The “Sunday dreads”

Legal Orange

Also known as the Sunday afternoon blues or Sunday evening depression.

This occurs when you know that the week ahead is going to be filled with:

  • annoying clients;
  • other lawyers who are difficult to deal with;
  • risky court hearings;
  • deadlines that may not be met; and/or
  • too much work to complete – regardless of how many hours you work. 

Everybody has them, but the yardstick to measure this is how frequently you suffer from the Sunday dreads.

If this feeling consumes you every Sunday then it’s time to change your job.

About 2+ years ago I started to have this feeling most Sundays and realised it was time for a fresh start. I duly moved to another firm.

Law is a job – a career to a large extent -even a lifestyle choice at its highest tier.  But once you start letting it take over your free time, and see it have an effect…

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EU Charter of rights and children

“To me – and I am trying very hard not to load my pro-European views onto this – the English version of the law, from a child’s point of view, is appreciably weaker under Children Act 1989 s 1(3)(a). A child’s ‘wishes and feelings’ are but one of six factors to be considered by the court. None of the six are to be given priority. In EU law the child has a right – unconditionally – to have his or her views taken into account (if that is what the child wants).”

Critical post deftly exposing the gaps which will be left behind in children’s rights infrastructure after #Brexit happens. However, Labour is proposing tabling an amendment on Tuesday to the withdrawal bill, aimed at retaining the charter as part of UK law. Let’s see what happens.

On a different note, what of the GAL who defies instructions and replaces the child’s voice with his own then passes that off as the ascertainable wishes and feelings of a child? Where is the remedy for the child and his parents for such festering sores blighting the public family law landscape? Perjury? Appeal?

dbfamilylaw

A child’s Charter rights which will be lost

The Observer today reported that clause 5(4) in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill which proposes to abolish Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’) will create a substantial ‘human rights deficit’. It will leave ‘many different groups in society without adequate protection’. Clause 5(4) is in brutally clear terms: ‘(4) The Charter of Fundamental Rights is not part of domestic law on or after exit day’. This article concentrates on children’s rights under the Charter which will go on exit day.

An important means of protecting rights – apart from those rights already enshrined in a variety of other legislation and in the common law – is European Convention 1950. This is incorporated, most of it, into English law by Human Rights Act 1998. However there are two substantial qualifications to the importance of European Convention 1950, which the…

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#BrokenPolitics: #BrexitBill leaves a hole in #UK #HumanRights

Brexit bill leaves a hole in UK human rights | THE OBSERVER | Sat 13 January 2018

British civil rights groups sound a warning in the Observer over effects of EU withdrawal legislation

Keir Starmer
 Keir Starmer, the shadow home secretary, says Labour will propose an amendment to the bill. Photograph: BBC

A human rights deficit will be created by the government’s EU withdrawal bill, leaving many different groups in society without adequate protection, leading civil rights bodies warn in a letter published in the Observer.

The organisations spell out profound concerns that a raft of rights will be jettisoned with no adequate replacement once the bill becomes law and the UK leaves the EU.

Among others, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Amnesty International, Liberty, the Fawcett Society and National Aids Trust warn that the bill, which is returning to the House of Commons on 16 January, “will not protect people’s rights in the UK as the government promised”. They say: “This is in large part because the bill removes the EU charter of fundamental rights from our law.”

David Isaac, the chair of the EHRC, the UK’s own independent human rights watchdog, said: “The government has promised there will be no rowing back on people’s rights after Brexit. If we lose the charter protections, that promise will be broken. It will cause legal confusion and there will be gaps in the law.

“While securing trade deals is vital for our economy, equality and human rights are also essential. They must also be the focus for the type of country we want to be after Brexit. Current protections must not be jeopardised.”

According to the signatories to the letter, “The charter protects rights important to all of us: including rights to dignity, protection of personal data and health; and protections for workers, women, children, and older people, LGBTI and disabled people.”

The government maintains that the charter will cease to be part of UK law when Britain leaves the EU but insists that rights will not be weakened following Brexit. However, the signatories claim that independent legal advice shows this to be wrong.

The protection afforded by the EU charter of fundamental rights is much stronger than the Human Rights Act

Trevor Tayleur

“Losing it creates a human rights hole because the charter provides some rights and judicial remedies that have no clear equivalents in UK law,” they write.

