Sunday, February 27, 2011

St John's, Smith Square, Tuesday evening

International Baroque Players: Journey of Discovery
Apollo & Dionysus
Welcome to tonight's concert!
Thanks for joining us and coming out to hear tonight's programme, we hope that you will enjoy the mixture of wellknown and less familiar works. We're still fresh from being featured as one of the highlights of 2010 on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show and are hugely looking forward to our next few projects. More details are included over the page and we hope to see you again in the future. In the meantime, do come and say hello to any of us in the interval or after the concert. We love to hear your thoughts!

The Programme

Giovanni Benedetto Platti (1697-1763) Concerto Grosso No 10 in F Major (after Corelli op. 5)
Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729) Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo in a minor
Georg Philip Telemann (1687-1755) Concerto in A major ("the frogs') TWV 51:A4
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Ricercar a 6 from 'A Musical Offering

Interval (approx. 20 minutes)

Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) Concerto for lute, strings and basso continuo in d minor
Georg Philip Telemann Violin Concerto in Bflat Major ('Pisendel Concerto1)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concerto No 3, BWV 1048
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1841) Sinfonia in C Major 'per I'orchestra di Dresda RV 192

Johannes Pramsohler, director and solo violin
Magnus Andersson, solo lute
Violins Johannes Pramsohler (Italy)*^ Dorian Bandy (USA), Davina Clarke (UK), George Clifford (UK)*, Holly Harman (Australia/UK)^, Julia Kuhn (Germany), Adam Lord (UK)*^, Silvio Richter (Croatia), Ignacio Abalos Ruiz (Spain), Siv
Thomassen (Norway)

Violas Aliye Cornish (UK)*, Daniela Braun (Austria)*, Maria Ramirez Rodriguez (Spain)*
Cellos Kinga Gaborjani (Hungary)*, Carina Drury (Ireland)*
Harpsichord Christopher Bucknall (UK)
Lute Magnus Andersson (Sweden)

*indicates soloist in Brandenburg 3 ^ indicates soloist in Ricercar

Orchestral Manager Adam Lord Orchestral Assistant Ruby Norman-Curran IBP Pulse Administrator Nigel Lord General Manager Aliye Cornish

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bahrain - is it an opening?

The whole of last week Parliament was in recess. But on Tuesday I chaired a meeting on the developments in Bahrain where, following large demonstrations, and the deliberate slaughter of demonstrators by the security forces, the king has asked Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa to enter into a dialogue with the opposition on the political reforms they demand.

Hassan Mushaime, Leader of the Haq movement, returned to Bahrain today after a period of voluntary exile. He said that actual reforms are needed, not just talk.

It remains to be seen whether the government’s offer is genuine. It won’t take long before we can judge whether freedom of speech and of assembly are part of the deal. There can only be a worthwhile dialogue if there are no subjects that are taboo. Can the importation of large numbers of Sunni mercenaries be mentioned, for instance, and will there be transparency on the policy of demographic engineering?

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Demonstrations by Kuwaiti Bidoon for their right to citizenship and to public services
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From Middle East Online:

Five wounded as Kuwait police attacks protest

Hundreds of stateless Arabs in Kuwait demand solution to their problem and citizenship.

