Saturday, 31 January 2009

Holding Back Our Resources

Bright children in state schools are being failed by teachers who refuse to give them extra help for fear of promoting "elitism", a Government-backed report has found.
Whoops! And government has spent so much money telling us all that it’s ‘poverty’ and ‘exclusion’ that was holding kids back. Now, it turns out it was lefty dogma after all…
A significant number of schools have failed to enter their most talented pupils in an official programme designed to push the very best children, it concluded.

Labour's so-called Gifted and Talented scheme - launched in 1999 - was set up amid concerns that middle-class parents were abandoning the state sector for private schools.

It was designed to answer critics' claims that bright children struggle in the comprehensive system because they are dragged down by classmates.
And helping them hold on to their legs as they do it? Step forward, teachers!
But a study by ACL Consulting, commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, found fundamental opposition to the scheme among schools.

The findings suggest that many pupils may have been held back from achieving their potential as a result of a reluctance on the part of teachers to give them the opportunities the Government intended for them.
Why not just find the teachers who are failing to do this, and sack them? Wouldn’t that resolve the situation adequately?
In the latest report, consultants tracked the impact of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, established by Warwick in 2002 to spearhead the scheme.

It said £4.75m was spent on the academy every year by the Government - the "same amount of money as a 1,100 pupil secondary school would receive annually". The unit received around £2m more in donations by the final year of its contact.

But the study said it failed to establish itself "as the key point of reference" for schools promoting the needs of talented children.

"It is interesting to speculate on the cause of this unwillingness," it said. "If it is because of a misunderstanding of the place of special support for gifted and talented young people - perhaps a confusion of 'elitism' with 'special needs' - then that is arguably not NAGTY's fault, however it would then indicate an important development need that many schools and their senior managers should look to address."

The report added that the academy offered little for youngsters who had great potential, but were performing below what they were capable of.
It’s not a ‘development need’ if the government says to teachers: ‘Do this’, and the teachers say ‘Nah, bog off!’. It’s a sacking offence – or should be.
Margaret Morrissey, of the campaign group Parents Out Loud, said: "Parents tell me that they are very concerned the brightest children do not get enough attention and subsequently go backwards in ability.

"Many brighter children are also used by teachers to help the less able pupils, and in some are even being used to take the lessons themselves.

"The only minority group the Government is interested in helping are the underachievers. They don't ever give the brightest kids the help they need.

"The best pupils then get bored and switch off. And if an 11-year-old switches off, they don't come back. You've lost them and they will be mediocre for the rest of their school lives."
Working as intended there, I think, Ms Morrissey…

And ‘brighter children are also used by teachers to help the less able pupils, and in some are even being used to take the lessons themselves, are they…? Even more evidence that some of them aren’t doing the jobs we pay them to do!

What are you waiting for, Ed Balls?
A DCSF spokesman said: "This is an evaluation of a historic institution which no longer exists - the Gifted and Talented programme has progressed significantly. The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth was designed only for the top 5 percent of learners aged 11-19. Since September 2007, the new Young Gifted and Talented Learner Academy (YG&T) has been available for all learners identified as gifted and talented by their schools and colleges.

"Schools are resoundingly on board. Our latest data shows that 95 percent of secondary schools and 78 percent of primary schools are identifying over 800,000 gifted and talented pupils.

"This is not elitism. It is about ensuring that all learners receive the challenge and support they need to reach their potential."
‘Tractor production is up, comrades!’

Paying Them To Take Us For A Ride

Labour is to give local councillors the right to claim their town hall pay even if they never turn up to a meeting.

Ministers said yesterday that they will push ahead with new rules which will mean council members can take part in votes by mobile phone or over the internet.

They are to introduce laws to allow remote voting in council chambers despite the opposition of a majority of local authorities.

Critics of the plan say it will allow 'couch potato councillors' to obey their party whips while sitting in front of the TV or drinking in a pub.
Oh, yes, this is going to revolutionise democracy, isn’t it…? Who on earth could be so stupid as to propose such a bizarre scheme?

The scheme was floated by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears last year, alongside other projects intended to improve local democracy. These include handing out doughnuts to voters at polling stations.
To garner the ‘yellow skinned US nuclear industry worker’ vote, no doubt…
Ministers say legislation will be brought to Parliament 'at the next convenient opportunity'. Tory local government spokesman Caroline Spelman said: 'Armchair voting and couch potato councillors will create real cynicism amongst hardpressed taxpayers.

'At a time when council tax bills are to hit £120 a month and people are working harder than ever to make ends meet, it is incredible that Labour ministers are effectively pushing for some councillors to do less work for more money.'
Not really. They just want them to be able to join the gravy train along with everyone else. Haven’t you heard, there’s a recession on! People Parasites need to eat….

And if you thought that was barmy, buried at the end of that story was this little gem:
Councillors also get pensions from the gold-plated Local Government Pension Fund, and Miss Blears plans to provide redundancy payments that could be as high as £60,000 for those kicked out of office by voters.
‘Redundancy payments’…? You mean, when we finally have had enough and kick these useless, troughing swine to the kerb, we’re going to have to keep paying them….?

Are they really trying to provoke a revolution?

Fakecharity Spotting…

First sung in the days when Britannia ruled the waves, it became a favourite in schools and nurseries, handed down through the decades.

But the old sea shanty What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor? may finally be sunk by a broadside from the good ship Political Correctness.
It seems a charity called ‘Bookstart’ wants to replace it with a version without all those references to alcohol and pirates.

Is this a fakecharity? Why, yes, it does seem to be:
The government-funded charity Bookstart, which promotes reading for children around the country, has changed the lyrics to remove any reference to alcohol.
Because children hate drunkenness. And sailors. I think…
Nick Seaton, of pressure group the Campaign for Real Education, said: 'Changing the words of a much-loved children's nursery rhyme is simply trying to re-write the history and tradition of this country.

'Organisations such as Bookstart should know better and not start to tinker with traditional songs which were written many years ago.

'Once you start doing that you are asking for trouble. If they want to sing a song about pirates, why don't they simply write a new one?'
Hmm, I think the ‘re-writing of history and traditions’ isn’t a bug, Mr Seaton. You know what I’m going to say it is, don’t you…?
Bookstart is funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Work and Pensions to help parents share books with their children from as early an age as possible.

Mother Caroline Graham, 29, attended one of their sessions with her son Jacob, two, at her local library in Rainham in Kent. She said: 'I don't know why they bother. It is clearly meant to be politically correct but surely children that young can't be offended by a harmless nursery rhyme.

'It makes me angry that during the current economic climate people are being paid probably more than my husband earns to come up with stuff like this. It's pathetic really.'
Good. Stay angry, Ms Graham, because this is only the tip of the iceberg…
Katherine Soloman, spokesman for Bookstart, admitted she could see how some would think the change was politically correct.

But she said the change was to fit in with a 'pirate theme' it was promoting.

She said: 'We are keen on all the old favourites and we believe we do a good job in getting young children reading and enjoying books.'
I’m sure you do believe you do a good job. Does anyone else? And is that belief backed up by evidence that you do a good job?

Still, it seems that it isn’t just the likes of Ms Soloman who are helped (to our money) by this fakecharity:
Bookstart, established in 1992, is an initiative run by independent arts charity Booktrust. As well as government funding, children's book publishers and booksellers support it with sponsorship.
Now, if, say, McDonalds was sponsoring a government-funded charity aimed at getting children eating and enjoying hamburgers, wouldn’t the usual suspects be lighting their flaming torches and whetting their pitchforks?

What’s so different about this…?