“Furthermore, by keeping the wide and complex body of EU law while throwing away the charter, which is the code to unlock it, the government risks creating confusion, jamming itself in a mountain of legal cases.” According to the EHRC, rights that would be lost, and which do not have direct equivalents in other UK human rights law, include a freestanding right to non-discrimination, protection of a child’s best interests and the right to human dignity.

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has said that Labour will propose an amendment to the withdrawal bill when it returns to the Commons on Tuesday, aimed at retaining the charter as part of UK law.

Trevor Tayleur, an associate professor at the University of Law, explained that the charter, although narrower in focus than the Human Rights Act, offers a more robust defence of fundamental rights.

“At present, the main means of protecting human rights in the UK is the Human Rights Act 1998,” he said. “This incorporates the bulk of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European convention on human rights into UK law and thereby enables individuals to enforce their convention rights in the UK courts. However, there is a significant limitation to the protection afforded by the HRA because it does not override acts of parliament.

“In contrast, the protection afforded by the EU charter of fundamental rights is much stronger because where there is a conflict between basic rights contained in the charter and an act of the Westminster parliament, the charter will prevail over the act.”

Koldo Casla, policy director at Just Fair, an NGO that monitors and campaigns for economic and social rights in the UK, is one of the letter’s signatories. He said: “Britain is the land of the Charter of the Forest, the Peasants’ Revolt and the Putney Debates, the birthplace of Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill, the country of the NHS, the home of the council house.

Social rights have been part of Britain’s tradition for centuries and Brexit should not change that. We must preserve the EU charter of fundamental rights and we must incorporate into our legal system all other social rights standards that the UK has voluntarily signed up to at the international level.”


 

Social Worker (Wrongly) Accuses Mum Of Impersonating Complaints Ombudsman – And It’s Hilarious.

Impunity is dysfunctional! Another instance of lemming logic ignoring the obvious, the hidden costs of which are too high, not least for the welfare of the children affected and at taxpayers expense to boot.

Researching Reform

One of the things that frustrates us the most about current social work practice is the bloody minded way in which professionals refuse to correct records when mistakes are made. But this latest case is not without its funny moments.

An ongoing child protection complaint involving a mother who has been routinely denied access to her children’s records, has taken a bizarre turn.

Trying desperately to access information held by the local authority in question, and having made several complaints about the way she and her family have been treated by the council, the mother decided to enlist the help of complaints ombudsman, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

hcpc3-672x372

The case was accepted, and so the social worker for the HCPC made a telephone call to the relevant social worker at the council to collect details about the child protection professional the mother had lodged a complaint against. The…

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#StateSanctionedHarm: Who pays for the harm done to children? CN v Poole and law of negligence

On December 21st 2017, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in CN v Poole Borough Council  [2017] EWCA civ 2185.

This judgment prompted a report in The Times on the 1st January 2018 with the headline ‘Abuse victims told they can’t sue council for compensation’. The report went on to claim:

Victims of abuse who claim that councils failed to protect them may not be entitled to compensation.

A Court of Appeal ruling in a case against Poole council could affect thousands of people, including victims of the Rotherham grooming scandal, experts say.

There was similar reporting from the Daily Mirror – who went even further, claiming that Brexit will have implications for the continuing relevance of the European Court of Human Rights, a common but simply inaccurate belief. 

Researching Reform published a post which claimed this new ruling ‘blocked’ abuse survivors from suing councils:

The judgment seeks to prevent claims from survivors who were known to be suffering but did not find themselves in full time state care, or subject to a care order of any kind. Potentially affected victims in this context then, could include those groomed by gangs or physically and sexually abused at home.

Just how reliable or accurate is such reporting of the impact of this decision?

It appears that the result of the CN judgments is that a common law claim in negligence for a negligent act or omission in a failure to investigate / failure to protect case (pre care order) may now fail; certainly claims of that type will now be fought tooth and nail by Defendants who will argue that a negligence action against a social services professional / Children’s Services Department is only now possible post a formal assumption of responsibility via a statutory decision to intervene.

This is a major judicial U-turn, which sets the law back 27 years by reinstating the largely discredited public policy reasons set out by Lord Browne-Wilkinson in X (Minors) v Bedfordshire CC [1995] 2 AC 633. Irwin LJ who delivered the main judgment has declared that the Court of Appeal decision in JD v East Berkshire [2004] QB 558 should no longer be followed. It was Lord Phillips in JD who declared that X (Beds) should not be followed as the policy objections said to point away from the imposition of a duty of care (defensiveness, resources, delicate and multi-disciplinary decision making to name but 3) could not survive the Human Rights Act 1998 as local authorities were exposed to just those dangers under the Human Right Act.

