| Birmingham children’s services takeover warning!

Birmingham Children’s services takeover warning ~ BBC.

Children’s services at Birmingham Council could be taken over by the Department for Education before Christmas if standards do not improve.

 

Keanu Williams
Keanu Williams died in January 2011 after being found with 37 injuries

Children’s services at Birmingham Council could be taken over by the Department for Education before Christmas if standards do not improve.

The takeover will happen if Ofsted inspectors do not see improvements when they return later this month.

The department is the biggest of its kind in England and has been rated as “inadequate” for four years.

Department head Peter Hay said the city council had to be involved in its running but there were no easy answers.

“I think there’s got to be a role for the city council – because it can bring the relationships and the money and the investment,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“But it can’t do what it’s always done and I absolutely respect that the secretary of state has a very difficult decision because there are no easy answers here.”

There have been a number of high-profile child deaths in Birmingham in recent years, including those of Khyra Ishaq in 2008 and Keanu Williams in 2011.

Khyra Ishaq
Khyra Ishaq weighed just 2st 9lb (16.5kg) when she was discovered at her home in 2008

Keanu was found with 37 injuries at his home in Ward End, Birmingham, and a serious case review concluded last month there were “a number of significant missed opportunities” to save the two-year-old.

Khyra died aged seven after being starved at her home in the Handsworth area of the city.

‘National disgrace’The department has been rated as inadequate by Ofsted since 2009.


Key dates in ‘failing’ social services

  • May 2008: Khyra Ishaq, seven, dies after months of abuse by her mother and her mother’s ex-partner
  • Feb 2009: City council served with improvement notice by the government for its services to safeguard children
  • Feb 2010: High Court judge rules Khyra “might still be alive if she had not been failed by social services”
  • July 2010: Serious case review says Birmingham social services is still failing to protect vulnerable children
  • Oct 2012: Surprise Ofsted inspection shows council’s child protection services are “inadequate”
  • Feb 2013: Report reveals 431 children’s services staff at the council were on long-term sick leave in 2012
  • Oct 2013: Serious case review finds opportunities were missed to save two-year-old Keanu Williams, who was beaten to death by his mother
  • Oct 2013: Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw singles out city for criticism for 23 serious case reviews over the past seven years
  • Nov 2013: Council says children’s services budget to be protected despite having to make cuts of £600m from its budget over six years
  • Nov 2013: BBC learns council could be taken over this month if standards do not improve

Mr Hay, who took over as head of the department in July, said shortly afterwards that improvements had not been made and he could not guarantee the safety of children in the city.

Last month Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said the city’s failure to protect vulnerable children was a “national disgrace”.

A spokesman for the DfE said it had warned the council that unless Ofsted identified signs of improvement in its next inspection in the coming weeks it would have to take further action.

Mr Hay said: “We’re very clear that performance is inadequate and we’ve been trying to establish a greater transparency to that so that we can get governance right of how we improve services.

“Part of improvement is not just knowing your story… but actually knowing what you need to do to put it right.”

He said the key was having “enough social workers to do great social work” but his department currently had vacancy rates for qualified staff of more than a quarter and experienced supervisors of more than a third.

“I’ve heard people thinking about jobs say that they’ve been told not to come to Birmingham because it’s a blot on their CV,” Mr Hay said.

“I think that’s unacceptable – I think coming to Birmingham should be a part of everybody’s CV because of the professional challenges you get.”

Mr Hay said social care involved many “risky decisions” and “fine calls”.

“We sometimes expect people to have had a crystal ball. All I’m expecting them to have done is to have made a judgement – an analysis of the information – and to live with that risk,” he added.

Computer-generated image showing four injuries to Keanu's headA computer-generated image shows some of the injuries inflicted to Keanu’s head

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham’s Perry Barr constituency, said the takeover warning was a “complete and utter political move” by the government.

“If they are going to do it they should just do it instead of making leaks and threats,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.

‘Deprived’ areasHe said the government could instead look at devolving the department to constituency level, as there were some constituencies with more than 100,000 people.

Earlier this year, government officials forced Doncaster Council to cede control of its children’s services after years of failure. The department is now managed by a private firm until an independent trust is set up.

In a speech on Tuesday, Education Secretary Michael Gove said more struggling children’s services departments in England could be taken over by independent providers.

“I confidently expect that the improvements we will see in Doncaster mean this model will grow,” he said.

With a population of 1.1 million, Birmingham is the most populated British city outside London.

In 2010, Birmingham was ranked 13th in a government list of deprived areas, behind authorities such as Hackney and Tower Hamlets in London.

