Thursday, July 16, 2009

British police harass the harmless again

While they ignore real crime like car theft and assault. A mother who left children playing in park is branded a criminal after being given no opportunity to defend herself in court

A Sunday school teacher was given a police record after she briefly left her own children playing together in a park while she popped to a nearby shop. The woman had left four of her children, the eldest of whom was nine, playing while she went into the shop with her fifth child. The unaccompanied youngsters were spotted by police officers who then spoke to the woman and logged the incident with the Criminal Records Bureau.

When she later applied for a voluntary job teaching in a Sunday school at her local church a criminal records check flagged her up as a risk to children. The woman, from Warminster, Wiltshire, who asked not to be named, said: "The police made a snap judgment on my parenting, that's all it is. I haven't committed any criminal offence. It's just a snap judgment after meeting me for a minute or two in the park. "They have logged this information on the database and I wouldn't even have known it was there if I hadn't applied for a voluntary job at the local church. "It just makes me wonder how many people out there are wandering around with information on them and they don't know anything about it."

The CRB, a Home Office agency, collects information on people who apply for jobs working with children or vulnerable adults. That includes so-called "soft information" such as police suspicions or incidents when someone has been questioned but released without charge. Teaching unions and civil rights groups claim that records of unproven claims disclosed by the CRB to employers can unfairly ruin people's careers or job prospects.

Anna Fairclough, legal officer for civil liberties group Liberty, said the Sunday school teacher had never even been told she was being placed on a criminal database. She said: "This woman was never given the opportunity to comment on the allegation that that makes her a risk to children. She's got virtually no ability to challenge it because the law at the moment doesn't provide safeguards for people in this position. "If we are allowing unproven allegations we need to make sure there are safeguards in place so people's careers aren't destroyed by unfounded gossip, rumour and speculation."

Over the past five years, according to figures obtained from the Home Office by the Conservatives, a total of 12,255 disputes over inaccurate CRB checks have been upheld. That includes people applying for jobs as teachers, nurses, child minders and countless volunteers.

Last year a report for Civitas, a think tank, said the increasing use of such checks had created an atmosphere of suspicion among parents, many of whom were volunteers at sports and social clubs, and who found themselves regarded as "potential child abusers".

From October this year a new body, the Independent Safeguarding Authority, will vet all individuals who work with children, even those just visiting a school such as an author or politician. It is estimated the new regime will result in more than 11 million adults being checked, one in four of the adult population.

The new body has been set up in response to the murders of 10 -year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham, Cambridgeshire in 2002. Their killer, Ian Huntley, had been able to get a job as a school caretaker despite being known to police and social services.


NHS tries to avoid treating patients with swine flu

For one mother, the NHS's swine flu response is scarily unresponsive. Dealing with swine flu is confusing and - with the news of the deaths of apparently healthy people - scary. That was brought home by this message I got from a mother trying to negotiate the NHS for her family. She writes:

Yes, more children will probably die in the swine flu epidemic. And it may well be partly because senseless bureaucracy is stopping child victims getting urgent medical help...

It was Saturday morning. My children had been taking Tamiflu for a couple of days, after our GP had diagnosed swine flu on the phone. Now both my husband and my younger son were looking worse. My husband has asthma and my son suffers from recurrent croup (for which he has been hospitalised twice). So I rang Out of Hours Urgent Care, who transferred us to NHS Direct. Surely, I thought, as probable swine flu victims my husband and son would be treatment priorities?

An arrogant telephone operative at NHS Direct told my asthmatic husband he probably didn’t have swine flu and had nothing to worry about. No treatment was offered. So I took my son to the NHS Walk-In Centre. There, when I mentioned Tamiflu, we were ushered into a separate room and then told we would not be seen by a doctor and must leave the building. Because we had swine flu. We should ring NHS Direct for help. I explained why that had failed, whilst my son’s coughing grew more ominous.

