Friday, June 29, 2012

Muslim pair who laughed as they raped woman they 'came across' in British town centre have sentences CUT because they are not 'dangerous'

Two men who laughed during a horrific 'gang rape' of a drunken woman have had their sentences slashed after three senior judges ruled they were not 'dangerous'.

Rezgar Nouri, 27, of Preston, and Mohammed Ibrahim, 24, of London, were jailed indeterminately after being convicted of assaulting the 24-year-old in Preston last June.

Sitting at the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Hooper, Mr Justice Silber and Mr Justice Hamblen heard how the men 'came across' the woman before taking her to a flat where Ibrahim pinned her down while another man raped her.

After that, Ibrahim raped her before Nouri 'grabbed' her and 'dragged' her into a bedroom where he raped her, judges were told.

But today, despite the evidence, they ruled at the Royal Courts of Justice there was 'insufficient evidence' that Nouri and Ibrahim should be defined as 'dangerous'.

They said Judge Anthony Russell QC had been wrong to decide that 'imprisonment for public protection' was necessary and hand down a jail sentence which gave the men no automatic right of release.

They allowed the men's appeal against the imposition of an indeterminate sentence and instead handed each a 12-year term.

The court earlier heard how the woman had become separated from friends - when she was 'quite drunk' - in the early hours after visiting a number of bars and clubs, the court heard.

The judges were told that she 'came across' Nouri, Ibrahim and a third man in the town centre and went to Nouri's nearby flat with them.  Her next recollection was of waking up naked with the three men nearby before the horrific ordeal began.

When it was over the woman left the flat before realising that she had left her phone behind. She was allowed back in.  Nouri then pinned her down and raped her again before 'pushing' her out of the flat, judges heard.  Judges said the woman was found in a 'very distressed state' shortly after she left the flat and police were called.

Mr Justice Hamblen said that before 'imprisonment for the public protection' could be imposed, courts had to be satisfied that there was a 'significant risk' to the public of serious harm through the 'commission of further specified offences'.

He added: 'There was insufficient evidence to justify the finding of dangerousness made and an imprisonment for public protection should not therefore have been imposed.' Both men admitted rape at Preston Crown Court in November 2011.


Historian David Starkey branded a 'racist' and a 'bigot' after saying Rochdale sex gang had values  'entrenched in foothills of the Punjab'

Truth is no defence, apparently

Historian David Starkey has once again provoked controversy after speaking out about the Rochdale child exploitation ring who raped vulnerable teenage girls.

The broadcaster was branded a 'racist' and a 'bigot' following a heated exchange with a journalist yesterday at a panel event at Wellington college in Berkshire.

He incensed audience member journalist Laurie Penny, when he said the sex gang, who were jailed last month for grooming white girls for sex, had values 'that were 'entrenched in foothills of the Punjab or whatever it is.' He added that the gang needed to be 'inculcated in the British ways of doing things.'

Miss Penny, 25, who writes for the New Statesman, later joined him on a panel discussing Britishness and accused Mr Starkey of 'playing xenophobia and national prejudice for laughs.'

As she spoke the audience shouted 'keep going, keep going' as she moved on to speaking about about his tax status.

Once she had sat down, the historian walked over to her, jabbed his finger in the columnist's face and declared 'I will not be lectured to by a jumped-up public school girl like you.'

As Miss Penny continued speaking, Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas think tank stood up and told the journalist who has written for The Independent and the Guardian, that she was a disgrace to both women and the left.

The Sunday Times reported that following the heated exchange, Tim Novia, the chaplain of Wellington college took to the stage to prevent the situation escalating, following by Miss Penny's boyfriend James Brown.

On her Twitter page, Laurie Penny ‏@PennyRed later wrote: 'When you call a racist a racist, you get attacked. I don't care. I wasn't going to let him stand there being a bigot without calling it out.   Because ultimately, David Starkey is a troll, and that's what trolls do.'

Last month, days after the men were convicted, Mr Starkey declared that the Rochdale sex gang were 'acting within their cultural norm.'

He has also made several comments in the past which have courted controversy.  After the riots last summer on Newsnight he blamed ‘black culture’ for the trouble and claimed that parts of Enoch Powell's 'rivers of blood' speech had been right.

The British historian's comments led to around 700 complaints to the BBC, while Labour leader Ed Miliband branded the remarks 'disgusting and outrageous'.

The interview was later cleared by the TV watchdog.

Miss Penny last made headlines two months ago when she was saved from oncoming traffic by Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling and tweeted about it on her Twitter page.


House of Lords reform: Nick Clegg's crazy plan is a pay day for has-beens and never-wozzers

Lib Dem proposals for elected 'senators’ will give the Upper House the upper hand, sighs Boris Johnson

Oh, for heaven’s sake. Look at the state of the world, and the sheer urgency of the issues we should be discussing here in this rare and sacred columnar space. The eurozone continues its slow dance of death, British troops are being killed in Afghanistan, trade union militants are triggering strikes with a minority of their members – and I have to write about the proposed Clegg reform of the House of Lords!

Of all the subjects that crowd my teeming brain, this is not the one that I would normally choose. I could be singing a hymn of praise for my old chum Gove and his brilliant new Gove-levels (and bring back the S-level, while you are at it, Michael). I could have loaded up my surface-to-air batteries and discharged them against the crackpot plan to force the poor people of west London to cope with tens of thousands more eardrum-jangling, kerosene-belching flights into Heathrow.

We could now be discussing Ed Miliband’s hopeless and intellectually dishonest speech about immigration; or how you can cut taxes and raise more money from rich people like Jimmy Carr. I could have given you my theory about the phenomenal success of this new porn novel called Fifty Shades of Grey, and the challenge it poses to us feeble members of the male sex, and the general conclusions we are obliged to draw about the chronic and appalling human interest in bondage, submission and government all round.

Any of these themes is potentially more juicy and more relevant to our lives – and yet I have no choice. I must tell you about these blasted reforms of the Lords, because I have just been made aware of some of the details, and the blood runs cold. An absolute disaster impends. It really seems to be the case that the Coalition (actually the Lib Dems) wants to push on with a system of elected “senators” – 300 of them – to replace the present Upper House. These people will apparently draw a full parliamentary salary, they will have all the usual researchers and correspondence units, and they will luxuriate in power for a full and unchallengeable 15-year term! The whole thing will cost about half a billion pounds over five years, according to the Labour peer Lord Lipsey.

It is all completely unnecessary. Somehow, time and custom has produced a House of Lords that works. Their lordships are a vast, gentle and liver-spotted repository of wisdom. When you listen to their debates, it is transparent that they are not sharp-elbowed creatures. They betray no particular anxiety to make their name or to suck up to the whips. They may take the odd power nap and they may not all be in the first flush of youth. But they seem, on the whole, to have the interests of the country at heart.

The Upper House has soldiers and airmen and scholars and lawyers and scientists and film directors and heaven knows what – many of whom would not dream of seeking election on a party-political ticket. Week in, week out they beaver away, revising and improving the legislative Horlicks that they get from the Commons; doing nothing much, as the old analysis has it, and doing it rather well.

They have tended for a long time to be more representative of society than the Commons – there are more people from ethnic minorities, there are more women, more disabled people. It is probably true that there are more bishops in the Lords than there are in the population at large, but who cares? There’s nothing like a bishop or two to add a touch of class and restraint to a revising chamber. They still have a few of the less obviously inbred hereditaries, in a gesture not just to the ancient roots of the institution but also to the fundamentally different nature of the Lords. It is crucial to the success of the Upper House that it is somehow at a distance from party-political machines, and above all that it is at one remove from the electorate.

Now the Lib Dems are proposing that voters should have a new type of politico – a “senator” – with his or her own direct mandate and constituency. This will be confusing for the voters, who will be wondering whether they should be writing to their local councillor, their MP, their Euro-MP or their senator; and it will be even worse for the egos of these bozos. Consider for a second who is likely to seek election to the Lords/Senate. People who have never made it to Parliament; people who have been flung out of Parliament; has-beens; never-wozzers; people who can see the opportunity to avenge their rejections by finding an alternative route to power. Once ensconced in the Lords they will remain there for three solid parliamentary terms, swanking, swaggering and using the headed stationery for their shopping lists.

Suddenly, the politically thrusting characters of this country will work out an alternative career structure, a new way of achieving ministerial office. And if they decide to take on their green-benched colleagues in the Lower House, as they inevitably will, who will be able to shut them up? A direct mandate is a powerful thing. Look here, mate, a senator will be able to say to a poor old MP, you were elected by 70,000 people. I have 570,000 people in my constituency – and I don’t have to worry about them kicking me out. The whole beauty and balance of the present system would be wrecked. We accept the idea that the Lords is the “Upper House” only because the Commons – being elected – has the real primacy and the real democratic legitimacy. These reforms would undermine that primacy, and the status of MPs – already bashed by the expenses business – would become positively Lilliputian.

