Tuesday, October 25, 2011

British grandmother accused of race hate for putting golliwog in window has charge dropped

Racial harassment charges against a woman who displayed a golliwog in her window have been dropped. Jena Mason, a 65-year-old grandmother, was arrested after her black neighbour Rosemarie O'Donnell complained about the toy to police.

Today at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court, Chris McCann, head of the complex casework unit at the East of England Crown Prosecution Service, offered no evidence. In a hearing lasting less than five minutes, he said a 'review has been carried out at the highest level'.

Mrs Mason, who did not attend today's hearing, had been due to stand trial after denying that she displayed an item likely to cause racially-aggravated harassment.

Mr McCann said Mrs O'Donnell and her husband Stephen had been informed. He said: 'To establish that an offence has been committed, it would have been necessary to prove that Jena Mason was the person who placed the doll in such a prominent position likely to cause her neighbours racially-aggravated harassment, alarm or distress. 'On the evidence available, it is not possible to show exactly who was responsible for placing the doll in the window.

'Despite further inquiry and review, we have determined that the evidence is insufficient and there is not a realistic prospect of conviction. 'We appreciate that this case has caused the O'Donnell family a great deal of upset and we have met with them to explain our reasons for not pursuing a prosecution.'

Outside court, solicitor James Hartley said: 'I have spoken to Mrs Mason and she now wants to focus on rebuilding her relationship with her neighbours.'

The row erupted after a disagreement between the neighbours over plans by Mrs Mason and her husband Terry, who live in a listed manor house in the village of Worlingham in Suffolk, to build new stables on their land. Their son-in-law, Daniel O’Dell, who also lives at the 16th century manor, is in training for the British Olympic dressage team and needs the space for his horses.

But the O’Donnells, who occupy a £1million barn conversion behind a red-brick wall, hired a planning consultant to object to the application, citing boundary and right-of-way issues, traffic increase and problems from disposing of liquid and solid waste from the horses. They have also complained about the Masons’ dogs allegedly coming on to their land.

Then the golly appeared in a ground floor annexe window of the Masons' home near the main entrance to the barn.

Days after the local council granted planning permission, Mrs O’Donnell, 48, made a formal complaint to police about it, and supplied a photograph. The businesswoman and mother of two, who has Jamaican roots, said the sight of it left her ‘shocked and upset’.

Mrs Mason was arrested, questioned at Lowestoft police station, charged and bailed.

The dispute centred around whether the golly was a deliberate act of racism – or, as Mrs Mason insisted, that it simply ended up on the window sill when she tidied it up with her grandson’s other toys.


Today's men need a touch of old-fashioned chivalry, says star of period drama

Women may have won equality since the days of Downton Abbey, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hanker after a degree of old-fashioned male chivalry, according to one of the show’s stars.

Actress Michelle Dockery – who plays Lady Mary Crawley in the period drama – believes modern men have lost some of the most appealing aspects of their personalities.

She explained ‘chivalry’ and good ‘manners’ were two ‘lovely’ traits which have disappeared over the decades.

Asked how she thought the role of women had changed since the days of Downton, set during the First World War, Miss Dockery bemoaned a lack of social graces amongst the younger generation.

The 29-year-old told the Radio Times: ‘We take so many of our freedoms for granted nowadays. ‘I can travel where I like, I can have a baby when I like, I can do any job I want – but I do think chivalry has been lost a little bit.’

Miss Dockery – whose character regrets turning down her distant cousin Matthew Crawley’s marriage proposal – went on: ‘Those old manners – such as men standing when women arrive at the dinner table or opening doors for you – are lovely, and it’s lovely when you see a man doing that today. ‘But young men wouldn’t think about that for a second because it’s not the culture anymore.’

And her co-star Laura Carmichael, 25, who plays Lady Edith Crawley, said: ‘The requirement in those days to find a husband, simply to survive financially, was just awful. ‘But for the drama it’s great because there is a real sense of jeopardy for the girls and that’s what Julian [Fellowes, creator of the series] writes so wonderfully.’