I refused to leave, I pleaded, I lost my temper. My child is sick, he is getting croup, he needs to be seen. Children die of this. At length, a kindly nurse arranged a GP Home Visit. We returned home to wait, but within two hours my son was struggling to breathe. A 999 call, ambulance, blue lights, hospital, steroids, oxygen. An emergency that could well have been avoided with the right medical treatment quicker. Admittedly, we got help quickly because I broke the rules given at the time of diagnosis: I rang for an ambulance myself rather than joining the queue for NHS Direct, as I’d been told to do in emergency. I wonder how long I would have waited in a telephone queue whilst my son struggled to breathe.

And my husband? Oh, he ended up in hospital too, for a couple of hours, after the Home Visit GP looked at his condition and recommended I drive him straight to Casualty. He explained that it was breaking the rules, but that my husband needed a nebuliser quickly, and if he tried to arrange it the procedure would take hours, because there were so many protocols for dealing with swine flu patients.

I wish my story was unusual. But a friend in the same village – on the same day – broke the rules too. They’d been diagnosed in hospital that Friday, immediately quarantined and sent home with a helpline number to ring for medicine. They tried for twenty-four hours to get through. They spent thirty pounds on fruitless telephone calls. Then he took his rapidly worsening son back to Casualty.

Leaving him in the car to prevent infection, he went inside and demanded to see a doctor. His treatment was worse than mine. When I lost my temper the Walk-In Centre took me seriously. When he raised his voice, they called the police. He was kept in a private room whilst his sick son was left alone in the car outside. “It’s the lack of compassion that gets me,” he said. “It was like they didn’t care about a sick child.”

He got the medicine, eventually. After breaking the rules and kicking up a fuss. But Tamiflu is only effective if taken at the very beginning of an illness. That twenty-four hour delay in getting medication could have killed my friend’s child. So could untreated croup.

Of course no one wants to spread infection unnecessarily. It is sensible to self-quarantine and ask for home visits. But at the moment Britain’s panic about swine flu has created senseless barriers that are stopping very ill young children getting the treatment they need.


Another foolish woman who believed the feminist drivel about "having it all" -- and lived to regret it bitterly

Every now and then I feel a pang of loss and longing that takes me completely by surprise. I might be sitting in a cafe talking to friends, or wandering around the supermarket. Then I see a mother with her child and the realisation hits me, as if for the first time - that's never going to be me. If someone had told my 25-year-old self that I would end up here - aged 45, newly married and, sadly for us both, without a hope of ever getting pregnant - I wouldn't have believed them.

It would have seemed incredible that love would take so long to find me; that becoming a mother would ever matter so much; or that my fertility - a gift that, at the time, seemed more like an inconvenience - would plummet far beyond the point at which doctors could work their magic. Yet, it is a fact my husband David and I have spent the past year learning to accept....

I had spent the whole of my adult life as a London career girl, married to my advertising agency job, with no time or inclination to settle down. Yet as soon as David, who has his own events marketing company, and I started trying for a baby, my whole perspective changed. I held my belly protectively and imagined myself walking down the Finchley Road heavily pregnant. I looked at baby food in the supermarket aisles and noticed women with their children. I imagined the warming smell of my baby's head, the tiny fingers and perfect fingernails. I imagined having a small hand to hold as I walked down the street. My world opened up with possibility.

I suppose it is little wonder that it took me until the age of 41 to find the right man and tap into these unfamiliar feelings. I'd spent most of my life dedicated to building my career. As a nine-year-old, I was never happier than when I was playing secretary; answering calls, shuffling papers and wearing an appropriately smart outfit from my mother's wardrobe. By 24, I was a strategist at a leading ad agency. I drove a Golf convertible, wore red wool suits with gilt buttons, and thought I was Paula Hamilton from the iconic TV advert. I remained very single, but I told myself - and my concerned mum - that the mews house and engagement ring would come later.

My life didn't revolve around marriage and children. My friends and I were taking our time. We were big kids in shoulder pads, and life was about working, shopping, drinking and having fun....

Busy chasing financial independence, I let my most fertile years slip by, never allowing myself to doubt that the love and babies bit would take care of itself. And so I lost the chance to have a baby I didn't even know I wanted until it was too late...

