Thursday, June 28, 2012

Teenage brothers in line for damages after judge ruled British social workers had caused ‘havoc’ in their lives

British social workers are very hostile to prospective adopting parents because once the child is adopted it is out of their power.  So they do their best to chase away people who want to adopt -- unbelievable though that may seem.  It has got so bad that the Prime Minister has told them off about it

Two boys who were left stuck in the state care system for more than 13 years won the right to compensation yesterday.  A High Court judge ruled that the failures of social workers had caused ‘havoc’ in the lives of the brothers and had done them irreparable harm.  One was moved between 96 foster parents and the other lived with 77 foster families – a total of 173 between them. Both suffered abuse.

Each is likely to claim damages of up to £100,000 from Lancashire County Council, whose social workers left them to float repeatedly from one foster home to another after they failed to secure the adoptions by new families that the brothers were supposed to have.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson said in his ruling that the way the boys’ lives were supervised ‘amounted in reality to permanently looked-after disruption’.

The brothers, known in court as A and S, now 16 and 14, were taken into care in 1998 when A was two and S six months old. Their parents had separated, their mother abandoned them, and their father committed suicide a month later.

Social workers tried to place them with an aunt, a single mother of six children, but the plan failed. In March 2001, more than three years after they were taken into care, the boys were given legal orders that freed them for adoption.

But social workers did not find new adoptive families. Instead, the boys were allowed to drift through the care system with no one responsible for them.

Mr Justice Jackson’s judgment at the High Court in Liverpool said: ‘The boys have had major placements, emergency placements, temporary placements, respite placements and respite for respite placements.’

The boys, the court found, were by 2008 ‘deeply distressed and disturbed and showed formidably challenging and sometimes violent behaviour’.

Their lawyer, Antonia Love of Farleys Solicitors, said: ‘This is one of the most shocking cases we have come across of children being failed by the care system.’

The judge called for a review to check whether others were similarly trapped in the care system.

Ministers want social workers to do more to get children adopted. Around 65,000 are in the care system, living in children’s homes or with foster parents, but only 3,000 were permanently adopted last year.

New rules will stop social workers using race rules to block mixed-race adoptions or to use other pretexts, for example that would-be adoptive parents smoke or are too old, to stop children winning new homes.


Racism is 'hardwired' into the human brain - and people can be prejudiced without knowing it

There have long been findings to this  effect but it is interesting to see it coming out of neurology.  Categorization is an important human survival skill

Racism is hardwired into the brain, say scientists - and it operates unconsciously.  The same circuits in the brain that allow us to see which ethnic group a person belongs to overlap with others that drive emotional decisions.

The result is that even right-thinking individuals make unconscious decisions based on a person's race.

Brain scans have proved that interactions with people of other ethnic backgrounds set off reactions that may be completely unknown to our conscious selves.

The finding may force researchers to think about racism in entirely new ways.  It's possible, the researchers say, that even right-thinking, 'egalitarian' people could harbour racist attitudes without knowing.

The chemicals involved in perceiving ethnic backgrounds overlap with those for processing emotion and making decisions, according to new research.

And the findings published in Nature Neuroscience could lead to fresh ways of thinking about unintended race-based attitudes and decisions.

Dr Elizabeth Phelps, of New York University, and colleagues reviewed previous brain scanning studies showing how social categories of race are processed, evaluated and incorporated in decision-making.

They showed a network of brain regions called the the amygdala, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex are important in the unintentional, implicit expression of racial attitudes.

The researchers said the brain areas themselves - as well as the functional connectivity among them - are critical for this processing. ‘Evidence from neuroscience has been vital in clarifying the nature of how intergroup cognition unfolds.

‘Moreover, the neuroscience of race has been useful in pointing the way toward the type of new behavioural evidence needed to answer questions of not only what happens when intergroup cognition is at stake, but whether and how change is possible in real human interactions.

‘How to use this knowledge from brain and behaviour to further extend basic knowledge and to drive applications is the obvious next generation of questions that we must pose.

‘If good people who intend well act in a manner inconsistent with their own standards of egalitarianism because of the racial groups to which 'the other' belongs, then the question of change takes on new and urgent meaning.

‘This urgency requires that we attend to the evidence about how our minds work when we confront racial and other group differences.

‘Thus far, we have obtained modest evidence about these processes as they operate in our brains, unbeknownst to our conscious selves. The question of what we will do with these insights awaits an answer.’


Grow up: Life Has Trade-offs

Anne-Marie Slaughter's eye-catching Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," is being greeted with a certain reverse snobbery. We've been reminded that the choices and challenges of women with advanced degrees are hardly typical and not the sort of thing that should divert us from the problems of the middle class.