Friday, 30 January 2009

Avoiding The Obvious Answer…

Felicity Lawrence, in the ‘Guardian’, addresses the problems of intensive farming:
Watch any of the programmes and it's hard not to be moved by their conclusion: that surely a few extra pence for a rasher of bacon is worth it to end the brutal conditions endured by the average foreign pig. Putting our money where our sentiment is could help save British farmers at the same time, since our pig industry is required by law to meet higher welfare standards than on the continent, meaning they are being undercut by continental producers.
Then surely the question we need to ask is why are we held to higher standards if our fellows in the EU are not?
Yet there is an unspoken question every time campaigners try to improve our diets: can people on low incomes afford to spend more on their food? These admirable films and the acres of coverage they have inspired have all pointed to the same end: labelling should be better, then consumers can make better choices, and who could begrudge a small price rise?
Ummm, how about the people who don’t have the money to pay for your conscience, and that of a few TV chefs, and who don’t really care what quality their food is, so long as they can put some on the table? They can just eat cake, in your view, can they…?
The economic model on which today's intensive production is built disconnects what we pay at the till from what we pay as citizens. Paradoxically, it is a model that hits the poor hardest, and it is one that has been developed by government action, not by consumer choice. Only a radical overhaul of this so-called "cheap food" policy will ensure we have a system that is both affordable for everyone and sustainable morally and financially.
You know, I think it likely that whatever system we have, Felicity isn’t going to go hungry, or have to juggle buying a loin of pork against buying petrol or paying for the electricity meter.

So she can whine all she likes about ‘morals’ and ‘sustainability’, but she’s not going to find many takers in the teeth of a recession…
We as taxpayers have to pay for this cheap food in so many other ways. As climate change bites, the bill for it will only get bigger.
Oh, I was forgetting ‘climate change’, which rumbles on, and on, and on. Even though the cracks are beginning to show in even the seemingly-unnassailable proponents of this discredited ‘theory’.
Cheap feed has been provided largely thanks to huge subsidies from the US and the EU. Without them this new livestock model would not be economic. American taxpayers subsidised US soya producers who delivered high protein for feed to the tune of $13bn between 1998 and 2004; EU taxpayers have not only subsidised grains for intensive animal rearing, but have paid for millions of euros of export subsidies given to large transnationals.
Indeed, Felicity. So, ask the question, why don’t you?
Subsidies have promoted the emergence of dominant corporations. Just two companies provide two-thirds of British pork: Danish Crown, and Vion, the Dutch company that took over Grampian, our own largest poultry and pig producer, last year. Danish Crown received €84m from the European Union's common agricultural policy in the five years to 2005. It was deals between governments over the last 50 years that saw the Americans keep their protections for soya, and gain greater access to our feed markets, as the price for Europe keeping its own agricultural subsidies.

The effect of these distortions has been to impoverish small farmers around the world, not just in Britain, and not just in the pig industry; you could substitute almost any country and any kind of small-scale livestock farmer - dairy, poultry or beef - for the pig farmers currently in focus.
That question is getting bigger and bigger – can you see it now, Felicity?
What these latest programmes will do, I hope, is stir up enough discontent for the policymakers to address the real problems. The question is not should we pay more - but can we afford at all a system that threatens to leave us without a sustainable food production base just as climate change makes local British farming more vital than ever?
No, I guess she just doesn’t want to write the words ‘Abolish the CAP’, or even ‘Leave the EU’…

” Where you goin', city boy?”

Remember the Barclay brothers’ little spit-the-dummy exercise last year?

You won’t be too surprised to find it’s been quietly rowed back:
Workers on Sark who were laid off by the billionaire Barclay brothers six weeks ago have quietly had their jobs reinstated, in an apparent U-turn in the newspaper magnates' investment policy on the tiny Channel Island.
I guess wiser heads prevailed after all…
The Barclay brothers said they were no longer willing to invest in an island that appeared not to want their involvement. But in an apparent softening of attitudes, the vast majority of those who were fired have now been rehired. Speaking yesterday to The Independent, Gordon Dawes, the brothers' lawyer in Guernsey, said: "The Barclays are not inhuman or unfeeling, and the jobs are still there. But their willingness to continue investing at £5m per annum has been tempered by the election result."
‘Not human or unfeeling’, eh…? Not consistent, either, it would seem. Also not able to follow through on the empty threats they made so hastily…
Paul Amorgie, who owns the Stocks Hotel and was voted into Sark's Chief Pleas parliament on a mildly anti-Barclay platform, said he believed that the brothers realised that firing so many people had been a mistake.
"What's happened is a total U-turn," he said. "I think the decision to fire their own people in December was a frustrated, knee-jerk reaction from the Barclay brothers, but they're obviously readjusting their position and it seems to be that their investments are back on track."
But the islanders have scented blood and weakness, and are now quite sure who has the whip hand:
Tensions do still exist, however. On Wednesday, the brothers lost a long-running court case in which they had demanded the return of a £200,000 donation to build a community hall. The Barclay brothers were opposed to the hall having a liquor license because they do not make charitable donations to commercial ventures and claimed that the hall's trustees had broken a stipulation on their donation. But Sark's Lieutenant Seneschal, Patrick Talbot QC, found the hall was not a pub and cleared the trustees.

Lesson for the Barclays: Don’t upset a small, geographically-isolated area of very closely related people. Still, it could have been much worse for you….

I Only Wish It Was A Fairy Tale…

Magistrates have given a banned driver a night off from his curfew - so he could take his girlfriend on a romantic Valentine's night date.

Officials amazingly agreed to Liam Cook's request on the condition that he returned home before midnight.

They even joked that the Prince Charming could turn into 'a pumpkin' if he didn't get back from his date on time.
The joke’s on us, I fear.
But road safety campaigners today attacked the move, claiming it sends out the wrong message to offenders.

Cook, 22, was originally brought before Peterlee Magistrates' Court for driving while disqualified, driving with no insurance and failing to surrender to bail after being stopped by police on December 10.

He was given a three-month community order, part of which was a 7pm to 6am curfew and had eight points put on his licence.
Hmm, I wonder what gave him the impression that the justice system was a soft touch full of wet do-gooders in the first place, and prompted this request?

It’s a real mystery…
He told the bench at Peterlee Magistrates' Court: 'I'm asking for it so I can take my lass out for a meal. It's just for the night.'
Astonishingly, his request went down well with magistrates.
Who’s astonished…? Not me, anymore. I’m afraid.

I wouldn’t have been astonished if they’d also awarded him a few pounds out of the poor box to buy her a drink…
Chairman of the bench Mervyn Hardy said: : 'Obviously it's a very serious matter, driving whilst disqualified, and wouldn't normally vary it in any circumstances, but we are mindful that it was during the day and the curfew is for three months.

'We are going to vary it until midnight, but you must be back at your nan's at midnight.

'That should give you a nice evening with your partner and to get home.

'But make sure you don't change into a pumpkin because I am sure it will be very serious.'
Eh…? He varied his curfew because his original offence was during daylight…? Even though he was also uninsured, and I’m pretty damn sure that was a 24/7 offence!

These magistrates are taking us all for mugs!
The magistrates' decision was attacked by road safety campaigners.

Amy Aeron-Thomas, executive director of charity RoadPeace said: 'As a repeat offender, Cook should have known very well that he was risking a curfew if he continued to break the law by driving whilst uninsured and disqualified.

'The magistrates' decision to lift this ban is very regrettable as it reduces the deterrence effect and sends the wrong message to drivers.

'We can only assume that the magistrates were unaware of the link between disqualified driving and increased collision risk.

'These are the drivers that we need off the road both day and night.'
They weren’t unaware of it – they simply don’t care. They probably reckon (no doubt quite rightly) that they won’t be driving in or around any of the areas that Cook and his fellow underclass frequent, so don’t run much of a risk by letting him out.

The rest of us…? Well, we’ll just have to lump it, won’t we?

Meat Is (Environmental) Murder!

The militant vegetarians have seen an opening in the recent government promise to cut carbon emissions to push their agenda:
I saw a little sign on the tip jar at a US airport cafe recently. It said, "Scared of change? Leave yours here!" Human nature makes us resist change. There's a biological reason for this. Our ancestors knew that if they ate unfamiliar foods, they might die. Not much has changed, which was clear yesterday in the hysterical response to the government's decision to take measures to cut carbon emissions – including by changing hospital menus to make them more environmentally friendly.

It's pie-in-the-sky and a waste of time to lament that farming isn't what it used to be. With hospitals strapped for cash, no one can seriously suggest that they buy only organic, range-fed meat.
Funnily enough, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. Certainly, the government isn’t – it’s merely suggesting that meat in NHS menus should be reduced, while more fish, and local vegetables, be provided as an alternative.

Sorry, did I say ‘fish’? I meant ‘sea kitten’, of course… ;)

And of course, we all remember the last great £40million hospital food initiative, don’t we? And just how well that was received too.

