Saturday, March 31, 2012

Secret courts, the cover-up of a Mafia-style shooting, and a worryingly unaccountable police force

Official secrecy is pervasive in Britain  -- approaching that of a Fascist state:

At around 7.30pm on Tuesday, March 20, a Russian banker was gunned down outside his flat near Canary Wharf in London. German Gorbuntsov remains gravely ill in hospital having been shot three times in the stomach and once in the face.

Attempted assassinations of multi-millionaire Russian oligarchs are, thank goodness, unknown occurrences on British streets. And yet for reasons best known to themselves, officers at Scotland Yard did not immediately inform the media what had happened.

The day after the shooting they put out a bland and disgracefully misleading press release stating that there had been a routine shooting near Canary Wharf. So low-key was this statement that the British media ignored the incident altogether, which one suspects was what Scotland Yard had intended.

Indeed, the police mentioned that Trident Gang Crime Command was investigating the attempted murder, inviting newspapers to conclude that this was just another home- grown crime.

It was only on Friday, three days after the shooting, that the truth finally emerged. The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that Mr Gorbuntsov had been the victim of an attempted murder in London, and the British media were at last appraised of what had happened.

Over the past few days many details have been filled in. Mr Gorbuntsov was preparing to claim political asylum in Britain. Before amassing his fortune he was jailed for robbery. He was reportedly a witness to a 2009 murder attempt in Moscow on a billionaire banker called Alexander Antonov.  Oh, and he has a mistress in London and a wife in Russia.

Isn’t it amazing that we should learn about this incident from a newspaper in a country with a long and continuing record of muzzling truth? We would almost certainly still be in the dark were it not for Kommersant. Though we pride ourselves on living in a free country, we are obliged to rely on the media of a gangster state to learn what is happening on our own streets.

But this is not because our media are sleepy. It is because the Metropolitan Police apparently tried to suppress an important story. So long as Mr Gorbuntsov did not die, and his would-be assassin was never apprehended and brought to justice, they would have had no obligation to come clean.

Why didn’t Scotland Yard want us to know? I can think of two possible reasons. The first is that MI5 and/or the Foreign Office wanted it hushed up. If they suspected that the Russian authorities were somehow behind it, they might have their own reasons for keeping schtum for the moment.

More likely, perhaps, the Metropolitan Police did not want the world to know that only a few miles from the Olympic Stadium, and four months before the Games begin, a Russian hoodlum has been spraying around gunfire. It somewhat gives the lie to the notion that London is a safe city.

Whatever the explanation, a cover-up is outrageous. Mr Gorbuntsov’s neighbours were kept in the dark, and therefore incapable of estimating the danger they were in. And the wider public were not told that a Russian mafia-style attempted killing had taken place on British soil.

Moreover, it was not until last Saturday — after our media had taken up the Kommersant story — that Scotland Yard confirmed the victim’s name and on Sunday and Monday put out two press releases setting out in fuller detail what had happened, and appealing for witnesses. In other words, the proper administration of justice had been delayed for several days. If it were not for the Russian newspaper, it might have been delayed indefinitely.

The new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, should make a statement explaining why his officers appear to have concealed from the media an extremely serious incident about which it was undoubtedly in the public’s interest to know.

If we hear nothing from him, we can only assume that Scotland Yard is less convinced than it used to be that it has to account for its actions — and that Mr Hogan-Howe thinks it acceptable to brush the attempted assassination of a Russian oligarch under the carpet.

I believe that what has happened in this case owes a great deal to the changed relations between the police and the media as a result of the Leveson Inquiry. A number of statements by senior officers including Mr Hogan-Howe himself, as well as a preposterous review by former parliamentary commissioner for standards Elizabeth Filkin, have insisted that police officers should be extremely wary of ever talking to the media.

Of course, no one doubts that a few years ago senior journalists at News International got far too intimate with some senior police officers, and there may have been criminal collusion. If so, prosecutions must follow.

But in one fell swoop we have gone to the opposite extreme, so that police officers are now terrified of talking confidentially even to journalists whom they used to trust. Crime correspondents have testified to the Leveson Inquiry that their police sources have all but dried up.

A year ago, before the current state of affairs, well-placed police officers would have informed their contacts in the Press if a serious crime was being covered up, as the attempted murder of German Gorbuntsov was. Nor, in those days of greater openness, is it likely that Scotland Yard would have issued the kind of statement it did last Wednesday, which misled the media.

There is another case in which the Metropolitan Police appear to be pushing their luck, and taking refuge in the new more secretive world in which they like to operate. The inquest into the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting by police in Tottenham was the spark that ignited last summer’s riots, may be partly held behind closed doors.

This follows an application from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which says it has findings which should not be disclosed even to the coroner, but there is no doubt the Metropolitan Police would agree. Secret justice is seldom justice.

A killing sets off the worst riots in modern times, and it is seriously suggested by the authorities that people should be kept in the dark. It is a matter of overwhelming public interest that the truth should be ascertained so that the lessons can be learnt.

We don’t want a police force that hides its blunders and conceals important crimes. It is certainly not in the interests of justice, but nor is it in the interests of the police themselves to lose trust as a result of concealment, as Mr Hogan-Howe should have the gumption to realise.

Covering up the attempted murder of a Russian oligarch on a London street is undesirable from every point of view. And the worst of it is that it inevitably engenders the suspicion that there are other cover-ups, other important stories being withheld from the media.

In this case we are indebted to a Russian newspaper, which has sources not controlled by Scotland Yard. But how much more illuminating information is being kept from us of which we are wholly ignorant?

That is the deadly, unanswered question. The less journalists talk to police officers in the know, the more likely it is that we will have a secretive, unaccountable police force.


Racist British Social workers "snatched me from the white parents I loved to make me live with a black family": How the colour-obsessed foster care system sentenced Dawn to a life of regret

Dawn Cousins was taken from her foster parents in Oxfordshire when she was seven years old. They had fostered her from birth, and wanted to adopt her, but social services told them not to pursue their application because they were white and Dawn would be better off with a black family. Here she tells how this decision affected her...

Her earliest childhood memories are as cherished as they are vivid.  There were Saturday mornings digging potatoes in the allotment with her father, and the smell of sausages wafting from the barbecue during family holidays in Cornwall.

Lazy summer afternoons were spent playing in the garden with her three older siblings; family dinners were boisterous affairs; and birthday  parties were celebrated with homemade cake.  Dawn Cousins grew up feeling loved and secure, and that her future was full of hope. At least she did until she was seven.

At that point, her idyllic life was snatched away when a social worker took her away from her  picturesque Oxfordshire home.  Dawn was informed that despite the fact her  parents Gina and Pete had fostered her from birth, they were unsuitable for raising her.

She spent the next six months in a children’s home before being adopted by a couple who lived 50 miles away. She had to adapt to her different family, start a new school, and make new friends.

So what was the reason behind social services’ drastic decision? Dawn’s parents were not abusing her nor were they embroiled in a life of crime. They were doing nothing to jeopardise their little girl’s well-being.

They were a decent, middle-class couple who desperately wanted to adopt Dawn, and had attempted to do so.  However, social services told them not to pursue their application because they were white. Since Dawn was mixed race she would be  better off with a black family, they said.

Until recently, local authorities made it incredibly difficult for white couples to adopt a mixed-race child.

And although Education Secretary Michael Gove issued new guidelines last year relaxing the rules on inter-racial adoption, it is still more difficult for cases to be approved than same-race ones — resulting in growing  numbers of children left in care.

Recent figures show that only 3,050 children were adopted from the 65,000 in care in 2010 — many of whom could have found happy homes with parents of a different race.

Much has been made of the devastating effect such antiquated rulings have had on prospective parents.  But what of the impact they have had on children — especially when they carry both black and white genes?  In Dawn’s case it led to years of confusion and squandered opportunities.  As an adolescent, she went off the rails, had a breakdown and was put back into care.

It is only now, at 38, that she feels able to reflect on a system she believes badly let her down.

Dawn’s British biological mother, Linda, gave her up for adoption when she was born in June 1973, after Linda’s Jamaican immigrant husband, Owen, walked out on her.  Dawn’s foster parents Pete — now 70 and a retired civil servant — and Gina, 69, had two daughters and a son of their own but were overjoyed that they were able to look after Dawn, too.  She says: ‘They were generous  people who wanted to help others less fortunate.

