Op-ED: Fake goods continue to flood the UK market and it is often difficult knowing what is real and what is not. But Vodka lovers have a heads up as the media reports deadly fake vodka made from anti-freeze has been found on sale across Britain.
Before you toast the New Year with a glass of the alternative hard stuff check your vodka is real and not this deadly alternative.
The extent of the problem is not clear but as thousands of bottles of fake vodka have been discovered it could be huge. Did the fraudsters stop at vodka or should we all worry what may be in our favourite tipple whatever that may be?
According to the Independent "Illegal vodka is sometimes made with chemicals found in anti-freeze and car windscreen wash and partygoers are being warned that criminal gangs are looking to exploit increased demand for alcohol over the festive period".
Trading Standards officers raided various illegal hooch factories across the country seizing 20,000 bottles of anti-freeze labelled as vodka in Derbyshire. Burt raids also found the potentially deadly vodka on sale at one shop in Luton.
“Commonly used substitutes for ethanol include chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish remover and automobile screen wash, as well as methanol and isopropanol which are used in antifreeze and some fuels,” Drinkaware’s Chief Medical Advisor Professor Paul Wallace explained in a statement on the group’s website.
“These other types of alcohol can produce similar effects to ethanol in terms of making you feel tipsy. But they are also potentially very dangerous” continues the Independent.
Authorities have warned against consuming the fake hooch. The consequences of a cheap bottle of vodka could be blindness or worse.
Three years ago a gangs used bleach on methylated spirits to remove its purple colour, bottle the liquid and then sold it as vodka.
They were caught but how many fraudsters slip through the net? How many bottles of poison are lurking in homes and shops?
Although this news centres on vodka other alcoholic beverages have also been targeted.
A good reason to enjoy a sober New Year?
Related at TEK:
Fake cigarettes in fake Britain
Fake bomb detectors promoted by British government
Dogs skinned alive for your fake UGG boots, petition
There are many issues that will determine the outcome of the 2015 General Election in May.
These include the increased wealth gap, austerity measures which have hit the poor and vulnerable, the Bedroom Tax, corruption in high office, government distrust, annoyance at money for conflict and overseas but not for the people of the UK, fat-cats and corporations getting richer as the level of poverty increases across the UK, the EU, immigration, policies and reform and much more.
And in the mix is fox hunting.
Fox hunting is a difficult one for politicians. As they try to appeal to people who will actually turn out and vote they will stop at nothing.
The tradition of fox hunting, brutally tracking a fox to death and then allowing it to be ripped apart by hounds, was resigned to history with the Labour Hunting Act of 2004.
Not all Labour politicians eagerly supported the act but the majority did. It was an election promise that took time to get into law but finally a new era was here.
Fox hunting supporters however were livid and for the last ten years many have flaunted the ban.
For the Tories committing to repealing the ban could be a vote winner in traditional Tory heartlands. But remember that the hunting ban affects a range of animals.
As the Conservatives become more desperate repealing the hunting ban is just the first in what will be a series of promises. It involves the promise of a free vote in parliament if the Tories win in May.
We know from the Tory's track record though that their promises melt quicker than sloppy snow.
But if they decide to put a repeal of the hunting ban into their manifesto they are guaranteed support from some right-wingers who may otherwise be jumping ship to UKIP.
In 2010 they did not win the election but won enough of the vote to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats; no doubt a Tory UKIP coalition would repeal the Hunting Ban.
All of this means it is important to get out there and vote.
While it is easy to understand the electorate's disillusionment with politics we need to bear in mind the fat-cats, elite, wealthy, fox hunting fraternity and other right-wingers will make sure they vote.
Apathy could be the biggest vote winner for the Tories or UKIP and biggest loser for Labour.
There could be many reasons you want to vote for a change of government. If supporting and strengthening the fox hunting ban is one you best get out there and vote accordingly.
The Metro has its own fox hunting ban poll. Vote here.
As you can see below, here at TEK we are not surprised that the Tories look set to attack the hunting ban and have been reporting this for sometime.
Related at TEK:
British police should be policing hunters
Fox hunting in the UK
Strengthen the Hunting Act
Hands off the Hunting Act
Dirty underbelly of fox hunting
Op-Ed: What is the world coming to when a report claims that millions of people in the UK are malnourished? It is 2014 not Victorian England with no support structure for the poor, unlucky and vulnerable of the country.
For those who would question 'unlucky' bear in mind that many of us are only a heartbeat away from poverty and homelessness. Life can change very quickly; divorce, bereavement, ill-health or even unemployment can trigger a chain-of-events that spiral out of control.
Russia Today reports "According to official figures from the government’s Family Food report, the poorest 10 percent of the UK population – around 6.4 million people – aren’t eating enough food to maintain their body weight".
As it was only yesterday we reported "Britons riding high in fat charts but NHS has a plan" it seems fair to say that the UK has an eating disorder on a grand scale.
You can eat until you are obese though and be undernourished if all you eat is junk.
But there is no doubting that tough austerity measures implemented by the current coalition government have left some of the poorest people of the UK struggling to survive.
