but could last up to three days.

Not all the stem cells needed were collected on the first day, so a second session was required but Julia also had something else on her mind…

Sat here this morning and realised that it is our wedding anniversary today. Seems like a lifetime ago. Sure Richard won’t remember either.

It turned out that the second day of stem cell collection was enough and that line was removed. The chemo line was inserted and the chemotherapy itself began on April 2.

Three days later, Julia had been understandably emotional.

My emotions have been running havoc since being accepted for this treatment. I am strong in myself but am just so thankful to be getting this HSCT that I can’t stop bursting into tears for no reason. (I was warned by a good friend that it would happen). When Dr. Fedorenko took my hand and told me I would leave Moscow MS-free, that just blew my mind. I will be forever grateful.

Another chat with Dr Fedorenko followed, about a most important subject.

julia ahd baxterI had a sit down discussion with Dr. Fedorenko today about Baxter. I explained that Baxter is my life and I cannot exclude him and will want to be with him once I returned home. He told me there would be no exclusions and that I would just have to be careful about him licking me or scratching me. Then he asked me what type of dog Baxter was …. um, I shall show him a photo tomorrow!  Boerboel think they are lapdogs, especially my boy.

On April 9, she found a new sign of the next stage of the treatment:

Just went to the water fountain and on the way back saw a green sign on my door stating that I am now in lock-down. Welcome to the isolation club. See you ladies and gents on the other side!

Being in isolation is one thing but keeping Julia from posting on Facebook is another.

Today (April 15) is my beautiful Baxter’s 6th birthday. Oh how I miss him and can’t wait to see him soon. xxx

Starting to finally lose my hair (April 16) …. but sadly another whole day in isolation for me!

Being shut away was coming to an end, however. April 17 brought good news.

juliaShouting this from the roof tops, Dr Fedorenko has just been in to see me …. And I am released from isolation today! I woke up telling myself that today was the day …. And now I can’t stop crying! He had to hug me to calm me down. My numbers are up from .026 to 2.35. My immune system is starting to rebuild. He says he can see my hair is still falling out, but I think it is just as stubborn as I am.  It is hanging in there!

Then, on April 18, it was time for the next step.

Dr Fedorenko came in to tell me that my blood work is looking good so they have decided to give me my Rituximab shot today. I will be tied up to this machine for about 5 hours. Tomorrow I finally get to have my line out and one more shot of steroids …. then I am ready to go. I can’t wait to get home but I am definitely going to miss everyone I have met along the way! What a life-changing experience.

julia sc birthdayAnd, finally, the treatment comes to an end on April 19.

No warning …. in early, blood tests taken, PICC line removed and steroid shot administered. These people are so on the ball, I didn’t even get time to think about it. It is all over!!! The start of my new life has now begun and it is up to me to take good care of my new body CAREFULLY.

HSCT veteran now!

Leaving on a jet plane

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go. Just writing Thank you cards and working through my paperwork at the moment. I have one final request and that is to have a photo with the dream team who have made this treatment possible for me.  Hope to sleep well tonight and have a good trip home.

Exactly one month from arriving, April 21 is the day to go home.

Had to leave in rather a hurry this afternoon. Was held up at the Russian airport for quite a while and just made my plane. Had to pay a fine for being one day over the visa limit, even with official papers from the hospital.  Now crashing at Sofitel Heathrow and then catching an early flight home. Will catch up once I am home. Thank you to everyone for your support through my incredible journey. It has been the most amazing experience for me!

Leaving UK early the next day, Julia completed her long journey home.

World traveller returns

Been home about two hours. The staff onboard BA were absolutely fantastic, as were the staff at Lynden Pindling International Airport. So lovely seeing my family again. Can’t believe how the boys have grown! My shadow is once again at my feet.


In the future, there will be more news of Julia’s progress after HSCT.



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What really happened on 9/11? Searching for the truth

911 saudi mapSeptember 11 2001, both north and south towers have been hit but did people of Saudi Arabia        help the terrorists? The ’28 pages’ may tell us.


Hi, today I am handing this blog over to my wife, Lisa.