The Prime Minister was completely right when he said that reform of the House of Lords was something the government should consider in its third term. This plan is a bunch of tidy-minded Lib Dem nonsense. It would create a new, grandiose, expensive and unnecessary class of political hack. It would turn Parliament into a chronic feud between two types of elected representative. Clegg’s scheme needs to be liquidated, vaporised and generally terminated with extreme prejudice.


America the non-racist country

by Jeff Jacoby

I HAVE A DREAM, said Martin Luther King in 1963, that someday "on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood." King was a prodigious dreamer, but even he might have found it hard to imagine that thousands of those listening to him that day would live to see a black pastor elected -- unanimously and enthusiastically -- to lead the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Rev. Fred Luter Jr. after his election as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination with its roots in slavery

It was in Georgia before the Civil War that the Southern Baptist Convention had been born, in large part to ensure that black and white would never sit down together, at the table of brotherhood or anywhere else. Beginning in 1845 as a breakaway from the anti-slavery Baptist churches in the North, the Southern Baptist Convention would grow into the nation's foremost Protestant denomination -- and one of its most racist.

Well into the second half of the 20th century, Southern Baptist preachers defended Jim Crow and preached white supremacy. In a notorious 1956 address, the renowned Dallas pastor W.A. Criswell condemned the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education as "idiocy," "foolishness," and "a denial of all that we believe in." After he was elected SBC president in 1968 Criswell renounced segregation. But most Southern Baptist churches remained all-white, and it wasn't until 1995 that the denomination publicly resolved to "unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin" and to "apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime."

Last week, a gifted and charismatic black minister from New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, the Rev. Fred Luter Jr., was chosen by acclamation to lead the Southern Baptist Convention. Luter is not the first African-American to head a largely white Christian denomination in the United States -- the Rev. Geoffrey Black has been president of the United Church of Christ since 2009, for example -- but he is the first to head a church that was founded in support of African bondage and white racism.

To borrow an analogy suggested by Luke Hill, a blogger for the Catholic journal Commonweal, imagine that the First Vatican Council had solemnly pronounced Slavs inferior human beings condemned by God to lives of servitude. Then imagine such a Catholic Church, with its long history of anti-Slavic bigotry, electing Karol Wojtyla as the first Polish pope. That is roughly what the Southern Baptist Convention has done in elevating Luter to its presidency. A renowned Southern Baptist theologian describes Luter's election, with good reason, as "the most significant event to happen in our history since our formation."

It is certainly a big deal for Baptists. But for most Americans, what could be more unexceptional than the disappearance of racism as a significant bar to black achievement?

We live at a time, after all, when a black president lives in the White House and a black justice sits on the Supreme Court. When the success of black supermodels and Fortune 500 CEOs is taken for granted. When celebrity magazines and websites routinely chronicle the lives of black athletes, entertainers, and movie stars. America today is nothing like it was in 1963, when King could only dream of black civil equality and the death of Jim Crow. The pervasive racism he confronted is primarily a historical memory now, while King himself is in the American pantheon.

Yet there are still those who insist that America is steeped in white racism -- who even now can look at American public life and see anti-black animus everywhere.

"Over the course of the Obama presidency," writes The Atlantic's senior editor Ta-Nehisi Coates, "I have become convinced that no single force exerts a greater pull on his presidency than white racism." He has no intention of putting away the race card. "I can only stop talking about racism when it ceases to be a significant force in our politics."

Ah, but racism has ceased to be a significant force in our politics, as it has ceased to be a significant force in American life generally. Racist comments can occasionally be heard, of course, and there are always exploiters of white guilt to milk them. But as thousands of delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, emotionally cheering their new black president, have just demonstrated afresh, America's racist past is dead and gone.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Teenage brothers in line for damages after judge ruled British social workers had caused ‘havoc’ in their lives

British social workers are very hostile to prospective adopting parents because once the child is adopted it is out of their power.  So they do their best to chase away people who want to adopt -- unbelievable though that may seem.  It has got so bad that the Prime Minister has told them off about it

Two boys who were left stuck in the state care system for more than 13 years won the right to compensation yesterday.  A High Court judge ruled that the failures of social workers had caused ‘havoc’ in the lives of the brothers and had done them irreparable harm.  One was moved between 96 foster parents and the other lived with 77 foster families – a total of 173 between them. Both suffered abuse.

Each is likely to claim damages of up to £100,000 from Lancashire County Council, whose social workers left them to float repeatedly from one foster home to another after they failed to secure the adoptions by new families that the brothers were supposed to have.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson said in his ruling that the way the boys’ lives were supervised ‘amounted in reality to permanently looked-after disruption’.

The brothers, known in court as A and S, now 16 and 14, were taken into care in 1998 when A was two and S six months old. Their parents had separated, their mother abandoned them, and their father committed suicide a month later.

Social workers tried to place them with an aunt, a single mother of six children, but the plan failed. In March 2001, more than three years after they were taken into care, the boys were given legal orders that freed them for adoption.

But social workers did not find new adoptive families. Instead, the boys were allowed to drift through the care system with no one responsible for them.

Mr Justice Jackson’s judgment at the High Court in Liverpool said: ‘The boys have had major placements, emergency placements, temporary placements, respite placements and respite for respite placements.’

The boys, the court found, were by 2008 ‘deeply distressed and disturbed and showed formidably challenging and sometimes violent behaviour’.

Their lawyer, Antonia Love of Farleys Solicitors, said: ‘This is one of the most shocking cases we have come across of children being failed by the care system.’

The judge called for a review to check whether others were similarly trapped in the care system.

Ministers want social workers to do more to get children adopted. Around 65,000 are in the care system, living in children’s homes or with foster parents, but only 3,000 were permanently adopted last year.

New rules will stop social workers using race rules to block mixed-race adoptions or to use other pretexts, for example that would-be adoptive parents smoke or are too old, to stop children winning new homes.


Racism is 'hardwired' into the human brain - and people can be prejudiced without knowing it

There have long been findings to this  effect but it is interesting to see it coming out of neurology.  Categorization is an important human survival skill

Racism is hardwired into the brain, say scientists - and it operates unconsciously.  The same circuits in the brain that allow us to see which ethnic group a person belongs to overlap with others that drive emotional decisions.

The result is that even right-thinking individuals make unconscious decisions based on a person's race.

Brain scans have proved that interactions with people of other ethnic backgrounds set off reactions that may be completely unknown to our conscious selves.

The finding may force researchers to think about racism in entirely new ways.  It's possible, the researchers say, that even right-thinking, 'egalitarian' people could harbour racist attitudes without knowing.

The chemicals involved in perceiving ethnic backgrounds overlap with those for processing emotion and making decisions, according to new research.

And the findings published in Nature Neuroscience could lead to fresh ways of thinking about unintended race-based attitudes and decisions.

Dr Elizabeth Phelps, of New York University, and colleagues reviewed previous brain scanning studies showing how social categories of race are processed, evaluated and incorporated in decision-making.

They showed a network of brain regions called the the amygdala, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex are important in the unintentional, implicit expression of racial attitudes.

The researchers said the brain areas themselves - as well as the functional connectivity among them - are critical for this processing. ‘Evidence from neuroscience has been vital in clarifying the nature of how intergroup cognition unfolds.

‘Moreover, the neuroscience of race has been useful in pointing the way toward the type of new behavioural evidence needed to answer questions of not only what happens when intergroup cognition is at stake, but whether and how change is possible in real human interactions.

‘How to use this knowledge from brain and behaviour to further extend basic knowledge and to drive applications is the obvious next generation of questions that we must pose.

‘If good people who intend well act in a manner inconsistent with their own standards of egalitarianism because of the racial groups to which 'the other' belongs, then the question of change takes on new and urgent meaning.

‘This urgency requires that we attend to the evidence about how our minds work when we confront racial and other group differences.

‘Thus far, we have obtained modest evidence about these processes as they operate in our brains, unbeknownst to our conscious selves. The question of what we will do with these insights awaits an answer.’


Grow up: Life Has Trade-offs

Anne-Marie Slaughter's eye-catching Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," is being greeted with a certain reverse snobbery. We've been reminded that the choices and challenges of women with advanced degrees are hardly typical and not the sort of thing that should divert us from the problems of the middle class.

Perhaps. But there are millions of women in the upper middle class and the culture they create and reflect affects everyone. Besides, Slaughter deserves some credit for honesty. As she recounts in the piece, when she mentioned to a friend that she was considering writing that women can't have it all, the friend was adamant: "You can't write that. You, of all people." Slaughter explains: "... such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman -- a role model -- would be a terrible signal to younger generations ..."

