Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Men sue Swedish police for sexual discrimination

The National Police Board (Rikspolistyrelsen) has been sued by a rights group for alleged discrimination, arguing that women have been favoured ahead of men in the recruitment process.

The Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa) has filed three writs against the board, alleging that male recruits have been denied places at the Swedish National Police Academy in favour of female recruits, despite the man having performed better in physical and language tests.

"If there has been violation of the law on admissions to the Police Academy, it is obviously very serious. Through this judicial process the questions will hopefully be answered," said Clarence Crafoord, director of the Centre for Justice, in statement. Crafoord argued that the issue is of extra importance "because the Equality Ombudsman has chosen to act extremely passively in the matter".

The Local reported in July that around 80 complaints had been filed with the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen - DO) alleging they weren't admitted to police training programmes because of their gender. The Centre for Justice has now reported that this figure has risen to 130 cases of alleged discrimination.

DO announced a couple of weeks ago that it would open a dialogue with the police board, responsible for the academies in Solna, Umeå and Växjö. The three cases set be tried concern two men from Malmö, Måns P.. and Daniel Ståhl, and one from Småland, Albin Halldin.

"These men who applied for police training have been better than the women in both the language tests and physical tests, but despite this it is the women who have been admitted," Clarence Crafoord said. The men are each demanding 100,000 kronor ($15,000) in compensation.

Carolina Ekéus at the National Police Board press office told The Local on Monday that the board declined to comment on the case "as a judicial process has now begun". Ekéus furthermore declined to comment on the National Police Board's recruitment policies.

Back in January 2009 the National Police Academy announced that, for the first time ever, women outnumbered the men among the new recruits in that year's intake.

"We need people with different backgrounds and experience so that the police force is representative of the wider society," said Monica Landergård at the police academy to The Local at the time.


Don't push your luck, Britain's top judge tells Euro court in new 'rights' showdown

England's most senior judge yesterday warned the European Court of Human Rights against interfering too far in British law. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said judges in Strasbourg could be about to make the extraordinary demand that British courts ignore laws set down by Parliament. He told MPs and peers that an imminent ruling ‘has huge implications’ and ‘could in effect call on us to disapply the 2003 Criminal Justice Act’.

The looming showdown relates to the case of Imad Al-Khawaja, who was convicted of indecent assault in 2004. One witness gave evidence but died before his trial. A statement she made to police was read to the jury.

Mr Al-Khawaja’s is now a test case over whether criminals can be convicted on the basis of so-called ‘hearsay’ evidence from witnesses who do not appear in court. British law says they can, and the principle has been backed by the Supreme Court. But Strasbourg’s final appeal body, the Grand Chamber, is thought to be likely to over-rule that decision with its own, due shortly.

European human rights judges have regularly ordered Parliament to rethink its laws, as in the ongoing dispute over votes for prisoners. However, they are yet to order courts to actually ignore current statutes.

Lord Judge told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights that a decision to overrule the Supreme Court would amount to trespass on British independence and contravene the ‘margin of appreciation’ – the term for how much Strasbourg may interfere in domestic laws. ‘If the decision is that [Al-Khawaja] had an unfair trial, then that decision will be a very good demonstration that the margin of appreciation is not being followed,’ he said.

Lord Judge told the committee that the decision on whose law must be obeyed – that of Westminster or Strasbourg – will eventually go to the Supreme Court. ‘It will have to be resolved,’ he said.

He also claimed that British courts had been following Strasbourg’s rulings too closely. ‘Most of the decisions are fact-specific decisions; they are not deciding any point of principle. They are just saying “here are the facts, here is the answer”. That is not precedent for anything,’ he said. ‘There has been a tendency to follow much more closely than I think we should.’

In addition, the Lord Chief Justice indicated that he fears European Union manoeuvres may remove any opportunity for British courts to defy Strasbourg. At present, the Human Rights Act states that courts should merely ‘take account’ of the court’s judgments.

But the EU is negotiating to use its new constitutional powers, granted by the Lisbon Treaty, to become a member of the ECHR, with the same status as member nations. If it succeeds, the EU’s own European Court of Justice, which sits in Luxembourg, will be able to tell EU countries to follow the judgments of Strasbourg.

Lord Judge said: ‘There is a difference between Luxembourg and Strasbourg. ‘Never mind take account of – we will be ordered to follow Strasbourg law because Luxembourg is following it.’


