Thursday, January 22, 2009

The nonsense never stops in Britain

Now music teachers are ordered to wear earmuffs by health and safety watchdog. There must be a heckova lot of stone-deaf music teachers around according to this

School music teachers have been warned to wear earmuffs or stand behind noise screens to protect their hearing. This is because beginners tend to blast away much louder than professionals. The most potentially deafening instrument is the cornet, with just one honk being enough to cause permanent ear damage. And standing in the direct fire of instruments such as the flute, oboe and saxophone can become risky after just 15 minutes.

Standing next to a school band is even more dangerous, the Health and Safety Executive warns. 'Sound levels produced by groups of student instrumentalists are likely to be higher than those produced by a professional group of players because of less-developed technical abilities and natural exuberance,' the organisation said. 'Damaging sound levels have been measured at the conductor's position in school bands.'

The warning has been posted on the HSE website. It sets the lower safe daily limit for exposure to a prolonged noise at 80 decibels. This level takes account of the actual volume of sound and how long it continues. Noise exposure is not the same as sound level, which is the noise measured at a particular moment. After just 15 minutes of a saxophone lesson, teachers can reach their safe daily exposure limit.

Conducting a brass, woodwind and percussion orchestra can be done safely for just 19 minutes. For a one-off sound, the lower safe limit is 135 decibels and 140 decibels must not be breached.

When officials visited a school, they found that noise in a cornet lesson hit 140 decibels. In comparison, a pneumatic drill makes a 100-decibel sound and 140 decibels equates to a plane taking off. A school that allows staff to be exposed to the cornet without protection would likely be in breach of noise regulations, the HSE warns.

'Sounds peaking above 140dB are liable to cause immediate and lasting damage rather than accumulating over time,' the HSE warns. 'It is therefore crucial that a thorough noise control strategy is in place before any exposure to loud noise might occur.' To avoid overexposure, teachers can stand behind screens, ensure they do not stand in the line of fire of an instrument or, as a last resort, wear ear protectors.

If they do use acoustic screens, they must be careful not to place them so that the sound reverberates back to the child, putting them in added danger. The advice is aimed at protecting workers. But the HSE says: 'Consider the use of hearing protection for both teachers and students to protect hearing during "loud" lessons.'


Another triumph of British bureaucracy

Fifty child-sex offenders were cleared to work with children, new probe reveals

At least 50 sex offenders who pose an 'ongoing risk' to children were cleared to work in schools, an inquiry has found. Some were approved by ministers or senior officials to continue working with children despite evidence they had committed sex offences. A small number were free to seek work in schools three years after a teacher scandal highlighted the loopholes that can allow paedophiles to gain positions of trust.

An investigation - instigated in January 2006 by then Education Secretary Ruth Kelly - this month ordered the barring of 50 offenders initially permitted to work with children. Whitehall officials declined to say whether any had committed sex offences against children since an initial reprieve from the blacklist of those banned from working with children, known as List 99.

But, in a written statement to the Commons yesterday, Children's Secretary Ed Balls said in some cases the decision to bar had been based on 'further information' from police.

During the crackdown on sex offenders working with children List 99 grew to an unprecedented 13,000 names, Mr Balls said. Numbers surged by 60 per cent in just a year mainly because laws have now been tightened so that all those added to the sex offenders register - for cautions as well as convictions - are automatically put on the list.

A review of historical cases has also swelled the list. Mr Balls said 2,560 cases of sex offenders dating to 1940 had been re-examined in a review by a panel led by Sir Roger Singleton. Fifty more individuals were placed on the list as a result of the review, 46 of them by March last year. Officials are unsure how many, if any, worked in schools and for how long. They said schools' own background checks would probably have prevented them from being employed.

Liberal Democrat schools spokes-David Laws said: 'Ministers must explain why at least 50 people now thought to pose a risk to children were originally excluded from the official list.' There were 'still far too many unanswered questions', he added.

Ministers have already admitted 33 offenders had slipped through the net and were banned after loopholes came to light in January 2006. These included 32 individuals on the sex offenders' register not referred to the Department for Children, Schools and Families by police.

The row over loopholes allowing sex offenders to work in schools threatened to engulf Miss Kelly's career. The first case to get widespread attention - that of Paul Reeve - highlighted how individuals cautioned for sex offences might still be cleared to work in schools. Reeve was placed on the sex offenders register after a caution from police in 2003 for accessing banned images of children on the internet.

Legally, in accepting a caution, guilt is admitted. But the decision was taken at ministerial level not to put the teacher on List 99. He was appointed by a school in Norwich but resigned after eight days when police raised concerns.

Mr Balls said the Government was transferring administration of List 99 cases to the new Independent Safeguarding Authority, which will hold a list to replace List 99.


