British Solo Yachtswoman Adrift in Southern Ocean

British Solo Yachtswoman Adrift in Southern Ocean

Rescue efforts are in place for British solo yachtswoman and racer, Susie Goodall, whose boat capsized during the Golden Globe Round the World Yacht Race.

The storm

Goodall was on day 157 of the race, and lying fourth overall, when in a violent storm of massive seas and 60 knot winds, her boat overturned and she was knocked unconscious.  Initially there was concern that the boat had been holed, however Susie reports that the hull has re-righted itself, and there is no hole. She has however lost her mast and is adrift some 480 miles from any assistance.

The condition of the boat

When HQ were finally able to raise her on the phone, Goodall said:

“I have been dismasted. Thought I had holed the hull because the boat filled with water, but the hull is not holed.  The hull is okay. The boat is destroyed. I can’t make up a jury rig. The only thing left is the hull and deck which is intact.”

The rescue

Although there is no imminent danger, being adrift in the Southern Ocean leaves the yachtswoman in an urgent situation.  HQ have decided not to send the nearest competitor the Estonian Uku Randmaa as he is about to run the same storm that caused the problems to Goodall’s boat DHL Starlight.  The Chilean authorities have contacted a ship to the west of Goodall’s current position which, it is anticipated, will take two days to arrive. Hopefully that will be quickly enough.

Susie Goodall the solo British yachtswoman

Goodall started sailing aged 3, raced Laser Dinghies when she was younger and moved into teaching.  She is an offshore and ocean sailing instructor and spent time working in the superyacht industry before taking up sail training.

She is from Cornwall, England and is the only woman participating in the 30,000 mile Golden  Globe Round the World Yacht Race this year. At 29 years of age she is also the youngest competitor in this year’s race.

sailboat race

Brexit Leaves British Politics in Disarray

Brexit Leaves British Politics in Disarray

 Since June 23, 2016 when the referendum took place, the biggest political story in the U.K. has been “Brexit.” There has been much coverage of the ongoing negotiations and reactions in the U.K. to their leaving the European Union.

This has been a very difficult time in U.K. politics. The Government’s own (newly appointed) Brexit Minister got the exit dates wrong yesterday in the Houses of Parliament.

This doesn’t bode well for anyone else trying to gain any sort of comprehensive understanding of the issue.

On Nov. 13, Labour tabled a motion demanding full disclosure of legal advice to Parliament.  The Conservatives abstained, and it was carried.

In response, the Conservatives chose not to publish the advice given, but allowed a presentation to the House.

Not about Brexit

Yesterday, in Parliament, the Speaker of the House allowed the Labour and also the Democratic Union Party along with two other parties to submit an emergency motion.  This motion was that the government was holding Parliament in contempt as it had not made the legal advice given to the government available to members of the House.

This motion will be voted on before the five day Brexit deal debate can take place.

The possible repercussions

Labour has brought this to force the Conservative government into disclosure, and no specific penalty has been asked for.  The Conservatives, in response, are calling a three-line whip – to ensure that all of their available members are there to vote and defend the government’s decision not to disclose the legal advice given.

The most likely outcome will be that a senior Conservative minister will be suspended from the House immediately before the debate over Brexit takes place.  

Constitutionally difficult

The argument that the Government is using – that legal advice is privileged – does not really hold here according to the Members of Parliament, as they feel that prior to making a decision they should have the benefit of the advice available to them.

This issue has been largely ignored by a U.K. population who are largely tired of reading about Brexit. But it will have huge ramifications for both the process of the U.K. leaving the E.U., and also for the current Conservative government and the stability of Parliament itself.

UK Meets United Nations HIV Targets for the First Time

UK Meets United Nations HIV Targets for the First Time

Public Health England has announced that diagnosis figures for HIV continue to fall as they meet the Joint United Nation Program targets of 90 percent for diagnosis, treatment and transmission for the first time in the U.K. (90/90/90) which had been set for 2020.

The statistics

Between 2016 – 17 there was a 17 percent downward trend in new diagnoses within the U.K. with the spread amongst the male gay and bisexual community reducing.

92 percent of those living with HIV in the U.K. are diagnosed.

98 percent of those with a diagnosis are receiving treatment.

97 percent are receiving treatment that inhibits the transmission of HIV.

4,373 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in the U.K. in 2017. Men accounted for 3,236 of those and most were late stage diagnosis.

HIV in the U.K.