Lies about child protection in South Dakota

NPR makes it sound worse than in Britain -- which is hard to do

I have been investigating National Public Radio’s three-part series on child welfare in South Dakota. Briefly, NPR claimed that South Dakota’s Department of Social Services sends social workers onto Indian reservations to “kidnap” Indian children, who are then placed more or less exclusively in white foster care–a transaction which NPR alleged that the state carries out for profit. I refuted these bizarre claims here, here, and here. I have also sent two emails to Laura Sullivan, the NPR reporter responsible for the series, asking her a number of questions about her allegations. She has not responded.

Now on to Part IV. It was only a matter of time before NPR’s series turned explicitly partisan–after all, NPR doesn’t exist to attack social workers. Part 2 of NPR’s series tried to link the “scandal” of kidnapped Indian children to South Dakota’s newly-elected Republican Governor, Dennis Daugaard:
With multiple campuses and emergency centers, Children’s Home provides services for up to 2,000 children a year. It’s now one of the largest nonprofits in the state. But it wasn’t always.

Ten years ago, this group was in financial trouble. For several years, tax records show, it was losing money. Then in 2002, a former banker named Dennis Daugaard joined the team. He became the group’s chief operating officer. A year later, he was promoted to executive director. And things began to change.

The money the group was getting from the state doubled under his leadership. Children’s Home grew financially to seven times its size. It added two new facilities.

So Daugaard did a great job. In most circles, this is considered commendable.

The group paid Daugaard $115,000 a year. But that wasn’t his only job. He was also the state’s lieutenant governor — and a rising star in state politics.

The seven years Daugaard spent at Children’s Home — and his ability to turn the place around — were prominent features of his successful 2010 bid for governor.

NPR claims that being Lieutenant Governor at the same time when he ran Children’s Home represented a conflict of interest:
It could be that Children’s Home was the best organization for the job, at the best price for all those contracts it got.

But it would be difficult for tax payers to know. In just about every case, the group did not compete for the contracts or bid against any other organization. For almost seven years, until this year, Daugaard’s colleagues in state government just chose the organization and sent it money — more than $50 million in all.

“It’s a massive conflict of interest,” says Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, adding that any organization run by a state’s top elected official would have undue power in that state.

“When you’re lieutenant governor, people are anxious to curry favor with you,” she says.

Three points about this charge. First, NPR fails to note a basic fact–a wonderful fact, really–about South Dakota: being lieutenant governor is a part-time job. As of 2010, the state’s lieutenant governor earned a modest $17,699. This is, in part, because the lieutenant governor has no duties except during the two months each year when the legislature is in session. Thus, all lieutenant governors have outside, full-time jobs, as Daugaard did.

Second, the fact that Children’s Home got contracts to care for South Dakota children without having to bid against other organizations means nothing. States and other governmental units constantly enter into contracts with providers of goods and services. Whether a competitive bidding process is required as to a particular contract is a matter of state law; usually, it is not. Whether no-bid contracts are somehow scandalous depends entirely on the political affiliation of the administration currently in power and the political biases of a particular reporter, like Laura Sullivan.

Third, NPR’s statement that “Daugaard’s colleagues in state government just chose the organization and sent it money” is misleading at best. As a part-time, two months out of the year lieutenant governor, Daugaard did not supervise any state personnel, and had no authority over decisions made by Department of Social Services employees. The Governor’s office released a statement before NPR’s series aired. It stated in part:
DSS has had contracts with Children’s Home Society going back to 1978, when it was first licensed as a specialized group treatment home. Currently, Children’s Home Society is licensed as a psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF) for children aged 4 to 13. …

There are 11 PRTF’s in South Dakota that contract with DSS, and three of these are operated by Children’s Home Society. Any program that meets state and federal licensure criteria as a PRTF can provide services to DSS and receive a state contract that provides for uniform reimbursement methods based on the number of children served for DSS. This is not a case where contractors “compete” against each other for contracts and is consistent with laws reviewed and passed as recently as 2010.

Although Governor Daugaard cares deeply about Children’s Home Society, his plan to balance the state budget actually cut reimbursement rates to all PRTF contractors, including Children’s Home Society, by 4.5 percent.

In her report, Sullivan acknowledged and referred to the governor’s statement, but failed to note the fact that his budget cut reimbursement to Children’s Home.

Apart from her facile charges of conflict of interest, Sullivan’s main complaint is that some Indian children are placed in Children’s Home rather than with relatives:
Children’s Home has won many state accolades for its work with children. But that doesn’t mean much to Suzanne Crow or her granddaughter Brianna, who spent three years there. …

She didn’t want Brianna to grow up like she did, not knowing who she was, not knowing that someone in the world loved her. It took a court order for the state to send Brianna home to her stepfather.