But the watermelons are on a roll:
The facts about carbon emissions from livestock are just that: facts. We can ignore them to our children's and grandchildren's peril, or we can do something positive. Hospitals should be applauded for taking the latter path. You needn't have read the United Nations' report on global warming to know that raising animals for their flesh, eggs and milk is one of the world's leading causes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Ahh, right – it’s ‘for the childen’.
It isn't hard to see that, if anything, the recent ruling hasn't gone far enough. We need to stop feeding meat not only to hospital patients but to schoolchildren as well. And we should eliminate dairy products and eggs too.
And when no-one eats the stuff and it all ends up in landfill? Are you going to demand that hospital staff force it down people’s throats with a stick?
Hospital meals, like school dinners, have never been something to write home about. That "mystery meat" on the tray on your lap might be pork, it might be lamb, it might be, oh I don't know, cuttlefish? I'm betting that hospital patients – and certainly not their poor clogged arteries – will never miss the pink-beige blob of meat on their food tray.
Maybe. But who the hell do you think you are to blithely seek to make that decision for them, based upon your own choices, while they are a captive audience…?

Militant, authoritarian vegans. Love ‘em. Couldn’t eat a whole one, though…

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Another Day, Another Death…

…at the hands of worthless scum:
The family of an accountant who died at the hands of a young thug today criticised the two-and-a-half year sentence imposed by a judge as wholly inadequate.
As well they might. It was.
Paul Midgley, 23, was celebrating a friend's birthday when Lee Swales, 17, attacked him in a car park in Bridlington, east Yorkshire.
Swales, a convicted burglar who had been drinking, struck his victim a single punch which knocked him to the ground, causing him to suffer a fractured skull.

He then kicked him and stamped on his head while he lay on the ground. A short time later he told a group of friends: "I've just beaten someone up in a car park."
And once again, the contrast – a quiet, unassuming young man with a good job, minding his own business, separated from his life by a feral, feckless, worthless yob with previous convictions.

Sorry, did I say ‘convictions’? He only had a conviction for the burglary - a previous assault was dealt with by way of a ‘police reprimand’.

Yeah, that really taught him a lesson, didn’t it…
Mr Midgley's cousin, Gemma Magson, said: "Paul was a gentle, peaceful man who had never had a fight in his life. Now it feels as though his life was worth nothing."

She went on: "We only found out last week that the Crown was thinking of reducing the charge from murder to manslaughter. He has now got two-and-a-half years. I could get more than that for a motoring offence."
It feels as though his life is worth nothing because, in the modern UK, it is.
Judge Mettyear acknowledged that many would regard the sentence as inadequate, but he said the law allowed him to consider only the defendant's intent.
You don’t think the kicking and punching of an unconscious man while he lays on the ground ‘demonstrates intent’, Judge…?
Swales, of Queensgate, Bridlington, already had a police reprimand for assault and a conviction for burglary. He denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
And the reason he killed Mr Midgley? His current paramour, 17 year old Natalie Lee, decided (for reasons best known only to herself ) to falsely accuse this complete stranger as being someone who had touched her breasts earlier in the evening. It was a lie. And it cost an innocent man his life.

You know, try as I might, I can’t see anywhere that she shared the dock with him. As she undoubtedly should have done…

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb Big Brother…

‘Times’ columnist Alice Miles has decided to lay into the critics
of the new children’s database, although she doesn’t mention (because it would spoil her entire ‘argument’) the exemption that celebrities and the powerful will get:
To hear the fuss from parents' groups and civil liberties campaigners about the new childrens' database that was activated this week, you would think that the Government was planning to post naked pictures of our kids for public officials to gawp at. It will be hacked, they warn; it will be abused; the bureaucrats will - horrors - put details of extracurricular activities such as piano and ballet lessons on it.
Oh, yes – how silly of those parent’s groups and civil liberties campaigners, to be worried about things like that! Really, we should all just accept that Big Brother means well, shouldn’t we?

And now here comes the strawman argument:
I find it baffling that a mother who routinely shops online, ordering children's kit from lunchbox fruitsticks to Doctor Who duvet covers, freely giving her address to companies from John Lewis to sellers on Amazon marketplace (who are they, anyway?), together with all sorts of personal data, suddenly feels the need to panic when it is local authorities to whom far less personal information is being entrusted.
Hmmm, yes, one of these things is not like the other, is it Alice? I don’t have to shop online, or give any data to these companies if I don’t want to. I can use the old fashioned methods, called ‘going down the shops’.

And I can therefore take my own precautions against these companies losing the data by not allowing them to have it in the first place. Just try that with the State. Mind you, you probably won’t have to – since ‘celebrity’ isn’t defined, even you probably qualify…

But it seems Alice thinks the system doesn’t go far enough:
It would be better to ask whether there will be enough information on the system to make it effective, not least since it appears that the children most at risk, who come from abusive family backgrounds, will have their details “shielded” to prevent hacking by dangerous relatives.
But let’s not mention the others who are similarly shielded, eh?

But the kicker is in her closing line:
Critics get it wrong when they dub this database Big Brother. What it is actually trying to replicate, all too often, is a good mother.
The State is not your friend, Alice. It most certainly can’t be your mother….

Hey, At Least The Recession Is Colour-Blind!

As news editor of New Nation, I would get asked time and time again: "Do we really need black newspapers?" That question would often come from well-meaning individuals who were of the view that having a separate paper for the black community simply bred division. Couldn't we all just get along?
Apparently, only if we are all reading separate media. Nope, I don’t understand that either…
What I would try to explain was that with mainstream newspapers paying scant attention to stories affecting the black community – and with so few ethnic minority reporters working on those papers – then, yes, we absolutely needed a black newspaper.
Why…? I could understand it on ‘comment’ pieces, but the news is the news. Why should anyone care what colour the talking head telling us about it is?

And what’s prompted this sudden concern for the ethnic makeup of the media? Well, it seems it isn’t considered so necessary by the people who actually buy the thing:
Which is why I was sad to learn of the demise of New Nation, once billed as Britain's No 1-selling black newspaper. Ethnic Media Group, its owner, has gone into administration, and last week's edition of New Nation will probably be the last.
Oh, well, cheer up! At least you finally have equality somewhere
By 2007, though, like many newspapers, it was beginning to feel the pinch, hit by declining advertising revenues and competition from the internet. But there were other factors too: the fall in public sector advertising; plus increasing coverage of ethnic minority issues in the national press – which meant its reporters were competing for stories with far fewer resources – and lack of investment took its toll.
Hang on! A minute ago you were whining that these didn’t get covered enough, now you admit that coverage is increasing. Make your mind up!
So is there still a need for the black press? Yes. There are still many issues affecting the black community that do not get covered in many mainstream papers – for instance, the disproportionate number of black people in mental health institutions and the high school exclusion rates for black boys.
Mmm, yeah, we’ve heard nothing about those issues, have we? It’s not like it’s a favourite topic in the ‘Guardian’ and ‘Independent’, where it’s usually accompanied by pleas for more money, more relaxing of standards or more ‘research’ into the topic….

And can we shoehorn an Obama reference into this column? Yes we can:
Times have changed since New Nation was launched and certainly the Voice 27 years ago. With debates raging over whether the US president, Barack Obama, should describe himself as black or mixed race, and figures showing the mixed-race population is the fastest growing ethnic group in the UK, the black press still has a role to play as black Britons of every hue look to forge their own identity.
Perhaps if they spent less time banging on and on about how separate they are, they wouldn’t need a ‘black press’ or an identity other than ‘British’…?

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

It Take A Village (Person) To Raise A Child….

This story has been round the blogs this morning:
Social services have removed two young children from the care of their grandparents and arranged for them to be adopted by a homosexual couple.
Because that’s somehow better. Though I think we can all imagine just who for…
The five-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister were being looked after by their grandparents because their mother, a recovering drug addict, was not considered capable.

But social workers stepped in after allegedly deciding that the couple, who are aged 59 and 46, were "too old" to look after the children.
I guess it’s ok to be ‘ageist’ in some circumstances? Must be, as I don’t hear any squeals from the usual suspects.

