The Bohemian Rhapsody Citizenship Test

(This blog appears a day later than planned). The Prime Minister proposed, a while ago, that foreigners take an oath for those who want to come to live and work in Britain.

Such an oath is designed to affirm a commitment to British values. There is a problem with this though: British values  remain somewhat elusive for a number of reasons.

Despite the mainstream media’s best efforts, many Britons, and many a foreigner moreso, are further aware that we have, shall we say, a bit of a history. This helps explain how we tend to stick to safe examples like World War Two – again without too many details.

To our disadvantage, because the vast majority of us have not been to public school, we have not been imbued with the automatic sense of privilege and understanding of what British values are, otherwise, we, like they, would be the embodiment of it.

But having a certain amount of insight and history as a nation, those moments of furiously waving the Union Jack around or planting flagpoles in our gardens, are few and far between.

The issue of immigration is a vexed one. Although the entire world population could possibly stand on the Isle of Wight, that doesn’t mean that they should, nor that they should come here to practise.

Nevertheless, there is no denying historically, that we have greatly benefitted from immigrant labour, whether in transport or the NHS and many other fields, and there’s every reason to believe we will continue to do so.

Due to its relentless pursuit by a largely rightwing mainstream media, immigration has too often been the top, or near top, issue in people’s minds at election times. This is almost universally presented as a negative for British society and so there is a major populist bridge to be crossed in order for people to appreciate a certain amount of immigration and to see this in a positive way.

Existing ideas of some points system, or yet more forms to fill in, or even an American style hand-on-heart oath before the Union Jack, are unlikely to satisfy this. Many would rightly ask, What good does that do? Scotland would scoff at this for a start.

So we need, preferably, a method to bridge this gap and quickly and clearly show a certain amount of worth on the part of the immigrant in question. It should have the value of being something popular and populist and be close to unassailable in its sense of a goal scored for those who pass the test.

It would have to be of such a fitting challenge, that the average pub devotee would be satisfied and say, That’s a hard challenge. If they pull it off, then yeah citizenship should be on offer. But it should be tough.

We propose, therefore, that a song be used for this purpose and that the song be the rock classic Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

Existing routes to citizenship can still be maintained but fastracking could be offered to those prepared to take the musical challenge.

Any average pub devotee would agree that a hard song, in English, would show a certain amount of commitment to our culture.

It could further be agreed to be videoed, for extra advantage, at the discretion of the judges.

The adjudicating panel, it is proposed, would be of three average Britons, to be selected online from those nominated within given areas.

We propose that would-be citizens sing Bohemian Rhapsody to three judges. This sounds a bit X-Factor but it doesn’t have to be recorded, unless the applicant wishes so, for a certain amount of allowance from the judges, and can remain private.

The judges would assess the level of performance of the applicant and award or deny citizenship accordingly.

The choice of Queen, of course, goes way back in British history, to the 1970s. Rumour had it at the time, and arguably since, that any given cassette tape left in a car player would morph, over time, into Queen’s Greatest Hits.

It’s further only right that Bohemian Rhapsody be recognised as predominantly a male song, but this may in turn also reflect the extent to which resistance to immigrants is led by male citizens.

The Rhapsody, indeed, is a challenge. Long term effects would be to introduce the applicant to a large amount of British culture, including humour and Pythonesque wackiness, as well as the ability to fit themselves to the challenging lyrics.

Controversially, “Put a gun against his head, pulled the trigger” – this warns and allows applicants to appreciate a certain amount of bullishness present in UK culture. In addition, because of this infrequently acknowledged threat, it would not be appropriate to introduce the general ownership of guns, as favoured in some political circles. This would unconscionably be asking for trouble.

It is hoped, being a challenging task, a renewed amount of respect for new citizens may be expected among existing Britons. Indeed new citizens may be sought after for karaokes and for parties in the interests of impressing those present.

