Global cooling hits Britain hard
Traffic chaos as Britain's big freeze brings blanket of snow - and there's more to come
Only the bravest - or foolish - motorists were out and about early yesterday as snow blanketed parts of the country. As much as 4in (10cm) fell in parts of East Anglia, leaving this stretch of the A47 in Norwich to be negotiated with extreme caution. Conditions were made even more hazardous after heavy downpours froze, covering roads in layers of ice. A stretch of the M62 in Greater Manchester was forced to close
The weekend's bitter weather caused mayhem across large swathes of the country, with some roads blocked off and others covered in a sheet of ice by the subsequent downpours. As temperatures dropped to as low as minus 6.1C (21F) police were called to dozens of accidents as black ice made conditions treacherous.
Whilst children up and down the country built snowmen and threw snowballs large parts of the nation shivered in temperatures colder than Moscow (-2C/28.4F), Helsinki (-3C/26.6F) and Berlin (2C/35.6F)....
Gales gusting at 50mph forced the cancellation of ferry services between Holyhead and Dublin whilst ice and snow caused the closure of the eastbound section of the M62 between junctions 21 and 22 in Greater Manchester. Heavy snow fell in Scotland, the North of England and down the east coast from North Yorkshire to Suffolk. In Oxfordshire and Cumbria the temperature dropped to minus 6.1C (21F). Among the next coldest areas were Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, at minus 5.7C (21.7F) and South Farnborough in Hampshire at minus 4.8C (23.36F).
London, which last month saw the first October snow for 74 years, was also carpeted by a layer of snow - only for it to be replaced hours later by freezing rain.
The cold front has prompted bookmakers William Hill to slash the odds of a white Christmas in London from 8/1 to 6/1. William Hill, which has reported record betting on a white Christmas, cut the odds on snow falling on Christmas in London from 8/1 to 6/1 while Ladbrokes is offering 9/2. William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said: 'We have never had so much money in the book with over a month to go. If it snows, we will be paying out millions to our customers.'
British immigration Minister brands Boris Johnson a 'naive nincompoop' for suggesting illegal immigrant amnesty
Boris Johnson is a very amusing man and I like a lot of what he says but I think his privileged background (Bullingdon club) has deprived him of full awareness of this matter
Boris Johnson was last night labelled a 'naive nincompoop' by a Government minister after calling for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. The London Mayor has ordered a study of the potential benefits of allowing hundreds of thousands of long-term immigrants to earn the right to stay in Britain. But immigration minister Phil Woolas warned it could lead to more vulnerable people being exploited by traffickers.
The Tory Mayor's remarks have also opened up a rift with party leader David Cameron who has distanced himself from the idea. An estimated 700,000 people are thought to be working illegally in the UK, some 400,000 of them in the capital.
Mr Johnson said allowing longterm illegal immigrants to earn the right to stay would see 'hugely increased' tax revenues. He suggested those given an amnesty would have to have at least five years' residency and be able to demonstrate their commitment 'to this society and to this economy'.
But Mr Woolas said: 'His comments might start with the best of intentions but will lead to more people traffickers making more money and exploiting more vulnerable individuals.' Speaking at an EU immigration summit in Paris, he added: 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions. 'I have always thought that Boris was a bit of a nincompoop and these proposals are naive in the extreme.'
The immigration minister added that, under a government crackdown, illegal immigrants were being thrown out of the country at a rate of one every eight minutes. Mr Woolas said: 'The UK Border Agency is committed to stopping illegal migration. We are putting in place the biggest shake up of the immigration system for 45 years and we are seeing the results of this.'
Government sources later went as far as saying Mr Johnson's calls for an amnesty were ' dangerous' as they would encourage more illegal immigrants to head for the UK. They pointed out that instant communication meant new trafficking routes would open up 'within days' of the UK being viewed as 'going soft' on immigration.
The Mayor also risks accusations he is overstepping his remit as he has no power over immigration policy and can only put pressure on the Government to act. Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationwatchUK, said the proposal was 'unbelievably irresponsible. An amnesty would cost the taxpayer at least 500million pounds a year,' he said. 'It would add hundreds of thousands to the housing lists who would move up the priority list as their families would be allowed to follow them. 'So the reward for breaking our laws for long enough would be a meal ticket for life. 'This could only encourage still more illegal immigrants to come and take their place -- as the Spanish have found with their six amnesties in the past 20 years, each larger than the previous one.'