The reporting is thus misleading as the Poole decision by itself does not ‘block’ victims of abuse – there remains the potential avenue to establish liability and financial compensation that flows from breach of the Human Rights Act 1998. For example, note the decision of the European Court in Z and Others v UK [2001]. This examined the refusal of the House of Lords in X v Bedfordshire in 1995 to find a duty of care existed to remove children from abusive home circumstances and thus denied them financial compensation for the significant harm they suffered. The European Court found the children’s Article 3 rights had been breached, so serious was the harm they suffered, and awarded damages.

However it is not surprising that decisions in these areas cause confusion and mis-understanding. Broad headlines about ‘abuse survivors’ being ‘blocked’ from claiming compensation are dangerously simplistic.  These cases need very careful consideration about the legal mechanism identified for bringing a claim. Bringing a claim in negligence has different requirements than bringing a claim under the Human Rights Act – in essence to succeed in negligence you will need to show that you were owed a ‘duty of care’ by the person or institution that caused you harm.

The law around negligence is complicated and continually evolving. What follows can only be a blunt summary – if you are contemplating any kind of legal action in this field you are going to need specialist advice.

Why is the law so complicated in this area?

The reason for its complexity can be summed up fairly simply – if people are caused harm by the actions of another, then often they would like to be compensated for that harm. The only compensation possible in many cases is money – years of child hood cannot be restored for example.

Getting financial compensation may have to involve bringing legal action against people  or agencies who did not directly cause the harm because they have  ‘deeper pockets’ i.e. greater access to money via department budgets or insurance schemes.  Insurance companies are usually very keen to avoid paying out. Thus such cases are often fought very hard.

This has proved a particularly fraught arena when dealing with harm done to children or families by the actions or failure to act of a local authority.  Harm is most likely to be caused by individuals such as social workers or foster carers who are unlikely to be rich enough to be worth suing as individuals. The focus then falls on the local authority and to what standards they could reasonably be held. But when local authorities are under a statutory duty to try and protect children, there are significant public policy arguments against imposing financial liabilities owing to fears that this may lead to defensive practices and unwillingness to work with families. It is also often difficult to establish causation when many different agencies and people contribute to decision making.

To establish negligence you need to show that you were owed a ‘duty of care’ and in many cases the courts have refused to find that such a duty of care existed, relying on such public policy grounds.

However, those who argue against the refusal to extend liability point out that negligence is more than just ‘carelessness’ – it has to be behaviour that falls far below what you would expect from others in this field. Why shouldn’t children and families be protected from such serious failings?

The common law around negligence is continually evolving, reflecting the constant shifts in societal attitudes towards notions of vulnerability and harm. For example, we can see the clear evolution of of the court’s willingness to find local authorities liable for harm caused to children by abusive foster carers. As recently as 2015 the Court of Appeal decided a local authority could not be held ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of its foster carers; however, the decision was over-turned in part when the case reached the Supreme Court in  Armes v Nottinghamshire County Council [2017] which decided that whilst there was not a non-delegable duty to take reasonable care, it was possible for such vicarious liability to exist.

The Poole case is interesting because the eventual argument before the court was restricted to an action in negligence about a failure to act –  that the local authority should have removed the children from their mother’s care and thus saved them from the impact of anti social and abusive behaviour carried out by the neighbours. The Court of Appeal did not accept the local authority owed a duty of care in such a case – and to remove children from their parents in such circumstances under a care order would not merely be ‘utterly heartless’ and ‘utterly wrong’ but unlawful.

So what was really going on in Poole?

Factual background to the claim in negligence in Poole.

For further detail about the litigation history and legal arguments in this case, see this helpful briefing note from 1 Chancery Lane Chambers.

A mother ‘Mrs N’ had two sons, CN (aged 9) and GN (aged 7). CN had serious disabilities, requiring a high level of care and supervision. In May 2006, the family moved into accommodation on a housing estate in Poole. The local authority arranged this as the local housing authority and the accommodation was was rented from the Poole Housing Partnership Limited (“PHP”).