Equally a female option should be made available, and we recommend Best Friends from the same CD. This song is often under-rated but may appeal appropriately to the female spirit and would be good to be heard nationally on a regular basis.

Queen, of course, has royal overtones, of instant value reflecting British attachment to the Royal Family. The supergroup, also, was fronted by a raving but macho queen who shot to great fame across the country, and is still highly regarded by the generation most likely to form the judges panel. Some applicants may find it difficult to sing in such circumstance; this will be to their disadvantage.

Similarly, “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me”, would likely be unacceptable to fundamentalists to voice. In which case, tough.

In order not to be accused of cantorism, special dispensation may be offered to those who cannot sing, but who may be able to play rock guitar to the required standard, again at the judges’ discretion.

The citizenship challenge would underscore for applicants how much rock music and performance play in British life. TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor are remarkably popular and thus the culture made more accessible for those who pass the ordeal.

Accomplishments such as this would ensure that Britain does indeed have talent for a generation to come.

Other dispensations may include reciting, accurately and with feeling, certain scenes from British culture, such as excerpts from the Life of Brian, the Monty Python Parrot Sketch, or chosen texts from Blackadder, all at the judges’ discretion.

The benefits of this challenge cannot be over-stated as it will revolutionise how immigrants are viewed by citizens and equally disempower a vicious rightwing media and their camp.

We feel sure it will be readily appreciated how valuable this will be for the country as a whole, unifying and building for a brighter future.

What Alan Johnson’s fluoride ‘Conversation’ won’t tell you.

Alan Johnson and the fluoridators have a problem. There are two famous fluoride reports. Both DON’T SAY fluoride is categorically good for children’s teeth – which is what Johnson & Co are saying.

I was on BBC Humberside this morning to talk fluoride. As I sat down with the presenter, Stuck in the Middle With You was playing. We greeted each other and chatted about the subject before air. Alan Johnson’s piece had said fluoride is not toxic. So I mentioned the toxicity of what they use to fluoridate (HFSA, hexafluorosilicic acid).

He hit the keyboard and searched HFSA – and got the American Heart Foundation! I suggested he add LD50 to the search. (Lethal Dose 50 is the measure for how much of a substance needs to be ingested before it would kill half the subjects. It’s usually done on guinea pigs and rats. The results differ a lot, but that’s another issue. Wiki gives 430mg / kg for rats. So if I’m 76 kilos, 430mg x76=32680, or 33 grams. Ie, an ounce might kill me, presuming I’m about as susceptible as a rat).

Alan Johnson and the fluoridators have a problem. There are two famous fluoride reports. Both DON’T SAY fluoride is categorically good for children’s teeth – which is what Johnson & Co are saying.

The York Review (CRD, 2000) looked at over 700 studies on fluoridated water supplies. In brief it said the evidence isn’t good enough to conclude that fluoridation works. That’s 17 years ago now!

The Cochrane Report (2015) looked at 20 fluoridation studies – these showed substantial benefit for children. But – they make sure to tell us 70% of those studies happened pre-1975 and deliberately note:  These results are based predominantly on old studies and may not be applicable today.

This is important because over ALL this time, dental health has IMPROVED EVERYWHERE – the world, Europe’s countries, our region, and Hull itself – REGARDLESS of whether an area is fluoridated or not! Only 10% of Britain is fluoridated – all in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all rejected it.  Despite a number of countries fluoridating – most of the world doesn’t, usually having deliberately decided not to, maybe 95%.

We’re trying to be really respectful of the science here – and what these two reports say has to be acknowledged before proper debate can take place.

Sunday’s ‘debate’ led by Alan Johnson MP, isn’t a debate. It’s even advertised as a “Conversation”. There’s an important difference – none of us were invited. There are plenty of dissenting scientists around the country. Prof Stephen Peckham is one – University of Kent, and his recent research showed a link between a high incidence of hypothyroidism in a fluoridated area (West Midlands), compared to a non-fluoridated area. On dental health, you can cherry-pick data to show whichever side of the argument you want. The York Review shows us that the case FOR is NOT proven. The Cochrane Report says the good evidence is 40 years and more older and may not apply now. We agree.

