Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Secret British court in control of a £2billion fortune: It holds the assets of 16,000 vulnerable people - but pays them paltry interest

A secret court is controlling £2billion of assets of thousands of elderly and mentally impaired people and paying them a paltry rate of interest.

The controversial actions of the Court of Protection were criticised by an MP last night as ‘bordering on malpractice’.

The interest rate – currently much less than they would receive in an ordinary bank account – means that the value of the financial estates are falling rapidly because the rate of inflation is 2.8 per cent.

An investigation by the Daily Mail has uncovered a litany of other complaints about the court, which came under fire last week after it emerged it had jailed a woman for defying its orders over the fate of her elderly father in a care home.

The allegations include claims that:

*    The court’s officials frittered away people’s money by charging exorbitant fees;

*    Officials have raided homes in search of documents and read private emails;

*    The billions controlled by the court are being used to offset the national debt through an arm of the Treasury.

The court sits in private and deals with up to 23,000 cases a year.

It was set up in 2007 by Labour to act in the interests of those deemed incapable of running their own financial affairs because of ill health or old age.

It takes over when an individual suffers sudden mental impairment and has not already handed over power of attorney to a trusted friend or relative.  It now controls huge sums of money for 16,000 vulnerable people.

The money is not at any risk.  However, many families say the low interest rate – equivalent to the Bank of England base rate of 0.5 per cent – produces an income that it is impossible for their loved ones to live on.

Lib Dem MP John Hemming said: ‘The money should be well-managed and pay a decent rate of interest or it borders on malpractice.

'The current rate is risible and losing these 16,000 people, who desperately need a proper income, tens of millions of pounds a year in total.’

The Ministry of Justice said: ‘These accounts are designed to protect funds awarded by the courts with a 100 per cent government-backed guarantee and at zero risk to the individual.  'These are not supposed to be an investment fund.’


You can't bash a burglar after all: British Government's tough rhetoric branded a farce as it's revealed homeowners are barred from fighting raiders in garden or chasing them outside

New laws giving householders the right to fight back against burglars were condemned as a ‘farce’ last night after it emerged they are riddled with loopholes.

The Government had promised to let people use maximum force when confronted by intruders, after an outcry at cases where victims were arrested for defending their homes and businesses.

Justice Minister Chris Grayling told last year’s Tory Party conference: ‘Householders who act instinctively and honestly in self-defence are crime victims and should be treated that way.’
Justice Minister Chris Grayling MP had promised to let people use 'maximum force' against burglars at last year's Conservative party conference

But today it can be revealed that the new defence of ‘disproportionate force’ – which became law this week – will not apply in many cases.

Official guidance sent to judges, prosecutors and police shows:

*    Homeowners cannot rely on the new defence if they find an intruder in their garden or chase them outside – the fight must take place indoors.

*    Shopkeepers can only get away with disproportionate attacks on robbers if they live above their shop, and only if the two parts of the building are connected.

*    Shop assistants and customers cannot get involved in the violence, unless their loved ones happen to be living in the store.

*    Householders cannot use the defence if they are only trying to protect their property, rather than trying to defend themselves or their family.

The document admits: ‘The provision does not give householders free rein to use disproportionate force in every case they are confronted by an intruder.’

Dramatic CCTV footage released this week showed the risks shop staff are prepared to take to defend their livelihoods. Thurairagh Pirabahuran used his seat to hit gunman Sheldon Green as he tried to rob his store in Ilford, Essex.

But the brave shopkeeper does not live above the premises, so would not be protected from prosecution if police decided he had used ‘grossly disproportionate’ force.

Last night critics said the detail of the law, due to come into force within days, exposed Mr Grayling’s tough rhetoric as worthless.

They said it meant terrified homeowners and small businesses would still face possible prosecution if they lash out at criminals.

Malcolm Starr, a spokesman for jailed burglary victim Tony Martin, said: ‘I think it’s an absolute farce. They really must let common sense prevail.’ He said that rather than drawing up new laws, the system should simply prevent homeowners being arrested as soon as an intruder is attacked. Mr Starr added: ‘People immediately seem to get arrested and don’t get the benefit of the doubt – it’s the wrong way round.’

Nick de Bois, a Conservative MP on the Justice Select Committee, said: ‘It looks like the Ministry of Justice civil servants are watering down the intent behind this very sensible law. People have the right to defend their property and homes, and they don’t need a straitjacket from the Ministry of Justice.’

Campaigners have been calling for greater protection for burglary victims for years, prompted by a series of cases. Tony Martin, whose farmhouse had been repeatedly broken into, was convicted of murder after he shot two intruders in 1999, killing one. On appeal his sentence was cut.

In 2008, Munir Hussain chased and caught one of the three men who broke into his house. He and his brother Tokeer were jailed for attacking the intruder with a cricket bat, although their sentences were also later reduced on appeal.

Last September a couple spent two nights in custody after firing a  shotgun at intruders, but Andy and Tracey Ferrie were not prosecuted.

Mr Grayling has been saying since 2009 that the law on self-defence should be reviewed and the Conservatives’ 2010 Election manifesto promised householders ‘greater legal protection if they have to defend themselves against intruders’.

The following year David Cameron himself said: ‘We’ll put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted.’

Then at last year’s Tory conference, Mr Grayling announced that householders would be able to use more than reasonable force.

A clause on self-defence was added to the Crime and Courts Bill, which gained Royal Assent on Thursday.

But a circular sent this month by the Ministry of Justice makes clear the limitations of the legislation. It states: ‘Householders are only permitted to rely on the heightened defence if they are using force to defend themselves or others. They cannot seek to rely on the defence if they were acting for another purpose, such as protecting their property.’

It continues: ‘The term “in or partly in a building” is used to protect householders who might be confronted by an intruder on the threshold of their home, climbing in through a window perhaps. But householders cannot rely on the heightened defence if the confrontation occurred wholly outside the building, for example in the garden.’

Steve McCabe, a Labour MP on the Home Affairs Committee, said: ‘This shows how empty the conference rhetoric is. This constant raising of expectations followed by a failure to deliver, is undermining justice in this country. It’s time people like Chris Grayling acted more responsibly.’

Whitehall sources stressed the  legislation was only ever intended to give more protection to homeowners who wake up to find intruders.

Mr Grayling said: ‘Being confronted by a burglar inside your home while loved ones sleep upstairs is a rare but uniquely frightening experience. This law is designed to protect those whose actions in that awful moment may seem disproportionate in the cold light of day. ’


What kind of society treats smacking as a war crime - while teaching children how to watch porn?

A group of sex education ‘experts’ has suggested that pupils should be taught in school about pornography, on the grounds that it is not ‘all bad’ and can even be ‘helpful’ to them.

Yes, you read that right.  The Sex Education Forum says in a new publication for schools that pornography should be taught in terms of ‘media literacy and representation, gender, sexual behaviour and body image’.

Behind the gobbledegook, this seems to be at least in part a confused attempt to deal with the fact that children are now accessing all manner of dubious or harmful material on the internet.

Accordingly, this publication warns that the sex and bodies in pornography ‘are mostly unrealistic’, and that such material may involve coercing participants into performing sex acts. But it also suggests showing such images to children at age 14. Moreover, it states they might find some of the positions in such porn films ‘helpful’, while being made aware that ‘the so-called pleasure’ they see ‘may be anything but’.

So schoolchildren are to be taught sexual positions from pornography — with a pious health warning that they may not get much pleasure out of them! Pinch yourself — we’re talking 14-year-olds here. Whatever happened to childhood innocence? Whatever happened to teaching?

The Forum says that this approach will equip children with ‘filters in their head’ to apply to the disturbing or damaging media images available to them.

What an amazing argument, that for children to handle situations that are harmful to them they must be exposed to that harm! What next — teaching them how to smoke a crack pipe?

There is no such thing as harmless porn, let alone porn that is actually helpful to children. This is because, even at its least extreme, porn invariably turns the human body into a dehumanised sexual object and degrades  the people involved, particularly women.

Yet the Forum’s publication suggests that pornography may not in fact lead people to view women with contempt or disgust.

