Saturday, May 07, 2011

British emergency services need to be risk-takers

The emergency services should be free to risk their lives without being concerned about health and safety laws, Britain’s most senior police officer suggests after concerns that legislation hindered the rescue operation in the July 7 bombings.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, says in an interview with The Daily Telegraph — his first since returning to work after three months recovering from an operation — that he is not convinced such regulations should apply to police, fire and ambulance staff.

The public who intervene to help people or try to stop crime should also be protected, he suggests.

The inquests into the deaths of the 52 victims of terrorist bombs on a bus and the London Underground concluded yesterday with the finding that all were unlawfully killed.

During the five-month hearing, Lady Justice Hallett, the coroner, heard complaints from police officers and firemen that health and safety legislation stopped them from carrying out their duties. In her ruling, Lady Hallett said that she felt the emergency services could be more flexible in their use of the protocols.

Referring to the legislation, which can see officers charged with criminal offences if breached, Sir Paul says: “I want my cops as safe as possible but it is a dynamic job they do. They face risks. When health and safety legislation was first applied to the police in its raw form, I wondered whether it was entirely appropriate for emergency services.”

One police officer told the coroner that colleagues were setting up cordons rather than helping injured passengers. Pc Glen Hesketh said he and fellow officers were not “paid to be wrapped up in cotton wool”. “When I joined in the 80s they said our priority was to save life.”

The coroner was also told that the first firemen on the scene at King’s Cross had to stand by and watch injured passengers emerging because they were not allowed to enter the tunnels until a back-up crew arrived.

Sir Paul adds: “Health and safety is important for my staff but they engage in the risk business. Cops join the force knowing they have to put their life on the line. Thankfully very few pay the ultimate price. Some get injured. They take risks … running across rooftops catching villains. I applaud them for doing that. I don’t want to criticise them or to be doing a risk assessment on every occasion.

“The last thing we should ever do is make the families of people who have a go, be they cops or public, feel they made the wrong choices. Let’s not pretend that the police work in a risk-free environment.”

The key findings of Lady Hallett’s ruling were that MI5 and the emergency services did not cause or contribute to any of the deaths on July 7 2005 and that none of the 52 victims would have survived even if emergency services had arrived sooner. Lady Hallett said she hoped the emergency services were “reminded that protocols are designed to save lives”. “Depending on the dynamics of the situation, which may change rapidly, protocols may be approached with a degree of flexibility.”

In the interview, Sir Paul warns that the death of Osama bin Laden has not diminished the threat to Britain from al-Qaeda. “As somebody who was here in London on the day the bombs went off, I cannot say anything other than that the world is a safer place without him,” he said, but added: “The consequences are huge. We have to be careful we don’t suddenly take our eye off the ball.”


Soviet Flags Fly in Kentucky on May Day (KENTUCKY!!)

Useful idiots. That’s what Vladmir Lenin called western sympathizers of the Soviet cause. He must have been smiling from his cave in Hell Sunday when he saw the Soviet flag – and Communist Party signs – being carried in honor of May Day.

“Union members, pro-labor groups, and even anarchists” participated, according to Fox41.

A couple of anarchists, dressed as clowns (how fitting), were arrested after they scribbled anti-capitalist slogans on downtown buildings in chalk. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Germany, protesters “threw stones at banks and shops, and in isolated incidents police officers were targeted with bottles and fireworks,” according to published reports.

Chalk, schmalk. Is that the best these crazies can do? Put some heart into it! Make a difference for the cause. Or are they merely the type of useful idiots that bemused Lenin?

Call me a cynic, but I have a hard time seeing how the average American will sympathize with those who carry the flag of an empire that was bent on destroying the western way of life. But I suppose that’s a minor detail.

Elsewhere in the United States, AFL-CIO heavy Richard Trumka, began his remarks: “Brothers and Sisters, May Day is our day!”

He, along with other six-figure leaders of the “middle class” rallied their members against government spending reforms.

While it’s easy to laugh at these nutcases blocking the entrance of the Chow Wagon and marching under red banners, look how far they’ve come. Just a couple decades ago, they would have been accused of being traitors. Now they’re interviewed on the 6 o’clock news and have positions of real power.