‘Mum and Dad, as I called them, treated me the same as their other children. I was their first foster child — and from the start they made me feel welcome.’ A bright girl, Dawn excelled at school. She claims her skin colour was never questioned by anyone, not even herself.

‘I never asked my parents why my skin was darker, and my hair curly and black,’ she says. ‘I would have loved my sister’s long blonde hair but it didn’t occur to me to ask why mine was so different.

She says she only discovered Gina and Pete weren’t her real parents when the official from Slough social services called on the family one afternoon in July 1980.

Dawn was told then that she could no longer live with the people she loved. Her belongings were packed in a bag and she was driven away while Gina looked on in tears.  ‘I howled as I looked at Mum out of the car window,’ Dawn says. ‘I remember clutching my cuddly  dolphin for comfort, feeling frightened and confused.’

On her arrival at Bramerton  Children’s Home in Maidenhead, Berkshire, the social worker told Dawn that because she was mixed-race, it was better for her to be looked after by a black family.

‘She showed me pictures of my  biological parents in my file, explaining that my mother had been white and my father from Jamaica. Apparently they’d got back together after I was born and had another baby.  ‘I was shocked. I’d never heard the word mixed-race before nor contemplated the fact that my real parents weren’t Gina and Pete. I was hurt. All I wanted was to be home with the adults I knew as my mum and dad.’

Dawn’s memories are grim of the children’s home, which closed down in 1988. She caught head lice and her diet was so poor that she lost a lot of weight.  ‘I cried myself to sleep most nights,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t understand why Gina and Pete hadn’t visited or phoned me.’  Only later did she find out that Gina had arrived at the home with a cake she’d made for Dawn’s eighth birthday — but was turned away.  She and Pete were told they had to sever all contact with the little girl.

It was revealed last year that  children from ethnic-minority backgrounds wait three times longer on average than white children to be placed with families.

However, in Dawn’s case she was told less than a year after being moved to the home that a black  couple in the London Borough of Harrow wanted to adopt her.   They were Berna and Glen, now 69 and 79, who moved from Grenada to Britain as teenagers.  Berna was a nurse, Glen a housing officer, and they had a daughter three years older than Dawn but were unable to have another child.

‘The social workers made me parade around in front of them while they stared at me,’ recalls Dawn.  ‘It wasn’t Berna and Glen’s fault – they probably felt as awkward as I did. But I felt like a commodity.  The only thing I could see we had in common was the colour of our skin.’

That visit was followed by several others until Berna and Glen were given permission to adopt Dawn, late in 1981.  ‘By then I’d got used to being in care and at my new school,’ she says. ‘As miserable as my surroundings were, I’d made friends and was reluctant to leave.’

She was subjected to even more swingeing change after she moved to Berna and Glen’s three-bedroom terrace house to begin the latest chapter in her life.  Her new mum served rice and chicken instead of the shepherd’s pie and burgers she was used to, and started greasing and plaiting Dawn’s Afro hair which had always hung loose.  There were no holidays, and the only occasional outings were to the local shopping centre.

And Dawn’s relationship with her elder sister was often tense. ‘Until I arrived, she’d had her parents’ attention all to herself.‘Race had never been an issue with my white siblings but it seemed to be an issue with her.  ‘She would comment on the fact that my skin was lighter, and my hair not pure Afro.’

Dawn’s new parents were stricter, too. She wasn’t allowed on the bus on her own, and she had to stay in her room until she’d finished her times tables.

‘Everything seemed more formal,’ she recalls. ‘Berna and Glen, who I called Mum and Dad, kept telling me how grateful I should be to have these opportunities. I loved them and they were kind but I missed Gina and Pete.’

As the years passed, Dawn became increasingly unhappy. ‘I gravitated towards a white teacher at school because she reminded me of my old mum,’ she recalls.

‘The area we lived in was multi-cultural, so school was a mixture of black, white and Asian children. At break times and in the canteen, they’d divide into groups.  ‘The black children said I should play with them but I mainly bonded with the white children because they reminded me of my childhood. I felt torn.

‘I had one mixed-race friend and I was so envious that she lived at home with her white mum. I wanted the same for myself. I felt totally confused about who I was and where I belonged.’

By the time she was 15, Dawn was so desperately unhappy that she had started skipping school and shoplifting.  ‘At home I would lock myself in my room and lash out if Berna and Glen tried to comfort me,’ Dawn admits.

‘We never talked about my time in care or being fostered.  ‘I didn’t want to confide in anyone, and felt too guilty to tell them how unsettled I felt after everything they’d done for me.’

That year, Berna and Glen separated and social workers decided Dawn should be taken back into care.  She moved into Haslem House children’s home in Harrow, and lived there for a few months until she was 16.  ‘There was nothing to rebel against when I was back in care,’ she says.

‘I realised for the first time that I was responsible for my own behaviour. Instead of self-destructing, I actually wanted to make something of my life.’

Although the high grades Dawn had been predicted to achieve in her early childhood were no longer  possible, she did manage to get five GCSEs.

Afterwards she moved into a nearby council flat on her own. This further change sparked Dawn’s desire to track down her biological parents. She says: ‘I’d often wondered what my birth mother was like, and at 16 I was old enough to find out.’

In 1990, social workers agreed to put her in contact with Linda, who is now 58.  She was still living in Slough and had kept the two sons she’d had with Dawn’s father Owen, 64 — Paul, 41, and David, 36.

Dawn says about her first visit to Linda: ‘I was so nervous that I  vomited on the way there.  When I arrived, Linda seemed fragile. She’d had epilepsy and been in poor health when my father left her. She seemed more vulnerable than me.  ‘Any anger I had towards her  dissolved, and I was left feeling a mixture of relief and happiness that we’d made contact.’

Two years later, when Dawn was 18, she fell in love with a Jamaican driver and had two daughters with him — Sapphia, now 18, and  Yasmin, 16.  'Perhaps subconsciously I was  trying to recreate the mixed-race family environment I longed for'

The couple split up shortly after Yasmin’s birth, and Dawn embarked on a romance with a white electrician who became the father of her twins, Amber and Ryan, now 13.  The couple were together for six years, until 2006.

Dawn is now single, and says: ‘Perhaps subconsciously I was  trying to recreate the mixed-race family environment I longed for.’

When she was 31, Dawn decided to read her case files, which had been kept in Slough social services’ archives.  ‘I thought they’d help me find  closure and make me better able to understand my childhood,’ she explains.  For the first time she saw how social workers had considered it best to uproot Dawn and place her with a black family.  ‘Seeing it written down made me cry with anger and regret,’ she says. ‘All the happy years of childhood I could have had were wasted.’

Understanding for the first time that Gina and Pete had not wanted to give her up, Dawn decided to contact them.  Incredibly, their contact details on her files were still valid nearly 25 years later.  Dawn says: ‘They invited me for dinner and cried as they explained how distraught they had been to give me up.

‘They said they had tried to adopt me but couldn’t because I was mixed race. They were then forbidden to send cards or presents to me, and had no right to contact me. I felt relieved and sad that they had missed me as much as I had missed them.’

Dawn, who now works as a  counsellor for a charity, meets Gina and Pete several times a year — and they have become a welcome  presence in her life and her children’s lives too.

She has also built bridges with her ‘second’ mum Berna.
Dawn says: ‘I made contact when I became a mother myself. Since then we have worked on our  relationship and become friends.’

But Dawn can’t help feeling that her life would have worked out rather differently had Gina and Pete been able to adopt her in the first place.  ‘It is absurd that social services thought they were acting in my best interests,’ says Dawn.  ‘I think I would have a good case against them in court, given the stress I have suffered.

‘A white couple should be able to adopt a mixed-race child.  ‘It’s their love that counts — not the colour of their skin.’


Atheist Leader Calls Contraception a ‘Constitutional Right’ & Dubs the Bible a ‘Grim Fairy Tale’

One of the main forces behind last weekend’s atheist gathering, the Reason Rally, was the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist group headed by husband and wife duo Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker.

This organization, which describes itself as “an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church,” is familiar to Blaze readers, as we’ve regularly highlighted its legal battles and harsh rhetoric against religious symbols on public property.

During the massive secularist rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Gaylor and Barker addressed the crowd, using language that both invigorated their non-believing audience and poked fun at people of faith.

During Barker’s speech, the FFRF leader engaged in a bizarre performance of atheism-fueled songs he‘d like to see performed on children’s television shows. Gaylor, though, delved into some starker, more controversial commentary.

