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Private law rights of children: Part 1


20160418_164836-e1544888626602.jpgA child’s ‘views’ in the family courts

How many children know they have rights to ‘express their views freely’ in court proceedings – especially in family courts – where a court is making a decision which affects a child? And if they don’t know, how are they going to find out? Even if they do know about their rights, how do children get their views before the judge? What are the steps they must take to get what they want to say before the court?

This first post in a series of three will say a little bit about what rights there are for children. Part 2 will look at procedure for how rights – views – are dealt with as a court process. Part 3 will look at expression of a child’s views, wishes and feelings in practice, and what court procedure rules actually permits.

I don’t know what…

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Case Law, Strasbourg: Magyar Jeti Zrt v. Hungary: ECtHR rules on hyperlinking to defamatory content – Oliver Fairhurst

“While specifically dealing with a provision of Hungarian law, the decision is undoubtedly helpful to publishers across ECHR countries, including the UK. It also must be right. The Court was careful not to say that a hyperlink could never give rise to liability in certain contexts, which would have been a step too far.

This decision does prompt further thought though. Does it have an effect on the liability of Twitter users that “retweet” defamatory statements without further comment? How about when the retweet is of a link to an article, and the original tweet itself does not contain the defamatory imputation complained of? What if the user is not a journalist (see, e.g. the Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Economou v. De Freitas [2018] EWCA Civ 2591, in which the court held that the particular circumstances of the contributor are relevant to the public interest defence?). Such questions are likely to come down to a factual assessment of whether a retweet does equal endorsement, regardless of what Twitter bios such as the author’s commonly say, and whether the circumstances are such that there is a republication of the original statement.”

Inforrm's Blog

On 4 December 2018, the European Court of Human Rights provided some helpful clarification on the potential liability for posting hyperlinks to defamatory content in the case of Magyar Jeti Zrt v. Hungary. In doing so, the Court referred to the ever-growing corpus of European Union law concerning the concept of “communication to the public” contained in Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive 2001/29/EC.

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: An “International Magna Carta”

“It is precisely because Magna Carta was obtained at the point of a sword that its proponents were able to extract such sweeping concessions from King John. Similarly, the fact that the UDHR was originally considered to constitute no more than a non-binding declaration is what enabled its proponents to garner almost unanimous support for its wide-ranging and varied provisions. Whatever may have been the drafters’ original intention, however, the UDHR has since blossomed into one of the most important human rights documents in existence. Its provisions have played on the lips of human rights advocates across the globe and many now have the force of law.”


(Photo credit: Fanack)

On 14 November 2008, a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (‘UDHR’) burst through Earth’s atmosphere aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. It was delivered to the International Space Station where it now sits in orbit above our planet. That was an event which I described in a separate blog post as “[a]n explosive celebration of two parallel projects which were to some degree successful in uniting the international community: human rights and space exploration.”

It is fitting, then, that the same week that the UDHR turns 70 years old, NASA’s Voyager 2 space probe departed our solar system en route to other worlds: two more monumental events which deserve to be celebrated. In this post I focus on the former and explain how it is that the UDHR, decried by some as a non-binding declaration of little relevance, continues to resonate today.

To begin…

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How universal credit’s ‘minefield’ of rules discourages work

“. She is one of thousands of people around the UK facing substantial financial difficulties because of the way the new scheme, which is gradually replacing six legacy benefits, reimburses childcare costs. While, under the old system, the government paid its share of childcare costs directly to providers, universal credit claimants are paid only in arrears, after they produce receipts.

The change is one of several that critics contend have made it harder for single parents to enter or remain in work. In November, Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said single parents — 90 per cent of whom are women — were the group worst hit by the scheme’s shortcomings. Gingerbread, the charity representing single parents, has said many are concerned that work will not pay for them under universal credit once childcare costs are factored in. “

Govt Newspeak

Payments made in arrears leave single parents struggling to manage

Sarah Blackaby is precisely the kind of person that universal credit, the UK government’s new benefit system, is meant to help. She has been struggling financially since May, when her fiancé left her and her daughter. While she has had to cut her working hours from five to three days a week to care for Florence, now 18 months, she desperately wants to retain her job as a physiotherapy technical instructor at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Yet, as she grapples with the emotional and financial shock, Ms Blackaby has also been tussling with an inflexible and unpredictable bureaucracy. She is one of thousands of people around the UK facing substantial financial difficulties because of the way the new scheme, which is gradually replacing six legacy benefits, reimburses childcare costs. While, under the old system, the government paid its share of…

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Foster families who ignore race are participating in a pernicious form of racism

A poignant indictment of a colour-blind, one-size-fits-all approach to looked after child placements.

