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One minute a day of strenuous exercise has same health and fitness benefit as 45 minutes of moderate exercise

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Very interesting article in the NY Times by Gretchen Reynolds. The core:

. . . One group was asked to change nothing about their current, virtually nonexistent exercise routines; they would be the controls.

A second group began a typical endurance-workout routine, consisting of riding at a moderate pace on a stationary bicycle at the lab for 45 minutes, with a two-minute warm-up and three-minute cool down.

The final group was assigned to interval training, using the most abbreviated workout yet to have shown benefits. Specifically, the volunteers warmed up for two minutes on stationary bicycles, then pedaled as hard as possible for 20 seconds; rode at a very slow pace for two minutes, sprinted all-out again for 20 seconds; recovered with slow riding for another two minutes; pedaled all-out for a final 20 seconds; then cooled down for three minutes. The entire workout lasted 10 minutes, with only one minute of that time being strenuous.

Both groups of exercising volunteers completed three sessions each week for 12 weeks, a period of time that is about twice as long as in most past studies of interval training.

By the end of the study, published in PLOS One, the endurance group had ridden for 27 hours, while the interval group had ridden for six hours, with only 36 minutes of that time being strenuous.

But when the scientists retested the men’s aerobic fitness, muscles and blood-sugar control now, they found that the exercisers showed virtually identical gains, whether they had completed the long endurance workouts or the short, grueling intervals. In both groups, endurance had increased by nearly 20 percent, insulin resistance likewise had improved significantly, and there were significant increases in the number and function of certain microscopic structures in the men’s muscles that are related to energy production and oxygen consumption.

There were no changes in health or fitness evident in the control group. . .

The research was done by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 April 2016 at 4:18 pm

A Study on Fats That Doesn’t Fit the Story Line

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Aaron Carroll reports in the NY Times:

There was a lot of news this week about a study, published in the medical journal BMJ, that looked at how diet affects heart health. The results were unexpected because they challenged the conventional thinking on saturated fats.

And the data were very old, from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

This has led many to wonder why they weren’t published previously. It has also added to the growing concern that when it comes to nutrition, personal beliefs often trump science.

Perhaps no subject is more controversial in the nutrition world these days than fats. While in the 1970s and 1980s doctors attacked the total amount of fat in Americans’ diets, that seems to have passed. These days, the fights are over the type of fat that is considered acceptable.

Most of our fat comes from two main sources. The first is saturated fats. Usually solid at room temperature, they’re in red meat, dairy products and partly in chicken. The second is unsaturated fats, usually softer and more liquid at room temperature. They’re in fish, nuts and vegetable oils. Many doctors and nutritionists still argue, quite strongly, that the key to health is to emphasize the unsaturated fats. Others believe that’s misguided.

This week’s news came to us by way of a randomized controlled trial, which I’ve argued repeatedly is the best kind of study to determine how one thing causes another.

The Minnesota Coronary Experiment was a well-designed study that was conducted in one nursing home and six state mental hospitals from 1968 to 1973. More than 9,400 men and women, ages 20 to 97, participated. Data on serum cholesterol were available on more than 2,300 participants who were on the study diets for more than a year.

At baseline, participants were getting about 18.5 percent of their calories from saturated fat, and about 3.8 percent from unsaturated fats. The intervention diet was considered a more “heart healthy” one. It encouraged a reduction in the amount of calories from saturated fats (like animal fats and butter) and more from unsaturated fats, particularly linoleic acids (like corn oil). The intervention diet lowered the percent of calories from saturated fats to 9.2 percent, and raised the percent from unsaturated fats to 13.2 percent.

Continue reading the main story

The average follow-up for these participants was just under three years. In that time, the total serum cholesterol dropped significantly more in those on the intervention diet (-31.2 mg/dL) than in those on the control diet (-5 mg/dL).