Whatever happened to feminism, and its fierce campaigns against pornography for putting women in danger by representing them as sexual objects?

These dangers move on to a different plane altogether when children are exposed to porn. Some will see these images before they are old enough fully to understand human sexuality. Indeed, porn may shape their whole view of sexuality, doing untold harm as a result.

It also inescapably makes the viewer complicit in a voyeuristic exercise which uses sex as a salacious peep-show. Exposing children to these disgusting images is therefore itself a type of child abuse.

Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of the Forum, has said the magazine aims to help teachers ‘offer factually correct information and an opportunity for safe discussion that matches the maturity of the child’.

But it is never safe to subject a child to pornography. At 14, a child is not mature enough to handle all the implications of healthy sexuality, let alone its perversions.

Among these ‘sexperts’, there is a shocking confusion between adults and children. Exposing children in this way is to treat them wholly inappropriately as quasi-adults, supposedly able to apply adult values and considerations to behaviour which would trouble many adults themselves.

The Forum's publication also contains some all-too telling details: a hypothetical correspondence with parents who would be horrified to hear that their children are to be exposed to porn in school

To these imagined (but realistic) parents protesting that they are trying to keep their children away from such images, this document replies with patronising idiocy that avoiding such things gives children the impression that it is wrong to talk about sex in any context.

How extraordinary to imply that there is nothing between ignorance and porn! And how revealing to dismiss such proper parental concern as damaging!

A teacher named Boo Spurgeon writes that, since children start accessing porn at around the age of 11, teachers need then to start talking to them about it.

This argument says if you can’t beat them, join them: innocence is already being abused, so teachers might as well finish the job. What an abandonment of responsibility.  Adults need to set boundaries for children by saying that certain things are simply wrong — and talk about matters that belong to the adult world only when children are fully able to understand that world.

Indeed, destroy the innocence of a child and you destroy what it is to be a child — and as a result, damage the adult into whom the child then grows.

In any event, children almost instinctively filter out from their minds much information that is too grown-up for them to understand. No chance of that, however, in many of today’s sex education lessons and teaching materials which introduce even pre-pubescent children to the full range of sexual practices, positions and perversions.

Indeed, since many such lessons are themselves a kind of pornography, it is not really surprising that teachers are now being advised to go the whole hog and introduce their pupils to the real stuff.

An adult world which thinks some pornography is acceptable fare for 14-year-olds can no longer grasp the difference between children and adults, nor between sexuality and pornography. It can no longer make the essential distinction between healthy and harmful behaviour.

A quite different campaign illustrates this terrible confusion. Brecon Cathedral has joined forces with a number of children’s charities to end what they call ‘legalised violence against children’ — which in the real world is called sometimes giving a child a smack.

The Dean of Brecon, Geoffrey Marshall, says ‘resorting to violence and smacking is not effective and should no longer be seen as acceptable behaviour or reasonable punishment’. Such language elides the acceptable and the intolerable.

Beating a child is wrong; a one-off smack is not in the same league. To call that ‘violence’ is to minimise, and thus effectively deny, what real violence actually is.

It fails to draw the proper distinction between loving discipline, without which a child cannot flourish, and child abuse.

What has our society come to when it treats as a war criminal anyone who admits to giving their child an occasional smack, and yet advocates exposing children to porn?

The answer is that, for several decades now, a small number of determined zealots have wormed their way into influential positions from where they have set about undermining traditional moral precepts and replacing parental authority with their own, in order to brainwash children with the doctrine of  ‘anything goes’ and ‘the right to choose’.

The Sex Education Forum, which describes itself as ‘the national authority on sex and relationships education’, is actually a bunch of activists with a ‘lifestyle choice’ agenda who have been busy undermining parental authority and traditional moral values for a quarter of a century.

Lo and behold, the organisations supporting the Brecon campaign include Barnardo’s, the National Children’s Bureau and Relate — which are also listed as members of the Sex Education Forum.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that parental discipline is treated as child abuse while children are force-fed pornography in the classroom — and anyone who dares protest faces vilification, ostracism and scorn?

But don’t worry. Children may have their innocence corrupted and become brutalised and degraded as a result — but they won’t be smacked. So that’s ok then.

There’s a name for this — society’s  death wish.     


The attack on religion in America

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY is being redefined in America, or at least many would like it to be. Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, "religion" largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces. They're seen as anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-women-which is to say anti-progress as the Left defines progress. Not surprisingly, then, the Left believes society will be best served if Christians are limited in their influence on public life. And in the short run this view is likely to succeed. There will be many arguments urging Christians to keep their religion strictly religious rather than "political." And there won't just be arguments; there will be laws as well. We're in the midst of climate change-one that's getting colder and colder toward religion.

Recent court cases and controversies suggest trends unfriendly to religion in public life. In 2005, a former teacher at Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Michigan, filed an employment lawsuit claiming discrimination based on disability. The school fired her for violating St. Paul's teaching that Christians should not bring their disputes before secular judges. The subsequent lawsuit revolved around the question of whether a religious school could invoke a religious principle to justify firing an employee. The school said it could, drawing on a legal doctrine known as the ministerial exception, which allows religious institutions wide latitude in hiring and firing their religious leaders. It's in the nature of legal arguments to be complex and multi-layered, but in this case the Obama administration's lawyers made a shockingly blunt argument: Their brief claimed that there should be no ministerial exception.

The Supreme Court rejected this argument in a unanimous 9-0 vote. But it's telling nonetheless that lawyers in the Justice Department wanted to eliminate this exception. Their argument was straightforward: Government needs to have broad powers to address the problem of discrimination-in this case disability-as well as other injustices. Conceding too much to religious institutions limits those powers. Why should the theological doctrines of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, or of any other church, trump the legal doctrines of the United States when the important principle of non-discrimination is at stake? It is an arresting question, to say the least-especially when we remember that the Left is currently pushing to add gay marriage to the list of civil rights.

Concerns about the autonomy of religious institutions are also at work in the Obama administration's tussle with the Catholic Church and her religious allies over the mandate to provide free contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. After the initial public outcry, the administration announced a supposed compromise, which has been recently revised and re-proposed. The Obama administration allows that churches and organizations directly under the control of those churches are religious employers and can opt out of the morally controversial coverage. But religious colleges and charities are not and cannot. To them, the administration offers a so-called accommodation.

The details are complex, but a recent statement issued by Cardinal Dolan of New York identifies the key issue: Who counts as a religious employer? It's a question closely related to the issue in the Hosanna-Tabor case, which asks who counts as a religious employee. Once again the Obama administration seeks a narrow definition, "accommodating" others in an act of lŠse majest‚, as it were. The Catholic Church and her allies want a broad definition that includes Catholic health care, Catholic universities, and Catholic charities. The Church knows that it cannot count on accommodations-after all, when various states such as Illinois passed laws allowing gay adoptions, they did not "accommodate" Catholic charities, but instead demanded compliance with principles of non-discrimination, forcing the Church to shut down her adoption agencies in those jurisdictions.

Cardinal Dolan's statement went still further. For-profit companies are not religious in the way that Notre Dame University is religious. Nonetheless, the religious beliefs of those who own and run businesses in America should be accorded some protection. This idea the Obama administration flatly rejects. By their progressive way of thinking, economic life should be under the full and unlimited control of the federal government.

Religious liberty is undermined in a third and different way as well. For a long time, political theorists like John Rawls have argued that our laws must be based on so-called public reason, which is in fact an ambiguous, ill-defined concept that gives privileged status to liberalism. In 2010, Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8-the ballot measure that reversed the California Supreme Court's 2006 decision that homosexuals have a right to marry-citing the lack of a rational basis for thinking that only men and women can marry. "The evidence shows conclusively," he wrote, "that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples." He continues by observing that many supporters of Proposition 8 were motivated by their religious convictions, which-following Rawls-he presumes should not be allowed to govern public law.

This line of thinking is not unique to Judge Walker. The influence of Rawls has been extensive, leading to restrictions on the use of religious reasons or even religiously-influenced reasons in public debate. In striking down Texas sodomy laws, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that moral censure of homosexuality has "been shaped by religious beliefs." The idea seems to be that moral views historically supported by religion-which of course means all moral views other than modern secular ones-are constitutionally suspect.