“God fixation won’t fix our nation, because nothing fails like prayer,” Gaylor proclaimed during her address. “And we like to tell pious politicians that it’s time to get off your knees.”

Gaylor took particular aim at the Catholic Church in both her speech and during an exclusive interview with The Blaze.

“It is disgraceful that our health care reform is being held hostage by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and our message to liberal and nominal Catholics is that it’s time to quit the Catholic Church,” she said.

Among her organization’s accomplishments, she highlighted a full-page ad in The New York Times that, much like her rhetoric, encourages Catholics to abandon their faith. She called it a “speak truth to power” moment and claims that it wasn’t meant to be offensive.

“Are we going to choose women and their rights or Bishops and their wrongs?,” Gaylor asked. “And we are choosing women and we are choosing secular government. We choose the doctrine of immaculate contraception.”

She also called contraception a “Constitutional right” and took aim at Christianity’s holiest book — the Bible.

“We work diligently to ensure religion and the Bible — that grim fairy tale — are not invoked in our secular lives,” Gaylor continued.

As we’ve already highlighted, a FAQ section on the Reason Rally web site reads, “Are we just going to use this opportunity to trash religion?”

“No,” the web site promised. “This will be a positive experience, focusing on all non-theists have achieved in the past several years (and beyond) and motivating those in attendance to become more active.”

However, both Gaylor and Barker had plenty to say that most certainly fell under the umbrella of “trashing religion.”


Australia: Catholic Church marshalls anti-gay marriage army

SIX Catholic bishops in Victoria will circulate 80,000 letters this weekend asking their parishioners to show the federal government their opposition to same sex marriage.

There are currently three gay marriage private member's bills before Federal Parliament, aimed at changing the legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The bishops want all Catholics to contact their MPs and respond to an online survey being conducted by the Federal Parliament Standing Committee of Social Policy and Legal Affairs.

The Bishop of Sale, Christopher Prowse, said it would be a grave mistake with implications for the future of society should the legal definition of marriage be changed.

"We have asked Catholics to seriously reflect and pray about the ramifications for current and future generations of legislation which completely redefines marriage," Bishop Prowse said.

One bishop said the push was about protecting traditional marriage, and while today's discussion was on same-sex laws, "next it might be polygamy", reported the Herald Sun.

Marriage equality supporters have described the church's campaign as "alarmist" and rejected claims gay marriage would undermine family life or damage society.

"Families and societies are only strengthened when couples are allowed to commit to each other through marriage," national convenor of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich said.

"So to hear Archbishop Hart discouraging any recognition of this commitment is extraordinary and heartless."

A private bill, amending the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples, has been introduced to federal parliament by Labor MP Stephen Jones.

Another bill is being jointly proposed by Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt and independent Andrew Wilkie.

Both bills have been referred to parliamentary committees for detailed examination.
A third bill, proposed by the Greens, will be considered in the Senate.

Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally, a devout Catholic, said people of her faith should look at a range of information sources to formulate their views.

"I've come to a position, with a fully-formed conscience, that I support gay marriage," she told ABC Television.

"I would encourage all Catholics to apply critical thinking to this issue."

Ms Keneally said the teachings of the church were not infallible although it was important people take heed of what their parish priest or bishop was saying.

"But it's equally important for them to consider how they in good conscience must act."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


Friday, March 30, 2012

The 'experts' who break up families: The terrifying story of the prospective MP branded an unfit mother by experts who'd never met her - a nightmare shared by many other British families

Dark deeds thrive amid official secrecy

A little over a year ago, Lucy Allan led what most people would regard as an eminently respectable life. The middle-class mother, a Tory councillor, was happily married to her stockbroker husband, Robin, and doted on their ten-year-old son, who loved going to school and was a passionate cricketer.

Indeed, such was Mrs Allan’s standing in the community that this accountant and former investment banker was on David Cameron’s A-list of potential MPs and a prospective Conservative candidate at the last election. She devoted her spare time to her council duties. Twice a month, she sat on the local fostering panel, which oversaw the removal of children from their parents and placed them with new families.

It was heart-rending work, as she recalls. ‘At each fostering meeting we were presented with horrifying cases of abusive parents, almost always depicted as “substance abusers”, mentally unstable or “unable to put the needs of their children over their own needs”.  ‘Often, this portrayal was supported by an expert report from a psychiatrist, psychologist or medical doctor,’ says Lucy.

‘It never occured to me, or any member of the panel, that the information we were presented with might be a distorted, twisted fiction — or that the reports were anything other than independent.’

Now, her view has changed. She suspects that many of the damning reports were written by experts who had never met the families in question, to suit the wishes of social workers under pressure from the Government to increase the number of children adopted.  As a result of this process, more and more children are being taken into state foster care.

So why has her faith in the system she once facilitated been shattered? Because, thanks to a bewildering chain of events, this eloquent, educated woman found herself under attack from social workers and fighting to stop her own son being taken into care.

Hers is a Kafkaesque story involving family experts who passed judgment on her fitness as a mother without, in some cases, even meeting her.

Lucy’s story is particularly disturbing in the light of a report released this month which found that decisions about the futures of thousands of children are being based on flawed evidence from well-paid ‘experts’, some of whom are unqualified and, time and again, never meet the families concerned.

The damning study by Professor Jane Ireland, a forensic psychologist, examined more than 127 expert witness reports used in family court cases in three areas of England. She found that 90 per cent were produced by clinicians who no longer practise, but instead earn their living entirely as ‘professional expert witnesses’ paid for by council social work departments. Sixty-five per cent of the reports were poorly or very poorly carried out.

This has led to accusations from MPs, lawyers and families that many of the experts are on a gravy train — ‘hired guns’ paid to write precisely what social workers want to read.

This month the Mail reported how just such an accusation has been levelled against one leading psychiatrist, Dr George Hibbert — who faces allegations that he deliberately misdiagnosed parents as having mental disorders, which led to them having their children taken by social services.

John Hemming, a Lib Dem MP who is calling for a national inquiry into the use of expert testimonies in family court hearings, says this dubious system has resulted in families being torn apart and hundreds of children being wrongly taken for adoption from innocent parents.

It is a scenario Lucy Allan feared could happen with her own son. Her nightmare began last March when, aged 46, and having begun to feel depressed for no apparent reason, she decided to go to see a doctor.  ‘I am close to my son, so I was worried that he knew I was feeling sad. I went to my local GP surgery expecting to be given a course of anti-depressants and then feel better,’ she recalls.

She was seen by a young female locum, who listened to what Lucy had to say, and then told her she wanted to refer her to social services to ‘see if the family needed support’.

The locum turned to Dr Peter Green, a consultant forensic physician and head of child safeguarding in Wandsworth, South London, where Lucy lives. A flamboyant figure with flowing grey hair and a penchant for bow ties, he has written thousands of reports for the family courts.

According to documents seen by the Allan family, Dr Green told the locum his view was that Lucy was ‘very self-centred’ — this despite the fact he had never set eyes on Lucy or spoken to her.

(When she later complained about the conclusions he had drawn without even having seen her, the doctor is alleged to have told her he had relied on a ‘gut feel’).

To Lucy’s horror, following Dr Green’s assessment, the locum informed social services that Lucy’s son was at significant risk of harm from his mother.

Thus it was that a woman whose job it had been to make decisions on the fostering panel about which children should be removed from their families suddenly found herself under the most intense scrutiny.  ‘Instead of reading reports on another mother’s “emotionally abused” child or her “chaotic” home life, I was reading the same accusations in reports about me and my family,’ she says.

Social services insisted they interview her son, but as the inquiry unfolded, the evidence from his teachers suggested he was happy and thriving. An independent report from a NHS psychiatrist also said Lucy was ‘no risk to anyone, including her son’.

But social services hired their own psychiatrist from the Priory Hospital in Roehampton, south-west London — at taxpayers’ expense naturally.

Without meeting Lucy or her son, and based only on information provided by social services, the private psychiatrist stated in an ‘expert’ report that there was an ‘urgent need’ for the assessment and treatment of Lucy.  The psychiatrist added that there was ‘no way’ her depression would not have a ‘significant impact on her parenting’.

As the investigation dragged on, Lucy underwent a series of interviews by social services and by experts paid by them to examine her and her family. Many of their subsequent reports, says Lucy, were inaccurate, biased and took her family’s words out of context.

For example, her son had mentioned that when he got off the school bus, he always asked Lucy how she was, but this was described in one report as: ‘Her son demonstrates inappropriate anxiety for the wellbeing of his mother on a daily basis.’