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| Expendable People: Economics, a “Murderous Science!”

Expendable People: Economics, a “Murderous Science” ~  John Kozy, Global Research.

The English who settled America brought English culture with them. The colonies were nothing but little Englands. When the colonists revolted, they were merely trying to get free of the tyrannical English monarchy, not trying to change the culture. They were perfectly happy with the English way of life. They carried on its practices and adopted the English system of common law.

That sixteenth century culture is alive and well in America today and is why America is in many respects a backward nation. Americans are living 500 years behind the times.

One would like to believe that human institutions exist to enhance the lives of people, but there is very little evidence to support that view. If enhancing the lives of people is not the purpose of human institutions, what is? The American Constitution lists six goals the founders expected the nation to accomplish:

We the People of the United States, in Order to (1) form a more perfect Union, (2) establish Justice, (3) insure domestic Tranquility, (4) provide for the common defence, (5) promote the general Welfare, and (6) secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Unfortunately, no American government has ever tried to govern in a way that seeks to attain these goals. So the American government is either an unconstitutional, failed state or else the framers of the Constitution must be thought of as having engaged in unrealistic political propaganda. At any rate, the American government is not what the Constitution makes it out to be. The question is why? The answer is the stupid political economy!

The English who settled America brought English culture with them. The colonies were nothing but little Englands. When the colonists revolted, they were merely trying to get free of the tyrannical English monarchy, not trying to change the culture. They were perfectly happy with the English way of strife. They carried on its practices and adopted the English system of common law.

That sixteenth century culture is alive and well in America today and is why America is in many respects a backward nation. Americans are living 500 years behind the times.

The English were engaged in economic activities for hundreds of years before Adam Smith published his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nation; all he did was provide English merchants with a rationalization for what they had always done and wanted to do more of.Laissez-faire (let [them] do), to them, meant the ability to engage in economic practices without being subjected to governmental restrictions and tariffs. Then, like today, merchants wanted the freedom to profiteer by buying cheap and selling dear. Merchants, then or now, have had little interest in abstruse economic theory unless its models promise greater profit.

But buying cheap and selling dear applies to labor as well as materials, and the classical economists provide a rationalization for that maxim too. The subsistence theory of wages, advanced by classical economists, holds that the market price of labour always tends toward the minimum required for subsistence (that is, for basic needs such as food and shelter). Even Alfred Marshall, America’s first modern economist, was of the opinion that wages in the long run would tend to equal maintenance and reproduction costs. So when the Republican party seeks to eliminate regulations and keep the minimum wage low, they are acting just like sixteenth century English merchants and their boot-licking economists. Merchants become sheep dogs that herd human sheep, and our economists think nothing of it. They have adopted the British way of strife totally.

Although this impoverishment of labor is bad enough, in a globalized economy it is devastating. The classical economists held that a subsistence wage had to be high enough to enable the workforce to reproduce itself in order to maintain a labor supply; in a globalized economy, the workforce needed exists in underdeveloped countries. A domestic workforce is entirely unnecessary, so there is no need to even grant it subsistence wages or any other humane benefit. From a merchants’/economists’ point of view, domestic labor becomes expendable. Why pay it anything at all?

What a lovely world our economists advocate! Economics is not merely a dismal science, it is a murderous one.

Merchants and economists constitute a class of totally inhumane human beings. (Isn’t inhumane human a contradiction?) It seems as though two entirely different races have intermingled—the human race and an inhumane one. In the words of Pope Francis,

“A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost . . . of exploitation without thinking of people.”

What kind of person would support this economy? Although they may revel in their fortunes and often act and speak like the rest of us, they are not like us. They are evil to the marrow of their bones. Logically, the inhumane are either not human or deranged.

One such person is Arnaud Costinot, an MIT economist, who uses the doctrine of comparative advantage to justify globalization. He is said to hold this:

Ricardo thought that instead of trying to produce a wide range of goods, countries could grow by specializing in the goods they could produce most cheaply, and then trading those goods with other countries. This made sense, Ricardo claimed, even when a country could make multiple products more cheaply, in absolute terms, than other countries.

How? Suppose, Ricardo posited, that England produces cloth more cheaply than wine, while Portugal produces wine more cheaply than cloth. And suppose Portugal produces both products more cheaply than England does. Both countries could still benefit from trading in equal terms: England could specialize in making cloth, and trade that for wine. But Portugal could specialize in making wine, and trade that for England’s cloth — which would be the cheapest way to acquire cloth, even if Portugal’s own cloth was cheaper to make than England’s.”

