Thursday, November 13, 2008

An abject and ghastly failure of bureaucratic Britain

Baby 'used as punchbag' died despite 60 visits from social services. If the parents had been decent people, the kid would have been removed immediately, of course. Displays of power are all that bureaucratic Britain cares about. Everything else is just a bother

A 17-month-old boy, who was seen by social services 60 times in eight months, died after repeatedly being used "as a punchbag" and having his back broken. The toddler - known as Baby P - suffered more than 50 injuries and was on the child protection register but was allowed to stay in the care of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger. Today, his 32-year-old "step-father" and lodger Jason Owen, 36, were convicted of causing or allowing Baby P's death, a charge already admitted by the child's 27-year-old mother.

The trial at the Old Bailey heard about a catalogue of failings on the part of social workers, health visitors and police. One consultant paediatrician failed to spot Baby P's broken back or ribs in August last year - just 48 hours before his death - while police told the mother she would not be prosecuted after being arrested twice for suspected child cruelty. The court heard how she had been able to manipulate the situation with lies and even got away with smearing Baby P with chocolate to hide bruises. By the end, he was unrecognisable, his curly, golden locks shaved off, his cheeks hollow and his eyes dead to the world.

The family, from Haringey, north London, cannot be named for legal reasons. But they were under the care of the same social services responsible for Victoria Climbie, who was tortured to death by her great aunt and her boyfriend in 2000. Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbie Foundation, set up to improve child protection, said: "This case is worse than Climbie. The signs were there but were not followed." There were "systematic and operational failures that led to the tragic and sad death of such a beautiful child".

Gillie Christou, in charge of social workers looking after children on the register in Haringey [She should be burnt at the stake], told the court she had agreed to keep the baby with his mother. She said: "I made the decision at the time based on the material in front of me and based on the background to the case."

A detective in the case said the boy had more than 50 injuries, 15 of them to the mouth. He described the boyfriend as "sadistic - fascinated with pain". He had Nazi memorabilia in the house. The mother was "a slob, completely divorced from reality. She was living in a dream world and put her lover before her child. She closed her eyes to what was going on".

After the case, police said they had complied with a multi-agency long-term care plan for the family. But procedures have now been toughened up to give police more confidence in challenging decisions. Detective Superintendent Caroline Bates said police errors were made which caused a delay at the start of the abuse inquiry, but these had not been significant to the outcome. She said: "With hindsight, having the benefit of a major investigation, we know quite clearly that the mother was lying and trying to subvert agencies involved with the family." The mother had appeared to be co-operating with agencies but "she constantly conspired to prevent us knowing what was going on".

In June "police officers felt very strongly that he should not be returned" to his mother. A police inspector asked twice if the threshold had been reached to start care proceedings. "This was a huge tragedy which should have been avoided. If we had only known the truth about the adults in the house," said Ms Bates. Great Ormond Street Hospital, which provides paediatric services to children from Haringey, said Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, who was involved in the failed clinic check, is no longer working there.


Britain: Single mother on welfare is moved into $2m five-bedroom house - funded by the taxpayer

ALL Nigerians should move to Britain. It's so much nicer there

A mother-of-five claiming benefits is living in a detached home worth $2million - with taxpayers helping fund her $50,000 annual rent. The luxury five-bedroom home with two sitting rooms, a conservatory and a double garage is being paid for with housing benefits handed out by her local council. Situated in a smart north London street, the $2million home is out of the price range of most families in the UK. The average house price in Britain is $450,000.

Nigerian single mother Omowunmi Odia moved her family into the home two weeks ago and last night said she was pleased to be living there - although she criticised the large house for having a small bedrooms. The family had been living in a cramped flat before the move. 'I was living in a two-bedroom apartment with my five children and only moved in here two weeks ago,' said Mrs Odia, who is in her thirties. 'They didn't have any council houses big enough for me so I found this one. I like it; the children like it,' she added.

Mrs Odia has been living in the UK for 10 years and is entitled to the home under government rules. It has recently been revealed that taxpayers have paid out $15billion for housing benefits in Britain in 2006-7.