When Lucy admitted taking sleeping pills for insomnia and diazepam for anxiety, another report on her said such ‘drug abuse would make her barely conscious on a daily basis’.

Her confession of sharing a bottle of wine with husband Robin most nights was written up as ‘alcohol abuse’, and the risk of Lucy harming her son was deemed to be ‘substantiated’.

All this begs the question of how often such judgments are passed down by ‘experts’ and social workers on those less well equipped than Lucy to defend themselves.

She has spent the past year trying to clear her name, paid out £10,000 on legal fees and has had to pull herself off the A-list of David Cameron’s potential Tory candidates, quit as a school governor, and, of course, resign from the fostering panel.

‘I am now ineligible for the Criminal Record Bureau check required for working with children or young people,’ she says sadly. Her son’s social services records state that she was once considered a ‘risk’ to him, and it will remain on his file till he is 18.

Finally, at Christmas, the council’s social services said officially no action was required concerning Lucy. She is trying to rebuild her life with the help of husband Robin — who, incredibly, was never interviewed by social services — but still fears she could come under scrutiny again.

‘The system is designed to silence people,’ she says. ‘I have been prescribed anti-depressants and I am better. But at the back of my mind is the fear that if I complain too loudly about the child protection system they will be back at my door.’

No doubt she would agree with Nigel Priestley, a lawyer involved in family law, who said recently: ‘Just about the most draconian act the state can carry out is to remove a family’s child. What is at stake is the loss of their children, and on the basis of a report which might, or might not be, questionable.’

Those who write these reports — often psychologists or psychiatrists, but also medical doctors and consultants — do not face the glare of public scrutiny precisely because of the secrecy of the family court system. Lucy can describe her ordeal only because her case never got as far as those closed courts — no parent who appears at one of these hearings, which operate in every town and city in the land, is allowed to speak to anyone later about what has happened there, even to their own MP.

Every year, 200 mothers or fathers are jailed for ‘contempt of court’ for breaking this silence — while the same family courts request the removal of 225 children each week, 97 per cent of whom are never returned to their families.

Now, there are demands for an American-style ‘class’ legal action against the Government by parents who have had dubious or even bogus reports written about them. Paul Grant, a legal adviser at Bernard Chill & Axtell Solicitors in Southampton, says devastated parents have contacted him after his firm took on the case of a mother, known only as Miss A, who claims she was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder by psychiatrist Dr George Hibbert because social workers wanted her baby adopted.

The Mail has been contacted by scores of parents who believe they have been mistreated on the word of these ‘experts’. We have been told by lawyers about clinicians charging £1,800 a day to appear at family courts, on top of the thousands of pounds a time they receive for writing the reports, which often contain lies, ambiguities and insinuations.

One mother said she had her children taken away because an ‘expert’ said she ‘liked shopping’; another was criticised as mentally unfit for ‘burning the toast’, and lost her child, too.

In another case, an expert was paid handsomely to write a report based on the observations of a social worker who said a five-year-old girl was ‘monosyllabic’.  Yet we are told a secret tape recording of the social worker’s interview showed the child chatting away about school, her family and her home. The little girl has since been removed from her mother.

We have also been told about a gregarious 47-year-old business adviser in the north of England who had to fight to keep her five-year-old daughter after being labelled a ‘totally isolated schizoid’ by a psychologist, who we understand is trained only to treat children, and should never have been involved in the analysis of adult behaviour.

The psychologist in question (who writes up to 100 expert reports a year) charged £6,000 for his written opinion on the mother, her husband and child. Yet the mother says she was given no chance to deny the ‘schizoid’ report — and kept her girl by the skin of her teeth only after the child’s nanny vouched for her parenting skills.

In another extraordinary case, after a woman was found by a psychologist to be a ‘competent mother’, the social workers are said to have insisted on commissioning a second expert’s report. It agreed with the first.  They then commissioned a third, which finally found that the mother had a ‘borderline personality disorder’. All three of her children were taken away for adoption.

So how have such apparent travesties been allowed to go on virtually unchecked in child protection?

No other country in Western Europe removes so many children from their parents. The numbers taken into care — the first step towards adoption — have doubled in a decade to more than 10,000 a year.  The last Labour government set adoption targets and rewarded local councils with hundreds of thousands of pounds if they reached them.

The targets have been scrapped after protests from MPs and lawyers, but the dangerous legacy persists. Social workers now get praise and promotion if they raise adoption numbers. David Cameron is also demanding more adoptions — and that they are fast-tracked.

It is the 1989 Children Act — which introduced a blanket secrecy in the family courts — that is the real culprit. It encouraged a lack of public scrutiny in the child protection system and what MP John Hemming calls the ‘twaddle and psychobabble’ peddled there, which has caused dreadful miscarriages of justice.

Ian Joseph, who has written a book on forced adoption, told me this week: ‘It’s time the criminal rules of justice applied in the family courts. We need parents to be considered innocent until proven guilty and also be free to talk about what is happening in those courts without being thrown into jail.’

Until that happens, hundreds more children may be seized from their families on the word of experts — many of whom are either not qualified or are receiving huge sums of money to play God.


The NYT as a mouthpiece for Muslim terrorism

Shares in The New York Times Company have slid from $US25 to $US6.89 (S6.60) during the past four years. The company has stopped making money. Its flagship newspaper has also stopped making sense when confronted with realities that do not accord with its ingrained world view.

On March 20, after Europe was rocked by a string of murders in France, The New York Times ran a prominent story which inferred the killings were a byproduct of anti-immigrant sentiment: "The political debate around the shootings, and whether the deaths were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant talk, is likely to continue - both as a weapon in the presidential campaign and as a more general soul-searching about the nature of France . . . In a period of economic anxiety, high unemployment and concerns about the war in Afghanistan and radical Islam, the far right in Europe has made considerable gains."

For the Times, the greatest threat to social cohesion in France is the far right, not the demographic challenge presented by an increasingly disaffected, de-assimilating, rapidly growing minority of 5 million Muslims.

Even after it was revealed that the killer was a Muslim who supported al-Qaeda, progressives went into overdrive to dissociate the violence from Islam. The most egregious example appeared on the ABC website, by Tariq Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford. He set new lows in rationalising bigotry:

"Twenty-three-year-old Mohamed Merah was a familiar face within and beyond his neighbourhood. People describe him as quiet, easy-going, nothing at all like an 'extremist jihadi Salafist' ready to kill for a religious or political cause . . .

"Religion was not Mohammed Merah's problem; nor is politics. A French citizen frustrated at being unable to find his place, to give his life dignity and meaning in his own country, he would find two political causes through which he could articulate his distress: Afghanistan and Palestine. He attacks symbols like the army, and kills Jews, Christians and Muslims without distinction. His political thought is that of a young man adrift, imbued neither with the values of Islam, or driven by racism and anti-Semitism."

What a load of reprehensible drivel.

Mohammed Merah did not kill without distinction. He was highly specific. He wanted to kill Muslim soldiers in the French army. He wanted to kill Jews. His killings were premeditated. He filmed the murders as he did them, a tactic frequently used and advocated by al-Qaeda. He had a history of crime and a collection of weapons. He told police he had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to train as a jihad fighter. He had been on a watch list of Muslim extremists, one reason the police found him quite quickly. When they approached he opened fire.

His film of the shootings was mailed to the al-Jazeera TV network for dissemination. The footage depicted all seven murders, taken with a camera slung from the gunman's neck. The film had been dubbed with verses from the Koran invoking jihad and the greatness of Islam.

Merah's mother is married to the father of Sabri Essid, a member of an underground network that recruited fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. He was convicted on terrorism charges in France in 2009. Merah's brother, Abdelkader, was also investigated but not charged. He has now been charged with complicity in the seven murders by his brother.

The more we learn about this story, the more sinister it becomes.

During Merah's time in prison he studied the Koran. The French prison system has become a fertile recruitment ground for radical Islam. Merah had also formed a connection with Forsane Alizza, Arabic for "knights of honour", which had 2000 followers on Facebook before it was banned in January by the French Interior Ministry for inciting racial hatred.

Forsane Alizza is one of several linked groups in Europe, notably Shariah4UK and Sharia4Belgium, with others in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Scandinavia. According to the Pew Research Centre in the US, about 100 million Muslims express support for al-Qaeda and thousands are in Europe.

