This week I would like to start with a major story that does not appear to be being covered much in the mainstream media—the Ohio train disaster involving Norfolk Southern Railway. The Norfolk Southern Railway was formed in 1982, and the largest shareholders of the company are BlackRock, Vanguard and SSGA Funds Management. They operate 19,420 route miles in the USA.
In East Palestine, Ohio, there is a silent environmental disaster occurring. On 3 February 2023, a 150-car freight train travelling from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, hauled by three locomotives, suddenly derailed. The train, carrying 141 loads with the remaining nine cars empty, was being operated by three train personnel on board: an engineer conductor, a conductor in training, and a driver. None of them was hurt in the accident.
To put this in context, the length of the train would have been an almost unimaginable two miles long. This is likely far too long for the driver to be able to see the entirety of the train or to notice any fires on the train. Twenty of the loaded cars were carrying toxic carcinogenic chemicals. Unknown to the driver, a fire was picked up on CCTV footage as the train passed through Salem. Two early reports appear to be suggesting that mechanical issues on a rear car axle known as a ‘hotbox’ led to the fire, due to overheating. This is thought to have been the cause of the derailment.
It was decided by ‘experts’ to carry out a ‘controlled explosion’ of the highly flammable colourless gas, vinyl chloride (which was used in the First World War as a chemical weapon). Allowing a ‘forced depressurisation’ would, in theory, facilitate chemicals to be released without the risk of them catching fire and blowing up. However, the huge plumes ensuing from this operation have led to many reports of sickness, lung issues, red eyes and skin complaints from residents. A mandatory evacuation was immediately put into place. This has now been reversed, and residents have been told it is safe to return.
The rail company has so far reportedly donated $1 million to more than 700 families to cover the expenses they incurred during the evacuation period. While that may sound reasonable, it works out at a meagre $1,000 per family. The company is said to have donated aid to local businesses and replaced all the breathing apparatus that fire officers have had to use. The Red Cross has also benefited from a donation of $25,000 for temporary shelters. The company is also carrying out air tests, which allegedly show no cause for concern about harmful substances.
As chemicals are reported as seeping into soil and water and as accounts of dead fish, dead wildlife and domestic pets increase, the authorities are assuring residents that the area is safe. However, residents are insisting the area is not safe, and that they are not being told the truth. Residents are being told to drink bottled water until mains water tests are complete. The frustration for those living locally is rising, with many saying there has been a total lack of communication from officials on both ground and water contamination. The hotline that has been set up is not being answered, and the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, is recommending residents return to their homes. He has been criticised for not asking for federal help. The conditions are so bad that one woman has reportedly come out in a rash after taking a shower.
Why are the mainstream media avoiding in-depth coverage of this disaster? Some have likened it to a latter-day Chernobyl. Ohio is a big farming state, so many farm owners are asking about the effects on their crops. Why are we not hearing of this disaster? Perhaps it is because the mainstream media don’t want the world to know? What will be the short- and long-term effects of this tragedy that is affecting so many? No-one appears to either know or care, including the US Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, who has been accused of downplaying the disaster.
As if that weren't bad enough, just days after the Ohio disaster, another train, also carrying hazardous materials, derailed in Houston, Texas, after a crash with an 18-wheel truck. Sadly, the driver did not survive. Approximately 100 gallons of diesel and some oil had leaked from the truck but no other chemicals escaped. The substances on board the train were household chemicals, including paint and aerosols.
I will be sure to be following up on these disasters, and my heart and thoughts go out to all those affected. For the people of Ohio, the fight for the truth continues. A new health clinic is being opened in East Palestine to advise residents about possible symptoms they may be suffering as a result of the accident. However, if even one of the state's senators refuses to say whether he would drink the water, how are any Ohioans to believe there is nothing to worry about? The state now plans to open a health clinic in East Palestine for residents concerned about possible symptoms related to the derailment.
Have you ever wondered how many microchips we rely on in our everyday lives? It is actually quite hard to imagine our lives without them now. Have we normalised sets of electronic circuits which live on pieces of silicon? Have you ever wondered how Silicon Valley got its name? The clue is in the title. In 2020, more than 932,000,000,000 microchips were manufactured around the world; over a hundred for every person on earth. Taiwan is the largest producer in semiconductor manufacturing and dominates the market. Try to imagine a tiny (hence the preface ‘micro’) electrical circuit board with miniature electrical switches that turn an electrical current on or off. Picture it all embedded on a wafer thin silicon sheet that you can remove and add different materials to. It has a latticework effect, packed with the latest technology.