There was, however, no decreased risk of death. If anything, there seemed to be an increased mortality rate in those on the “heart healthy” diet, particularly among those 65 years and older. More concerning, those who had the greater reduction in serum cholesterol had a higher rate of death. A 30mg/dL decrease in serum cholesterol was associated with a 22 percent increase in the risk of death from any cause, even after adjusting for baseline cholesterol, age, sex, adherence to the diet, body mass and blood pressure.

Of course, this is only one study. It involved only institutionalized patients. Only about a quarter of the participants followed the diet for more than a year. The diets don’t necessarily look like what people really ate, then or now. But this is still a large, randomized controlled trial, and it’s hard to imagine we wouldn’t at least discuss it widely.

Moreover, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of all studies that looked at this question. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 April 2016 at 9:07 am

The idiot’s guide to low-carb high-fat eating

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I keep my net carbs (total carbs minus dietary fiber) below 50g/day, and it has put my type 2 diabetes into remission. The calories lost by restricting carbs to that extent are replaced by eating more fat— protein intake stays the same. The high-fat diet staves off hunger quite well—fat in general is more slowly digested than carb and in particular more slowly than refined carbs (sugar, flour products such as bread, pasta, pastries, boxed breakfast cereals, and the like). And the slow digestion prevents insulin spikes.

One still must watch caloric intake, of course, but the absence of hunger pains makes it easier to keep calorie intake reasonable. I’ve lost 20 lbs since the beginning of the year, which amounts to 5 lbs/month, a reasonable rate of loss.

Marika Sboros at FoodMed.net has a post introducing LCHF to those unfamiliar with it:

Some doctors and dietitians still say a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet is dangerours. That’s despite compelling evidence to show both safety and efficacy of LCHF for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even dementia. Some specialists call dementia type 3 diabetes because of its links with diet.

LCHF is a global phenomenon. In South Africa there are three million “Banters”, as fans of LCHF regimens are known in that country. Banting pioneer is UCT emeritus professor Dr Tim Noakes, a world-renowned scientist rated A1 by the National Research Foundation for expertise in both sports science and nutrition. He documented his theories in the best selling The Real Meal Revolution, co-authored with chef Jonno Proudfoot and nutrition therapist Sally Ann Creed that is known as the “Tim Noakes Diet”. Here, in a Q&A, Noakes gives the basics and an Idiot’s Guide to getting started on the LCHF path. First question:

Is LCHF a diet?

No, it’s a lifestyle.

Do you say your diet’s right for everyone – a one-size-fits-all?

There’s no such thing. No diet is right for everyone. LCHF is best for people who have insulin resistance (the inability to tolerate carbohydrate).

Is it correct to call it “Banting”?

It’s probably more correct to call it Ebstein – after German physician Dr Wilhelm Ebstein who first made it high-fat. That was the diet Sir William Osler promoted in his monumental textbook: The Principles and Practices of Medicine published in the US in 1892.

Is LCHF a fad?

Anyone who claims Banting or Ebstein diets are fads knows nothing about medical nutrition history. Nutrition did not begin in 1977 as our students seem to be taught.

Is LCHF the same as Paleo?

The Paleo diet is slightly different; it promotes consumption of only those foods that would have been available to Paleolithic man from about 2.5 million years ago to the Agricultural Revolution starting about 12 000 years ago.  Foods allowed on Banting but excluded on Paleo  are dairy;  fruits are allowed on Paleo but excluded on Banting.

What about Atkins?

The Atkins diet is similar to Banting. Perhaps Banting promotes the use of low-carb vegetables rather more than Atkins did, but the differences are trivial. This shows that (i) first priority, and the commonality of all these diets, is to cut carbs and sugar (and vegetable oils) and (ii) whether you go Paleo or Banting or Atkins is determined by how you respond to the different options in the different diets.  To find the ideal low-carb diet you need to experiment to see how you respond.

Is LCHF extreme?

