They subject a woman to extreme provocation and then condemn her for becoming angry
A mother had her twin babies taken from her by social workers after she joked that their caesarean birth had ruined her body. She and her husband endured five rounds of IVF costing £38,000 to start a family, only to have social services take their children within weeks. The parents insist social workers acted needlessly, but have been warned their six-month-old boy and girl could be put up for adoption following a secret Family Court hearing last week.
The babies, who were born six weeks prematurely, were taken into care after hospital staff warned that the first-time parents were struggling to care for them. Nurses reported that the mother appeared to feel ' bitter' towards her children after her joke about the caesarean's effect on her body. And when the desperate woman lost her temper at social workers who had taken her babies, officials said she had 'anger problems' and could pose a threat to her twins.
The babies were born in December, at the height of nationwide fury that social workers had failed to step in and halt the abuse and tragic death of Baby Peter in Haringey, North London. The alarm over Peter's death has raised the prospect that some innocent families have been caught up in the backlash.
The couple, from Hornchurch, Essex, can be identified only as Mr and Mrs N to protect the identity of their children. They are allowed only supervised contact for ten hours a week with their son and daughter, and have been warned that the babies could be handed to strangers for adoption if a judge rules they cannot care for them.
Mrs N, a 36-year-old who has been told she cannot try for more children for medical reasons, said: 'Social services should step in where there's violence or abuse but we would never hurt our children.' Her 42-year- old husband added: 'No one is born with parenting skills - you have to learn them.' The couple have been married for five years.
A childhood infection left Mrs N suffering from a rare hormone disorder and unable to conceive naturally, and she suffers from short-term memory loss because of a car accident when she was a teenager, but doctors said there was no reason why she should not undergo IVF treatment. The babies were delivered on December 30 after Mrs N was admitted to Whipps Cross Hospital in East London with high blood pressure. They both weighed little more than 3lb and were kept in incubators at the NHS hospital's neonatal unit, where their parents were eventually able to help feed and care for them.
But staff became concerned that they were not giving the twins enough milk or changing them often enough. On January 29 a senior nurse referred the family to social services.
Mrs N said: 'The hospital could see we were struggling but they made no attempt to help us. They just decided we didn't have the parenting skills to look after the babies. 'They wrote down everything we did and said so they could use it against us. They twist everything. I remember talking to my son while he was in his cot, and saying jokingly, "You want to see what you have done to your Mummy's body". 'It didn't mean I felt bitter towards him or didn't want him - I've never wanted anything as much as I wanted children - I was just joking about the state of my stomach.'
Social workers visited the couple and asked to take the children into foster care. When the parents refused, Havering Borough Council took the case to court and in February was granted an interim care order to give the twins to a foster carer. Mr and Mrs N were allowed to visit but have found it difficult to see their babies in a stranger's care, and Mrs N admits she has shouted at the foster mother and social workers during angry confrontations over the twins' welfare.
The petite, 5ft 2in woman was accused of throwing her mobile phone at a social worker, and officials once called the police during an angry case conference. Mrs N said: 'Who wouldn't be emotional, watching another woman with my children? How am I supposed to stay calm? I'm terrified that they are going to take my babies away. 'Of course I get frustrated and I sometimes lose my temper, but never with the children. We don't drink, smoke or take drugs. Neither of us has a criminal record. All we wanted was to have a family.'
A council spokesman said: 'Only in exceptional circumstances would we seek to separate a child of any age from their parents. This decision was undertaken with a great deal of thought [about how to justify hurting middle class parents] and following thorough assessment.'
Some wide ranging food skepticism from Britain
Extracted from "Global Warming And Other Bollocks: The Truth About All Those Science Scare Stories" by Professor Stanley Feldman and Professor Vincent Marks. It reprises most of what I have been saying on this blog
THERE ARE FEW 'BAD' FOODS
Received wisdom, repeated by many doctors and public health professionals, says we can remain fit and avoid disease by cutting out certain 'bad foods' from our diets. Indeed, it is variously claimed that 35-50 per cent of all cancers are caused by the food we eat.
But while they are despised by the culinary elite, readily available hamburgers, sausages and pizzas have provided good nutritional value for many low-income families, who in previous days could afford only low-protein, high-carbohydrate, high-fat meals such as bread and dripping, and chip butties.
In fact, fears about hamburgers and sausages in Britain are especially irrational. Most countries have a national dish based on minced or processed meat - and none is suffering from an epidemic of junk food-inspired illness. For example, meatballs are used in many guises in the Middle East, chopped meat on a bed of onions is a national dish in the Balkans, and mince is also used in countless Italian sauces.
The terrines and pâtés of France and Belgium also contain processed chopped meat. Obesity is not caused by these foods, but by those who choose to gorge on them. Studies claiming to show the negative impact of a 'junk food' diet usually have little scientific validity.
ORGANIC FOOD IS NO BETTER FOR YOU
A widespread belief has emerged that organic foods are better for you than others because they do not contain 'chemicals' used in large- scale conventional farming.
This dogma is wrong. All plant nutriment comes from the air, in the form of CO2, and from water-soluble chemicals in the soil. The composition of these chemicals is the same, whether they come from a plastic bag or from 'natural' manure or compost. They are certainly the same by the time they are on your plate.