Most bidoons claim to be Kuwaitis

KUWAIT CITY - At least five people, including a security man, were hurt and dozens arrested on Friday as Kuwaiti riot police clashed with hundreds of stateless Arab protesters demanding rights.
The elite special forces used water cannon, tear gas, batons and smoke bombs in a bid to disperse more than 500 protesters after they refused calls by authorities to end their demonstration.
Ambulances rushed an unspecified number of wounded protesters and security men away from the scene, with a witness saying at least five people were hurt, one of them seriously.
Witnesses said a large number of protesters were arrested as they refused orders by police to disperse.
About 300 stateless Arabs, also known as bidoons, began the protest immediately after noon Friday prayers in Jahra city, 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Kuwait City, demanding rights and citizenship.
The crowds quickly swelled into around 1,000 despite heavy police presence as the peaceful protest turned violent.
Some of the protesters were carrying copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and chanting slogans of "God is Greatest," while demanding a solution to their decades-old problem.
They also carried Kuwaiti flags and portraits of the ruler and chanted: "the people wants the rights of bidoons (stateless people)," who have been deprived of their basic rights of education, health and jobs.
Security officials tried in vain to convince them to disperse, and the situation became tense when some of the protesters threw rocks at security men, who are armed with batons and tear gas canisters.
The protesters also raised slogans against Saleh al-Fadhalah, a former MP who was recently appointed to lead a newly created government body entrusted with resolving the issue of the bidoons.
Several MPs warned the government from using force against the protesters and blamed it for failing to resolve the problem.
"We call for dealing peacefully with the bidoons demonstration and warn against the use of force or arresting the protesters," Islamist MP Jamaan al-Harabsh said in a statement.
"The protest of bidoons is legitimate and the government is responsible for for this because it has failed to resolve the problem," independent MP Daifallah Buramia said.
Stateless Arabs, estimated at more than 100,000, claim they have the right to Kuwaiti citizenship, but the government says that ancestors of many of them came from neighbouring countries and they are not entitled to nationality.
Kuwait launched a crackdown on them in 2000, depriving them of their essential rights in a bid to force them to reveal what the authorities say are their true identities.
Many bidoons have no right to a driver's licence, cannot get birth certificates for their babies or death certificates for the dead. They are also banned from getting their marriage contracts attested.
Due to stringent government restrictions, a majority of them are living in dire economic conditions in oil-rich Kuwait, where the average monthly salary of native citizens is more than $3,500 (2,575 euros).
Authorities said that following the crackdown, some 20,000 bidoons disclosed their original citizenship and were given residence permits like other foreigners.
Most bidoons claim to be Kuwaitis whose forefathers, who lived as Bedouins in the desert, failed to apply for citizenship when the state first introduced its nationality law in 1959.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The week

There hasn't been time to update the blog so far this week, but the House rose yesterday until Monday week, giving me the opportunity of catching up with the rest of my life, including half an hour on Skype with Victoria and Alan in Cambodia this afternoon, and the same with Maurice in New Zealand just now (20.00).

We had two late nights this week on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which the Labour Party has tried so hard to scupper. They didn't want the size of constituencies to be equalised, and they are now against a referendum on giving electors the right to choose a fairer voting system, which they backed at the election less than a year ago.

Anyway, the Bill finally went through after some ping-pong, and the House went into recess yesterday for 10 days. It should give me a chance to catch up on the paperwork, and to prepare for my 2 1/2 hour debate on the situation in Zimbabwe on March 10.

I received an invitation from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health this week. You'ld think governments would latch onto the idea of increasing the tax on tobacco, simultaneously reducing the £2.7 billion annual cost to the NHS of smoking-related illness. Its estimated that with the tobacco control measures now in place, a 5% increase in the retail price of cigarettes through a tax hike would increase revenue by £430 million, and save money on treatment of smoking-related disease.

I used to smoke quite heavily (20-40 a day) until I gave up on July 31, 1976. The prevailing wisdom was that 20 years after a smoker gave up, the risk would be cancelled. But I'm certain that my vascular problems are related to my previous smoking history. The best way to avoid smoking-related disease is never to start smoking.

Unlawful killings by security forces in Bahrain


Death certificate of a 22-year old who was killed at one of the demonstrations in Bahrain this week. So far at least 7 people have been murdered, and no inquiry has been announced by the government
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poetry reading

After the Bangladesh award ceremony Lindsay picked me up and we went to the Minet Library, round the corner from where we live, for a poetry reading linked to an appeal not to close the library as the local authority proposes, as part of the cuts. I read T S Eliot's The Boston Evening Transcript; Christian Morgenstern Das Grosse Lalula, and John Donne's Aire and Angels.