Single women are being offered IVF by the British socialized medicine system -- while some couples are denied help

Single women are being offered fertility treatment by almost a fifth of NHS trusts, a Daily Telegraph investigation has found, casting doubt on the Government’s family-friendly credentials.

Women not in relationships are receiving publicly-funded IVF despite official guidance that suggests support should go to couples who have been trying without success to have a baby for several years.

Meanwhile in other parts of the country married couples are being denied help in starting a family, forcing them to spend thousands of pounds on private treatment.

It comes after a Labour law removed the requirement for fertility doctors to consider a child’s need to have a male role model before going ahead with IVF.

Critics say the Government, which David Cameron promised would be “the most family friendly we’ve ever had in this country”, should tackle the postcode lottery of IVF provision and ensure that the needs of children are put first.

Frank Field, the Labour MP who carried out a high-profile review into poverty and life chances last year, said: “It’s clearly wrong that while couples in stable relationships can’t get IVF and in other areas, single women can.

“It’s really important that Government ministers speak up for children who are the ones left out of this. It needs someone in a position of authority to reflect what most taxpayers think.”

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester who once chaired the ethics committee of Britain’s fertility watchdog, said: “The irony is that at the very time research is showing the need for both parents, we are writing fathers out of the legislation.

“It’s one thing for a mother to find herself a single parent because of tragic circumstances. It’s quite another to plan for a situation where the child comes into the world without having a father or any possibility of having a father.”

Most local health authorities stipulate that couples must have been in a relationship for two or three years to qualify for IVF treatment.

That requirement is based on guidance issued in 2004 by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the NHS rationing body,.

It states: “Couples in which the woman is aged 23–39 years at the time of treatment and who have an identified cause for their fertility problems ... or who have infertility of at least three years’ duration, should be offered up to three stimulated cycles of in vitro fertilisation treatment."

The document does note that the guidelines do not address social criteria "for example, whether it is single women or same-sex couples who are seeking treatment".

However the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 removed the reference to “the need for a father” when considering the welfare of the child when considering fertility treatment, replacing it with “the need for supportive parenting”.

Gareth Johnson MP, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility, said that trusts offering the service to single women were going against one of the guiding principles of IVF, "that you are treating an infertile couple, not an infertile individual".

Mr Johnson, the Conservative MP for Dartford, said: “Speaking in a personal capacity, if you are going for IVF, you are trying to create a baby, so there should be some evidence of a stable background, which you would expect to be a couple.”

Earlier this year he led an APPG report that found startling differences between what health authorities offered in terms of IVF.

It found three-quarters of Primary Care Trusts were failing to offer three cycles of IVF, as stipulated by Nice. Each cycle comprises a woman's ovaries being stimulated to produce eggs, which are then fertilised in vitro and implanted in the womb. Spare eggs should be frozen for use if the first attempt fails.

The report found five trusts offered no IVF at all - Warrington, West Sussex, Stockport, North Staffordshire and North Yorkshire and York. Since then, NHS West Sussex has decided to start funding IVF again.

Many trusts have also started putting in place further barriers to IVF funding - for example demanding obese women lose weight - in part to limit demand as health budgets tighten. Yet 24 of the 135 PCTs that responded to this newspaper’s enquiries said they offered the service to single women.

Against a background of increasingly scarce provision, as the NHS tries to save £20billion by 2015, Mr Johnson said the decision to offer IVF to single women was misplaced. “There's always going to be limitations on what treatment can be offered, but this seems to say we should be giving IVF wherever we want.”

Among those offering fertility treatment for single women are 10 PCTs in southern England, including those covering Oxford, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

Criteria for access to IVF and related fertility treatment from the South Central Specialised Commissioning Group, which covers the 10 PCTs, states: "Sub fertility treatment will be funded for women in same-sex couples or women not in a partnership if those seeking treatment are demonstrably sub fertile.”