Sadly, over the next few years, Mrs N and her sons were the victims of serious anti socialbehaviour from a neighbouring family. Mrs N reported this to various agencies – the police, the local authority and the PHP. She had to complain further to local politicians about the lack of effective response from these agencies. This led to the Home Office being involved who carried out an independent case review in 2010 that criticised the agencies’ responses. However, the anti socialbehaviour continued and the family were finally re-housed in December 2011.

Litigation then commenced. In December 2012 the family claimed against the council, the police and the PHP alleging breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 and negligence. The essence of the claim was that all three agencies had failed to take appropriate steps to protect the family from abuse and this was a breach of their rights under Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR (which respectively protect against inhuman and degrading treatment and mandate respect for family and private life).

However, the family did not provide any ‘Particulars of Claim’ i.e. the defendants didn’t get any details to explain exactly how and when they had breached the family’s human rights or had acted negligently. The family asked for more time to provide these details in August 2013, but in December 2013 that application was dismissed.

A year later a second set of proceedings was issued and this time only the council was a defendant and the claim was now based solely in negligence. Previous case law had established that no duty of care was owed by either the police or the housing departments in such circumstances.

A second claim was also made on behalf of the children that the council had failed to comply with its duties under the Children Act 1989 to safeguard them and promote their welfare.

The local authority wanted the court to strike out that second claim as having no foundation in law. However, In October 2015 the court dismissed both elements of the family’s claim, finding that there was no basis to hold that a local authority owed a duty of care to protect against the anti social behaviour of others and that there was no legal foundation to hold that the Children Act 1989 created any additional duty of care with regard to the children.

The children then appealed with regard to the argument that a duty of care flowed from the local authority’s obligations under the Children Act. The court were reminded of the Court of Appeal decision in JD & Ors v East Berkshire Community Health & Ors [2003] EWCA Civ 1151 (31 July 2003) which found at para 87:

where consideration is being given to whether the suspicion of child abuse justifies taking proceedings to remove a child from the parents, while a duty of care can be owed to the child, no common law duty of care is owed to the parents.

The claim becomes about the local authority’s failure to remove the children from their mother

The appeal was heard in February 2016 and Slade J agreed that it was wrong to strike out the children’s claims based on the local authorities social services functions. The children’s case was then put on this basis, arguing that the local authority should be liable for the following failures:

a) Failed to assess the ability of the Claimants’ mother to protect her children from the level of abuse and violence they were subjected to. The Defendant did not carry out any timely or competent risk assessment and such assessments as were carried out were flawed and delayed ….

(b) Failed to assess that the Claimants’ mother’s ability to protect the Claimants from abuse …. Further failed to assess that the mother was unable to meet the Claimants needs whilst she lived …. with them.

The council were then given permission to appeal and they succeeded. The Court of Appeal found the argument that the children should have been removed from their mother’s care as a means of dealing with anti socialbehaviour as “rather startling” and “highly artificial” (paragraph 41). In essence, the claim had nothing to do with any social services functions but was “in fact a criticism of the housing functions of the local authority” (paragraph 104).

The Court of Appeal in Poole considered at para 55 the implications of the earlier ruling in JD v East Berkshire that a duty of care could be owed to a child when considering the child’s removal from his parents:

The Court was considering the decision whether to leave a child in a family where abuse was in question. For the purposes of such a decision there exists no true “third” party, in the usual sense. The actual or potential wrongdoing by those who would retain (or gain) custody of a child is central to the decision being taken. It is the mainspring of the relevant decision. That is a significant distinction from the current case.

There were two fundamental aspects to these proceedings which argued against making the council liable.

  • the danger of encouraging defensive decision-making and
  • the general absence of liability for the wrong-doing of others (paragraph 94). It is simply unfair for the local social services authority to be held liable, when the housing department, the landlord and the police could not. (paragraphs 95-98)

Although the court accepted that society placed a high emphasis on protecting vulnerable people, it was neither effective nor just to do so by singling out one agency of the State for tortious liability as against the others.

The Court of Appeal confirmed that the Court of Appeal decision in JD v East Berkshire was inconsistent  with the subsequent decisions of higher authority and should no longer be followed (paragraphs 99-101).

