Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Britain: Where the "caring" of a "caring" Leftist government is most needed, it seems nowhere to be found

"Entering the care system is catastrophic for a child’s future prospects". And the morons think more money will fix it. How is more money going to improve the foster-carers? Shocking thought: Could some of the Christian families who have been knocked back as carers because they refused to preach "gay pride" or the wonders of Islam actually make better carers than some of the present lot?

The care system is “catastrophic” for the prospects of an abused or neglected child and must be overhauled, MPs say today. The quality of residential and foster care is governed by luck to an unacceptable degree, says the crossparty Children, Schools and Families Select Committee. The MPs accuse the Government of failing in its duty as a corporate parent by not raising standards of care across the country despite a series of reforms.

The MPs call for a new national framework of fees and allowances for foster parents, who look after about two thirds of the 60,000 children in the care system, in order to attract and retain better families.

Foster parents currently face a postcode lottery in allowances, with some getting as little as £70 a week to pay for all a child’s needs and no fees, even though many give up their jobs. Foster parents should be paid all year round, and not just when they have a child living in their home, the MPs say.

Ministers should change the law and demand that the health service and criminal justice system in particular give children in care special consideration, in the same way they get preferential treatment in choice of schools.

The highly critical report also condemns local authorities for encouraging children to leave their foster homes when they are 16. That is often the point when vulnerable young people go off the rails, left alone in a bedsit or flat and given little support with managing their finances or looking after themselves.

The Government has recently said that no child should leave care before the age of 18, but the MPs said local authorities were dragging their heels because of the costs, and that in any case 21 should become the normal age to leave care.

The report echoes concerns voiced by Andrew Flanagan, new chief executive of the NSPCC, who told The Times this month that he feared children were being left in danger at home with their parents because the care system was such a poor alternative.

The outcomes for children in foster and residential care are very poor. Three quarters of those leaving care have no qualifications and within two years half become unemployed and one in six homeless. Half of those in jail aged 25 or under have been in care, as have a third of the whole prison population.

The committee is concerned that the care system’s poor reputation may contribute to reluctance to take children into care when necessary.

The MPs also urge ministers not to neglect residential care as an alternative to foster care, pointing out that care homes are used far more widely elsewhere in the European Union and to good effect.

The report criticises the low level of qualifications of staff in care homes and says they should all be trained to NVQ Level 3 without delay. In other parts of the EU, professionals in care homes are usually graduates.

The Government has implemented several programmes of reform of the care system since coming to power, but critics say they do not amount to the step change required.

Experts say that, with the thresholds for taking children into care now higher than ever, their problems are often far greater when they are removed from home and many require expert help. Local authorities say that they spend about £40,000 a year on each child in care, but much of that is spent on social workers monitoring the placement, not on the staff or foster parent doing the caring.

The care system has come into sharper focus since the death of Baby P pushed the issue of child protection to the top of the political agenda.

Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield and chairman of the committee, said that care must become a positive experience for the child.

“It is imperative that the Government, through its Care Matters reform programme, tackles the perception that entering the care system is catastrophic for a child’s future prospects,” he said. “It must be seen as a positive experience, but this will only happen if the state can better replicate the warm, secure care of good parents for every child in the system.”


Campus Leftists Don't Believe in Free Speech

Conservative speakers now have bodyguards when they visit universities


I arrived in Austin, Texas, one evening recently to give a speech about academic freedom at the university there. Entering the hall where I was to give my speech, I was greeted -- if that's the word -- by a raucous protest organized by a professor and self-styled Bolshevik, Dana Cloud. Forty protesters hoisted placards high in the air and robotically chanted "Down With Horowitz," "Racist Go Home," and "No More Witch-hunts."

Fortunately, a spokesperson for the administration was present to threaten the disrupters with arrest if they continued on this course. (The threat was administered very carefully, with three formal warnings before any action could be taken.) This quieted the crowd enough that I could begin my talk, which proceeded without further serious incident.

Even so, there were occasional heckles and demonstrative cheers from the group when I mentioned the name of Sami Al-Arian ( whose organization, Palestine Islamic Jihad, is responsible for the deaths of more than 100 innocent victims in the Middle East), Black Panther Huey Newton (convicted of killing an Oakland police officer in 1967, although he was eventually released on a technicality), or when I uttered the word "communist" -- even though I did so to remind the audience that communists killed 120 million people in the last century trying to implement Marx's ideas.

