Sunday, April 18, 2010
Evil British social workers again
"We're from the government and we're here to help you". Ronald Reagan rightly branded that for what it was in 1986: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language" (actually ten if you include "the")
A COUPLE have won a legal battle to prevent social workers taking their five-year-old son into care after the authorities claimed that his health had been damaged by a meat-and-dairy-free diet. Social services even tried to get police to investigate the family and threatened to seize the boy’s two older siblings during the two-year ordeal.
The parents, Ken and Marie, were forced to represent themselves in court after their legal aid was removed — simply because they had insisted on contesting the case.
Last week a family court judge removed an interim supervision order on the child previously obtained by social workers and ruled that he must be taken off the at-risk register.
“It has been a nightmare and we feel our experience should serve as a warning that the system is being used to try to break up innocent families,” said Marie, 40, a trainee aromatherapist from Lewisham in London.
Her words echo those of Lord Justice Wall, new head of the family courts, who said last week the eagerness of some social workers to take children into care was “quite shocking”.
The case is seen as another example of social services preferring to seize children rather than risk the type of bad publicity sparked by the case of Baby Peter, the toddler who died in 2007 after his plight was repeatedly overlooked.
Marie and Ken’s ordeal began in March 2008 when their son, then aged three, collapsed at home. Only after he was rushed to the Evelina children’s hospital in Waterloo, central London, was it discovered that he appeared to be suffering from rickets, with very low levels of vitamin D, zinc and iron. He also had a bronchial condition. Hospital doctors alerted Lewisham council because they believed the child’s condition was caused by malnutrition.
Social workers from the council alleged that the family’s diet, which included fish but no meat or dairy products, was the cause of the boy’s rickets and said it could put him in future danger. However, the rest of the family, including another boy, now 10, and a girl, now 8, were found to be fit and healthy despite sharing the same diet.
“They implied we had selectively starved one of our children,” said Marie, who asked for her son not to be named. “They twisted things, saying we were vegans even though we eat fish. We don’t eat dairy because asthma runs in the family and that can make it worse, but we are not vegans. I always gave the children extra vitamins, too.
“When the social workers found out that we home-educate our children, we were accused of being ‘unorthodox’, which made us even more suspicious in their eyes. “We were told by social workers that they had obtained an emergency protection order in case we tried to snatch our son from the hospital, which was quite ridiculous.”
The boy remained at the hospital until November 2008 and his parents were kept under supervision whenever they were with him.
Ken, 35, said: “We found out from his dietician that when they initially gave him vitamin D his levels had gone up, but then over a period of months it dropped right back. It strongly indicates to us that he has a problem absorbing vitamin D — but social services continued to accuse us.”
The parents were said to be “in denial” of their role in causing their son’s collapse, which then became a reason in itself for seeking to remove him. In late 2008 Lewisham council applied to the family courts to have the boy taken into care, but was granted an interim supervision order instead. This allowed the boy to go home from hospital but meant social workers would visit frequently. “We were told that once they had obtained the care order, they would apply for the same for our other children,” said Marie.
Despite psychological reports that found the parents to be normal, the council attempted to upgrade to a full supervision order.
Lewisham also unsuccessfully tried to get police to investigate the family. A social worker wrote to a colleague saying they should “actively encourage” police to investigate the case in the hope that the parents would acknowledge the “harm” the child had suffered.
Marie, who gave birth to the couple’s fourth child last October, said: “After our legal representation was removed, we [requested] a judicial review of the reasons for the interim supervision order. “The day before the court hearing last Tuesday, the council called us to say that if we would agree to them ‘monitoring and supporting’ us for a year, they would drop their application for a [full] order. We agreed to a six-month period of monitoring.
“If it wasn’t for the help of other professionals, such as paediatricians outside the Evelina, we probably would not have our son with us today. The big issue remaining is that no one seems to want to find out what the real reason is for his medical problems.”
John Hemming MP, who advised the family, said: “It is just appalling the way parents are being forced to agree to councils’ demands in order to keep their legal aid.”
Lewisham council said: “The court has made no criticism ... and considered that we acted entirely appropriately to protect the child.”
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Evelina, said: “Patients are only referred to social services if a multi-disciplinary team of senior clinicians suspect a child is in need ... No individual doctor makes this decision.”
The Legal Services Commission, which governs the awarding of legal aid, said it could be withdrawn if the chances of success were seen to be too low.
Bigoted NASA lab accused of crackdown on intelligent design discussions
Complaint alleges harassment, secret investigation, gag order
A complaint has been filed against NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, which sent Galileo to Jupiter and dispatched a ship named Dawn to orbit asteroids Vesta and Ceres, claiming managers there discriminated against and demoted a key project worker because he shared intelligent design videos with co-workers.