King LJ, an experienced family judge, was further critical of the argument that the courts would grant a care order in the circumstances of this case, re-stating the high threshold for the making of a care order and the established law that even if threshold is met, a child would only be removed from a parent on an interim basis if the child’s safety demanded it. Davis LJ stated that care proceedings to protect the children by removing them from their mother would have been “utterly heartless” and “utterly wrong” (paragraph 118).

It may be that there are attempts to take this to the Supreme Court so watch this space!

Conclusions – who does pay when children are harmed?

To say that this case means victims of abuse cannot bring claims against local authorities is clearly a sweeping and dangerous mis-statement. However, it is clear that this is a significant case, not least for it’s ‘reinstatement’ of X v Bedfordshire. As lawyers Rob Hams, Paul Stagg and Lord Edward Faulks QC commented:

Although it has been consistently assumed by those practising in the field and in the case law in the fourteen years since JD was decided that X v Bedfordshire CC was no longer good law, the decision in CN demonstrates how that assumption can no longer be justified. X v Bedfordshire CC has been restored as a governing authority which establishes that no duty of care is owed by the local authority, at least in the making of decisions as to whether care proceedings should be commenced.

There remain a variety of avenues for those who have been harmed, including an application under the Human Rights Act for damages for breach of those rights protected by the ECHR. However, as we have commented elsewhere on this site, such applications are difficult and unlikely to attract any significant amount of damages unless you can establish breach of Article 3 (torture, inhuman or degrading treatment), as opposed to Article 8 (private and family life).

The case of Poole and the reaction to it further underscores the great complexity of the law around negligence and how different courts will look at issues of public policy in various and conflicting ways.

Although the reporting of this case by the media and some bloggers has been too simplistic to be helpful, this is certainly a product of the significant complexity of the law itself. We urgently need a more coherent and consistent response to those children and families who have suffered harm as a result of the failures of state agencies.

Feature pic : P J Richey on Flickr (Creative Commons – thanks)


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Thank you for this .

As always the establishment make it deliberately difficult to see the wood for the trees, so let’s state what appears to be happening. ie the wood.

The LAs do not want to be responsible for child protection.

This is shocking but true.

They want to outsource all protection to for profit companies which are ever larger and an untouchable monopoly, paid ever more public money to’ protect’ our children.

But those children can’t sue them in contract for abuse/ poor service maybe we can in tort or HRA freestanding, but then the LA as their commissioners and overseers will be liable.

The LA or rather their insurers do not want this, so last year they tried to place a clause in a statute but failed as Munro a leading expert on protection advised against it.

So the LAs, with the help of media are trying to avoid it via media/.judiciary ie the back door.

It is hard enough to get any liability via HRA/negligence and this can be in any event written off as an insurance actuary risk .

This is a licence for abuse and poor child protection.

Our government is not protecting are most vulnerable, as those companies and their Commissioner LA are EFFECTIVELY not accountable and all is run for overriding profit from our money.

So no accountability for enforced , monopoly services with guaranteed public money.-
Beyond shocking.



 

#BDS #ANC: Party of Nelson #Mandela calls to increase boycott of #Israel

Party of Nelson Mandela calls to increase boycott of Israel | MEMO | 11 January 2018

The African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape has called for greater solidarity with the Palestinian people while urging South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Comrade Ayanda Dlodlo, to re-evaluate the country’s visa policy with Israel following the decision by the government in Tel Aviv to blacklist BDS South Africa along with dozens of other organisations.

The party of Nelson Mandela, which voted to downgrade South Africa’s embassy in Israel last month, cautioned the Israeli government for blacklisting supporters of the BDS movement. The organisations listed, including a Quaker group that helped save Jews from Hitler’s Nazi regime, will not be allowed entry to Israel-Palestine due to their support for BDS. The list also singles out BDS South Africa, whose members include prominent figures from the ANC.

Source: Party of Nelson Mandela calls to increase boycott of Israel

#China #Xinjiang: Crackdown on indigenous #Uyghur #Muslims

Chinese Authorities Arrest Xinjiang Intellectual Amid Crackdown on Prominent UyghursRFA’s Uyghur Service | RADIO FREE ASIA | 12 January 2018

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region have arrested a prominent Uyghur intellectual for exhibiting “nationalistic tendencies,” according to a source in exile, amid an intensifying crackdown on notable members of the ethnic group.

Halmurat Ghopur, president of the Xinjiang Food and Drug Administration’s Department of Inspection and Supervision in the regional capital Urumqi, was taken into custody in November last year and is being held in an unknown location amid an investigation into his alleged “acts against the state,” according to Zumret Tursun, a Norway-based Uyghur activist.