Among the organizations participating in these outbursts were the International Socialist Organization, whose goal is the establishment of a "dictatorship of the proletariat" in the United States; Iranians for Peace and Justice, supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas; and Campus Progress, the unofficial college arm of the Democratic Party.

One of the local members of Campus Progress had written a column in the campus newspaper attacking me in advance of my talk, and defending Sami Al-Arian as a victim of political persecution. The conservative students who invited me to the University of Texas told me that organizations such as the Muslim Students Association routinely join with College Democrats in protests against the state of Israel.

At the end of the evening, Prof. Cloud stepped up to the microphone to ask a question, which was actually a little speech. Even though the protocol for such occasions restricts audience participants from making their own speeches, I did her the courtesy she tried to deny me by letting her talk.

She presented herself as a devoted teacher and mother who was obviously harmless. Then she accused me of being a McCarthyite menace. Disregarding the facts I had laid out in my talk -- that I have publicly defended the right of University of Colorado's radical professor Ward Churchill to hold reprehensible views and not be fired for them, and that I supported the leftist dean of the law school at UC Irvine when his appointment was withdrawn for political reasons -- she accused me of whipping up a "witch-hunting hysteria" that made her and her faculty comrades feel threatened.

When Ms. Cloud finished, I pointed out that organizing mobs to scream epithets at invited speakers fit the category of "McCarthyite" a lot more snugly than my support for a pluralism of views in university classrooms. I gestured toward the armed officers in the room -- the university had assigned six or seven to keep the peace -- and introduced my own bodyguard, who regularly accompanies other conservative speakers when they visit universities. In the past, I felt uncomfortable about taking protection to a college campus until a series of physical attacks at universities persuaded me that such precautions were necessary. (When I spoke at the University of Texas two years ago, Ms. Cloud and her disciples had to be removed by the police in order for the talk to proceed.)

I don't know of a single leftist speaker among the thousands who visit campuses every term who has been obstructed or attacked by conservative students, who are too decent and too tolerant to do that. The entire evening in Texas reminded me of the late Orianna Fallaci's observation that what we are facing in the post-9/11 world is not a "clash of civilizations," but a clash of civilization versus barbarism.


Reverse Discrimination Case Could Transform Hiring Procedures Nationwide

Inside a burning building, fire doesn't discriminate between Matthew Marcarelli and Gary Tinney. Inside the New Haven Fire Department, however, skin color has put them on opposite sides of a lawsuit that could transform hiring procedures nationwide.

This week, the Supreme Court will consider the reverse discrimination claim of Marcarelli and a group of white firefighters. They all passed a promotion exam, but the city threw out the test because no blacks would have been promoted, saying the exam had a "disparate impact" on minorities likely to violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Besides affecting how race can be considered in filling government and perhaps even private jobs, the dispute also addresses broader questions about racial progress: Do minorities and women still need legal protection from discrimination, or do the monumental civil rights laws that created a more equal nation now cause more harm than good?

Also, beneath the specific details of the firefighters' lawsuit lies an uncomfortable truth: On most standardized tests, regardless of the subject, blacks score lower than whites. Reconciling that reality with efforts to ensure "justice for all" remains a work in progress — one that will be molded by the Supreme Court.

New Haven's population is 44 percent white, 36 percent black and 24 percent Hispanic (who can be any race). At the time of the 2003 test, 53 percent of the city's firefighters, 63 percent of lieutenants and 86 percent of captains were white. Blacks were 30 percent of the firefighters, 22 percent of lieutenants and 4 percent of captains.

The promotion exams were closely focused on firefighting methods, knowledge and skills. The first part had 200 multiple-choice questions and counted for 60 percent of the final score. Candidates returned another day to take an oral exam in which they described responses to various scenarios, which counted for 40 percent.

Tinney, a black lieutenant who has been a firefighter for 14 years, was seeking a promotion to captain when he took the exam. He says both the test and his fire department have hidden biases against minorities: The department is historically white, with the first blacks joining in 1957, and jobs, relationships, knowledge and choice assignments are passed on from friend to friend and generation to generation. "I just call it 'the network,"' Tinney says.