THERE'S NO NEED TO CUT BACK ON SALT
Salt is an essential food. Without it, we would die. Land-based mammals-such as humans control their body temperature by sweating and panting. Sweating is impossible without sufficient salt. In fact, strenuous exercise in a person depleted of salt causes overheating and death.
The Government has caved in to the anti-salt zealots in its advice to reduce salt intake. However, there is, in fact, very little, if any, truly scientific evidence that cutting back on it will do you any good.
TURKEY TWIZZLERS ARE FINE
The much-disparaged Turkey Twizzler, bugbear of TV chef Jamie Oliver, is made of recovered turkey meat and provides the same amino acids as normal turkey breast.
Corned beef, now an unfashionable meat product, is also no less nutritious than any other beef, although, like Turkey Twizzlers, it is also a reclaimed meat product.
Turkey Twizzlers are fine: The recovered meat provides the same amino acids as regular turkey breast meat
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT CAUSES HEART DISEASE
The medical (and social) consensus is that cardiovascular disease is caused by being overweight, by having a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet and by unhealthy activities such as smoking.
While being morbidly obese, eating nothing but lard and smoking 60 a day will probably lead to an early grave, there is nevertheless a lot of confusion about the precise link between lifestyle and this, the biggest killer of all.
Many people with high cholesterol levels in their blood do not get heart disease. Many people with very low levels do.
The very low levels of heart disease recorded in some populations, notably the Japanese, may have more to do with cultural variation and prejudice than with medical reality (in many societies, what are, in fact, heart attacks are often listed on death certificates as 'strokes').
Furthermore, some of the lowest levels of cholesterol and arterial sclerosis are to be found in populations such as the Inuit and Siberian hunter-gatherers, who live on a diet which is incredibly high in saturated fat.
TAKE HEALTH ADVICE WITH A PINCH OF SALT
Everything seems to be bad for you these days, but there is also plenty of scientific evidence to the contrary. Eggs seldom contain salmonella, even if some chickens do. Cholesterol in the diet does not cause fatty deposits in your arteries. There is probably little difference between the effect of saturated and unsaturated fats.
In those with normal kidney function, salt does not cause high blood pressure. Those with a body-mass index of between 25 and 32 live as long as or longer than those with a lower BMI. And avoiding the sun causes vitamin D deficiency; a suntan is nature's natural sun block, although sunburn is to be avoided.
MERCURY FILLINGS ARE PROBABLY HARMLESS
Anti-mercury campaigners believe that the mercury used in dental fillings will make you ill (mercury is a potent poison).
But a single amalgam filling provides just 0.03 micrograms/day of mercury, which is almost 3,000 times less than the safety level permitted for persons with occupational exposure to mercury, and is too small to be responsible for any symptoms.
British photography phobia again
Parents of children at a primary school have been banned from taking pictures of their own children at the annual sports day. Parents criticised the move and said they felt there was no legal reason why they cannot take photos for personal use.
Mrs Ethelston's Church of England Primary School, in Uplyme, Devon, prohibited photos and video filming, claiming it was due to changes in child protection and images legislation. It is the first time the school has taken such measures.
Parents criticised the move and said they felt there was no legal reason why they cannot take photos for personal use. Jane Souter, who has a son at the school and is chair of the Parents Teachers and Friends Association, said: "It is a shame but that is the way it is all going now, you are not allowed to do a lot of things because of rules and regulations. "A lot of the parents think it is a great shame. There are people who have been there for many, many years and they are upset about it, although they do not blame the school. "It is sad that you are not allowed to take pictures of your own children.
"It is all to do with the pictures getting into the wrong hands and the school has to follow its own code of conduct. "I am sure the school do not like it just as much as we do."
Another parent, who did not want to be named, said: "Parents want to record achievements through their child's life and not to be made to feel that they are all criminals and are going to upload dodgy photos to some porn site."
They added that many parents were upset that they could no longer take photos and fear photography will be banned at every school event. They said: "Speaking to many parents, they were extremely annoyed and exasperated and no one really knew why they couldn't take photos of their children as they done so in the past. "Many seemed just resigned that it was a sign of the times." They added: "Please, please, clear this ridiculous nanny state affair up."
A spokesman for the Devon local education authority said: "It's a decision which individual head teachers come to, usually with consultation with governors."
German accent now incorrect
Not allowed to refer to the fact that the Nazis were German?
"The Conservative leader used a discussion about his opposition to ID cards to do what appeared to be an impression of a Nazi officer. Adopting an exaggerated German accent, he asked the crowd 'Where are your papers?'
The joke was supposed to be a comment on the draconian nature of the ID card scheme. But it drew gasps from listening voters at the question and answer session in Norwich, and did not quite yield the response he was going for. Critics fear it could even trigger an embarrassing diplomatic row between the would-be Prime Minister and Germany.
A woman in the audience raised her hand and asked him: 'I wonder about the wisdom of you adopting a German accent?'
Mr Cameron's patronising response was worthy of the notoriously offensive hotel boss in the 1970s sitcom Fawlty Towers - in the iconic scene where he addresses German guests - explaining to her: 'It was meant to be light-hearted.'