Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The American Healthcare Reform Bill: Matters Arising!

The United States of America is going through a very difficult trial at the moment and the whole world is watching with interest to see how they are going to resolve the uphill task. In fact the successful resolution of this trial would be the final nail on the coffin of racism and an ample opportunity for the United States to prove to the rest of the world that it is indeed the citadel of egalitarianism, parity, equal opportunity and impartiality and that democracy is a form of government worthy of emulation.

The morality of the United States has been in recession since the beginning of the 20th century and that recession took a nose dive from the early 1920s during the height of racism; however the good news is that from the 1960s the recession began to change and what actually brought about that change was a fierce and furious struggle put up by the American civil rights movement and campaigners who stood up in unison to challenge the evil of racism in a country that claims to be the embodiment of democracy and a ‘nation under God’. Sounds like evil and wickedness in the name of God!

That civil right movement produced a lot of fruits but not without bitter consequences. Many of the activists were falsely charged with phantom allegations and made to spend most of their life in the prison. Many were lynched, bombed and murdered. They witnessed horrors that have never been imagined by human mind. In fact what they went through would make the Nazi anti-Semitic ideology seem like a child’s play. The idea of going to the same school, church or entering the same bus with their fellow whites was something that was impossible. The apartheid regime of South Africa was very humane compared to the environment they lived in. The climax of the whole evil was the brutal assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr, a great apostle of dialogue, non-violence, civil rights movement and equality of all before the law.

As noted at the outset, the freedom the blacks and other minorities are taking for granted today actually began with the civil rights movement that reached its height in the 1960s and of course with the death of Martin Luther King Jnr. Today most Americans especially the blacks have so quickly forgotten what their fathers went through to guarantee the joy, equality and freedom they are taking for granted today. They may not have known the level and depth of sacrifice their fathers made to ensure that they are equal under the law with others in this ‘nation under God’.

It is therefore sad that despite all these achievements, one great hurdle is threatening to undo the gains achieved so far. Despite the fact that an average American especially white Americans would pretend that racism does not exist anymore in America, the fact remains intact that America is still deeply entrenched in the evil of racism. In fact racism is still breathing and kicking in the United States of America and this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you look from the surface you may not see it but take a look twice, the United States of America smells of racism and it is quite unfortunate that a country that is God-centric and democratic and wants to impose that democracy on all of us, could still be so racist even in the 21st century. That hurts and it hurts painfully. Maybe it is time to remind America that we have come too far to arrive in 2009.

One of the evils of American racism that is likely to live with them for ages is the fact that it polarised America into two groups; the haves and have-nots. Simply put the rich and the poor or the bourgeois and the proletariats. The rich are very rich and keep on getting rich on daily basis while the poor are poor and keep getting poorer. The reason for that is simple. Those who are rich inherited their riches from their fathers and that continuity ensures that they are going to be rich forever. Most of them had their riches when America was still structured in such a way that access to wealth is allowed only to them while those who are poor and getting poorer had never from day one had the same and equal opportunity to compete and amass wealth like their rich counterpart.

How could they when they were not even allowed to own properties, go to school, vote, form associations and things like that could have propelled their financial opportunity and make them financially viable and equal today with their rich counterpart. In fact everything was to their disadvantage until the onset of the civil rights movement and consequent ‘equality’ that followed it. But even at that, things have not been easy for these poors. In terms of unemployment, the poors are still bearing the highest brunt and even when the job is there and despite their intimidating qualifications, they are not allowed to get the job or reach the highest echelon of their profession. They are not reckoned with. In fact they cannot get that job because they are not supposed. They do not belong to the mainstream white-dominated America and do not belong to the super race and things like that. They are simply not considered good enough to get a good job and compete with their counterparts from the rich background. The white Americans may not agree with this but it is innate in them.

The rich are the whites and the poors are the blacks as well as the Latinos. In fact mainly the blacks. The blacks in America have gone through hell all these years for a fault that is not theirs and the ugly fact that this type of thing could take place in that ‘one nation under God’ is still a mystery beyond human comprehension. It is against this backdrop that the world finds it difficult to believe and views it with utmost suspicion when America begins her rhetoric and jibe of being the citadel of democracy and wanting to export same to the whole world. The whole world wants democracy but if it comes to the one lacking egalitarianism of all under the law, equal access to employment, health care and other elements and fruits of democracy, we do not want it.

Against the backdrop of the above argument, one could easily understand the angle of the ongoing health care politics in America at the moment. It is such a very serious and thorny issue that white Americans actually brought loaded guns with them to town hall meetings being addressed by President Barack Obama citing the Second Amendment which protects the right to own and bear arms.

Prior to the introduction of this Obama’s healthcare bill, Americans do not have equal access to health care with the result that those who have access have advantage of better health care and longevity compared to those who have none. As I said earlier, those who have this advantage are mainly whites while the blacks and other minorities bear the brunt of the injustice. The status quo ante is what Obama wants to change for as a constitutional lawyer and professor of law, he is a firm believer in the fact that health is a fundamental human right issue and that everybody should be given equal access to the health care as obtained elsewhere especially in Europe.

For instance in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Ireland, everybody has equal access to the health care which is managed by the National Health Services. Under this system, there is no discrimination in the guise of finance in accessing the health care because everybody is simply covered.

Before an individual starts work in the United Kingdom, he is expected to have a National Insurance Number, the equivalent of the American Social Security Number. It is with this number that he is allowed access to state benefits including health care. The meaning is that if you do not have the National Insurance Number, you are very less likely to have access to the health care. It is also with this National Insurance Number that individuals contribute to the upkeep of the service. In fact each week or month, the wages and salaries of workers are deducted as tax and National Insurance. The money deducted from this National Insurance forms the majority of what goes to finance the National Health Service, unemployment benefits and state pensions and others.