Guest blog by Lisa Franks, American citizen and proud native of New York City

lisa blog

I want to know who attacked my city and killed 3,000 people including my cousin who was at work in one of the Twin Towers on that fateful day.


We have all heard about the conspiracy theory from the 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. The question is not whether the US government was involved somehow but how much involvement did they have in the attacks.

If you have seen footage of the explosions before the planes hit the towers, why there was no apparent ‘plane’ damage to the Pentagon on that fateful day or why there remains a mystery about the alleged crash site of UA93, then you have probably questioned the attacks too.

Now, new documents come to light over the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the attacks. Before delving into their involvement, let us not forget that Osama Bin Laden was himself Saudi. If we can piece the conspiracy together with this new theory, then maybe we will find the truth of how and why 3000 people were killed and another 6000 injured on that September morn.

Let’s start by putting the day’s timeline together:

  • 7:59 am – American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people aboard, takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport en route to Los Angeles.
  • 8:14 am – United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 with 65 people aboard, takes off from Boston; it is also headed to Los Angeles.
  • 8:19 am – Flight attendants aboard Flight 11 alert ground personnel that the plane has been hijacked; American Airlines notifies the FBI.
  • 8:20 am – American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. The Boeing 757 is headed to Los Angeles with 64 people aboard.
  • 8:24 am – Hijacker Mohammed Atta makes the first of two accidental transmissions from Flight 11 to ground control (apparently in an attempt to communicate with the plane’s cabin).
  • 8:40 am – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alerts North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD)’s Northeast Air Defence Sector (NEADS) about the suspected hijacking of Flight 11. In response, NEADS scrambles two fighter planes located at Cape Cod’s Otis Air National Guard Base to locate and tail Flight 11; they are not yet in the air when Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower.
  • 8:41 am – United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 44 people aboard, takes off from Newark International Airport en route to San Francisco. It had been scheduled to depart at 8:00 am, around the time of the other hijacked flights.
  • 8:46 am – Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crash the plane into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building. With the first crash, it was thought to be a commuter plane that hit the North Tower.
  • 8:47 am – Within seconds, NYPD and FDNY forces dispatch units to the World Trade Centre, while Port Authority Police Department officers on site begin immediate evacuation of the North Tower.
  • 8:50 am – White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card alerts President George W. Bush that a plane has hit the World Trade Centre; the president is visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida at the time.
  • 9:02 am – After initially instructing tenants of the WTC’s South Tower to remain in the building, Port Authority officials broadcast orders to evacuate both towers via the public address system; an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 people are already in the process of evacuating.
  • 9:03 am – Hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 75-85 of the WTC’s South Tower, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building. We now know these two incidents are terrorist attacks but who are the terrorists?
  • 9:08 am – The FAA bans all take-offs of flights going to New York City or through the airspace around the city.
  • 9:21 am – The Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in the New York City area.
  • 9:24 am – The FAA notifies NEADS of the suspected hijacking of Flight 77 after some passengers and crew aboard are able to alert family members on the ground.
  • 9:31 am – Speaking from Florida, President Bush calls the events in New York City an “apparent terrorist attack on our country.”
  • 9:37 am – Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crash the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing 59 aboard the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building. Since there was no wing damage to the Pentagon, where did they go? In fact, where did the plane go?
  • 9:42 am – For the first time in history, the FAA grounds all flights over or bound for the continental United States. Some 3,300 commercial flights and 1,200 private planes are guided to airports in Canada and the United States over the next two-and-a-half hours.
  • 9:45 am – Amid escalating rumours of other attacks, the White House and U.S. Capitol building are evacuated (along with numerous other high-profile buildings, landmarks and public spaces).
  • 9:59 am – The South Tower of the World Trade Centre collapses. Why did the building seem to implode on itself?
  • 10:07 am – After passengers and crew members aboard the hijacked Flight 93 contact friends and family and learn about the attacks in New York and Washington, they mount an attempt to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard. Really? Where did the plane go then?
  • 10:28 am – The World Trade Centre’s North Tower collapses, 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11. Again, this tower went down on itself. How is it possible that two buildings collapsed straight down on themselves? Coincidence? Twice? Was it a pre-planned demolition and needed reason to set the explosives off?
  • 11 am – Mayor Rudolph Giuliani calls for the evacuation of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, including more than 1 million residents, workers and tourists, as efforts continue throughout the afternoon to search for survivors at the WTC site.
  • 1 pm – From a U.S. Air Force base in Louisiana, President Bush announces that U.S. military forces are on high alert worldwide.
  • 2:51 pm – The U.S. Navy dispatches missile destroyers to New York and Washington, D.C.
  • 5:20 pm – The 47-story Seven World Trade Centre collapses after burning for hours; the building had been evacuated in the morning, and there are no casualties, though the collapse forces rescue workers to flee for their lives.
  • 6:58 pm – President Bush returns to the White House after stops at military bases in Louisiana and Nebraska.
  • 8:30 pm – President Bush addresses the nation, calling the attacks “evil, despicable acts of terror” and declaring that America, its friends and allies would “stand together to win the war against terrorism.”