Halmurat Ghopur is shown in an interview on China's official CCTV network, Aug. 19, 2016.

Halmurat Ghopur is shown in an interview on China’s official CCTV network, Aug. 19, 2016.

 Photo courtesy of CCTV

Tursun recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that one of her students was present when authorities arrested Ghopur, who is also the former president of Xinjiang Medical University Hospital in Urumqi.

“He said Halmurat Ghopur was taken away from his office, along with his computer,” she said, withholding the student’s name to protect him from possible retribution.

“One of Halmurat Ghopur’s students who is studying abroad had been in contact with him via a messaging app, and [Ghopur] had kept some of their correspondence on his phone without deleting it.”

According to Tursun, when state security police came to arrest Ghopur, he demanded to know why he was being taken away and an officer told him he had exhibited “nationalistic tendencies,” before reading some of the conversations on the messaging app WeChat that they had monitored.

“They said, ‘for this reason we are taking away your computer, and you must come with us and cooperate,’” Tursun said, citing her student.

“He hasn’t had a hearing yet, but it is obvious that he will be tried in court,” she added.

Since April last year, ethnic Uyghurs accused of harboring “extremist” and “politically incorrect” views have been jailed or detained in political re-education camps throughout Xinjiang, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.

Last week, RFA learned that authorities had sentenced the four wealthiest Uyghurs in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city to lengthy jail terms for acts of “religious extremism” that included undertaking “unapproved, private hajj” pilgrimages to the Islamic holy site of Mecca and connections to imams who were not sanctioned by the state.

Differences with colleague

Despite a successful career in medicine that included official acknowledgement for developing a treatment for respiratory illnesses which combined Western and traditional Uyghur medicine, observers suggested that differences Ghopur had with Xinjiang Medical University secretary Li Bing may have led authorities to target him.

According to an article entitled “We Must Be Vigilant Against Hidden Two-Faced Officials,” published by China University of Political Science and Law professor Wu Danhong last summer, Li had actively fought the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism in Xinjiang, but Ghopur was critical of his approach.

In one case, the article noted, Li—who is ethnic Han Chinese—had suggested that students be prohibited from wearing Islamic clothing on the university campus, but Ghopur argued that the clothing is part of Uyghur traditional religious and cultural dress.

Li was found guilty of accepting a 3 million yuan (U.S. $465,000) bribe and sentenced by Xinjiang’s Intermediate Court in March last year to more than 10 years in jail for corruption, and Wu alleged in his article that Ghopur had framed him.

According to the article, Ghopur was a “two-faced official” who had failed to follow Communist Party guidelines by recruiting students who were “not fit to fill their positions” at the university hospital, in a bid to “fulfil his murky intentions.”

“Two-faced” is a term applied by the government to Uyghurs who do not willingly follow directives and exhibit signs of “disloyalty” that can include promotion of “extremist” sentiment, providing support to separatist groups, or publishing information that “harms the unity of the country” or “distorts the history of Xinjiang.”

‘On break’

A Han Chinese staff member at the Xinjiang Food and Drug Administration’s Department of Inspection and Supervision who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity, said he was “not aware” of Ghopur’s arrest and that the department president was “on break.” He directed further questions to the administration’s Department of Organization.

A Han official at Xinjiang Medical University, who also asked to remain unnamed, told RFA he had not heard that Ghopur was arrested and that it was “incorrect” to say so. Ghopur is “being investigated for breaking party rules,” he added.

When asked if Ghopur had been accused of failing to comply with the central government’s policy of ethnic unity, the official said he was unable to comment because he is not involved in the investigation.

According to the official, differences between Ghopur and Li were not responsible for the former’s current investigation.

“It is possible that that being a high-level official and communist party member, Halmurat might have broken party discipline and that is why he is under investigation,” he said.

“Regardless of his connections with the government, if he broke the rules he will be held responsible and will be punished accordingly.”

Other sources told RFA that it is strictly prohibited to discuss Ghopur’s case, even though the public is already largely aware that he was taken into custody by police.

China regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns in Xinjiang, including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.

While China blames some Uyghurs for “terrorist” attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2009.