The case has been filed by David Coppedge, an information technology specialist and systems administrator on the lab's Cassini mission to Saturn, which has been described as the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched.
Images recently released from the project reveal lightning on Saturn.
"For the offense of offering videos to colleagues, Coppedge faced harassment, an investigation cloaked in secrecy, and a virtual gag order on his discussion of intelligent design," said attorney Casey Luskin of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.
Luskin serves as a consultant to the Coppedge lawsuit, which is being handled by Los Angeles First Amendment attorney William J. Becker Jr. of the Becker Law Firm and includes allegations of free speech violations and wrongful demotion.
"Coppedge was punished even though supervisors admitted never receiving a single complaint regarding his conversations about intelligent design prior to their investigation, and even though other employees were allowed to express diverse ideological opinions, including attacking intelligent design," Luskin said.
The complaint was filed in California Superior Court. Officials at the JPL today told WND they had not yet seen the court filing and could not comment.
The action explains that a division of the California Institute of Technology JPL operates under a contract with NASA. Coppedge was a "Team Lead" Systems Administrator on the Cassini mission until JPL demoted him for allegedly "pushing religion" by loaning interested co-workers DVDs supportive of intelligent design.
Coppedge is suing JPL and Caltech for religion discrimination and harassment, retaliation, violation of his religious rights and wrongful demotion.
"Intelligent design is not religion, and nothing in the DVDs that Coppedge shared deals with religion," said Luskin. "Even so, it's unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on what they deem is religion."
Among the coming JPL projects is Aquarius, which is to offer the first-ever global maps of salt concentrations in the ocean surface needed to understand heat transport and storage in the ocean.
Its Deep Space 1 left Earth in 1998 and tested an ion engine that could power future solar system explorers.
The case alleges Coppedge's supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing ideas that superiors labeled "unwelcome" and "disruptive."
The situation reach a boiling point in 2009 when a supervisor angrily harassed Coppedge, claiming "intelligent design is religion" and that Coppedge was "pushing religion."
Coppedge's complaint about that harassment resulted in a retaliatory investigation and "severe limitations" on Coppedge's free speech rights, the case explains.
The actions against him continued, even though supervisors eventually admitted they had no complaints about him, and other employees were allowed to discuss whatever topics they chose, the case explains.
The complaint said, "Intelligent design offers scientific evidence that life's development is best explained as reflecting the design of an intelligent cause, citing mainstream research in biology, cosmology, and paleontology."
The DVDs included "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" and "The Privileged Planet."
The Discovery Institute notes this is just the latest in a series of disputes involving intelligent design.
Previously, the California Science Center in Los Angeles, a state agency, was sued following its "discriminatory cancellation" of a contract to screen an intelligent design film.
At Iowa State in 2006, supervisors denied tenure to and forced out a distinguished astrophysicist for co-authoring a book on intelligent-design in cosmology.
In 2005, supervisors at the Smithsonian investigated, harassed and demoted an evolutionary biologist for editing a pro-intelligent design article in a peer-reviewed technical journal.
And in University of Idaho in 2005, the university's president banned faculty on campus from teaching against evolution-theory orthodoxy.
"Anyone who thinks that today's culture of science allows an open discussion of evolution is sorely mistaken," said John G. West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "When it comes to intelligent design, private and government-run agencies are suppressing free speech."
America doesn't have a prayer
Public prayer does not establish an official religion
If there is one thing this country needs right now, it is prayer. Thus, it was a singular case of bad timing last week when Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis., ruled that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. The observance was established in 1952 as a day when presidents issue proclamations asking Americans to pray, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation brought suit in 2008 on the grounds that the law violates the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion. Judge Crabb agrees. We dissent.
National days of prayer have been declared since the earliest days of the republic. Our Thanksgiving holiday is rooted in the 1789 decree by President George Washington that the nation "unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations ... [and] to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws." Likewise, Abraham Lincoln in 1861 called for "a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting for all the people of the nation." He recommended that Americans "observe and keep that day according to their several creeds and modes of worship, in all humility and with all religious solemnity."
The 1983 Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers, which upheld the right of the Nebraska Legislature to have an invocation, is one of the most cited regarding Establishment Clause issues. In it, the high court affirmed that such long-standing, nondenominational customs and practices are constitutionally sound. "It can hardly be thought that in the same week members of the First Congress voted to appoint and to pay a chaplain for each House and also voted to approve the draft of the First Amendment for submission to the states," the court argued, "they intended the Establishment Clause of the Amendment to forbid what they had just declared acceptable."