Slaughter, the "first woman director of policy planning at the State Department," had been one of those reliable soldiers in the "mommy wars" who had assured young women that, of course, they could have a satisfying career, a high income, a loving husband and 2.5 ego-gratifying, low-maintenance children whose problems wouldn't intrude when they "sipped champagne" at a "glamorous reception" hosted by President and Mrs. Obama. But she has discovered that the "have-it-all" catechism was a lie. Even with a supportive husband who was willing to "take on the lion's share of parenting ... (while) I was in Washington," she found that she didn't want to be away from her two teenaged sons, particularly when one was having trouble in school.

"Want" is the critical word here. Slaughter made a choice, as adults do. She writes, "I realized that I didn't just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to go home. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children in the last few years that they are likely to live at home, crucial years for their development into responsible, productive, happy, and caring adults."

Slaughter's wants mirror those of other women (high-earning and otherwise). A 2007 Pew survey found that among working mothers with children 17 and younger, fully 79 percent said that they would prefer part-time (60 percent) or zero (19 percent) work outside the home. Only 21 percent said they would choose full-time employment while their children were young. This was down from 32 percent who preferred to work full time in 1997.

Despite endless repetition by Democrats and feminists, the idea that women earn less than men for the same work is fiction. Single women without children earn just as much, and sometimes more, than comparably qualified young men. Women earn less (over their whole careers) because they choose to. And they choose to because they place more value on child rearing than on money or status.

A better feminist would applaud women for this and stress the incomparable contribution mothers make to society. Instead, feminists define progress as the "first" woman this or that and the degree to which a woman's life parallels a man's. Feminists have been missing what's best about womanhood for decades.

They keep up a relentless drumbeat for "better" (by which they mean government-subsidized) childcare and fret that men don't have to make the same trade-offs. But as Anne-Marie Slaughter found, most women don't want more opportunities to farm out our children. Slaughter wasn't even satisfied to have her own husband be the principal parent. She wanted the kind of relationship with her sons that only time -- and lots of it -- can allow.

Most mothers feel that way, and unlike feminists who find this truth to be embarrassingly retro, we freely affirm that we want to be there for the first words, the first independent ride on a two-wheeler, the Little League games, the school plays, the violin lessons, and the thousand little private jokes, shared confidences, and other intimacies that are some of the sweetest parts of life.

We've seen some of the women who are described as "having it all." We see the glamorous careers, the attention and the prizes. And perhaps we feel a twinge or two of envy. But it's an illusion. Something has to give. Too many exhausted women blame themselves for not being able to be Ruth Bader Ginsberg, June Cleaver and Sally Ride all at the same time. They've been lied to about life, mostly by feminists. Slaughter discovered the truth in time. Many don't.


The Bank of Dave: How one man, struck by the plight of firms unable to get loans in his home town, came up with a unique solution

A comment on the frozen-with-fear British banking system

It is, if you like, a story of Dave and Goliath – one man’s attempt to take on the giant high-street banks he says are helping destroy towns such as Burnley in Lancashire. And, so far, Dave Fishwick is winning.

Dave is a self-made millionaire, the owner of a company that manufactures and sells minibuses, so it is fair to say he has no problems getting credit on his own behalf. But when banks started refusing to lend money to his customers, Dave knew he had a problem, too. Local firms could no longer buy his vehicles.

‘The lending dried up almost overnight,’ he says. ‘It was killing their businesses and damaging mine.’

So he took the most practical approach possible – and decided to go into the credit business himself.

The Bank of Dave was born. Today, hundreds of businessmen and women hold accounts at his modest town-centre shop, marking a return to the sort of old-fashioned, face-to-face banking that the big operators have mostly chosen to leave behind.

‘The banks were turning down committed people who needed investment,’ he says. ‘They were destroying this town. You mention Burnley down South and people just think of the riots in 2001.

‘That’s nonsense. Burnley’s going through a tough time, like most of the country. But there’s a lot of decent, hard-working people in this town and they’re the people I wanted to help.’

Rachel McClure was among them. She needed £7,500 to revamp the front of her flower shop, Garlands Florist, last year. The business was in profit and she had a good credit record, so expected that a loan would be a formality.

The clincher, surely, was that Rachel’s bank manager had spent a day working at the shop to see more of local business. The bank had issued a press release trumpeting its ‘caring’ initiative and printed pictures of the smiling manager holding a bouquet of flowers.

She was astonished, then, when her application was refused. Dave stepped in, got to know Rachel and her business and lent her the money. The new shop front is now finished, business has improved and Rachel has never missed a repayment.

Meanwhile, her old ‘caring’ bank has told her that any future loan inquiries should be directed to its head office .....  in Glasgow.

Dave is an energetic, straight-talking 41-year-old. Born into a poor but hardworking Burnley family, he left school at 16, making his first million in his 20s. He is passionate about his home town – and determined to prove that it is possible for a bank to be fair and still turn a profit.

When he lends money, he charges 8.9 per cent to borrowers with a good credit record and investors make five per cent on their savings. They are not the cheapest loan  deals on the market but, unlike the big banks, Dave is at least lending, the rates allow him to give savers  a good return and his profits go  to charity.

At the Bank of Dave, which opened in September, only one borrower has defaulted so far. Savings are pouring in and there is a waiting  list for investors. The bank is taking in about £25,000 a week and giving out about the same in loans. The £10,000 accrued in the first six months has been divided equally between five local charities.

Dave gets to know all his customers and gives them advice, just like bank managers used to do. ‘Banking is not rocket science,’ he says. ‘The banks have been ripping people off for years. They used to have a responsibility to serve their clients. Now they just serve themselves. It’s like a private club.

‘They gambled away billions of pounds of our money and we bailed them out with billions more. And they still pay themselves obscene bonuses and refuse to lend money to businesses fighting for their lives. It’s disgusting. When the banks lend, they turn £10 into £20 without doing anything. But if it goes wrong, they are bailed out by the taxpayer and the rest of us have to take the hit. How is that right?’

The Bank of England base rate – the interest rate that the Bank of England charges banks – has been 0.5 per cent since March 2009 yet small businesses can pay more than 25 per cent for loans, even more for unsecured ones and an eye-watering 3,000 per cent for ‘pay-day’ loans.

Meanwhile, savers, who always suffer when the base rate is low,  are receiving as little as 0.05 per cent interest, with an estimated £100 billion sitting in accounts paying nothing at all.

Dave resolved never to lend money his bank didn’t have and to guarantee every penny of his customers’ deposits personally. He believed he could achieve his goal with ‘hard graft and a bucketful of common sense’.

He is not trying to compete with the big banks on large-scale finance but he does believe that there is a need for genuine community banks.

Burnley has some fine Victorian buildings and a few pockets of prosperity. But the atmosphere on the streets and in the cafes is gloomy. Many of its high-street outlets, including TJ Hughes, Miss Selfridge and HMV, have closed in recent years, and in March a proposed £40 million development was scrapped because of a lack of interest from retailers.

In the nearby village of Sabden, Keith and Christine Turner, an experienced caterer, run a cafe called Sanwitches, a name that nods at the ancient tales of sorcery on nearby Pendle Hill. They started the business after Keith was made redundant from his job in local government. At first it was a struggle. The couple needed more space and equipment. They asked their bank for a loan but were turned down. They went to the Bank of Dave and were lent £8,500.

But as well as the money, they were given advice on marketing and advertising their high-quality food. Dave took them out to local business parks where he encouraged them to offer office lunches and conference meals.

And when a large construction project began nearby, he suggested the couple take tea and bacon sandwiches to the builders to encourage them into the cafe. It worked.

‘We couldn’t have done it without the loan and Dave’s advice,’ says Keith. ‘It’s opened our eyes to what can be done. When the bank turned us down we didn’t know whether  we would be able to carry on with the business.’

Although customers call the business the Bank of Dave, and although it offers banking services, Dave is not allowed to call it a bank. This is because he is still waiting for a bank licence, which can take years to obtain. Without it, he cannot use the word ‘deposits’ and can talk only about ‘achieving five per cent on savings’.

‘The bankers who gambled away billions of pounds of our money have got off scot-free, and yet I can be taken to court if I call my business a bank or use the word deposits,’ he says, exasperated.

Obtaining a bank licence is a numbingly complicated, time-consuming and expensive process. Only one has been granted in the UK in the past 100 years, to Metro Bank  in 2010, which was backed by an American bank with more than $50million of assets.

The legal restriction explains the slightly eccentric sign above his premises that says ‘Bank on Dave!’, a slogan rather than a name. The business’s official name is on the window: Burnley Savings and Loans. So is a slogan referring to the banks of yesteryear: ‘Captain Mainwaring old-fashioned values.’ (Mainwaring, from Dad’s Army, was a notably cautious bank manager in the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea.)

‘Our customers couldn’t care less what we are called,’ says Dave. ‘They know they are getting a fair deal. Our computer doesn’t say no.’