The good side of the UK model is that no one is left behind or denied health care because of his social status. Everybody has equal access to the health care and nobody has an edge over others; they are all equal when it comes to the health care and the type of care the Queen receives is the same a homeless man somewhere in Peckham receives. With this method, there is no draining of the pocket of individuals simply because they are compulsorily insured by the state healthwise. Individuals are not expected to pay for healthcare from their purse, however there are some health services, they must pay for with their money if they decide to take advantage of that. Luxury health care services like plastic surgery must be paid for by the individuals. In fact the UK model is the best and is worthy of emulation by others including America.

I am therefore flabbergasted that Americans who have no universal health coverage could dare to criticise the UK NHS despite the good work they have been doing for over sixty years now. For us in the United Kingdom, it has been over 60 years of non-stop saving of lives, bettering the health of the nation and eradicating diseases. NHS has simply done a lot and is worthy of praises and Sarah Pallin should be aware of this. She has no moral audacity to criticise the NHS since she is not only a political failure but a coward who resigned her position as the Governor of Alaska instead of facing the challenges before her. How then can she criticise the NHS, when she is unable to do a little job entrusted unto her with confidence by the people of Alaska. She abandoned her state and her people in the heat of recession when they needed her the most.

The United States should therefore think NHS and adopt it and the reason why it should be adopted by America is because of what happens in my own country, Nigeria. Due to corruption and despite her quantum mineral resources, Nigeria is still listed as a poor country. Majority of Nigerians live in abject poverty and ignorance of their rights. In fact it is only about 5% of the 145 million population that is aware that health care is a right they are entitled to. In Nigeria there is no provision of any type to cater for the health of the people. Individuals are expected to dip into their pockets to pay for their health care which is often inaccessible and exorbitant where accessible.

The Nigerian health sector is basically divided into three sections of the primary, secondary and tertiary health care sectors. The primary health care sector is the sector that is supposed to be nearer to the people and should be the first point of call for them when they have any problem. And if that problem could not be handled by the sector, it has to be referred to the secondary health care sector which in Nigeria is either General Hospitals or Federal Medical Centres. In extreme and rare cases, if the illness is not rectified, it has to be referred to the tertiary health sector which is teaching hospitals and research institutes attached to universities.

In all these journeys, individuals are expected to pay from their pocket. The state is not and never involved. Even the ambulance services and in fact everything has to be paid for by the individual and the consequence of this is that it leaves the individual poorer than he was before coming into contact with the health care system. And if he is poor, it means no health care! This is not a good development and this type of scenario is replicated in most developing countries and it is basically because of this that these countries bear the highest brunt of world diseases and illness and languishes in poverty and misery.

In these countries, health care is only given to those who can afford it by the private sector while corrupt politicians simply steal the state money and travel abroad for health care where they are well received and taken care of without questions being asked as to how they are able to raise the money for the journey and treatment or why they cannot go for the treatment in their own country or even be forced to go back with the money and invest it in their country health care system.

Now let us go back to the American system. Putting into consideration what I said at the outset, am sure you are able to follow me now. In America, the health care is an individual affair. You are expected to cater for your own health care and the meaning is that you are more likely to take care of yours if you are rich and less likely if your are poor and as I also noted earlier, the rich are more likely to be whites and the poor are more likely to be blacks and other minorities. Another option of being covered health wise in America is through contribution in the work place. This is a situation where employees salaries or wages are deducted by their employers to cater for their health care but as I noted earlier, when majority of those on unemployment are blacks and minorities, how then can they be assured of health care cover?

It is basically these dilemmas that pricked the conscience of President Barack Obama into pushing this universal health coverage so that all Americans irrespective of sex, religion, status etc would have same and equal access to health care. It is this noble idea that advantaged Americans are fighting tooth and nail to thwart. Those who have access to health care have been fighting to retain and maintain the status quo ante simply because they are rich and can afford it without bordering about what happens to millions of others who cannot afford it due to poverty and other disadvantages imposed on them by those who have. Interestingly, the conscience of these people of ‘one nation under God’ is not even questioning them and telling them how evil their fight to exclude their brothers from the advantage they are enjoying could be.

These are people who go to church every Sunday with big Bibles capable of scaring away Goliath and who profess Jesus Christ every now and then and yet find it difficult to see reason in accommodating and tolerating their fellow Americans on an issue that centres on human life.

The fact is that the world is evolving, moving and changing very fast and America has no other option but to join the band wagon. We do not live anymore in the 1920s or 1960s; am sure we have come a long way out of that and for privileged Americans to keep fighting and blocking this laudable decision, would be not in the interest of democracy but obviously against it. Democracy thrives when people are equal before the law in all aspects. For a group to be placed on higher pedestal compared to others is not in the spirit of democracy and obviously a sign of selfishness, idiocy and non-challant attitude towards the plight of others and a smack on the biblical injunction for us to be our brother’s keeper.

Americans should know that the whole world is watching them. She invaded Iraq and Afghanistan due to the need to give them democracy and has been fighting to install same democracy in Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe but it would end up being ridiculous if America continues to fight this health care reform bill in her own backyard while fighting tooth and nail to impose democracy on the rest of us. Charity begins at home and America must teach others that charity does not only begin at home but that there is also a virtue in democracy, equality and especially equality in access to health care which is a fundamental human right.

America we are watching you and what happens next maybe the strengthening or collapse of democracy in different parts of the world that look up to you as a model and we are going to hold you responsible if democracy dies.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

This Morning A Policeman Saved My Life!

The value of life is never appreciated until we have an encounter that will change our whole perception about it. A healthy man does not know how lucky he is until he falls sick or encounters those with terminal illnesses. Daily, we are bombarded with stories of people suffering from terminal cancer, Alzheimer, sickle cell, multiple sclerosis and many other illnesses that are very difficult to manage.

Despite these encounters we may have had, most of us have not taken the time to reflect on the gift of life and how valuable that life could be. Life is good and life could be sweet. Clubbing day and night, having sex, eating, laughing, drinking, having a party and dancing; all these could make life very sweet and give us that sense of hedonistic satisfaction and the epicurean feeling that we are enjoying life. But how many times have we taken the time to reflect on that life and what is going to happen if something suddenly goes wrong with that life.