It depends what you mean by extreme. Moderation is a smug, puritanical word. No mammal eats in moderation. In nature all diets are extreme: lions eat only meat, polar bears mainly fat, panda bears only bamboo shoots, giraffes only acacia leaves.

Is it balanced?

Balance is what has worked for each of these species for millions of years. LCHF can be extremely low in carbohydrate – the one nutrient for which humans have absolutely no essential requirement, but that depends on how sick you are. In 1977, when we were told to eat diets extremely high in carbohydrates, human health started to fail on a global scale.

Your recommended carb range is <200g to <25g, correct? What are the indications?

It depends how insulin resistant you are and how much exercise you do. If you are completely insulin sensitive (that is, you tolerate carbohydrates well, have low fasting blood glucose, insulin and triglyceride concentrations, low small LDL particle numbers; low HbA1c; high HDL-cholesterol concentrations; and absence of fatty liver) and exercise regularly a few hours a week, then it is can be safe to ingest up to 200g carb per day, or at least until your HbA1c rises above 5.5% . That’ll be time to start reducing the carbs.

On the other hand, if you are profoundly insulin resistant with type 2 diabetes, morbidly obese, or with heart disease, cancer or dementia, you’ll probably do best on a very low-carb  diet of about 25 grams carbs per day. This won’t  change even if you do more exercise. Exercise is helpful but doesn’t obviate the need to eat very few carbs, even if you exercise for many hours a week.

What carb-fat-protein ratio is best?

It depends how sick you are. If you’re diabetic, we say 20% to 30% protein, 60% to 70% fat, 5% carbs. The sicker you are, the more fat you need because fat is insulin-neutral. The more insulin resistant you are, the more fat you can eat, because even when the pancreas fails, fat is the only fuel you can metabolise safely without requiring insulin. It’s perfect for blood sugar control.

Any weighing of food on your diet? . . .

Continue reading.

I highly recommend Nina Teicholz’s The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet and/or Gary Taubes’s Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 April 2016 at 7:59 am

The acknowledged decline of the US

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Tom Englehardt writes at TomDispatch.com:

The Real Meaning of Donald Trump
He’s a Sign of American Decline (Just Not in the Way You Think)
By Tom Engelhardt

Low-energy Jeb.” “Little Marco.” “Lyin’ Ted.” “Crooked Hillary.” Give Donald Trump credit. He has a memorable way with insults. His have a way of etching themselves on the brain. And they’ve garnered media coverage, analysis, and commentary almost beyond imagining.  Memorable as they might be, however, they won’t be what last of Trump’s 2016 election run.  That’s surely reserved for a single slogan that will sum up his candidacy when it’s all over (no matter how it ends). He arrived with it on that Trump Tower escalator in the first moments of his campaign and it now headlines his website, where it’s also emblazoned on an array of products from hats to t-shirts.

You already know which line I mean: “Make America Great Again!” With that exclamation point ensuring that you won’t miss the hyperbolic, Trumpian nature of its promise to return the country to its former glory days. In it lies the essence of his campaign, of what he’s promising his followers and Americans generally — and yet, strangely enough, of all his lines, it’s the one most taken for granted, the one that’s been given the least thought and analysis. And that’s a shame, because it represents something new in our American age. The problem, I suspect, is that what first catches the eye is the phrase “Make America Great” and then, of course, the exclamation point, while the single most important word in the slogan, historically speaking, is barely noted: “again.”

With that “again,” Donald Trump crossed a line in American politics that, until his escalator moment, represented a kind of psychological taboo for politicians of any stripe, of either party, including presidents and potential candidates for that position. He is the first American leader or potential leader of recent times not to feel the need or obligation to insist that the United States, the “sole” superpower of Planet Earth, is an “exceptional” nation, an “indispensable” country, or even in an unqualified sense a “great” one. His claim is the opposite. That, at present, America is anything but exceptional, indispensable, or great, though he alone could make it “great again.” In that claim lies a curiosity that, in a court of law, might be considered an admission of guilt.  Yes, it says, if one man is allowed to enter the White House in January 2017, this could be a different country, but — and in this lies the originality of the slogan — it is not great now, and in that admission-that-hasn’t-been-seen-as-an-admission lies something new on the American landscape.