Look around you; what are you using that contains a microchip? I bet you are using one right now. The devices we use every day, the ones we have come to rely on, mostly contain microchips: mobile phones, energy meters, cars, computers, satellite navigation systems, vacuum cleaners, tumble dryers and televisions, to name but a few. How many ‘smart’ devices do you have? Perhaps you use them for work, entertainment, convenience, education or simply out of habit. Whatever the reason, the end result appears to be the same: surveillance.
The microchip industry is huge. Costing less and performing more functions every decade, microchips are here to stay and are transforming industries around the world. Microchipping in animals has been around since the mid-1980s. Many pet owners volunteer their pets for microchipping just in case they get lost or stolen. If it’s good enough for animals, it's good enough for humans, right? Will the world’s population soon be rushing to get a chip embedded into their bodies that will give them ‘superpowers’? Do you fancy a chip in your hand in order to be able to access your home? Some Swedes have already lined up as volunteers.
Digital passports and driving licences are here to stay, with a microchip included—for your convenience, of course. How many of us have lost our passports, driving licences or bank card, misplaced them, or even had them stolen and used for nefarious purposes? Wouldn’t it be more convenient just to scan a hand or an arm? It seems that purses, wallets, handbags and briefcases will be a thing of the past, since all our information, including medical records, can simply be transferred onto a microchip and updated as and when necessary.
Easy, right? Who wants to take an unsightly and mugger-inviting wallet bulge to the gym, to a club or concert, or even to work, when a microchipped hand could do it all for you? We have become used to swiping our cards, so it wouldn’t be surprising if swiping one’s hand becomes normalised too. Hotel room keys or cards will be a thing of the past: no more lost keys, everything you need to make your stay convenient will literally be ‘to hand’. You won’t even need to remember your name, it will all be on your chip—your ID on a limb, so to speak.
As a member of the more mature generation, I have an attachment and fondness to paper and pen, receipts and paper traces of information. I still rely on a hardcopy diary and address book; I prefer using things that I can see and touch so I know it's authentic and real. However, when it became almost impossible to book a table for a meal, buy a train ticket or order a takeaway over the phone, I became concerned. In fact, many businesses and not a few official bodies are no longer contactable by phone at all.
Youngsters seem delighted by the ease and convenience of ordering online through an app, but they seem unaware that the virtual world dominates their lives to a great extent. Maybe as we get older, we are more cautious? Would I be asking my 20-year-old self if it's a good idea to have a chip embedded into my body? It feels very intrusive living within the gaze of an invisible, unnamed peeping Tom. Why does there have to be a record of where I have eaten or travelled? Why do I need to give my e-mail address, home address and mobile phone number to book a ticket?
Surely, all you need to book a train ticket is a ticket office with someone behind the counter and some some cash. However, youngsters today appear to have no clue of what life used to be like a mere 30 to 40 years ago. It’s not even a lifetime. I was once one of the fortunate who had a Sony Walkman back in the early Eighties: it was a statement item and an emblem of good fortune and good taste. I bought into it then, but would I be buying into now? If I was a youngster, then perhaps.
But things are about to get sinister. Let’s look at some of the new health chips around.
You may be surprised to know that organs on chips have been around since 2014, when the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University announced its ‘Human Organs-on-Chips’ technology. To accelerate development, the new private start-up company Emulate, Inc. was formed (more about them another week's blog) in conjunction with the creation of a medium that mimics blood, allowing development of a ‘human body on a chip’.
The claim is that thanks to these chips, there will be a more personalised approach to ‘drugs’, reducing the need for traditional animal trials and testing. Humans will now be the guinea pigs for human medicine because the chips can supposedly digitise how our organs would respond. According to Emulate, (on the front page of their website):
For the love of humanity, it’s time to save lives by developing new therapies based on true-to-life human biology.
If that doesn’t fill you with confidence, you are not alone. Here are a few of the new ‘therapies’ to get you started:
Viscous Cervical Environment on a chip
Back in 2017, the World Economic Forum was boasting of employees being injected with microchips into their hands. It appears that hand microchips are big business. This Asahi Shimbun article, published in 2019, confirms that this is not science fiction, it is science fact.