Here we come to the unifying feature of contemporary challenges to religious freedom-the desire to limit the influence of religion over public life. In the world envisioned by Obama administration lawyers, churches will have freedom as "houses of worship," but unless they accept the secular consensus they can't inspire their adherents to form institutions to educate and serve society in accordance with the principles of their faith. Under a legal regime influenced by the concept of public reason, religious people are free to speak-but when their voices contradict the secular consensus, they're not allowed into our legislative chambers or courtrooms.

Thus our present clashes over religious liberty. The Constitution protects religious liberty in two ways. First, it prohibits laws establishing a religion. This prevents the dominant religion from using the political power of majority rule to privilege its own doctrines to the disadvantage of others. Second, it prohibits laws that limit the free exercise of religion. What we're seeing today is a secular liberalism that wants to expand the prohibition of establishment to silence articulate religious voices and disenfranchise religiously motivated voters, and at the same time to narrow the scope of free exercise so that the new secular morality can reign over American society unimpeded.

Rise of the Nones

This shift in legal thinking on the Left reflects underlying religious trends. As the religious character of our society changes, so do our assumptions about religious freedom. The main change has been the rise of the Nones. In the 1950s, around three percent of Americans checked the "none" box when asked about their religious affiliation. That number has grown, especially in the last decade, to 20 percent of the population. And Nones are heavily represented in elite culture. A great deal of higher education is dominated by Nones, as are important cultural institutions, the media, and Hollywood. They are conscious of their power, and they feel the momentum of their growth.

At the same time, the number of Americans who say they go to church every week has remained strikingly constant over the last 50 years, at around 35 percent. Sociologists of religion think this self-reported number is higher than the actual one, which may be closer to 25 percent. In any event, the social reality is the same. As the Nones have emerged as a significant cohort, the committed core of religious people has not declined and in fact has become unified and increasingly battle tested. Protestants and Catholics alike know they're up against an often hostile secular culture-and although a far smaller portion of the population, the same holds for Jews and Muslims as well.

These two trends-the rise of the Nones and the consolidation of the committed core of believers-have led to friction in public life. The Nones and religious Americans collide culturally and politically, not just theologically.

For a long time, the press has reported on the influence of religious voters, especially Evangelicals. Polling data shows that religiosity has become increasingly reliable as a predictor of political loyalties. But what's far less commonly reported is that this goes both ways. In their recent book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, Robert Putnam and William Campbell focused on the practice of saying grace before meals as an indication of religious commitment and found a striking correlation. Seventy percent of those who never say grace before meals identify as Democrats, compared to slightly more than 20 percent who identify as Republicans. Nones are extremely ideological. Meanwhile, among those who say grace daily, 40 percent identify as Democrats and 50 percent as Republicans. Religious people are more diverse, but they trend to the political right, and the more religious they are the more likely they are to vote Republican.

Other data also suggests a growing divide between the irreligious and religious. A recent Pew study confirms that Nones are the single most ideologically committed cohort of white Americans, rivaled only by Evangelical Protestants. They overwhelmingly support abortion and gay marriage. Seventy-five percent of them voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and they played a decisive role in his victory in 2012. In Ohio, Obama lost the Protestant vote by three percent and the Catholic vote by eleven percent-and both numbers rise if we isolate Protestants and Catholics who say they go to church every week. But he won the Nones, who make up 12 percent of the electorate in Ohio, by an astounding 47 percent.

I think it's fair to say that Obama ran a values campaign last fall that gambled that the Nones would cast the decisive votes. For the first time in American political history, the winning party deliberately attacked religion. Its national convention famously struck God from the platform, only to have it restored by anxious party leaders in a comical session characterized by the kind of frivolity that comes when people recognize that it doesn't really matter. Democratic talking points included the "war on women" and other well-crafted slogans that rallied their base, the Nones, who at 24 percent of all Democrat and Democratic-leaning voters have become the single largest identifiable cohort in the liberal coalition.

This presents the deepest threat to religious liberty today. It's not good when the most numerous and powerful constituency in the Democratic Party has no time for religion. This is all the more true when its ideology has the effect of encouraging the rest of the party to view religion-especially Christianity-as the enemy; and when law professors provide reasons why the Constitution doesn't protect religious people.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


Monday, April 29, 2013

Supermarket forced to pull packets of Whole Hearted Roasted Monkey Nuts from the shelves...because nuts aren't listed as ingredient

Monkey nuts seems to be a British term for peanuts (goober nuts; groundnuts) still in their shell.  The packaging  was transparent so customers could see that it contained unhulled peanuts.  Anybody aware that they had an allergy would surely know what the product looked like.  But bureaucracy is not paid to think and it doesn't

A Lancashire supermarket chain has been forced to clear its shelves of monkey nuts - because the label doesn't state that the packet contains nuts.

Booths Food, Wine and Grocery has withdrawn its Whole Hearted Roasted Monkey Nuts and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued an Allergy Alert.

The company is concerned the label doesn't state the packet contains peanuts, putting those allergic to them at risk.

The withdrawn product is Booths Whole Hearted Roasted Monkey Nuts, 350g, best before July 12, 2013.

A spokesperson for the FSA said: 'The reason for the withdrawal is that the packaging does not state the product contains peanuts, which is a specific allergen that's listed in legislation.

'People who are allergic to peanuts may not be allergic to other types of nuts. The product's packaging is transparent, but the nuts are still in the shells i.e. sold as monkey nuts rather than specifically as peanuts.

The FSA added: `EH Booths has withdrawn the product with the above date code from sale.  `Customer notices will be displayed in stores, alerting customers to the reason for the withdrawal.  `The company will also contact the relevant allergy support organisations, which will tell their members of the withdrawal.

`Customers with an allergy to peanuts are advised not to eat this product but to return it to the nearest EH Booths store for a full refund.  `No other EH Booths products are known to be affected.'

'Without the correct information on the packaging, people with an allergy to peanuts - who might not know or make the connection between peanuts and monkey nuts, for example children - might eat the product and experience an adverse reaction.'

Booths said it takes the accurate labelling very seriously.  Technical manager, Waheed Hassan, alerted the FSA to this error immediately as well as posting notices in all Booths stores.

`It is our responsibility as retailers to accurately record allergy advice, and in this instance, we felt a responsibility to recall the product and issue a notice to our customers who might suffer from a specific peanut allergy,' he said.

It is the second product the company has had to withdraw within weeks.  Last month, the store withdrew some of its Edamame Bean Stir Fry because it contained soya.


House of Fraser manager sues employer for £1MILLION after 'suffering crippling injuries picking up an earring'

A department store manager is suing her employers for more than £1million claiming she suffered crippling injuries at work while bending down to pick up an earring.

Safaa Pate, 31, was running a Coast clothes and accessories concession at the High Wycombe branch of House of Fraser but has not been able to work since the incident in January 2009.

Ms Pate, who walks with a stick, says she suffered 'irreparable' back injuries and was left in 'unbearable' pain while retrieving a earring which had fallen under a display unit, her legal team claims.

In a writ lodged at London's High Court, Ms Pate, of Bray, Berkshire, says that she has had to undergo a spinal fusion operation and had been left with no feeling in her left leg and foot.

She is suing the Coast Fashions brand, blaming breaches of heath and safety at work regulations for her back problems.

However the company deny any wrongdoing, saying Ms Pate 'should have used a stick' to retrieve the dropped earring and arguing she was 'the author of her own misfortune.'

In the writ, Ms Pate's barrister, Caroline McColgan, sets out the details of the accident saying: 'She was performing a stock-take of items within the concession. As she was inventorying some jewellery, she dropped an earring onto the floor. It fell underneath one of the gondolas.

'She bent down and put her hand under the gondola in order to retrieve the earring. However, it had landed too far in from the edge and she was unable to reach it without moving the gondola out of the way. As she did so she heard a clicking noise and felt her back give way.

'She experienced increasing levels of pain over the course of the day. When it became unbearable she was compelled to leave work and attend hospital for treatment.'

