The air the babies breathe.

October 28, 2016

” The intrauterine, perinatal and early childhood periods, during which the lungs are developing and maturing, are very vulnerable times. These are periods when the lungs are susceptible to injury by air pollutants.”

Save Liverpool Women's Hospital

The intrauterine, perinatal and early childhood periods, during which the lungs are developing and maturing, are very vulnerable times. These are periods when the lungs are susceptible to injury by air pollutants.”

(more from this article below.)

Liverpool Women’s Hospital is a  set of  modern low-rise building with major landscaping features. Across the Upper Parliament Street side there is a raised grassy mound with trees that effectively blocks traffic pollution. It is a substantial piece of landscaping. (We were told, when planning our demonstration  on Sept 25th, that there is space for 3000 people to stand on that mound).On the other side of the road there is more landscaping, helping to absorb traffic pollution

The traffic on Upper  Parliament Street is significantly less than  in the town centre. The other two roads arounf Liverpool Women’s Hospital  are smaller and again blocked from impacting on the Hospital.

Trees  grass and…

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by Martin Odoni

The retrial of Ched Evans, the footballer accused of rape whose conviction was overturned, has returned a verdict of Not Guilty. Inevitably, there has been a lot of outrage from all quarters. Many of Evans’ supporters have been caught up in a storm of misogynistic outrage, ‘slut-shaming’ the woman he was charged with assaulting and calling for her to be charged for ‘lying’ and destroying Evans’ reputation. At the other end of the spectrum, women’s rights groups have expressed dismay at what they see as a retrial setting a ‘dangerous precedent’, because parts of the woman’s sexual history were analysed during the proceedings. The fear is that future victims of sexual assault or worse will be scared out of reporting the crimes for fear of being publicly shamed in court.

Both groups are categorically wrong, however. An excellent, detailed analysis of the verdict is available here, and I strongly recommend reading it, but for now I want to address what is wrong with the arguments above.

Firstly, those arguing that the woman should be charged with perjury or slander do not understand the nature of her complaint. She has never accused Evans of rape. She woke up the morning after the alleged attack in a hotel room rented out to Evans, and she had no memory of what had happened the previous night. Worried that her drinks might have been spiked, she was persuaded to report her concerns to the police, who traced the room to Evans. He confirmed that he and a friend had both had sex with the woman in the hotel room during the evening in question, but insisted that the intercourse had been consensual. The police concluded that for the woman to have no memory of the encounter, she must have been too drunk to have given consent, and charged Evans with rape. That was the charge of the Crown Prosecution Service, not of the woman herself, and therefore there is no question of her lying or slandering Evans.

As for those who argue that the examination of the woman’s sexual history sets ‘a precedent’, that is not really true. The submission of the information about her past was very limited and, whether we agree with the spirit of the law or not, it was within the law as is already established. The law barring submissions of such information is Section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. Exceptions to that bar were already in place for seventeen years before the Evans case was retried, and the decision of the court to allow the submissions was in accordance with them. The law states as follows; –

…where the evidence relates to the issue of consent, and is of sexual behaviour of the complainant which is “so similar to any sexual behaviour of the complainant which (according to evidence adduced or to be adduced by or on behalf of the accused) took place as part of the event which is the subject matter of the charge against the accused…that the similarity cannot reasonably be described as a coincidence”.

I want to stress that I do not like this exception to the rule, and I would prefer if any alleged victim’s sexual history was left out of proceedings altogether. (After all, the sexual history of an alleged attacker is never allowed to be aired.) But for better or worse, the exception is there, the Evans retrial was in accord with it, and it does not set a precedent. The same protections an alleged rape victim had in court last week will still be in place next week.

More importantly, the reasons for allowing information to be submitted are nothing to do with medievalist attempts to sway the jury by ‘slut-shaming’ the woman’s reputation. The analysis of the woman’s history was not assessing how regularly she had sex, which was not really implied to be relevant. Instead, it was examining two specific previous encounters the woman had had, and noticing a very strong resemblance to Evans’ testimony that, if it were a rape, is difficult to explain. It was coincidence that was what caused the exception, not alleged promiscuity.