Donald Trump, in other words, is the first person to run openly and without apology on a platform of American decline. Think about that for a moment. “Make America Great Again!” is indeed an admission in the form of a boast. As he tells his audiences repeatedly, America, the formerly great, is today a punching bag for China, Mexico… well, you know the pitch. You don’t have to agree with him on the specifics. What’s interesting is the overall vision of a country lacking in its former greatness.

Perhaps a little history of American greatness and presidents (as well as presidential candidates) is in order here.

“City Upon a Hill”

Once upon a time, in a distant America, the words “greatest,” “exceptional,” and “indispensable” weren’t even part of the political vocabulary.  American presidents didn’t bother to claim any of them for this country, largely because American wealth and global preeminence were so indisputable.  We’re talking about the 1950s and early 1960s, the post-World War II and pre-Vietnam “golden” years of American power.  Despite a certain hysteria about the supposed dangers of domestic communists, few Americans then doubted the singularly unchallengeable power and greatness of the country.  It was such a given, in fact, that it was simply too self-evident for presidents to cite, hail, or praise.

So if you look, for instance, at the speeches of John F. Kennedy, you won’t find them littered with exceptionals, indispensables, or their equivalents.  In a pre-inaugural speechhe gave in January 1961 on the kind of government he planned to bring to Washington, for instance, he did cite the birth of a “great republic,” the United States, and quoted Puritan John Winthrop on the desirability of creating a country that would be “a city upon a hill” to the rest of the world, with all of humanity’s eyes upon us.  In his inaugural address (“Ask not what your country can do for you…”), he invoked a kind of unspoken greatness, saying, “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”  It was then common to speak of the U.S. with pride as a “free nation” (as opposed to the “enslaved” ones of the communist bloc) rather than an exceptional one.  His only use of “great” was to invoke the U.S.-led and Soviet Union-led blocs as “two great and powerful groups of nations.”

Kennedy could even fall back on a certain modesty in describing the U.S. role in the world (that, in those years, from Guatemala to Iran to Cuba, all too often did not carry over into actual policy), saying in one speech, “we must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscient — that we are only six percent of the world’s population — that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind — that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity — and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.”  In that same speech, he typically spoke of America as “a great power” — but not “the greatest power.”

If you didn’t grow up in that era, you may not grasp that none of this in any way implied a lack of national self-esteem.  Quite the opposite, it implied a deep and abiding confidence in the overwhelming power and presence of this country, a confidence so unshakeable that there was no need to speak of it.

If you want a pop cultural equivalent for this, consider America’s movie heroes of that time, actors like John Wayne and Gary Cooper, whose Westerns and in the case of Wayne, war movies, were iconic.  What’s striking when you look back at them from the present moment is this: while neither of those actors was anything but an imposing figure, they were also remarkably ordinary looking.  They were in no way over-muscled nor in their films were they over-armed in the modern fashion.  It was only in the years after the Vietnam War, when the country had absorbed what felt like a grim defeat, been wracked by oppositional movements, riots, and assassinations, when a general sense of loss had swept over the polity, that the over-muscled hero, the exceptional killing machine, made the scene.  (Think:Rambo.)

Consider this, then, if you want a definition of decline: when you have to state openly (and repeatedly) what previously had been too obvious to say, you’re heading, as the opinion polls always like to phrase it, in the wrong direction; in other words, once you have to say it, especially in an overemphatic way, you no longer have it.