The white firefighters' attorney, Karen Torre, said they would not be interviewed for this story. In a conversation on Fox News' "Hannity" program, Marcarelli said it was "gut wrenching" to learn that he was No. 1 on the test but would not get promoted. "It's something that shakes what you believe in. Because you believe if you work hard, you're rewarded for that, and that's not necessarily the case," Marcarelli said.

Torre said whites have no special advantage in promotions because of laws requiring use of a race-blind, score-based system. She added that many blacks have relatives on the force, including high-ranking officers.

One hundred and eighteen people took the tests; 56 passed. Nineteen of the top scorers were eligible for promotion to 15 open lieutenant and captain positions. Based on the test results, the city said that no minorities would have been eligible for lieutenant, and two Hispanics would have been eligible for captain. (The lawsuit was filed by 20 white plaintiffs, including one man who is both white and Hispanic.)

The exams were designed by a professional testing firm that followed federal guidelines for mitigating disparate racial outcomes, the plaintiffs say.

But after the results came back, the city says it found evidence that the tests were potentially flawed. Sources of bias included that the written section measured memorization rather than actual skills needed for the jobs; giving too much weight to the written section; and lack of testing for leadership in emergency conditions, according to a brief filed by officers of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

"I'm sure there are numerous reasons why (blacks didn't do as well), and not because we're not as intelligent," Tinney says. "There's a lot of underlying issues to that ... these folks are saying, 'We studied the hardest, we passed the test, we should be promoted.' But they're not talking about all the other things."

Torre argues that discarding a test because no minorities would have been promoted violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination because of race. [The constitutional protections in this case are crystal clear but SCOTUS has nonetheless airily sailed right around them in the past] Call it a legal riddle only the Supreme Court could solve: The white firefighters say Title VII prohibits discrimination against them for being white; New Haven says Title VII prohibits it from using a test that has a disparate impact against blacks.

"All were afforded the same notice, the same study period, the same exam syllabi, etc.," said Torre, who would only answer questions by e-mail. "The rest was up to the individual."

There are long-standing divisions over the concept of hardworking, qualified whites being "victimized" by laws or practices designed to help minorities overcome America's history of racism. What's different today is that the landscape has shifted in many ways, big and small. The biggest is the election of President Obama, and the support he received from millions of white voters.

"It is not white racism that plays the deciding role in the success of minorities any more," says Edward Blum, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who believes that race should not be considered in employment decisions. "That was the case in the '60s and '70s and maybe even part of the '80s," he says. "But it is no longer the case in the 21st century that because you are black you are being held back from achieving what your parents and your ambitions will allow you to achieve. I think that has been crystallized with the election of President Obama."

Obama's election has been a boon to the movement that developed years ago seeking to reshape civil rights laws designed to remedy discrimination. Besides the firefighters' lawsuit, the Supreme Court will soon hear a case seeking to overturn a Voting Rights Act requirement that all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination must get approval from the Justice Department before changing election procedures. And in 2007, the court struck down voluntary integration plans in two public school districts. Even though it may result in less opportunities for qualified minorities, "the use of race does greater harm to our social fabric by being there than by being eliminated," Blum says.

Another major shift has been in the balance of the Supreme Court. Conservatives gained a 5-4 majority during the Bush administration, although Justice Anthony Kennedy is seen as a potential swing vote. In Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion in the 2007 school ruling, one line rang loudest: "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

That statement was seen as a harbinger of future rulings that would end the use of race in employment, voting and awarding government contracts. It also rebutted a famous statement by Justice Harry Blackmun in the landmark Bakke affirmative action case: "In order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently."

Mary Frances Berry, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania and head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during the Clinton administration, said the firefighters' case has broad implications. "This is about whether we are going to see a sea change in how the judiciary looks at the need for these (protections), and how the popular culture and electoral politics influence their perceptions," Berry said.

The Obama administration has said such laws are needed and it is committed to enforcing them. The Justice Department's brief in the firefighters case supports New Haven's position that the city acted properly in throwing out the tests. But in what many call a political maneuver designed to avoid taking sides, the Justice Department stopped short of saying the firefighters' case should be dismissed, instead recommending that it be remanded to a lower court to determine if city's decision was a pretext for intentional discrimination.