The barrister claims that Ms Pate's employers were guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, and had 'failed to take reasonable steps to provide her with a safe system of work.'

In their defence to the action, Coast admit that they 'owed Ms Pate a duty of care as her employer at the material time' but deny responsibility for any harm she suffered.

Lawyers for the company state: 'Ms Pate's work was light work. She had to move clothes...but she was not required to lift or carry anything of substance.

'It is denied she was required to move the gondolas or that this formed any part of her employment. It was not Ms Pate's responsibility nor part of her job to move the stands and gondolas.

'It is denied it was sensible or reasonable or other than a breach of her own duty to take care to try to push or move the gondola to reach the earrings.'

The case is set to come to trial in November this year and is expected to be heard by Judge Richard Seymour QC.

Coast's barrister, Caroline Allen, said outside court after a preliminary hearing that Ms Pate was making a 'large damages claim' in excess of £1m.


The power of prayer: Believing in God can help treat depression

Belief in God may improve treatment for those suffering with depression, says a new study.

Faith in a higher being has been found to significantly improve treatment for people suffering with a psychiatric illness, according to research carried out by McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Researchers followed 159 patients over the course of a year at the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital program at McLean to investigate the relationship between a  patient's level of belief in God, expectations for treatment and actual treatment outcomes.

Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God as well as their expectations for treatment outcome on a five-point scale.

Levels of depression, wellbeing, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.

Researchers found that patients with 'no' or only 'slight' belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment than patients with higher levels of belief.

And more than 30 per cent of patients claiming no specific religious affiliation still saw the same benefits in treatment if their belief in God was rated as moderately or very high.

Researchers concluded that a belief in God is associated with improved treatment outcomes in psychiatric care.

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, said : 'Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but a decrease in depression and intention to self-harm, explained David Rosmarin, McLean Hospital clinician and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical.

He added: 'I hope that this work will lead to larger studies and increased funding in order to help as many people as possible.'

Previous studies have highlighted the power of prayer on a person's health.

Research at San Francisco General Hospital monitored the effects of prayer on 393 cardiac patients.

Patients were asked if they wanted to take part in the trial but were not told whether they would be the subject of prayers.

Half were prayed for by a group of strangers who only had the patients' names.

Those who were prayed for had fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia and needed less drug treatment.  They also improved more quickly and were able to leave hospital earlier.

A separate study, at Columbia University in New York, asked people in Australia, the U.S. and Canada to pray for named people undergoing IVF treatment in Korea.

Of the group in Korea, half had prayers said about them by the foreign strangers.  Among this half, the success rate for implantation of the embryo in the womb went up from 8 per cent to 16 per cent. Cases of successful conception - where the foetus started developing - went up from 25 to 50 per cent.


Swedish school brings in 'gender neutral' changing rooms to avoid teenagers being labelled male or female

A school in a liberal Swedish suburb is to open a gender-neutral changing room in an effort to discourage gender stereotypes and promote gay rights.

Patrik Biverstedt, headmaster of the Soedra Latins upper secondary school in Sodermalm, Stockholm, says they decided on the cubicle after students proposed it last year.

Students' union member Camille Trombetti says the changing room is not only 'for transsexual' students.

Any student who wants privacy when changing for school activities but doesn't want to feel constrained by traditional gender norms can use it.

Soedra Latins is in the same affluent district where children at a popular preschool are encouraged to avoid using 'him' and 'her' and to call others 'friends' instead of girls or boys.

Sweden has for the past few years been making efforts to socially engineer equality between the sexes from the earliest stages of childhood.

Miss Trombetti told Sweden's English-language news site The Local that school staff had welcomed the idea for gender-neutral changing rooms when it was proposed by the student council.

'They were very positive and welcoming but we had to figure out how to do it practically,' she said, adding that she hopes the idea will now be taken more seriously by the wider public.

'Every human being deserves a place where they feel comfortable,' she said.

'I'd remind people that hundreds of people commit suicide every year because they feel they are born into the wrong sex and don't feel their surroundings accept the gender they identify with.'

Students at Soedra Latins have been at the forefront of gay rights struggles in Sweden.

The school's student council were the first to march in Stockholm's Gay Pride parade last year and they have encouraged teachers to use gender neutral pronouns when referring to pupils.

The introduction of the new changing room comes two years after teachers at the nearby Egalia preschool began encouraging youngsters to stop referring to each other by their sex.

The colour and placement of toys and the choice of books at the nursery are carefully planned to try to prevent pupils being affected by stereotypes.

The decision to implement the rules was underpinned by a theory that existing social structures give boys an unfair advantage.

Nearly all the children's books at Egalia deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no 'Snow White,' 'Cinderella' or other fairy tales.

Director Lotta Rajalin said in 2011 that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender people.

But even in liberal Sweden the school's methods are controversial. Ms Rajalin claimed the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls.

Soedra Latins's gender-neutral changing room will be opened on May 6 by artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, who is well known in Sweden for her photographic work on gay rights.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


Sunday, April 28, 2013

How anti-racism lessons INCREASE pupil intolerance by 'causing animosity to other cultures'

It takes Leftists to teach race-consciousness

Children who are given anti-racism lessons in school are more likely to be intolerant outside the classroom, a major study found yesterday.

It said accusing white pupils of racism causes animosity, and discussing sensitive ethnic concerns such as honour killings paints minority group children in a bad light.

The survey said children who live in mixed neighbourhoods are often free of hostility towards other racial groups.

But it found that `when more attention in class is being paid to the multicultural society, the liberalising effect of positive contact in class on youngsters' xenophobic attitude decreases'.

The project carried out in the Netherlands comes at a time of controversy over the place of multiculturalism - which blames Britain for historic racism and demands the encouragement of minority cultures - in the national curriculum and teaching in British schools.

Education Secretary Michael  Gove has been under fire from Left-wing academics over plans to stop teaching teenagers about topics such as `the wide cultural, social and ethnic diversity of Britain from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century and how this has helped shape Britain's identity'.

Instead, in future pupils will be taught much more British history. The study, published in the European Sociological Review, was based on a survey of 1,444 pupils aged 14 and 15 in ten schools in the city of Nijmegen.

The teenagers, drawn from different class and racial backgrounds, and with differing academic abilities, were questioned on their attitudes to those from different ethnic backgrounds and about multicultural teaching in their schools.

It said boys tended to be more intolerant of other groups than girls, and intolerance was greatest among those with strong religious or ethnic identity, among those from Turkish or Moroccan backgrounds, and those with the lowest educational achievements.

But it said the teaching of multiculturalism had an `unexpected negative effect'.

It added: `The impact of positive inter- ethnic contact in class disappears  or even reverses when multiculturalism is more emphasised during  lessons. Discussing discrimination and the customs and habits of  other cultures during lessons affects the youngsters' xenophobic attitudes indirectly.'

The report added that bad feelings among minority groups could be generated by discussion of topics such as honour killings or female  circumcision. Animosity could also be caused by `a one-sided offender- victim approach to racism'.

The findings echo the views of Bradford head teacher Ray Honeyford, who was driven from his job nearly 30 years ago over his claim that multicultural teaching was harming pupils.

Mr Honeyford said that pupil performance was hindered by `the notion of the multi-racial curriculum urged by the authorities, and of making colour and race significant, high-profile issues in the classroom'.

Patricia Morgan, an author on  the family and education, said  yesterday: `If you rub children's noses in their supposed racism, they resent it.

`Pupils are being accused of things they haven't thought or done. Multiculturalism attempts to manipulate children's thoughts, beliefs and emotions, it amounts to indoctrination, and it doesn't work. It is counter-productive.

`This study shows that when people try to manipulate children's minds, it bounces back on them.'


Clegg Kills U.K. Data-Monitoring Bill on Liberty Concerns

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg killed off plans by David Cameron's Conservatives to monitor data from phone calls and e-mails, citing concerns about civil liberties, as Parliament prepared to end its current session.

Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May was pushing for adoption of the Communications Data Bill after police and intelligence agencies sought powers to collect information showing the time, location and duration of a mobile-phone call or the existence of an e-mail. Civil-liberties campaigners said the proposals were too intrusive and put ordinary people at risk of being spied upon.

"What people dub the snoopers' charter, that's not going to happen -- certainly with Lib Dems in government," Clegg told LBC radio today. An aide to Clegg, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, said no new version of the bill would appear when the next parliamentary session begins on May 8.

The move shows Clegg flexing his muscles against his Tory coalition partners before local elections next week and with national elections two years away. Prime Minister David Cameron mirrored that strategy for his own party by appointing a new team this week to focus on Conservative policy.


More black on black violence in Britain

A 15-year old boy has been charged with the murder of a teenager stabbed to death on a bus.

Derek Boateng, 16, was attacked in broad daylight on the 393 bus in Highbury New Park, north London, at around 3pm on Tuesday.  He was airlifted to hospital but died yesterday.

A police spokesman said: 'The 15-year-old boy from Havering will appear in custody at Highbury Corner Youth Court accused of the murder of 16-year-old Derek Boateng.'

Police say Boateng, who has three older sisters, was attacked following a row with another teenager. It was the fifth stabbing of a teenager in London in the past four days.

The London Air Ambulance landed on Highbury Grove School's Astro Turf pitch and airlifted the teenager to hospital in east London where he died yesterday.

Today, his devastated sisters paid tribute to the little brother they described as 'always laughing' and revealed his birthday presents are still lying unopened at the family home in nearby Hackney.

Derek's oldest sister Gifty, 29, said he was 'best brother in the world.

She told the Evening Standard: 'I could not have had a better brother.'  Earlier, she told how Derek was doing his GCSEs and wanted to be an engineer.

He said: 'He just fixes stuff, like things you can't figure out he comes to do.

'He paints and plays the drums - he was very artistic. He had a lot of friends and knew a lot of people around the area and had friends from primary school still. We are completely devastated and still in shock.'

Another of his siblings, Linda, 25, said: 'All we know is that he was on a bus by himself. He normally gets the train.

'From what we know, he was going to meet his friend at Highbury Grove when it happened.

'He was always laughing, everything was a joke. You can't even tell him off because he just started laughing at you.

'He was stabbed on his birthday on the 23rd and died the day after. He was coming home to his presents, he hadn't even opened them yet.'

She added: 'You hear about this sort of thing all the time and never think this is going to come to you.

'Knives are for the kitchen. Put the knives away, just concentrate on your education. They have left the family very devastated.

'I don't think they understand what they are doing. The guy who did it is probably really scared because they don't understand what they have done.  'It's ridiculous. Killing someone and going back to your group doesn't make you cool.'

More than 2,000 people have paid tribute on Facebook to a murdered teenager who died the day after being stabbed on his sixteenth birthday.

Derek Boateng, who wanted to be an engineer, was fatally stabbed on a 393 bus on Tuesday afternoon. He died in hospital last night.

And now more than 2,700 people have flooded a tribute page set up for the tragic youngster - known as Ddot - on Facebook.
Trawling the streets: Police search gardens, bins and drains close to the scene where Derek Boateng was stabbed on a bus in Highbury, London

Sheree Wright said: 'Rest In Perfect Peace, I Know The Streets Are Tough But I'm Disgusted That Young Boys & Girls In This World Think They Can Play God & Take Someones Life! Too Many Mothers Are Burying Their Babies.

The teenager was said by locals to be a former student at Highbury Grove School.

Police were called on Tuesday afternoon and the victim was rushed to hospital in a critical condition but he succumbed to his injuries yesterday evening.

Nearby residents said the boy was stabbed by a black teenager, aged around 16, who was wearing a baseball cap and who also pushed a passenger to the ground before running off through the nearby Spring Gardens Estate.


Iceland's Top Court Orders Valitor to Process WikiLeaks Payments

Iceland's Supreme Court ordered Valitor hf, the Icelandic partner of MasterCard Inc. (MA) and Visa Inc. (V), to process card payments for anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks within 15 days or face daily penalties.

If the company fails to comply it will be forced to pay 800,000 kronur ($6,800) in daily penalties, according to the ruling posted on the Reykjavik-based court's website today.

The court also said Valitor must honor a contract with Icelandic data-hosting service provider DataCell. The payment card company had refused to process payments for DataCell because DataCell had signed a contract to process payments for WikiLeaks.

Valitor's refusal to process WikiLeaks payments "shall be considered baseless," according to the ruling posted on the Reykjavik-based court's website. Valitor "is required to open a payment portal in accordance with its cooperation agreement" with DataCell.

Valitor Chief Executive Officer Vidar Thorkelsson didn't immediately respond to a call for comment after regular business hours.



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


Friday, April 26, 2013

The East German mentality of the British bureaucracy

Agony of woman jailed in secret: Daughter locked up for trying to save father from care home tells of terrifying police swoop

A woman imprisoned by a secret court yesterday described the shocking moment police descended on her father's care home to `cart me off to jail'.

Wanda Maddocks was sentenced for trying to remove her father John from a home where his family thought he was in danger of dying.

But she was not present in court, nor was she represented by a lawyer, when the judgment was made - and her sentencing was not made public for six months.

Miss Maddocks, 50, is believed to be the first person to be jailed by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs of those too ill to make their own decisions.

Last night the case was at the centre of a furious row over behind-closed-doors justice as MPs condemned the secrecy of the court that jailed Miss Maddocks.

She was visiting her frail father when officers arrived to break the news that she had been sentenced to five months in prison.

She said: `I walked out of the care home and saw a small white van, then two female police officers approached me with two court officers.  `They told me I had been sentenced to jail for contempt of court. I couldn't believe it.

`They told me it was almost unheard of for somebody to be jailed like that in a civil hearing without first being given the chance to explain themselves.'

Miss Maddocks served six weeks in Foston Hall - the women's jail in Derbyshire which was home to Maxine Carr, girlfriend of Soham killer Ian Huntley - following her arrest in September.

The Court of Protection had originally ruled that Mr Maddocks, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, must stay in the care home in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, because the plans for his care put forward by his children were considered inadequate.

It argued there was no choice but to take control of his affairs when he was found collapsed in his home by his carers. The council also deny he was badly treated during his stay in several care homes.

What has angered the family and open justice campaigners, however, is the draconian way in which Miss Maddocks was treated and the fact the secretive court was able to send her to jail.

Yesterday Miss Maddocks, a property developer, whose home is in the Turkish holiday resort of Fethiye, said: `I spent two weeks in the remand section and was then transferred to the main jail. I was ganged up on by the other inmates and one woman rushed at me and hit me.

`She did it because she thought I was lying about my reasons for being incarcerated. She couldn't believe I could have been jailed over something so petty, as she called it.'

Miss Maddocks added: `If my case had been in the public domain the judge would never have dared to jail me. There would have been uproar.

The Human Rights Act is supposed to guarantee everybody the right to a family life. It is the council and the court who have broken my father's human rights, not me.'

She said that while in Foston Hall she became too scared to ring her father, a painter and decorator who ran his own business, while in prison, out of fear of somehow breaking the restrictions designed to keep the case secret.

`The court paperwork threatened to seize the family's assets if we spoke to the press or anybody else about this,' she said. `I was terrified. I eventually called my father after almost two months, to tell him I would soon be released, and he was crying his eyes out. He was heartbroken because he was missing me so much.'

She said the family were told that social services would agree to Mr Maddocks leaving the care home only if she and his three other children - Ivan, 55, Wayne, 54, and Eden, 49 - could submit an acceptable `care package' to the court.

The care package had to explain how they would divide responsibility for looking after Mr Maddocks, who needed continual care, what food they would provide for him and any outside help they could call on, such as carers.  But she said the judge turned down four separate submissions.

Judge Martin Cardinal sentenced Miss Maddocks at the Court of Protection in Birmingham after hearing that she had repeatedly broken orders not to interfere with her father's life at the care home.

He found that she had helped take her father to a court hearing and had also taken him to see a solicitor; that she had tried to publicise the case; that she had left offensive messages for social workers; and that she had given the 80-year-old former painter and decorator a wooden cross to ward off evil at his care home.