However many signatories they get on the appeal I'm afraid the Library will be closed, and the local archives will be moved somewhere else. Equally I'm sure that if there was the political will, Lambeth could find savings bigger than this closure will achieve from another part of the Council's budget, that would be less damaging to local cohesion and identity.

With the award-winning son of Dr Ruab Uddin.
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At the ceremony to present Bangladeshi students with awards for outstanding performance in GCSE and A level exams, Saturday February 11. The High Commissioner is on my far right: Dr Ruab Uddin next on my right, and Sultan Sharif on my left
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Monday, February 07, 2011

Cardiologist Dr M to Consultant Vascular Surgeon:

His cardiac history dates back to a coronary artery bypass operation performed by Mr D here at King's College Hospital in 1995. This followed an episode of angina and indeed created a good deal of cardiac stability in the ensuing years.

As you know, he has had problem peripheral vascular disease and underwent an EVA deployment in July 2010. Since this time, his intermittent claudication has been somewhat worse, as has his shortness of breath. Both he and his wife are certain
that his exercise tolerance has decreased since this time. Just recently (in the last few days] he has coughed some bright red blood, but does not have any other features of chest infection at present.

Lord Avebury has a complex past medical history which includes:-
Peripheral vascular disease - EVA as above
Maltoma excised by Mr M in 2006
A road traffic accident creating a colonic laceration requiring Laparotomy - 2001
Barrett's oesophagus
Anaemia of unknown aetiology
Cardiovascular risk factors include long-standing and recently labile hypertension, a distant history of cigarette-smoking [until 1976] and raised Cholesterol.

Current medications comprise:
1. Bisoprolol
2. Ramipril
3. Amlodipine [dose is unknown]
4. Frusemide 40 mg daily
5. Atorvastatin 10 mg daily
6. Aspirin 75 mg daily
7. Omeprazole 20 mg daily
8. Domperidone

On examination today, he had a regular pulse of 60 bpm. His JVP was slightly elevated with a permanent V-wave.

Auscultation of his heart revealed a pansystolic murmur at the lower left sternal edge. He had mild peripheral oedema, but his chest was clear.

His ECG shows a sinus bradycardia.

His echocardiogram (performed in October 2010) shows good LV function, but moderate tricuspid regurgitation with a pulmonary artery pressure of 50mmHg.

The precise cause of this gentleman's shortness of breath is unclear, but clearly this could be multi-factorial. The possibility of low-grade multiple small PEs cross my mind and because of this, I have arranged for him to have a CT pulmonary angiogram.

I have also arranged a 24-Hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor. His wife is going to e-mail me a list of his drug doses and I will see him in 3-4 weeks time with these first two investigations. It is likely that I will be reducing or even discontinuing his beta-blocker, given his bradycardia and quite limiting intermittent claudication.


Wikipedia says:

Bradycardia (Greek βραδυκαρδία, bradykardía, "heart slowness"), in the context of adult medicine, is the resting heart rate of under 60 beats per minute, though it is seldom symptomatic until the rate drops below 50 beat/min. It may cause cardiac arrest in some patients, because those with bradycardia may not be pumping enough oxygen to their heart. It sometimes results in fainting, shortness of breath, and if severe enough, death.[

Sunday, February 06, 2011


The Snows leaving at the end of their week's visit, after lunch on Saturday
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Hearing in 1 Abbey Gardens on Friday