Two previous partners of the woman gave descriptions of sexual acts with her that are almost identical to Evans’ account. In itself, you might say, “So what?” But, as best we can tell, Evans has never had any prior contact with either of these men, so this does raise a plausibility question. It is not on the subject of the woman being ‘promiscuous’, which is neither proven nor relevant, but on a strange element of coincidence; –

If we think Evans is lying, then we must make one of two assumptions. Either, one, we must assume that he embroidered his account to match those of other people who had slept with the same woman. The problem with that assumption is of course, how could he possibly have known what their accounts were if he does not appear to have ever met either of them? Or, two, we must assume that Evans just made the whole story up off the top of his head, and it ‘just happened’ to be almost identical to what several other men genuinely experienced with the same woman, to a level of quite intricate detail?

Quite honestly, that would be quite a coincidence.

Now, for what my view is worth, I do not accept that Evans should have been acquitted. I do not have any real doubt that he did rape the woman, and that is due to his own testimony. He has openly admitted that he did not speak to the woman at any stage in the encounter – before, during or after. This means he did not seek her consent. He also later left the hotel via the fire escape to avoid the security cameras, which is a clear sign of a man who knows he has done something wrong and is trying to cover his tracks.

The measure of ‘consent’ was that, after Evans penetrated the woman from behind, she supposedly said during intercourse, “F*ck me harder”. (This part of Evans’ testimony is what matches the new witnesses’ recollections of their own encounters with the woman.)

There are several problems with this reasoning, which is why I do not believe Evans should have been acquitted. One, the alleged request by the woman is clearly one that she would only make after penetration. Beforehand, why would she give an instruction to do something more intensely when it is not being done at all? Even if we can accept this as an expression of eventual consent, it was not prior consent, and therefore at least the initial sexual contact would still have been non-consensual and therefore rape. Two, there was another man in the room, and as the woman was so drunk, she may not even have realised which one she was having sex with.

As for the resemblance between Evans’ account and those of the woman’s two previous partners, it might well just be a coincidence. It might be due to some degree of witness-collusion. It might be that the woman changed her mind during intercourse and decided she wanted it to continue, when she would have been too drunk to be able to make such a decision with a clear mind. While the question of coincidence is worth raising, on its own it really should not raise enough of a doubt, to my mind, to get Evans off the hook, because his testimony of what happened is still very strongly interpretable as rape.

Those who claim that Evans’ name has been comprehensively cleared by the retrial are quite wrong. The Not Guilty verdict is not saying that these new testimonies establish Evans’ innocence, or that no rape occurred. All it says, rightly or wrongly, is that the rape has not been proven sufficiently beyond doubt for a conviction to be safe, nothing more. The new testimonies raised enough of a question-mark in the jury’s eyes that their decision not to re-convict is understandable, even if we do not agree with it.

So yes, I think Evans has managed to get away with it. But what this whole sorry chapter should tell all men, if only more of us were prepared to listen instead of deafening ourselves with misogynistic battle-cries, is that sexual aggression has a high price. Even though he did not serve the prison sentence he should have, Evans has still spent some time behind bars, his reputation is in ruins, his football career looks like a permanent shipwreck, his relationship with his girlfriend (whom, rape or no rape, he undoubtedly cheated on) was damaged for a time, and he has spent years consumed with the stress of being a public figure on trial. I am not suggesting that he is “the real victim” or anything ridiculous like that, but even so, who would want to go through anything like that?

Whether you think it was actually rape or not, what Evans did was wrong. He took advantage of a woman who was clearly too intoxicated to give or withhold explicit consent. If she was not a willing participant, she could hardly have got that across to him, but he went ahead and had sex with her anyway.

Evans’ actions sum up what is wrong with the attitudes to sex of too many men. The worst of these attitudes is the old “Well-she-could-have-said-no” argument. It is fine, goes the argument, to proceed with having sex with a woman so long as she has not said no.

I would argue that if any man does not want to risk going through what Evans has put himself through, he needs to abandon that outlook. If she has not said no, it is possible that she is willing to have sex, but if she has also not said yes, the man should not just assume that she is.

I propose that what a lot of men need to learn to do is this; –

Instead of waiting for the woman to say no before stopping, the man should wait for her to say yes before starting.