We have all had an encounter that really changed our life in one way or the other. It could have been a big or a small encounter but they were capable of touching or changing one’s life. In fact there are many motivational books out there on how one’s life was spiralling upwards or heading downwards and suddenly he encountered this experience and all that changed his life. We have all had ours and I think I had mine today. It may not be a big one but this should be able to put me in the mood for reflection otherwise I am an ignorant and stupid idiot.

This morning at about 4:30 am, I was on my way to Chelsea and of course with my bike. Usually, early morning in London is cold and as a biker the only way to overcome that cold weather is to pedal and ride fast. Pedalling and ridding fast increases the body metabolism, releases heat from inside to ensure that the temperature inside and the one outside is at equilibrium. That way you are able to beat the cold weather.

That was exactly what I was doing this morning at a speed that could scare Goliath and give Swine Flu, Tuberculosis and Cerebral Spinal Meningitis combined to the whole of United Kingdom. In fact the speed was so fast and furious that I was not even able to hear the songs blasting from my iPod. In actually fact the use of my iPod while biking contributes a lot to my speed.

The meaning of this is that in biking there is a correlation between music and speed and that could not be just dangerous but very dangerous. I am guilty of this. In fact, I cannot see myself biking without my iPod. Part of the reason for that is that for me to get to Chelsea from Walworth near Peckham, I will have to do 16 miles of biking and the use of my iPod goes a long way in helping me to achieve this goal and on time.

From this explanation, am sure you are now able to understand, the mood I was in this morning. Usually I have an option of taking two routes to get from Walworth to Chelsea and both of them take me roughly the same time. The first route takes me from Walworth to Camberwell Green junction and then to Oval. From Oval I will head straight to Vauxhall, then onto the Vauxhall Bridge passing the M16 Building and then take my left into Chelsea. The other option is going from Walworth to Elephant and Castle and from there to Oxford Circus and then to Piccadilly Circus. From Piccadilly Circus, I will ride straight on to Hyde Park and from there to Knights Bridge and then into Chelsea. This option is shorter and could be busy even early in the morning. This same option is the reason for this article.

As I was on this high speed, I heard a siren. The Police just came out from nowhere and blocked me. When I heard the siren and saw the police blocking me, I knew my offence and my offence was that I jumped the red light. This is a very serious issue. Serious not just because I broke the law but in the sense that it could be disastrous because if another vehicle is coming from any direction that indicates green, that could mean Rest In Perfect Peace Chukwunwikezarramu Okumephuna and that was exactly what the police man explained to me.

Frankly the Police man must be an angel because if I were him, I would make sure I was cautioned, fined, sent to court and put in prison for breaking the traffic law, riding furiously, recklessly, dangerously, endangering the life of other road users and being stupid enough to be smiling like a silly cunt when the police man was busy and seriously telling me the implication of what I just did.

Even though I was smiling during the whole episode, it was not funny at all because after that the next episode made it very clear to me how stupid my behaviour was. The police man told me that I have got to be very careful, if not for myself but for my family and loved ones and of course my facebook and twitter friends and those who follow my blogs and writings. I was really ashamed of myself.

As luck would have it, they left me with no caution and fine and of course the court and prison that would have followed. However being crazy and mad at the same time and just couple of minutes after that encounter, there I was again trying to jump another red light in Oxford Circus and before I could knew it, a car suddenly came from another direction in a very high speed that nearly send me 20 feet high above the sky if not for my sharpness and experience that enabled me to stop and swerve the cycle on time. Another cyclist may not have been as lucky as I was and thank God I was.

I am therefore forced to do this reflection on my life here. I am not in doubt that I have not been very careful lately with my life. If I had been, what happened today would not have happened. And what happened today is not peculiar to me, it is common amongst bikers. Bikers could be very careless and inconsiderate road users leaving one in doubt as to the sanity of their mind and mental health. Their speed on the high road is nothing to write home about and the manner of their overtaking and swerving on the road could make a pregnant woman miscarry. In a nutshell bikers are often very irresponsible and greedy road users.

What goes on in their mind is what am yet to decipher. Is it the fact that drivers are very afraid of running over them because of how stringent the law could be on them? Or is the fact that they do not contribute to carbon emission and climate change a reason for them to greedily occupy the whole road and exhibit their thuggish mannerism with their sweating balls? This is completely unacceptable and bikers have to reconsider their road using and be aware of the fact that they are sharing same road with other users.

The bikers are compulsive law breakers. They overtake carelessly, swerve imprudently, manoeuvre stupidly and use the pedestrian path as if they are blind. According to the Taylor v Goodwin judgment of 1879, bicycles are by law carriages and as a consequence should be on the road not on the pavement. Therefore cyclists have got no right whatsoever on the footpath or footway. In fact they are only allowed the use of cycle track and the main roads especially the bus lane for safety.

By definition Cycle Track means a way constituting or comprised in a highway, being a way over which the public have the following, but no other, rights of way, that is to say, a right of way on pedal cycles (other than pedal cycles which are motor vehicles within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1972) with or without a right of way on foot [Section 329(1) Highways Act 1980]. The words in brackets were inserted by section 1 of the Cycle Tracks Act 1984. Cycle tracks may be created through conversion of a footway or footpath or newly constructed.

Cycling on footways (a pavement at the side of a carriageway) is prohibited by Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888. This is punishable by a fixed penalty notice of £30 under Section 51 and Schedule 3 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Cyclists have no right to cycle on a footpath away from the road but only commit an offence where local by-laws or traffic regulation orders create such an offence. According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the maximum fine for cycling on the pavement from the courts is £500. However it is more usually enforced by way of the Fixed Penalty Notice procedure (FPN) which carries a £30 fine if pleading guilty.