It continues: "Women in same sex couples and women not in a partnership should have access to professional experts in reproductive medicine to obtain advice on the options available to enable them to proceed along this route if they so wish."

Six PCTs in southwest London - Richmond and Twickenham, Wandsworth, Sutton and Merton, Croydon, and Kingston - also offer fertility treatment to single women. Others in southern England to confirm they offered NHS funding for IVF to single women include NHS Swindon and NHS Wiltshire.

A spokesman for NHS Surrey said it would fund fertility treatment for single women under "exceptional circumstances".

Those in the north include South Staffordshire PCT, NHS Central Lancashire, NHS Halton and St Helens, NHS Knowsley, NHS Liverpool, NHS Sefton, NHS Wirral and NHS East Riding of Yorkshire.

In July Elizabeth Pearce, 39, claimed she was the first lone parent to have given birth thanks to IVF funded by the NHS. She has a son, Leo, who is now eight months old.

She said: "I understand this is a sensitive issue—but I truly believe single women have just as much of a right to a child as couples do."

Yet exactly how many single women have actually claimed for fertility treatment through the NHS remains unclear.

Juliet Tizzard, head of policy at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said at a public meeting last week: "There are more single women wanting to have treatment with donor sperm."

Figures from the HFEA, which helps regulate the sector, show that there were 764 IVF cycles in single women in 2006, the latest year for which information is available. There were also 740 donor insemination cycles in single women the same year. The figures are due to be updated in the next few weeks.

However, a spokesman said the figures were not broken into those who were NHS or self =0funded. The vast majority of single women are thought to pay for fertility treatment privately, where it can cost £5,000 a cycle.

Anastasia de Waal, director of family and education at the think-tank Civitas, said: “The important thing is that the funding is done in an equitable way. It does seem like it is very confused and potentially unfair.”


Advocates protest 'asylum' haunted house

RADFORD, Va. - A haunted house staged at a former psychiatric hospital is the subject of disagreement over the portrayal of those with mental illness.

The Mountain Ridge Paranormal Research Society is sponsoring the "asylum"-themed haunted house event to raise money to save the historic Saint Albans Hospital property in Radford from demolition.

But the attraction isn't sitting well with some in the community who think the theme and promotional materials are insensitive to former Saint Albans patients and reinforce negative connotations of people with mental illness. A promotional T-shirt for the event says "St. Albans Sanatorium. One crazy place!" while another has an image of a girl with cuts on her face, holding a ghastly doll.

A group protested at the site Friday night, and planned further weekend demonstrations. Most of them had ties to Radford University's doctorate of psychology program.

"It's kind of based on probably the worst possible stereotypical sort of images that people have of people with mental illness," doctoral student Michael Love told The Roanoke Times

Love was among about 15 people who lined the sidewalk with signs saying "Respect for the Mentally Ill," while passing out informational fliers on mental illness.

Dominique Boone, also a student in the psychology department, said the mental illness stigma often shames people into not seeking the treatment they need.

"It perpetuates the stigma of crazy, or that those with mental illness are people you should be afraid of," Boone said.

Promoters with the sponsoring paranormal group said the theme was designed to be over the top but not to offend. Group member Don Hanauer called protesters' efforts slightly misguided.

"People will find fault where they'll find fault," Hanauer said.

He said while the T-shirts and theme touch on insanity, the exhibits and props within the building fall within typical spooky fare to be found in any haunted house.

After a walk-through, the house is heavy on gore and littered with creepy messages and the living dead, while the mental patient references are seemingly checked at the door. Hanauer said this was by design, and noted that he's spoken with former Saint Albans patients and staff who had no problem with it.

But the insane-asylum references hit home for protesters such as Corey White, a graduate English student, and Lucious Cordial, a 10-year-old. Both said they have had relatives who suffered from mental illness.

Lucious said his great-grandmother was a Saint Albans resident, and he doesn't appreciate patients being portrayed as "monsters."



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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