Let the woman make her wishes explicit. If she does not make them explicit, do nothing. In Evans’ case, he had already penetrated the woman before she (allegedly) said anything at all. Her wishes were, at best, ambiguous, and as long as a woman’s wishes remain ambiguous, the man should not proceed. It does not matter how much she is smiling at him, how much she flirts with him, it certainly does not matter in the slightest how she is dressed; if she wants sex with him, she will make it explicit eventually, and until she does so, the man should just assume the default answer of no. It is that simple.

(Equally, even if the woman initially consents, but then changes her mind and says stop, the man has to stop, as the consent has been withdrawn.)

Anything else risks causing unspeakable trauma to the woman, and years of (deserved) misery for the man himself.

That is the true lesson of the Ched Evans story, it is a very obvious and clear lesson, and only when male culture has learned it will the horrors of sexual violence against women come to an end.

by Martin Odoni

In the USA, a major political figure appointed to the most prestigious position in his party by popular demand around the country, rather than by support of his colleagues within the Congressional Party, is facing abandonment by his fellows as they move to dislodge him from his place of authority.

In the UK, a major political figure appointed to the most prestigious position in his party by popular demand around the country, rather than by support of his colleagues within the Parliamentary Party, is facing abandonment by his fellows as they move to dislodge him from his place of authority.

The recent experiences of Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn are surprisingly similar, given that one can hardly find any similarities between them as people. Trump is a deafening, yobbish buffoon and reactionary sociopath, thin-of-skin, completely disrespectful of women and ethnic minorities, a serial liar on such an instinctive level that he appears unaware of whether he is telling the truth or not, a right-wing ignoramus who talks off the top of his head at all times. Corbyn is a cool-headed, softly-spoken figure, quite wily and fairly knowledgeable, a controlled if not impressive speaker, respectful and polite to all, consistently leftist in his politics, and slow-to-anger, even when bombarded with abuse and distorting accusations. (Yes, Suzanne Moore, I’m talking about you.)

But with last week’s calamities for Trump resulting in his effective disownership by the Republican National Congress, his experience is starting to mirror Corbyn’s summer of turmoil with the failed ‘Chicken Coup‘ in the Parliamentary Labour Party. The so-called ‘moderate’ wing of the PLP, after months of plotting, tried to dislodge Corbyn from the leadership in a coup that was mishandled and crippled by over-orchestration and lack of courage all the way through, and finally culminated in Corbyn retaining the leadership with an increased share of the party vote.

Both men are unpopular with most of their ‘professional politician’ (I think that is the ‘nice’ label) colleagues, and are consistent sources of controversy in the media. In Trump’s case, the controversy is plainly far more justified than in Corbyn’s, and yet paradoxically Trump also tends to get far more sympathy in the press than Corbyn, but still, the parallel is evident.

The experiences of the two men appear to be parting ways at the present juncture; for while Corbyn is beginning to look completely impervious to any attempts at political betrayal, Trump’s position is in freefall. The loss of RNC funding is surely a mortal blow to his already-haemorraging hopes of becoming President of the United States next month, while the controversy over his disgusting misogynistic remarks caught on video in 2005 appears to have stretched the lead of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton from 4 points to 11. With the Presidential Election now just weeks away, Trump’s position looks irredeemable, whereas Corbyn, with perhaps as much as three-and-a-half years to prepare for a UK General Election, has a position of strength within the Labour Party he probably never imagined until a year ago.

It is remarkable that two such similar paths trodden by two such different people are set to have such radically different endings, but it is also remarkable how differently the similar odysseys are perceived. Corbyn’s unpopularity within the Parliamentary Labour Party is principally because he stands for a more leftist worldview than the submission-to-neoliberalism of most of his colleagues. The hostility to Trump in the Congressional Republican Party is mainly a reflection of personal dislike. Although both Trump’s rise to the Republican Presidential ticket, and Corbyn’s emergence from nowhere to become Labour leader, are widely recognised as remarkable triumphs for the underdog, the reaction has not been all that similar. There has been endless scaremongering against Corbyn for his politics, most of which has been laughed off by the general public for its implausibility, but little personal ill-feeling; the general view seems to be that Corbyn is a thoroughly decent and affable man on a personal level. With Trump, there has also been considerable worry about his politics, especially his attitudes to women, Muslims and Mexicans. But these worries are not made up, and they go hand-in-hand with equal worries about his personality, his incompetence as a businessman, his spitefulness, and his complete lack of control over his own mouth.