Media Diversified

Derek Owusu draws on personal experiences to argue that there needs to be more education about the needs of black children when being fostered

I was eight years old when I first realised I was black. Before that, all I saw myself as was a ‘different kind of person’.  No colour attached, but of course, visibly different to my peers. I was in foster care for the first eight years of my life–the formative years that, according to the Jesuit maxim, make you the man you will grow into. So by the time I left Suffolk for North London in 1997, damage was already done that would be difficult to correct.

Late discoveries about identity are very common among black children raised in foster care by white families. The fostering families often mean no harm in refusing to see the ethnicity and culture of their fostered children, but by ignoring the…

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Manufacturing #Truth — OffGuardian


If you’re one of the millions of human beings who, despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, still believe there is such a thing as “the truth,” you might not want to read this essay. Seriously, it can be extremely upsetting when you discover that there is no “truth” … or rather, that what we’re all conditioned to regard as “truth” from the time we are children is just the product of a technology of power, and not an empirical state of being. Humans, upon first encountering this fact, have been known to freak completely out and start jabbering about the “Word of God,” or “the immutable laws of quantum physics,” and run around burning other people at the stake or locking them up and injecting them with Thorazine. I don’t want to be responsible for anything like that, so consider this your trigger warning.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at how “truth” is manufactured. It’s actually not that complicated. See, the “truth” is … well, it’s a story, essentially. It’s whatever story we are telling ourselves at any given point in history (“we” being the majority of people, those conforming to the rules of whatever system wields enough power to dictate the story it wants everyone to be telling themselves). Everyone understands this intuitively, but the majority of people pretend they don’t in order to be able to get by in the system, which punishes anyone who does not conform to its rules, or who contradicts its story. So, basically, to manufacture the truth, all you really need is (a) a story, and (b) enough power to coerce a majority of people in your society to pretend to believe it.

I’ll return to this point a little later. First, let’s look at a concrete example of our system manufacturing “truth.” I’m going to use The Guardian‘s most recent blatantly fabricated article (“Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy”) as an example, but I could just as well have chosen any of a host of other fabricated stories disseminated by “respectable” outlets over the course of the last two years.

The “Russian Propaganda Peddlers” story. The “Russia Might Have Poisoned Hillary Clinton”story. The “Russians Hacked the Vermont Power Grid” story. The “Golden Showers Russian Pee-Tape” story. The “Novichok Assassins” story. The “Bana Alabed Speaks Out” story. The “Trump’s Secret Russian Server” story. The “Labour Anti-Semitism Crisis” story. The “Russians Orchestrated Brexit” story. The “Russia is Going to Hack the Midterms” story. The “Twitter Bots” story. And the list goes on.

I’m not going to debunk the Guardian article here. It has been debunked by better debunkers than I (e.g., Jonathan CookCraig MurrayGlenn Greenwald, Moon of Alabama, and many others). [ed. including us]

The short version is, The Guardian‘s Luke Harding, a shameless hack who will affix his name to any propaganda an intelligence agency feeds him, alleged that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, secretly met with Julian Assange (and unnamed “Russians”) on numerous occasions from 2013 to 2016, presumably to conspire to collude to brainwash Americans into not voting for Clinton. Harding’s earth-shaking allegations, which The Guardian prominently featured and flogged, were based on … well, absolutely nothing, except the usual anonymous “intelligence sources.” After actual journalists pointed this out, The Guardian quietly revised the piece (employing the subjunctive mood rather liberally), buried it in the back pages of its website, and otherwise pretended like they had never published it.

By that time, of course, its purpose had been served. The story had been picked up and disseminated by other “respectable,” “authoritative” outlets, and it was making the rounds on social media. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, in an attempt to counter the above-mentioned debunkers (and dispel the doubts of anyone else still capable of any kind of critical thinking), Politico posted this ass-covering piece speculating that, if it somehow turned out The Guardian‘s story was just propaganda designed to tarnish Assange and Trump … well, probably, it had been planted by the Russians to make Luke Harding look like a moron. This ass-covering piece of speculative fiction, which was written by a former CIA agent, was immediately disseminated by liberals and “leftists” who are eagerly looking forward to the arrest, rendition, and public crucifixion of Assange.

