Friday, September 30, 2011

Demonic British police

A mother was arrested for murder after hospital misdiagnosed her son, 3, and sent him home to die. Is every parent who loses a child to be treated as a murderer?

The young mother of a three-year-old toddler who died of a chest infection was arrested on suspicion of his murder and held in a police cell for 24 hours, an inquest heard today.

Abby Podmore, 20, whose son Alfie Podmore had been misdiagnosed by hospital staff, was prevented from seeing his body until 10 days after his death.

In a statement to the inquest at Birmingham Coroner's Court, Ms Podmore, from Quinton, Birmingham, described her arrest as a 'horrifying' event which had robbed her of the chance to grieve for Alfie.

In the statement, which was read to the court by Birmingham Coroner Aidan Cotter, Ms Podmore told how her son was taken ill while at his nursery on February 2.

Alfie, who was not known to social services, was taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital the following day, but was discharged after staff failed to diagnose a developing infection on his lung.

The inquest heard that antibiotics may have saved Alfie, but he was instead given antacid medication and he died at his home on February 6.

Ms Podmore was arrested on suspicion of his murder just hours after his death. In her statement, Ms Podmore said a doctor at the hospital had told her that Alfie, who had a fever and shoulder pain, was suffering from a virus.

The grieving mother, who works as a dental nurse, said: 'We just thought this was a 24-hour bug and he would get better.'

Relating how she tried in vain to revive Alfie when she found him on the morning of February 6, Ms Podmore added: 'I knew he was not breathing so I started to give him CPR.' An ambulance then arrived, the inquest heard, but police then asked Ms Podmore to leave the house and change out of her clothes.

Commenting on her arrest for murder, Ms Podmore said: 'I found it distressing because I wanted to be with his body. 'I was in a state of shock and didn't know what was going on.'

Two riot vans and a total of 15 police officers then arrived at the address and Ms Podmore's partner was also detained by the police. Ms Podmore continued: 'I couldn't believe what was happening - I felt like I was being treated like a criminal.'

Neighbours had looked on as Ms Podmore and her partner were arrested, Mr Cotter was told, and the pair were then taken to separate police stations.

It was only when a doctor acting on behalf of the Birmingham Coroner informed police that Alfie had died from natural causes that her innocence was recognised. A post-mortem later revealed that he had suffered from pneumonia, a bacterial infection and septicemia.

Although Ms Podmore's partner was released quickly, she was kept in custody until the following day. 'I remained in a police station for 24 hours,' she said. 'Looking back, I feel I have been robbed of the chance to say goodbye to Alfie.'

Ms Podmore only just returned home this week after living with relatives since the incident. She said some members of the community still believed she played some part in Alfie's death.

Paying tribute to her first son, she said; 'He was boisterous, happy. He was always smiling, dancing. Everything he did made me laugh. I have lost all that now. It has been hard to come back home because he is not here so it doesn't feel like the same place anymore. The happiness has been sucked out.'

In a statement released in July, West Midlands Police said it had launched an internal investigation into the circumstances of the 21-year-old mother's arrest.


Suspicious British social workers 'wouldn't even allow you to adopt your own children'

Most people would be barred from adopting their own children because of the rules imposed by social workers, the head of a children’s charity said yesterday.

Anne Marie Carrie, of Barnardo’s, said couples coming forward to adopt were treated with ‘enormous suspicion’ and their treatment was a tragedy both for them and the children left languishing in state care.

She spoke amid a chorus of disappointment from charity leaders, ministers and the Government’s ‘adoption czar’ over figures showing that the number of children escaping the care system to new adoptive families is in decline.

Although numbers in care, with regularly changing foster parents or in children’s homes, have shot up to 65,520, numbers adopted have fallen to 3,050, 5 per cent down in a year.

Only 60 babies, barely more than one a week, were adopted last year – even though all evidence shows that the younger a child is placed with a new family, the better their chances in life.

And the figures, released on Wednesday by the Department for Education, show that white children in care have a three times better chance of being adopted than black children. The failure follows years in which governments led by both Labour and Tories have promised to encourage adoption.

Earlier this year Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said the apartheid-style race rules that have long prevented couples adopting a child of a different ethnic background would be swept away.

But social workers still insist on extensive home trials of would-be parents and exhaustive examinations of both their parenting skills and their attitudes and thinking. Middle-class couples regularly complain that they are effectively bullied out of trying to adopt.

And in 1998 then council social services head Moira Gibb – now a government adviser on social work training – said society ‘has decided it no longer wants to see babies farmed out to middle-class mothers’.

On Radio 4’s Today Programme yesterday, Miss Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo’s, said: ‘It is a tragedy for those children who have been languishing in the care system, and it is a tragedy for those people who have come forward who want to be parents and adopt a child. ‘We treat them with enormous suspicion, and we set thresholds for people who want to be adoptive parents that frankly mean you and I would not be allowed to adopt our own children.’