Another triumph of Australian bureaucracy

Taxi sex fiends allowed back behind the wheel

TAXI drivers who sexually harass and assault passengers are being allowed back on the road and taking fares within months of being caught. The Courier-Mail can reveal drivers are escaping with little more than a slap on the wrist after groping passengers and making unwanted advances to women and children. One woman was even compelled to tell a driver she had a knife after being so frightened of his sexual small talk.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show life bans were handed out after a driver received a sexual favour as a fare from an underage girl while another was charged for allegedly raping a disabled passenger.

But tougher punishments are being demanded after seven cabbies in the past two years were still allowed behind the wheel despite multiple misdemeanours in some cases. One current driver was involved in four cases inside 12 months, including sexually assaulting two women and cajoling another to let him inside her home, before Queensland Transport suspended him for three months last year.

Transport Minister John Mickel yesterday insisted passenger safety was paramount, with all drivers convicted of an offence to be immediately banned indefinitely. However, Mr Mickel admitted to a loophole in which his department only heard about lesser complaints if taxi companies offered the information. "Assaults by taxi drivers against passengers, and particularly sexual assaults against women, are totally unacceptable," Mr Mickel said.

But Queensland Taxi Council chief executive Blair Davies said no driver caught for predatory behaviour of any kind should be allowed to drive again. "Where somebody has acted in a sexually and predatory manner in any way, there is no place for them and we would want Queensland Transport to get rid of them for good," Mr Davies said. Both Black & White and Yellow Cabs insist they tell the Government about all sexual complaints received.

But the FOI documents, which censored the taxi company identities, show companies often did not tell the Government. Black & White Cabs general manager John Tighe said only one of the cases involved the company and the driver was banned forever. "We take these offences very seriously and we act upon them and investigate them," Mr Tighe said.

The documents reveal a driver was spotted performing a lewd act outside a hotel in the Brisbane CBD in 2006. However, the taxi company did not tell Queensland Transport, with the driver not denying the claim during an interview. "What can I say?" he said.

The Government was finally told about the case a year later after the driver inappropriately touched a female passenger. He was banned for only eight weeks.


Australian newspaper's apology over anti-Semitic article 'inadequate'

On Tuesday "The Age" carried a very brief apology (under Contacts) on Page 2. I reprint it in full below:

"A column by Michael Backman, headlined "Israelis living high on US expense account" (BusinessDay 17.1.09) was published in error. The Age does not in any way endorse the views of the columnist, apologises for the distress the column caused to many readers, particularly in the Jewish community, and regrets publication of the column."

The Jewish community is considering legal action over the matter and in my view they should insist on "The Age" giving space to a comprehensive reply to the Backman article. With the Murdoch press on their tails (see article below) as well as the Jewish community, I think "The Age" would be wise to surrender quietly and soon

A former editor-in-chief of The Age has accused the paper of "journalistic failure", blasting the newspaper for printing an "inadequate" apology after it published a column espousing racist views. The apology said an article titled "Israel living high on US expense account", which caused outrage in the Jewish community, was "published in error". "The Age does not in any way endorse the views of the columnist, apologises for the distress the column caused to many readers, particularly in the Jewish community, and regrets publication of the column," the apology said.

Former editor-in-chief Michael Gawenda yesterday said the paper had missed the point, and demanded it tell its readers how it would prevent the publication of racist material in the future. "This is a journalistic failure, this is an editing failure," Mr Gawenda said. "The apology is not about offending people, the apology ought to be about the publication of something which should not be published. "Newspapers publish lots of things that they don't endorse, that's what an op-ed page does, it publishes views that the paper disagrees with."

Victoria's Jewish community has considered taking legal action over anti-Semitic comments in the article, written by London-based business contributor Michael Backman. The piece blamed the 9/11 attacks and the Bali and London bombings on the inability of the Israelis to make friends with the Palestinians, suggested the historical persecution of Jews constituted punishment for the death of Jesus and reinforced stereotypes that Jewish people were selfish and stingy.

Mr Gawenda, who served as editor-in-chief from 1997 to 2004, famously refused to publish a Michael Leunig cartoon that compared the plight of Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II to that of the Palestinians today. Before editing The Age, he worked as associate editor of the Australian Jewish News. Writing on a blog on The Australian's website yesterday, Mr Gawenda said: "What this apology seems to be aimed at doing is limit the damage to the paper from the publication of this piece." He told The Australian that questions should be asked about the journalistic culture at The Age. "What I want to know is how The Age has reached the point where racist rubbish like this gets published, and what the new editor-in-chief intends to do about changing this culture."

A source close to staff at The Age said employees were "upset and amazed" the article had gone to print.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria president John Searle said the apology was seen as a first step, but by no means the conclusion of the matter. The Age failed to return calls from The Australian yesterday.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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