Friday, August 20, 2010

Bloody-minded British bank

It matches my experience of British banks. Brits of all sorts seem to LOVE bureaucracy and the tiny bits of the power it gives them over other people -- power that they regularly use to hurt and frustrate. It's why the word "jobsworth" is unique to Britain. It refers to a person who engages in just such petty behaviour.

I contrasted British and American banks long ago (See here under the heading BUSINESS) and clearly nothing has changed

They call themselves the helpful bank. But bosses made a mockery of their advertising slogan by their treatment of a woman with terminal cancer.

Dorothy Southernwood, 61, had flown to Germany for life-prolonging treatment - after first making sure she had enough cash in her account to meet the £27,000 bill. Once abroad however the retired dinner lady found that NatWest refused to transfer the money to the clinic treating her.

Five days of phone calls and pleas could not persuade the bank to relax their security procedures and let her have the money. Even though Mrs Southernwood and her husband Victor, 65, have banked with NatWest for 30 years their branch manager refused to use her discretionary powers to allow the wire transfer. Instead she insisted the couple post written authorisation from Germany.

The bank backed down last night only after being contacted by the Daily Mail.

Mr Southernwood, a mechanic from Huddersfield, and his wife's daughter Sarah Gash, 38, also travelled to the St George Clinic in Bad Aibling, near Munich, and have spent much of their time there pleading with the bank.

Louise Morgan, 40, the eldest of Mrs Southernwood's three daughters, said the incident had reduced her mother to tears. 'I can't believe NatWest were being so unsympathetic when they have banked with them for so long,' she said. 'People shouldn't believe the adverts on TV, they are not the friendly face of banking. It's disgraceful what they have done. 'I can't believe in this day and age a problem like this can't be quickly resolved with the press of a button.'

Mr Southernwood managed to keep the German hospital authorities happy by taking out 860 pounds from cash machines until NatWest stopped his card.

His wife discovered she had cancer following tests in the spring. Further scans showed the disease had spread and Mrs Southernwood was told the condition was terminal and she had only months to live. The German clinic uses heat treatment in an attempt to destroy cancer cells. Patients also follow a strict diet and receive oxygen and magnetic therapy. The treatment is supposed to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

A NatWest spokesman said: 'We sincerely apologise for any stress and inconvenience caused to Mr and Mrs Southernwood. 'We have now arranged for the funds to be transferred electronically to them and will be reimbursing them for out of pocket expenses they have incurred.'


Last Catholic adoption agency faces closure after Charity Commission ruling

The last remaining Roman Catholic adoption agency to resist Labour’s equality laws is facing closure, after the charity watchdog ruled that it could not avoid considering same-sex couples as potential parents.

Catholic Care had been given hope earlier this year that it could get around the controversial anti-discrimination rules that forced other agencies either to close down or sever their links with the church.

In March a High Court judge had ordered that the Charity Commission consider whether to allow the agency's request to continue refusing to consider same-sex parents, thanks to a loophole intended to protect homosexual charities.

Catholic Care had argued that a clause of Labour’s Sexual Orientation Regulations, inserted to ensure gay organisations could not be sued for discrimination, entitled it to change its "charitable objects".

But in a judgement published on Thursday, the quango has ruled that it will still not allow Catholic Care to restrict its services to heterosexuals only.

The Charity Commission agreed that organisations can sometimes bend the rules and it conceded that Catholic Care, whose adoption agency is part of a wider social care organisation run by the Diocese of Leeds, offered a “valuable, high-quality service”.

But it ruled that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is a “serious matter” because it “departs from the principle of treating people equally”, and that religious views cannot justify such bias because adoption is a public matter.

The watchdog added that it believed same-sex couples can be “successful” adoptive parents and that even if Catholic Care closes down, the children it would have helped would be placed with new families through “other channels”.

Andrew Hind, the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said: “This has been a complex and sensitive decision which the Commission has reached carefully, following the principles set out by the High Court, case law and on the basis of the evidence before us. Clearly the interests of children are paramount.

“In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances. We have concluded that in this case the reasons Catholic Care have set out do not justify their wish to discriminate.”

The ruling means that Catholic Care is likely to have to close its adoption service, as if it decided instead to consider same-sex couples as parents it would be going against Catholic teaching on the importance of children having a mother and father. This would mean the agency, which can trace its origins back to an orphanage set up in Leeds in 1863, would lose church funding.

Since Labour’s homosexual rights law came into effect in January 2009, all the other 11 Catholic adoption agencies in England have either had to close down or sever their ties with the church hierarchy. Catholic Care was the last to hold out as it launched its legal bid.