Naturally, it’s not enough for the SS that they can gleefully break up a family – they have to indulge in a little ideological bullying too:
They were allegedly stripped of their carer's rights and informed they would be barred from seeing the children altogether unless they agreed to the same-sex adoption.
Wow! Try that with Mr and Mrs Khan or Patel sometime!

Oh, I forgot – ‘protected minorities’. These two grandparents must not fit into the right category…
The distraught grandfather said: "It breaks my heart to think that our grandchildren are being forced to grow up in an environment without a mother-figure.

"We are not prejudiced, but I defy anyone to explain to us how this can be in their best interests.

"The ideal for any child is to have a loving father and a loving mother in their lives."
It’s not – but it is in the best interests of the kind of people who go into these jobs to advance their ideas and pet theories of human behaviour, and to indulge in a little social engineering.
Social workers at the City of Edinburgh Council have been accused of waging a "two-year campaign" through the courts to strip the grandparents of their legal rights as carers of the children.

Social services intervened because of concerns over the age and health of the grandparents, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the children.

The grandfather is a farmhand who has angina while his wife is receiving medication for diabetes.

The children have been in foster care for two years while their grandparents battled the social services department in court.

However, the cost of legal bills forced them to drop the case and relinquish their rights.
You mean, they don’t qualify for legal aid to fight this? Another success on the ‘justice’ front for NuLab! And I thought it was the Tories who were always accused of favouring the rich...

And it transpires that this isn’t even a ‘last resort’ case – they have other heterosexual couples available, but have discounted these in favour of ticking a ‘diversity’ box somewhere:
Social workers dealing with the case told them that approved heterosexual couples had also been keen to adopt the children.

When he protested to social workers, the grandfather alleges he was told: "You can either accept it and there's a chance you'll see the children twice a year, or you can take that stance and never see them again."

On another occasion he was allegedly told: "If you couldn't support the children [back the gay adoption], if you were having contact and couldn't support the children, and showing negative feelings, it wouldn't be in their best interests for contact to take place."
Ahh, can’t you just feel the intolerance here. And no, I’m not talking about the grandparents…
A Catholic Church spokesman has accused social services of "politically correct posturing".
Why not just call it what it really is? Dogma-led institutional inhumanity.

And yet another step on the road to authoritarianism..

The Hippocratic Oath Needs Updating...

A little girl with a very rare medical condition died after a hospital threatened her parents with a police protection order if they did not comply with a new treatment plan, it has been claimed.

Such immediate and overwhelming action seems a little out of character for the system which so dismally failed little Alfie, Sean and Lois. No speedy action for them, and their parents weren’t simply arguing over the appropriateness of medical treatment – they were directly abusing them!

So, tell me more:
Father Malcolm, who had taken the lead in his daughter's care, believes the change in treatment led to her death and that Francesca would be alive today if his hand wasn't forced with the threat of police intervention.

Last night the devoted father-of-six spoke out about the tragic circumstances of his daughter's death, calling for a change in the way vulnerable children are treated.
Ahh, I think I see the real picture emerging:
Speaking of the hospital's decision to pursue a 'much more aggressive' therapy plan he said: 'I had warned in writing that such a medical approach may prove fatal, based upon the fact that I had been Francesca's full-time carer for almost the whole of her life and had studied her medical condition and her response to treatment 24/7 for 11 years.

'I have conducted significant research into her case since her death and I am entirely satisfied that the treatment killed her and that neither I nor her mother nor Francesca herself would have agreed to this approach but for the intervention of child protection procedures.'
It seems Mr Blair-Robinson made the mistake of being a devoted, law abiding father, and not a feckless violent drug addict. Such threats wouldn’t have scared them, if anyone even made them.

It also seems he challenged the medical authorities’ god-like right to do as they pleased to advance their careers and research stats. And that could not be tolerated, as we’ve seen before:
But after moving from Surrey to West Sussex in 2006 the doctors overseeing Francesca's care changed.

When she collapsed in May 2007 medical staff at St Richard's Hospital, in Chichester, wanted to change the way she was treated. She made a swift recovery but doctors still advocated 'aggressive use of IV antibiotics' and oxygen therapy, claims Mr Blair-Robinson.
Which the parents felt wasn’t the right treatment for their daughter. Silly of them to think they might actually have a say in the process:
He said both he and his ex-wife objected, and within a week were summoned to a meeting where they were confronted without warning by a social worker, police officer and medical staff.

'Her mother and I were threatened that unless we withdrew our opposition to the hospital's medical plans, Francesca, a frail and vulnerable child with a very sharp intellect, would be made the subject of an immediate police protection order.'
It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that Mr Blair-Robinson was bullied and threatened because he could be.
Terrified the couple complied and the little girl was referred to Southampton General Hospital which set out the more 'aggressive' programme.

Within five months she had died of respiratory failure, a death that Mr Blair-Robinson would not have happened if he had been allowed to continue taking the lead in her care.
But doctors are always right, aren’t they?

And it seems in this case, they didn’t even keep records:
He believes there should have been a narrative record of her care in her medical notes and a better system of information sharing and is calling for an overhaul of the way the NHS handles complex cases of children with special health needs.
An overhaul of the ability of medical staff to behave as they please with no comebacks might be in order too….

No Wonder They Are So Keen On CCTV...

A jealous policeman abused his powers to seize CCTV footage from pubs hunting for evidence of his wife's affair with his best friend, a court heard.

Pc Andrew Liptrot, 47, claimed that he was investigating "serious" crime before taking hours worth of film away from the bars in Chorley, Lancs.

But he took it home, scouring the images to catch his wife Karen and his former best friend Darren Watson, together, Preston Crown Court was told.
At least he didn’t do the viewing on company time as well. It seems the man has some standards…!
The officer also used a police computer, reserved for investigating crimes, to gather information on Mr Watson, the court heard.
He could always try the ‘criminals made me do it!’ defence, though he might want to see how that works out for Mr Johal first…

Public Sector:”Due Diligence..? What’s That?”

Officials who awarded the £156m contract to handle last summer's shambolic Sats tests should have just Googled the company at the centre of the row beforehand, MPs heard yesterday.
Nah, that sounds far too sensible for a governmental contract-giving committee…
Lord Sutherland, who led an independent inquiry into delayed test results for tens of thousands of pupils in England, told the Commons schools select committee that he did not know of "any major company that wouldn't have done that kind of probing if they were bringing on board a relatively or completely new player into the game".
Yes, but as has been pointed out time and again, there people are spending their own money. So f course they take more care…
Sutherland's report, published in December, found the exams watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), and the National Assessment Agency (NAA), which awarded the ETS contract, responsible for "massive failures", in particular not checking ETS's record and reputation.
And in any private company, such ‘massive failures’ would bring demotions and/or sackings.

In the civil service and various quangos? Not so much:
Sutherland agreed that such online probing could produce gossip, "but if they have publicly failed to deliver on contracts in previous years, I'm not talking about 1920 here but earlier within the current period of five, six, seven years, if it failed to deliver then, then you ask what have they done to improve their delivery and performance?"
And the answer seems to be ‘Nothing’…

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Collective Punishment…

All the residents of a city street have had postal deliveries stopped after a postman was attacked by a dog.

They are furious at having to make a six-mile daily round trip to the nearest sorting office to collect post and have slammed the Royal Mail for punishing everyone for a single incident at one property.
This seems frankly bizarre. Why the whole street? If the dog is loose again, it’s loose, and is hardly likely to stop at the street boundary if it sees a postman in the neighbouring street!

Residents have raised this absurdity too:
One angry resident, who asked not to be named, said: 'It's not as if the dog was chasing the postman down the street.

'It's disgusting and ridiculous for them to do this. If it's not OK for the postman to walk down the street, surely it's not OK for any of the residents to walk down it? All the other delivery drivers and gas men have never had any problems.'
Better not give them ideas, Mr Anonymous…!
A Royal Mail spokesman said:'Clearly it is the last resort to suspend deliveries. We continue to work with the customer or dog owner to resolve the issue.

'We do apologise to the affected customers. The service will be resumed as soon as we can be sure it is safe.'
It seems to be deemed perfectly safe by everyone else

‘No Sex Prisoners Please, We’re British…’

Britain last night dramatically refused to take in any foreign terror suspects from Guantanamo Bay.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the UK already has enough on its hands dealing with British nationals and residents from the prison.