 

 

Reported by Kurban Niyaz for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by RFA’s Uyghur Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Correction: An earlier version of the story erroneously stated that Li Bing was found guilty of accepting a 300,000 yuan (U.S. $46,400) bribe.

#FreedomOfReligion: 2nd #Church demolished in #China in a month!

CHINA DEMOLISHES ANOTHER CHURCH, SPARKING FEARS OF CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHRISTIANITY |  

Authorities in northern China have demolished another church, sparking fears that the officially atheist Communist Party may be enforcing a campaign against Christianity.

The Golden Lampstand, a well-known evangelical megachurch in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province, was dramatically demolished with explosives on Tuesday.

According to witnesses, a large team of People’s Armed Police and local officials detonated dynamite inside the building before using cranes and bulldozers to reduce it to rubble, reported The Guardian.

Church_demolished_ChinaOfficials in China demolished another church on Tuesday, sparking fear that the country may be implementing a crackdown on Christianity. The Golden Lampstand Church was demolished with dynamite less than a month after the only Catholic Church in Zhifang was destroyed.CHINA AID

China Aid, a Texas-based Christian human rights organization, confirmed the demolition in a statement online.

“China’s military police has been under the direct control of the central government since the head of the public security bureau, which previously commanded it, was arrested last year. This indicates that the order to destroy the church came from China’s top officials instead of the less-powerful local authorities,” the statement read.

Golden Lampstand Church has had a long history of tension with the communist government dating back to when it was built in 2009.

Congregation members were beaten by 400 officials during an incident in September 2009, which resulted in church leaders receiving lengthy prison sentences on nonsense charges such as assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic and illegally occupying agricultural land, according to the statement.

“I think this might be a new pattern against any independent house churches with an existing building or intention to build one,” Bob Fu, founder of China Aid told The Guardian.

“It also could be a prelude to enforcing the new regulation on religious affairs that will take effect in February,” he added.

This is the second time in the past month that a church has been demolished in the area. Last December, the only Catholic Church in Zhifang, a village near Shaanxi, was destroyed for no apparent reason, 20 years after it opened, according to Asia News.

At the time, Catholics in the area took to social media to post pictures of the demolition alongside papers proving the church’s permanent permits to occupy the land.

Although freedom of religion is an established right in China, local authorities use rigid laws and legal loopholes to attack smaller congregations.

Under rigid laws in China, any religious groups must be registered with local authorities. The Golden Lampstand was an unregistered independent church opened by an evangelist couple who served a congregation of over 50,000 people.


 

Current #US #nuclear launch process “poses clear and present danger to country and the world” declare 17 former nuclear launch officers!

Former Missileers Warn: “No Individual, Especially Donald Trump, Should Hold The Absolute Power To Destroy Nations”

For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 11, 2018
Contact: Brett Abrams | 516-841-1105 | brett@unbendablemedia.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a new open letter to members of Congress, seventeen former nuclear launch officers issue a grave warning regarding President Trump’s unfettered access to nuclear weapons, declaring that the current U.S. nuclear launch process “poses a clear and present danger to the country and the world: No one — not the secretary of defense, not the attorney general, not Congress — can veto that order. There are no reliable safeguards in place to contain this power.”

The letter comes on the heels of last week’s alarming tweets from President Trump in which he boasted about having a “much bigger and more powerful” nuclear button on his desk than North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

VIEW THE LETTER HERE 

The missileers argue that there are currently “a number of good proposals before Congress right now that would rein in the president’s power to order the first use of nuclear weapons. Whether it’s assigning the defense secretary and attorney general a role in certifying a launch order, requiring a Congressional Declaration of War before the first use of nuclear weapons, or ending the policy of nuclear first use entirely, any of these common-sense measures would reduce the risk we now face. ”

“We cannot stand idly by as Donald Trump holds us all hostage to his petulant mood swings,” said Dr. Bruce Blair, a veteran nuclear launch officer and co-founder of the Global Zero movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. “Donald Trump is the last person who should possess the nuclear codes and the power to start a nuclear conflagration. Our weapons have the power to destroy entire nations, including our own nation if he initiates a nuclear war. As a former steward of the nuclear launch keys, I’ve learned about the stability, competence and temperament it takes to hold such a responsibility, and Donald Trump has shown us all he possesses none of those qualities.”

For more information on the former nuclear launch officers’ letter or to request an interview with representatives from Global Zero, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at brett@unbendablemedia.com.