Mrs Odia, who drives a six-year-old family car, had been threatened with homelessness when she was forced out of her flat when a court order was obtained against her. She was rehoused by Barnet council in the spacious property in Edgware, bought by its owners in 2005 for $1,300,00 but valued at $2million at the height of the property boom.

Mrs Odia said the council had tried to rehouse her in Enfield, north London, but she had held out for Edgware, close to her children's schools. One of the bedrooms, she said, was 'no bigger than a shoebox'. She lives off state handouts and has not been in contact with her husband, who remains in Nigeria, for at least three years. The property is unfurnished and most of the rooms are empty bar a leather sofa and armchairs in one of the sitting rooms.

More than $8 billion of taxpayers' money is being spent on housing benefit across London - an increase of more than 40 per cent in five years. 'Too little is being done to reduce the bill by helping people become self-reliant,' said Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance.


'Tolerance' Is Not the Lesson of Kristallnacht

Sunday was the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass. With some notable exceptions, Europe has opted to mark the occasion by missing its point. "We must not be silent," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a memorial ceremony in Berlin's renovated Rykestrasse synagogue, one of the few that was not burned down that night by the Nazis -- though 2,200 others were, as crowds of German or Austrian citizens looked on. "There can be no tolerance, for example, if the safety of the state of Israel is threatened by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran." Well said. Maybe the chancellor will turn next to the issue of the 2,000 German companies that still do business with Tehran, whose exports are up more than 14% this year.

Less well said is a "white paper on tolerance," which, along with a draft of a "European Framework Convention on Promoting Tolerance and Combating Intolerance," was presented yesterday at a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. The meeting is generating interest in part because of the participation of representatives from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Muslim states -- none of which are especially known for their solicitude toward Jews. Maybe they've had a change of heart. Alternatively, they might have figured out that the banner of "tolerance" -- a word that means nothing -- can serve their purposes as well as the "peace" movement once served the Soviet Union.

To be sure, neither the white paper nor the framework convention is short on references to anti-Semitism and its "current increase . . . in many European countries." But the drafters of the convention also claim to be "profoundly convinced that combating anti-Semitism, while requiring a specific type of action, is an integral and intrinsic component of the fight against racism."

With this premise, the convention proposes various legal penalties for the "dissemination of any ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred," as well as policies to promote "special positive measures to further equal social development and ensure the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all victims" of discrimination.

But if that sounds relatively anodyne, consider the ways in which radical Islamists in Europe have been using hate-speech codes to their advantage. In 2005, the Times of London reported that the radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir -- proscribed in Germany for distributing anti-Semitic literature -- had launched a recruiting drive on college campuses under the aegis of a "Stop Islamophobia" campaign. In Belgium, the leader for several years of the Arab European League, which claimed to defend Antwerp's Muslim immigrant Moroccan community against police harassment, was Dyab Abou Jahjah, himself a Lebanese member of Hezbollah.

Then there is the instructive, albeit complex, case of the Cologne mosque project. An enormous structure designed to accommodate 4,000 worshippers, it was approved by city hall and sponsored by the Turkish-Islamic Union (or DITIB), an umbrella group considered to be relatively moderate. Given that 12% of Cologne's population is Muslim, it seems a reasonable accommodation.

Yet the sheer scale of the project aroused widespread unease. In September, a group called "pro-Cologne" -- some, though by no means all, of whose members had ties to anti-immigrant parties such as the Flemish Vlaams Belang -- attempted to hold an anti-Islamification Congress. They were thwarted by an estimated 40,000 protestors throwing paint bombs and chanting "No Koelsch [beer] for Nazis."

Superficially, at least, the protestors seemed to have achieved a worthy objective against some unsavory characters. Yet as John Rosenthal of the invaluable WorldPoliticsReview Web site points out, Germany's actual Nazis took a different view. "Inasmuch as it is a determined opponent of the western-plutocratic one-world policy, we regard Islam, globally considered, as an ally against the mammonistic dominance of the American east coast" went a statement published by the neo-Nazi North German Action Office, using the words "American east coast" as a euphemism for Jews. "'Pro-Cologne's' superficial populism against Islam sends a completely wrong signal, about which only pro-Israel circles could be happy."