Perhaps. But there are millions of women in the upper middle class and the culture they create and reflect affects everyone. Besides, Slaughter deserves some credit for honesty. As she recounts in the piece, when she mentioned to a friend that she was considering writing that women can't have it all, the friend was adamant: "You can't write that. You, of all people." Slaughter explains: "... such a statement, coming from a high-profile career woman -- a role model -- would be a terrible signal to younger generations ..."

Slaughter, the "first woman director of policy planning at the State Department," had been one of those reliable soldiers in the "mommy wars" who had assured young women that, of course, they could have a satisfying career, a high income, a loving husband and 2.5 ego-gratifying, low-maintenance children whose problems wouldn't intrude when they "sipped champagne" at a "glamorous reception" hosted by President and Mrs. Obama. But she has discovered that the "have-it-all" catechism was a lie. Even with a supportive husband who was willing to "take on the lion's share of parenting ... (while) I was in Washington," she found that she didn't want to be away from her two teenaged sons, particularly when one was having trouble in school.

"Want" is the critical word here. Slaughter made a choice, as adults do. She writes, "I realized that I didn't just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to go home. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children in the last few years that they are likely to live at home, crucial years for their development into responsible, productive, happy, and caring adults."

Slaughter's wants mirror those of other women (high-earning and otherwise). A 2007 Pew survey found that among working mothers with children 17 and younger, fully 79 percent said that they would prefer part-time (60 percent) or zero (19 percent) work outside the home. Only 21 percent said they would choose full-time employment while their children were young. This was down from 32 percent who preferred to work full time in 1997.

Despite endless repetition by Democrats and feminists, the idea that women earn less than men for the same work is fiction. Single women without children earn just as much, and sometimes more, than comparably qualified young men. Women earn less (over their whole careers) because they choose to. And they choose to because they place more value on child rearing than on money or status.

A better feminist would applaud women for this and stress the incomparable contribution mothers make to society. Instead, feminists define progress as the "first" woman this or that and the degree to which a woman's life parallels a man's. Feminists have been missing what's best about womanhood for decades.

They keep up a relentless drumbeat for "better" (by which they mean government-subsidized) childcare and fret that men don't have to make the same trade-offs. But as Anne-Marie Slaughter found, most women don't want more opportunities to farm out our children. Slaughter wasn't even satisfied to have her own husband be the principal parent. She wanted the kind of relationship with her sons that only time -- and lots of it -- can allow.

Most mothers feel that way, and unlike feminists who find this truth to be embarrassingly retro, we freely affirm that we want to be there for the first words, the first independent ride on a two-wheeler, the Little League games, the school plays, the violin lessons, and the thousand little private jokes, shared confidences, and other intimacies that are some of the sweetest parts of life.

We've seen some of the women who are described as "having it all." We see the glamorous careers, the attention and the prizes. And perhaps we feel a twinge or two of envy. But it's an illusion. Something has to give. Too many exhausted women blame themselves for not being able to be Ruth Bader Ginsberg, June Cleaver and Sally Ride all at the same time. They've been lied to about life, mostly by feminists. Slaughter discovered the truth in time. Many don't.


The Bank of Dave: How one man, struck by the plight of firms unable to get loans in his home town, came up with a unique solution

A comment on the frozen-with-fear British banking system

It is, if you like, a story of Dave and Goliath – one man’s attempt to take on the giant high-street banks he says are helping destroy towns such as Burnley in Lancashire. And, so far, Dave Fishwick is winning.

Dave is a self-made millionaire, the owner of a company that manufactures and sells minibuses, so it is fair to say he has no problems getting credit on his own behalf. But when banks started refusing to lend money to his customers, Dave knew he had a problem, too. Local firms could no longer buy his vehicles.

‘The lending dried up almost overnight,’ he says. ‘It was killing their businesses and damaging mine.’

So he took the most practical approach possible – and decided to go into the credit business himself.

The Bank of Dave was born. Today, hundreds of businessmen and women hold accounts at his modest town-centre shop, marking a return to the sort of old-fashioned, face-to-face banking that the big operators have mostly chosen to leave behind.

‘The banks were turning down committed people who needed investment,’ he says. ‘They were destroying this town. You mention Burnley down South and people just think of the riots in 2001.

‘That’s nonsense. Burnley’s going through a tough time, like most of the country. But there’s a lot of decent, hard-working people in this town and they’re the people I wanted to help.’

Rachel McClure was among them. She needed £7,500 to revamp the front of her flower shop, Garlands Florist, last year. The business was in profit and she had a good credit record, so expected that a loan would be a formality.

The clincher, surely, was that Rachel’s bank manager had spent a day working at the shop to see more of local business. The bank had issued a press release trumpeting its ‘caring’ initiative and printed pictures of the smiling manager holding a bouquet of flowers.

