Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Israeli diplomat expelled by Britain on the basis of mere speculation
A new low was reached Tuesday in the traditionally close but often rocky British-Israeli relationship when Britain announced that it was expelling an Israeli diplomat following the use of forged British passports in the Dubai assassination of a senior Hamas official in January.
The cold war-style sanction was deployed after a British investigation determined that passports were forged when British citizens passed through airports on their way to Israel, although the probe was unable to definitively confirm the involvement of Israeli intelligence.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, was summoned to the headquarters of Britain’s Foreign Office on Monday to be told the results of Britain’s inquiry, for which investigators were sent to Israel this month to meet eight Israeli-British dual nationals whose identities were used in the Jan. 20 assassination. Britain’s Foreign Minister, David Miliband was due to address Parliament this afternoon.
While Britain has in the past reserved such action for states like Libya and Iran many see this as only a symbolic warning to its ally Israel – not a sweeping denunciation. However, precisely because of the closeness of the Israeli-British relationship, there could be more serious friction if the controversy is not laid to rest, says Yossi Mekelberg, an Israeli analyst at the London foreign policy think tank Chatham House.
“It is serious. If, as a country, your passports are misused or faked, then it is not something you can ignore and it has created practical problems. Israel has got away internationally with doing certain things in the past because it is a democracy," he says, calling the expulsion Britain's way of telling Israel, "you misbehaved."
But there is a cumulative effect, he adds – and one that may play out in less public avenues.
“Between Britain and Israel there is cooperation on so many different levels. In a globalized world Britain can decide that something like this can end with an expulsion – but behind closed doors there can be repercussions," says Mr. Mekelberg. "The closer a relationship is, then the more painful the sanctions can be.”
While action from London had been expected on the issue – the most serious cause of friction yet over a recent period of sometimes strained relations between the two countries – there was still shock value in the use of a sanction Britain has traditionally only deployed against states with which it has frosty relations.
The last time Britain expelled foreign diplomats from its soil was in June 2009, when two Iranian diplomats were told to pack their bags after Tehran ordered two British diplomats out.
British social workers think the poor can do no wrong again -- and blacks cannot be touched, of course
So baby was seen 15 times in six months by care workers. Yet still he starved to death in his mother's apartment
A baby boy has starved to death despite being under the care of at least nine doctors, social workers and health visitors. The helpless 10-month-old wasted away in his pram at his mother's flat even though he was seen at least 15 times in six months by care professionals.
Although the experts expressed 'concerns' about Saymon Michael's deteriorating health, no one did anything to save him and officials were repeatedly fobbed off by his mother.
In addition, a confidential report on the case - seen by the Daily Mail - concludes: 'Are there any lessons to be learned from this preliminary investigation? 'No. Are there any immediate actions that need to be taken? No.'
Saymon was found dead, emaciated and surrounded by rotting food on March 8 after a 999 call from his HIV positive mother's squalid council flat in North-West London.
A post-mortem examination revealed his stomach was empty and he had not eaten for days. He had suffered a 'long period of malnourishment' and his weight had plummeted since Christmas by a third to 12.5lb. His sister, four, was also malnourished. She was taken into care.
Police began a murder inquiry and Saymon's 29-year-old Eritrean-born mother Yirgalem Michael was arrested for child neglect.
She had avoided contact with care workers by complaining that her human rights would be breached if they used an Eritrean interpreter to question her - in case her close-knit community found out she had HIV.
Despite this and the fact that there were concerns about her parenting skills, she was allowed to keep Saymon and his four-year-old sister.
She had already admitted 'hearing voices' and had expressed fears for her baby's health.
Miss Michael spent only an hour in police custody before being taken to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, West London where she died two days after her son from a rare brain condition linked to her HIV.
The family are believed to have come to Britain from East Africa several years ago and settled in the West Midlands. They immediately came to the attention of social workers and the daughter was placed on the at-risk register. But the girl, who cannot be named, was later removed from the register and the mother moved to Birmingham where she had her son, Saymon, last year.
In September 2009, she was rehoused in London after she claimed she had been beaten up by the children's father.
A series of visits by health visitors and social workers from Westminster City Council followed. But despite a growing file of evidence that all was not well, nothing was done. The last visit to the flat in St John's Wood was made on March 1. A week later, the boy was dead in his pram.
A neighbour said: 'We used to hear her baby and an older child crying all the time. On March 8 my son heard a scream at around seven in the morning.'
Two health trusts were responsible for the family, and a source with knowledge of the case said: 'It is completely unacceptable in modern Britain that a baby can starve to death while supposedly under the care of a dozen or so professionals.'
A secret report by one of the trusts - the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust - obtained by the Mail said: 'Post mortem results on the infant showed that he had no food in his gut at all and so had not eaten for several days at least. However, there is evidence of a long period of malnourishment.'
But, after a nine-day investigation, the report concluded there are no lessons to be learnt.
Michael O'Connor, Westminster City Council's director for children and young people, said: 'Neither of the children were on the child protection register and there is no suggestion that they were at risk.'