As noted earlier, the primary legislation which makes cycling on a footway an offence is section 72 of the 1835 Highways Act and this provides that a person shall be guilty of an offence if he "shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot-passengers or shall wilfully lead or drive any carriage of any description upon any such footpath or causeway."

The legislation makes no exceptions for small wheeled or children's cycles, so even a child riding on a footway is breaking the law. However, if they are under the age of criminal responsibility they cannot, of course, face prosecution.

On 1st August 1999, new legislation came into force to allow a fixed penalty notice to be served on anyone who is guilty of cycling on a footway. However the Home Office issued guidance on how the new legislation should be applied, indicating that they should only be used where a cyclist is riding in a manner that may endanger others. At the time Home Office Minister Paul Boateng issued a letter stating that:

"The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required."

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Getting Down And Dirty In The Park...Despite The Threat Of STDs.

Yesterday afternoon at about 12:30 pm, I decided to take a short and casual but usual walk round the Aylesbury Estate side of the Burgess Park in Walworth, South East London. Actually, I live in Aylesbury Estate and Burgess Park being the nearest park, it is only normal that it is my number one choice out of many parks in London.

I do this almost every week particularly in the afternoon or very late in the night. If I decide to do that in the afternoon, it means am off work and staying at home could be so boring, therefore the next alternative becomes either the park or the local East Street Library. If am doing it in the night, it could be because am feeling lonely, bored or unable to go to bed and therefore going round the whole Aylesbury Estate part of the park would be enough to induce me to sleep. I do this with my bicycle sometimes. Just lollygagging and nothing more.

However this particular afternoon, I decided to take a walk in the park because during that time of the day, it was very hot and leaving on the eighth floor of a 12 floor building could be suicidal during the London hot summer. To escape from this hell, the park becomes the only available alternative and solution. Meanwhile going to the park by this time of the day could be interesting for two main reasons. First is that you do not usually get too many people in the park at this time of the day therefore giving you the ample opportunity for reflection, meditation, solitude and quietness the South East of London rarely offers.

The second reason for choosing this time of the day is because despite the scorching weather, the trees and green grasses in the park could offer one a very comfortable shelter and space to cool off. The beautiful breeze caressing ones senses there could be a luxury elsewhere while the songs of the birds and sight of people and cars moving up and down could be a welcomed distraction. These are major reasons I love taking advantage of the Burgess Park by that time of the day.

However, this particular afternoon while in the park, I was confronted with a sight and a scene I least expected. The Burgess Park is not a well developed and advanced park like other parks in London. It lacks many facilities other parks in London take for granted. It is because of this reason that the Southwark Council where the park is situated has committed about Four Million pounds to develop the park to become one of the best in London. This is what is written on the construction sign in front of the Walworth Road entrance into the park. What and how they intend to achieve that status is a mystery am yet to decipher.

The park has not toilet or urinary facilities and because of that the nearest bush or shade becomes a spur-of-the-moment urinary. And so, as I was walking in the park and had this call of the nature, the nearest instinct was to go into one of the nearby bushes before my bladder is blasted like a time bomb. That was exactly what I did, however something else happened there that gave me a terrible shock. Shock in the sense that I least expected what I saw there to take place at that time of the day in that part of the park.

As I was holding my dick and freely discharging the urine with that beautiful sensation that comes with it when you have reached that point of ‘trying-to-boast’, I looked up and to my greatest surprise, I was flabbergasted to see a young girl of about 18 to 21 years leaning forward with her waist pushed backward and staring me in the face and in fact all over me including my dick. I was filled with shame but she kept staring at me and moaning like a woman in child birth. At that point in time, there is no way I could stop the urine because it will never stop. It has reached the point of no return.

When I tried to find out the reason she was moaning-because I thought she was in pains-I saw another person, a young man of between 22 to 25 years holding her waist down and thrusting in and out his hard erected dick in the girls pussy. My natural instinct was to shout, ‘Holy Moses why here!’ But they felt unperturbed and carried on with their business. In fact from the words written all over her face, I could frankly decipher her telling me not to worry because she is used to that and that am free to have my own share of the national cake if I care.

The narration of what happened in the park maybe funny but I do not see it from that angle. Having sex in the park is not a shock to me. I am aware that such things happen and are legal in some parks. Also there are some people who derive sexual pleasure from being watched when they are having sex and others who get very high having theirs in the public. That is actually what is called dogging in English language.

In fact the only thing that bothered me was the quantity of sexually transmitted diseases they must have passed on to each other and to many others because obviously the young girl was not the first victim of the young man and that was not obviously the first time of the girl. For her to have the gut and courage to do such a thing in the park under the broad day light at that tender age, she must have done it many times before.

The last straw that broke the Carmel’s back was that they were busy thrusting in and out without condom. I saw it and I felt like to throw away and die. I am yet to understand that two young blacks living in a very metropolitan city like London are so ignorant of STDs that they do not know the value of using condom for sex. Also bearing in mind the recent report that London has become the HIV capital of Europe with blacks bearing the highest burden this ugly sight becomes more worrisome and unbearable.

An estimated 77,400 people are living with HIV in the UK out of whom more than a quarter (28%) are unaware of their infection. Almost a third of people are diagnosed late, meaning they are missing the benefits of early treatment.

In the year 2008 alone, there were at least 7,370 new diagnoses of HIV. This contributed to a whooping cumulative total of 102,333 reported by the end of 2008. There have been 25,171 diagnoses of AIDS in the UK. At least 18,560 people diagnosed with HIV have died. About 80% of these deaths followed an AIDS diagnosis. The Terrence Higgins Trust estimates that at least 400,000 people could have HIV by 2032 if current trends continue.

When the tests for HIV antibodies became widely available in the mid 1980s, three main groups were identified as very vulnerable to the virus. These were men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and people who have received treatment with blood products. Many of these people came forward for testing in the mid 1980s, after which there was a decline in the annual number of HIV diagnoses. This trend was reversed towards the end of the decade and there were between 2,500 and 2,800 diagnoses each year from 1990 to 1997.