The big question to ask is: are we moving into the posthuman era and being hurled into the age of the transhuman, where machines merge with humans to create the ultimate ‘cyborg’? Is this the beginning of the ‘new human’, and is this what Build Back Better means—to build us back better? It would seem that that is exactly what the yearning is. Perhaps I am too set in my ways, since I much prefer the old methods; but will our youngsters?
GPs, virtual appointments, images and privacy
We are hearing stories of distressed patients who are being asked to send photos of their bodies to their GP surgeries in place of face-to-face appointments. Are you one of them? So far, we have heard from people who have been instructed to send what they consider to be sensitive and graphic images over the internet in order to get any help or answers.
Who are these images being received by? How are they being viewed? How many people view them? Who stores the images? As if sending a picture of a leg or hand isn’t bad enough, we have heard from some women who have gynaecological conditions and who have been asked to send a photograph of the affected body part to show to a doctor. Many have refused. There seems to be no age barrier—and, worryingly, photos from children have been requested for medical analysis or diagnosis and are flying through the ether via a cloud (which in real terms means someone else's computer) somewhere.
Do you feel comfortable sending pictures of your body over the internet, especially intimate parts? Are you aware of where your images are going? Most of us don’t appear to see or speak to our own GPs anymore. Locums, nurse practitioners, 'noctors' and Associate Physicians, who are often strangers, are replacing the familiar voice and manner of our own family doctor. If you are concerned or feel in any way uncomfortable, perhaps think again before you hit the Send button, and insist on a face-to-face appointment.
Social Distancing is still ‘a thing’ in some hospitals
We are observing that social distancing measures are still in place in many hospitals around Britain. Signs are strategically placed to ensure they cannot be missed. ‘Clean rooms’, whatever they are, are also labelled ostentatiously. Why, I hear you ask? Well, I have no idea, is my reply. With plexiglas still in place and a smattering of habitual mask wearers, the Covid–19 agenda seems to revive as soon as the magic letters NHS are mentioned. For as soon as you leave an NHS establishment, you are back under the law of the land and everything returns to ‘normal’. Perhaps Covid–19 is particularly attracted to those letters of the alphabet? Pardon me for being so cynical.
Hostile consultations—is there any need for belittlement?
There are many excellent health professionals within the NHS; many who are going above and beyond their job description to keep patients safe. Some are only staying within the NHS because they are worried that without their care, countless patients would be neglected. While there are still reports of excellent care within the NHS, unfortunately those reports seem to be diminishing. It is widely reported in the news that doctors are burnt out and many are off sick with mental health issues. According to ITV, 90% of junior doctors are reporting their mental health as deteriorating.
However, is there ever an excuse for any professional—including the top clinical grade, consultant physicians—to conduct what I can only describe as hostile appointments? In my day, I never heard of patients being chastised, humiliated or scolded. Often, when patients walk into a consulting room, they are nervous, anxious, frustrated and probably feeling quite unwell. Whilst many interpret the first commandment of the profession, ‘Do No Harm’, in the narrow physical sense, physicians should be aware that 'harm' isn’t only limited to physical harm. Psychological harm is just as dangerous.
The doctor-patient relationship relies on trust and empathy. A good doctor listens to their patient and puts their patient first. Without that vital component of trust, there is nothing. Berating patients, telling them off and treating them like children is not helpful for the patient. We have been hearing of hostile encounters between medical staff and patients within the NHS. Much of the hostility appears to be as a result of knee-jerk reactions and mixed messaging; however, it can quickly escalate to the point where security staff are summoned.
The facile messaging on how to #BeKind to staff that we have had foisted on us for some time now appears to be being ramped up and repeated like a hypnotic mantra. Are staff mistaking simple frustration for aggression? Are we jumping to too many conclusions too fast? Respect cuts both ways. I have personally witnessed some senior staff who appear to be far too caught up in their own feelings and frustrations with the ‘service’ to even begin to consider how their patients may feel. The tension within the NHS is palpable.
Apprehension that the NHS seems to be breaking is not an excuse to be rude, abrupt or unkind. Looking in from outside, I am sure we all appreciate that the NHS is on its knees, but we do not need to be made to feel guilty if we need to or have been asked to attend. It has been noted that some patients are treated as they were naughty schoolchildren with what can only be described as conditional appointments, based on docile and compliant behaviour. Do we not have the right to ask questions, challenge decisions and be offered a choice? It seems not. The words compassion, care and consideration appear to have disappeared from many hospitals up and down the country.