When I was 36, my ever-thoughtful stepmother suggested I freeze my eggs to give myself the chance of 'an ice baby'. But I didn't - something I bitterly regret. Not only is it a rather expensive procedure to go through for the sake of an insurance policy, but it involves confronting the possibility that you might not meet the man of your dreams before your eggs 'run out'. Few young, single women can contemplate that thought. But take it from me: if you're young, single and not in a position to have a child, you should consider it. Those eggs will remain as young as you are today, and one day they might be your only hope....

The more time I spent in the country, the more I wanted a child - and the further away it seemed to be getting. We sought help at the Lister Hospital in London, where David gave a sample and I underwent a gynaecological MOT. When the results came in, all looked well. David's sperm was good, and my hormone levels normal.

'And yet you are not getting pregnant,' the doctor said, just as I was preparing to celebrate. 'The most likely explanation is age. When a woman reaches her 40s, we have to recognise that we're working with older eggs, and I am afraid their quality declines over time. The question is what we do next.'

What she said next shook me. A woman of 43 or 44 has a 13 per cent chance of getting pregnant through IVF and a 70 per cent chance of miscarriage. 'So Lucy, your net chance of delivering a baby with IVF is around four per cent. I'm really sorry.'

But all that was academic when it came to finding an IVF clinic. A second round of tests revealed that, in just six months, my hormone levels had changed, my fertility had dropped, meaning no clinic was prepared to take me on. The odds of success were so slim that it was, they claimed, unethical to take my money. 'Have a think about it and if you're interested in egg donation, we can do that up to the age of 50.' I didn't understand. What about all those fabulous, famous fortysomethings whose 'baby joy' stories were so often in magazines.

The actress Jane Seymour and model Iman both had children at 44, actress Mimi Rogers was 45, Susan Sarandon 46, Holly Hunter 47. Each headline seemed to confirm that, yes, it was possible to put having a family at the bottom of your priority list until you were good and ready. But here's the rub - a very high proportion of babies born to women in their 40s are conceived using donated eggs from younger women. It's a secret that many will never let you in on.

I had just assumed that because I was healthy - I exercised regularly, I didn't smoke (or at least, not since my 20s) or, in the main, drink too much - that my chances were as good as anyone's. But while you can look and feel as young as you like, you can't put anti-ageing creams on your ovaries. Your eggs are the age that they are, and when they run out, there's nothing you can do about it.

I was angry - with anyone who had fallen pregnant accidentally, anyone who didn't realise how lucky they were to have a child. I was angry at the ad agency for keeping me in the office throughout my childbearing years, and at the tobacco companies who had sold me the cigarettes I'd smoked throughout my 20s, and at the government for never having had a public health campaign on the subject of increasing age and decreasing fertility.

But, deep down, I knew I had no one to blame but myself. I had never stopped to think about the bigger picture. I had never had a life plan, or even a plan beyond what my secretary scheduled in my diary. I'd stuck my head in the sand, and this was the result...

My chance to experience the profound joy of motherhood has come and gone. But to the generation of career girls who are a decade or two behind me, I would say this: don't wait for a bigger house, a better job or a more expensive car, because if you do, you're a lot more likely to miss out on the most precious prize of all - a child.



Mark Steyn on Britain and Europe

Are you getting just a teensy bit tired of the ol’ “Whither The Right?” navel-gazing? Even with our good friends at The New York Times, The Washington Post et al so eager to offer helpful advice, there’s a limit to how much pondering of conservatism’s future a chap can take. So how about, just for a change, “Whither the left?”

Exhibit A: The European parliamentary elections. The Continent’s economy has taken a far bigger clobbering than America’s: Capitalism is dead, declared Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. In France, President Sarkozy agrees, while being careful to identify the deceased as “Anglo-American capitalism”. And woe betide any Continental foolish enough to have got into bed with it: In Spain, the unemployment rate is 17 per cent and rising.

In theory, this ought to be boom time for lefties. As their jobs, homes and savings vanish, the downtrodden masses should be stampeding back to the embrace of the Big Government nanny’s apron strings. Instead, the Euro-left got hammered at the polls, the center-right survived, and a significant chunk of the electorate switched to the “far right” – the various neo-nationalist and quasi-fascist parties cleaning up everywhere from Northern England to the Balkans. My favorite of these new and mostly unlovely groupings is Bulgaria’s Attack party, mainly because of its name. I would suggest the Republican Party adopt it, but no doubt within a month or two the latest Bush scion would be claiming to stand for a Compassionate Attack movement, and governors of coastal states would be declaring themselves fiscally attacking but socially surrendering, and the whole brand would go to hell.

