Guardian Unlimited OnLine May 25 2007
Government knew of HIV risk from imported blood
May 25 2007
The government's advisers on medicine knew that patients were at risk of contracting Aids from imported blood products as early as 1983, but ruled against a ban because of fears it would cause a shortage of supply.
Minutes obtained by the Guardian of a meeting held on July 13 1983 reveal that the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) knew that "patients who repeatedly receive blood clotting-factor concentrates appear to be at risk" of Aids.
They also knew that the risks were highest if the blood products came "from the blood of homosexual and IV drug users in areas of high incidence - eg New York and California" and for those who repeatedly received high doses of the blood plasma products. Despite this, the committee ruled that the risk of contracting Aids had to be balanced against the "life-saving" benefits of their use to haemophiliacs. They also argued that withdrawing the blood products was "not feasible on the grounds of supply".
British patients with the rare inherited condition in which blood does not clot normally were not told of the risks. Critics say they would have preferred to carry on receiving their previous treatment, called cryoprecipitate, manufactured in the UK from single donors, even though it meant going to hospital.
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Times OnLine May 25 2007
Zero – the new alcohol limit in pregnancy May 25 2007
Rosemary Bennett, Social Affairs Correspondent
Women who are pregnant or trying for a baby should stop drinking alcohol altogether, the Government’s leading doctors give warning today.
The new advice radically revises existing guidelines, which say that women can drink up to two units once or twice a week. Fiona Adshead, the deputy chief medical officer, said that the change was meant to send “a strong signal” to the thousands of women who drank more than the recommended limit that they were putting their babies at risk. But she admitted that it was not in response to any new medical evidence.
Women are often confused about what drinking in moderation really means, the new guidelines say, and surveys suggest that many accidently or deliberately exceed the limit. “Our advice is simple: avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive,” Dr Adshead said. “We have strengthened our advice to women to help ensure that no one underestimates the risk to the foetus.”
She suggested that bottles of beer, wines and spirits should carry the new warning that pregnant women give up drinking. However, it emerged yesterday that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists intended to stick with its advice that moderate drinking was perfectly safe, which could leave many pregnant women confused. The college said that it would examine the new advice and decide whether to adopt it “in due course”.
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Independent OnLine 'Indy' News May 25 2007
The green house effect: Eco-houses get closer May 25 2007
The home of the future will be kind to the environment. This week ministers laid the foundations
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
The Eco-House, the one which doesn't damage the planet with its profligate energy use, has just got closer.
Not as imminent as it needs to be. But after three big sets of government proposals in the space of four days, the road to the energy-saving home which is sustainable as well as comfortable is certainly clearer than it was.
White Papers on planning and energy (plus a new strategy for waste disposal) have this week all set out ways of making Britain's housing stock much more environmentally friendly.
Not before time. Although most of the attention in the fight against climate change is focused on greenhouse gas emissions from power stations, motor vehicles and aircraft, emissions from buildings are hugely significant - as the Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, is constantly keen to point out.
Just look at the figures. Britain's emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal gas causing global warming, were 152 million tonnes (expressed as millions of tonnes of carbon, mtC) in 2004, and of this, emissions from the domestic building stock were 41.7mtC - no less than 27 per cent of the total.
Most of that energy goes on heating water and heating space. (For the record, 53 per cent goes on space heating, 20 per cent on water heating, 16 per cent to power appliances such as computers and televisions, 6 per cent on lighting and 5 per cent on cooking.)
But much of that can be cut right back - as of course it will have to be if the Government is to meet its climate change target of slashing UK carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.
It can be done in two ways - by energy-saving measures in the home, and also by decentralising the electricity supply system so that power is generated locally, on a small scale, rather than at a huge power station far away, which wastes much of the energy it produces in transmission. In some places this has produced astonishing results: Woking in Surrey reduced its carbon emissions by 77.4 per cent between 1992 and 2004.
Local generation may take place in a miniature power station serving a small community, but taken to its logical conclusion, you can do it in your own home, with solar panels on your roof or even a mini-wind turbine à la David Cameron. This is known as "microgeneration".
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BBC OnLine News May 25 2007
Congress backs Iraq funding bill May 25 2007
Both houses of the US Congress have passed a bill allocating $100bn of new funding for the Iraq war.
The House of Representatives voted in favour of the bill, and the Senate approved it shortly afterwards.
Earlier President George W Bush praised the bill, a compromise measure between Republicans and Democrats which has no timetable for a US troop withdrawal.
The deal ended months of wrangling over demands by Democrats, who control Congress, for checks on Iraq funding.
Democrats had wanted timetables for withdrawal built into any funding bill, but those conditions prompted Mr Bush to veto earlier legislation.
BBC OnLine Full Story
BBC OnLine History May 25 2007
May 25 1982: Dozens killed as Argentines hit British ships
Dozens of men are feared dead in the seas around the Falkland Islands after the container ship Atlantic Conveyor and the destroyer HMS Coventry were hit by Argentine missiles.
HMS Coventry managed to destroy two Argentine Skyhawk planes with Sea Dart missiles. Another wave of Skyhawks hit her four times with 1,000 bombs. She capsized, losing 21 of her crew.
An explosion and a fireball swept through the operations room. The ship listed to port and the crew and wounded made their way to the upper decks from where they were rescued.
It is thought the Atlantic Conveyor, owned by Cunard, was mistaken for the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.
She was attacked by two Super Etendards which fired French-built Exocets like the ones that sunk the Coventry's sister ship HMS Sheffield on 4 May.
One of the eight men still unaccounted for on the container ship is her master, Captain Ian North.
Bill Slater, Managing Director of Cunard, said he was a "remarkable man... very well known in the industry generally and this is typified by the messages of sympathy we've received from all over the world".
Two Exocets were fired at the Atlantic Conveyor.
Only one struck home but it was enough to damage the ship seriously.
BBC OnLine Full Story