Even the fact that some opposed the practice at that time does not weaken "the force of the historical argument," the Supreme Court maintained. To those Founders who argued that a group divided by many denominations could not join in the same act of worship, Samuel Adams responded, according to his cousin John Adams, that "he was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country." Judge Crabb's decision reinforces the passions that divide the nation rather than promoting that which should unite us.
Judge Crabb counters that "recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic." But if rune magic had played as important a role in our national history as prayer did, no doubt Rune Day would be a cherished annual observance. If the first Congress convened in a sweat lodge, then hallucinations and visions would guide our public policy - that is, to a greater extent than they do in the current government.
This passage reveals the most critical flaw in Judge Crabb's reasoning. She seeks to equate things that are not equal, to elevate the obscure to the level of the commonplace. The United States is defined by its people, their culture and history, and the Constitution is part of that fabric. It is not a theoretical construct in which radical judges are free to seek utopian interpretations separate from the society that created the document and sustains the principles on which it was founded.
In the 1952 case Zorach v. Clauson, the Supreme Court observed that Americans are "a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." The National Day of Prayer does not establish religion but recognizes what already exists.
National Day of Silencing Science
April 16 is the National Day of Silence, where students nationwide refrain from speaking to bring attention to the mistreatment of gay and lesbian youth in schools. However, it’s not the LGBT students who are being bullied these days, but the thousands of young people that have unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA), the former homosexuals who have changed from gay to straight, and the researchers and therapists who dare to help them. If anyone is guilty of bullying, it’s the homosexual activists who are pushing their political agenda through the mainstream media, medical, and mental health communities.
The sexual revolution in the 1960s was supposed to encompass free love, tolerance of choice, and liberation. However, many of the activists who came out of this era are not presenting this message to youth with true fidelity. Young people growing up with same-sex attraction are being told they are gay and pressured to identify as such from an early age. Rather than presenting all the facts, students are given a lop-sided, politically correct message – and all those who dare to present an alternative are victims of intimidation and character assassination.
Take for example the American College of Pediatricians, who recently began a campaign to educate schools on sexual orientation and youth. “Facts About Youth” cites research that shows that over 85% of students with homosexual attractions will ultimately adopt a heterosexual identity as adults. The College warns that homosexual behavior carries grave health risks (especially for boys), and also notes that affirming any type of sexual behavior for young people is dangerous, as research demonstrates that early sexual debut is linked to a number of risks, including poorer social and psychological health.
But liberal medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics refuse to recognize these risks, describing the College’s campaign as “not acknowledge(ing) the scientific and medical evidence regarding sexual orientation, sexual identity, sexual health, or effective health education.” The Academy instead supports the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Gay and Lesbian Task Force’ “Just The Facts,” which ignores the growing body of research demonstrating that changing one’s sexual orientation is indeed possible.
Among those being ignored is Columbia University’s Dr. Robert Spitzer, whose 2003 landmark study was published in the prestigious journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. To his surprise, Spitzer – who ironically spearheaded the removal of homosexuality from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973 –.found that the majority of his 200 subjects experienced significant change in their same-sex feelings through therapy and support groups: “Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could only be resisted, and that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe that to be false. Some people can and do change.”
If that’s not convincing enough, in 2009 the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality published a comprehensive overview of research, citing over 500 scientific studies spanning nearly 100 years of research that demonstrates change is possible. However, these facts aren’t being communicated to young people. What is being educated to our youth is based on political correctness, not sexual freedom.
Meanwhile, anti-ex-gay activists such as Wayne Bessen and organizations such as BashBack! are using the American Academy of Pediatrics and APA’s decrees to spread hate. Besen’s hate group called the College an “anti-gay, Christian front group” and demanded they be silenced. Besen and BashBack! routinely disrupt ex-gay meetings in the attempt to intimidate and silence anyone who disagrees with their propaganda.
These groups, as well as the APA, are guilty of the very same offense they accuse the College of committing – denying the evidence. Instead, they label ex-gays, therapists, and ministries that support youth with unwanted SSA as “dangerous” and “harmful.” In fact, a 2009 report issued by the APA on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) once again ignored a mountain of research demonstrating the efficacy of SOCE, while providing only anecdotal evidence of harm: this report was both biased and unscientific.
Rather than engage in civil debate and promote true tolerance and diversity of opinion, anti-ex-gay groups engage in smear campaigns to discredit all those who disagree with their narrow-minded worldview. If that doesn’t work, they use their professional associations as pulpits to bully any divergence of opinion or research that counters their agenda.
On April 16, militant activists will spread misinformation through the main stream media, medical and mental health communities while instructing students to voluntarily remain mute. However, those who dare to speak up and present an alternative view point; one that is based on science, while be forced to remain silent.
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.