He said Britain had already ‘done its bit’ and was not prepared to open its doors to any remaining foreign inmates.
Uncharacteristically strong stuff there from Millipede. Is another round of leadership challenge rumours on the horizon?
EU foreign ministers met in Brussels yesterday to thrash out plans to resettle up to 60 detainees who, if freed, could not be sent home because they would face abuse, imprisonment or death, which would breach U.S. human rights laws.

But the talks broke up without agreement after the leaders demanded evidence from the U.S. that the inmates pose no terror risk.
Oh, dear. Poor Obama, making promises he had no ability to keep.

Guess he’s a politician after all, not the Messiah…

A Sign Of The Times…?

A holiday company is offering 'chav free' activity breaks aimed at middle class people tired of resorts filled with 'Britneys, Candices and Dwaynes'.
He’s quite the entrepreneur! This could, potentially, be a nice little earner similar to Warner’s ‘no small children’ holidays…
Alistair Mclean, the managing director, was unrepentant after a customer used her internet blog to complain about the lists, and said she would not be using the company again.

Mr Mclean wrote: "I simply feel it is time the middle classes stood up for themselves.

"We work hard to make a decent home and life for our families and we pay taxes to contribute to our society and economy.

"Unfortunately, everybody else in our society seems to take from us, whether it is incompetent bankers or the shell-suited urchins who haunt our street corners.

"So regardless of whether it is class warfare or not I make no apology for proclaiming myself to be middle class and a genuine contributor to our society.

"Do you encourage your children to go off and play with the shell suited, Lambert and Butler sucking teenagers who hang around our shopping centres at night?

"Again, my apologies if we offended. I am genuinely sorry that you won't be travelling with us, or recommending us, in the future."
Well, there’s one unhappy customer – but potentially, a lot more eager for the service Mr McLean is offering:
Mr McLean told the Daily Telegraph he had only had 15 negative responses from the 24,000 emails the Northumberland-based firm sent out, while the number of inquiries and brochure requests had increased.

He said: "Everybody is assuming it has had an adverse effect but it has not. We are saying what a lot of people think."
And people are obviously prepared to put their money where their mouths are.
He added: "I have been called racist, fascist, and criticized for slagging off the working classes. But I am not any of those things. My dad came from a working class background in the north east."
Much like poor Mr Eccles, I expect, who fell victim to more mindless violence from the underclass yesterday. No wonder these holidays are proving so popular…

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Oh, Look...!

Yet another of those 'terribly rare' cases (at least, rare according to the femiloons and their enablers):
A BBC personality has shattered her ex-boyfriend's life by falsely accusing him of rape.

The woman, who has broadcast to television audiences of millions, accused him of raping her 40 times throughout their two-and-a-half-year relationship.

He was arrested, held in a police cell and handcuffed as police searched his flat for evidence of his crime. But she retracted her allegation weeks later, and the officer investigating the claims described them as 'inconsistent' and 'not credible'.
But naturally, that's not the end of it - for him:
Despite the lack of evidence, the incident remains on the Police National Computer thanks to a legal loophole, which campaigners say is blighting the lives of falsely accused men.

Even if the 'victim' withdraws their allegation, it will show up under enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks that are undertaken regularly on people who apply for jobs with employers such as the NHS or schools. It will also prevent them from travelling to the United States.
The woman...? Oh, she gets off scot-free, naturally:
The boyfriend cannot be identified to protect his accuser's anonymity, but wants to make his case public.

He said: 'The lies she told have ruined my life. Yet, while I have lost out on jobs and been left paranoid and scared of women, she has got away without punishment. We're not even allowed to reveal her identity. Rape is a horrific crime, and there is no way I am capable of committing it.

'I don't care how successful she is, she should be sent to prison. Of course, the BBC doesn't know what she has done. But if they were to find out I would like to think they'd sack her.'
Oh, yeah. Of course they would...

Women used to fight for equality. They appear to have gained, in this matter at least, total superiority. That's not justice....

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Mmm, Not Quite Correct....

'It is some small satisfaction that justice has been served in this distressing case,' she said.
So says Jane Cryer from the CPS, about this case.

Is she right? Let's see...
A couple known to social services subjected a six-week-old baby to a horrifying catalogue of abuse and failed to her get any medical attention when she contracted meningitis, leaving the child deaf, blind and severely disabled.

An investigation is now under way after the pair admitted a string of abuse, cruelty and neglect which left the innocent infant suffering from cerebral palsy and unable to sit up or feed herself unaided.
So far, so terribly, horribly typical. And naturally, child protection services 'knew of' the family:
Speaking after the hearing Calderdale Council's group director for children and young people, Paul Brennan, admitted the children were known to children and young people's services and to other agencies.

As a result a serious case review is now being undertaken by Calderdale's Independent Safeguarding Children Board.
So, they were aware of them. Don't seem to have done anything, but at least they were on the radar (as always).

Soooo, what are we looking at here in terms of a sentence?
Adjourning the case until sentence, the Recorder of Bradford, Judge Stephen Gullick, warned Patel and Bradshaw: 'All options are open, which include a prison sentence.'

The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, now has no chance of leading a normal life.
'All options are open'. And maybe, just maybe, they might actually go to prison!

Jesus wept! No, Jane Cryer, justice has not been served in this particular case.

Not even close....

"So many innocent children would choose the wrong way..."

In a move that's bound to ignite passions (particularly those of 'The Filthy Smoker' at the 'Devil's Kitchen'), the NHS has taken a leaf out of the Nazis book and decided to get 'em young:
Toddlers are being told to encourage their parents to quit smoking in a "sinister" move by health service officials.
I'll say it's sinister...!
Anti-smoking advisors are going into nurseries for the first time to give children as young as three lectures on the evils of cigarettes.

They are showing them dolls that demonstrate how the lungs of smokers and non-smokers differ, then handing them NHS leaflets and questionnaires to take home for their parents.

Colchester and Tendring NHS Stop Smoking Service in Essex believes it is a good way to get an important health message across, and insists it is done "delicately and tactfully".
Well, of course they do. The fact that they see nothing whatsover wrong with lecturing and hectoring children (of three, for God's sake!) to get at their recalcitrant parents shows exactly what the state thinks of the people who pay its wages.
So far the Essex service has given "pre-school smoking education sessions" at the Kiddi Caru Nursery in Colchester and the Little Pals Neighbourhood Nursery in Clacton-on-Sea.

In addition, it is giving pregnant women £20 in Co-Op vouchers if they stop smoking for a week, another £40 after a month and a further £40 if they give up for a year.
So if you live in Essex and send your kids to those two nurseries, you can expect tears before bedtime should you spark up tonight. And maybe even if you don't smoke, if your kids have had the bejeesus frightened out of them by those dolls that 'demonstrate how the lungs of smokers and non-smokers differ' (wonder if they are made by the same company that makes the 'anatomically correct' dolls so beloved of child abuse witchhunters..?).
Emma Ferdinand, Specialist Stop Smoking Adviser for Young People, said: "More than 40 per cent of children live in a household with at least one smoker and children of smokers are more than twice as likely to start smoking. Our aim is to target parents by providing leaflets via the children on the effects of passive smoking and, as importantly, providing information on how to access the Colchester and Tendring NHS Stop Smoking Service if any parents decide they want to stop smoking."
There's a name for people who target children because they find that adults are too intelligent or too stubborn to fall for their claptrap, Emma.

Still, I'm sure we can expect the usual suspects who whine at McDonald's and Coca-Cola's 'malign influence on children' to be up in arms about this, can't we?

Can't we....?

”Did you ever get busted for boppin’?”

Sunny Hundal, self-publicising tit and possessor of 'Most Punchable Face Of CiF 2007-2008' is tearing his hair out over the creeping authoritarianism of his NuLab masters. Which is nice, for a change, until you look at what's got his goat:
In a recently introduced piece of bureaucracy, the Metropolitan police have started requiring live event producers across London to fill in the innocuous sounding "Form 696".

Here's the catch: it requires four pages of information from event organisers 14 days before it takes place. If you need to make last-minute changes – tough luck, the event can't go ahead. The Met police not only want to know the type of music to be played, but also names, aliases, phone numbers and addresses of performers. It will not only make putting on live bands very difficult for small venues, but also spell the end of impromptu open mic sessions.
Indeed it will, Sunny. And why are the police declaring war on music? Watched ‘Footloose’ too many times?