Sometimes it is down to choice but when your poor income has been reduced to a pittance nourishment may drop down your list of priorities.
If you do not pay your council tax you may be jailed; if you do not pay your rent expect to be evicted. In such circumstances cutting back on your food budget may be the only way you can tighten your belt.
Food poverty with respect to the rich poor divide has grown immensely since 2013. Since the beginning of the 21st Century the wealth gap has continued to widen annually.
It is noted that in 1954, when there was still some food rationing, people fared better.
“The data absolutely shocked me. What it shows is for the first time since the Second World War, if you are poor you cannot afford to eat sufficient calories," said Chris Goodall, an award-winning author who writes about energy.
As he notes in the 50's more people grew their produce and fast and frozen foods were hardly available if at all.
But as a person born in the early 50's this writer would say there is much more to consider.
At that time in working-class areas of the UK perhaps only one or two families had a car or even a television set. It was a different era in every sense; a simpler time. Most ordinary women did not work especially if they were married and mothers.
Many of the meals cooked would have modern nutritional experts hold their hands up in horror. Bread and dripping with an Oxo cube sprinkled on made a meaty tasting cheap treat. A dish of mushy peas for supper soaked in sat and vinegar. Stew and dumplings with more vegetables added throughout the week could feed a family for days. And how could you fail to love fried egg and chips cooked in lard of course. Cheap, possibly nutritious, but derided in recent years.
There were no strict best before and use by dates. Instead people used common sense about the freshness of foods and sometimes that led to upset tummies.
In small back-yards some people kept rabbits, others the odd chicken and some even ducks. Some became pets but others a good meal.
Home-grown produce tended to be on local council allotments. During WWII garden spaces were dug over for planting vegetables but in working-class homes in inner cities gardens were small or non-existent.
But an allotment could provide a reasonable space for planting at a fairly cheap rent.
Space for allotments though became a problem as rebuilding programs got underway following the war. Allotments were prime and hard to get hold of. There were soon waiting-lists for allotments.
In 2014 as the economy lurches many British people now grow some produce at home again. In our small garden we usually manage some potatoes, lettuce, radishes, spring onions, carrots and tomatoes. A couple of fruit trees are recent additions.
But you cannot grow everything you need especially in the city.
In the 50s free school milk was available for children at school.
Bulk buying can also save you money but you may need a vehicle and enough money to lay out in the short term.
And when the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition reintroduced free school meals it was for all children under a certain age. That meant it was open for the children of millionaires and politicians. Money that would have been better spent on means-tested free school meals for children up to an older age.
"The report, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, found that some 6.4 million people ate just 1,997 calories a day last year. Guidelines stipulate that people should consume at least 2,080 calories to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the Independent on Sunday reports".
The number of people dependent on food banks in the UK continues to rise
"The figures are reflected by a surge in the number of people using food banks over the last few years. The Trussell Trust, which runs more than 400 food banks across the UK, fed more than 492,600 people between April and September, a 38 percent increase since 2013. "We talk to people who have had nothing but toast to eat for a week – usually parents because they are trying their best to keep their children fed," Chris Mould, the chairman of the Trussell Trust, told the Independent.
Experts have said the figures need more evaluation work.
But with reports that some parents live on toast as it is cheap we must recognise the UK has a huge problem. Malnourished children will suffer from poor health and their education will be difficult.
Learning to manage your money well, cook sensibly and grow some foods can only help so far.
It is not 1954 it is 2014 and the British government should be ashamed of austerity measures that have hit the vulnerable, especially as they refuse to implement tax rises that the rich could afford.
Still classed as one of the richest countries in the world the UK can now brag about its undernourished kids as the government continues to slash benefits but send aid abroad.
Related reading at TEK:
George Osborne gives old Etonian aide 19% pay rise
British foodbanks, 21st Century soup kitchens
Op-Ed: A high court ruling may mean that a 26-year-old pregnant woman, a mother of two young children, who was pronounced clinically dead on December 3 can at last be allowed to rest in peace.
She is being kept 'alive' by a life-support machine simply to keep her unborn baby alive in her womb. As Sky News reports the medical team had refused family requests to switch of the machine as Northern Ireland gives "18-week-old foetus the same constitutional rights as the mother".
Anti-abortion and pro-life campaigners may be heartened to know that the 18-week-old foetus is regarded as a citizen and afforded the same rights as all other citizens. Others will think it is madness and a step way too far.
The family of the dead mother-to-be have suffered the trauma of the death of their loved one and her unborn baby but have been unable to move on.
If the foetus was more developed perhaps they would agree with the medical team who had kept the young woman alive.
In the end though the medical team could claim they were acting in the best interests of the foetus perhaps they were not.
It is sad that in such tragic circumstances the family had to take the issue to the high-court but at least now they have a sensible assessment of the situation.
Dublin's High Court has ruled that keeping the woman alive would deprive her of her dignity which is a landmark ruling in Ireland. "The panel of judges said it was in the best interest of the unborn child to authorise the withdrawal of life support in what was a "tragic and unfortunate case".
The panel also recognised that the life support situation was causing the woman's father, partner and two young children unnecessary pain and suffering in what it described as a "futile exercise".