Monday, May 05, 2014
Girl, 8, taken from loving mother to live in one room with father
British judges seem intent on moving children from one parent to another - even against their will
Anyone trying to penetrate the murky underworld of our “child protection” system may be struck by how the same curious patterns of behaviour continually recur, so that one can build up a picture of the more obvious ways in which this system has gone off the rails. One of the most disturbing is how often judges seem determined to remove children from a mother they have happily lived with all their lives, only to hand them over to a dysfunctional or even abusive father whom they do not wish to live with at all.
I have now followed many such baffling cases, like the one I reported a few months ago, where two boys, aged 14 and 11, were dragged from their beds by six police officers at 7.45 on Christmas morning, to be handed over at the other end of London to a father who had walked out on them years earlier. This resulted in such chaos, with the police being several times called to attend violent incidents between the boys and their father, that when the boys eventually managed to escape back to their mother, the social workers sensibly agreed that, despite the judge’s orders, they should remain with her.
Last week, another such case came my way, involving a girl of nearly nine, who has always lived with her mother and was bright, engaging and doing well at school. Her father, who left them years ago, has a long criminal record, was a drug addict, is currently unemployed and lives in a single room. The mother had not stood in the way of contact between the girl and her father, but when this eventually caused problems due to his behaviour, the courts became involved, along with a “guardian” from Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (“making sure that children’s voices are heard”), and a psychologist hired by the local authority.
Last month, as I gather from someone present in court, the judge, Mrs Justice Williscroft, quite unexpectedly seemed to have changed her mind. She ruled that the girl must leave her comfortable home and be given over to the permanent care of her father, in his single room. For the time being, the child and her mother could have no contact. Unsurprisingly, the girl ran back to her mother, but had to be returned, in accordance with the judge’s wishes, to the father.
Not the least disturbing way in which this parallels other cases I have followed is that, although the girl was desperate to appear in court to say that she did not wish to live with her father, the judge, I am told, ruled that this could not be allowed, because it would be “emotionally abusive”. Repeatedly I have come across this happening, even though Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, passed into British law in 1992, clearly states that one of those rights is for the child’s voice “to be heard in any judicial proceedings”, and if appropriate, “directly”. Yet in every case where I have heard of an articulate child demanding this statutory right, the judge has denied it, preferring to listen to a Cafcass guardian who wished to express a view flatly opposed to the child’s wishes.
In this case, I am told by the mother’s legal advisers, there are so many question marks over the way the judge handled the case that she is seeking permission from another judge to appeal. But the more general question that arises is: why do so many judges think it right to remove children from a mother who is their chief centre of love and security, and expect them to live with a long-absent father who cannot possibly give them the same?
As with so much else that goes on in our “child protection” system, it seems to make a total mockery of that constantly intoned mantra derived from the 1989 Children Act: “The child’s interests are paramount.” This is a very strange business, to which I shall return.
Air force memorial to famous 'Memphis Belle' bomber crew fenced off 'to avoid offending Libyans'
Bungling military officials erected a 10ft fence around a US Air Force memorial in case it 'offended Libyan soldiers'.
The 'Memphis Belle' monument was erected at RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, to honour the USFA's Eighth Air Force - who were based there during the Second World War.
Memphis Bell was the nickname given to the Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress bombers flown by the 91st Bomb Group (Heavy) - which suffered huge losses of men between 1942 and 1945.
The US Air Force Memorial was erected at RAF Bassingbourn 20 years ago, left, but was fenced up, right, when it was announced that 2,000 Libyan soldiers were due to relocate to the base for training
But the structure was fenced off when it was announced that 2,000 Libyan soldiers were to be trained at the base.
The Libyans will spend two months training at the base as part of efforts to help disarm the country's government after the removal of despot Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
After an uproar from enthusiasts and locals alike, officials have now removed the 10ft fence.
The commander responsible for erecting it will be investigated in a Ministry of Defence probe.
A ministry source said the official was 'some bloke with a clipboard' who oversaw an extraordinary 'error of judgement'.
No official comment has been made as to why the fence was put around the monument but the source said: 'I expect the rationale was it might offend the Libyans.'
The memorial was erected 20 years ago and USAF veterans frequently make pilgrimages to England to see it to remember their fallen comrades. One group that regularly visits, Friends of the Eighth, formed almost 40 years ago. Peter Worby, 55, a long-standing member of the group, said: 'I am glad someone has seen sense but this was a disgusting insult to the memory of the young airmen who died saving our bacon. 'The MoD should be hugely embarrassed by this - they should be promoting these memorials, not shunning them.'
A Facebook page was set up to shame the base after the memorial, which features the propeller of a B-17 bomber, was fenced off.