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

British PM is right to want to limit the welfare state

Several of David Cameron’s most recent interventions have come about as a result of an apparent rush of blood to the head. He ill-advisedly taunted the French, by trying to woo their wealthy to come here and pay taxes to prop up the NHS. He got into an undignified row with Argentina’s President.

Then, in Mexico for the G20 summit, he read about Jimmy Carr’s tax wheeze and quickly condemned the comedian’s alleged immorality. The PM would have been better stopping to think first. Does he really want to start pronouncing on individual morality in cases where no law has been broken? Is he prepared for every Tory minister and donor to have their affairs examined by the press? This one, I suspect, isn’t over by a long way.

As a Tory MP put it to me over the weekend: all in all, it isn’t very Prime Ministerial.

But this latest stuff on welfare came from somewhere. Cameron and his advisors have clearly wargamed it. So what are they up to? I had four immediate thoughts.

1) Cameron must have finally started to work out he’s in considerable trouble, with voters, his MPs and the Tory-inclined parts of the press. It will take much effort to woo people back but being tougher on welfare, as the polls show, is probably the easiest place to start. Clegg won’t let him do much more on benefits, so he wants to stress that he would go further if he was unshackled.

2) He seems gradually to be coming to a realisation that the Coalition may not go the distance (I think it won’t see out next year, but let’s see). Either way, better, as some Tories have been saying for some time, to be ready with the makings of a manifesto.

3) There are going to have to be more, as yet unspecified, welfare cuts, according to George Osborne’s own numbers. So the the Government must prepare the ground. That is surely preferable to repeating the Budget experience, where the ground went so unprepared that even when the Government was in the right (equalising tax treatment, via the so-called Granny Tax) it still got stiffed by a public backlash.

4) The Number 10 machine seems to be in a bit of a mess. Even though this welfare push was planned, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone involved that it would be taking place on the same day as the launch of Alistair Darling’s cross-party Save the Union launch in Scotland. This is one of the most important developments of Cameron’s premiership. The Tory leader is desperate to see Salmond defeated and the break-up of the UK averted, so why create a clash rather than giving Darling and his colleagues a clear run in media terms? Labour seems slightly baffled by this cock-up, but has decided not to cause a fuss. It seems to come down to basic poor logistical planning and a lack of nous in the upper reaches of the Number 10 operation.

But so much for the process, what about the content? Here, Cameron deserves praise for making an important and carefully considered speech. A Prime Minister calling for the start of a national debate generally sounds pretty pitiful, but the Tory leader is right that a proper examination is needed of what is expected in terms of welfare provision.

Since the modern concept of the welfare state was launched on the back of Beveridge (elements obviously date from earlier reforms) it has grown like knotweed. If William Beveridge had known his reforms would lead to there being housing benefit available to the under-25s one suspects he would have been appalled. The state is going beyond basic provision and agreeing to a crazy set-up in which some young adults think the state must pay for their housing (having paid for their education and guaranteeing them health care), something that would never occur to many other people battling on low salaries to get a foothold on the property ladder and pay a mortgage. It is also a huge subsidy of the rental market, meaning the taxpayer subsidises landlords.

Cameron used the following example:

    "Take two young women living on the same street in London. One studied hard at college for three years and found herself a full-time job – say as a receptionist – on £18,000 a year, or about £1200 take-home pay a month. She’d love to get her own place with a friend – but with high rents in her area, the petrol to get to work and all the bills, she just can’t afford it. So she’s living at home with her mum and dad and is saving up desperately to move out. Then there’s another woman living down the street. She’s only 19 years-old and doesn’t have a job but is already living in a house with her friends. How? Because when she left college and went down to the Job Centre to sign on for Job Seeker’s Allowance, she found out that if she moved out of her parents’ place, she was automatically entitled to Housing Benefit. So that’s exactly what she did. Is this really fair?"

No.  Cameron cited another example:

    "We inherited, quite simply, a mess of perverse incentives, mind-numbing complexity and real unfairness. Take a couple living outside London.

    He’s a hospital porter, she’s a care-worker. They’re both working full-time and together they take home £24,000 after tax. They’d love to start having children – and they know they’d get some help from the state if they did so. But with the mortgage and the bills to pay, they feel they should keep saving up for a few more years. But the couple down the road, who have four children, haven’t worked for a number of years. Each week they get £112 in income support, £61 in child benefit, £217 in tax credits and £141 in housing benefit – more than £27,000 a year. Even after the £26,000 benefit cap is introduced, they’ll still take home more than their neighbours who go out to work every day. Can we really say that’s fair?"

Again, no.

The Government has already embarked on ambitious welfare reforms, which include the Universal Credit. One hears dark warnings that the computer system won’t work. The consequences of it not working would be calamitous and set back by years the noble cause of welfare reform, which IDS and his Minister of State Chris Grayling have done so much to trumpet.

But Labour can’t avoid these questions either. If it ends up back in office it will be confronted with the same depressing reality. Incredibly, the welfare bill, including pensions, is consuming a third of what the Government spends. Despite years of attempted reform under Blair, the system still creates perverse anti-work incentives. And as the polls show, the part of the population which doesn’t claim welfare but pays for it is losing patience rapidly.

Some of the growth in welfarism is down to changes in the British way of life. The loosening of family bonds, the fracturing of informal networks which existed when relatives lived within minutes of each other rather than 100 miles apart, hasn’t always helped.

As Alessandra Galloni recounted in a superb piece for the Wall Street Journal recently, in troubled southern European states there is “an unheralded social safety net.”

    "An army of older family members are helping younger generations make ends meet during the region's crippling economic crisis. Half of all abuelos, or grandparents, in Spain take care of their grandchildren nearly every day, and 68 per cent of all children under 10 in Italy are looked after by their nonni when not in school or with parents, according to official numbers. By way of comparison, 19 per cent of preschoolers in the US were taken care of primarily by grandparents while their mothers worked in 2010, according to Census Bureau figures."

In Britain we have supplemented the weakening of the family with a burgeoning culture of entitlement which encompasses the worst abusers of the benefit system, out-of-control bankers and even egomaniacal footballers.

On welfare, what is needed is a calm, reasoned discussion about what can be done. There needs to be a reliable safety net, to ensure those most in need are looked after. But beyond that all the effort should be shifted to encouraging work, self-reliance and fraternity. Cameron and his ministers are making a decent start.


Evil British Social workers 'considered sending African boy to Congo for disturbing and traumatising exorcism because his parents claimed he was possessed by evil spirits'

Social workers have been accused of 'misguided political correctness' after they considered sending a boy in their care to the Congo for a 'deeply traumatising' exorcism.

Bosses at Islington Council in north London considered sending the African boy to the Democratic Republic of Congo because his mother claimed he was possessed by evil spirits and needed 'deliverance'.

An expert has claimed that Islington council officials were 'mindful to agree to the request' for exorcism, which it is claimed involved starving children and sometimes beating them.  The boy's family, who were from Africa, had claimed an exorcism was necessary because he was possessed by 'kindoki' or evil spirits.

The child's mother no longer has responsibility for him, and he had been taken into care by Islington Council.

The local authority paid an expert over £4,000 to travel to Africa to investigate the possibility of an exorcism as they were worried the family's 'sensibilities might be affected'.

Dr Richard Hoskins, an expert in African religion, completed the trip and advised the council the boy should not be exorcised as the rituals can be 'violent...deeply disturbing and traumatising'.

Dr Hoskins has since told how the case - which Islington Council later dropped on his advice - highlights how British officials do not tackle abuse when it is 'masked behind multiculturalism'.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Dr Hoskins told a conference yesterday: 'We fear to tread where sensibilities might apparently be affected.'  'This problem is about the underlying failure to tackle abuse when it is masked behind multiculturalism.'

Dr Hoskins added that officials do not challenge the mistreatment of children when it is committed under the guise of 'religious or cultural practices'.

Dr Hoskins visited Kinshasa, the capital of DRC, in 2005, where he met the grandparents of the child.  The grandparents claimed the boy had been 'infected by sorcery' in the UK which would 'destroy them all'.  Church officials in Congo also claimed that the evil spirits would lead to 'strife, illness, divorce, hardship, poverty and death' if not dealt with.

The ritual would have involved depriving the boy of food or fluids for three days in order to 'cast out' the evil spirit.

Although Dr Hoskins was assured the boy would not be beaten, his investigation found evidence that other children who had been exorcised suffered violence and were left 'scared and traumatised'.

Islington Council acknowledged to the Telegraph that they had paid Dr Hoskins to go to Africa, but said they did so on the recommendations of a judge.

A spokesperson said: 'It is a normal process in care proceedings to assess the extended family when a child has been removed from parental care,' a spokesman said.