The public has sympathy for many of our essential workers, especially those on lower pay scales and working long hours, but we are now expected to rely on a health ‘service’ that can neither serve our needs nor guarantee our safety. What kind of health service is that? As the strikes continue and many staff take to the picket lines, the sympathy is perhaps in danger of running out. The NHS is not there for the workers; it is there for patients. The two coexist, inextricably linked.
Without sick patients, doctors would have no job. People generally sign up to work for the NHS because they want to help those who are unwell and at their most vulnerable. It really is that simple. Somewhere down the line, we appear to have forgotten that.
NHS staff—Long Service Medals
That affords a nice little segue into my next piece of news. Tobias Ellwood MP, Chair of the Defence Select Committee (and 77 Brigade officer), has suggested that NHS staff should be awarded long service medals. According to the Telegraph:
Mr Ellwood said creating a new medal for doctors and nurses was about showing them respect. He suggested that the new medal be called 'The King Charles Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct in the NHS', copying a similar honour in the Armed Forces.
Do you agree with this? Have they earned them, in your eyes?
Sewage and hospitals
As regular viewers and readers will know, sewer flooding is a subject close to my heart, but for all the wrong reasons. As an all too regular sewer flood victim, I am not surprised to see that it’s not just homes that are repeatedly being flooded with raw sewage, it’s also hospitals. The Daily Mail reports:
Sewage is leaking into cancer wards, maternity units and A&E departments, according to a damning audit of England's crumbling NHS hospitals. Urine and faecal matter have been found seeping into wards, pouring through ceilings and spewing out of drains, with one hospital trust recording 105 sewage leaks in 2022—almost one every three days. Patients have slipped on the sewage while staff have become ill, complaining of headaches and nausea from the smell.
Hospitals have been neglected for decades. On UK Column News, we have been reporting that many of the buildings are below safe standards and in danger of collapsing. In 2023, it is a fact that our hospitals, where we should all feel safe, are anything but safe. Perhaps this is part of the plan too? Demolish and collapse first, then build back better.
What it is like to be a Gates?
As if watching Bill Gates schmooze with our Prime Minister this week wasn’t enough, enter Jennifer, his daughter. What started as a pretty bland interview written up in the Femail section of the Daily Mail suddenly turned into quite a revealing read. That is, if you can get past the myriad of glossy photos of billionaire venues, millionaire pads and beautiful people attending beautiful weddings surrounded by beautiful flowers with twinkly beautiful fairy lights in the background.
So what is it like to be Jennifer Gates? Do any of want to know, or do any of us care? Seemingly, I do, because I read the article! There is nothing natural or normal about the daughter of Bill Gates. As we are treated to how the other half lives, we sneak a peek at the $131 million mansion and are treated to pictures of her $2 million ‘multi-day wedding’, where all 300 guests were PCR-tested, masked (Covid–19 kindly gave them a window to remove the masks for the photo call, how considerate) and vaccinated. In the article, Jennifer is quoted as saying:
We made the decision that all guests must be fully vaccinated and receive a negative test result prior to the wedding. We also made masks available.
With a $51 million penthouse, she is certainly not living in the same world as the rest of us.
Thank you to everyone who sends me e-mails and messages. I am so grateful for all your words of encouragement. I am sorry if I don’t reply to all of them, but I can assure you I do read them all. I am also unable to give individual advice on medical issues, but I will endeavour to give a shout out to organisations that will be able to further advise you or direct you to someone who can.
This week, my signpost is for those who are vaccine-injured or bereaved and in need of advice or support. The wonderful UK CV Family is there to help. We are also in contact with Vaccine Injured Bereaved UK (VIB), who are doing sterling work. Please do support them if you can.
I am putting out a call for information from pharmacists, dentists, haematologists, coroners, cardiologists and geriatricians. I would very much like to hear from those of you in these professions, especially if you are witnessing things that are causing you concern. We would love to hear from you and will treat you decently.
Also, if Marianna Spring (BBC Disinformation Correspondent), Dr Henrietta Hughes (Patient Safety Commissioner), Dame June Raine (CEO of the MHRA), Dr Alison Cave (in charge of patient safety at the MHRA) or Dr Hannah Fry (mathematician and TV personality) happen to be reading this, I would love to talk to you too, so please do get in touch.
I was given a beautiful old Bible this week, and as I looked at, it a tiny piece of paper with a Bible reference dropped out. It must have been there for over half a century. I have chosen that passage this week, as I don’t believe in coincidences. Keep researching; be prepared, not scared. Have faith, stay strong and question everything.
Until next week,
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.