So what can the world expect to see in the ’28 pages’ if and when they are declassified?

Tim Roemer, who was a member of both the joint congressional inquiry as well as the 9/11 Commission and has read the secret chapter three times, described the 28 pages as a “preliminary police report.”

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government says it has been “wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity” in the attacks, is fighting extremists and working to clamp down on their funding channels. Still, the Saudis have long said that they would welcome declassification of the 28 pages because it would “allow us to respond to any allegations in a clear and credible manner.”

The pages were withheld from the 838-page report on the orders of President George W. Bush, who said the release could divulge intelligence sources and methods. Still, protecting US-Saudi diplomatic relations also was believed to have been a factor.

Neither the congressional inquiry nor the subsequent 9/11 Commission found any evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials knowingly supported those who orchestrated the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Roemer said many questions remain about the roles of Fahad al Thumairy, an official at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles who allegedly helped two of the hijackers find housing and transportation after they arrived in Southern California. Al Thumairy was later denied entry into the United States in May 2003 after the State Department alleged that he might be involved in terrorist activity. Roemer also wants to know more about Omar al Bayoumi, who was strongly suspected of being a Saudi spy and was alleged to have been helpful to the hijackers.

“We did not discover … Saudi government involvement at the highest level of the 9/11 attacks,” Roemer said. But he added: “We certainly did not exonerate the Saudis. … Saudi was a fertile ground for fundraising for al-Qaida. Some of these issues continue to be problems today. That’s why we need to continue to get to the bottom of this.”

Whatever the ’28 pages’ do reveal, however, I am sure they will not to throw any light onto the facts needed to answer the real questions: how did both of the twin towers collapse in exactly the same way as carefully demolished skyscrapers? Where did the plane go that was supposed to have hit the Pentagon? The hole was too small for it to have passed through and there was no debris from the aircraft left outside. And exactly where did UA93 go? If it flew into the supposed crash site, how was some debris allegedly found eight miles away? It just doesn’t add up.

Was flight 93 shot down? This has been denied but then it would be, wouldn’t it? Was the CIA or some other US government black-ops group involved? And, just how high up the chain of command was there knowledge of any covert US action? Did it reach the Commander-in-Chief in the Oval Office?



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Choosing the right wheelchair for your needs

invacare-mirage-396x266_edited product-list-xs2-alum-w300h330               Left, a standard non-folding electric wheelchair and, right, a self-propelling manual chair.

To walk no further than 10 to 15 yards, the way multiple sclerosis affects me means that a walking stick or a cane is required. At the end of that, I need to sit and take a break. And even that short distance cannot be repeated over and over again.

So, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that a wheelchair is required if I need to move any greater distance than those few yards. But choosing the right wheelchair is not as easy as it might first appear as the choice is enormous.

The choice is extremely personal as the chair must suit your own individual needs.

In my case, it started off with a self-propelled manual chair, the type with the large rear wheels that are designed to be pushed by the wheelchair user. However, there was a problem that really should have anticipated. Multiple sclerosis has taken away most of the strength and dexterity of the left side of my body and so using both hands to propel the wheelchair is impossible. Going around in left hand circles? No problem there. Going straight or turning right? Forget it.