Polls show varying levels of support for affirmative action programs. In an AP-Yahoo poll conducted in December 2007 through January 2008, one-quarter of respondents favored affirmative action programs and 37 percent opposed them. Another 36 percent neither favored nor opposed them. A September 2007 Pew poll, which did not give people the option to say they had no opinion, found that 46 percent of people said they favored affirmative action programs that give special preferences to qualified blacks in hiring and education, while 40 percent opposed such programs.

Last November, Colorado voters became the first in the nation to reject a ban on state affirmative action programs. Similar measures have been approved in Nebraska, California, Michigan and Washington.

Supreme Court observers predict the firefighters' lawsuit will be decided by a 5-4 margin, with Justice Kennedy casting the deciding vote. His past decisions give hope to both sides. In the recent Voting Rights Act decision that made it harder for some minority candidates to win election when voting districts are redrawn, Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that "racial discrimination and racially polarized voting are not ancient history. Much remains to be done to ensure that citizens of all races have equal opportunity to share and participate in our democratic processes and traditions."

"It would be an irony, however," Kennedy continued, if civil rights laws were used to "entrench racial differences."


Australia opts out of racist conference

AUSTRALIA has cancelled plans to attend an anti-racism conference in Geneva over concerns the UN-backed forum will degenerate into a launchpad for anti-Semitic attacks. The decision to boycott the Durban Review Conference was taken after Australia, in conjunction with the US, Israel and other countries, was unsuccessful in pushing for changes to the wording of a draft document upholding anti-Semitic remarks in the 2001 Durban Declaration.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith yesterday said that while Australia remained strongly committed to fighting racism, the federal Government could not support the document reaffirming the original declaration. Canada, the US, Israel and Italy have for similar reasons already pulled out of Durban II, which begins today.

The Netherlands broke ranks with the European Union last night to join the boycott. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said The Netherlands would not attend because it feared the event would be abused ``for political ends and attacks on the West''. Germany is also considering a boycott, after intense lobbying by Mr Smith and Mr Verhagen.

Pro-Palestinian Labor backbencher Julia Irwin broke ranks to slam the boycott.

Canberra's 11th hour decision follows a US State Department announcement on the weekend that changes in the meeting's final document did not address concerns of anti-Israel and anti-Western bias. The 2001 Durban conference ended acrimoniously, with Israel and the US storming out in protest over Arab attempts to adopt a resolution equating Zionism with racism.

Mr Smith said he feared the Geneva conference was heading the same way. "The 2001 declaration singled out Israel and the Middle East," he said. "Australia expressed strong views about this at the time. The Australian Government continues to have these concerns. "Regrettably, we cannot be confident that the review conference will not be used as a platform to air offensive views, including anti-Semitic views. Of additional concern are the suggestions of some delegations in the Durban process to limit the universal right to free speech."

Mr Smith's argument was strongly rejected by Ms Irwin. "It's a shame Australia will be one of a handful of nations boycotting the Durban conference," Ms Irwin said. "Any nation which has policies which discriminate on the grounds of race or religion should not be above criticism and should not be supported by the Australian Government."

Australia's Jewish community warmly welcomed yesterday's decision. Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said the Durban II conference would not advance the fight to combat racism but would again single out Israel for condemnation. Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said Durban II's draft declaration was always going to be problematic. "With Libya chairing the preparatory committee assisted by Cuba as rapporteur and Iran as one of several vice-chairs, the proposed outcome document has mixed the fight against racism with a variety of morally deplorable political agendas," Dr Rubenstein said.

Palestinian groups expressed anger and disappointment at the decision, which they said showed Australia was not serious about ending racism. Australians for Palestine founding member Moammar Mashni said the Rudd Government had bowed to pressure from pro-Israel lobbies.

While Britain says it will be attending, [Another indication of the antisemitism that infests Britain's Leftist intelligentsia] the participation of countries such as Iran and Cuba, which have reputations as serial human rights violators, is likely to ensure the summit turns into an anti-Israel and anti-US slanging match.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


No comments: