Tuesday, November 01, 2011
A far-Left Archbishop runs true to form
Two weeks after the invasion of St Paul's, the Archbishop finally speaks - and backs protesters
The Archbishop of Canterbury last night broke his silence on the protesters camped outside St Paul's Cathedral, saying he sympathised with the 'urgent larger issues' they raised.
In a sign of the panic within the Church of England high command since the arrival of the activists, Dr Rowan Williams intervened yesterday after the dean of the cathedral became the third member of staff to resign.
Indicating his support for the anti-capitalists' aims, the Archbishop said: 'The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul's remain very much on the table. 'We need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed.'
The Archbishop's intervention was sparked by the resignation yesterday of the Dean of St Paul's, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles. The dean caused controversy when he closed the historic building's doors last month for the first time since the Second World War, citing 'health and safety concerns' over the tents.
The cathedral reopened last week but the dean said yesterday his position had become 'untenable' amid the ongoing row.
The Archbishop's endorsement of the right of the protesters to campaign showed just how confused the Church of England remains in its response to the encampment on its doorstep.
His remarks came as the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, confirmed yesterday that legal efforts to persuade the activists to leave have begun. The bishop stressed that cathedral officials did not want a violent eviction.
The dean's departure followed Canon Chancellor of St Paul's, Giles Fraser – who had told police to leave the activists alone after their arrival on October 15 – and part-time chaplain Fraser Dyer.
The Occupy London protesters were showing no signs of leaving despite the cathedral's requests. They were understood to have been served official notice from the City of London Corporation yesterday afternoon, giving them 48 hours to remove their tents and equipment before they face eviction.
Dr Williams said the dean's departure was 'very sad news'.
He added: 'The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences, and the clergy of St Paul's deserve our understanding. Graeme Knowles will be much missed.'
Yesterday a significant protester splinter group refused even to support the cathedral's requests for drink, drugs and loud music to be banned from the protest camp.
They appeared largely bemused by the resignation of the dean – which he had to yesterday submit to the Queen, since his job is a crown appointment.
Their reluctance to leave was indicated by placards saying 'Hell no we won't go' and 'Jesus did not quit – he drove the money lenders from the temple'.
In a statement Mr Knowles, the dean for four years, said: 'Since the arrival of the protesters' camp outside the cathedral, we have all been put under a great deal of strain and have faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues.
'It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as dean of St Paul's was becoming untenable.
'In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul's, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised.'
St Paul's spokesman the Right Reverend Michael Colclough said: 'We are committed to doing all we can to find a way ahead that ensures the main message of the protest is not only heard but properly attended to, and in such a way that people in the local community, as well as our own team, can do their work peacefully for the good of everyone.'
The Bishop of London explained that due to the 'great mystery' of the Church of England's organisation, the cathedral made its own decisions without control from him. But he said St Paul's officials had asked him to help out in the protesters' row. He went on: 'There are many diverse voices in the camp outside St Paul's, but among them, serious issues are being articulated which the cathedral has always sought to address.'
The bishop stressed that all in the church wanted a peaceful resolution, but added said that any responsible organisation had to investigate its legal powers.
Outside, the camp still numbers about 200 tents – but barely 50 protesters attended a meeting yesterday afternoon to decide tactics. About a quarter of those present indicated that they were reluctant to accept basic requests from the cathedral for drink and drugs to be barred from the site and the camp to be kept tidy.
In a statement, the group, whose official name is Occupy London Stock Exchange, said: 'The management of St Paul's Cathedral is obviously deeply divided over the position they have taken in response to our cause – but our cause has never been directed at the staff of the cathedral.' The real issue was 'challenging the unsustainable financial system that punishes the many and privileges the few', it added.
Named and shamed, the control-freak British social workers who leave children languishing in care rather than finding them new homes
The councils that leave children languishing in care homes rather than find them new families through adoption have been named and shamed.
The new breakdown released as part of David Cameron’s drive to increase the number of children adopted said the worst-performing social workers, in an East London borough, failed to find new families within a year for more than half its children destined for adoption. But the best, in York, found new homes for all the children in their care who were prepared for adoption.
The major gap between the most and least successful local authorities in finding adoptive homes for children in care came as the Prime Minister launched an appeal for more would-be parents to come forward to give children new homes.
Mr Cameron’s campaign follows attempts by Education Secretary Michael Gove to push councils into speeding up their adoption rates – and figures released last month that show how social workers have failed to respond.
‘It is shocking that of the 3,600 children under the age of one in care, only 60 were adopted last year,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘We will publish data on how very local authority is performing to ensure they are working quickly enough to provide the safe and secure family environment every child deserves.’
Hackney, in London, came bottom of the table with just 43 per cent of children being placed with adoptive parents within 12 months.
Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said: ‘I want local authorities to be free to develop services to reflect the needs of their local population, but with that freedom comes responsibility.
‘Areas like York, Oxfordshire, and North Yorkshire are thinking creatively and making good progress on adoption. Other authorities need to follow their lead. Many social workers are doing an excellent job for the children and families they work with, but there is no excuse for the poor performance we are seeing laid bare today.
Martin Narey, the Government’s adoption adviser, called for abused and neglected children to be identified and removed from their homes more quickly.