One member said: 'We are not going to let the veterans down and those who died for us.
'If the MoD wants a row they have got one. We owe the veterans more than we can ever hope to repay - letting them or their memory down doesn't even enter the picture.'
Another branded the move 'disgusting', adding: 'Why do we have to put up with Britain as it is today ? It’s all going down the pan.'
The 91st Bomb Group (Heavy), whose duty it was to fly in the B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft, suffered the greatest number of losses of any heavy bomb group between 1942 and 1945. [The expert German pilots in their ME-109s had the B-17s for lunch]
The elite unit within the Eighth Air Force participated in 340 operational missions losing 197 of its aircraft.
887 of the crew were killed - around 19 per cent - and 123 were declared missing in action.
Their missions inspired both a 1944 documentary film called Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, and a 1990 Hollywood feature film Memphis Belle.
A Defence Infrastructure Organisation spokesman said: 'A temporary screen was erected around the US War Memorial at Bassingbourn. This has now been removed.'
Libyan armed forces will be taught basic infantry skills as part of a two-month course starting next month at RAF Bassingbourn.
It is part of efforts to help the Libyan government disarm and integrate militias and improve stability following the toppling of despot Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
US-Libyan relations have been strained since President Ronald Reagan ordered air strikes, code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon, in 1986.
In 2011 America led military intervention in Libya and, with British naval forces, fired more than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles during the civil war.
The death of personal responsibility
In case you have not noticed, our society's collective sense of personal responsibility is in the toilet. Everywhere one turns, one finds ample evidence of a blend of insolent arrogance, audacious irresponsibility, delusional martyrdom, and mindless entitlement which read more like a pathetic fiction novel than the brutal reality of an increasingly devolving societal integrity. One need only look at a few lawsuits over the past year to smell what is rotten in the state of personal responsibility.
The most recent, and perhaps the most blatant, example of this absurdity involves the woman who is suing the families of the teens she injured and killed while speeding. Accusing the two teens she injured and the one she killed of being incompetent cyclists who did not apply their brakes properly, the woman conveniently ignored the fact that, according police reports and the dead teen's family lawyer, she may have been speeding, intoxicated, and talking on her cell phone at the time of the accident. This driver suing the families for $ 1.35 million in damages due to psychological suffering including depression, anxiety, irritability, and post-traumatic stress. The injured and dead teens' families speak of feeling doubly abused by a woman whose clueless sense of personal responsibility is only dwarfed by her utter lack of compassion.
In another absurd case, a father sued his son's high school for $ 40 million for kicking the son off the track team due to excessive absences. Claiming that the action will cost his son heavily in lost scholarships, the delusional father seems to have forgotten that showing up for personal commitments is a minimal level of personal responsibility. Rather than use the experience to teach his son about commitment and consequences, the father has merely used the incident to further twist his son's already scarce personal responsibility into a level of arrogance and gall which is off the charts. We should add selfishness to the mix since attorneys agree that such frivolous lawsuits only serve to undermine already scarce school resources, thereby undermining and hurting school programs enjoyed by students who actually show up.
We can also consider the case of a homeless ex-con and freeloader suing his parents for being indifferent, cold, and uncaring enough to not endanger their financial state to finance his delusional path to success, or the grad student suing her school for a low grade and lost career opportunities despite evidence of unprofessional conduct while enjoying free tuition for both college and grad school because her father is a professor . Just in case you have not had enough, consider the case of the knife-wielding robber who sued the store owner who shot him three times as the robber attacked him with a knife for not having safe gun use policies, or the case of the porn-addicted former attorney suing Apple for, among other things, causing his porn addiction via too convenient porn, hurting smaller porn outlets, and creating unfair competition between his wife and the young porn actresses he regularly viewed online, destroying his marital relations. In one final example, inmates sued beer companies, claiming that they were not sufficiently warned regarding alcohol's addictive properties and that hence the companies were responsible for the inmate's various crimes.
The above horror stories would be humorous if they were not so tragic and indicative of a society so intoxicated in the brew of entitlement, selfie mentality, victimization, and pointing fingers of blame everywhere but in the mirror. This mental and behavioral malignancy is the result of a poisonous message spread by a twisted media, lax parents, clueless schools and, at the top of a veritably disastrous irresponsibility sundae, the cherry of a noxious leadership which gleefully pushes entitlement and victimization while ignoring personal responsibility and self-sufficiency.
A mere cursory sweep of the trash that the Left calls its agenda reads like the script of a blame game, wherein hypocrites dine while culprits whine, victims pine, what matters is what is mine, and excuses form a line. I wish that I could predict a resurgence of personal responsibility in the near future but, sadly, every time I am cursed at for daring to get in the path of some fool too busy talking on a cell phone to watch where he or she is going, or nearly run into by some jackass driving as if he was walking in his living room, my hopes for such a resurrection of personal responsibility dim just a bit more.