(Among the dental professionals speaking, is Dr John Beal. It hasn’t been mentioned yet but he is also the Chair of the BFS, the British Fluoridation Society. He has been since 1991. )

Recent figures (graph below) used to shock and horrify us include the 43% claim for Hull’s toddler teeth having cavities. But if you look at the figures, you can first see that Hull and other authorities are much of a muchness in the poorer half of the region when it comes to dental health. You should also muse about whether it’s actually a lot more or lot less (more likely) than 43%. The error bars at the top of each bar indicate where the real number probably lies. 43% is only the middle value. So the data is not accurate enough, and may well be lower anyway.

epi-yh-08-12-percent

Below (blog) you will find data for recent hospital extractions across the country. In this region, Hull does particularly well. The Hull Dental Needs document gives figures for Hull and comparable towns (p.53) for 0-19 years hospital admissions for teeth extraction. According to their own figures, 100% fluoridated Wolverhampton (pop. 250k) is over 2x as high as Hull per 100,000 of the population. And Wolverhampton has been fluoridated since the 60s.

An recent  article in the Birmingham Mail noted there were 1,464 hospital admissions for teeth extractions for children in 2015/16, in one of the three health authorities in the city. This was up from 795 in 2014/15. This in Birmingham (pop. 1m) which has been fluoridated since 1962.

There isn’t enough good evidence that fluoridation would be effective today. Dental health is improving anyway. There are other things we can do.

Finally, the one chart that makes the case. Dramatic improvements in dental health everywhere since the 70s, with fluoride making no difference.

fluoride-who-dmft

Hospital Dental Extractions 2016

In 2015-2016, there were 187 hospital dental extractions in Hull – and 169 in the East Riding. The righthand table here shows the % of the age population that have hospital extractions. Here you can see Hull is the lowest in the region.

Hospital Dental Extractinos 2016, FCEs

If we focus on extractions primarily for caries (bad teeth), we get lower figures. You can see again that Hull scores well in the region. (The * means 6 or less extractions).

Hospital Dental Extractions, Caries 2016, FCEs

If we look at older figures, we can see, there were 220 extractions (for caries??) 3 years ago. If we use this figure, by 2016 there are 15% fewer extractions, a regular 5% a year improvement (without any fluoridation, of course).

Hospital Dental Extractions 2012-13

OECD Study – dental health, 2015

This recent OECD data shows Britain to be among the best in the world for dental health. It would be nice to see America, like Denmark, producing annual data. Especially since it’s the lead fluoridator. similarly Ireland which has fluoridated since 1970 (but which now lags behind EU dental health). Ie, fluoridation isn’t a magic bullet.

oecd1

oecd2

oecd3

Attack on democracy? Not so much.

The “Attack on Democracy” meme being pushed on the March 22nd attacks is an emotive and clever one but not accurate. It makes you think this violent guy Masood targeted all of us or our whole Parliament. Not true. His targets were random, unlike say, Thomas Mair who full-mindedly targeted Jo Cox MP. It could have been anyone from any country who fell victim, or any one of a number of police officers on site. Indeed it could have been a MP too, but it wasn’t. Calling some random attack an ‘attack on democracy’ only serves to prepare you for the next idea – that our democracy is being attacked by terrorists. But it isn’t. What would a real attack on democracy look like?

Westminster refuses to entertain the idea of Proportional Representation, like we’ve use for the EU. We could call that an attack on democracy in a much more meaningful way. Thus our MPs are dedicated to a system which keeps either major party in power, with only small deviations such as the odd coalition. PR would undoubtedly give us a more representative Parliament but it’s routinely attacked. The chronic underfunding and reorganising of the NHS  is something the vast majority of us don’t want either! Another attack on democracy.