The Reagan Reboot

That note of defensiveness first crept into the American political lexicon with the unlikeliest of politicians: Ronald Reagan, the man who seemed like the least defensive, most genial guy on the planet.  On this subject at least, think of him as Trumpian before the advent of The Donald, or at least as the man who (thanks to his ad writers) invented the political use of the word “again.”  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2016 at 4:08 pm

How the rise of authoritarian governments will kill the internet

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And we see the authoritarians in the US—the FBI, the NSA, the DEA, the police—jumping on board to undermine privacy and hand over control to the security state. Andrew Fishman reports in The Intercept:

Brazilian internet freedom activists are nervous. On Wednesday, a committee in the lower house of Congress, the Câmera dos Deputados, will vote on seven proposals ostensibly created to combat cybercrime. Critics argue the combined effect will be to substantially restrict open internet in the country by peeling back the right to anonymity, and providing law enforcement with draconian powers to censor online discourse and examine citizens’ personal data without judicial oversight.

The bills are ripped straight from what has become a standard international playbook: Propose legislation to combat cybercrime; invoke child pornography, hackers, organized crime, and even terrorism; then slip in measures that also make it easier to identify critical voices online (often without judicial oversight) and either mute them or throw them in jail for defamation — direct threats to free speech.

Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Kuwait, Kenya, the Philippines, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have all seen similar proposals recently. Some were met with strong resistance and got shelved, some are still pending, and others made it into law.

“Cybercrime is one of the recurring excuses for creating overbroad legislation which place controls on internet activity,” Katitza Rodriguez, international rights director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in an email to The Intercept.

In Brazil, the proposals are the result of the nine-month-long Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on Cybercrimes, referred to as the CPICiber, created in July 2015 by House President Eduardo Cunha at the request of a congressman from President Dilma Rousseff’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT). The first draft of the report, released on March 30, provoked a massively negative response from civil society groups.

The Brazilian press has not dedicated much coverage to this story — reporters have their hands full with the monthslong political crisiscurrently enveloping the nation — but the Folha de São Paulo, a major national newspaper, published an editorial on Saturday arguing that the proposals use the “pretext of increasing security” online to “increase the power to censor the web and diminish users’ privacy.” According to Folha,the “provisions attack the pillars of the Marco Civil da Internet, a statute enacted in 2014 which put Brazil at the vanguard of the issue” of internet rights. The paper concluded that “this is the type of control used by countries such as China and Iran.”

One particularly controversial proposal would have required social networks to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2016 at 3:32 pm

The Missing Forty-Three: The Mexican Government Sabotages Its Own Independent Investigation

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Another look at the failure of government in Mexico, this time an article by Francisco Goldman in the New Yorker:

The official scenario, according to the Mexican government, of what befell the forty-three students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Normal School, in Ayotzinapa, in Guerrero state, on the night and morning of September 26 and 27, 2014, is generally referred to as the “historical truth.” Say those words anywhere in Mexico, and people know what you mean. The phrase comes from a press conference held in January, 2015, when the head of the government’s Procuraduría General de la República (P.G.R.) at the time, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, announced that the forty-three students had been incinerated at a trash dump near the town of Cocula by members of the Guerreros Unidos drug-trafficking gang, after being turned over to them by members of the Iguala municipal police. This, he declared, was the “historical truth.”