Not exactly:
Form 696 explicitly singles out musical styles such as R&B, bashment, garage or styles including MCs/DJs as examples of genres that have to be stated if put on. It also required event producers to state the likely racial profile of people attending. When accusations of racial profiling were inevitably raised by the music industry, the Met changed the wording to ask who it was targeted at.
Let me guess – not ‘ABBA’ tribute bands, or choral recitals...

No, it was quite clearly originally aimed at the type of venues where the bouncers ask if you have weapons when you go in. If you reply in the negative, they rummage in their pockets, produce a knife and say ‘There you go, bra...’.

But as always, you can’t just target these known trouble spots and known groups – it has to be ‘racially blind’:
As Martin Rawlings, director of the Pub and Beer Association, rightly told a newspaper a couple of months ago:
"I know of licensees faced with this saying they are just not going to put live music on. Form 696 is being used only in London so far, but there are similar things going on around the country, where the police are asking publicans to sign various protocols. It has gone too far, frankly."
As these things always do.

And given that Sunny Hundal is a race grievance monger par extraordinaire, it’s a bit much for him to start screaming and jumping up and down now, isn’t it...?

Friday, 23 January 2009

"You thought that was fast? I thought it was fast. Well, was it? "

The 'Independent' on the morning after the inauguration Coronation of St Barack the Magnificent:The 'Independent' one day later:

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Aberdeen: Paradise On Earth…?

Well, it must be, if Grampian Police have nothing better to do than this:
Police have spent £170,000 of public money trying to prosecute a strippergram for playing an officer as part of his act.

Stuart Kennedy, who performs under the stage name of Sergeant Eros, was last week cleared in court for the 22nd time.

The case collapsed after the Crown Office dropped the charges against him.
Boy, there must be no burglaries, thefts, assaults, hell, even jaywalking, in Aberdeen.

Or perhaps it’s just that the police there are inordinately thick, as they seem impervious to gentle hints even after six bites at the same cherry:
Since March 2007, the 25-year-old genetics student from Aberdeen University has been arrested six times and spent 123 hours in custody, without police securing a single conviction.

Grampian Police have incurred the wrath of the public over the accumulated police, court and legal aid costs now mounting to an estimated £170,000.
Why is someone high up in Grampian Police not calling his senior officers on the carpet and telling them to cut this out? If not for the sake of natural justice, then for the sake of their budget?

Oh, I forgot - we are paying that, aren’t we? And so there’s no comebacks – at least, no financial ones – for making your police force farce a laughing stock.

But then, they seem to take their cue from the elected politicians:
Richard Baker, Labour's Justice spokesman, said locals were growing sick of the Eros saga.

'I don't see this as serving effectively as a deterrent and people regard this more as ludicrous than as a serious matter,' he told the Independent.
A what….? A ‘deterrent’ to whom, exactly? The young lad trying to earn a bit of cash in a perfectly legal manner and being harassed by the police?

Why, exactly, should he be deterred?
Assistant Chief Constable of Grampian Police, Colin Menzies, said his force had a duty to investigate all reports of alleged criminal behaviour.
What ‘alleged criminal behaviour’? Just what is he supposed to be doing?

Certainly not ‘bringing the police into disrepute’. Your officers are doing that quite nicely all by themselves….

Waitrose Is Overstaffed…

Managers have launched an investigation after they found descriptions of customers as "pikey skanks" on social networking website Facebook.

Dozens of staff contributed to the discussion forum on the page called Waitrose Isn't a Supermarket, It's a State of Mind, where staff were asked to list what annoys them most.
Even assuming that they were real employees, the problem with that is….?

Are Waitrose employees required to give up their rights to free speech?
A spokesman for Waitrose said: "This is completely unacceptable behaviour.

"It goes against our codes of conduct which make it very clear that partners who post this type of material are in breach of their terms of employment.

"The nature of the internet makes it difficult to get content removed once posted, however we do have teams that monitor website activity and will be conducting an immediate investigation."
A supermarket has ‘teams’ of people monitoring website activity and conducting investigations…? Are you kidding me?

I guess now we know why their prices are higher than the Co-op….

Not A Surrender, Just A Retreat To Regroup…

Controversial plans to impose £50 "pay as you throw" bin taxes on millions of families have been shelved after not a single council volunteered to run trials.
Because they are already aware just how unpopular they are, and don’t need another one of NuLab’s barmy EU-directed schemes to make them even more unpopular when an election is on the horizon…
Bin taxes were part of the Government's waste strategy, unveiled by Tony Blair in early 2007, to encourage households to recycle at least 40 per cent of their rubbish by 2010, rising to 50 per cent by 2020.

After Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister, the scheme was downgraded a pilot project among five local authorities, with the prospect of an England-wide roll-out set back until 2012/13.

Under the plans local authorities were being offered the chance to give rebates to households producing the least waste or impose penalties of up to £50 on those who failed to recycle.

The trials would have begun in April, just as millions of households are battling with soaring bills in one of the worst recessions since the 1930s.

But the Department for the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs said today that not one of 388 councils had volunteered to trial the taxes.
Even pigs at trough can sense the way the wind is blowing....
A spokesman said that the plans would not now be implemented, although the legislation was still in place if a council wanted to bring forward bin tax plans "in the future".
In other words, after the next election, when the parasites are safely ensconced back in their council seats….
Caroline Spelman, shadow Local Government secretary, said: "Bin taxes are now dead in the water. This is a major snub for Gordon Brown and his ministers.

"The bin tax laws should now be repealed and taken off the statute book. These unpopular new taxes would harm the environment by fuelling fly-tipping and backyard burning, and hike tax bills for struggling families."
Yeah, Caroline, they should be. But I can’t see Call-Me-Dave throwing his envirolooney credentials out to drive it forward. Can you?
Ahead of the planned new bin taxes, the Government had quietly brought in new rules which abolish a law that made it a statutory duty of local authorities to collect household waste.

The change, first revealed by The Daily Telegraph in the summer, was brought in as an amendment to the Environmental Act 1990, and quietly became law on 29 November.
The new law states explicitly: "A waste collection authority is not obliged to collect household waste that is placed for collection in contravention of a requirement under this section.".
Thus setting the scene for the next government to carry on where this current one finally left off.

Just wait and see….

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

For The Convenience Of Ministers And Whitehall…

Church of England clerics have launched a campaign for Easter to be celebrated on the same weekend every year.
They believe the move would make life easier for schools and end the disruption and confusion over the timing of bank holidays.
So the Church is debating changing a centuries-old tradition simply to appease the authorities…?

Wow, and they are scratching their heads over why attendance is dropping! Can anyone imagine the reactions of the Muslims if a Minister had the temerity to point out that the shifting timing of Ramadan was a little bit inconvenient?
A motion to fix Easter has been submitted to the General Synod, the Church's parliament, by Canon Andrew Dow, area dean of Cheltenham. He is supported by 44 fellow Synod members.
Over the past decade, pressure has grown from education chiefs for a set spring holiday.
Can anyone imagine education chiefs putting ‘pressure’ on any other religion, and expecting a grovelling response? Nope, me neither…
Easter, the most important Christian festival, is calculated according to the lunar calendar.

In Western churches, it is the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox. It can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. This year, Easter Sunday is on April 12.
And the State just can’t cope with that inconsistency.
Canon Dow's motion calls on the Archbishops' Council to work with the Government and other churches to fix the date of Easter on one weekend in the spring.

It may be discussed in a Synod debate over the next year.

But Church officials warned yesterday that its religious calendar would not be altered for the convenience of ministers or Whitehall.
Why discuss it then? You’ve opened the door a crack – don’t expect them not to start pushing even harder…
William Fittall, secretary general of both the Synod and the Archbishops' Council, acknowledged concern among education officials.

But he said: 'The Government cannot tell Christians when to celebrate Easter.

'They can tell us when to have bank holidays and school holidays, but the issue is whether the major Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter should be recognised as major public holidays.'
They always have. What’s changed?

All Your Children Are Belong To Us….

Ministers have launched a review of standards for up to 55,000 young people taught by mothers and fathers outside school.