'Dr Hoskins was instructed to meet with extended family members to assess their belief that a child of the family was possessed by spirits. This was on the instruction of the Family Court during care proceedings.'

A spokesman for the Department for Education echoed the findings of Dr Hoskins, adding: 'It is not acceptable for councils to be considering this. These services can be extremely traumatic.

'We are tackling all forms of child abuse linked to belief, including belief in witchcraft or spirit possession.  'Such abuse is rightly condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths.'


Mollycoddling your children could give them depression, say experts studying the rise in mental health problems

Over the past 30 years, our culture has become more obsessed with pursuing an elusive human state called happiness.  We are convinced it offers an antidote to depression and other mental health troubles.

This butterfly chase has culminated in David Cameron’s annual ‘happiness survey’, which asks 200,000 householders questions like: ‘Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?’ — at a reported cost of £2million.

But some experts think this emphasis is wrong, and say the pursuit of happiness has created the problems it was designed to protect against.  Young people now expect easy success as an emotional human right, and crumble into suicidal depression when faced with adversity.  Indeed, suicide among teenagers and young adults has increased three-fold in Britain since 1970, according to figures from the United Nations.  Young people from the most affluent and protective backgrounds are the most at risk.

An increasing body of research suggests that pursuing happiness can prove futile at best.

Last year Yale University found that adults who followed tips in magazines on how to be happy often felt worse — due to disappointment at the ‘you can be happier’ promise proving hollow.

But a review of happiness studies by Nicholas Emler, a professor of psychology at Surrey University, concludes that we seem born with our personal level of self-esteem pre-set for life. No amount of self-help books can change it, he says.

Many experts believe what really matters is resilience — the ability to take life’s knocks on the chin, pick yourself up and carry on.

A leading expert in the study of resilience, Professor Michael Rutter of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London, believes adversity is like a vaccine — a bit of it when people are young can build up defences for later.  ‘There is evidence that stress can cause strengthening in some people,’ he says.

This also has a physical effect, he adds, as exposure to emotional pressure can make the body’s nervous and hormonal systems more resistant to stress.

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has followed thousands of people from young adulthood into old age. It found those who maintained a grittily positive view of life were fitter and healthier in their older years.

In Britain’s older generation we see this in the ‘Blitz spirit’, the belief that adversity breeds strength.

Psychologists Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte, of the University of Pennsylvania, have come up with the concept of ‘resilience coaching’.

In their 2002 book The Resilience Factor, they reject the idea that ‘positive thinking’ can beat adversity and say we need to learn ‘accurate thinking’ instead.

This idea has reached the political arena, with Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham recently urging Mr Cameron to scrap happiness surveys and focus on helping people cope with life’s troughs, especially in the recession.  ‘Resilience is the bottom line,’ he declared.

Resilience teaching is already on the curriculum at 46 state schools in Hertfordshire.

One child to benefit is an 11-year-old I’ll call Adam, who suffered serious bullying at the primary school he left last year.

His senior school, Longdean in Hemel Hempstead, is coaching him to fight back — by learning to have the strength of character to become immune to it.  He is one of 6,000 mainly 11-year-olds who have received 18 hours of resilience lessons per year since 2007.

He believes it’s made a real difference, saying: ‘I have learnt how to bounce back from the bullying, and I have even been helping my friends with this kind of thing.’

'The courses aim to teach children mental habits so they respond to pressures positively. If a pupil fails a test, they may think: ‘I’m not good enough.’  They’re encouraged to adopt resilient thoughts instead, such as: ‘Which bits did I do OK at? Where can I improve?’

Lucy Bailey, who runs the scheme, says: ‘Our aim is not to help people be happy. We’re trying to help young people lower their risk of becoming clinically anxious and depressed.’

Parents’ eagerness to protect offspring from harsh realities can leave them sorely vulnerable, she says.  ‘Children who unexpectedly commit suicide often come from supportive families and have good school records, but have never come across adversity before.  'When they do, whether it’s romantic troubles, academic failure or problems with parents, they don’t have the skills to cope.’

The U.S. Army launched a course to strengthen soldiers’ resilience two years ago, after psychologists said increasing numbers were returning from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder.   Rates of suicide were rising, too.

One element of the programme is called Hunt The Good Stuff.  This teaches troops to notice all the good things rather than the negatives — even small things like a colleague holding a door open for them.

Military psychologists say this small but fundamental change of attitude can be a great help when something deeply traumatic happens in combat.  Major General Don Dunbar, who implements the programme, says: ‘This is not some namby-pamby, feel-good kind of experience. It is about survival.’

U.S. Brigadier-General Rhonda Cornum visited Britain to spread the teaching, including to pensioners.  Cornum, who was assaulted by Iraqi forces in 1990, has studied what makes some people more resilient than others, and leads the $125million emotional fitness regime for the U.S. military.

She is coming to Britain again to help the Young Foundation with its  scheme to instill a sense of ‘grit’ in young people.

The think-tank is also piloting a support service for over-65s suffering isolation, mild anxiety or depression.  The aim is to get them to help each other boost their sense of resilience.

Will these courses make a difference? The London School of Economics studied 4,000 pupils in Hertfordshire — those who took resilience lessons for a year and those who didn’t.

It found the course lowered levels of anxiety and depression and raised academic attainment.

But not everyone is convinced.  As Lord Layard — the economist who set up the independent Action for Happiness movement to promote well-being — puts it: ‘The problem with the word “resilience” is that it has a slightly dour sense to it and comes from handling adversity.’

And some researchers say there is a genetic element to resilience —  gene 5-HTT appears to help buffer people against the effects of adversity, controlling how much of the ‘feel-good’ chemical serotonin circulates in the brain.  A third of the UK population has a form of the gene. So is it pointless teaching resilience to this group?

Professor Rutter thinks not. He says the gene may make them more sensitive to what happens in their environment, positive and negative.  The key point to remember, he says, is that there’s been too much focus on ensuring children never experience stress: ‘Stress is part of what is normal.

'Parents should ensure it is part of growing up by letting them experience risk and adversity, while trying to protect them against excessive stress.

‘In this way, children can learn how to cope with challenges, to take responsibility, to develop their self-control and to reflect on their experiences objectively, rather than being overwhelmed by them.’


'War on drugs' is fuelling HIV epidemic

This is simply logical.  Needle sharing would plummet if you could get all your gear legally.  It could even come in single-use pre-packaged shots from your local pharmacy

A pressure group that includes six former presidents has called for the United Nations to acknowledge that "repressive drug law enforcement" is driving an HIV/AIDS pandemic.

THE global "war on drugs" is forcing users away from treatment and into environments where the risk of contracting HIV is high, the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) argues.

In a report published on Tuesday, the panel urges the UN to "acknowledge and address the causal links between the war on drugs and the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug market violence".

It also presented evidence that aggressive law enforcement policies created barriers to HIV treatment.

"The public health implications of HIV treatment disruptions resulting from drug law enforcement tactics have not been appropriately recognised as a major impediment to efforts to control the global HIV/AIDS pandemic," it argues.

The GCDP is a panel of politicians, writers and businessmen that advocates decriminalising drug use by those who "do no harm to others".

Members of the GCDP include six former presidents, four of whom are from Latin America: Mexico's Ernesto Zedillo, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Ricardo Lagos of Chile and Colombia's Cesar Gaviria.

It was Gaviria who led Colombia when police gunned down the notorious drug-runner Pablo Escobar in 1993.

Other supporters include the European Union's former foreign policy chief Javier Solana and George Shultz, the who served as US secretary of state during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

The report accuses the US, Russia and Thailand of ignoring scientific evidence about the relationship between law enforcement policies and HIV rates "with devastating consequences".

The increased availability of drugs worldwide proved that the strategy is failing, it says.

"The war on drugs has failed, and millions of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths can be averted if action is taken now," it concludes.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

British PM to axe housing benefits for feckless under 25s as he declares war on welfare culture

Radical new welfare cuts targeting feckless couples who have children and expect to live on state handouts will be proposed by David Cameron tomorrow.

His bold reforms could also lead to 380,000 people under 25 being stripped of housing benefits and forced to join the growing number of young adults who still live with their parents.

In a keynote speech likely to inflame tensions with his deputy Nick Clegg, the Prime Minister will call for a debate on the welfare state, focusing on reforms to ‘working-age benefits’.

Among the ideas being considered by Mr Cameron are:

 *  Scrapping most of the £1.8 billion in housing benefits paid to 380,000 under-25s, worth an average £90 a week, forcing them to support themselves or live with their parents.

*   Stopping the £70-a-week dole money for the unemployed who refuse to try hard to find work or produce a CV.

*    Forcing a hardcore of workshy claimants to do community work after two years on the dole – or lose all their benefits.

Well-placed sources say Ministers are also taking a fresh look at plans to limit child benefit to a couple’s first three children, although Mr Cameron is not expected to address this issue directly tomorrow.

Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Mr Cameron said: ‘We are sending out strange signals on working, housing and families.’

He argued that some young people lived with their parents, worked hard, planned ahead and got nothing from the State, while others left home, made little effort to seek work and got a home paid for by the benefits system.

‘A couple will say, “We are engaged, we are both living with our parents, we are trying to save before we get married and have children and be good parents. But how does it make us feel, Mr Cameron, when we see someone who goes ahead, has the child, gets the council home, gets the help that isn’t available to us?”’

‘One is trapped in a welfare system that discourages them from working, the other is doing the right thing and getting no help.’

Asked if he would take action against large families who were paid large sums in benefits, he replied:

‘This is a difficult area but it is right to pose questions about it. At the moment the system encourages people not to work and have children, but we should help people to work AND have children.’

His plan to axe housing benefit for the under-25s will have exemptions for special cases, such as domestic violence, but he said: ‘We are spending nearly £2 billion on housing benefit for under-25s – a fortune. We need a bigger debate about welfare and what we expect of people. The system currently sends the signal you are better off not working, or working less.’

He also favours new curbs on the Jobseeker’s Allowance, demanding the unemployed do more to find work. He said: ‘We aren’t even asking them, “Have you got a CV ready to go?” ’ A small minority of hardcore workshy, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000, could be forced to take part in community work if they fail or refuse to find work or training after two years.

The Prime Minister wants to show he is committed to radical policies, but his speech could exacerbate strains with Coalition partner Mr Clegg, whose Lib Dems oppose drastic welfare cuts.

It follows the row over plans to revive O-levels and will fuel rumours the Coalition could end long before the 2015 Election. ‘As leader of a political party as well as running a Coalition it’s right sometimes to make a more broad-ranging speech,’ said Mr Cameron.

A Government official said: ‘Decent folk are fed up with the increasing abuse of the welfare system. Responsible people who work damned hard, often on low incomes, to support themselves, are sick and tired of seeing others do nothing and live off the state.

‘Labour threw ever greater sums of money at the problem and made it worse. If we want to encourage responsibility we have be bold enough to tackle these issues. We suspect some of those who refuse point-blank to seek work are working on the black market and claiming fraudulently.’

But a Labour source said: ‘It is easy for rich Tories with big houses to have grown-up children at home while they find their feet. It’s different if you live in a tiny council flat and your daughter is a single mum.’ Ministers said curbs on housing benefit for the under-25s, had helped slash the welfare bill in Germany and Holland


Unfit, scruffy, high-handed and corrupt: Britain's worst police need fixing - and if it takes a railwayman to get them back on track, so be it

A once exemplary police force lies in ruins after 13 years of constant Leftist "reforms".  Getting it back on track will not be easy

Tom Windsor is the man who will be undertaking a radical shake-up ofpolicing, if the Home Secretary gets her way.  On Tuesday Mr Winsor will be grilled by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee  on his application for the £200,000-a-year post of Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

The former rail regulator is a brave choice – as he would be the first civilian in the post. Previous incumbents have almost always been former chief constables.

But where they may have succumbed to the temptation to go easy on their former colleagues, Mr Winsor might be less reticent.

Of course, he does not know policing like a former chief officer with more than 30 years’ policing experience, so, Tom, here are a few suggestions .

1. Look Like Business

The police are far more likely to gain the respect of the public – law-abiding and criminal  alike – if they look like they mean business.

A scruffy officer who climbs out of a Smart car with no cap  or helmet to distinguish them from a traffic warden is hardly likely to strike fear into the hearts of hooligans or command authority when dealing with  the public.

Image is important and yet police leaders have let standards slip, preferring not to take on those who look a disgrace in their uniform.

And they are always looking for the cheap option when it comes to police vehicles. When I was a constable and we roared up in our Rover 3500 with creases in our trousers, clean boots and caps in place, people took notice. It made us feel confident and  it gave the public confidence  in us.

2. Be Fit For Purpose

Recruits are tested to see if they are fit enough to become constables – then are never fitness tested again. This is a nonsense when police careers can last up to 40 years.

Too many officers are more likely to catch a cold than catch a criminal because they are unfit.

The Police Federation has always argued that if there are to be compulsory fitness tests, officers should be able to keep fit in work time. But companies do not allow their workers time off to keep fit. Maybe some senior officers are worried they might fail the test.

3. Serve The Law-Abiding

Many of the problems confronting the police are caused by bad attitudes, whether it’s high-handed traffic officers lording it over motorists or response-team officers dealing with their tenth burglary of  the day who show no compassion for the victims.

The minority who are unprofessional undo all the good work done by the majority of officers. Too much concentration on league tables has resulted in not enough effort being put into providing a high-quality service.

4. Iron Out Corruption

In the mid-Seventies there was a surge in recruitment and standards slipped. Ten years later, as some of these officers began investigating serious crime, we saw cases where officers stole drugs, invented evidence and were paid by criminals to sabotage cases. The Metropolitan Police was forced to set-up an anti-corruption unit. We are approaching ten years since the last surge in recruitment and the police need to prevent a repetition.

Taking action would be seen as an admission of a problem that some senior officers would rather deny.

5. Put The Public First

The Chief Inspector of Constabulary chairs the Senior Appointments Panel that vets applicants for the most senior ranks in the police.

On his advice, the Home Secretary appoints the two most senior police officers, the  Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Currently police chiefs who put their communities first  and Home Office directives  second are likely to come off worse. Mr Winsor has a golden opportunity to ensure those  who put the public first get promoted.

6. Prioritise Serious Crime

Police success to a great extent is measured by the overall number of crimes solved as a proportion of the total committed in their area.

Minor crimes that are easier to solve, such as shoplifting, count just as much under the existing  system as  solving a complex  rape case.

This gives the police an incentive to concentrate  on those ones that are easy to solve rather than the ones that are important to victims. Crimes need  to be ‘weighted’ so that solving a complex and serious crime counts more than a minor case.

The overall detection rate will go down, which politicians won’t like, but it will focus minds on the crimes that really matter to the public.

7. Care About Victims

In some cases, particularly rape, the victim refuses to relive the ordeal by giving evidence  in court. Many victims simply want to be believed and taken seriously by the police and given appropriate care.

Unless the police get a conviction, however, they don’t score a point on the performance league table and so they tend to write off cases where the victim is reluctant to go to court. Overall satisfaction with the police needs to be taken as seriously as the conviction rates.

8. Tackle Drug Abuse

A drugs offence is recorded only if someone is arrested. The more action the police take, the worse the problem looks, something neither politicians nor police chiefs want. But problem drug users, who need money to fund their addiction, commit a lot of burglary and car crime. The proportion of criminals  testing positive for drugs, complaints of ‘crack houses’, and drug-dealing must all be recorded, as measures of tackling problem drug use.

9. Work When Needed

The shift system does not put most officers on duty when the demand for police services is at its highest. Community officers often work Tuesday mornings when most people are at work and response teams are often on duty on Sunday mornings when most troublemakers are at home nursing hangovers. The times  of day when crimes occur need  to be analysed and officer numbers should be matched to  the demand.

10. Put Feet  On The Street

Increasing numbers of officers are being used in specialist and plain-clothes squads,  leaving fewer officers to respond to emergencies and to carry out community policing. Police effectiveness relies on the support and co-operation of the public and if the police do not respond when we call them or we never see them on the street, we are going to stop calling them.

It’s time to get back to basics and put feet on the street.


Denial of religious support for Christians in the U.S. military

Although the U.S. Military fight and die to uphold freedom, high-level military chaplains report they are increasingly being denied freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. There is also alarm about the negative effects on troop morale over the undoing of the 237-years’ practice of providing traditional religious support for U.S. soldiers.

“We were promised that we would see no change - very little change,” says Col. Ron Crews, alluding to a two-star officer’s assurance that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal would not impede the ministry of military chaplains. That promise, he says, has not been kept.

Col. Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, was speaking at a panel along with military chaplains and religious freedom activists during the 2012 National Religious Freedom Conference in Washington D.C on May 24.

The panelists agreed that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and other policies have made it difficult, if not a punishable offense, for military chaplains to read passages of Leviticus, pray aloud in the name of God at a soldier’s funeral, or preside over traditional services.

Col. Crews recounted an interchange in 2010 between Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a military chaplain. While Adm. Mullen was briefing the troops on what the repeal might look like, the chaplain asked if those with “biblical views that homosexuality is a sin [would] still be protected to express those views?”

Adm. Mullen reportedly responded, “Chaplain, if you can’t get in line with this policy, resign your commission.”

Another chaplain’s promotion was unexpectedly rescinded, said the colonel. The reason: forwarding an email sent by a fellow chaplain that was critical of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. Due to this action he was told he would need to be “more closely supervised.”