As had already been widely reported, the forty-three students were among a larger group of militantly leftist students who, that night in Iguala, had commandeered buses to transport themselves to an upcoming protest in Mexico City. They’d driven from Ayotzinapa that afternoon in two buses they’d previously taken, and then, the government said, they took two more from Iguala’s bus station. Three other people were killed in initial clashes with the police, and most likely with other forces, in Iguala that night; many more were injured. According to Murillo Karam, the “historical truth” was partly drawn from the confessions of detained police and drug-gang members, including some who admitted that they had participated in the massacre of the students at the Cocula dump, and claimed to have tended the fire and disposed of the remains afterward. Some of those remains had allegedly been deposited by gang members in a nearby creek. Nineteen severely charred bone fragments had been sent to a highly specialized lab in Innsbruck, Austria, which had yielded one positive DNA identification, of a student named Alexander Mora Venancio. That identification seemed to support the P.G.R.’s story that the students had been killed at the dump.
One problem with the “historical truth” was that the families of the disappeared students, mostly indigenous people from impoverished rural Guerrero, did not accept it. Nor did many others who’d been closely following the case. On the day in November when P.G.R. investigators had recovered the remains from the nearby creek, including the bone fragment later identified as belonging to Mora Venancio, the internationally prestigious Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (E.A.A.F), which was collaborating with the Mexican government, had not been summoned. The organization declared that it could not verify or account for the chain of custody of those remains. The Mora Venancio bone fragment, according to the Argentine specialists, was unlike the others recovered from the site—it was bigger, and not as badly burned, as if it had come through a different fire. The families also protested that the P.G.R.’s explanation discounted the testimony of other witnesses, including students who’d survived the attacks, who claimed that other authorities, including federal police and locally stationed military units, had either participated in or closely observed the actions taken against the Ayotzinapa students that night.
The initial crime inspired huge protests, and its handling by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto provoked a worldwide outcry; because of that, along with some other high-profile scandals, the government’s credibility and reputation have been seriously undermined. This may explain why, on November 18, 2014, the government decided to permit an unprecedented intrusion onto Mexico’s vaunted traditional sovereignty by allowing the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (I.A.C.H.R.) to appoint a group of five legal experts to conduct, with the P.G.R.’s coöperation, an independent investigation of the Ayotzinapa case. Murillo Karam resigned, and was replaced, in February of 2015, by Arely Gómez González. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), a team of five people from Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and Spain, and consisting of prosecutors, lawyers, a former attorney general, and a social psychologist specializing in victims’ rights, released its first report—which was more than five hundred pages long—on September 6, 2015, nearly a year after the crime was committed. The group’s next, and presumably last, report, will be released on Sunday.
The September 6th GIEI report demolished Murillo Karam’s “historical truth” and made history of its own. Perhaps never before, and certainly not in recent decades, had Mexican government authorities been confronted with such a thorough legal investigation of a crime of such consequence, and of the state’s handling of that crime. Among many other findings, the GIEI report rejected assertions by the government that federal security forces had no involvement in Iguala on that night in September. They credited the testimony of student survivors and other witnesses who alleged that federal police had been present, and had acted aggressively, and most importantly, that the students’ movements had been monitored by the military, beginning from the time they’d left the Ayotzinapa school on the afternoon of September 26th and on into the night. The witnesses also noted the presence of military units in the streets of Iguala.GIEI found evidence, too, that confessions in the case had been elicited by torture. It also discovered security-camera footage from the Iguala bus station that confirmed what some students had claimed all along: that a fifth bus had been taken that night, one that, according to the fourteen students who rode in it, was detained by federal police as it tried to leave Iguala; those students managed to, or were allowed to, escape into the surrounding hills, but the bus itself disappeared. GIEI reported that when it asked to see the bus, it was shown one that, according to the findings of a video-forensics expert in the United States, was not the same one filmed by the bus station’s security cameras.GIEI was especially interested in that missing bus because, in 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Illinois had charged two alleged members of the Guerreros Unidos gang with smuggling heroin and cocaine from Mexico to Illinois using commercial buses; the report raised the hypothetical possibility that the overblown aggression against the students had been provoked by a frantic effort by a drug gang and complicit authorities to recover a bus.
The part of GIEI’s September report, however, that received by far the most attention in the Mexican media was . . .

Continue reading.

As noted at the link:

This is the eighth part in Francisco Goldman’s series on the missing students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School. He has also written
The Disappearance of the Forty-Three,”
Could Mexico’s Missing Students Spark a Revolution?,”
The Protests for the Missing Forty-Three,”
An Infrarrealista Revolution,”
Who is Really Responsible For the Missing Forty-Three?,”
The Government’s Case Collapses,” and
One Year, Many Lies, and a New Theory That Might Make Sense.”