She added that social workers still try too hard to return children to incapable or evil parents who cannot or do not look after them. ‘We are too slow to see that some parenting is not good enough,’ she said, adding that some mothers were allowed ‘chance after chance’.

Her criticisms were echoed by the Government’s adoption adviser, Martin Narey. He said there was a shortage of adoptive parents ‘because of a process of parental assessment that is attitudinally and procedurally flawed: a process that discourages too many applications in the first place, wears out excellent would-be adopters along the way and, even when it works satisfactorily, takes too long’. Mr Narey said the adoption figures would soon improve.

Within hours of the startlingly low figures being released, hundreds of Mail Online readers swamped our messages boards with details of their personal battles to adopt. The comments of one, Alistair from Co Durham, were typical. ‘We already have one child of our own but felt we could offer another child a home,’ he wrote. ‘But they want to know every single fact of our lives right back to childhood. It’s truly terrifying and of the 12 couples who applied with us I know of ten who withdrew. The entire fostering and adoption process is a brutal inquisition filled with threats and intimidation.

‘When we and some other couples who dropped out of the adoption inquisition got together we came to the conclusion that actually the social workers do not want to place children in homes as it would put their jobs at risk if all the kids were found homes and it would remove from them the almost god-like power they have over the families and children.’

Numbers of children taken into care rose quickly after the Baby P scandal in 2008. Children who are not adopted and remain in care are unlikely to do well in life. Wednesday’s figures showed that one in three teenagers who has recently left state care is a NEET – not in education, employment or training.


Batty British bureaucracy again

Van travels 100 miles to take a suspect in cuffs 60 yards to court... and, you've guessed, the farce is all to protect his human rights

A prison van was sent almost 100 miles to take a suspect to court because it was claimed that walking him in handcuffs for 60 yards could breach his human rights.

Oliver Thomas, 27, accused of public order offences, was due to face magistrates after spending the night in a cell at the police station next door in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

But to spare him the shame of a 30-second walk in public, the private company which transports prisoners sent a fortified van across three counties to drive him there at an estimated cost of £1,000.

This made him late for a separate appearance on an attempted robbery charge at Oxford Crown Court, where Judge Tom Corrie condemned the waste of taxpayer cash.

‘I’m not quite sure why he couldn’t be walked across the street rather than sending a van from Southampton,’ he said. ‘I wonder how much public money has been wasted.’

Thomas had been held at the police station after being arrested over two alleged public order offences. GEOAmey, the company responsible for transporting prisoners, is based in Oxford, a few miles from Banbury.

However, it claims, its local staff were all busy so it decided to send a van on the two-hour journey from Southampton to avoid walking Thomas between the two buildings and to protect his identity. A spokesman insisted: ‘Police wouldn’t expect us to turn up at Banbury, handcuff a prisoner and take him down the street and to the court.

‘Generally speaking we don’t see that in this country. It strays into the area of human rights. They have a right to have their identity protected.’

GEOAmey is paid more than £90million a year to transport defendants between prisons, police stations and courts on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. Glyn Travis, of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: ‘This is a prime example of how the privatised system is a constant drain on public resources.

‘In the past police would have been able to walk him to the station themselves but now because of the contracts with private companies they are not able to do so. It is wrong for the contractors to think they needed to move a van nearly 100 miles to protect the human rights of the prisoner.

‘It is not unusual to walk prisoners in handcuffs through the streets in situations where the distance is short or there is no access for prison vans. This is another example of where the human rights of offenders is completely disproportionate to reality.’

GEOAmey boasted it would bring ‘innovation and maximise efficiencies’ when its ten-year contract was awarded in March. Its spokesman added: ‘Our staff collected Mr Thomas from Banbury in the morning and assisted with duties at the court until mid-afternoon, then delivered prisoners to other prisons.’

A police spokesman said: ‘It may be possible for officers to assist with prisoner transport, as we work in partnership with the contractor. ‘However, every situation will need to be decided on its merits.’


Now we’re warned that SpongeBob SquarePants turns kids into dimwits. Yet another pointless guilt-trip for parents

Behaviour changes that last only a few minutes are hardly a great concern but that is all that the report mentioned below has demonstrated. That a fast-paced cartoon might wind kids up a bit is is hardly surprising. Any fun game will do the same -- JR

According to the latest cutting-edge scientific study, kids who watch SpongeBob SquarePants are at higher risk of underperforming than kids who don’t. Yes, the American cartoon about a set of colourful characters living in an underwater city called Bikini Bottom has now joined the endless list of Stuff that Messes Kids Up According to The Science.