She was astonished, then, when her application was refused. Dave stepped in, got to know Rachel and her business and lent her the money. The new shop front is now finished, business has improved and Rachel has never missed a repayment.

Meanwhile, her old ‘caring’ bank has told her that any future loan inquiries should be directed to its head office .....  in Glasgow.

Dave is an energetic, straight-talking 41-year-old. Born into a poor but hardworking Burnley family, he left school at 16, making his first million in his 20s. He is passionate about his home town – and determined to prove that it is possible for a bank to be fair and still turn a profit.

When he lends money, he charges 8.9 per cent to borrowers with a good credit record and investors make five per cent on their savings. They are not the cheapest loan  deals on the market but, unlike the big banks, Dave is at least lending, the rates allow him to give savers  a good return and his profits go  to charity.

At the Bank of Dave, which opened in September, only one borrower has defaulted so far. Savings are pouring in and there is a waiting  list for investors. The bank is taking in about £25,000 a week and giving out about the same in loans. The £10,000 accrued in the first six months has been divided equally between five local charities.

Dave gets to know all his customers and gives them advice, just like bank managers used to do. ‘Banking is not rocket science,’ he says. ‘The banks have been ripping people off for years. They used to have a responsibility to serve their clients. Now they just serve themselves. It’s like a private club.

‘They gambled away billions of pounds of our money and we bailed them out with billions more. And they still pay themselves obscene bonuses and refuse to lend money to businesses fighting for their lives. It’s disgusting. When the banks lend, they turn £10 into £20 without doing anything. But if it goes wrong, they are bailed out by the taxpayer and the rest of us have to take the hit. How is that right?’

The Bank of England base rate – the interest rate that the Bank of England charges banks – has been 0.5 per cent since March 2009 yet small businesses can pay more than 25 per cent for loans, even more for unsecured ones and an eye-watering 3,000 per cent for ‘pay-day’ loans.

Meanwhile, savers, who always suffer when the base rate is low,  are receiving as little as 0.05 per cent interest, with an estimated £100 billion sitting in accounts paying nothing at all.

Dave resolved never to lend money his bank didn’t have and to guarantee every penny of his customers’ deposits personally. He believed he could achieve his goal with ‘hard graft and a bucketful of common sense’.

He is not trying to compete with the big banks on large-scale finance but he does believe that there is a need for genuine community banks.

Burnley has some fine Victorian buildings and a few pockets of prosperity. But the atmosphere on the streets and in the cafes is gloomy. Many of its high-street outlets, including TJ Hughes, Miss Selfridge and HMV, have closed in recent years, and in March a proposed £40 million development was scrapped because of a lack of interest from retailers.

In the nearby village of Sabden, Keith and Christine Turner, an experienced caterer, run a cafe called Sanwitches, a name that nods at the ancient tales of sorcery on nearby Pendle Hill. They started the business after Keith was made redundant from his job in local government. At first it was a struggle. The couple needed more space and equipment. They asked their bank for a loan but were turned down. They went to the Bank of Dave and were lent £8,500.

But as well as the money, they were given advice on marketing and advertising their high-quality food. Dave took them out to local business parks where he encouraged them to offer office lunches and conference meals.

And when a large construction project began nearby, he suggested the couple take tea and bacon sandwiches to the builders to encourage them into the cafe. It worked.

‘We couldn’t have done it without the loan and Dave’s advice,’ says Keith. ‘It’s opened our eyes to what can be done. When the bank turned us down we didn’t know whether  we would be able to carry on with the business.’

Although customers call the business the Bank of Dave, and although it offers banking services, Dave is not allowed to call it a bank. This is because he is still waiting for a bank licence, which can take years to obtain. Without it, he cannot use the word ‘deposits’ and can talk only about ‘achieving five per cent on savings’.

‘The bankers who gambled away billions of pounds of our money have got off scot-free, and yet I can be taken to court if I call my business a bank or use the word deposits,’ he says, exasperated.

Obtaining a bank licence is a numbingly complicated, time-consuming and expensive process. Only one has been granted in the UK in the past 100 years, to Metro Bank  in 2010, which was backed by an American bank with more than $50million of assets.

The legal restriction explains the slightly eccentric sign above his premises that says ‘Bank on Dave!’, a slogan rather than a name. The business’s official name is on the window: Burnley Savings and Loans. So is a slogan referring to the banks of yesteryear: ‘Captain Mainwaring old-fashioned values.’ (Mainwaring, from Dad’s Army, was a notably cautious bank manager in the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea.)

‘Our customers couldn’t care less what we are called,’ says Dave. ‘They know they are getting a fair deal. Our computer doesn’t say no.’



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.


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