On the same day 4 people were murdered at Westminster, the government put pensions up to age 70. Other policies have meant thousands of disabled people dying, a large number the DWP even admits to due to benefit cuts, so their complicit, excess winter deaths go on too, 40,000 deaths last winter, yet the attack on the “green crap” continues, meaning the elderly will be more at risk from ‘heating or eating’ in their own homes. We’ve got this for at least 3 more years. These are all attacks on large numbers of people in this country – and which the vast majority would want to see an end to.

Surely the most terrorist government though should include those we actively kill abroad. It’s hard to compete with the terror of Blair’s war, a million dead in Iraq, 2 million dead from sanctions enforced by us.

Even on the same day as M22, 24 people died in a car bomb in Iraq and over 200 civilians bombed by US and UK planes bombing Mosul. These wouldn’t have happened but for our 2003 destruction of Iraq. Our democracy was really attacked that time. 70% of people were against war and Britain’s biggest ever demo underlined it. Labour leader Ed Miliband called it a mistake – but that was just another lie. Iraq wasn’t a mistake. It was cold calculated policy, first to get the UK people onside, and to create and promote intelligence to justify war. The destruction of Iraq lay the seeds for Isis. The attack on Syria never became a British war because MPs were forced to back down after the debacle of Iraq.

But the full story on Syria is far from out either, with all but certain involvement of our intelligence services undermining the country. Corbyn apologised for Iraq and said the decision-makers should face consequences. But instead of that happening, there is a huge propaganda war against him. At a time when he was returned resoundingly as Labour leader, of Europe’s biggest political party, the media is part of a large-scale attack on democracy too. It’s very uncertain that this man of sound morals and integrity will get into power, and undo the social damage of successive Tory administrations. He certainly won’t undo the deaths – which make those of M22 pale by comparison.

“Attack on democracy” is inaccurate. On Parliament maybe, if he could have got there, or had bigger weapons! Democracy makes it sound like it’s all of us. It’s not. It’s not the people who stood up against the Iraq war. It’s not those who campaign daily to keep the NHS, or those who campaign to save the lives government policy is determined to end.

There are plenty of issues where Parliament and democracy are at odds. There is no-one in Parliament I have ever voted for. There is one Green. There is one Ukip – how many would we have in a fair system? We don’t know the motives yet of the M22 murderer – but we can guess. It’s reasonable to presume that had we not gone to war on Iraq, killing over a million, had we not joined in bombing Libya, with 30,000 NATO bombing deaths, had we not been cheerleaders for regime change in Syria – and doubtless covert actors arming and funding and training the rebels, including the most vicious – had we not been busy demonising Muslims for 16 years, then M22 wouldn’t have happened, and we might possibly be regarded as a nation of peace by other states.

But then there’s the arms trade we pursue, the vicious regimes we arm, like Saudi Arabia, who we also helped chair the UN Human Rights panel despite its atrocious record, our arming of Israel, who we moan about at the UN but nowhere else, and our ever-ready sabre-rattling against whoever the US wants us to. The consequences this century have already been dreadful enough. But the continuing demonisation of Russia shows it’s far from over.

Do we want a war with Russia? NO! So the demonisation of Russia becomes yet another attack on democracy. Will the UK government and the mainstream media stop attacking democracy and start helping to build a nation people really want?

Russia didn’t do it!

The wrong candidate won but blaming Russia could have far-reaching consequences.
 