Mr Johnson insisted he did not want to incentivise illegal immigration but said there were significant legal and financial obstacles to mass deportations. He acknowledged illegal immigrants had broken the law and should 'in principle' be deported. But he added: 'Unfortunately it is just not going to happen.'
Lazy British police again
Call someone "queer" or a "n*gger" and they will be there like a shot. Otherwise .....
When a gang of youths rolled his girlfriend's parked car on its side, Simon White thought there was a good chance that the police would catch the culprits. But instead of the swift response he had hoped for, they told him to call the AA. 'I couldn't believe they were telling me to call a breakdown service,' said estate agent Mr White. 'I explained to them that a neighbour had seen a gang of about 30 youths hanging about when he was walking his dog and had come back half an hour later to see my girlfriend's car on its side. 'At no point did the police ask me anything to do with solving the crime. There was no mention of witnesses, possible fingerprints, or any desire to catch who'd done it. 'All they said was call the AA or Green Flag. When I told them there was petrol leaking from the car they said they'd call the fire brigade and then ended the conversation.'
Mr White, 37, added: 'I sat there fuming for a few minutes and then rang them back and demanded someone come to investigate but even then they said all they could do was put out a call to see if there was a police car in the area.'
The vandals struck at about 7.30pm one evening last week. Mr White and his girlfriend Colleen Donnelly, 28, who have two children Chantelle, 11, and Joshua, nine, were in their home in Bloxwich, West Midlands, watching television at the time and were told by the neighbour who knocked on the door that the Fiat Punto - parked about 300 yards away - had been overturned.
Mr White initially dialled 999 but was told it wasn't a serious enough crime and that he should call his local police. It was when he called Bloxwich police station that he was told to phone the AA, he says.
Miss Donnelly does not belong to the AA or have breakdown cover.
Mr White said: 'The police are always telling people to report antisocial behaviour and vandalism but when we did it seemed they didn't care. It was only because I insisted someone came out that the crime is being investigated. 'To be fair, the two officers that did come were very helpful, but by then the youths had gone.'
The car is a write-off and Miss Donnelly, a charity worker, now has no means of transport when Mr White is out at work. No one from West Midlands Police was available to comment.
90% of British hospitals are failing the superbug test despite the Government's hygiene code
Nine in ten hospitals are failing to comply with rules designed to control the spread of superbugs, a watchdog reports today. Spotchecks at 51 NHS trusts by the Healthcare Commission found only five had fully implemented the Government's hygiene code. Mattresses and surgical implements were not decontaminated properly, and some wards were so cluttered it was impossible to clean properly. On top of that, some hospitals were not able to isolate infected patients to stop bugs spreading.
In today's report, the commission says it was forced to intervene in three trusts where standards were so low that patients could have been put at risk. The three, Bromley, South-East London, Ipswich, and Ashford and St Peter's in Surrey, are all said to have taken action to remedy the problems.
Overall, inspectors said trusts were improving their performance on tackling superbugs and official figures show that rates of MRSA and C.diff in hospitals have started to come down. MRSA kills almost 2,000 hospital patients a year.
Commission chief Anna Walker said the hygiene lapses were 'important warning signs'. Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: 'It is very disturbing that adequate systems are still not in place in very many of our acute hospitals.'
The "caring" attitudes of British social workers again
Social workers sacked over 'sick' image of paedophile Gary Glitter carrying a child in a shopping bag
Fifteen council staff, including social workers, have been sacked or reprimanded after circulating a tasteless e-mail of reviled paedophile Gary Glitter carrying a child in a shopping bag. An investigation was launched after an employee alerted bosses to the appalling image, which shows the convicted paedophile holding a plastic bag with a superimposed child's head popping out of the top. Staff had circulated the email on the office network, where it spread within hours. Some of those sacked are trained social workers - whose job is to protect vulnerable children.
A council source said: 'These emails mocked the very children these people were being paid to protect.' Yesterday, South Lanarkshire - the authority at the centre of the scandal - confirmed that staff had been sacked or warned.