In contrast, support for race war among the far right in Europe is minuscule. The killing rampage by a far-right gunman in Norway last year revealed no connections to a wider movement.

The primary objective of Forsane Alizza, according to its website, is to "support the mujahideen everywhere". The group disavows democracy. It agitates for sharia in Europe. Its principal targets are the French military, especially Muslims in the military, and Jews. These are exactly the targets Mohammed Merah selected. But Professor Ramadan portrayed him as a frustrated, adrift, distressed, non-racist, non-political, non-religious Frenchman. A murderer of children becomes a victim.

Speaking of rationalisations for bigotry, tonight a debate will be held at the University of Sydney featuring a speaker from Hizb ut-Tahrir. The group is banned in many countries for advocating jihad.


Playing the Race Card Again

    Jonah Goldberg

"White Hispanic." That's how the New York Times, Reuters and other media outlets have opted to describe George Zimmerman, a man who would simply be Hispanic if he hadn't shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The term, rarely if ever used before this tragedy, is necessary in telling the Martin story in a more comfortable way.

What's the comfortable way? It's the way the blame for Martin's death belongs squarely at the feet of "the system." And "the system" is a white thing, don't you know.

For instance, in a remarkably uncritical interview with the Los Angeles Times, the Rev. Jesse Jackson explained that with the election of President Obama, "there was this feeling that we were kind of beyond racism." He continued: "That's not true. His victory has triggered tremendous backlash." Indeed, "Blacks are under attack."

Jackson apparently includes in this racist Obama "backlash" record home foreclosures for African Americans and black unemployment. It would have been nice if the L.A. Times had asked Jackson to work a little harder to connect those dots.

Jackson also laments that "targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business" in America.

On the saner end of the liberal spectrum, Reniqua Allen of the New America Foundation writes in the Washington Post that it's harder to talk about race now that we have a black president (note: not a "white African American president," a la the new Zimmerman standard, although both men have a white parent).

Allen is surely right that having a black president makes it hard to talk about race, particularly if you want to have the hackneyed monologue that hustlers such as Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton want to have. Weak-tea Marxist rants about a system that parasitically feeds off black men sound absurdly antiquated when that system is run, at the top, by black men (Eric Holder, let's not forget, runs the Justice Department).

But the aging race industry that continues to see the world through a half-century-old prism of Jim Crow, and still wants you to see it that way, too, is determined to bum-rush Zimmerman into his assigned role, heedless of facts or the lack of them.

Meanwhile, Obama, who promised a new conversation on race, seems happier in an election year to lend heft to the old one. He called for soul-searching -- but absent a full set of facts, why does this homicide of all U.S. homicides require it? Obama's comments mostly seem aimed at adding credence to liberal conventional wisdom.

Zimmerman may well deserve to go to jail. Or this may just be a confluence of horrible mistakes with no criminal intent whatsoever. That's what a Justice Department probe and a Florida grand jury will determine. But for the forces demanding action, that isn't good enough. Jackson, as is his wont, threatens there will be "no peace" until Zimmerman is arrested.

Others are not so patient. The New Black Panther Party has put a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman's head. "He should be fearful for his life," leader Mikhail Muhammad said. "You can't keep killing black children." Spike Lee joined the digital lynch mob and tweeted Zimmerman's home address.

Yes, absolutely, there are pockets of racism in America. But among the myriad problems with a "blame the system" narrative is that it obscures and often silences far greater problems than white-on-black racist violence.

Martin's tragic death is a statistical outlier. More whites are killed by blacks than blacks killed by whites (or "white Hispanics"). And far, far more blacks are killed by other blacks. Indeed, if we're going to use the prism of race to analyze murder rates, then the real epidemic is that of black murderers. Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute notes that recent data show black males age 14 to 24 commit homicides at a rate nearly 10 times higher than that of young white and Latino males combined. Surely that's worthy of some soul-searching, too.

And yet, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow says "the burden of black boys in America" is fear of racist assaults. MSNBC has handed over vast swaths of airtime to its in-house huckster, Sharpton.

No doubt, white -- and "white Hispanic" -- prejudice is a problem for young black men, but the notion that it is the singular or chief "burden of black boys in America" is nonsense. Alas, the very people begging for an honest conversation on race will likely accuse you of racism for saying so.

SOURCE.  More on the Zimmerman affair on GUN WATCH

Talking out of their vaginas

Eve Ensler wrote a play called the Vagina Monologues and, following this, helped begin the V-Day Movement to end violence against women and girls. She came to Australia last month to deliver the annual Australian Human Rights Centre lecture in Sydney.

The ABC interviewed Ensler on its news analysis program, Lateline (Ensler, We don't own our bodies: Ensler, 2012). The ABC describes this program as ".a provocative, challenging and intelligent window on today's world." They continue to say, "Lateline engages the foremost experts or commentators. to bring you penetrating insights from a range of perspectives (ABC, 2012)."

The foremost expert or commentator who interviewed Ensler was Emma Alberici, who has some twenty years experience in journalism.

This, dear reader, is what passes for "an intelligent window" in Australia today.

Alberici begins the interview with a general question about her play. Ensler opens up with how "everyone" was scandalised with the word "vagina" in the 1990s. She claims that "you could say `Scud Missile' on the front pages." but, apparently "if you said vagina the whole world went crazy. "

The next part is worth quoting verbatim:

"And I think part of the reason of doing the play was that so many women I had interviewed had not only, not said the word vagina, they never saw their vaginas, they didn't know what they looked like, they didn't know how their vaginas functioned, they didn't know what gave them pleasure. They didn't even know their vaginas were their own."

In the 1970s I attended college in Scotland. In my class, a Computer Science course, the gender mix was 50/50. Every single woman on that course knew the word vagina, and a whole lot of other words for the vagina. Twenty years later, when Ensler wrote her play, and the word vagina has mysteriously vanished from the western woman's vocabulary?

I'm glad that Ensler points out that they had never seen their vaginas. I immediately became aware that I have never seen my own anus.

The real question, of course, is: so f*cking what?

To what level should a woman understand how her vagina functions? For example, should she be able to discuss in detail what part Bartholin's glands play?

And why? Does Ensler know how her thyroid glands work? Does she understand how wax gets in the outer ear? As long as she knows which end to stick over the toilet, where to put the tampon, etc. does it really matter?

Ensler's final statement, that women ".didn't even know their vaginas were their own," is feminism at its finest. Alberici doesn't ask "Who did they think their vaginas belonged to?" Or, "Were they just renting them?" Or "If I kicked them in the vagina, who did they think would feel it?"

Ensler tries to paint herself as the radical who is not afraid to break taboos. And to do this she will use any word she chooses, no matter how upset the establishment gets. The fact is that when the play was written and first performed in the nineties, the word "vagina" was seen as a proper and polite term to describe female genitalia. You could have "The Vagina Monologues" on a bill board and in neon lights. It may have been titillating, perhaps, even risqu‚, but certainly short of scandalous in Western society in the nineties.

Ensler informs us that in China the play was banned because the Chinese only had vulgar and derogatory words for vagina.

Speaking of scandalous and vulgar words, the Vagina Monologues uses the word "cunt" 30 times. Now that word, all by itself, ensures an "Adults Only" rating in Australia. You can say it in a play with that rating, but you won't be having "The Cunt Monologues" in neon on Main Street.

But Alberici doesn't ask if it was the translation of "vagina" or "cunt" that caused the Chinese such problems.

In fact, the Shanghai Drama Centre was told by the Chinese authorities who banned the play that ".it does not fit with China's national situation (USA Today, 2004)." Did Alberici ask Ensler if she was surprised that a Western play written by a "Human Rights Activist" was banned in China in 2004? No, she just lets Ensler give us the sacred babble.

There are two serious aspects about her play that Alberici should have raised with Ensler, particularly given the "Human Rights Activist" tag.

The first is a section of the play which deals with the seduction of a girl by woman, which involves the woman giving the child alcohol as part of the seduction. In one version of the script I found the girl is sixteen (Ensler, Vagina Monolgues Script - The Dialogue, 1996). However, there have been reports of other versions of the script where the child was aged as young as thirteen (Swope, 2006).

In January this year a 29 year old female teacher was found guilty of the crime of having sex with a sixteen year old female student in Melbourne, Australia (Lowe, 2012). Also, note that the legal age for drinking alcohol in Australia is eighteen.  In other words, Ensler's play is describing an act that is illegal in Australia, as well as immoral anywhere.