So a manual chair, for me, means the presence of a carer – a role lovingly performed by my wife, Lisa, with no complaints. But independence? Forget it.

An electric wheelchair was suggested and freedom of movement and independence was restored. Well, restored  up to a point.

You see, using it from home is no problem but if you want to use it elsewhere the electric chair has to be loaded into a car and unloaded at the other end and visa versa for the return trip. And, because of its size, it won’t fit in a normal car. I have a seven-seater MPV (or minivan) to carry mine.

bpdp06 foldedNow, though, lightweight folding electric chairs have started to become more widely known and are a fraction of the weight of traditional models, can be folded in seconds with batteries still on board, and simply lifted in and out of a standard car.

They are just fantastic and I am looking forward to being able to get one.

bpdp06From checking out the market, I’d say that Better Products for Disabled People (BPDP) is offering one of the best deals at the moment. It has two chairs to choose between and many different colours. The prices are reasonable, with the smaller one at £1758.50 [GBP] (seat width 400mm, weight 25kg and capacity 120kg) and the larger one at £1938.51 (seat 480mm, weight 27kg and capacity 180kg) – and that includes free delivery anywhere in the world.





After PIP, second budget u-turn threatens Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne announced the 'under fire' academies plan in his budget in March.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the ‘under fire’ academies plan in his budget in March. Education secretary Nicky Morgan is on the far right of the picture.

First the UK government completes a massive u-turn in welfare benefit reform and now it looks as though it may have to complete another.

Having dropped (at least for the time being) the planned changes to the Personal Independence Payment, which would have left many people with disabilities far worse off financially, now it is having to reconsider its plans that all state schools will be required to become academies within six years.

Both the PIP changes and the schools to academies plan were part of George Osborne’s March seemingly ill-fated budget and a second u-turn would be seen as an embarrassment for him and is likely to add to calls to remove him from his position of chancellor of the exchequer.

However, a second u-turn is what the government is facing and may be forced to do – because of a backbench revolt of its own MPs.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Conservative backbenchers are calling for the policy to be dropped or at least amended to remove the part to force all state schools to become academies.

MPs have called on education secretary Nicky Morgan to ensure that the plans are not included in the Queen’s speech on May 18, following warnings from Conservative whips that they face inevitable defeat in the House of Commons. What’s more, she has been asked to appear before the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers with many of the party’s own MPs demanding that she goes back to the drawing board to avoid a parliamentary bloodbath.

With a majority of just 17 in the Commons, Tory whips believe legislation on ‘forced academisation’ would have no chance of passing through parliament unless the policy was watered down and the compulsory element removed, the Guardian added.

Since the academies plan was announced, Conservatives in local government, backed by MPs, have spoken out against what they say would be an unwanted and costly ‘top-down’ reorganisation of thousands of schools, including many judged as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

Speaking to the Observer newspaper, Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, said that there might be a place for limited legislation on aspects of school reform in the Queen’s speech – such as measures to help schools leave academy trusts they found unsatisfactory and to define more clearly the future role of local education authorities – but the element of compulsion should be dropped.

“Good academies can bring enormous benefits and it is right that we should be helping those that want to convert to do so but I hope the white paper will be adapted to reflect the need to support and ease the process, rather than impose the change in areas where schools are already performing very well,” he said.

Opponents of the plans complain that the white paper proposes that local councils would still be under a legal obligation to find places for all children in their areas, but would lack the power either to build new schools or force academies to expand in order to provide them. Many believe they will weaken the role of parent governors and put schools in the hands of remote, inexperienced new management.

Indeed, to add to the chancellor’s woes, the Conservative-dominated County Councils Network (CCN), which represents local authorities with education responsibilities, has said that the government’s new national funding formula for schools, coupled with plans to force them to become academies, could harm councils’ ability to support young children and those with the greatest need.

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Obama and Hillary both urge UK to stay in EU

obama uk hillary euPresident Obama and, possibly next US president, Hillary Clinton want the UK to remain in the EU.