Culture Challenge of the Week: When Money Trumps Motherhood

“But Mom, I don’t wanna eat breakfast at school! Why can’t I stay home and eat?” wailed Kirsten, nine-years-old. She looked plaintively at her mom and waited for her to answer.

Connie was miffed. I don’t need this, she thought. An engineer and mother of two, she had scaled back to part-time work when Kirsten was born. It was ideal---professional continuity, business networks, and limited hours so she could stay involved in her children’s busy lives.

At her most recent performance review, Connie’s boss stressed that career advancement required full-time work. If she’d bump back up to full-time, he’d give her the most demanding projects so she’d get ahead faster. Of course the time commitment would be demanding too.

It looked good to Connie. She thrived on positive feedback at work—but received almost none in motherhood. She loved diving into a project, focusing without interruption—a rare experience with kids around. Her job made her feel needed and valued. Mothering garnered no such praise from her friends and co-workers.

So Connie said yes. An extra 15 or 20 work hours every week shouldn’t matter too much to her husband and kids. They’d adjust, right?

But Kirsten didn’t – and Connie failed to look beyond the “breakfast” complaint and see the heartache of her daughter again that morning. Connie missed the point—Kirsten’s reluctance was not about breakfast, but about time, family, and relationships.

Kids need their moms—at every stage. A mother’s gift of time lays a strong foundation for healthy adulthood, built on love, security, affirmation and significance. And in a child’s first year, mom’s full-time presence is crucial.

A new international study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development sounds the alarm over mothers, like those in the U.S. and the U.K., who rush back to work—even part-time-- before their children are a year old. Compared to children of stay-at-home moms, kids of working moms had more limited vocabularies by age five and showed significant deficits in reading and math by age seven. Earlier research links a child’s time in day care with heightened aggressiveness and behavioral problems. Surprisingly, the children of better-educated moms are “even more affected,” in both achievement and behavior. Children whose mothers return to work within six months suffered the most.

The study contrasts starkly with a slanted 2010 report, which claimed children suffer no harm when mothers return to work within three months of birth. That conclusion, however, stands on shaky legs. Researchers in effect dismissed the negative effects on children’s cognitive and social development by offsetting them against the benefits of higher income, career progress for mom, and quality day-care. (As if an infant would value mom’s promotion over a stronger attachment to mom.)

Feminists and employers relentlessly pressure women to return to work too early, or, as in Connie’s case, to replace part-time work with full-time hours while their children still need time and attention.

The vast majority (62%) of working moms, however, want to be their children’s primary caregivers and would prefer part-time work to full-time employment. It’s common sense, really. The best moms are most responsive to their children. But responsiveness takes physical presence, first of all. It also takes knowledge--a function of time. Only by spending time with our children will we learn to read their cues and respond to their needs.

It’s not only young children who need their moms, however. Our older children confront a bewildering blur of social problems, from pornography, to sexualized fashions and explicit entertainment to drugs and violence. The casualties of poorly mothered children surround us.

But parents want to do right by their kids--82% of us say that family is the most important thing in our lives, bar none. If that’s true for you, Moms, then on this Mother’s Day commit to giving your children more of what they really need - YOU.


Pope gets tough on Leftist clergy

Christopher Pearson

LAST Monday the front page of The Australian featured a large photograph of an angry bishop. Some commentators in the blogosphere saw it as yet another media beat-up designed to depict the Catholic Church in an unflattering light. To my mind, it demonstrated a grasp of the battle lines in the culture wars that has eluded the rest of Australia's broadsheets.

The bishop in question was the outgoing Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris. He is one of three men who have been relieved of their dioceses by the Vatican in the past few months.

The others were the bishops of Pointe-Noire in Congo-Brazzaville and Orvieto-Todi in Italy. But while they were removed for financial mismanagement in one case and misbehaviour in the other, Morris's ouster was on doctrinal grounds.

Bishops are in some respects akin to sovereigns in their dioceses and, while it has the authority to remove them, the Holy See is usually very slow to do so, preferring discreet solutions such as early retirement.

The three forced departures in seven months have no precedent in recent years and suggest an increasing preparedness to intervene on the part of the Pope and his new prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet. The previous prefect, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, was an uber-liberal.