Between 1999 and 2003 there was a sharp increase in the number of HIV diagnoses. During 2008, reports show that at least 7,370 people were diagnosed with HIV in the UK. This number is expected to rise as further reports are received. The major component of the rapid increase in recent years has been in heterosexually acquired infections. Although around 80% of these are contracted in countries with high HIV prevalence, infections acquired within the UK have also risen. Another significant factor in recent increases has been the introduction of clinician reporting, which was only introduced for HIV diagnoses made after the beginning of 2000.

People of African ethnicity, particularly individuals born in sub-Saharan Africa are more likely to be diagnosed with the virus. They also bear the highest brunt of the heterosexual HIV epidemic in the UK. Despite accounting for less than 1% of the UK population, black Africans made up almost half of all new HIV diagnoses in the UK in 2006.

Although Africans living with HIV in the UK may benefit from access to HIV related healthcare, as a group they also face significant challenges. People living with HIV in the African community often experience stigma and discrimination in relation to their HIV status which is already compounded by daily hardships connected to migration including issues associated with immigration status, employment, housing and living conditions.

Approximately 0.2% of the UK population are infected with HIV. Amongst Africans in the UK, HIV prevalence is much higher at 3%. Migration from areas of high HIV prevalence largely accounts for this disparity. In the UK the heterosexual HIV epidemic is intimately linked to that in sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority (84%) of Africans living with HIV in the UK were infected in Africa. There were an estimated 24,800 persons born in sub-Saharan Africa who were living with HIV in the UK in 2006. Out of this figure, an estimated 36% of men and 23% of women were unaware of their infection.

This is not to say that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the UK is exclusively bound to the generalised epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, but it does largely account for the high prevalence of HIV in African communities in the UK relative to the rest of the population.

Against this backdrop then, one begins to wonder what young people of this generation think of themselves. It seems they think they are immuned against sexually transmitted diseases or that stories behind the STDs including HIV and AIDS are just farce despite all the educational advertisements and commercials focused on them. The problem is becoming hydra-headed. The more the safe-sex messages are dished out using every available means of information, communication and education, the more young people have sex wantonly anywhere and anytime as if they are chewing gum and the fact that they do it without condom poses a very big question to the viability of all awareness geared towards them.

The devastating effect of sexually transmitted diseases especially HIV and AIDS on young people is catastrophic and overwhelming, yet majority of the young people are unaware of what HIV, AIDS and STDs are or even how to contract or prevent them.

A recent report by AIESEC noted with disappointment that half the world's teenagers admit to being dangerously ignorant about HIV risks. Same study also claimed that many do not use condoms. One in three youngsters apparently does not believe using protection stops the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The scale of the youth ignorance follows the revelation that half of the world's new HIV infections are among 15 to 24 year-olds.

According to AIESEC, the least knowledge seems to be in south-east Asia, where 57 per cent of youngsters admit knowing little about HIV or Aids. In contrast, 74.3 per cent of young Africans believe themselves to be well-informed, despite sub-Saharan Africa having the world's highest AIDS rate. The research, involving 1,566 young people from 99 countries, was carried out by AIESEC International and Standard Chartered, which has an anti-Aids service.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

My Case Against The London Bus Drivers

This morning it rained cats and dogs. I had earlier gone to Chelsea very early in the morning on an important and urgent personal business and while I was coming back home under that heavy rain, I was confronted with two demons that I never bargained for. The front and back tyres of my bicycle got punctured up to the tube level.

This does not happen to bikers all the time. In fact it happens once in a blue moon and when it does happen it is usually either the front or the back one. By now you must have perfectly understood my frustration when I had my own baptism of fire. I felt like a newborn child abandoned under a heavy rain in a very cold winter morning. As a result of the puncture I was forced to stand under that rain filled with anger and frustration thinking of what to do, not even minding the rain which was busy unleashing her anger on me from here and there and yonder as if am a convicted rapist.

At that point in time, there is really nothing I could do because from where I was to my house is about 5 miles and because it was raining, it was not going to be easy because many would there be thorns on the way. The only option I was left with was to ask London Bus drivers to allow me enter the bus with my bicycle.

Of course I tried even though I was aware that entering the London Buses with Bicycle is strictly prohibited. However bearing in mind that mine is more of a special case, I stopped about three of them and they all bluntly refused citing the prohibition as their cardinal reason.

I was never disputing this section of the law that prohibits bikers from entering the bus with their bicycles but what am seriously disputing is the naivety, stupidity, lack of common touch and lack of common sense being exhibited by London Bus drivers in enforcing this law.

Laws are made for a reason and they are not actually made to inconvenience people. What the laws are supposed to do to humans is to be a guide for them on their everyday life and never to be a lord herself on them. It is purely because of this that it is often said that Law is made for man and not man for the law.

Similarly when laws are passed in the parliament, the judiciary is given the latitude and leverage to interpret the law the way they think it would fit and suit people and work well for them. The meaning of this is that they are allowed to play with the laws passed by the parliament and to use their whims and caprices to apply common sense in any law so that it will have a human face. It is because of this reason that the judiciary is considered the most intelligent arm of the government. It is also based on this that people think that the English is very soft and liberal. No, it is never! Anyway law and punishment that has no provision for human touch and feeling is not worthy to be.

It is this common sense and ability to apply natural judgement to situations and arrive at a good conclusion that London Bus drivers lack in quantum. As an environmentalist, I left my house to visit a friend with my bicycle in order to offset my carbon footprint and while coming back home, my two tyres got punctured and despite the fact that it was raining as it has never rained before the three drivers I stopped refused to carry me. Where is the wisdom there? It seems that respecting the law is more important to them in apposition to saving me from any mishap?