Terry Bamford of Westminster's Local Safeguarding Children Board, said an independent serious case review would take place.
Central and North West London Trust refused to comment and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said it was carrying out its own inquiry.
Pope's critics must get their facts straight
By Cardinal George Pell (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney)
THE evil of sexual abuse has no place in the Catholic Church and no one should doubt Benedict XVI's resolve to see it eradicated. His unprecedented pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland reflects his deep compassion for the victims of sexual abuse and his strong commitment to seeing that justice is done.
The Pope has met victims of sexual abuse in Australia and elsewhere. He has heard first-hand what they have suffered.
He is a man of immense compassion and goodness, and is personally committed to doing all he can to bring justice and healing to the victims.
In his pastoral letter, the Pope warns priests and others in the church who have abused children that they will have to answer to God and the courts for what they have done.
He directly addresses those who have abused children: "You have betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals."
The Pope urges bishops and religious superiors in Ireland to "continue to co-operate with the civil authorities" in reporting allegations of abuse and ensuring that vulnerable people are protected.
He is also proposing to send official church investigators, or apostolic visitors, with wide powers to act and make recommendations to some dioceses, religious orders and seminaries in Ireland.
The Pope's call for continued co-operation with the police and the criminal courts in investigating allegations of sexual abuse is consistent with the strong approach he has taken to this issue since he was prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
In 2001, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he issued an instruction to all bishops requiring them to refer allegations of pedophilia against priests to the congregation for investigation. It is frequently claimed that this 2001 instruction required bishops to treat these allegations with total secrecy and not inform the police, under penalty of excommunication.
This claim was repeated in The Australian on March 18 by Christopher Hitchens. Referring to the 2001 instruction, Hitchens wrote: "The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church's own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated `in the most secretive way restrained by a perpetual silence and everyone is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office under the penalty of excommunication'."
However, the letter Ratzinger issued in 2001 made no reference to excommunication. The words Hitchens quotes are taken from an earlier letter from the Holy See on this matter, issued in 1962, which was superseded by the 2001 document.
I received the 2001 letter soon after I became Archbishop of Sydney. Five years earlier I had established an independent commission, headed by Peter O'Callaghan QC, to investigate complaints of abuse in the archdiocese of Melbourne.
I was not excommunicated and neither were the other bishops when they set up the Towards Healing process soon afterwards.
When complaints are made under these procedures, often dating back decades, victims are always encouraged to go to the police. That is what we would prefer. But victims often value their privacy. This issue is too sad and too serious for misinformation to be circulated, adding to victims' pain.
Speaking to an Italian newspaper earlier this month, Charles J. Scicluna, a senior official responsible for investigating allegations of sexual abuse referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, condemned the "false and calumnious" claims made about how the Pope handled these allegations when he was prefect of the congregation.
Scicluna said that once allegations of pedophilia had been made, "Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases" without respect for persons or rank.
Scicluna also denied allegations that the investigation of abuse claims by the church under conditions of confidentiality or "the pontifical secret" meant that they could not be reported to civil authorities.
Often victims prefer church procedures because they do not want the publicity that accompanies police prosecutions.
In all cases the law of the land has to be followed.
Certainly this is the case in Australia, and in NSW there are strict reporting obligations.
During his visit to Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008, Pope Benedict apologised to victims of abuse. "I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured, and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering," he said. "Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice".
He speaks for all Catholics with these words.
Oppressive British "safety" regulations again
A wheelchair-bound woman was told to take a train for 30 miles in order to cross to an opposite platform 20 yards away.
Julie Cleary, 53, was hoping to use a new £2.8m lift at Staplehurst train station in Kent to get out of the station after a day trip to London, reports the Daily Telegraph.
But she was told she could not use it because of "health and safety" and told to instead to catch a train to Ashford International Station, 15 miles away, and back so she would end up on the right platform.
Miss Cleary said: "The lights were on but there was a metal bar over the button. We couldn't use it. We were told to wait for the next train to Ashford, cross the tracks and come back to get on the other side of the platform - which was 15 - 20 yards away. That was our only choice."
Miss Cleary, who has been forced to use a wheelchair since suffering a spinal aneurysm when she was 12-years-old, said she was told the high-tech lift could only be used when the station was manned.
She told a local website: "I have family in the village, and they came down and helped get me up and over the steps and down the other side. My friends were brilliant, but it was still embarrassing simply not being able to leave the station.
"I did feel furious about it. If I was on my own I would have had no choice but to take the train to Ashford, which is a large and busy station, then change back on the train to Staplehurst."
Miss Cleary complained to her MP Anne Widdecombe and received an apology from Southeastern trains along with £30 of rail vouchers.
Jon Hay-Campbell, a spokesman for the train company, said the lift had been opened as part of an "Access for All" scheme to help those in wheelchairs and with buggies to get across the tracks.
He added that initially the lift could only be used when the station was manned due to "health and safety" reasons but further works had now been done so it can be operated remotely 24 hours a day.
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, 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 or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.