The judge said she had `the attitude of someone who is simply not going to obey court orders'.

Miss Maddocks took her father to Turkey while he was subject to an order to remain in his care home and she acknowledged yesterday that she had left a message on a social worker's voicemail.

But she claimed the end of her father's life had been hastened by being `held prisoner' in care and claimed it was likely he would still be alive today if she had been allowed to move her father to live with her in Fethiye.  `We were all stunned at how quickly he had deteriorated,' she said of her father, who died in January.

Miss Maddocks said her jail sentence was outrageous and added: `I have had a successful career as a businesswoman and have never been in trouble.  `Why should I have to go through all this just to get my father back?'

Stoke-on-Trent councillor Gwen Hassall said: `This is clearly an extreme case, but one that the Court of Protection supported the council on. It was the court's decision to issue a custodial sentence to Wanda Maddocks.

`Our chief concern was always centred around the welfare of her father, who was suffering from a deteriorating condition and required 24-hour supervision in a stable environment.

This was a decision reached by medical consultants, geriatricians, social workers, community psychiatric nurses, dieticians, consultant health and nursing professionals and others who were involved in assessing his needs.'

Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who was first alerted to the case, called for new laws to ensure courts cannot sentence people to prison in secret. He said his own private member's bill had been blocked by the Government.

`My bill would have made sure that we know about jailings in the secret courts by making sure that details are made available. We then could know if the courts are behaving properly in our name.

Lord McNally, the Lib Dem Justice Minister, instructed the whips to squash the bill and keep secret jailings secret.

`Thanks to the hard work of the Daily Mail we now know that the courts are locking people up for getting legal advice for family members. This just cannot be right.'

Chris Skidmore, a Tory MP who sits on the Health Select Committee said: `Without commenting on the specifics of this case, it cannot be right that local authorities and council bureaucrats should run roughshod over the lives of individuals and their families.

`At the centre of elderly care must be the concept that families and loved ones must have a right to care and look after the best interests of patients, whatever their condition.'

Former care minister Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat, said outcome of the court case seemed an `extreme conclusion'.

He said: `The Court of Protection had a vital role to play in protecting the best interests of people who can't make decisions for themselves, for example dementia suffers.

`The law does provide for families to exercise decision making authority. The Court should be there to ensure people are safe, treated with dignity and are not deprived of their liberty.

`This is a very hard case and it is far from clear how the court, the council and the care home let events come to such an extreme conclusion.'

John Maddocks was being held in a care home against his families wishes under the Labour government's Mental Capacity Act

There the family claim Mr Maddocks stopped eating after being bullied by a male staff member, who would send him to his room as a punishment.

A spokesman for the home denied it had caused the death of Mr Maddocks.

`We are saddened by the allegations from the family and strongly refute them,' he added. `Mr Maddocks was seen by the GP and other medical professionals on five separate occasions over his 25 day stay.

`Everyone involved in his care was aware of his complex medical conditions and he was fully supported with these. When he arrived he was already a very ill man.'

Gwen Hassall, from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: `We are saddened to hear that the family have made allegations about the quality of care provided to Mr Maddocks, and take those allegations very seriously.

A post mortem examination revealed that Mr Maddocks died of natural causes, with Alzheimer's dementia and type II diabetes as contributory factors.

He was cared for at well-respected health facilities and centres which specialise in supporting people with dementia.'


Men could be convicted of rape 'even if the woman agrees to have sex'

A court headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, ruled in a sign-post decision that a man would still be guilty if he did something she asked him not to.

The High Court ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to think again over a decision not to prosecute a man accused of raping his wife.

The woman had consented to sex, but only on condition that her husband withdrew as she did not want to become pregnant.

However, at the last minute he told her he was not withdrawing and told her 'because you are my wife and I'll do it if I want'.

The woman who did not want another child become pregnant after the incident in February 2010.

In his landmark decision Lord Judge ruled that because the man, the woman's husband under Sharia law, did not stick to his part of the pre-sex deal he could, in the eyes of the law, be held guilty of rape.

The judges said she 'was deprived of choice relating to the crucial feature on which her original consent to sexual intercourse was based'.

Granting a judicial review of the decision not to prosecute, the Lord Judge said that the woman's consent was 'negated' by the man's failure to withdraw.

He said that the woman's essential evidence was that after her Islamic marriage to the man in November 2009 their relationship was marred by his abusive dominance.

Lord Judge said that men who tried in vain to withdraw in time should not be pursued for rape, adding: `These things happen - they always have and they always will.  `No offence is committed when they do. They underline why withdrawal is not a safe method of contraception.'

In May 2010 she rang a rape phone line and made a formal complaint to the police about rape and sexual assault, but the DPP took the decision not to prosecute.


Catholic midwives in Scotland told they won't have to supervise staff taking part in abortions after winning court battle

Two Catholic midwives have today won a landmark court battle for the right to refuse any involvement in abortion procedures.

Mary Doogan, 58, and Connie Wood, 52, argued that being required to supervise staff involved in abortions was a violation of their human rights.

As conscientious objectors, the women had no direct role in pregnancy terminations, but claimed they should also be able to refuse to support staff taking part in the procedures.

The women took their case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but lost last year.

But three appeal judges at the same court today ruled that their appeal should succeed.  'In our view the right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole process of treatment given for that purpose,' ruled Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lords Mackay and McEwan.

The health board noted the decision and said it would be considering its options with its legal advisers.

Ms Doogan and Ms Wood were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

At the time of the original ruling, Ms Doogan had been absent from work due to ill health since March 2010 and Ms Wood had been transferred to other work.

Both women, practising Roman Catholics, registered their conscientious objection to participation in pregnancy terminations years ago, as allowed by the Abortion Act, but became concerned when all medical terminations were moved to the labour ward in 2007.

They argued that before that they were not called on to delegate, supervise or support staff treating or caring for patients undergoing termination procedures - a stance disputed by the health board.

They said the supervision and support of staff providing care to women having an abortion did amount to 'participation in treatment' and breached their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. They raised a petition for a judicial review at the court, which was refused last year by judge Lady Smith.

She found that the women were sufficiently removed from involvement in pregnancy terminations to afford them appropriate respect for their beliefs.

The midwives said at the time that they were 'very disappointed' by the decision, and appealed against that ruling.

During the hearing earlier this year, Gerry Moynihan QC, representing the women, suggested that their consciences should determine what tasks they undertake.

He told the court: 'The dividing line ought to be the individual's conscience, not a bureaucrat saying what is within the literal meaning of the word `participation' or not.'

The health board argued that the right of conscientious objection was a right only to refuse to take part in activities that directly brought about the termination of a pregnancy, and was not available to the pair in respect of their duties of delegation, supervision and support.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said in a statement: 'We note the outcome of the appeal and will be considering our options with our legal advisers over the next few days.'

The midwives' appeal was supported by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), which welcomed today's decision.

In a statement released by the society, Ms Wood and Ms Doogan said: 'Connie and I are absolutely delighted with today's judgment from the Court of Session, which recognises and upholds our rights as labour ward midwifery sisters to withdraw from participating in any treatment that would result in medical termination of pregnancy.

'In holding all life to be sacred from conception to natural death, as midwives we have always worked in the knowledge we have two lives to care for throughout labour; a mother and that of her unborn child.

'Today's judgment is a welcome affirmation of the rights of all midwives to withdraw from a practice that would violate their conscience and which over time, would indeed debar many from entering what has always been a very rewarding and noble profession. It is with great relief we can now return to considerations that are all to do with childbirth and midwifery practice and less to do with legal matters.'

The midwives also thanked 'the many individuals the length and breadth of Britain and, indeed, further afield' who have supported them throughout the dispute.


Health and safety nonsense revealed: Shredded paper and toothpicks banned

Bar staff banned from serving pints in traditional handled beer mugs, toothpicks removed from tables, and a six-year-old told she couldn't have a bubble machine at her party.  These are just a few of the bizarre rules imposed under the guise of `health and safety'.

A school banned shredded paper in a lucky dip stall, while a hotel said it couldn't serve burgers rare.