No sooner had pro-Brexit campaigners labelled US President Barack Obama’s warning against the UK leaving Europe as the views of a ‘lame duck’ president than Democratic front-runner, and possibly next president, Hillary Clinton added her opinion. And she made it clear that if she enters the White House she will want the UK to be fully engaged, and leading the debate, within the EU.

Obama had warned that it could take up to 10 years for the UK to negotiate trade deals with the US if it leaves the EU. 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.”

Asked to explain, Obama said: “The UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU. We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market.”

Britain would also have less influence globally if it left, he added.

This brought about an angry response from the Leave campaign.

“This is really about a lame duck US president about to move off the stage doing an old British friend a favour,” said Justice Minister Dominic Raab.

And while it may be fairly safe to discount the views of any president in his last nine months in office, it may be unwise to ignore those of someone leading the chase to succeed him – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a statement to the Observer, her senior policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, said: “Hillary Clinton believes that transatlantic cooperation is essential, and that cooperation is strongest when Europe is united. She has always valued a strong United Kingdom in a strong EU. And she values a strong British voice in the EU.”

It has also been reported, apparently according to ‘sources close to the former secretary of state’s campaign’, that she stands fully behind Obama’s opposition to Brexit, which the president said on Friday would not only undermine the international institutions, including the EU, that had bound nations closer together since 1945, but would also mean the UK being at ‘the back of the queue’ when negotiating new trade deals.

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Crazy law to control use of public bathrooms


Discrimination is illegal throughout the majority of countries although there are notable exceptions. As an admittedly broad statement, discrimination is more likely in those places with poor records of human rights.

In general terms, it tends to be accepted that we must not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, physical size and so on.

But, and it is a big but, the United States of America falls down in the pursuit of everybody having equal opportunity and equal rights. And the reason for that is because each of the country’s 50 states can pass any law it likes as long as it does not contravene federal law or the constitution.

That is how the state of North Carolina now has a controversial and widely denounced new law relating to discrimination including the use of public restrooms or bathrooms.

An emergency session of North Carolina’s General Assembly passed the House Bill 2 (HB2) – or the ‘bathroom bill’ – on March 23 and Governor Pat McCrory signed it into law that same night.

It made the state’s law on antidiscrimination – which covers race, religion, national origin, color, age, biological sex and handicaps – the final word. Meaning cities and local governments can’t expand ‘employment’ or ‘public accommodations’ protections to others, such as on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Minimum wage also falls under the state’s antidiscrimination law, so this law means local governments aren’t able to set their own minimum wages beyond the state standard.

In reality, the ‘Bathroom Bill’ was designed to stop people of the LGBT communities from using bathrooms appropriate to their perceived gender. Instead, they are required to use those of their birth gender – although how that is to be enforced is not clear. Will everyone who appears to be a woman be required to prove they are physically a female, or show a birth certificate, before being allowed into a public bathroom? It is all too silly for words.

Now, the law is being challenged as being possibly unconstitutional and in contravention of federal anti-discrimination legislation. It’s a mess.

What is even more funny is that the new law is civil not criminal. There is no risk of arrest if someone ignores it.


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Let’s wait and see cause of Prince’s death


Natural News has added a very welcome voice of reason and calm to the possible cause of the sudden death of chart-topping rock music star Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson in June 1958.

While other websites, as well as some anti-vaccine campaigners, have actively promoted the theory that his death may have been the outcome of a vaccination, probably for flu, there seems to be absolutely no evidence to support this.

MikeAdamsWriting in Natural News, Mike Adams ‘the Health Ranger’, says:

Suspicion has been spreading across the ‘net that Prince, who died today, was killed by a flu shot. Specifically, the website is currently asking the question and pointing out that Prince suffered from epilepsy, a condition that can make flu shots more fatal. We Are Change has also picked up the story and is carrying it now.

As one of the most outspoken critics of vaccines, I’d like to politely chime in on this rumour and say that to my knowledge, there is no evidence whatsoever linking Prince’s death to a flu shot. These stories appear to be pure speculation. (And I say that as someone who likes both of those websites!)