The upshot is that Hillary Clinton, one of the most disliked Democrat nominations in US Presidential history, is firm favourite to beat Donald Trump at the polls, for Trump is disliked even more widely. Whereas Corbyn’s position, as mentioned above, has never been as high as it is now.

Of course, Corbyn still has to face the precise obstacle that Trump is failing to hurdle; winning over the wider public is a different task from winning over the membership of a party. Trump triumphed at winning over the members with plenty to spare back in July, just as Corbyn did in September. Trump is failing to convince the wider electorate in the USA, and Corbyn will have a challenge to do better in the UK. The fact that he has drawn so many new members to the Labour Party in a little over a year is very promising, but half a million members does not necesssarily translate to millions of extra voters when it counts the most.

But what Corbyn has over Trump is not just his greater personal likeability, but also that his supporters are different. At the risk of invoking stereotype, Trump’s support is made up in significant part of the paranoid and inward-looking. People who fear difference, and enjoy the expression of crass ignorance because (they think) it is “Tellin’ it like it is.” Corbyn’s support is largely made up of people who have more vision and are more positive in their outlook. Paranoia is not their motivation, instead they desire an end to needless and destructive inequality. They are not necessarily always more intelligent than Trump supporters, but they have more imagination, and have something positive to aim for, rather than something to be scared of.

Corbyn also probably has time on his side. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, thanks to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011, will have difficulty forcing an early General Election during her ‘honeymoon period’ while the opinion polls suggest that the Conservative Party is well ahead. She would need the approval of two-thirds of the House Of Commons to force a dissolution through, and with a Government majority of just 16, that approval will be difficult to build without co-operation from Labour. Even the treacherous ‘Chickens of the coup’ will think twice before letting themselves be seen actively working with a Tory Prime Minister against a Labour leader. The odds therefore are that Corbyn has time available to turn his party membership into a coherent movement that can carry the message to the wider public, re-engaging with the millions in the electorate who did not vote in 2015. Corbyn has said as much recently, including at the The World Transformed Exhibition in Liverpool last month. He has a long-term strategy, he is not just following whims taken off the top of his own head. Unlike a certain New Yorker.

So for all the similarities between their journeys, Corbyn and Trump are completely different where it counts, and that is why Corbyn has a real chance, whereas Trump’s chances have all-but-crumbled.

Is there a problem with private providers getting mixed up with the idea of choice in childbirth?

Rather more than one.

Save Liverpool Women's Hospital

Privatisation is part and parcel of the Maternity Review and the Governments plans for the NHS. Mersyside and Cheshire are one of the first areas to start it.

In the previous post we wrote about the need for NHS based home births but the “One to One” name  locally is associated with a private for profit company/ companies providing NHS funded maternity care.

What’s the problem with private providers getting mixed up with the idea of choice in childbirth?

At each stage of pregnancy, Midwife support links to other potential back up providers like ambulance and hospitals.. One to one midwives, either private or NHS, rely on the NHS for back up. 50% of first time mothers giving birth in the home have to be transferred to hospital.

This privatized provision is part and parcel of current provision for the NHS. Clinical Commissioning Groups  decide which organisations they will pay…

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Neo-natal services at Liverpool Women’s Hospital need upgrading, not relocating elsewhere.

Save Liverpool Women's Hospital

Neo natal services

A dad pointed to his well-beloved son and said.” He would not be here if it were not for that hospital”.

Liverpool Women’s Hospital is held in the hearts of many families, similarly grateful for the care of the neo natal unit. The public fund raising for it shows how much it is respected.  Liverpool Women’s Hospital cared for 1,091 babies in the neo natal unit.

The report to Liverpool CCG said

“• Current neonatal facility was under size for current and future needs.”

There are problems faced by the neo natal unit

  1. There is a dire national shortage of neo natal nurses such that not all the beds can be used at present
  2. New policies mean when each bed is replaced each bed needs more space. There is though no lack of space in Liverpool Women’s hospital. The investment to upgrade this unit is required.

For…

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