Ensler's monologue describes the seduction from the point of view of the child. It concludes:

"You know, I realized later, she was my surprising, unexpected, politically incorrect salvation. She transformed my sorry-ass coochie snorcher [vagina] and raised it up into a kind of heaven."

In other words, this manipulation into a sexual act was good for the child.

This blas‚ attitude is also seen in another monologue in the play, where Ensler's heroine dominates women during sex. The dialogue explains:

"Sometimes I used force, but not violent, oppressing force, no.  More like dominating, `I'm gonna take you someplace, why don't you lay back, enjoy the ride' kind of force."

So clearly, according to Ensler, domination and child sex abuse are alright when done in a feminist context. When men rape its rape, when women rape it's "salvation," so "lie back and enjoy the ride".

Alberici does not ask one thing about this. How's that for "a range of perspectives"? That's the "let's ignore it completely" perspective.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Some justice at last in Britain:  Father who killed burglar with meat cleaver to end 'harrowing and brutal' attack was 'justified', coroner rules

Why was he arrested in the first place?  The British police HATE self-defence

A terrified father who killed a burglar by hitting him in the head with a meat cleaver was justified in his actions, a coroner ruled yesterday.

Xiaopeng Wang had been bludgeoned with a wheel brace and his wife punched in the face as she cradled their two-year-old daughter after Steven Shaw and his brother Craig raided their home on a notorious estate in the middle of the night.

A court heard the brothers subjected taxi driver Mr Wang and his family to a ‘harrowing and brutal attack’ lasting 15 minutes.

The violence stopped only when Mr Wang, now 33, found a meat cleaver and hit Steven Shaw with it, causing a ‘sharp force trauma’ to his head. The burglar, 32, was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

Police initially launched a murder inquiry and arrested four people, including Mr and Mrs Wang, now 32, and the victim’s brother. But no charges were ever brought against the couple after it was accepted Mr Wang had acted in self-defence.

Police established the brothers had been targeting another person they thought lived at the address. When they realised they had the wrong victim, they decided to demand money from the Wangs anyway.

Craig Shaw, 21, later admitted aggravated burglary and was jailed for eight-and-a-half years in December. Sentencing him at Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Michael Stokes said Mr Wang had been ‘fully entitled’ to pick up the cleaver to defend his family.

The incident happened after Mr Wang was marched into the sitting room of his home on Nottingham’s Bestwood Estate to get cash for the burglars. He hit Shaw with the cleaver a number of times as the burglar attacked his wife and daughter.

Recording a verdict of lawful killing at an inquest in Nottingham on Monday, coroner Mairin Casey said: ‘The defensive action taken by Mr Wang was proportionate and justified. ‘This was a harrowing and brutal experience for them, and I understand they are still traumatised.’

The inquest heard Steven Shaw punched Mrs Wang in the face and pulled her hair to force her to watch as her husband was assaulted. He was left with blood streaming into his eyes from a head wound.

Toxicology reports found traces of cocaine and alcohol in Shaw’s bloodstream.

Miss Casey said: ‘Mr Wang and his family were subjected to extreme violence and trauma. In the course of the action, Mr Wang assaulted Steven Shaw, causing catastrophic injuries which led to his death.’

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: ‘When deciding whether to prosecute any offence, the CPS will consider the Code for Crown Prosecutors and any relevant guidance. The CPS has published guidelines concerning the reasonable use of force in cases where householders choose to defend themselves or their property.

‘In this case, these guidelines were applied and the CPS accepted that the householder had acted in self-defence, and that the correct course of action was to proceed with charges of aggravated burglary against the intruder and to take no further action against the householder.’

Residents in the street where the attack took place said police moved the Wangs to a secret location after the incident, telling their former neighbours: ‘You won’t be seeing them again.’

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said yesterday the family remained ‘very traumatised’ and had since moved out of the region to make a fresh start.


Cantuar grows some balls

Society is in danger of becoming fragmented by a preoccupation with homosexual rights, feminism and separate racial identities, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.  Dr Rowan Williams claimed that identity had become a ‘slippery’ word and that, while much had been achieved for minority groups, it was time to focus on the common good.

In a speech to teenagers in Cardiff, the Archbishop, 61, warned of a ‘pendulum swinging back’.

In a separate address to members of the Welsh Assembly in the city, he also attacked a culture of dependence on welfare handouts, which he said was harmful to society and ‘not good news’.

Dr Williams, who is stepping down as leader of the Anglican communion later this year, has always supported gay rights and has also promoted the cause of women bishops during his tenure.

Since announcing his resignation earlier this month, at a time of continuing rancour inside the Church over both those topics, the Archbishop has made a series of outspoken interventions.

He signalled last week that he plans to use his final months in office to speak out forcefully on issues about which he feels passionate.

In his speech to the teenagers, he said: ‘Identity politics, whether it is the politics of feminism, whether it is the politics of ethnic minorities or the politics of sexual minorities, has been a very important part of the last ten or 20 years because before that I think there was a sense that diversity was not really welcome.

‘And so minorities of various kinds and … women began to say, “Actually we need to say who we are in our terms, not yours” and that led to identity politics of a very strong kind and legislation that followed it.

'We are now, I think, beginning to see the pendulum swinging back and saying identity politics is all very well but we have to have some way of putting it all back together again and discovering what is good for all of us and share something of who we are with each other so as to discover more about who we are.’

He added: ‘Identity isn’t just something sealed off and finished with … it’s always work in progress.  ‘Once we start saying, “This is my identity and that’s it” then I think we are in danger of really fragmenting the society we belong to.’

Canon Giles Goddard, chairman of Anglican group Inclusive Church, which campaigns for female and homosexual bishops, said talk of pendulums swinging back was premature.

He said: ‘We have got a long way to go yet. We have to achieve full equality which is the removal of barriers to full participation of what I call accidents of birth. We haven’t removed these in society and we certainly haven’t removed them in the Church yet.’

In his speech to the Assembly, Dr Williams also spoke of ‘spiralling’ differences between rich and poor but warned of the dangers of dependence on the state.

He said: ‘There is a problem about dependency, there is a problem about assuming somebody else resolves the problems and there is certainly a problem about centralised state provision as the solution to everything.

‘And those who have recently from both left and right pointed out that welfarism is not good news for those who want a mutually responsible active, creative community have not been wrong.’


Middle class children 'are held back by childcare' as they suffer 'significant declines' in their development

The proper place for little children is in a loving home

Middle class children are adversely affected by time spent in childcare, a study claims.

They suffer ‘significant declines’ in their development, health and standards of behaviour, researchers found.

The poorest youngsters benefit from being in nurseries or with childminders, and wealthy parents can afford the highest quality childcare.

But youngsters in the middle – the ‘lion’s share’ of the population – fall behind in developmental tests, suffer more ill health and behave more aggressively.

The study, being presented today at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference,  suggests that childcare leads to a substantial drop-off in parents’ involvement in their children’s upbringing.

The damaging effects are most marked for boys and for youngsters aged from birth to two, prompting the researchers to suggest that childcare may not ‘be suited for children aged zero to two’.

Academics from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, studied a highly subsidised childcare scheme in Quebec. Families who took part in the scheme were compared with similar families elsewhere in  Canada, with 10,000 youngsters a year being studied.

Children were assigned a series of scores for their development and behaviour, based on the results of assessments and questionnaires.

Childcare was found to significantly improve development for disadvantaged children.  But the ‘lion’s share of the population experienced significant declines in motor-social development and health measures as well as increased behavioural problems’, the study found.

It added: ‘The reported benefits for children with least advantage, the grounds on which universal childcare is often justified, stands opposite to negative outcomes for the bulk of children.’


Australia: Truth falls victim to the sparkling stone

"Finkelstein" is German/Yiddish for sparkling stone or gemstone.  Judge Finkelstein seems to think he's one.  Britain has a similar inquiry into the press that is still ongoing -- under Lord Justice Leveson.  One hopes its recommendations will be less Fascistic

TELL the truth. Speak truth to power. These phrases are so familiar that we rarely stop to understand them. But in a coming age of censorship heralded by political phenomena such as hate speech legislation and the Finkelstein inquiry, humanity's relationship with truth is at breaking point.

Universities are partly to blame for events such as the Finkelstein inquiry. There is a veritable canon stretching from Russell Jacoby's The Last Intellectuals to Paul Berman's The Flight of the Intellectuals, which documents the fate of academics from the Left and Right who dared to tell unpalatable truths. Many were exiled or resigned their university posts on pain of ostracism.