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The major event of last week was the hearing on Thursday and Friday of evidence in relation to an inquiry organised by the Travellers Aid Trust into the effect of the 'localism' agenda and other policies of the department of Communities and Local Government on the lives of Gypsies and Travellers. To summarise, the witnesses considered that since the election and the purported rescinding by Secretary of State Eric Pickles of Circular 1/2006, very few if any planning permissions had been given by local authorities for permanent sites. Where the long process of accommodation needs assessments, public inquiries, and adjustments to ensure that local authorities which had avoided their obligations in the past took on their fair share of the numbers that are needed to eliminate unauthorised encampments had been completed, as in the East of England, some authorities said they would retain the numbers, but others adopted much lower targets, or decided they didn't need any at all. In London, where the calculated need was for 811 new pitches, the target was whittled down in stages until finally, the mayor announced that not a single pitch would be provided throughout Greater London, with the effect that 811 extra pitches would have to be accommodated in the home counties if unauthorised encampments are to be eliminated. Yet everybody agrees that unless the extra sites to satisfy the need are authorised by planning authorities, huge problems will continue, such as tensions between Travellers and settled communities, and health and education disadvantage among homeless Travellers.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Abbas Faiz on last week's meeting with Sheikh Hasina

Amnesty International

Meeting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Abbas Faiz discussed war crimes trials and extrajudicial executions with the Bangladesh Prime Minister © Amnesty International
By Abbas Faiz – South Asia researcher for Amnesty International

It was a welcome opportunity to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her official visit to the UK. Three of us, Lord Eric Avebury of the UK House of Lords, Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch and I met the Prime Minister on 30 January at her hotel suite in London.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr Dipu Moni and the Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Sayeedur Rahman Khan were also present at the meeting.

We began with a discussion on the war crimes trials, restrictions on human rights groups visiting Chittagong Hill Tracts, and the continued delay in implementing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord (CHT) that was signed in 1997 during Sheikh Hasina’s previous tenure as Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister said she was committed to implementing the CHT Accord and had set up a committee to advise her on how to implement it.

The Foreign Minister said the government was aware of the concerns the International Bar Association had raised about the law under which war crimes will be tried. She said the government had sought the opinion of legal experts on those concerns and that the amended law incorporates their advice. She said the process is to heal wounds, and the government is looking at all issues in relation to the trials, and the rule of law would be followed.

The law denies, among other things, the right to challenge the jurisdiction of the Tribunal and the right to the possibility of bail but it was not clear if the government would move to amend the law.

I told the Prime Minister that Amnesty International welcomes the government’s move to make the National Human Rights Commission permanent and asked for her assurances that it would remain independent and well resourced. Also, the government’s move to try Bangladesh Rifle mutineers in civilian courts, as against courts martial, was welcome.

I expressed concern that the government’s move to address some of the human rights concerns appear to favour only members of her own party, the Awami League. There is a long, unwelcome legacy in Bangladesh for governments to go soft on the criminal activities of members of their own party and harsh on the opposition. I asked why the only known cases of the government pardoning death penalty convicts were 20 convicts, 19 of whom were members of the governing Awami League. I also expressed concern about the activities of the Bangladesh Chattra League (BCL), the student wing of the Awami League, and the serious allegations of human rights abuses by this grouping, which have gone unpunished.

The Foreign Minister said the deaths sentences had been politically motivated and for that reason the prisoners have been pardoned. I was dismayed as I had hoped to hear a commitment to pardoning more death penalty convicts and the exercise of utmost impartiality in choosing who to pardon.

The Prime Minister said she had taken action against the BCL members. Some have been arrested for committing crimes and some have been expelled from the Awami League.

I explained that torture continues to be widespread and asked the Prime Minister if her government would consider implementing the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that provides guidelines for torture free investigation of suspects. This question remained unanswered.

I referred to statements the Prime Minister had made before and after the 2008 elections that extrajudicial executions would end. Yet, they continue and nothing seems to be done to stop them.

The Prime Minister said extrajudicial executions have been happening since 2004 and she has been very vocal on the issue from that time. She said they could not stop overnight. She said all incidents are investigated, and if any officer is found to have committed a crime “immediately we take action against it”.

I agree that extrajudicial executions cannot stop overnight, but work to stop them can begin straight away. While the Prime Minister’s comments generate the hope that the government might be prepared to address the issue, the Home Minister’s comments last week that extrajudicial executions were not happening undermines that hope.