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2016 at 3:01 pm

Utter police failure kills 96 people; police lie, cover-up, blame the victims

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And 26 years later the truth finally emerges. David Conn has a lengthy (and horrifying) report in the Guardian, well worth reading. It begins:

It was a year into these inquests, and 26 years since David Duckenfield, as a South Yorkshire police chief superintendent, took command of the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, that he finally, devastatingly, admitted his serious failures directly caused the deaths of 96 people there.

Duckenfield had arrived at the converted courtroom in Warrington with traces of his former authority, but over seven airless, agonisingly tense days in the witness box last March, he was steadily worn down, surrendering slowly into a crumpled heap. From his concession that he had inadequate experience to oversee the safety of 54,000 people, to finally accepting responsibility for the deaths, Duckenfield’s admissions were shockingly complete.

He also admitted at the inquests that even as the event was descending into horror and death, he had infamously lied, telling Graham Kelly, then secretary of the Football Association, that Liverpool fans were to blame, for gaining unauthorised entry through a large exit gate. Duckenfield had in fact himself ordered the gate to be opened, to relieve a crush in the bottleneck approach to the Leppings Lane turnstiles.

The chief constable, Peter Wright, had to state that evening that police had authorised the opening of the gate, but as these inquests, at two years the longest jury case in British history, heard in voluminous detail, Duckenfield’s lie endured. It set the template for the South Yorkshire police stance: to deny any mistakes, and instead to virulently project blame on to the people who had paid to attend a football match and been plunged into hell.

The evidence built into a startling indictment of South Yorkshire police, their chain of command and conduct – a relentlessly detailed evisceration of a British police force. Responsible for an English county at the jeans-and-trainers end of the 1980s, the force had brutally policed the miners’ strike, and was described by some of its own former officers as “regimented”, with morning parade and saluting of officers, ruled by “an iron fist” institutionally unable to admit mistakes.

The dominance of Wright, a decorated career police officer who died in 2011, loomed over the catastrophe. He was depicted as a frighteningly authoritarian figure who treated the force “like his own personal territory” and whose orders nobody – tragically – dared debate.

The families of those killed in the “pens” of Hillsborough’s Leppings Lane terrace, who have had to fight 27 years for justice and accountability, recalled the appalling way the South Yorkshire police treated them, even when breaking the news of loved ones’ deaths. Relatives and survivors recalled indifference, even hostility, in the unfolding horror – although the families’ lawyers thanked individual officers who did their valiant best to help victims. Then there was the unspeakably heartless identification process in the football club gymnasium, after which CID officers immediately grilled families about how much they and their dead loved ones had had to drink.

The families, and many survivors, spoke up in the witness box at these inquests to reclaim the good names of the people, mostly young, who went to Hillsborough that sunny April day, to watch Kenny Dalglish’s brilliant Liverpool team.

The overwhelming evidence, shown in BBC colour footage of the horrific scene, contrary to the lurid, defamatory tales spun afterwards by the police, was of Liverpool supporters heroically helping. The “fans” – a label too often applied to depict a dehumanised mob – included doctors, nurses and police officers, alongside scores of people with no medical training who, once they had escaped themselves, fought instinctively to save lives. . .

Continue reading. There’s lots more.

It should be noted that the police at fault were commanding officers. The rank and file did what they could. Later in the story:

. . . There were some police officers whose decency stood out. One was Russell Greaves, a detective constable who tried to revive Sarah Hicks, 19, on the pitch after she had been brought out of the crush next to her sister, Vicki, 15. Trevor and Jenni Hicks, the girls’ parents, had given heart-wrenching evidence. Trevor was said by witnesses to have been running between the girls, as desperate attempts were made to revive them, shouting and pleading: “Not both of them: they’re all I’ve got.” . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2016 at 2:05 pm

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