If truth be told, we have a fading sense of what class, personal integrity, professionalism, good taste and, with regard to this piece, personal responsibility, ever meant. The next time you have a nightmare where Abraham Lincoln chews gum and poses for selfies, or where John Wilkes Booth sues Ford's Theatre for making its presidential balcony so high that no self-respecting assassin can safely jump without breaking his leg, consider the possibility that your so-called personal nightmare only reflects the national nightmare we are facing today, where narcissism begins at the top, culprits point fingers, and true victims get the finger.
The more hysterical the opposition, the more reform is needed
Hysteria over government proposals is now a badge of honour for NHS workers, teachers and barristers
Nearly every day this week, I’ve read about another public sector group protesting about a government reform. I thought it might be handy, for those embarking on such campaigns, to present a cut-out-and-keep guide to their construction.
Step 1. You’re not opposed to reform itself; only this Government’s reform, which is all about “cuts” and which “might” put patients/crime victims/children [delete as applicable] at risk.
Note the importance of the conditional voice. Here’s a public health expert, writing about food policy: “We may be facing a public health emergency. The spectre of Oliver Twist is back.”
This letter is a masterpiece of the form. We aren’t facing a public health emergency, but the protester didn’t say we are, only that we “may” be, so he can’t be called a bare-faced liar. The spectre of Oliver Twist is back – but only because the writer has mentioned him. No one else is talking about Oliver Twist.
Step 2. Having raised the “spectre” of your choice with which to frighten government into submission, there remains the alarming prospect that an intelligent interviewer could ask you: “So, how would you reform your public service? I mean, your pension scheme is unaffordable, isn’t it, and paid for by people much poorer than your members. You know, people who can’t save for their own retirements, in part because they’re taxed so much in order that yours be funded at such a high level.”
Such a challenge demands misdirection as its response. Remember to glare at the interviewer – think Germaine Greer in full, unstoppable flow – because even to pose such a question is an “insult to hard-working teachers/doctors/ barristers” [delete as applicable] “many of whom barely earn the minimum wage”. Go on to use the following terms: “bankers”, “impossible workloads”, “high levels of stress”.
Ah, yes: stress. A phenomenon that apparently only ever impacts members of the public sector. Nobody else is stressed; if they were, they’d be marching down Whitehall with placards, wouldn’t they?
And while we’re at it, remember that the term “caring professions” is preferred to “public sector”. People who don’t work in a caring profession are therefore, almost by definition, uncaring, particularly if they pause in their utterly stress-free working day to wonder just what it is their GP does to earn that salary of more than a hundred grand a year.
With a bit of luck, both the interviewer and the viewer will be so impressed by your rage, they’ll forget the truth: that the only reform your organisation has ever supported is that it should receive ever larger amounts of other people’s money.
I’m being sarcastic, of course, which is never attractive. But not the least deleterious impact of the endless shroud-waving public sector campaigns is exactly this erosion of trust.
Reform of the public sector is, along with fixing the economy and protecting our borders, one of the fundamental requirements of government. It is to the Coalition’s credit that, even with the cards stacked against it, it pushed ahead with reforms to GP contracts, exam rules, legal aid and the police.
The teaching unions hate Michael Gove. The BMA hates Jeremy Hunt. The Police Federation… well. Well, we all know what the Police Federation does when it’s upset that Britain’s government is Tory-led.
I suspect there’s a law of politics that goes something like this: the more hysterical the opposition to policy, the more the reform is needed.
Here’s a Friday tweet from the BMA: “The NHS should always be the preferred provider of patient care.” On the same day, the Royal College of GPs reacted to a reform intended to tidy up their ferociously complex payment system thus: “700,000 patients are at risk of being left without a family doctor.” (See Step 2 – “at risk” means “won’t happen”.) The reform might have “disastrous consequences”.
Really? The last time I looked, there was plenty of evidence that the NHS presides over hospitals that too often kill people. There is surely also consensus that our health outcomes aren’t good enough.
But guess which reform the president of the Royal College of GPs does favour? You’ll be astonished to learn that “the Government” – he means us – should ensure that “general practice gets the investment it needs”. He means we should give him more money.
In the PR world of the “caring professions’ ” trade unions/Royal Colleges [delete as applicable], government reforms “might” harm people. In the real world, the union-defended unreformed structures kill them.
Glare righteously at us as much as you like, Royal College of Whatever, but reform of your practice is long overdue. The Government will see you now, doctor/teacher/ policeman/barrister. [Delete as applicable.]
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 POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.