What is true is that unwarranted claims of vaccine involvement stand the risk of doing more harm than good, leading to the possible ridicule of the anti-vaccine campaigners. Let’s just wait and see what caused Prince’s death.

Mike Adams continued:

Those of us who are rightly critical of vaccine safety have every reason to blame vaccines for the deaths of a great many people, but that does not give us justification to leap to the conclusion that a vaccine caused the death of Prince… especially when there is so far no evidence whatsoever of a vaccine having been administered to Prince.

Naturally, I understand the argument of those who are concerned, saying, “Well, they covered it up!” The history of vaccine propaganda is so full of cover-ups and deceptions that I fully understand people taking this stance by default, but in the absence of any real evidence of a vaccine being involved, it is a disservice to the vaccine truth movement to falsely blame vaccines for a death that was almost certainly caused by something else.

It is a fact that concerns about the safety of vaccines have existed for many years and that health authorities and the big pharmaceutical companies are ranged against the anti-vaxxers.

I, for one, don’t know who is right but I do know that making a claim that is not based on the facts, as they are known at the time, is likely to backfire and do more harm than good to the movement they are keen to support.


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Wheelchair partners – from ‘my rock’ to hard places

wheelchair young wheelchair mid

Wednesday’s question about staying with a partner who used a wheelchair was quite enlightening with a much greater response than expected. And, while the ‘research sample’ was not representative of society as a whole, it certainly brought out some personal tales of love and others of sadness.

I am not a researcher or a statistician so there will be no attempt to analyse the answers in terms of numbers. Detailed facts and figures are not what we need, it’s more an impression.

When looking towards the future, most people answered that they would stay but those that spoke from experience had both happy and sad stories to tell. Here are just a few:

Keith: My ex waited for my final diagnosis .. 34 years down the pan

Sarah: Damn right I would, I waited 29 years for my man, and I would never leave his side xx

KD: That’s a great question, because I’m the woman in the wheel chair, and had meets with my cane, and they told me they didn’t date women with canes…. I haven’t bothered to try and date now that my legs are going.

Simone: I would, but my ex-partner didn’t… 🙁

Helen: My husband is my rock since I becoming paralysed… If anything it has made our relationship stronger…

Jesse: My wife just left 2 months ago.


Karen: I have given my husband the option to leave on several occasions. so far he has stayed but I know he has considered leaving.

Antonio: 33 years she has stood by my side, led, had my back . . .she has pushed and pulled when we needed to. . . so I would without missing a heartbeat!!

Janice: Mine left me to fight this mostly alone except my Dad, Stepmother and Stepsister that isn’t including the dogs Including MY dog.

Tami: Many of you are VERY blessed! This is my 2nd marriage; I’m not sure if he’s on his way out or if I’m giving him the push that he needs to “go”… I just know that it’s happening because I can’t stand the thought of making him stay & I feel HE can’t stand the thought of having to stay – It sucks because I’m only 48 & I’m already seeing myself alone for the rest of my life – But it IS what it IS I suppose.

Jason: I’ve just started getting worse and using a cane 100% of the time now, my fiancé of 5yrs now decides this isn’t for her, she wants a man that can run with her…. It’s not easy trying to stay positive and keep fighting this Monster.

Dave: Mine kicked me out. “What good are you for me anymore?”

Sammi: When I was first diagnosed I thought my fiancé of 9 years would be with me still now but sadly 2 days later he ended our relationship which hit me really hard. But I then met someone else 6 years later who I had told from the start of our relationship and when I started worsening after 3 years together it happened all over again…we split just before our 4th year together and the utter feeling of sadness and stressing coz of it I ended up being in a wheelchair myself and now live alone!! With just my mum who’s my primary career and lives just round the corner, but I say it to her often that this is all round the wrong way it should be me looking after her not her looking after me!! But if I was with someone who was in a wheelchair I’d stay with them coz I’d see past the chair and see the person…. Sad it wasn’t that way for me and have lost faith that I would ever find that someone special who WOULD see past my chair.