This isn't to say that the Cologne protestors are closet neo-Nazis. Nor is DITIB a radical group, at least compared to Hizb ut-Tahrir. Yet DITIB refuses to distinguish between Islam (a religion) and Islamism (a political idea) and accuses anyone who has an unkind word to say about the latter of being a "racist."

Much the same goes for other "mainstream" Islamic groups in Europe, who would find in the proposed "framework convention" a useful tool through which to shut down serious and legitimate concerns about the rise of Islamism -- along with its usual cargo of Israel- and Jew-hatred -- in Europe. One perverse result is that these groups will now be in a position to dictate the terms of what constitutes acceptable speech. Also perverse, and a process that's already in train, is that European moderates will increasingly find themselves marching into the arms of parties like the Vlaams Belang.

So here we are, 70 years after Kristallnacht, as good an example as any of what happens when the evil of the few (or, perhaps, not-so-few) takes advantage of the cowardice of the many. If there's a lesson here, it's in the need not for "tolerance," but for moral courage. Now as before, Europe finds it in short supply.


'Spousal maintenance' for mistresses in Australia

An extraordinary misappropriation of the rights and obligations of marriage

PHILANDERING husbands could soon be forced by the courts to keep paying for their mistresses after an affair ends. That is just one outcome set to arise from laws on broken de facto relationships that will take effect early next year, The Courier-Mail reports. Under the Family Law Act reforms, de facto partners together for two years will get the same rights as married couples to seek "spousal maintenance" claims. Maintenance, as distinct from child support, may be ordered when the other party is "unable to support herself or himself adequately" following separation.

But legal experts warn the amended Act - passed in the Senate on Monday - opens the definition of a de facto couple to wide interpretation. It prescribes a de facto relationship as an opposite-sex or same-sex couple "living together on a genuine domestic basis". Yet it also stipulates that a de facto alliance can exist even if one of the partners is legally married to somebody else or in another de facto relationship.

Veteran Brisbane family lawyer Paul Hopgood said the door was ajar for jilted lovers to seek maintenance orders. "I get high-profile people from around town saying, 'I'm having an (affair) with so and so. I wine and dine her and take her on holidays. I look after her and it's been going on for five years. But I'm safe - she hasn't got the key to my house'. "You don't have to live in the same house and under the same roof to be a de facto. A lot of people are living in de facto relationships and don't think they are."

Mr Hopgood cited a couple who might not share a home because of international business commitments. "If everything else is there, apart from the common residence, they've still got a de facto relationship."

In a further twist, the laws shape as a threat to the coffers of polygamist husbands. Queensland Law Society family law chairman Julie Harrington said: "In polygamy, you have only one marriage that's recognised, so you have wives two, three and four as the de factos. "At least those women will now have some rights which they otherwise didn't (have) under the Family Law Act."

Ms Harrington said the new laws could also create a debt nightmare for others, who now face the possibility of ongoing spousal support to a string of previous de facto partners.

With married couples, maintenance orders generally end when the ex-partner receiving the money remarries. De factos will come under the same rules if they marry a new partner. But no explicit provision exists in the legislation for maintenance payments to stop should a recipient enter a new de facto relationship. "Young people might have a series of short de facto relationships - and they're potentially up for paying spouse maintenance for several," Ms Harrington said. "It could be a big problem."

However, a spokesman for federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that in this situation the payer would be entitled to head back to the family courts to show "just cause" for discharging or varying the order.

The Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Act aims to end discrimination in the treatment of married and unmarried couples after separation. Previously, Queensland's de facto couples could access the Family Court to resolve child custody issues, but property disputes had to be heard in Supreme or District courts. With the new laws, de factos can have all matters heard in a federal family law court. Claims on superannuation also are allowed.

In August, a Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry heard grave concerns about the reforms from family and religious agencies, including FamilyVoice Australia. FVA feared that by extending equal rights to de facto couples, marriage would be devalued and undermined.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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