A taskforce set up to weed out poor use of health and safety laws found a host of examples in its first year.

It investigated 150 cases - including a hotel which told a chamber maid she could not make up a cot bed.

The ridiculous bans were revealed by Judith Hackitt, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who heads a team which looks at cases where `health and safety' is cited for bogus reasons.

She called on those making daft decisions to own up to their real motives.  `We never cease to be amazed by the cases we consider,' she said.

`Why on earth do people think they can get away with banning pint glasses with handles, bubbles at a birthday party, or burgers served anything other than well done, claiming they are a health and safety hazard?

`The reality is people hide behind "health and safety" when there are other reasons for what they're doing - fear of being sued perhaps, or bad customer service. It's time for them to own up to their real motives.'

She added: `We're helping people to fight back - and I'm delighted to hear of cases of our panel making  jobsworths admit they're wrong.'

The HSE's panel welcomes examples from the public of the barmy use of health and safety legislation.

In one example, Joel Gordon, 42, of Glossop in Derbyshire, told the panel that a hotel restaurant would not let him have a toothpick in case he stabbed his mouth.  He said: `I'm a grown adult - I'll take the risk. It was nonsense.'

Employment minister Mark Hoban said: `I despair when I read cases like these. Health and safety is to protect people from serious risks, not to be abused by jobsworths who stop  people getting on with their lives.'



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, AUSTRALIAN 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


Thursday, April 25, 2013

An amusing feminist wail

Clemmie Ford again.  She admits that her appearance is not enticing but faults the world for that!   I guess it makes her anger understandable, though. Buddhist-style ideas of reality acceptance as a path to happiness are obviously alien to her.

Her narcissism is even more unrelenting than her poor grammar.  The poor grammar starts out in the first paragraph below with "between my two siblings and I".  Naughty Clemmie:  You can say "me", you know!  It's allowed.  Or is good grammar not feminist?  See what a condescending patriarchal male I am!

But the quite sad thing about Clemmie's rant is her obsession with herself.  A little rain (even a tropical downpour) falls into all our lives but Clemmie seems to think that the good Lord (or is it mother Earth?) sends his showers down onto the heads of women only.  I have experienced  what I see as injustices and bad treatment (as a conservative teaching in a university Sociology Dept., what would I expect?) but I don't blame it on my being a man!  I wonder why? 

When I was a lad in the bad old patriarchal days, I was told to chop wood for the copper (only old folks will know what that is.  It's not a policeman) but my sister wasn't.  Until I cut my toe with an axe that didn't bother me much so I see Clemmie's wail about doing the dishes as singularly one-eyed.  She got off lightly.

Clemmie is severely unbalanced.  But there is a good market for anger -- even a "mighty river" of it (That narcissism again) -- so she will get by   -- JR

My own feminist awakening came about gradually. As a teenager, I argued vehemently with my father over the distribution of chores between my two siblings and I. Every evening after dinner, I'd hear the same words: "Right, girls. Time to do the washing up." Meanwhile, my brother was given leave to head to his bedroom and indulge himself as he pleased. I found this monstrously unfair.

During the now nightly arguments, I proposed a solution that I felt would address the fundamental inequality of our family's domestic arrangement and put an end to the bitter animosity that was steadily growing between father and child. I was prepared – happily! – to do the dishes every night without complaint as long as my brother and sister alternated. It seemed an equitable solution, and I couldn't see how it was less preferable to yelling at each other for half an hour while our food was trying to digest.

But rather than take me up on it, my father would either storm out or push me aside to do the dishes himself, instilling in me the early lesson that the discord over discrimination will almost never be attributed to the inequality that exists therein, but to the ones who insist on making a problem out of it. He didn't seem to understand that my objection was never to the expectation that I contribute to the domestic workload, but that my brother be excused from it by virtue of having a penis.

On other nights, as my sister and I stood bent over the soapy sink, my mother would try to appease me by saying, "It's just that I know I can trust you girls to do a good job. If I left Toby to do it, I'd have to do them again." Because you make it easy for him to perform badly! I would scream inside my head, unmoved by the meaningless compliment of being handy with a dish-brush. Years before I could properly articulate it in my head, I was experiencing first hand one of the casually pervasive assumptions that continue to divide the sexes – men are good at running the world, women at running the house.

Lest I give the impression my childhood was a 1950s throwback, with girls in ankle-length skirts and mid-19th century chastity belts, let me confuse you further by telling you most of my rudimentary feminist education came from my father. To my sister and I, he emphasised the need to always maintain financial independence and to never rely upon a man for our livelihoods. He was a staunch supporter of reproductive rights, defending a woman's right to choose and letting us know that if we were ever "in trouble", we should never be afraid to tell him. He drummed into us early on that we were never to tolerate a man hitting us, and told my brother that he was never to hit a woman.

It was a confusing time. Because even though I believed in all the principles of feminism, I was so disconnected from the word itself that for many years I would deflect it as if it were an accusation I needed to apologise for. "Well, obviously I believe in equal rights ... but I wouldn't call myself a feminist." I was scared to wear the tag for the same reason many women are scared to call themselves feminists – I thought no one would want to have sex with me.

The thing is, no one wanted to have sex with me anyway, feminist or not. And it dawned on me one day that if I were so frightened of being confused for a man-hating, hairy-legged, ugly shrew just because I expressed the belief that women deserved equality and liberation, then perhaps the time for feminism hadn't passed after all.

I have been fortunate to have experienced the kind of life in which such an awakening occurred free of violence, trauma or pain. Instead, it was a trickle of indignation that gave rise to a mighty river. I grew weary of the routine way I was expected to contribute to my own diminishment, laughing at jokes that positioned women as a punchline in order to stroke the egos of boys whose limited experience of disapproval resulted in gendered name calling and the withdrawal of erectile approval.

The stories I hear from other women show that some of them have been luckier, raised from birth to believe in their fundamental right to exist equally. But many others have come to feminism through painful things that fill me with sadness, and remind me of a friend's words that "feminism is finding a way of being a girl that doesn't hurt".

I come across many women in my line of work who believe in the fundamentals of feminism but are still at the crossroad of uncertainty. All around them, they hear the message that equality has been reached – that anything we agitate for now is just the greed of professional feminists trying to get away with institutionalising misandry.

I can present you factual arguments to discount that, and demonstrate gendered inequality both here and internationally. I can cite statistics that will shock you with into incredulity. But the fact is, only you can answer the question of whether or not you believe yet.

Think of the sexist jokes passed off as humour, the rape apology sites on Facebook, the disparate numbers of men in positions of power. Think of your potential earning capacity, or the fact that only one in four girls in India won't live past puberty. Think of how victims of sexual violence are made complicit in their attacks, or the fact that girls are sold as property in parts of the world only to be discarded or killed when they no longer have any financial value. Have you found a way yet of being a girl that doesn't hurt? Have they?

I realise that for some of you the analogy might be a little too fantastical. But being awoken into a feminist reality isn't really so different because it takes one out of uncertainty and into strength. When Buffy Summers tells her Potentials of the plan to share her power, she leaves them with these words: "From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice.  "Are you ready to be strong?"


A British kangaroo court

The drift to an East German system continues

A woman was jailed ‘in secret’ for trying to remove her father from a care home where his family thought he was in danger of dying.

Wanda Maddocks, 50, is the first person known to be imprisoned by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs of people too ill to make their own decisions.

A judge ruled that she should go to prison for five months for contempt of court even though she was not present or represented by a lawyer.

Details of the case were made public for the first time yesterday and provoked a fresh row over behind-closed-doors justice.

Miss Maddocks, who served six weeks of her sentence, was jailed because she ignored the court’s orders not to try to remove her father John from the home.

She was condemned for incidents including taking the 80-year-old dementia sufferer to a court hearing and to see a solicitor.

She was also censured for producing a leaflet to try to publicise details of the case and giving her father a wooden cross ‘to ward off evil’ in the care home.

Her family said Mr Maddocks, a retired painter and decorator from Stoke-on-Trent, had been held ‘like a prisoner’ on the orders of a local council.