It will investigate current procedures for monitoring home education – as well addressing concerns over the safety and welfare of children.
Ah, I didn’t think it’d take too long before the State turned its beady eye on the few children to escape enforced mediocracy in their educational future.

Naturally, they aren’t going down the ‘Your kids won’t be educated properly!’ route, because given the current dire results from our State schools,that would simply be laughed out of court. So they are trying the ‘Your kids are in danger from you!’ tack:
Baroness Morgan, the Children's Minister, said home teaching could be a "cover for abuse" in extreme cases.

But parents' groups were infuriated by the comments.

Ann Newstead, spokesman for the charity Education Otherwise, said claims that children were safer in the hands of the state than parents was "offensive" and "not born out by an increasing number of families in the UK".
She’s right, frankly.

But her case wasn’t helped by indulging in this load of waffle:
Annette Taberner, member of EO's policy group said "No other community would be expected to suffer the prejudice and discrimination which our community has to endure. Our community will be infuriated by these latest statements."
‘Our community’? Sheesh…
Naturally enough, this report wasn’t prompted by fears over abuse being missed, or even educational concerns, but over jobs being at risk if the trend continues:
The review – being led by Graham Badman, former director of children's services at Kent Council was launched following a public consultation on the issue of children missing education.
Some local authorities and children's organisations raised concerns about their ability to properly monitor children's welfare under existing guidance.
Under current rules, parents do not have to formally register their child as "home educated".
And so the people who depend on a steady flow of children through the educational system just as surely as does a dairy farmer depend on a stream of cows passing through his milking shed are pressuring to be involved in the ‘home schooling’ option.

Because no-one can be allowed to succeed at anything unless the State can be involved and/or take its cut:
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 placed a duty on all local councils to make arrangements to identify children not receiving a proper education, but they have no power to inspect the quality of lessons for youngsters taught at home.

Baroness Morgan said: "I'm sure the vast majority do a good job. However, there are concerns that some children are not receiving the education they need.

"And in some extreme cases, home education could be used as a cover for abuse. We cannot allow this to happen and are committed to doing all we can to help ensure children are safe, wherever they are educated."
Because no-one can argue if it’s ‘For the children!’, can they…?
Mr Badman said: "Legislation affords every parent the right to choose to educate their child at home but with those rights go responsibilities, not least being to secure a suitable education.

"By the same token, local authorities are charged with ensuring that all children are safe, well and receiving an education that is both enjoyable and allows for the expression of all aptitudes and abilities.”
And they are doing a bang-up job with all the children they already control. Aren’t they…?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Bangin' Tunez

A new application has been launched for the iPod touch to help gun users line up a clean shot at their target.

The BulletFlight app, which costs £6.99 to download from the iTunes store, has been developed by Runaway App to turn the iPod touch into a ballistics computer which the company says can provide “quick solutions in the field”.
And you can build a complementary playlist too: 'The Killers', 'Dead Kennedys', etc...

”This is Norman Stanley Fletcher, broadcasting to you on 88.3FM…”

The government is planning a radio station exclusively for the entertainment of Britain's prisoners, which will cost taxpayers £2million, according to reports.
What’s wrong with the existing ones? If Terry Wogan and Jeremy Vine are good enough for the public, they’re good enough for criminals!
The Prison Service, which came up with the scheme, claims the £2million need to start up the station would be raised from existing budgets. It has been dubbed 'con air' like the Nicholas Cage film.

A charity might also contribute to running costs, it is thought.
A ‘charity’, eh…?
A Prison Service official told the paper that the station would carry "messages and educational programmes".

He said: "It can be used to communicate to prisoners in the event of an incident."
Only if they have it switched on, naturally….
Mr Garnier, MP for Harborough, told The Sun: "This government has presided over the worst prison overcrowding in the history of the Prison Service.

"Now it tries to pretend that pumping radio programmes into cells makes everything all right. It would be comic if it were not so tragic."

Mr Garnier added: "It would be better to have prisoners doing something useful like working rather than lying on their beds listening to Jack Straw twittering at them over the radio."
Oh, I don’t know. Frankly, I think that sits quite well with those of us who think they don’t get punished enough

Monday, 19 January 2009

On The Internet, No-one Knows You're A (fill in the blank)...

Equality campaigners said that the level of racism and extremism expressed underlined the need for the army to take immediate action.

"These comments show quite clearly that racism still exists within the army," said Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation, a Muslim youth group. "There has undoubtedly been a huge change in attitude among senior ranks and ministers but this shows that has simply not trickled down to the rank and file ... If the army truly wants to start recruiting more people from an ethnic minority background this has got to be addressed as a matter of urgency."
Ooh, strong stuff!

What's happened? Has a regiment of soldiers been arrested for racial violence? Has Prince Harry made another home movie?

No. Some people claiming to be soldiers have made racist comments on Facebook...

Naturally enough, instead of pointing out that anyone can claim to be anything on the Internet, and telling the usual suspects to take a hike until they have actual evidence of soldiers or serving members of any of the forces actually doing something, the Army top brass is in 'placate the complainant!' mode:
A senior military source told the Guardian that anyone found to "hold the views" expressed by those Facebook correspondents would be "hunted down and dealt with most severely" if it was clear they had not met the army's "required high standards of behaviour".
And if it turns out that they aren't even in the Army, but are just the usual bunch of cretins behind a keyboard revelling in their anonymity?

Going to look more than a bit silly then, aren't you...?

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Reality Bites Punches

“I thought, how can a first lady be doing this? I was in shock more at the situation than the punches.”
Ummm, yeah.

It's a puzzle, isn't it...?

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Curiouser And Curiouser....

Wang Yam, 47, was found guilty of killing 86-year-old Allan Chappelow after a trial that was held in secret to protect national security.
Yam, a serial fraudster, battered Chappelow to death sometime in May 2006 after entering his dilapidated £4.1 million home in Hampstead, north London, to steal his identity.
Utterly appalling crime, but if NuLab start restricting reporting rights on every case of a UK resident brutally murdered by a foreigner they are going to have their work cut out for them...
The conviction followed a previous trial last year in which the jury failed to reach a verdict.

The defence for the second trial was heard 'in camera' rather than a public court. A court order was made banning all speculation about what was heard in camera. It is thought to be the first time a murder trial has been held under such circumstances.
And the reason for this...?
Yam claimed he fled China for Hong Kong following threats after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. He said he sought asylum in Britain in 1992 after criticising the Chinese government on the internet. His other defence evidence was held in closed session, as were other parts of the trial and some prosecution witness evidence.
Ahhhh, it's all becoming clearer now!

Another success for NuLab's 'let's give just anyone who asks' asylum system...

Update: The 'Times' reports that he was an informant for MI6:
Before the order was granted it was reported that Yam was a “low-level informant” for the intelligence services and that “part of his defence rested on his activities in that role”.
Kind of hard to imagine how, but still...
When he arrived in Britain he was granted asylum and continued his involvement with the democracy campaign. At the same time he spent years tricking members of the Chinese community in Britain out of money with fake mortgage and insurance deals. He used numerous aliases to register internet domain addresses, some of which were used to carry out frauds.
All under the noses of his MI6 handlers...?
His defence also claimed that there were many possible suspects for the murder, including Mossad agents, the Chinese triads, a young man that Mr Chappelow had befriended on Hampstead Heath or his gardener’s young Brazilian assistant.
I guess the jury didn't believe him. Funny, that...

”Divert All Power To The Shields!”

New failings in Doncaster’s child protection system emerged yesterday after a violent and drug-addicted father known to social services was jailed for life for the murder of his baby son.
Another case of a violent, drug addicted parent left in charge of a small child? Say it ain’t so, Doncaster…

The child’s mother, Lindsay Harris, 19, received a suspended sentence and 150 hours of community service for perverting the course of justice. She repeatedly lied to doctors and the police about the cause of the injuries, saying that Alfie had accidently fallen down the stairs.
Well, that’ll teach her to lie to the courts!
Crucial information that Goddard had twice been referred for psychiatric treatment for his ferocious temper was not passed on to social services at Doncaster Council, nor that he had attacked Harris, even though they had been in contact with the family for more than two years.