At this point, I imagine you’re probably wondering what this has to do with manufacturing “truth.” Because, clearly, this Guardian story was a lie … a lie The Guardian got caught telling. I wish the “truth” thing was as simple as that (i.e., exposing and debunking the ruling classes’ lies). Unfortunately, it isn’t. Here is why.

Much as most people would like there to be one (and behave and speak as if there were one), there is no Transcendental Arbiter of Truth. The truth is what whoever has the power to say it is says it is. If we do not agree that that “truth” is the truth, there is no higher court to appeal to. We can argue until we are blue in the face. It will not make the slightest difference. No evidence we produce will make the slightest difference. The truth will remain whatever those with the power to say it is say it is.

Nor are there many truths (i.e., your truth and my truth). There is only one truth … the official truth. The truth according to those in power. This is the whole purpose of the concept of truth. It is the reason the concept of “truth” was invented (i.e., to render any other “truths” lies). It is how those in power control reality and impose their ideology on the masses (or their employees, or their students, or their children). Yes, I know, we very badly want there to be some “objective truth” (i.e., what actually happened, when whatever happened, JFK, 9-11, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Schrödinger’s dead cat, the Big Bang, or whatever). There isn’t. The truth is just a story … a story that is never our story.

The truth is a story that power gets to tell, and that the powerless do not get to tell, unless they tell the story of those in power, which is always someone else’s story. The powerless are either servants of power or they are heretics. There is no third alternative. They either parrot the truth of the ruling classes or they utter heresies of one type or another. Naturally, the powerless do not regard themselves as heretics. They do not regard their “truth” as heresy. They regard their “truth” as the truth, which is heresy. The truth of the powerless is always heresy.

For example, while it may be personally comforting for some of us to tell ourselves that we know the truth about certain subjects (e.g., Russiagate, 9-11, et cetera), and to share our knowledge with others who agree with us, and even to expose the lies of the corporate media on Twitter, Facebook, and our blogs, or in some leftist webzine (or “fearless adversarial” outlet bankrolled by a beneficent oligarch), the ruling classes do not give a shit, because ours is merely the raving of heretics, and does not warrant a serious response.

Or … all right, they give a bit of a shit, enough to try to cover their asses when a journalist of the stature of Glenn Greenwald (who won a Pulitzer and is frequently on television) very carefully and very respectfully almost directly accuses them of lying. But they give enough of a shit to do this because Greenwald has the power to hurt them, not because of any regard for the truth. This is also why Greenwald has to be so careful and respectful when directly confronting The Guardian, or any other corporate media outlet, and state that their blatantly fabricated stories could, theoretically, turn out to be true. He can’t afford to cross the line and end up getting branded a heretic and consigned to Outer Mainstream Darkness, like Robert Fisk, Sy Hersh, Jonathan Cook, John Pilger, Assange, and other such heretics.

Look, I’m not trying to argue that it isn’t important to expose the fabrications of the corporate media and the ruling classes. It is terribly important. It is mostly what I do (albeit usually in a more satirical fashion). At the same time, it is important to realize that “the truth” is not going to “rouse the masses from their slumber” and inspire them to throw off their chains. People are not going to suddenly “wake up,” “see the truth” and start “the revolution.” People already know the truth … the official truth, which is the only truth there is. Those who are conforming to it are doing so, not because they are deceived, but because it is safer and more rewarding to do so.

And this is why The Guardian will not be punished for publishing a blatantly fabricated story. Nor will Luke Harding be penalized for writing it. Luke Harding will be rewarded for writing it, as he has been handsomely rewarded throughout his career for loyally serving the ruling classes. Greenwald, on the other hand, is on thin ice. It will be instructive to see how far he pushes his confrontation with The Guardian regarding this story.

As for Julian Assange, I’m afraid he is done for. The ruling classes really have no choice but to go ahead and do him at this point. He hasn’t left them any other option. Much as they are loathe to create another martyr, they can’t have heretics of Assange’s notoriety running around punching holes in their “truth” and brazenly defying their authority. That kind of stuff unsettles the normals, and it sets a bad example for the rest of us heretics.

via Manufacturing Truth — OffGuardian

Trump’s strange behavior at G20 summit is a window into his current state of mind.