Perhaps it’s just as well. On closer inspection, Europe’s “far right” doesn’t seem to go very far at all. The British National Party’s parliamentary victories are a very belated breakthrough for Fascism, for which in Britain there were few takers back in the Thirties. So what do they stand for? Well, they won’t accept blacks or Asians as members. Typical right-wing racists, eh? Also, they want protectionist laws limiting the import of foreign goods. And they favor giving workers shares in their bosses’ companies. And they want to nationalize the public utilities, railroad companies and so forth. Economic protectionism. Worker cooperatives. State ownership. Boy, these right-wing nuts with their crazy ideas on free market capitalism.

If the British elections are beginning to sound like the dinner-theatre production of Jonah Goldberg’s book, you’re right – if by dinner you had in mind tripe, pork scratchings and mushy peas washed down with 14 pints of brown ale and a knife fight. Economically, the BNP is the Labour Party before the Blairite metrosexual makeover, and its voting base comes all but entirely from the old white working-class abandoned by “New Labour” in its pursuit of more fashionable identity groups. Of course, economic protectionism is not its principal appeal. But yoke economic protectionism to cultural protectionism, and you’ve got an electorally viable combination. These are bad times, but they’re not just bad economically. According to a YouGov poll, the average BNP voter is a manual worker with an annual household income of 27,000 pounds – or about 2,000 pounds less than the national median. Two thousand quid isn’t to be sniffed at, but it doesn’t explain why these voters were willing to take a flyer on an openly racist party universally reviled by the media and political class and banished from public discourse.

England has (or had) a three-party system: Labour, Liberals, Tories. But on any number of issues – the European Union, immigration, crime, the remorseless one-way multiculturalism under which what were homogenous white working-class communities 40 years ago Islamize ever more rapidly with each passing day – on all these issues, the big three parties plus the BBC and the rest of the elites are in complete agreement: We don’t want to talk about it. Since the election, the grand panjandrums of the Palace of Westminster have been competing to out-Lady Bracknell each other in professing how “horrified” they are by the BNP’s success. Such protestations are invariably accompanied by ostentatious recital of their own multiculti bona fides, nicely parodied by Ed West in The Daily Telegraph: “I was just saying how awful the BNP were to my Polish cleaner yesterday. She agreed, as did my Chinese nanny, Wen or Yen, or whatever her name is. My Brazilian catamite wasn't that bothered.”

If 15 per cent of the US electorate had voted for the American Fatherland Front or some such, you’d never hear the end of it from Le Monde and The Guardian and all the rest. But the Euro-elites have adjusted to the knuckledraggers’ lese-majeste, and are already congratulating themselves on holding the “far right”’s vote down to the low double-digits. It won’t be that low next time, but they’ll adjust to that, too. You can’t blame ‘em: It’s easier to do that than re-thinking your entire worldview, never mind trying to figure out anything you could actually do about these issues. I doubt the new kids on the block will be able to do anything, either. But, for a while, there will be votes in impotent rage, and the economic-&-cultural protectionism twofer will eat deep into the mainstream left’s base. They in turn will not change – for, in Britain and elsewhere, they have determined to celebrate diversity even unto societal death.


Gore lies about British court case

A leading UK lawyer, who represented the parent that sued Al Gore in the British High Court, has laughed off claims by the former vice-president that the judge ruled in his favour.

Speaking from London John Day, a senior partner in Malletts Solicitors, said Mr Gore was misrepresenting what the judge had found. Mr Day represented a British parent who sued the UK Ministry of Education when they wanted to distribute and show Mr Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth to every British school child.

In the 2006 documentary Mr Gore claimed humanity is in danger because of man made Global Warming. He also claimed flooding and disease would increase with the destruction of most of the world's major cities including New York, London and Shanghai. As a result Mr Gore was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and the documentary won an Oscar.

However, after a lengthy hearing a High Court Judge, Mr Justice Burton, found that An Inconvenient Truth contained significant scientific errors in nine key areas.