Only thing is, Ricardo never wrote any such thing, and to describe what he wrote in this way is intellectual dishonesty at its worst. Ricardo never uses the word “cheaply.” He uses “the number of man hours needed to produce one unit of cloth or wine,” ‘Man hours worked’ is not a wage or a value of currency. The production may not be cheap. By deliberately misstating what Ricardo writes, economists advocate the exploitation and impoverishment of workers and ultimately their destruction—a truly evil and inhumane goal.

This is the only explanation for the right wing’s war on the poor. Beasts of burden are disposed of when they have lost their usefulness, so destroying the middle class is not to be lamented. When the labor of underdeveloped countries became available to manufacturers, the American middle class became expendable. That is the American Republican party’s goal. It seeks to shrink the size of government by eliminating the people who need to be taken care of.

Economists want us to believe that free trade makes everyone richer, but experience teaches us otherwise.

The Internet is replete with articles both pro and con, but the attitudes of people to offshoring is quite consistent. The peoples in underdeveloped nations involved in making products for the West chafe at the extent of the exploitation. Whether in Latin America, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, or Poland exploited labor is never described as prosperous. Neither has prosperity blessed America’s laborers. Exploitation and prosperity are alien concepts. The exploited are never prosperous and the prosperous are never exploited. No nation can boast of its prosperity gotten by offshoring. The empirical evidence gotten anecdotally is better than the dubious statistical evidence cited by economists (see The Real Cost of Offshoring.) India’s laborers are not getting rich working for American companies. NAFTA has not brought prosperity to Mexican or American workers. A low-wage job is not a gainful (prosperous) one. Marx asked workers of the world to unite; Western corporate leaders tell them to be damned. Any economist who does not see what is happening is intellectually blind. Or perhaps, just plain evil.

In The Story so Far, the Economist put it this way:

ONCE UPON A time the rich world’s manufacturing firms largely produced in the rich world for the rich world, and most services were produced close to where they were consumed. Then Western firms started sending manufacturing work abroad on a large scale. By the 1980s this was well established. The movement was overwhelmingly in one direction: away from rich countries to places where workers with adequate skills were much cheaper.

Whether openly stated or not, lower labour costs were almost always the chief rationale.

To corporations, workers are likened to beasts of burden and the economic elite who advocate this economic practice are then likened to vicious dogs. What a wonderful world! It will not change until the welfare of mankind, rather than profit, becomes the goal of political-economy. If the human race is to survive, the welfare of human beings must be the goal of human institutions.

John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found onhttp://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.

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| Man Wins Compensation After Recording Saves Him From Prison!

Man Wins Compensation After Recording Saves Him From Prison ~ Trudy Simpson and Ben Lettman, The Voice, 30/06/2012.

Accused says he can now move on with life.

COMPENSATION: Lovel Brian Dennis (left) with his brother Kenneth

A Hackney man has been given compensation after a secret recording saved him from a prison sentence when social workers falsely accused him of criminal conduct.

Lovell Brian Dennis, 48, was awarded thousands of pounds in an out of court settlement on June 6, after suing Hackney Council on claims of negligence, breach of human rights and misfeasance in public office.

The lawsuit stemmed from circumstances in April 2009 when Dennis tried to assume responsibility for his brother, Kenneth Plummer, who was under the council’s care.

Dennis told The Voice: “I feel very relieved that this had been concluded and that I can continue with my life because I was going through a lot of stress and anxiety over the last three years.”

He told how he was accused of using threatening and abusive language and threatening a social worker after he first met officials from Hackney Council’s Learning and Disability department during a discharge meeting at Homerton hospital in east London where his brother, who has Down’s syndrome, was in care at the time for stomach problems.


APOLOGY: Hackney Council issued an apology to Dennis

He was later accused of criminal damage and pushing a social worker against a wall at a care home where he supposedly had a second encounter with a social worker when he visited his brother.

Dennis found himself facing charges of affray, threat to kill, assault and criminal damage. However, Snaresbrook Crown Court found him not guilty in April 2011, based on recordings he secretly made during one meeting that showed he did not behave as alleged and contradicted testimony from a prosecution witness.

In May 2011, when The Voice first reported the story, Dennis, from Hackney, said buying a dictaphone was “the wisest £50 I’ve ever spent in my life because if I didn’t spend this £50, as the barrister said in the court, I would’ve got three to six years.”

Dennis said he was also accused of “having designs” on his brother’s money and at one point, officials appeared to have invented a fictitious brother.