Miss Maddocks was initially not allowed to be named after the hearing and was identified only by her initials WM.  And the court’s ruling containing details of her sentence was not published.

The Court of Protection is a branch of the High Court and its hearings are always conducted in private.

Judge Martin Cardinal merely went through the motions of observing open justice when he handed down his sentence.  He ordered the doors of his courtroom in Birmingham to be unlocked and told ushers to announce in the corridor that members of the public were free to come in.

But there was no wider announcement of the judgment and no-one who was not directly involved is thought to have attended.

The ban on naming Miss Maddocks was lifted because there was no reason for it to remain in place after her release.  Mr Maddocks has since died.

He separated from wife June more than 30 years ago. She remarried but now suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.

The extraordinary case began when the grandfather-of-one was found collapsed at his own home last year.

He was placed in a care home and the local authority applied  for a legal order which said he must stay there.  These are introduced when officials believe someone could be at risk of harm, and put the Official Solicitor in charge of their affairs.

After a few months Miss Maddocks’ brother Ivan took him out of the care home for lunch.  Miss Maddocks was alerted and flew her father to Turkey, where she owns a number of properties.

They stayed for 13 weeks before returning to Britain, and her father went to a different care home.

Mr Maddocks said: ‘Wanda was certain she could care for him herself but the social services said he had to be put in the home. Wanda was very angry that they were taking Dad away from us.’

Miss Maddocks was jailed on September 11 last year after the sentencing in her absence by the Court of Protection in Birmingham, and sent to Foston Hall prison in Derby

She was freed from Foston Hall prison in Derby on November 1 after returning to the court to purge her contempt by apologising to the judge.

Judge Cardinal said in his ruling that ‘there is a history of the family being difficult with the local authority’ and that Miss Maddocks knew she had been ordered not to interfere with her father.

He said she had done so on a number of occasions. On one she took him from his care home to attend a court hearing. On another she took him to Birmingham to talk to a solicitor. [How awful! I thought that was a basic right]

Miss Maddocks was said to have left a long and abusive message on a social worker’s voicemail describing ‘you in your tarty little stuck up voice’ and to have called council staff names including ‘arrogant little cunning b*******’.

In one message she said: ‘I hope you all end up where my Dad is and I hope you all end up cursed.’

But the whistleblowing MP who first learned of the case, Lib Dem John Hemming, said: ‘The jailing of people in secret for contempt is not supposed to happen.

‘No records have been collected. I believe the judges have broken the rules of their own courts, but nobody is doing anything about it.’

‘One of the charges against the woman was that she took her father from his care home to see a solicitor. We now live in a country where ordinary people get locked up for taking their father to see a lawyer. Even in Iran they do not jail people for taking legal advice.’


Bungalows! Incorrect in Britain but popular anyway

A bungalow is a single story detached house in its own yard.  Few of any other type of house are built in Australia these days but Brits are not often offered them

Bungalows have been the butt of derision for decades. But the irony is that the British, in their modest, understated way, would actually prefer to live in a bungalow more than any other type of building.

Survey after survey shows that the bungalow always comes out on top. `The Bungalow' even remains the third most popular name for our homes, after The Cottage and  Rose Cottage.

Older people are particularly keen on them - they are so much easier to clean, so much more convenient for security measures and, of course, easier to get around in, without all those stairs to negotiate.

And yet no one seems to be catering for the legions of bungalow lovers. In 2009, only 300 bungalows, out of 100,000 new properties, were built in the whole country and many more were demolished. Just 2 per cent of our national housing stock is taken up by bungalows - even though 30 per cent of the nation are longing to live in one.

Now Policy Exchange, a Right-of-centre think tank much favoured by the Prime Minister, is determined to remedy the situation. In a new report, it suggests that, with an ageing population and a third of us keen to move into bungalows, they could help solve the current housing crisis.

`Older people, currently living in large family homes, might want to downsize to a bungalow, which is smaller and easier to maintain, as well as being on one floor and offering outside space,' says the report's author Alex Morton.

`There are huge numbers of spare rooms in homes older people are currently living in. What are needed are the homes that older people like and so would like to move into. But planning policy prevents these homes from being built.'

The trouble is that the Coalition, which is of course desperate to expand the number of homes in our crowded little island, insists on new developments cramming in at least  30 houses per hectare.

Bungalows - spreading horizontally, eating up all that lovely space - don't fit the bill. As a result, half of all newly built homes are one-bedroom or two-bedroom flats.

If we did come to our senses and started building bungalows instead, we would be reviving a British craze that has been going strong, here and abroad, for more than three centuries.

Our taste for the bungalow began in the 17th century, when British expats in India, working for the East India Company, fell for the local one-storey thatched houses, built in the Bengali style - thus the name bungalow, derived from the Hindi word `bangla', meaning Bengali.

These banglas also had verandahs, itself another Hindi word, meaning balustrade or balcony.

The housing style caught on quickly in colonial India, as a 1676 entry in the diary of the splendidly named Streynsham Master, working in the India Office, reveals: `It was thought fitt to sett up Bungales or  Hovells for all such English in the Company's service.'

Still, it took several centuries for the style to be brought back to these shores by returning colonial servants.

Of course, there had been one-storey houses in Britain, ever since prehistoric man first threw a primitive roof over a few rough stone walls. But the crucial thing about the first British bungalows of the late 19th century was that they were a positive style choice from the beginning.

Bungalows may have often been mocked by supposed sophisticates like Prince Charles, who has called them `homogenised boxes'.

But the people who really matter - the people who live in them - have always loved them; in stark contrast to the high-density tower blocks that crazily misguided planners commissioned by the thousand from the Fifties onwards.

Bungalows satisfied the national desire for home ownership on a limited budget, provided a pleasant touch of exotic history and met our island taste for things with a seaside flavour: the first British bungalows were built at Westgate-on-Sea and Birchington, both on the Kent coast, in 1869.

They soon became a popular form of seaside architecture all around our coast; not least because they're less likely to block the sea view of the bungalow behind you.


Australia:  Woman driver wants to have her cake and eat it too

She wants to do a man's work but then complains because she is not up to it

COMCAR driver Lynette Prater says she is still suffering from a shoulder injury she suffered carrying eight heavy bags for Defence Minister Stephen Smith while the senior cabinet member sat and waited in the car.

The workers' compensation authority Comcare refused to pay out for the injuries Ms Prater says she sustained while lugging the heavy bags of the Labor minister 15 months ago.

Mr Smith's office says the minister has no memory of the event and that he or his staff would usually offer to help lift their bags and heavy document cases.

According to papers lodged in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the then 49-year-old COMCAR driver picked up the minister at Canberra's RAAF Fairbairn airfield late on the night of November 20, 2011, as Mr Smith disembarked from a VIP flight.

Ms Prater's official incident report recalls; "Mr Smith came out and had two small silver cases with him, I then went to pick up the cases, they were extremely heavy and I could only manage to take one up to the car, he said he had a few more cases.

"Mr Smith put something else in the boot and then went and sat in the car, whilst I loaded the remaining cases in the boot." When they arrived at Parliament House, Ms Prater was left to unload the cases from the vehicle.

"Arriving at the basement Mr Smith went and got a trolley for him to take the cases inside and left me to take them out of the boot unassisted," the report reads.  "Left arm a bit tingly, I put this down to being a sore muscle."

The driver said she hoped the severe pain that developed in her shoulder after the incident would go away, but when she was diagnosed with a muscle tendon sprain she claimed for workers' compensation. Her claim was denied by Comare, which cited the delay between sustaining the injury and lodging the claim.

Now Ms Prater, who has not returned to her job and says she cannot afford to have her injury treated privately, is fighting Comcare's decision in the AAT with the case listed for a conciliation conference.

She told Fairfax that she accepted the task when it became clear she was expected to lift the minister's bags on her own. "I just shrugged my shoulders and thought 'oh well, I'm going to have to do it'," she said.

A spokesman for Mr Smith said he had not been aware of the issue until questioned by Fairfax.

"The minister and his staff regularly travel with secure briefcases and assist in the movement of them, without the need for a request for assistance."



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, AUSTRALIAN 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