But questioned about the embarasing High Court decision during a current trip to Australia Mr Gore stated on ABC Australia "Well, the ruling was in my favour".

However, this has been rejected by Mr Day who said Mr Gore's latest claims are "difficult to square with the reality of the judgement". "The judge found there were nine serious scientific errors in the film." He said the court ordered that the film was "not suitable to be shown in British schools without a health warning".

"Mr Justice Burton said an Inconvenient Truth wasn't fit to be shown in British schools without suitably corrected guidance which drew attention to the errors in the film and its political partisanship."

Among the errors listed by Mr Justice Burton were Mr Gore claims that rising sea levels would destroy cities in the near future, that the polar bear was endangered and that the snows of Kilimanjaro were melting all because of Global Warming. The judge found these to be scientific errors. He also dismissed Mr Gore's claims that Hurricane Katrina was caused by Global Warming.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Wind farms will be a monument to an age when Britain's leaders collectively went off their heads

Let us be clear: Britain is facing an unprecedented crisis. Before long, we will lose 40 per cent of our generating capacity. And unless we come up quickly with an alternative, the lights WILL go out. Not before time, the Confederation of British Industry yesterday waded in, warning the Government it must abandon its crazy fixation with wind turbines as a way of plugging this forthcoming shortfall and instead urgently focus on far more efficient ways to meet the threat of a permanent, nationwide black-out.

There are a few contenders for the title of the maddest thing that has happened in our lifetime. But a front-runner must be the way in which politicians of all parties have been seduced by the La-La Land promises of the wind power lobby. If you still haven't made your mind up about wind power, just consider some of the inescapable facts - facts which the Government and the wind industry do their best to hide from us all. So far we have spent billions of pounds on building just over 2,000 wind turbines - and yet they contribute barely one per cent of all the electricity that we need. The combined output of all those 2,000 turbines put together, averaging 700 megawatts, is less than that of a single, medium-sized conventional power station.

What's more, far from being 'free', this pitiful dribble of electricity is twice as expensive as the power we get from the nuclear, gas or coal-fired power stations which currently supply well over 90 per cent of our needs - and we all pay the difference, without knowing it, through our electricity bills.

But despite its best efforts to conceal the fact that wind turbines expensively and unreliably generate only a derisory amount of electricity, the Government keeps on telling us of its megalomaniac plans to build thousands more of them - at a cost of up to £100billion.

The prime reason for this is that we are legally obliged by the European Union to generate 32 per cent of our electricity from 'renewable' sources by 2020. And with just 11 years to go until that deadline, we hope to meet the target by building highly-subsidised wind turbines. But this is a farce. In fact, as the Government is privately well aware, there is not the faintest hope that we can do anything of the kind - even if we wanted to.

Gordon Brown talks airily of building 4,000 offshore turbines by our target date - plus another 3,000 onshore. But this would mean sticking two of these 2,000-ton monsters, each the height of Blackpool Tower, into the seabed every day for the next 11 years. Nowhere in the world has it proved possible to install more than one of them a week. The infrastructure simply isn't there to build more than a fraction of that figure. Furthermore, such are the weather conditions around Britain's coasts that it is only possible to work on these projects for a few months every summer.

Then there are the 3,000 promised onshore turbines - many of which are to be erected in the most beautiful stretches of Britain's countryside. These are meeting with so much local hostility that the Government has continually had to bend the planning rules in order to force them through over the wishes of local communities and the democratic opposition of local councils.

But wind power is not just the pipedream of deluded politicians. As the CBI was trying to warn yesterday, the real disaster of this great wind fantasy is that it has diverted attention from the genuine energy crisis now hurtling towards us at breakneck speed. For while the Government is trying to force a scattering of useless wind turbines through the planning offices, the truth is that the rest of us will lose 40 per cent of our power stations within as little as seven years.

If this happens, and we don't have an alternative, our kettles won't boil, our computers won't work and our country will face economic meltdown. There is little hope now of an 11th hour reprieve. Eight of our nine nuclear power stations - which presently supply 20 per cent of our electricity needs - are so old they will have to close. Nine more large coal and oil-fired power plants will also be forced to shut down under an EU anti-pollution directive.