The charity, which only found out the judgement was coming on Wednesday, has not yet decided whether to close its adoption service. But it said that it planned to set up an “adoption support service” instead, for those who have already been adopted or become adoptive parents with its help.

A spokesman for Catholic Care said: “The Charity is very disappointed with the outcome. Catholic Care will now consider whether there is any other way in which the Charity can continue to support families seeking to adopt children in need.

“In any event, Catholic Care will seek to register as an adoption support agency offering a service to those who were adopted in the past and are now seeking information about their background, and also to support adoptive parents already approved by Catholic Care.”


Under feminist influence, Leftists deplore attractiveness in women

Conservatives are more normal

A local Minnesota Republican Party operative yesterday waded into one of the signature political issues of our time: "Who's hotter — Republican women or Democratic women?"

The Senate District 56 GOP Party posted a Web video yesterday laying out its position on the hotness question. It leads with images of prominent Republicans such as Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, and Michele Bachmann; the soundtrack, naturally, is the Tom Jones chestnut, "She's a Lady."

Then, there's an abrupt switch to the other side of the aisle. The theme is subtly conveyed with the strains of the Baha Men hit "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Photos of Michelle Obama, Janet Reno, Rosie O'Donnell and Hillary Clinton flash on the screen.

The video quickly made its viral way through the blogosphere, and provoked strong reaction from state politicos and others. State Democratic chairman Brian Melendez called the video "sexist and offensive."

"The day when a woman was judged by her looks rather than her competence and intelligence should have passed three generations ago," Melendez said in a statement Tuesday. "But apparently Republican leaders in the year 2010 still think of that bygone era as the good old days, and want to bring it back." Melendez called for the video's removal and an apology from branch GOP chairman Joe Salmon.

Local Republican state House candidate Andrea Kieffer also requested that the video be removed, Paul Schmelzer reports for the Minnesota Independent. Kieffer called the video a "juvenile attempt at 'marketing.' "

"This is not something I would condone, and I am sending a request that the webmaster take it down immediately," she wrote in communication with the Independent.

As of Wednesday morning, the party had removed the video from its website.

Still, Salmon took a parting shot at what he seems to view as the humorless enforcers of political correctness. "It [is] really unfortunate to relearn that the other side is severely lacking a sense of humor," Salmon tweeted Tuesday.

Calls and emails to Salmon and the site's webmaster were not immediately returned Wednesday morning. But webmaster Randy Brown told the Minnesota Independent yesterday that the video was mainly intended to inject levity in the election season. "[I]ts only intention was to bring a smile to a few peoples' faces, and possibly irritate a few others. Is it fair? Does that matter? It wasn't intended to be fair. It was intended to be funny," Brown said.

Even though the offending video has been removed from the District 56 website, it of course lives on in YouTube — with the clear disclaimer that it's meant to provoke a strong reaction, and plainly succeeds. Because of its content, YouTube also requests that users register and confirm they are over the age of 18 prior to viewing. With all that in mind, the link to the video is here.


Australia: 'Muslim witness must remove burqa' - says judge

A PERTH judge has ordered that a Muslim woman must remove a full burqa while giving evidence before a jury in a fraud case. Judge Shauna Deane today ruled that the witness must remove her niqab, or burqa face covering, when she gives evidence to the jury.

The judge said she did not consider it appropriate that the witness give evidence with her face covered. However she stressed she was not making a decision which was making a legal precedent, it was simply her ruling in these circumstances.

Earlier a defence lawyer had argued that the Muslim woman should remove her burqa to give evidence in the fraud trial, just as she would have to appear without the covering in an Islamic court.

But District Court Judge Shauna Deane rejected the argument as not relevant, as the matter is not being heard in an Islamic court.

The judge heard lawyers' submissions on whether a 36-year-old Muslim woman should be allowed to wear a full burqa, also called a niqab, while giving evidence in a fraud trial.

The woman, an Islamic studies teacher, is due to give evidence for the prosecution in the fraud trial of a Muslim college director, Anwar Sayed.

In court, defence lawyer Mark Trowell, QC, said the woman's wish to wear the burqa was a "preference she has". "It's not an essential part of the Islamic faith. If she was in an Islamic court she would be required to remove it," he said. Judge Deane replied: "This isn't an Islamic court."

Defence lawyers raised concerns about how the jury could be expected to read the woman's facial expressions if they could not see her face.

Prosecutor Mark Ritter, SC, told the court the woman wanted to give evidence but would feel uncomfortable without the burqa and that could affect her evidence. "It goes beyond stress . . . it would have a negative impact," Mr Ritter said. He said the woman, who has lived in Australia for seven years, had worn the burqa since the age of 17 and went without it only before her family and male blood relatives.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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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