Frankly speaking there is a case of stupidity, error in judgement, lack of common sense and lack of human feeling and compassion here. Common sense should have told them to pick up this young man, if not for anything but for the fact that it is raining heavily and that alone could put his life in jeopardy. Also the fact that apart from the rain, I have as well two punctured tyres should have pushed them to do something and that something is exactly what none of them did, hence my pouring out my bitter emotions through this medium.

Heaven would not have disappeared if any of them had carried me. Hell would not have swallowed them if one them had stopped to render a helping hand; but throwing caution to the wind to abandon a tax payer is not only a sign of irresponsibility but also that of stupidity, lack of respect for human life and utter disregard for the value of what a human life stands for. Somebody in my condition could have ended up getting cold, stricken down by thunder or even get hurt by falling debris since the heavy rain was accompanied by a heavy wind.

Driving London Bus is not a profession. It is a vocation. People are called to drive people and therefore there should be certain qualities expected of someone who wants to be a London Bus Driver. He should be considerate, compassionate, tolerant, accommodating and must have in quantum human feelings, the ability to discern and judge and use his common sense to solve common everyday questions.

It is a fact that London Buses are not allowed to carry bikers, but what happens under a very excruciating and rare circumstances? This is how you know a good bus driver. He must be able to use his common sense and not just using it but also applying that common sense to solve impromptu and urgent problems. Therefore the three drivers who refused this morning to carry me obviously forgot their common sense at home before coming out. They went too far and beyond what the law allows them to do.

I do not see any reason they should not have carried me under such a difficult circumstance and bearing in mind that am one of few thousand Londoners who are climate-friendly and who use their bike to offset their carbon emission, they should have rewarded me with a very big and welcoming part on the back by wasting no time in allowing me in with my bike.

It is therefore with broken and disappointed heart that I call on the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson to look into this aspect of law that guides the London Bus drivers with the view of reviewing it so that stranded cyclists could be given a helping hand when they encounter a very difficult circumstance.

From Chelsea to my house is about 8 miles and to and fro makes it about 16 miles. How on earth do stakeholders in the transport sector expect me to carry my bike home under such a hard and difficult circumstance? I was actually lucky because I had less than five miles to do before getting home when the two tyres got punctured. What would have happened if it had punctured just at the start of the journey? Am I expected to carry my bike that way and do 8 miles? You guess is likely to end up being as good as mine.

This is completely unacceptable and that is why the Mayor of London must as a matter of urgency do something. Doing something does worth it because bikers are contributing a lot in offsetting the carbon footprints in London and making it one of the most environmentally friendly places on earth. Health-wise they also save the government money because due to the nature of their daily commuting they are fit and healthy and rarely fall sick. This alone saves the NHS millions of pounds yearly.

Bearing this in mind, why should the government not do something to solve this problem? It is really painful especially what I went through this morning as a result of meeting those three commonsenseless drivers who have no iota of respect for others in them.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Tesco Condoms: Every Little Help For Extra Large Guys

The decision of the United Kingdom Tesco Supermarket chain to unveil a new extra large condom from tomorrow is a good news and should be welcomed by all stakeholders in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases and contraception as a remarkable decision and welcomed development.

Bearing in mind the plight of extra large guys, not only in getting condoms that could fit them but also give them the extra comfort and maximum pleasure they need in making love, one would begin to understand and appreciate how important this development is after all sex is all about pleasure and comfort and never about inconveniences and frustrations.

However, I need to quickly point out that the corresponding decision to sell the new extra large condoms for £9.53 for a pack of 12 should be reconsidered bearing in mind the ongoing financial crisis and the fact that the price could scare away most of the intended targets. Youngsters within the age range of 18-25 are very active sexually and these age range falls within the school age and therefore buying the new condoms at that price could be an uphill task for them. Also selling them exclusively in only 400 Tesco stores implies making it inaccessible for most of the intended users especially those in the rural areas.

Since the discovery of HIV and AIDS over thirty years ago, the virus has wreaked an untold havoc on humans and caused a lot of catastrophe to the livelihood of millions of people especially in Africa which is bearing the highest burden of the virus as a result of lack of access to sex education, ignorance and poverty. The hydra-headed problems of other sexually transmitted diseases have been here with us for a long time and therefore no more news. Also the need for family planning to ensure that the burden of making a family does not turn into a nightmare is becoming increasingly paramount especially at this period of global downturn.

Consequently, medical experts are unanimous in their decision that one of the most effective means of contraception and preventing sexually transmitted diseases is through the use of condom. In fact results of series of researches conducted lately especially in Africa proved that condom is not only accessible and affordable but also has the advantage of ease of use compared to other means of contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS. It is therefore widely trusted and more reliable.

According to a 2000 report by the American National Institutes of Health, correct and consistent use of condoms reduces the risk of HIV/AIDS transmission by approximately 85% relative to risk when unprotected. The same review also concluded that condom use significantly reduces the risk of gonorrhoea for men.

Similarly, a 2006 report by the same institute reports that proper condom use decreases the risk of transmission of Human Papillomavirus by approximately 70% while another study in the same year found consistent condom use effective for reducing transmission of Herpes Simplex Virus-2 also known as Genital Herpes, in both men and women.

As a method of contraception, male condoms have the advantage of being inexpensive, easy to use, having few side effects and as noted earlier offering protection against sexually transmitted diseases. With proper knowledge and application technique including using it at every act of intercourse, users of male condoms experience a 2% per-year pregnancy rate. All these works well if the right condom is used during intercourse hence the eulogising of the decision of the Tesco to market extra large ones.

A condom is a barrier device most commonly used during sexual intercourse to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy and spreading sexually transmitted diseases. It is put on an erected penis and physically blocks ejaculated semen from entering the body of a sexual partner. Condoms are waterproof, elastic and durable and they are also used in a variety of secondary applications including getting sperms for artificial insemination and even the treatment of erectile problems. If a condom is too tight especially in cases where extra large guys are using the standard size condoms, it is likely to burst and could lead to pregnancy or transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

Condoms have been used for at least 400 years. Since the nineteenth century, they have been one of the most popular methods of contraception in the world. While widely accepted in modern times, condoms have generated some controversies, primarily over what role they should play in sex education. The Roman Catholic Church generally has been in forefront against the use of condom.