But more alarming still is the astonishing naivete of almost all our politicians when it comes to working out how we are going to fill the 40 per cent shortfall left in their wake. Very belatedly, the Government has said that it wants to see a new generation of nuclear reactors. Yet there is little hope that any of them can be up and running earlier than 2020. What's more, they will have to be built by foreign-owned companies because, as recently as October 2006, the Government sold off our last world-class nuclear construction company, Westinghouse, to the Japanese at a knockdown price.

At the same time, our Energy And Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, now says he will not allow any new coal-fired power stations to be built unless they have 'carbon capture' - piping off CO2 to bury it in holes in the ground. This technology not only doubles the price of electricity but hasn't even yet been properly developed. And so the only hope of keeping the lights on will be to build dozens more gas-fired power stations - at a time when North Sea gas is fast running out. And then we will be forced to rely on imports from politically unreliable countries such as Russia, at a time when gas prices are likely to be soaring.

In any event, over the past 20 years, our politicians have made an even more unholy shambles of Britain's energy policy than they have of our economy - and the cost, when the chickens come to roost in a few years' time, will be almost unimaginable.

The causes of Britain's impending energy crisis are manifold. Michael Heseltine's 1992 'dash for gas', when he closed down most of our remaining coal mines because North Sea gas was still cheap and abundant, and because its CO2 emissions were only half those of coal, was one of them. But nothing has done more to take the politicians' eye off the ball, egged on by environmentalist groups such as Friends Of The Earth and Greenpeace, than their quite incomprehensible obsession with windmills. For these white elephants can never produce more than a fraction of the electricity we need, and by no means always when we need it - as we saw last winter when, for weeks on end, they were scarcely turning at all. Do politicians never look outside the windows of their centrally-heated offices to see how often the wind is not blowing?

The Government has now shovelled so much money in hidden subsidies into the pockets of the turbine companies that the 'wind bonanza', promoted on a host of fraudulent claims, has become one of the greatest scams of our age. But if and when our lights do go out, it will be important to remember just why we got carried away by such a massive blunder.

Left with a land blighted with useless towers of metal, we shall look on those windmills as a monument to the age when the politicians of Britain and Europe collectively went completely off their heads.


Britain is a soft touch for people smuggling, say traffickers

People-traffickers view Britain as a “soft touch” for smuggling illegal immigrants, with big profits and a low risk of being caught, according to Home Office research published yesterday. Traffickers also allege that officials in the Identity and Passport Service are willing to take bribes to help illegal immigrants to enter the country.

The research said that a number of factors encouraged illegal immigration, including the benefits system, a healthy illegal economy, the universality of the English language and the advocacy of illegal migration by some minority ethnic communities.

Other factors included the ready availability of work in the construction industry, high demand for prostitution, a comparatively relaxed immigration policy, the way that migrants and asylum seekers can use the Human Rights Act to remain in Britain, the ease of getting a passport via marriage to a British citizen and the absence of identity cards.

“The picture presented by the perpetrators was of a market that conferred healthy profits with a low risk of detection,” the report said. “The UK is perceived as an attractive destination for a number of reasons and illicit entry across UK borders is perceived to be relatively easy.”

Victims of trafficking are often women brought to work as sex slaves. Many pay thousands of pounds to get into Britain with the promise of work, only to find themselves trapped and their passports taken away.

The research on organised immigration crime involved interviews with 45 prisoners convicted of people smuggling or trafficking crimes in 2005. Migrants paid from £500 to £5,000 to be smuggled from France, £10,000 to gain entry from India, up to £12,000 from Turkey and £25,000 to £50,000 from China.

The Chinese figures included £10,000 for a false passport and £15,000 for the journey. An intermediary could be paid £4,000 for arranging a seat on a boat across the Channel.


UK: Ireland passport proposal shelved: “The government has climbed down over plans to make people show passports for travel between Britain and Ireland. There are currently no passport controls for Irish and UK citizens travelling in the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the two islandsImmigration Minister Phil Woolas had said controls should be in place to tighten security. But the House of Lords voted to remove the clause during the passage of a borders bill.”

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