Australian academics' latent refusal to have their intellectual activity monitored by the new sector regulator, the Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency, breathed life into the idea of intellectual freedom. But it doesn't appear to have vivified the liberty of the press.

The Finkelstein recommendations may do to the media in the 21st century what was done to higher education in the 20th.

Finkelstein, with his panel of lawyers and academics, proposes meta-regulation of the press under the lunatic pretext that gagging freedom of speech will expand democracy. They commend a progressive silencing of the press as beneficial to the public interest because "often readers are not in a position to make an appropriately informed judgment about the news". I beg your pardon?

Almost 100 pages later, we are told why we readers are apparently so witless: "Because of information asymmetry, readers are seldom in a position to judge the quality of news stories."

Information asymmetry sounds very much like the obfuscating language introduced into the higher education humanities by postmodernists in the 1980s and 1990s.

It was inevitably accompanied by the claim that there was no such thing as objective truth, the acceptance of which was supposedly prerequisite to social justice. Fret not, fellow witless reader; I never understood it either.

In fact, the culture of contemporary censorship makes little sense until you read the finest analysis of political phenomena such as the Finkelstein inquiry by philosopher John Ralston Saul: "The idea of governments invoking the public interest, as a justification for taking unjust or illegal action, has been with us since the French satirist Mathurin Regnier coined the phrase in 1609. Now raison d'etat is being turned into a blanket principle: the technocrat knows best."

On the 20th anniversary of Voltaire's Bastards, Ralston Saul has never looked more prescient. The technocrats became cultivated in their craft at leading universities that, by the 1970s, had come to resemble management schools.

What technocrats don't understand is the nature of truth; how to search for it, how to prove or disprove it and what to do with it. Their lack of knowledge about truth proves a significant impediment to the formation of public policy based on principle, rather than partisan political ideology.

The Finkelstein review's great undoing is that is has not established truth. It is deeply methodologically flawed, with statements of fact that lack supporting evidence, a line of causative argument without established cause and effect, and recommendations, however persuasively put, that consequently lack credibility.

A major claim of the report is that the Australian media is failing the public interest. There are five examples of malicious media action provided late in the report and reference to the News of the World phone hacking scandal as the origin of the inquiry. But the core evidence provided for the apparent failure of the media and subsequent recommendation for meta-regulation of the free press is a series of opinion surveys.

As Plato, Socrates and Galileo would tell us, opinion, however popular, is not truth. Nor is perception proof. The statement "I don't trust the media", which appears in the surveys, tells us nothing about the state of the media. It tells us simply that someone doesn't trust it. Public mistrust may very well be the result of a newspaper fulfilling its duty to tell the truth. Imagine a 17th-century newspaper running a series of articles on Galileo's discovery that the world was round. The Finkelstein inquiry proposes that the news media should be regulated for perceived bias and balance. So what would Galileo's reporters do -- report that the world was round-ish?

The pursuit of truth, once the common ground of journalists and academics, was sustained as an intellectual tradition by classical liberal arts universities that taught formal logic as a method of deducing fact. Formal logic was devised by Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, championed by the Enlightenment freethinkers and revived by 20th- and 21st-century philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, Hannah Arendt and A.C. Grayling. The willingness to seek truth, the ability to deduce it and the courage to publish it are what make a citizen truly free. The philosophical and legal recognition of citizen freedoms, tempered by John Stuart Mill's principle of not causing harm to another, is what makes a state democratic. Regulating the free press in the manner recommended by the Finkelstein inquiry violates these principles.

Jacob Mchangama, a lecturer in international human rights at the University of Copenhagen, wrote that "respect for freedom of expression is the hallmark of free societies and the first right to be circumscribed by illiberal states". Eleanor Roosevelt, that great democrat who drafted the UN Declaration of Human Rights, might have agreed with him. Roosevelt warned humanity about the suppression of freedom under the guise of protecting citizens against hostile speech. She was concerned in particular with Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has been used successfully to lobby for anti-vilification laws in Australia and other Western countries.

In combination with hate speech laws, the proposed media meta-regulation recommended by the Finkelstein inquiry transforms the future of 21st-century journalism. In the new media landscape, journalists will be allowed to create their sentences from a pre-approved vocabulary, draw their own inferences from a sanctioned pool of populism and publish their own conclusions within the parameters of state ideology. It's freedom y'all. Wake up and smell the doublespeak.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another blow to marriage in Britain?

Australia has had no-fault divorce for many years and it seems to work well.  There are many amicable split-ups, which is surely the most desirable outcome

Senior judges yesterday renewed calls for no-fault divorces, as they attacked current laws as vastly outdated.  At present, couples can be legally parted within six months if one party is shown to be at fault.  The most common grounds are unreasonable behaviour, which can include committing adultery or devoting too much time to one’s career.

Leading family court judge Sir Nicholas Wall said: ‘I am a strong believer in marriage. But I see no good arguments against no-fault divorce.’  He added that divorce was in reality an ‘administrative’ process, rather than a legal one.

Another senior judicial figure, Lord Justice Thorpe, indicated his support for no-fault divorce in an Appeal Court ruling, arguing that the current laws ‘represent the social values of a bygone age’.

The twin assault comes at a time of deep controversy over the legal and political status of marriage.

David Cameron’s plans to allow marriage for same-sex couples were published this month, in the face of deep opposition from church figures.

A law removing the need for fault in divorces was passed by John Major’s Conservative government in 1996. It was backed by judges, lawyers, academics and charities – but opponents said it would encourage couples to break up.

Trials showed the Family Law Act 1996 to be unworkable, and Tony Blair’s government scrapped the plan to introduce no-fault divorces. Legal figures, however, have continued to lobby for them.

Sir Nicholas Wall, who as president of the High Court’s Family Division is the country’s most senior divorce court judge, said in a speech to family lawyers that he was a member of the Whitehall advisory group that backed the 1996 change.

‘At the moment, it seems to me we have a system – so far as divorce itself is concerned – which is in fact administrative, but which masquerades as judicial,’ he said.

‘No doubt this has its roots in history. In the 19th century, and for much of the 20th, divorce was a matter of social status. It mattered whether you were divorced or not, and if you were, it was important to demonstrate that you were the innocent party. All that, I think, has gone. Defended divorces are now effectively unheard of.’

In the case of Susan Rae, who believed minor disagreements had been wrongly interpreted as ‘unreasonable behaviour’, he said: ‘I feel the sadness of the wife’s position and her complete inability to accept what has happened to her.

‘Our laws of divorce have not been reformed since their introduction in 1969.’ He said the no-fault proposals would have meant that divorce petitions would no longer have to be justified through hurtful hearings designed to establish fault.

‘Had they been implemented, there would have been no need for these painful investigations, which now seem to represent the social values of a bygone age,’ he added.

Politicians and family experts yesterday warned against removing fault from divorce. Tory MP Julian Brazier said: ‘We already have no-fault divorce in all but name. The real issue is whether we need to reintroduce fault for the determination of child custody and division of resources.

‘If one partner abandons the other, that should be taken into account ..... When it comes to dividing possessions, it is extraordinary that no account is taken of adultery or other fault.’

Jill Kirby, who writes about family life, said: ‘The less the courts consider fault in divorce, the greater the sense of injustice felt by the spouse who thinks he or she was not to blame.’


Wife regrets destroying her marriage

This is the case referred to above

A woman whose husband of 20 years divorced her for unreasonable behaviour has hit out at the courts for allowing marriages to break up on ‘trivial’ grounds.

Susan Rae, 50, told an appeal hearing that her husband should never have been allowed to divorce her simply because she threw his packed lunches away and took a fuse out of the washing machine.

Alan Rae, 56, an assistant dean at the University of Northampton, was granted a decree nisi last year.

But Mrs Rae said the behaviour cited was ‘normal squabbling between a husband and wife’ and not proper grounds for a separation.

She broke down in tears yesterday, as she said the courts had ‘elevated’ examples of their ‘everyday family difficulties’ to the level of unreasonable behaviour.

She explained: ‘I didn’t want him to do the washing, and I didn’t want intensively farmed meat in the house. ‘I asked that of him and he ignored me for the whole 20 years. But these were our only two disagreements.’

She went on to say that her husband had only become so affected by these ‘everyday’ problems after he began suffering from depression, and that she had been accused  of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ so the divorce could be rubber-stamped.

