Monday, August 03, 2009

Teacher who complained about training day 'promoting gay rights' is cleared

A senior teacher who was suspended after complaining that a training day for staff was used to promote gay rights has been reinstated. Kwabena Peat, 54, is to return to his £50,000-a-year job at a North London school next term after his plight was highlighted by The Mail on Sunday in April.

Mr Peat was one of several Christian staff who walked out of the compulsory training session in January after an invited speaker questioned why heterosexuality was assumed to be natural.

Mr Peat, a history teacher who is also a head of year, said he had expected the session on child protection issues merely to provide information to help teachers tackle homophobic bullying.

He sent a written complaint to three staff members involved in organising the session and was then suspended because they said they felt harassed by the letter.

The teacher, supported by the Christian Legal Centre and human rights lawyer Paul Diamond, denied harassment as the staff to whom he had complained were senior to him. The school’s appeal panel has now agreed the charge was out of proportion.

The director of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Williams, said: ‘What kind of society are we living in when a legitimate orthodox Christian view is construed in this way?’


Unbelievable Britain again

Health and safety police ban swimmers from doing lengths of a swimming pool

Swimmers at a council pool have been banned from doing lengths for health and safety reasons. They have been told they may only swim across the width of the pool as it makes it easier for lifeguards to ensure their safety. Regular users of the Dagenham Swimming Pool in Essex say the rules are a clear indication that Britain is gripped by 'health and safety insanity'.

Local resident Dean Bradford, 33, who has used the pool for more than 20 years, said the ban on lengths was a farce and would impact young and old alike. The municipal pool is 33.3 metres long (108ft) and 25 metres wide (85ft) and attracts thousands of users each week. Mr Bradford said: 'A lot of elderly people swim lengths of the pool to maintain their stamina and health and young people swim lengths to become better swimmers.

There are also those people who swim lengths as part of a training regime to compete in the sport. With the Olympics just around the corner I thought we were meant to be encouraging sporting excellence. 'By banning lengths all these people are being marginalised and will have to go elsewhere. I think it is totally insane.' Mr Bradford said he was told by the pool manager that they would need to have an extra lifeguard on duty if people were swimming lengths, as it was more difficult to keep an eye on them and there was not enough funding to pay for one.

But Barking and Dagenham Council, which runs the pool, said they had changed the swimming lanes to run width-ways to help people training for 50metre and 100metre events and to free up more space in the shallow end of the pool for less confident swimmers. A council spokesman said: 'This enables people who are less confident to swim lengths of the shallow end to help them get fit and also it makes it easier to see where people are swimming and what they are doing. It's about variety, giving a whole host of swimming options.

'Most people who are training for events don't want to swim 33.3 metres, it doesn't fit in with the distances involved. It's not all about health and safety although it is true it does make it easier, they can use different staffing levels. It's easier for the staff and it's better swimming.'

But Mr Bradford said: 'This is just the nanny state gone mad and it's affecting my life and other people's lives. It's another obstacle for people trying to get fit and healthy.'

The council spokesman said the changes affect morning and lunchtime swimming sessions and if feedback was not good the lanes could be changed back to lengths.


UK: Energy policy “too wind focused” says business group

The UK must invest more in nuclear and clean coal energy and put less emphasis on wind power if it wants a secure low-carbon future, business leaders say. The CBI says government energy policy is "disjointed" and it is urging a "more balanced" energy mix. The current approach means the UK might miss climate change targets, it added.

The government said putting in place a balanced mix of renewables, new nuclear and cleaner fossil fuels was at the heart of its energy policy. It is due to set out its Energy White Paper on Wednesday. But the CBI is calling for more action in its report "Decision Time". "The government's disjointed approach is deterring the private sector investment needed to get our energy system up to scratch, bolster security and cut emissions," said CBI deputy director general John Cridland. "While we have generous subsidies for wind power, we urgently need the national planning statements needed to build new nuclear plants. "If we carry on like this we will end up putting too many of our energy eggs in one basket."

The CBI's comments are based on computer modelling of current power sector investment by consultants McKinsey. The CBI wants the government to:

• reduce the percentage of wind power expected by 2020 under the Renewables Strategy later this week, to encourage investment in other low-carbon energy sources.

• speed up the planning process for energy supplies

• produce rules and funding arrangements for for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration plants

• accelerate investment in the grid

• improve energy efficiency in the electricity, heating and transport sectors, including offering financial sweeteners for consumers choosing more efficient products.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: "We know that big investments need certainty, and we're on track with our promise to remove costly unnecessary barriers to new nuclear, such as the planning reforms already in train."

Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy and formerly a member of the CBI's energy policy committee, told the BBC's environment analyst Roger Harrabin that the increase in wind power was threatening to the big power generators who he said dominated the committee. "This document is no surprise. EDF have been lobbying very hard for less obligations on renewables, saying it will distract from nuclear," he said. "This is precisely what Patricia Hewitt [the former trade and industry secretary] warned would happen when she published the 'no-new-nukes' 2003 energy white paper."

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said that by calling for wind power's contribution to the UK's renewable energy targets to be reduced the CBI is actually doing its members a great disservice. "Nuclear power is less effective than wind power at tackling climate change, while investment in renewables would create much needed British jobs in one of the few growth sectors in the global economy," he said. "Here in the UK we have one of the best renewable energy resources anywhere in the world and a manufacturing sector champing at the bit to capture the lead in marine technologies like offshore wind and tidal power."

Meanwhile a DECC spokesman told Roger Harrabin the government was "fully behind" the 15% renewables target. "We're not setting fixed sub-targets [for electricity, heat, transport], but our projections are about finding the most practicable and cost effective mix. "Our analysis supports the approach we're taking. We don't believe it inhibits new nuclear - there are a myriad of other considerations to factor in."


The hatred that may not be mentioned in modern Britain: "Here is a non-story. There were more than 600 attacks on British Jews in the first six months of the year. This is twice as many as the same period in 2008. Most consisted of verbal abuse – frightening enough for elderly Jews or Jewish schoolchildren – but 77 of the attacks were violent, including an attempt to kill a Jew by running him over. So far, no British paper has reported this increase in antisemitic attacks. Why? There are six to seven times as many Muslims as Jews in Britain. If since January there had been – scaled up proportionately – 2,000 attacks on British Muslims, it would make headlines everywhere. Those whose language and discourse created an atmosphere that denied British Muslims their right to a peaceful life under law would be the object of investigation – journalistic and intellectual – and put under pressure. But, in today's Britain, to be anti-antisemitic is to invite scorn, as if no problem existed.

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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