Four-year-old SpongeBob watchers who participated in the study did measurably worse on various tests than their peers who watched slower-paced shows or drew pictures. The study results seem to confirm every parent’s secret dread. In settling their kids down in front of SpongeBob, so that they can read the newspaper in peace, put dinner on the table or simply enjoy a lie-in, parents are apparently condemning their children to a life of academic failure and social awkwardness.

The study, published last week in the American journal Pediatrics, explained that researchers from the University of Virginia randomly divided 60 four-year-olds into three groups. One group watched a nine-minute clip of SpongeBob SquarePants, a second group watched nine minutes of Caillou, a gently paced Canadian cartoon about a pre-school boy, and the third group spent nine minutes drawing pictures. Immediately afterwards, all children took a series of tests measuring their mental facilities and self-control. The children who had watched SpongeBob performed worse than the others. They did particularly poorly in the ‘marshmallow test’. All the kids were given marshmallows and while the SpongeBob group devoured theirs in just over two minutes, the other children held out twice as long.

David Bittler, a spokesman for Nickelodeon, which broadcasts SpongeBob, challenged the test’s validity. He said, somewhat defensively, that while the test participants were four years old, the cartoon is aimed at kids aged six to 11. He also added that ‘Having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show’s targeted (audience), watch nine minutes of programming is questionable methodology and could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust.’

Dr Dimitri Christakis, a paediatric researcher who has linked television viewing to attention-deficit disorder, wrote an editorial in Pediatrics expressing caution about the SpongeBob study’s sample size and the as-yet unclear duration of the ‘SpongeBob effect’. However, he also suggested that if the effect could be confirmed it would strengthen the case for treating early media-exposure as a public-health issue!

The SpongeBob scare is only the latest in a regular litany of science stories that play on and bolster parents’ insecurities. In the past few weeks alone there have been several such stories. For instance, there was the one about how babies of women who were depressed during pregnancy are likely to become bullies as toddlers. Another one claimed that mothers who carry the ‘harshness’ gene (two copies of the D2 gene) tend to treat their children harshly when confronted with bad news about the economy.

Of course, most of us ignore the vast majority of these studies out of necessity. If we took them all to heart, we’d never even make it out of the house. But we can’t ignore all the news all the time - and when they’re about activities as banal as watching cartoons, these sorts of stories become seriously problematic for parents.

Studies like the one on the SpongeBob effect are problematic in their own terms. They are often methodologically weak: looking at small numbers of children, discounting associations such as socio-economic status, promiscuously conflating correlation with causation, and so on. But the bigger issue is the way they are reported and received. Experiments, even flawed ones, ultimately add to our knowledge and sometimes lead to interesting conclusions. Problems arise with the expectation that science, even in a half-baked form, should guide our individual behaviour or - even worse - inform policy decisions.

So don’t cartoons shape children’s developing brains in detrimental ways, then? Well, there really is no convincing evidence that this happens. Our brain development reflects our experience. If children did nothing but watch SpongeBob or other fast-paced cartoons, it’s conceivable that their brain development might reflect that. However, it is not at all clear what consequences it might have. In any case, neuroplasticity lasts throughout life. We change our circumstances and our brains adapt accordingly. SpongeBob is not destiny. As kids grow up, they will eventually become bored of the world of Bikini Bottom.

Much of this is common sense, or at least it should be. After all, many of today’s parents were themselves raised on a steady diet of Looney Tunes cartoons. But, somehow, scare stories about the effects of television viewing seem to make a disproportionate impact today, to the point where mothers and fathers actually admit to lying to other people about how much television they let their children watch.

The problem of ‘screen time’ – the new-fangled appellation designed to take into account computer use and video games in addition to television viewing – leads to untold parental guilt because it flies in the face of everything that ‘good parents’ are supposed to do with their children. We are constantly reminded about the importance of spending time with our children or at the very least making sure they are engaged in constructive, age-appropriate activities. As the organisers of Screen-Free Week, an annual campaign to convince families not to watch TV or play on computers, explain in their literature: ‘Excessive screen time is harmful for children. Time with screens is linked to poor school-performance, childhood obesity and attention problems. And it is primarily through screens that children are exposed to harmful marketing.’

The problem is that many of the ways in which children once passed their time – activities like taking a walk, playing in the yard or cycling around the neighbourhood – are now impossible without parental escort. Parents find themselves in the no-win position of being unable to give their children real alternatives to watching television or playing computer games, and then being condemned for messing up their kids’ brains if they fall back on SpongeBob.

Rather than allowing family life to be reduced to a project of balancing one potential danger (watching cartoons) against another (playing outside until dinner’s done), we’d be better off ignoring the research all together. SpongeBob may or may not put children in the mood to focus or to wait before eating their marshmallows. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Why? Because children – and adults – watch cartoons for the sake of entertainment. Cartoons don’t have to make us smarter or teach us impulse control. They just make us laugh and then, because we are adaptable creatures, we move on to other things.



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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