‘My reactions to my husband were always....  what any right-thinking person would consider reasonable,’ she said.

Lord Justice Thorpe admitted that he was sympathetic to Mrs Rae’s plight, but said it was clear that her marriage could not be saved.


Sarkozy bans imams from entering France in fundamentalist crackdown after Toulouse shootings

France is to ban radical Muslim preachers from entering the country as part of a crackdown after shootings by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman in Toulouse, President Nicolas Sarkozy said today.

The President said he would block the entry of some imams invited to an Islamic conference next month, organised by the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF).

The UOIF, one of three Muslim federations in France, is regarded as close to Egypt's Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.        

'I have clearly indicated that there certain people who have been invited to this congress who are not welcome on French soil,' Mr Sarkozy told France Info radio.       

The crackdown follows the murder of seven people in Toulouse by Islamic extremist Mohammed Merah, 23.

The gunman shot down a Rabbi, three children and three soldiers in three separate attacks before being shot dead at the end of 32-hour police siege.

Following the shootings last week, Mr Sarkozy has announced plans to punish those viewing websites advocating Islamic extremism and going abroad for indoctrination or terrorist training.

One imam banned by the President is Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric based in Qatar who is one of the most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics in the Arab world and a household name in the Middle East due to regular appearances on the Al Jazeera news channel.    

A former member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi is independent of the group but remains close to it. Mr Sarkozy said the situation was complicated because the imam holds a diplomatic passport and does not require a visa to enter France.

'I indicated to the Emir of Qatar himself that this person was not welcome on the territory of the French republic,' Mr Sarkozy said. 'He will not come.'

Qaradawi was denied a visa to visit Britain in 2008 on grounds of seeking to 'justify acts of terrorist violence or disburse views that could foster inter-community violence', a Home Office spokeswoman said at the time.     

The cleric had defended Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel and attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.      

The killing spree by Merah has pushed security to the top of the political agenda.           

Mr Sarkozy, campaigning for re-election, has rebutted criticism by opposition politicians that the security services blundered in allowing the 23-year-old, a petty criminal known to have visited Afghanistan twice, to shoot dead seven people in a ten-day rampage in southwest France.           

'Here is a young criminal who suddenly becomes a very active terrorist without any transition. As far as we know there was no cell,' Mr Sarkozy said.    

The legislation will have to wait until after a two-round April-May presidential election because the Socialist opposition has resisted an emergency session of parliament to approve them.


The more often you attend church services the happier you'll become, says survey

If you want to cheer yourself up, you could do a lot worse than attend church services, according to the findings of a recent poll.  A Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that people who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report experiencing more positive emotions and fewer negative ones in general than do those who attend less often or not at all.

Frequent churchgoers experience an average of 3.36 positive emotions per day compared with an average of 3.08 among those who never attend.  In other words, regular churchgoers seem to do better than non-churchgoers or occasional churchgoers in terms of their daily positive wellbeing experiences.

The U.S survey based its findings on more than 300,000 interviews.

The positive emotions include smiling and laughter, enjoyment, happiness, and learning or doing something interesting.  Negative emotions include worry, sadness, stress, and anger.

Not only do Americans who attend a church, synagogue, or mosque frequently report having higher wellbeing in general, but they also get an extra boost to their emotional state on Sundays - while the rest of the nation sees a decline in their mood.
Heavens above: Going to church can have a positive effect on your emotions, according to new research

The average number of positive emotions frequent churchgoers report experiencing rises to a high of 3.49 for the week on Sundays, whereas for those who attend church monthly or less often, the average number peaks on Saturdays and declines to a range of 3.14 to 3.29 on Sundays.  A similar pattern is evident for negative emotions.

Although reports of negative emotions decline on Saturdays for all the population in general, frequent churchgoers still report experiencing still fewer negative emotions on Sundays, while negativity increased on that day for those who attend church seldom or never.

Meanwhile, Sunday is the only day of the week when the moods of frequent churchgoers and those who do not attend a religious service often diverge in direction significantly.
Gallup church poll - days of the week


Australia:  Clear evidence that the abandonment of double jeopardy can lead to gross abuses

We now see one reason why the double jeopady principle was entrenched British law for centuries.  It's persecution the way the man below is being treated. When do the retrials stop?  This could go on forever.  At the very least only two trials should be permitted.  I gather that the double jeopardy rule has been abandoned in Britain too

Five years ago, Philip Leung was found rocking from side to side at the foot of his stairs, cradling his blood-stained partner, Mario Guzzetti. A short time later, Mr Guzzetti was dead, having suffered head injuries.

Last week, Mr Leung, 51, broke down in the same stairwell after learning he would stand trial over his former lover's killing - for the third time.

At his original trial in 2009, Mr Leung was acquitted of murder after a judge directed the jury to find him not guilty.

The Crown, however, used NSW's controversial double jeopardy laws, introduced in 2006, to have the verdict quashed.

Mr Leung then faced court on a manslaughter charge last April, but became the first person in Australian legal history to be acquitted twice by a judge's directed verdict. As he left court that day, he said he was "finally free" to move on.

He was wrong.  Last Tuesday, the unprecedented case took another twist: the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal upheld a second appeal by the Crown and ordered that Mr Leung again be tried for manslaughter.

According to uncontested facts referred to in the judgment by the appeal court, Mr Leung and his partner had been together since 2001, but a month before his death, Mr Guzzetti, 72, had told a friend he wanted to end the relationship because Mr Leung was becoming aggressive and frightening him. On the morning of April 7, Easter Eve in 2007, a neighbour heard two voices arguing at the couple's shared home in Alexandria, followed by a loud bang that resembled "a shelf falling, and pots and lids falling to the ground". She also later heard Mr Leung crying, "like roaring or having a tantrum". Almost an hour after the initial bang, Mr Leung called an ambulance, stating: "I had a fight with my friend and my friend dead."

When the first witnesses arrived at the scene, they found Mr Leung sitting at the bottom of the staircase. Holding Mr Guzzetti, he said to an acquaintance: "I want my Mario … Mario, wake up."

He told another friend: "We had an argument … I was making carrot juice and he [Mario] kept at me." Mr Guzzetti had stopped breathing before paramedics arrived and in an interview at Redfern Police Station that same day, Mr Leung could not recall the vital moments before his death. "We have breakfast, Mario argue with me. He criticise me a lot … and then my head starts spinning."

Mr Leung was charged with murder. At his trial in May 2009, the Crown alleged the couple argued while Mr Leung was making a carrot juice, resulting in him striking his lover with a bloodstained juicer that was found on the floor beside Mr Guzzetti's body, and also by applying additional pressure to his neck. However, crucial medical and scientific evidence proved inconclusive, with both a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist concluding Mr Guzzetti's blunt force head injuries were consistent with both a physical attack using the juice extractor - and a fall.

Equally, it was advised that bruising around the neck could have been the result of either force, or amateurish attempts at resuscitation. Consequently, Justice Stephen Rothman delivered a directed not-guilty verdict, ruling the Crown had failed to properly establish how Mr Guzzetti had died. In April last year, Justice Michael Adams reached the same conclusion, directing a second jury to find Mr Leung not guilty.

But on two occasions now, the Crown has utilised double jeopardy laws that permit appeals in homicide cases settled by a judge's directed verdict. In its latest appeal, the Crown pointed to the fact that prior to the second trial, Dr Paul Botterill, who had conducted the original autopsy, inspected the premises and staircase area where the death occurred. After that visit, he concluded the likelihood of the injuries being caused by falling from the top of the stairs - which change direction and feature a quarter landing - was at most a "theoretical possibility".

Mr Leung's lawyers, meanwhile, argued that with two Supreme Court judges having twice dismissed the case, a third retrial would "undermine community confidence in the criminal justice system". It was also pointed out that Mr Leung had "clearly suffered" following four months of imprisonment, strict bail conditions, as well as five years of continuing stress and uncertainty that had arisen from the Crown appeals.

In his judgment on Tuesday, the NSW Chief Justice, Tom Bathurst, said based on all available evidence, and particularly the fact that both men were alone in the house, it was "by no means certain" that a jury verdict of guilty would be set aside as "unreasonable".

He overturned the acquittal, adding it was now a matter for the prosecution to determine whether to proceed for a third time against Mr Leung.

Mr Leung is on bail for manslaughter and a trial date is yet to be set. When that day arrive, he will become the first person in Australian legal history to be tried three times over the same killing.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCHAUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site  here.