Yet another chaplain wished for his chapel to be considered “sacred space” and not used to officiate same-sex marriages. He was told that despite his wishes, his chapel would be “sexual neutral territory.”

After Chaplain (Major General) Douglas Carver, the U.S. Army’s Chief Chaplain, called for a day of prayer and fasting “in keeping with your religious traditions,” the Military Religious Foundation (MRF) “wanted him fired,” said Col. Jacob Goldstein, a panelist and senior U.S. Army Jewish chaplain. He added that despite the MRF’s claims that this was offensive to Jewish people, “this fasting follows in our tradition.”

Chaplains are not the only ones feeling pressure. Veteran’s Affairs officials told veteran honor guards that mentioning God in prayer was not acceptable. It took a Temporary Restraining Order from U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes and four months of litigation for the name of God to again be permissible.

Four months was not soon enough to prevent heartbreak to the widows of the fallen. Lisa Ward, the widow of a war veteran, made a promise to her husband - in the event of his death, he would receive the full burial ritual. But arriving to bury her husband and fulfill her promise, she was told the full burial ritual was against federal government regulations. The ritual mentioned God.

“I can’t redo my husband’s funeral,” she said with tears in her eyes.

One federal official, speaking on behalf of the Houston National Cemetery, said that prayers must be “inclusive.” Another asked a veteran to submit his public prayers in writing for approval. Finally, a judge ruled, “In this country, we don’t tell our pastors how to pray.”

But these legal victories do little to reassure believers. Kelly Shackelford, a panelist at the National Religious Freedom Conference and president and CEO of Liberty Institute, said, “The speed at which we are falling is much quicker than I have ever seen,” referring to the amount of religious freedom complaints that his office receives.

Shackelford’s office is the largest non-profit law firm in America, which deals solely with defending religious liberty. Still, there are too many cases for his office to handle. Over a period of ten years, he says he has experienced the most change in the past year and a half.

More religious freedom complaints are piling up. But Shackelford said that his office can’t provide any help unless people are willing to take a stand and work through a litigation process. He ended his talk declaring, “We need to stand in a Christ-like manner, but whether we stand or not is not an option.”


U.S. Military criticized  for political correctness

The U.S. military is guilty of political correctness toward domestic Islamic terror, according to a congressional report made public Wednesday that concludes al Qaeda is using U.S.-based Muslim radicals to plan mass casualty attacks.

“Homegrown radicalization is now the vanguard of al Qaeda’s strategy to continue attacking the United States and its allies,” said the report on domestic extremism by the House Homeland Security Committee. The report was based on several hearings held by Committee Chairman Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican.

The report said evidence of the threat comes from recordings made public in Pakistan by the core al Qaeda terrorist group, as well from an English-language magazine produced in Yemen by two American jihadists. Additional evidence came from an American suicide bomber in Somalia who urged Muslims to wage “jihad in America.”

The report said Islamist extremism is “the No. 1 terrorist threat to this nation.”

Of particular concern, according to the report, is the threat posed by radical Muslims to U.S. military communities. The terror threat to military communities is “severe” and growing. It includes the use of “insiders,” such as Maj. Nidal Hasan, the man accused of carrying out the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 people and wounded 29 others.

The report faulted the U.S. military for “political correctness” toward Islam, which the report called a “potentially devastating development” for the security of troops and their families.

The Obama administration “chose political correctness over accurately labeling and identifying certain terrorist attacks appropriately, thereby denying Purple Heart medals to killed and wounded troops in domestic terror attacks,” the report said.

The report stated that the June 2009 shooting attack by a U.S. Muslim convert, Carlos Bledsoe, on a U.S. Army recruiting office in Arkansas highlighted homegrown terrorists’ targeting of military facilities.

“Bledsoe specifically targeted the U.S. military to avenge what he believed was its mistreatment of Muslims,” the report said. “He also had traveled to Yemen and was radicalized to al Qaeda’s violent Islamist extremist ideology.”

Despite the evidence of terrorist ties, Bledsoe was tried in a civilian state court rather than under federal terrorism charges.

“In another glaring instance of al Qaeda-inspired homegrown terrorism, the government also neglected to indict Maj. Nidal Hasan on any terrorism-related charges, considering the case to be an example of ‘workplace violence’ despite his reported email communications with the operational leader [of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], the since-slain American terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki,” the report said.

Based on the hearings on the domestic Islamist terror threat, the committee concluded that radicalization of American Muslims remains “a real and serious homeland security threat.” The report also found that Muslims in the United States are not cooperating enough with law enforcement in countering the threat.

Significantly, the report stated that the U.S. government needs to “confront the Islamist ideology driving radicalization.”

The report also warned that Islamist terrorists are being created in U.S. prisons as the result of a policy of permitting radical Muslim clerics to lecture in prisons or to distribute jihadist materials.

The report also said that in Somalia, more than 40 American Muslims were radicalized and recruited by the Al-Shabaab group, an al Qaeda affiliate, and may pose a direct threat to U.S. national security.



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Are Leftists the real bullies?

“Bullying” is a great Leftist theme at the moment. It’s an excuse for censorship. If you criticize homosexuals you are a bully; if you look cross-eyed at a black you are a bully and if you preach the Bible you are CERTAINLY a bully.

So it should be no surprise that the real bullies are Leftists themselves. Thuggery is never far beneath the surface with them. The story below from Australia is illustrative. There has been a Left-run government there since 2007. Julia Gillard is Prime Minister of Australia

The recent announcement by Julia Gilliard of a nationwide review on workplace bullying was so well received, it was almost disturbing– it seems that the culture of harassment and standover tactics within Australian places of employment is so ingrained and accepted that the detractors of this government initiative were few, and their criticism at relatively low volume.

Quite recently, the story of Darrell Morris began to generate buzz within Australia's social media circles, despite the apparent reluctance of mainstream media to become engaged in the hierarchical warfare of our public service departments.

By his supervisor’s own admissions, with the evidence collaborated by formal reports, Morris had been consistently “performing well” in his role with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He's worked in the Canberra–based department for the better part of a decade. A quiet but conscientious man, he admits that this is the only job he has ever wanted to do, and he relocated his wife and very young family to the ACT on finishing university specifically to cater to this career.

A fairly typical Aussie guy, Darrell forfeited his weekend rugby games and essential time with his kids in order to advance his employment– putting in the extra effort that is an unspoken requirement of being a ’good employee’ in this country.

It was during late 2009 and early 2010, while on leave with out pay working for Liberal Senator Helen  Coonan, that unfounded accusations of sharing classified information were leveled in Morris's direction. While DFAT issued him with a ’letter of regret’ over the incident, the subversive harassment continued and union officials report that the tone in meetings and other forms communication become between Morris and his superiors became increasingly hostile.
 It was last year, 2011, that Darrell Morris first took medical leave for severe depression. While ComCare, the relevant workers compensation providers, declared his workplace a significantly contributing factor to his illness, they have a ’no fault’ policy and no blame was laid, or compensation sought.

Morris's return to work in late 2011 was plagued with accusations of poor conduct from senior staff members and inflexibility within his senior management in regards to providing a safe and secure work environment– every employers ethical duty of care to those in their employ.

Currently on his second round of medical leave for depression, the DFAT has instructed Morris that his claims of stigmatization are invalid and further claims will result in disciplinary action. On his return to work, he will be blocked from receiving any training or promotion within the Department for a period as yet undetermined– it could be as long as three years.

While stating that a blanket ban on individuals returning from medical leave is ’policy’, no formal evidence of such a policy existing has been presented, despite numerous requests.

On this story breaking in the social medias, the general reaction from readers was subtle disgust overladen with a cynical acceptance that this conduct is to be expected within Government departments and all layers of bureaucracy, not only within our country's capital but in our state departments as well– those employed within our public sectors often work under a cloud of silence and passive aggression.

Transparency in workplace practices is always welcome, and Gilliard’s review of workplace bullying is timely, significant and valid. But it needs to focus its attention on sectors that are publicly known for using discrimination and stand over tactics– the Government’s own recruitment, advancement, internal complaint handling and ethical practice policies in particular.

Is that even possible, with the current culture of terrified silence that surrounds the topic; when people are too afraid to put name to their experiences for fear of covert retribution? When the best advice anyone within the public sector can give Darrell Morris is to change jobs, change departments, walk away and don't make a fuss?

Results of the review, due out in October, may provide a clearer picture– But don't go holding your breath. Given the current atmosphere, it may take more than one government review board to break the covert ranks of conspiratorial silence that surrounds this bizarrely underground, curiously Australian phenomenon.


Truth about Britain’s feral youth: Small core of youngsters commit staggering 86 crimes by age 16

Which means that permanent incarceration of recidivists would hugely reduce crime incidence.  Instead, recidivists are routinely released, if they are locked up at all

A tiny band of delinquents who commit around 86 crimes by the age of 16 are responsible for the majority of youth offending, according to a study.  It also found that nearly half of juvenile offences can be traced back to a small number of thugs who make up less than 4 per cent of the teenage population.