The definitive official Roman Catholic Church stand against the use of condom was issued on July 25, 1968 through an encyclical of Pope Paul VI titled ‘Humane Vitae’. In 1920 the Church of England's Lambeth Conference condemned all ‘unnatural means of conception avoidance’; however 10 years later same conference changed its mind and sanctioned the use of birth control by married couples. In 1931 the Federal Council of Churches in the U.S. issued a similar statement. The Roman Catholic Church in her conservative tradition under Pope Pius XI responded by issuing the encyclical ‘Casti Connubii’ on December 31, 1930 affirming its opposition to all contraceptives, a stance it has never reversed.

While visiting Cameroun recently, Pope Benedict XVI told the audience that the use of condom in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases is not viable, reliable and trustworthy while its use as a form of family planning or contraception is a sin. That statement generated a lot of criticism from various quarters including the Belgian Parliament that issued statement of protest against the statement.

Even the Founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud opposed all methods of birth control on the ground that their failure rates were too high. Freud was especially opposed to the condom because it cut down on sexual pleasure; a major reason well endowed men are wary of using the standard condom in use today. Freud would therefore be pleased that Tesco is unveiling and marketing extra large ones. At least that will convince him finally of the possibility of high sexual pleasure using a condom. An extra large one of course!

However bearing in mind that most condoms being marketed today especially in Africa comes in one size of 205mm longer and 1mm wider, this should be good news for most men whom having sex is becoming a nightmare due to the inconvenience of using a very tight and small condom. The new condom being unveiled by the Tesco Supermarkets solves the problem because it is expected to be 10 mm longer compared to the standard condoms in circulation at the moment.

In one of my previous articles tilted ‘The Biggest Cock In The World’, I devoted much time to discussing in detail the sizes of men’s penis including mentioning the fact that the biggest cock recorded so far and also verified is 13 and half inches and it belongs to Jonah Cardeli Falcon who was born on July 29, 1970. His penis is 9.5 inches (24.13 cm) flaccid and 13.5 inches (34.29 cm) when erect.

Bearing this in mind then, there is no sense in a person of this endowment using the same size of condom with another person of 6.5 inches which is medically the average size of a penis. A penis of 14 inches in size was also recorded but was never verified medically and therefore could not be accepted.

In addition, it is also a fact that a particular group of people or race or even ethnic group are well and better endowed when compared to others. It is a known fact that blacks are more likely to be well endowed compared to their white counterparts. In addition, blacks of the Caribbean origin are more likely to be well endowed compared to their counterparts of other origin. When compared with Asians, Europeans are more likely to be better endowed and when a comparative analysis of all of them are made, black are still on top.

Despite all these obvious differences, condom manufacturers have for long neglected the cry, call and clamour of well endowed men to have something bigger that could give them not only maximum comfort but also better enjoyment. Within this group are also some men who have despite the threat of sexually transmitted diseases continued having sex without condom due to the tightness and inconvenience of using the available standard condoms.

Some studies have associated larger penises and smaller condoms with increased breakage and decreased slippage rates and vice versa. It should also be noted that condom do have some failures. Condoms may slip off the penis after ejaculation, break due to improper application or physical damage such as tears caused when opening the package or break or slip due to latex degradation typically from usage past the expiration date, improper storage, or exposure to oils.

The rate of bursting is between 0.4% and 2.3%, while the rate of slippage is between 0.6% and 1.3%. Even if no breakage or slippage is observed, 1-2% of women will test positive for semen residue after intercourse with a condom. ‘Double bagging,’ which means using two condoms at same time also increases the risk of condom failure. The use of creams and lotions especially Vaseline is also known to pose a higher risk to condom as the rate of bursting is very high when Vaseline is applied to condom.

Different modes of condom failure result in different levels of semen exposure. If a failure occurs during application, the damaged condom may be disposed of and a new condom applied before intercourse begins. Such failures generally pose no risk to the user. One study found that semen exposure from a broken condom was about half that of unprotected intercourse while semen exposure from a slipped condom was about one-fifth that of unprotected intercourse.

It is therefore imperative that kudos be given to Tesco for taking it upon themselves to initiate this good gesture and making the condoms available in their stores. Prior to this announcement, selected pharmacies have been selling extra large condoms in small scale but the plan of Tesco to market them in an unprecedented scale is unprecedented in itself and a development any well meaning individual who cherishes the joy in sex, the value of contraception and the fight against sexually transmitted diseases should welcome with open mind and heart.

A lot of men have lost hope and abandoned the use of condom due to its small size but this plan is obviously going to win them back again to the fold and obviously be a plus in the fight against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Judge Ian Trigger And His Irresponsible Judgement

The wise decision of the Judicial Complaints Commission to have Judge Ian Trigger face a disciplinary probe should be welcomed by all as a healthy development and a resounding victory for democracy. This decision is a clear case of one of those moments one can boldly and proudly say that common sense has finally prevailed.

The decision follows the recent outbursts and tirades of Judge Ian Trigger on the ruling Labour Party on their handling of the immigration since coming to power over a decade ago. The outbursts were made recently while sentencing a 31 year old Jamaican drug dealer, Lucien McClearly at the Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge Trigger while sentencing McClearly told him that his case, “Illustrates all too clearly the completely lax immigration policy in this country. People like you and there are literally hundreds of thousands like you, come to these shores from foreign countries to avail themselves of the generous welfare benefits here.

"In the past 10 years the national debt of this country has risen to extraordinary heights, largely because central government has wasted billions and billions of pounds. Much of that has been wasted on welfare payments. For every £1 that the decent citizen, who is hard-working, pays in taxes in this country, nearly 10 per cent goes on servicing that national debt. That is twice the amount it was in 1997 when this government came to power."