Estimates suggest that between 89,400 and 101,200 people are living in the U.K. with HIV.  It is suspected that 10,400 of those individuals are undiagnosed and do not know they are living with the condition.  40 percent of those with a diagnosis live in London, with the highest concentration (1.7 percent of the population) in Lambeth.

Proportionately, men who have sex with men, and black African people are more likely to be affected by HIV.  

The current issues

Late diagnosis continues to be the biggest factor driving death rates from HIV/AIDS.  With 442 people dying of AIDS related illnesses in 2016 and 428 in 2017. Once diagnosis has taken place and treatment is implemented, HIV positive individuals have the same death rate as the rest of the population, but early diagnosis remains key.

Knowledge and awareness of HIV is dropping in the U.K., a survey showed that statistically only 45 percent of the population could accurately identify how HIV is and isn’t transmitted from person to person.

Publicity has fallen about HIV and AIDS within the U.K. over recent years, and good outcomes achieved, but public information has to be maintained to encourage early diagnosis and treatment, and ensure that the ongoing spread remains in decline.

British Student Matthew Hedges Imprisoned for Life in UAE

British Student Matthew Hedges Imprisoned for Life in UAE

Mr. Matthew Hedges, a Phd student at Durham University in England has been sentenced to life imprisonment for “spying.”

Mr. Hedges had travelled to Dubai to conduct research for his Phd before being arrested and held for more than six months prior to his trial.

The trial

Last Wednesday, the sentence was handed down in Abu Dhabi at a trial lasting less than five minutes. No lawyer was present.  It is reported by Mr. Hedge’s wife, Daniela Tejada (27), that he was “visibly shaking” during the sentencing. Ms. Tejada said that no one had taken the trial seriously, and that the government “must take a stand now for Matthew.”

The government reaction

The Foreign Secretary Mr. Jeremy Hunt is meeting with Ms. Tejada to discuss her husband’s trial and imprisonment.  Mr. Hunt has tweeted, “News on Matthew Hedges extremely worrying. We have seen no evidence to back up charges against him.  FCO will do ALL we can to get him home & I will meet his wife Daniela tmrw. UAE claim to be friendly & ally of the UK so there will be serious diplomatic consequences.   Unacceptable.”

Theresa May, the Prime Minister said during Prime Minister’s questions that she was “deeply disappointed and concerned” and that she would be raising it with the Emirati officials.

The charges

It is reported that Mr. Hedges was detained on May 5. He was leaving the country in reaction to accusations made by an Emirati man for “asking sensitive questions about some sensitive departments” and “seeking to gather classified information on the UAE”.

Mr. Hedges was researching aspects of the UAE’s foreign and domestic security strategy and the war in Yemen in relation to his Phd.

It has been reported that Mr. Hedges has made a confession to the charges against him, although the Foreign Office believes at worst Mr. Hedges was naïve, at best innocent.

Black Cab Rapist Denied Parole

Black Cab Rapist Denied Parole

John Worboys, known in the U.K. as the Black Cab Rapist has had his parole appeal rejected.  The board was reconsidering, under High Court instruction, an earlier board decision made in January of this year to release him.

The Crime

Mr. Worboys, now known as John Radford, was convicted in 2009 after being found guilty of 19 attacks on 12 women the previous year.  He was ordered to serve an “indeterminate sentence,” with a minimum of 8 years for those crimes.

The Police, however, consider that Mr. Worboys may be responsible for as many as 100 rapes and sexual assaults over a period of six years between 2002 and 2008.  He would pick his victims up in his black London taxi, say he was celebrating an occasion and offer them champagne laced with drugs. There may be even more victims who have not come forward.

The Decision

As part of their reasoning to keep him behind bars the Parole Board have taken into consideration Worboys’ “risk factors,” which included his “sense of entitlement” and “belief that rape is acceptable.”  The board received a 1,255 dossier and statements from seven of his victims as part of their deliberations.

Mr Worboys was initially granted release in January of this year.  Immediately, when the decision to release him became public, two of his victims launched a legal challenge and the High Court instructed a Parole Board “fresh determination” in the case.

The Repercussions

The Justice Secretary, David Gauke, forced the resignation of the Parole Board chairman Nick Hardwick following the High Court decision saying that his position was “untenable.”

Mr Worboys will be eligible for another Parole Board review within he next two years, with the date to be set by the Ministry of Justice.

Keep Watching

On Monday of last week it became public knowledge that the Metropolitan Police had submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for assessment for prosecution.  This file concerns a 61 year old man but the police will not confirm or deny if that is Worboys, only that they launched an investigation in January after a number of victims contacted the police.