The council would not confirm how many staff had been sacked or warned because employees have the right to appeal against any decisions resulting from the disciplinary action carried out yesterday. Most of those involved are based at the council's office in Rutherglen, near Glasgow.
Last night Liberal Democrat MP Annette Brooke, an ambassador for children's charity NSPCC, said: 'It is totally unacceptable that anyone, let alone anyone involved in child protection, should find Gary Glitter's behaviour remotely amusing.'
Former rock star Glitter - real name Paul Gadd - served almost three years in prison in Vietnam for sex crimes involving two young girls. He was deported at the end of his prison term and flew to Thailand and then Hong Kong. But airport officials refused to let him into their countries and he returned to Britain in August. Glitter has a prior conviction for possessing child pornography, for which he served two months in jail in 1999.
British parent bashing
It all stems from an elite loathing of the working class -- from what was once allegedly the party of the worker
All the main political parties in Britain seem convinced that government should assume the role of a supernanny and train mothers and fathers to be responsible parents. Former UK children's minister Margaret Hodge is unapologetic about this idea, arguing that government has a `powerful' role to play in family life.
Parent-bashing is not confined to the domain of politics. Back in 2001, hectoring parents about their inability to manage their children's behaviour or to provide their kids with a nutritious diet had not yet become a popular way to entertain the public. There were no TV shows such as Supernanny or The House of Tiny Tearaways to remind parents of their congenital defects on the childrearing front. Over the past five or six years, however, the notion that parental incompetence is quite normal, even widespread, has become deeply entrenched - especially in the TV schedules. One intelligent 36-year-old mother wrote to me recently: `I know it exploits my emotions, I know that I should not watch these shows - but I do, even though they make me feel shit.' Sadly, the images and arguments that haunt her imagination have been embraced by significant sections of British society.
The perpetual politicisation of parenting has two destructive outcomes. The constant labelling of parenting as some kind of `problem' undermines the confidence of mothers and fathers. Although the target audience of politicians is a minority of so-called dysfunctional parents, the depressing message our leaders communicate about the problems of childrearing has a disorienting impact on everybody. Consequently, the numerous helpful initiatives designed to `support' parents do anything but reassure us - they simply encourage the public to become even more paranoid about parenting. The second regrettable outcome of the politicisation of childrearing is that it has intensified our sense of insecurity and anxiety about virtually every aspect of children's lives and experiences.
At the turn of this century, it was evident that children had become subject to an obsessive culture of childrearing. At the time, Paranoid Parenting documented the growing tendency to extend adult supervision into every aspect of children's lives. It was apparent that `outdoors' had become a no-go area for many youngsters, and that the majority of parents did not even allow their offspring to walk to school on their own.
The idea that children were too vulnerable to be allowed to take risks had already become entrenched. Many readers of my book shared with me their hope that the regime of child protection would gradually give way to more relaxed and balanced attitudes. Little did they suspect that paranoia towards the safety of children was about to expand even further and encompass even children's experiences that it had hitherto not touched.
Who would have imagined that British children would be prevented from pursuing the age-old custom of conkering? Many adults were rightly shocked and bemused when a few local authorities introduced a new policy of `tree management': a euphemism for preventing children from climbing on chestnut trees or playing with conkers. More than any other bans introduced in subsequent years, the attempt to discourage children from playing with chestnuts symbolised the relentless drive to diminish young people's experience of the outdoors. At the time, many people sneered at the busybodies who decided that children were not fit to go near conkers. Today, however, when local authorities chop the branches off horse chestnut trees to save children from this terrible danger there is barely a murmur of protest.
In recent years, banning children from activities that appear remotely adventurous has become an institution of British political life. It seems that kids are so feeble that we must protect them from everything. Earlier this month, a teacher informed me that children in her school are actively discouraged from running around or playing ball games during break time. Her rationale for promoting this anti-activity ethos was that `someone could easily get hurt'.
Traditional children's games are disappearing because experts claim that they are too dangerous. Some primary schools have banned tag during break time, while some have got rid of contact sports. In January 2007, Burnham Grammar School banned impromptu football in order to prevent young people being hit by stray balls. The headteachers argued that pupils were `kicking balls quite hard at each other'. In February 2007, St John's primary near Lincoln banned games like kiss chase and tag because staff felt that such activities were too rough.