‘Adoption transforms the lives of some of the most neglected and abused children in the UK,’ he said. ‘We need earlier identification of neglect and removal of children from that neglect. We need early identification of adoption - when it is clearly best for the child - and an administrative and legal system which completes the adoption much more quickly than at present.
'Finally, we need an assessment process for prospective adopters which is welcoming, efficient, and which balances the quite proper warnings about the challenges of adoption with a little more about the joy it so often brings.’
But the Local Government Association that represents councils cautioned against pushing too hard for permanent new families for children taken into care because of neglect or abuse.
Its children’s spokesman David Simmonds said: ‘A one-size-fits-all approach is not the right solution for some children. Adoption is right for some but for others long-term stability might best be found with friends and family through special guardianship. Councils will continue to work hard to press for much greater freedom for social work professionals to be able to use their judgment.’
Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: ‘I’m very concerned that Hackney is bottom of this league table. We need to know if the cause is inefficiency or if there are other reasons why Hackney is taking longer to place children with adoptive parents.
‘Poor boroughs like Hackney face difficulties in obtaining adopters. Families may be willing but housing conditions and the size of property may be an issue. That’s why we need to find out exactly what is going wrong. It can be very sad for children in care indefinitely, when they do not know what the future is.’
Marines returning from Afghanistan honoured with parade through London
BritGov does the right thing, for a change
Heroes returning from Afghanistan have been welcomed home with a parade through the streets of London and a Parliamentary reception.
A total of 120 servicemen and women took part in the parade from Wellington Barracks to the House of Commons. The troops, who have all recently returned from a six-month tour, were accompanied by The Plymouth Band of the Royal Marines.
Lieutenant Colonel Ewen Murchison, Commanding Officer of 42 Commando, said: ‘This gives the guys an opportunity to understand that our efforts of the six hard months we have had in Afghanistan are recognised nationally, because this is the House of Commons.
‘But it also gives the people here in London an opportunity to talk to the guys who have spent six months in Afghanistan and understand the challenges they have been facing.’ He admitted that it was ‘surreal’ to be in such grand surroundings as the House of Commons having been in Afghanistan so recently.
Lt Col Murchison added: ‘It's hugely uplifting to come back. There has been a huge amount of support which has been a great source of encouragement for us, especially in the dark days we have had.’
There were 19 fatalities during the tour and several of those taking part in today's parade had been injured.
Lance Corporal Ash Swinard, of 42 Commando, was on his third tour when he was injured in an improvised explosive device blast in July, and had his right leg amputated below the knee. The 26-year-old, from Sheffield, who has had a prosthetic leg fitted, said: ‘It feels amazing to be back home and back on my own two feet. ‘This is the goal I was working towards when I was in hospital.’
He admitted it had been a ‘tough time’ for his family, including his fiancee, but that he is now looking forward to his wedding next May.
Marine Harry Butcher, of 42 Commando, also returned injured, having been hit by a rocket. The 24-year-old from Manchester, who has undergone reconstructive surgery on his leg, said: ‘It's good being back with all the lads, seeing them and knowing that near enough everyone has come back. It's a lot of weight off your shoulders.’
He said it was ‘great’ to have public support, and added: ‘It's like a big “well done”, and it's nice knowing people recognise what you've done.’
Those taking part in the parade had all served on Operation Herrick 14 and included 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, 45 Commando Royal Marines, 42 Commando Royal Marines, 30 Commando IX Group Royal Marines, 29 Commando Royal Artillery, Commando Logistics Regiment Royal Marines, 24 Commando Engineer Regiment Royal Marines, Med Group & 101 Engineer Regiment.
Brigadier Ed Davis, Commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, said: ‘It has been humbling to see the sacrifice and the professionalism of our people.
‘Their humanity and their desire to reach out to the people of Helmand and their insatiable desire to make a difference has been inspiring.’
Media censorship on the agenda in Australia again
NEWSPAPERS and magazines could be fined up to $30,000 for "exceptionally grave" or persistent breaches of media standards.
In a submission to Julia Gillard's media inquiry, the Press Council has also raised the prospect of securing government funding to expand its coverage to online news and "blog" websites.
And it suggests newspapers could be censured or reprimanded "where appropriate" under sanctions to boost public confidence in the media.
The Press Council part-funded by News Limited has fired the opening shots in the Government's media inquiry with a series of options to beef-up public sanctions against sloppy journalism.
These include a new panel, headed by a retired judge, with the power to impose fines against newspapers or magazines of up to $30,000.
In a letter to the media inquiry, chair Julian Disney said the Press Council was "currently considering" such a process but also raised concerns it could become "legalistic and time-consuming".
The first trickle of submissions were published yesterday by the media inquiry which was established by the Gillard Government following pressure from the Greens.
Retired Federal Court judge Ray Finklestein has been asked to report back to Government by February, including on the effectiveness of the Press Council considered a "toothless tiger" by its critics.
Mr Disney, who is overseas and could not be contacted last night, has put forward a number of options to beef-up the body and expand its coverage over emerging online media.
Raising the issue of government funding will be controversial. Mr Disney has suggested it as an option "to help expand membership amongst online publishers".
But he added it was "essential" funding from government or external sources was given without "conditions".
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.