Reforms put into place after the death of Victoria Climbié eight years ago placed a legal duty on health, education, social services and the police to share this type of information.
So, we can expect to see some public servants in the dock next? Sacked, at the very least?

I doubt it. But I expect there’ll be a few sharply worded letters in their futures:
A serious case review, one of seven ordered in the past two years, is under way into the death of Alfie, and will question whether social services could have done more to protect him. It will almost certainly criticise health staff for failing to pass on information about the father’s temper and drug addiction.
Oooh, harsh

Naturally, the closing of ranks in the unseemly scramble to deflect blame has already begun in earnest. The temporary head of children’s services wasted no time taking out an onion for the ‘mother’:
Speaking outside the court, Paul Gray, the interim head of children’s services at Doncaster, said that he wished his staff had known about those facts and that Harris had been a victim of domestic violence at Goddard’s hands. A relative, who did not want to be named, said that she had called social workers shortly before Alfie’s death asking for them to get involved because of Goddard’s temper, which was known to the family. “Living with him was like living with a loaded gun. I gave social workers valid and constructive information but nothing was done,” she said.
He ‘wished his staff had known’, yet we learn that a relative passed on their concerns about Goddard? Didn’t they think to take any action then?

The judge in the case, seemingly ignoring that inconvenient little detail about the legal duty for the health services to pass on details, was quick to declare his opinion:
However, passing sentence, Mr Justice Beatson said that he did not hold any particular outside agency responsible.

Addressing Goddard, he said: “The issue here is not one of blame for outside agencies. You accept, as does Ms Harris, responsibility for what took place in the house.”
I think we’ll let the serious case review decide that, won’t we…?

”And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint £425 handout.”

I noted in a post the other day that ‘incentives matter’; it seems the NHS believes that too, and is using the concept (paid for by the taxpayer, of course) to reduce obesity by…..paying the obese to slim down:
The NHS is to pay fat people up to £425 to lose weight.
Overweight men and women will get the handouts for meeting personal slimming targets.
And won’t immediately spend it all on chips and cream cake, I suppose…?

Most doctors and medical experts aren’t in favour either, pointing out the inherent dangers of ‘yo yo’ dieting that this scheme may encourage, not to mention that it is rewarding people for things that are within their own remit and will bring them health benefits:
An obesity expert said it could put people at risk of heart attack and stroke by encouraging yo-yo dieting and an MP said the idea would enrage patients who struggle to get funding for life-saving treatments.

There were also questions over whether the 'bribe' would have to be returned if the patients put the weight back on.
I’m betting ‘No’…

So why are they forging ahead with this?
The ' Pounds for Pounds' scheme is being run by Eastern and Coastal Kent primary care trust in conjunction with Weight Wins, a private company which runs incentive schemes for firms to persuade staff to lose weight.

If successful, it could be expanded across the country.
Yes, but if Virgin or Sainsbury wants to bring them in, they presumably fund it from company profits. The NHS is expecting us to fund it…
Weights are checked once a month by a nurse in a GP surgery or an assistant at a pharmacist.

There is no time limit but patients will get only half the money for losing the weight. The rest is handed over if they keep it off for six months.

They can decide to take cash or store or holiday vouchers.
What, no ‘McDonalds’ vouchers? No doubt someone will be complaining about that…
But Mark Wallace of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 'People pay their taxes for the sick to be treated, not for the nanny state to bribe them to do something they should have done off their own bat.

'This is no kind of long-term solution - a temporary financial incentive won't stop people putting the weight back on once they've got the cash.

'When people who are ill through no fault of their own are struggling to get appointments and drugs, it's unfair for money to be allocated to people who simply need to choose to exercise more and eat less.'
‘Unfair’..? You are too generous – it’s frankly criminal!

Grinning homunculus Tam Fry (was there ever a more inappropriately-named spokesman?) popped up to cheer on this opportunity for him to see his picture in even more newspapers:
But the scheme was welcomed by Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum. He said: 'This is an investment to get people into the right lifestyle.

'The Government has spent an awful lot of money to tackle obesity and it has got absolutely nowhere. Now they are taking a leaf out of industry's book - rewarding people for doing good things.

'Some people will call this a bribe, but I think it's a judicious use of the public purse to prevent a further drain on resources from heart disease and type two diabetes.'
Of course you do – you are, after all, part of the ‘obesity industry’.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Teenage Boys Need Lessons In This…?

Boys could be asked to discuss pornography in class to improve their self-esteem and stop them seeing women as sex objects.

The Family Planning Association is training youth workers to 'support' teenage users of pornographic websites, videos and magazines.
Good luck with that ‘stopping them seeing women as sex objects’..! Still, if people want to waste time trying to buck human nature, who am I to complain?

Oh, wait. We’re paying for this, aren’t we?
The new course, for youth workers from local councils who visit schools, is designed to 'explore the impact and influence of pornography on young people's attitudes to sex, safer sex, their sexual development and relationships'.

But family values campaigners said such ideas were the reason that our teenage pregnancy rate is the highest in Europe, at 40,000 a year.

Julie Bentley, chief executive of the FPA, a government-funded charity, said organisations had to respond to the fact that teenagers are getting the wrong information.
Ah, our old friend, the ‘government-funded charity’…
‘This leaves some girls thinking they can't get pregnant the first time they have sex and gives others unrealistic ideas about how their bodies should look. She added: 'If young people are accessing pornography, it can give them conflicting messages about the reality of sex and relationships and have a negative impact on things like body image and self-esteem.

'The course is designed specifically for professionals delivering sexual health work, giving them the strategies and information to address this difficult and complex issue.'
I would be surprised that despite years of sex education we are still churning out pupils who think they can’t get pregnant the first time, but then I remember that we are still churning out huge numbers of pupils who can’t read, write or add up as well.

And if schools can’t get these basics right, why should we expect them to take over the usual parental role in teaching ‘the facts of life’ correctly?

Well, because it provides work for these people:
Mark Limmer of Lancaster University, who is researching the sexual health of young people, said pornography was reinforcing the views of many young men that women are always available for sex, or that sex was just a physical activity rather than part of a relationship.

'If we are serious about countering some of these images that they see in pornography, we have to give young people more explicit images of sex,' he said.
Reached for comment on the wisdom of this approach, Firemen Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb paused in their hosing down of a burning building with gasoline, and said ‘Sounds like a good plan to us..! But if you don’t mind, we’re a bit busy. This fire just won’t go out, and we can’t understand why…”
The course, called 'Fantasy v reality: the impact and influence on pornography on young people', was run for the first time in the autumn, training up 12 youth workers. The FPA plans to run another next year.
Just a suggestion, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to evaluate the success of this approach before training more up?

Oh, I was forgetting – this is the government, after all…

Out Of The Frying Pan…

He arrived with the determination to 'clean up this town' and earned a tough reputation for his pursuit of parking offenders.

But the heavy-handed manner of traffic warden John Woodgate has not gone down well with the residents of Sudbury in Suffolk.

So much so that they set up a website as a forum to vent their fury about the man nicknamed 'The Terminator'.
Actually, they didn’t - they set up a Facebook account, not a ‘website’.
Soon, nearly 1,000 motorists had signed up to the page on Facebook, making comments such as 'you jobsworth ****', 'get cancer' and 'the man is just a bully in a uniform'.
He obviously felt that his role as traffic warden wasn’t giving him enough opportunity to strut around ordering the people who pay his salary about, so he become a PCSO!

Needless to say, along came his employers to make things worse for themselves:
But Suffolk police have demanded it be shut down because it contained 'hateful, threatening or obscene material'.
Another inaccuracy – they merely requested that some of the comments be removed (still not something for them to get involved in, in my opinion); it was Facebook themselves that took the option to remove the page.
John McMillan, president of the town's Chamber of Commerce, said: 'The problem is that he is so bloody rude and offensive and is just not prepared to be flexible.'

Dock Roper, 63, said: 'The man is a real menace. He needs to be removed from office - he shows no humanity and I am not surprised that so many people don't like him.'
Suffolk Police may wish they hadn’t taken this action – they’ve removed a harmless way for motorists to vent, linked themselves with the bullying, petty dictatorship of this man, AND bought themselves far more publicity for the motorists’ cause than if they’d left well enough alone.

It’s almost as if they wanted to wind up the public, isn’t it…?