Suspicion towards adult motives has become a pathology in British society. Numerous informal rules have been introduced to prevent adults from coming into direct physical contact with kids. Even nursery workers feel that their actions are under constant scrutiny. Adult carers have not been entirely banned from applying suncream to children; some still follow their human instinct and do what they believe is in the best interest of the child. But frequently, such practices require formal parental consent: it is now commonplace for nurseries and schools to send out letters to parents asking for their signed consent to allow teachers to put suncream on their child.
Some schools would rather that teachers had no physical contact with their pupils at all, and insist that either the parent or the child applies the suncream. Schools now state in their handbooks for parents that `it is most helpful if children are able to apply their own suncream'! Some nurseries have sought to get around this problem by asking their employees to use sprays rather than to rub suncream on children's bodies. One former nursery worker told me she packed in her job after she was `banned' from taking the kids in her care to the toilet on her own.
There is now an informal ban on adults taking pictures of children. Although taking photos is not against the law, many petty officials have decided to take the law into their own hands. As a father, I resent the climate of hysteria that makes it difficult for parents to take photos of their children during school plays or concerts and sporting activities. I would love to have a shot of my son Jacob running with the ball, but after four years of competitive football I still don't have a single picture of him in action.
In January, a friend of mine who decided to take a photo of his son during a Saturday football match was accused of gross irresponsibility. He was lucky, however: the referee at least allowed the game to continue. There are numerous reports of officials stopping play when they spot a parent taking pictures. One referee stopped an under-15s match in Ashford and instructed both team managers to confiscate parents' cameras. `You can't take photographs, it's child protection', he lectured a parent.
When it comes to sport, many parents have given up on the idea of taking snapshots for the family album. They don't want to end up in the same predicament as a married couple who took pictures of a junior rugby game on a sports field in Surrey: they were detained by club officials and were later visited at home by the police.
The promotion of paranoia in relation to every aspect of children's lives accomplishes the very opposite of what it sets out to do. When youngsters are protected from risks, they miss out on important opportunities to learn sound judgments and build their confidence and resilience. The promotion of suspicion towards adult behaviour seriously undermines the ability of grown-up people to play a constructive role in the socialisation of youngsters. The estrangement of adults from the world of children has the perverse effect of leaving youngsters to their own devices and diminishing their security.
We do not have to abide by the rules concocted by self-appointed experts intent on policing how we engage with children. Nor do we have to acquiesce to a culture that denigrates parental competence and fuels suspicion about adult motives towards children. Although none of us can opt out of the culture that we inhabit, we can challenge it. We can challenge it in small ways, by protesting against the many idiotic but all-too-insidious bans that aim to restrict children's freedom or adults' access to youngsters. We can challenge it by encouraging our children to develop a positive attitude towards the outdoors and the adult world. Most important of all, we can challenge it by working together as active collaborators committed to providing more opportunities for children to explore their world.
Stubborn glaciers fail to retreat, awkward polar bears continue to multiply
Second only to the melting of the Arctic ice and those "drowning" polar bears, there is no scare with which the global warmists, led by Al Gore, more like to chill our blood than the fast-vanishing glaciers of the Himalayas, which help to provide water for a sixth of mankind. Recently one newspaper published large pictures to illustrate the alarming retreat in the past 40 years of the Rongbuk glacier below Everest. Indian meteorologists, it was reported, were warning that, thanks to global warming, all the Himalayan glaciers could have disappeared by 2035.
Yet two days earlier a report by the UN Environment Program had claimed that the cause of the melting glaciers was not global warming but the local warming effect of a vast "atmospheric brown cloud" hanging over that region, made up of soot particles from Asia's dramatically increased burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
Furthermore a British study published two years ago by the American Meteorological Society found that glaciers are only shrinking in the eastern Himalayas. Further west, in the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram, glaciers are "thickening and expanding".
Meanwhile, all last week, ITV News was running a series of wearisomely familiar scare stories on the disappearing Arctic ice and those "doomed" polar bears - without telling its viewers that satellite images now show ice cover above its 30-year average, or that polar bear numbers are at record level. But then "polar bears not drowning after all - as snow falls over large parts of Britain" doesn't really make a story.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.