The research by Cambridge University has been hailed as a ground-breaking study into Britain’s feral youth as it suggests for the first time that it is not opportunity which makes the thief, it is morality.

While the majority of schoolchildren know the difference between right and wrong, it was a tiny minority of 3.8 per cent of teenagers who were judged to have no morals that committed 47 per cent of the 16,000 juvenile crimes studied.  This small group was responsible for the most serious property crimes such as burglaries, robberies and car theft.

Many of them were serial offenders who had begun committing crime before the age of 12 and were considered ‘highly versatile in their criminality’, regularly committing acts of violence, vandalism and shoplifting.

Researchers studied 700 teenagers over five years from the age of 12 to 16 in Peterborough, which was chosen for its average size, crime level and social make-up.

Youngsters were asked about their attitudes to crime and what offences they had committed, which was cross-checked with police and school records.  A lack of moral compass, rather than the opportunity to commit crime or social background, was revealed to be the most important factor in youths breaking the law.

The research, which is the most comprehensive study of youth crime in Europe, found that teenagers who avoided crime did so not because they feared the consequences or lacked the chance, but because they saw it as wrong.

Of those surveyed, the 16 per cent most ‘crime-prone’ group who admitted having the weakest morals, being impulsive and short-sighted and having no self-control were responsible for 60 per cent of the 16,000 crimes reported by those surveyed, with the average racking up 86 crimes between the age of 12 and 16.

The 16 per cent most ‘crime-averse’ group who were judged to have the strongest values, accounted for just 0.5 per cent of the crimes reported.

The research also offers some insights into last year’s riots and why some young people went on the rampage in some areas while others did not.  It suggested that certain urban environments provide triggers for crime where there is weak social cohesion and lack of community spirit.  City centres, retail outlets, entertainment venues and rundown housing estates where no one is likely to intervene provide easy targets.

While deprived areas with a ‘higher level of social disadvantage’ and low levels of moral education tended to be the most crime-prone.

Professor Per-Olof Wikstrom, who led the Cambridge study, said: ‘The idea that opportunity makes the thief – that young people will inevitably commit crime in certain environments – runs counter to our findings.  ‘Rather, only the “crime-prone” become vulnerable to said opportunities when taking part in environments with a moral context that encourages or at least does not discourage crime.’

He urged the Government to put more emphasis on teaching children the difference between right and wrong.  ‘In prevention we need to focus on developing policies that affect children and young people’s moral education and cognitive nurturing, which aids the development of greater self-control, and policies that help minimise the emergence of moral contexts conducive to crime,’ he added.

The findings could have profound implications for policing with under-17s being responsible for 23 per cent of recorded crime nationally.

Yesterday academics around the world praised the report.  Professor Michael Gottfredson at the University of California described it as ‘among the most significant works in criminology in decades’, while Professor Robert Sampson at Harvard University near Boston Cambridge Massachusetts said the research was a ‘breakthrough’.

But Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, cautioned against branding some young people as amoral.  She said: ‘Society is lecturing children and young people about how well behaved they should be but it’s not behaving in a way that warrants respect. It’s a given that it’s a good thing to teach right from wrong, but really where children observe it the most is in experience: it’s “have you looked after me?” and “do you do what you preach?”’

Graham Beech, the director of the crime reduction charity Nacro, said: ‘In my view the key to preventing crime by the small number of young people who are most likely to get entrenched in crime is to get in early, instil positive attitudes and teach them how to solve their everyday problems in a better way.’


Britain's Stasi cops a setback

The exhaustive record keeping of the Stasi  was legendary

Police will have to destroy mugshots of innocent people following a landmark case brought by a 15-year-old.  The boy went to court after being told his image would be held until he reached 100 – even though no charges were laid against him.

The High Court ruled yesterday that retaining photographs of suspects who have never been charged was a breach of their human rights.

Police forces will now have to trawl through their records deleting images, including those of people cleared at trial.

The teenager from Peckham, South London, was arrested on suspicion of rape in April 2009 but no charges were brought when a witness failed to confirm an offence took place.  When he asked to have his details removed he was told the mugshot could be retained until he reached the age of 100. He was 12 at the time.

The second claimant was a cyclist from Chelsea accused of assaulting a police community support officer who stopped her riding on a footpath in April 2007.

The 60-year-old, who was described as of good character, had DNA samples, fingerprints and photographs taken but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge her with any offence. When she complained, the Metropolitan Police refused to delete her record.

The force’s policy, which is based on the Home Secretary’s code of practice, is to retain mugshots for a minimum of six years, although this can be extended indefinitely. Scotland Yard argued that it was necessary to keep the photographs to prevent crime and disorder.

But Lord Justice Richards said the policy drew ‘no adequate distinction’ between those who are convicted and those who are either acquitted or not even charged.

The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, concluded: ‘I am not satisfied that the existing policy strikes a fair balance between the competing public and private interests and meets the requirements of proportionality.

‘In my judgment, therefore, the retention of the claimants’ photographs in application of the existing policy amounts to unjustified interference with their right to respect for their private life and is in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.’

The judge granted the force a few months to revise their policy.   Home Secretary Theresa May now has two weeks to lodge an appeal on the ruling, which has implications for all police forces.  The courts have already ruled that it is unlawful to keep innocent people’s fingerprints and DNA indefinitely.

But Lord Justice Richards said the Met would not have to delete details of the teenage boy’s alleged offence from the police national computer.

Yesterday John Wadham, general counsel for Equality and Human Rights Commission, which backed the test case, said: ‘There is no good reason why the police should hold on to information about people who have not committed any crime.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are urgently examining the implications of today’s ruling.’


Cowardly British firemen shown up by teenager

Once it would have been a simple job for a fire brigade happy to do its bit for the community.  Not any longer. When Diesel the cat refused to come down from a 60ft spruce tree, he was stuck there for five days – because of health and safety rules.  The local fire and rescue service feared its officers would be ‘putting their lives at risk’ if they tried to rescue him.

In the end it was a 15-year-old boy who came to the cat’s aid – without the benefit of the fire brigade’s ladders, safety nets or cranes.

As Diesel’s mews trailed off into silence and his owner feared he would die from dehydration, Kyle Watkinson simply climbed the tree and brought him down yesterday afternoon.   Kyle, a keen climber, said: ‘It wasn’t hard and it isn’t even the worst tree I have climbed. I was scared for the cat but never for myself.

‘I am happy to have saved Diesel, but would like to send a message to the firefighters and the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that they should be helping animals in trouble.

‘They said it was too risky – but I just can’t see how, when I’m a 15-year-old boy and I got up and got the cat down with no bother at all.’

A border dispute between English and Scottish firemen only added to the problem, while an animal welfare charity said it was also unable to help.

Diesel’s owner Adele Harland thanked Kyle, but criticised Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue for refusing to even attempt to save her 18-month-old cat.  Mrs Harland added: ‘If I had gone out and tied Diesel to a tree the SSPCA would be here quickly enough, wanting to prosecute me for cruelty. But when I ask for help to get him down a tree, they don’t want to know.’

Diesel got stuck 60 feet up the spruce tree last Tuesday evening.

Mrs Harland, a nursery worker in the Borders village of Foulden, rang the local fire brigade, but was told it wasn’t its policy to rescue cats from trees. The SSPCA said the same thing.

The Northumberland Fire Service initially agreed to come out, but then said it could not sent a team across the border.

Mrs Harland spent four nights helplessly listening to her cat’s terrified cries before the weakened moggie went quiet. After a tree surgeon tried and failed to reach Diesel, a  spokesman for the Borders fire service gave the following statement: ‘The cat has been up nearly a week now.  ‘The cat was too high for the tree surgeon to reach and he was not going to put his life at risk by going any further.

‘Similarly, we are not going to put the lives of our firefighters at risk. The SSPCA are of a similar opinion.’

But help was on its way. By chance a  friend of Kyle’s mother, Margaret Muir, had emailed her after hearing about Diesel’s plight.  Mrs Muir, 38, said: ‘We have never met the people involved, but I called Kyle and we got straight in the car. I would never have put my son at risk if I thought he couldn’t do it, but it was fine. He wants to be a doctor but it seems he might have a back-up career as a firefighter now.’

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said: ‘We advised the owner of the cat that we have a policy of not putting the lives of operation crews at risk unnecessarily.’

Mike Flynn, of the SSPCA, said: ‘We explained to the owner of a cat in the Berwick-upon-Tweed area that as a tree surgeon was unable to reach her cat and the fire service was unable to assist, unfortunately there was nothing further we were able to do.’

Disgusting wretches, all of them!  -- JR



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 WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING 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.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.