When the leaked real DNC emails revealed damaging information about her, blaming Russia was the best idea the Clinton campaign could come up with. Assange and Wikileaks say it’s nothing to do with Russia – and they should know, they got the leaks!
But the CIA today joining in blaming Russia will only heighten tensions that could lead to world war – maybe over the flashpoint which is Syria, where Russia is (legally) an ally of Assad, or on its own borders, where NATO is running exercises with about 300,000 troops – sparking a similar build-up of troops on the Russian side.
But this all started off as ‘change the story’ PR. Clinton was in trouble when the leaks happened because they showed her to be an absolute warmonger – and therefore a shoe-in as president! – as long as she could be sold to the public. But the public bought the other guy. The anti-establishment establishment one.
To any right thinking person, the emails were damaging. So what do you do? Change the story – make it that the Russians had hacked the DNC. Now it becomes a kneejerk national security issue – which Clinton can then sound tough on. Trump less so, since he’s said some nice things about Putin – thus it’s a veiled attack on Trump too.
ALL THIS is highly likely to have been thought out in advance by the PR guys around Clinton. Now the establishment is miffed because their preferred candidate lost – just look at the huge amount of positive media coverage Clinton got in advance of the election compared to Trump.
But how far will this intelligence-driven non-story get?
Craig Murray is on the money (1). The Russians had nothing to do with it. Insiders troubled by Clinton’s dealings leaked her (illegal) private server to wikileaks. Julian Assange is hounded by the US government precisely because when their secrets get out, especially about the Middle East, it puts them in a bad light!
Question is, how far will they go? Is there enough CIA and elite animosity towards Trump to get a political coup in their own country? This guy who convincingly won across the electoral college. As sour grapes go though, this is quite serious.
After all, the CIA has conducted coups in far more countries.
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Martin Deane
Hull and East Riding Green Party

Egyptian MP: Cut women because of men’s weakness.

Elhamy Agina's profile photoElhamy Agina. Precisely how nutty is this Egyptian MP? Don’t get me wrong – We’re familiar with nutty politicians – we’ve got our own in the news today describing what “real men’s” jobs are!

But this, rightly incendiary, Inde story reports a politician explaining why FGM must continue – despite being illegal in Egypt. His exposition is that it’s mainly to do with weak men and poorly controlled male sexuality. This is equally nutty and irresponsible and it’s certainly not taught by Islam.

But then you read that 90% of Egyptian women are FGM’d. So instead of being a nut, the Egyptian MP becomes a representative of the people (despite or including his obvious male, patriarchal attitudes).

The BBC also reports: “MP Ilhami Agina responded by saying FGM was needed in order to reduce women’s sexual appetite, to match Egypt’s men.” So he’s saying, let’s reduce whatever female sexual desire because “We are a population whose men suffer from sexual weakness”. So the practice of FGM means men are tempted less. It would be interesting to hear from Egypt’s females.

FGM is female genital mutilation where the clitoris or sometimes the entire exterior genitals are removed with a razor.

The trouble is, this is not the half of it. FGM is something practiced right across Africa in 28 of its 53 countries. It has a long tribal tradition and is clearly something which happens in different forms across the continent.

Jomo Kenyatta, once president of Kenya, explains the tradition of FGM saying that,
“The operation is (still) regarded as the very essence of an institution which has enormous educational, social, moral and religious implications, quite apart from the operation itself. For the present it is impossible for a member of the tribe to imagine an initiation without clitordectomy (FGM). Therefore, the abolition of the surgical element in this custom means to the Gikuyu the abolition of the whole institution.”

This gets to the core of it. It’s an essential part of your tribal definition, as a woman. It’s a teenage rite of passage to adulthood. We don’t have that here. There’s almost nothing we can compare it too. Our male tribalism is confined to which football team you support! Or what political party! Or a kneejerk patriotism whenever our country goes to war on another.What else? Your first sex? Passing your driving test? There’s no comparison.

And it’s not as if women didn’t have enough to put up with in the normal scheme of bodily processes either.

I remain amazed that Egypt, surely one of Africa’s more progressive countries, has a FGM rate of 90%. The same Inde article announces 1242 new cases of FGM in the UK in the first 3 months of this year. If this is still done here for tribal reasons – what is the male equivalent? What torture or mutilation do the teenage boys go through?

Egypt has raised sentencing for FGM to 5-7 years for perpetrators.

It’s time to put these negative tribal practices behind us, as a species.