The Catholic archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby, who will be retiring in 11 weeks, professed himself at a loss to understand the decision. He told the ABC: " I just wish it hadn't happened and I don't know why it happened and I would very much like to know."

Perhaps I can enlighten him. Morris issued an Advent pastoral letter in 2006 that canvassed various options to make up for the lack of priestly vocations in his diocese. Some were uncontroversial. Others, including the ordination of married or single women and recognising the validity of Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church clergy, were heretical.

He has since then maintained what he likes to call a dialogue on these non-options.

As anyone with the rudiments of a theological education would know, the Catholic Church resolved the question of women priests in 1994, with the Pope ruling that it had no power to ordain women in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 1995 described that decision as unchangeably settled and "to be held definitively as belonging to the deposit of faith".

On the issue of recognising the orders of Protestant clergy, Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican orders "absolutely null and utterly void" back in 1896 in Apostolicae Curae. That decision was reaffirmed by the CDF in 1998 as an infallible pronouncement to which Catholics must give "firm and definitive assent". The Lutherans in Australia and the Uniting Church don't have bishops or anything remotely like ordination in the Apostolic Succession, so recognising their orders is, theologically speaking, inconceivable.

As a bishop, Morris was obliged to teach what the church teaches, rather than using his position to sow error and confusion among his flock. His removal must have come as an almighty shock to him and his brother bishops in Queensland because they've been getting away with flouting some of Rome's rulings with impunity since the 1970s.

Given that Morris has had five years of what he again likes to call dialogue with no less than three Vatican congregations and the Pope, with plenty of opportunities to change his tune, why has he persisted in error when he was so clearly in the wrong? There are several schools of thought.

The first argues the bishop just isn't very bright. Its spokesman, Frank Brennan SJ, says: "Bill Morris never pretended to be an academic theologian. He was and is a sensible, considerate, pastoral priest and bishop of a country diocese."

The second, aired on high-profile sites such as Rorate Caeli and Father John Zuhlsdorf's blog and local sites such as Vexilla Regis, is that Morris may have had health problems. The third view, which most agree is at least a significant element, is stubbornness. Morris is one of those liberal-authoritarians who like to assert that within their own jurisdiction they are as powerful as the Pope.

The (ultra-liberal) National Council of Priests encouraged this delusion with a press release last week. "We are concerned about an element within the Church whose restorationist ideology wants to repress freedom of expression within the Roman Catholic Church and who deny the legitimate magisterial authority of the local bishop within the Church."

However, the fact of the matter is that individual bishops have no authority to make independent decisions about questions of doctrine, but rather a collegial role with the other bishops under the leadership of the Pope.

And, again despite the NCP press release, the Pope is not merely the first among equals. According to Canon 331, "by virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power, which he is always able to exercise freely".

Morris's removal sends a clear message to bishops, in Australia and around the world. The Holy See's patience is not, as it long seemed, limitless.

As with the Orvieto-Todi case, the fact that this intervention happened in a first-world country suggests delinquents in the European and American hierarchies can take a lot less for granted than before. As well, requests from the Vatican for bishops' resignations are more likely to succeed during the rest of Pope Benedict's reign because he has just demonstrated that he's prepared to use his powers.

Morris has become a cause celebre in the US thanks to an editorial in The National Catholic Recorder. More of the same can be expected from The Tablet, the English Catholic journal and other liberal websites. No doubt some members of the Swiss and Dutch bishops' conferences will be once again canvassing the option of schism, de facto or actual.

What are the likely repercussions for the Australian Catholic Church? Morris's departure will further fortify the position of Cardinal George Pell and the more traditionally minded bishops.

The more realistic, liberal bishops are going to have to kiss goodbye to any lingering fantasies they clung to in the 90s of ordaining nuns, or at least keep them to themselves.

As well, the next two years will see an unusually high number of empty sees, as a cohort reaches the age of 75 and retirement.

Three of them are north of the Tweed and it looks increasingly likely that the Vatican will be choosing outsiders rather than locals to fill the vacancies. Mark Coleridge, now Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, will probably be translated to Brisbane.



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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