“Although I’m not a mental health professional and can’t make a diagnosis, most mental health professionals agree that Trump almost certainly has all 9 DSM criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and fits most of the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder). When a person has both NPD and ASPD (sociopathy), they are considered to be malignant narcissists. Malignant narcissism, a term first coined by psychologist Erich Fromm back in the 1960s, isn’t a clinically accepted medical term, but it’s well known in the narcissistic abuse community (and now, due to Trump, is becoming known outside of that community and is practically a household word, much like the term gaslighting has recently become a term most “lay” people know the meaning of, because Trump and his followers do it so constantly).”

Lucky Otters Haven

trumptweet4An example of narcissistic projection.  Blame others for what you are guilty of, even when there’s no proof.

Some of you may remember Trump’s overconfident, even arrogant and obnoxious alpha- male behavior at last year’s G20 summit in Germany and other events where he had to mingle with world leaders:  arrogantly pushing aside Montenegro’s president so he could get to the front of the group, the childish refusal to shake Angela Merkel’s hand, his standoffishness, and other gestures and comments indicating his contempt and disregard for the the leaders of western democracies.   I could go on with examples but that would take too long and it’s not my point in this post anyway.

Trump is under enormous stress right now, due to recent events that don’t bode well for his future in politics or even his freedom:  Mueller and his team are beginning to move closer to Trump’s inner circle…

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I’ve been paying tax all my life – but they won’t let me have Universal Credit

This draconian policy is another damning indictment of austerity:
“A DWP spokesman told us he would be able to reapply after he has lived in the country for a ‘suitable period’, but did not state how long that would be.”

Govt Newspeak

“If I didn’t have family I’d be on the streets.”

Matthew Stockall is unable to claim benefits while he looks for a job. 

A British job hunter has been told he can’t claim Universal Credit because he spent a short stint living in Spain.

Matthew Stockall grew up in Manchester and worked in the UK all his adult life – with the exception of two years spent working in Spain. He applied for benefits when he moved back to the UK in November, to support himself while he looked for work.

But he was shocked to get a rejection letter back from the DWP, who said he hadn’t been living in the UK for long enough to claim.

Matthew is now sleeping on his aunt’s sofa in Northwich, trying to get a permanent job. The 38-year-old has moved back from Benidorm, where he had been working as a holiday rep and…

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Adoption Agency Marketing Children On Facebook Sparks Public Fury.

More shocking evidence of child commodification by the corporate parent, as non-consensual (forcible) UK adoption continues unabated.
“Councils also do not have a legal right to advertise children where parents still have parental responsibility, which is the position in the vast majority of cases where a child has been placed in foster care.”

Researching Reform

Facebook users were left furious last week after discovering that a local authority had been advertising children for adoption on the social media site. The page offers full length descriptions and links to photos of the children.

Suffolk Fostering and Adoption Agency, which is run by Suffolk County Council, is advertising children for adoption on Facebook through its business page Suffolk Adoption Agency.  The move prompted Facebook users to leave negative reviews on the page, which has a rating of 2.3 stars out of 5.

Families were shocked by Suffolk Council’s Facebook page, calling the strategy deeply insensitive to parents who had had their children removed through care proceedings. Many of these parents are active on the social media platform. Seeing children being marketed online by Suffolk Council led to one mother leaving a scathing review on the page:

“This page is disgusting, sharing children like animals… how do you…

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Public hearings of family proceedings appeals

The open justice principle is vital to help ensure proper accountability against any executive misuse of power, so must not be routinely compromised for courtroom expediency. If sunshine is the best disinfectant, accountability is the cure for family aparthied, which like a lingering cancer, is caused by bad decisions.


20160924_142217Open court principle and family courts appeals

In family proceedings some appeals (according to the level of court decision-maker) go either to the Court of Appeal (under Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (CPR 1998) Pt 52) or to a High Court judge (mostly) in the Family Court (Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010) Pt 30). The level of judge an appeal goes to depends on a ‘routes of appeal’ table (not always easy to understand) in the Practice Direction (PD30A) to FPR 2010 Pt 30.

Appeals in the Court of Appeal are generally in public, those in the Family Court have been treated as subject to the rule that family proceedings are in private (FPR 2010 r 27.10); but since the new appeals system was set up on 14 April 2018 there has been a sporadic debate amongst judges and family lawyers as to whether appeals in family courts should be…

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