“I didn’t care what it took,” Crow says. “I battled with them.”

State records show South Dakota paid Children’s Home almost $50,000 over three years to care for Brianna.

But across the state, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, family and tribal members would have cared for Brianna — and hundreds of other Native American children like her. They would have done so for free, keeping them close to their tribes and culture like federal law intended.

Perhaps so. But Children’s Home isn’t just foster care, it is a licensed psychiatric residential treatment facility. State employees are barred by privacy laws from commenting on particular cases, but it seems obvious that Brianna Crow needed more than a room in a relative’s house. But that question, NPR never addressed.

There is a painful but important story to be told about South Dakota’s Indian children. But that story isn’t a “scandal” about the Department of Social Services, or about an excellent treatment facility like Children’s Home. It is a much more difficult story, one that NPR won’t touch with a stick. That will be the subject of my next post in this series.


Congressman Says Hospital Guilty of ‘Abortion Coercion’

A New Jersey congressman accused a hospital of violating the civil rights of a dozen pro-life nurses who refused to assist in abortions, calling the decision illegal and unethical and suggested the hospital could put its federal funding at risk.

“This is an outrage – to coerce nurses or any health care professional to be involved either pre-op or during the commission of an abortion is against federal and state law,” Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) told Fox News & Commentary. “We’re talking about coercion here.”

Smith held a press conference Monday afternoon outside the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – one of the state’s largest hospitals. He called the nurses “very, very brave.”

The nurses filed a lawsuit against the hospital on Oct. 31, claiming they were told to either assist in abortion procedures or they would be fired. “Because the nurses recognize the innate value and dignity and preciousness of the child in the womb and have refused to participate or be complicit in an act of violence against a vulnerable child, they are punished,” the congressman said.

When Fe Vinoya got the news, she was heartbroken. The veteran nurse at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey was told she had a choice – assist with abortion procedures or be fired. “It felt like the whole world crashed on me,” Vinoya told Fox News & Commentary. “You could sense the sadness in all of us. We felt betrayed.”

“We repeatedly told them we are pro-life nurses,” she said. ‘But they ignored our convictions. One of the nurses was even told that the hospital does not regard any religious objections.”

Vinoya has been a registered nurse for 21 years. For her, nursing is not a job – it’s a calling. “It’s a profession of caring,” she said from her home in West Orange, NJ. “Even when I was young, I wanted to take care of patients.

After the hospital ordered the nurses to prepare to assist with abortions, Vinoya went home and told her family the news. “That day my eight year old son was learning about The Ten Commandments in church,” she said. “He recited the sixth commandment – we are not to kill anyone. I just cried. I knew that God had given me hope and that he is really on our side.”

She said she received further affirmation from her 13-year-old son who was working on a school project about religious freedom.

“This fight really is a good fight,” she said. We are talking about religious freedom and it’s being violated right in front of us.”

Matthew Bowman, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Vinoya and the eleven other nurses. who “possess strongly held religious and moral beliefs that she may not participate in the process of an abortion that causes the death of a preborn child.”

Bowman told Fox News & Commentary that the hospital had been performing abortions for decades without forcing nurses to violate their religious beliefs. But that changed a few weeks ago.

“The hospital passed a policy and put one of the nurses who did abortions in a supervisory position and started forcing nurses to assist in abortions out of the blue,” Bowman said. “It’s in complete violation of federal and state law – that says you can’t force people to assist abortions.”

Bowman said hospital officials agreed to meet with the nurses to discuss the matter, but when the nurses arrived with an attorney the meeting was abruptly cancelled.

“The hospital told the nurses they have no regard for their religious beliefs,” he said. “They were going to be assigned to these abortions or they would be terminated.”

Bowman said the hospital has displayed “an extreme level of arrogance” and is calling on the court to pull the plug of $60 million in federal funding until the hospital agrees to stop forcing nurses to assist in abortions.

Rep. Smith said the hospital is “very reliant on federal funds” and said its funding could be jeopardized. “I don’t know why any board of directors or any management would want to put its own federal funding stream at risk,” he said. “It brings enormous dishonor to the hospital to so callously treat its nurses as they are doing.”

As for Nurse Vinoya, she said she has been sustained by her faith in God, through prayers and Bible Study and by her fellow church members at The Life Christian Church. And in the end, she believes they will be victorious. “It’s a David versus Goliath battle,” she said. “But we all know who won.”



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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