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STATEMENT BY FORMER NUCLEAR LAUNCH OFFICERS

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In the final weeks of the presidential election, we sounded our alarm over Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as commander-in-chief, with absolute authority over the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Joining hundreds of leaders across the political spectrum in questioning Trump’s temperament, judgement and indifference to expert advice, we warned that Trump should not be allowed to have his finger on the proverbial “Red Button.”

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One year into the Trump presidency, our alarm has only intensified and we must raise our voices again. The president has had ample opportunity to educate and humble himself to the grave responsibilities of his office. Instead, he consistently shows himself to be easily baited, stubborn in his ignorance of world politics and diplomacy, and quick to brandish nuclear threats. The reality of this presidency is worse than we feared.

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Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has put the United States on a collision course with North Korea. The most recent back-and-forth with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over the size of their “nuclear buttons” is dangerous and risks catastrophic miscalculation. Threats of “fire and fury” and total destruction of the Kim dictatorship undercut diplomatic efforts and increase the likelihood of stumbling into conflict. Worse, it appears the president is operating under the belief that these threats of nuclear war are working; we can only expect this behavior will continue.

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Every one of these episodes points to a flaw in the nuclear launch process that poses a clear and present danger to the country and the world: Every American president has absolute authority to order the first use of nuclear weapons. No one – not the secretary of defense, not the attorney general, not Congress – can veto that order. There are no reliable safeguards in place to contain this power.

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As former nuclear launch control officers, it was our job to fire nuclear missiles if the president so directed. Once the president orders a launch, we could have missiles leaving their silos in several minutes. They cannot be recalled. The missiles would reach their destination – whether Russia, China or North Korea – within 30 minutes. There is no act of greater consequence, and it should not rest in the hands of any one person.
There are a number of good proposals before Congress right now that would rein in the president’s power to order the first use of nuclear weapons. Whether it’s assigning the defense secretary and attorney general a role in certifying a launch order, requiring a Congressional Declaration of War before the first use of nuclear weapons, or ending the policy of nuclear first use entirely, any of these common-sense measures would reduce the risk we now face. All are backed by top experts and worthy of consideration. Whichever path we take, it is essential officials on both sides of the aisle come together to reform the system.

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We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish commander-in-chief. No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction.

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Timothy J. Allen
Ellsworth AFB, 1991-92
F.E. Warren AFB, 1992-96
Offutt AFB, 2002-05
Bruce G. Blair
Malmstrom AFB, 1972-74
Victor D. Bras
Whiteman AFB, 1968-72
Grand Forks AFB, 1983-85
Ken Franklin
Minot AFB, 1967-70
Frank G. Goldman, ESQ.
F.E. Warren AFB, 1988-91
Peter Hefley
F.E. Warren AFB, 2005-07
Calvin W. Hickey
Malmstrom AFB, 1975-76
Geoffrey Kanner
Malmstrom AFB, 1980-84
David Macpherson
Malmstrom AFB, 1969-72
Michael Miller
F.E. Warren AFB, 2009-13
Emma Poon
Malmstrom AFB, 2005-09
James Robertson
Malmstrom AFB, 1999-2003
Ryan William Schmoll
F.E. Warren AFB, 2005-09
David C.W. Wagner
F.E. Warren, 2005-09
Brian Weeden
Malmstrom AFB, 2000-04
Theodore F. Weihe
Whiteman AFB, 1965-70
Thomas C. Xander
Whiteman AFB, 1967-70


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Traumatised children and the Impact on the physiology of the brain

Parental Alienation

Research shows that children and adults with histories of child abuse often respond excessively to minor triggers. Traumatised children (and adult survivors) become increasingly responsive to relatively minor stimuli as a result of decreased frontal lobe functioning (learning and problem solving) and increased limbic system (amygdala) sensitivity (impulsiveness) (Streeck-Fischer & van der Kolk, 2000).

Decreased cortex activity

The cortex or the more rational, outer-layer of the brain is the seat of our thinking capacity. The cool, rational cortex is in constant communication with the amygdala and the hippocampus (the limbic system). The frontal lobes are situated in the cortex and are responsible for learning and problem solving. The capacity to learn from experience requires events to be registered in the prefrontal cortex, compared with other experiences and evaluated for an appropriate response (Streeck-Fischer & van der Kolk, 2000).

When children are under threat, the fast tracts of the limbic system are…

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