From the surface Judge Trigger may not seem to have committed any offence but bearing in mind the profession he belongs to and his position as a judge, there everything wrong with his comment. In fact he threw caution to the wind in that judgement and this is a good example of irresponsible judgment and arrogant pontificating that has ignorance as the only bearing.

He may not be guilty of pouring his venomous speech on McClearly because he has a legal immunity that protects him while discharging his duties but the fact is that he went beyond the boundary of legal privilege, decency and modicum in also lambasting the Labour Party’s immigration policy of the last 13 years and having the audacity to get near to that boundary is the main reason am in full support of Trigger facing the Judicial Complaints Commission.

His speech has got every quality of that of a politician and that is one thing legal luminaries are always wary of and constantly reminded never to make a mistake of branching into. In singling out the Labour Party to reprimand for the shortcomings in the immigration system, Trigger failed to put into consideration the fact that it could be construed as campaigning for the Conservative Party, the Official Opposition Party to Her Majesty.

His speech is very political and that is one thing that is not expected of a judge of his calibre and standing. He simply crossed the boundary, the legal immunity that protects him and audaciously made political comments in what is supposed to be a legal issue. The speech simply went beyond the facts of the case and extended overtly into the political arena.

There is a clear error in judgement here and Trigger should have learnt by now how to pass judgment on individual cases and not society. He clearly does not have the intellectual or moral capacity to conceptualize the bigger picture and pass judgement on the society. He should concentrate on doing what he is being paid to do and not delving into political matters. He could resign and seek an elective post if he is so much interested in political issues. A judge is a judge and not a politician and what makes a judge thick is his ability to pass a judgement impartially.

Being a Judge with over many years of experience on the bench, Trigger should have known this. Law is a very honourable and noble profession and it is basically because of this that it takes quite a number of years to produce a lawyer in many countries of the world.

In Nigeria, after a 4 year degree in Law, the prospective candidate is expected to attend the Nigerian Law School for another one year before he is called to the bar to be qualified to practice law. Even at that he is expected to be under an experienced lawyer for some months or years of tutelage before he could have his own voice in the legal circles.

In the United States of America, he is expected to have a first degree in any discipline before he could be allowed to study law and the reason for complicating the whole business this way is because of the enormous role lawyers are expected to play in future.

Against this backdrop therefore, it is expected of a lawyer to be unbiased, impartial, straightforward, apolitical and neutral and must have a self control especially in his modus loquendi. If Trigger possesses all these qualities there is no doubt that his outbursts and tirades against the Labour Party betrays him as a judge lacking deeply in neutrality, self control and apolitical.

The tongue and mouth of Judges are sacred and that is why both are respected so much because they use both in making judgements that could may or mar somebody’s future. By the words of their mouth empires are built and by the same words of their mouth empires are made to fall like pack of cards.

Judge Trigger did not put all these into consideration in his outbursts. He should have, before pulling his trigger. Labour may have been guilty in messing up the immigration system but the fact remains that same immigration policy of the Labour Party has gone a long way in introducing spice and variety in the life of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Today the United Kingdom could boast of being a metropolitan nation, a land of freedom, a citadel of human rights and a home to every race, religion, creed, belief, colour and country on earth where various groups are fully integrated into the British life and are proud of their new citizenship and heritage. Trigger should have been aware of this before pouring his venoms not only on the Labour Party but also on the law abiding immigrants in this country.

It is therefore a clear and vivid example of irresponsible judgement on the part of Trigger to have overlooked the numerous and wonderful contributions immigrants have made and are still making in this country before lashing out on the Labour for irresponsible behaviour of a young man that was never in the first place caused by the Labour Party.

In situations like these, it is always easy to point accusing finger on the government in power and this is the stand the Conservative Party have adopted ever since David Cameroun was elected its leader. Every single evil and mistake in this country including inflation, depression and unemployment have been blamed on Labour by the Conservatives but the fact is that we have not too quickly forgotten the mess Conservatives put this country into when they had the power especially under the Prime Ministership of Margret Thatcher.

Immigration has contributed a lot to this country. We cannot deny the fact that it has also brought with it some evils but the fact is that when comparative analysis is made, the goods immigration brought to this country far outweighs the evil it brought. Judge Trigger being a learned gentleman should have known better than all of us and presiding in Liverpool the epicentre of the trade in Slaves should have been of immense benefit to him on how to handle issues like this.

If the ancestors of people like Lucien McClearly where not captured in Africa and sold into slavery by people like the ancestors of Trigger, the young man would not have known where the United Kingdom is. He may probably have been somewhere in the Eastern part of Nigeria or Ghana where history says most Jamaican came from, doing his business in his farm and feeding his family.

I have said it over and over again. You cannot eat your cake and have it. Every action has a consequence. Just as Trigger sentenced McClearly for his actions so would the problem of immigration be confronting Europe till they sincerely work out ways to solve the problems posed by the hydraheded monster.

The action of getting themselves in slave trade is basically the reason for the present immigration problems. Without slave trade and colonialism, African would not have known where Europe is. The slave trade and colonialism enriched Europe and put Africa deep in poverty. Today one of the consequences of these two evils is that these young men, whom their fathers were deprived of their wealth in 1800s, are here today to get back what belongs to them and too much noise should not be made about that. One good turn simply deserves another!

Judge Ian Trigger is therefore under a moral obligation to tender an unreserved apology for these unruly outbursts. It frankly echoes what the British National Party could sponsor and that is the reason the disciplinary committee should also look into who is paying the bill or sponsoring the ranting. A bird dancing on the road must have somebody in the bush beating the drums for him.

In the case of Judge Ian Trigger, who are those people? These questions are what we are expecting the disciplinary committee to look into even as we call upon them to look closely if there is a link between Judge Trigger and the MigrationWatch, the Conservative Party and even the British National Party from whose tweet I got to hear of this story for the very first time.