A Hackney Council review on Plummer’s health when he was under his foster carer’s supervision, seen by The Voice last May, stated: ‘One brother, Brian, visits regularly, and Kenny enjoys these visits… However, other members visit more sporadically, which can leave Kenny feeling confused. Additional problems have developed due to the inheritance. There is concern about one brother, Lowell (sic), who is keen to manage Kenny’s money.’

Dennis later complained to the Ombudsman, who considers complaints of service failure and maladministration causing injustice. The Ombudsman upheld some of Dennis’ claims, ruling on January 26, 2011 that Dennis ‘was the subject of false allegations by his brother’s care manager regarding his behaviour at a meeting in a hospital’.

The Ombudsman added: ‘The foster carer has signed a statement confirming that the complainant has never asked or bothered her for his brother’s money and that she had never given the social worker the impression that he had been behaving in this manner.’

In reacting to the outcome Dennis said last week: “I hope there can be an independent body that can monitor social workers (to see) that they are doing their jobs properly. I would like Parliament to do that. I believe there should be an investigation into those social workers and the previous cases they were dealing with because there could be innocent people who have been put in prison because of false accusations. If I didn’t have my tape, I could be in prison.”

A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “Hackney Council has apologised to Mr Dennis and agreed a financial settlement. Improve-ments have also been made to the service to prevent something similar happening again.”

The claim was referred to Hackney borough‘s insurers and a settlement reached without Hackney council admitting liability.

The council has since recruited new management and staff and improved systems and procedures.

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| Feasting and fighting: the long-lost secrets of Beowulf!

Feasting and fighting: the long-lost secrets of Beowulf ~ DAVID KEYSThe Independent.

Archaeologists in Denmark have excavated the sixth-century great dining hall at the centre of the epic work.

The dark secrets of the legend of Beowulf, England’s oldest work of epic literature, are gradually emerging from under a field in eastern Denmark.

Archaeologists in the country’s  earliest royal ‘capital’ – Lejre, 23 miles  west of modern Copenhagen – are investigating the joys of  elite Dark Age life in and around what was probably the great royal feasting hall at the violent epicentre of the Beowulf story.

The archaeologists – led by Tom Christensen, director of the Lejre investigation – have so far managed not only to find, excavate and date the late 5 or early 6 century building most likely to have been Lejre’s first royal hall (described in Beowulf as `the greatest hall under heaven’), but have also succeeded in reconstructing what was on the menu at the great feasts held there.

Scientific study this year of the bones of literally hundreds of animals found near the hall, shows that they feasted on suckling pig, beef, mutton, goat meat, venison, goose, duck, chicken and fish.

Other finds from around the hall have included fragments of glass drinking vessels, 40 pieces of bronze, gold and silver jewellery, pottery imported from England and the Rhineland – and the wing of a sea-eagle, whose feathers may well have been used for fletching arrows. Twenty other gold items were found just a few hundred metres away.

The discoveries, reported in the current issue ofBBC History Magazine, are of international importance.

“For the first time, archaeology has given us a glimpse of life in the key royal Danish site associated with the Beowulf legend’’, said project director Dr. Christensen,  curator of Denmark’s Roskilde Museum, four miles from Lejre.

The Danes plan to put the finds on permanent display next year at Roskilde and Lejre Museums.

In the Beowulf legend – which is believed to have influenced some aspects of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and was turned into a 150 million dollar Hollywood film six years ago – a young nobleman from southern Sweden goes to neighbouring Denmark to save its ruling elite from the depredations of a monstrous man-eating giant called Grendel. The monster had entered the Danish king’s great feasting hall at Lejre, while the king and his warriors had been sleeping off an evening of feasting and drinking, and had succeeded in devouring a number of them.

On meeting the king, Beowulf offers to rid the land of the monster. The king accepts – and Beowulf waits alone in the great hall for the giant to attack again. In the epic battle between the two that then ensues, the giant is defeated and retreats to a cave beneath a nearby lake where he is finally killed by Beowulf.

As well as investigating the hall most likely to have been the one associated with the Beowulf legend, the archaeologists have found, excavated and dated six other royal feasting halls in Lejre.

They have discovered that the early Danish monarchy used each hall for only a few generations, before dismantling them and building a new one – usually on  or very near the same site as its predecessor. Detailed examination of the buried remains of successive feasting halls has shown that they were used between around 500 and 1000 AD.  All were roughly  on the same site – except for the one associated with the Beowulf legend which was 500 metres to the north.

It may be that the change in location was somehow connected with events described in the legend, part of which actually states that the early royal hall, was in fact abandoned – because of the depredations of Grendel.  Whether Grendel (meaning quite literarily ‘the destroyer’) originally existed in some less legendary form – perhaps symbolizing a malevolent spirit responsible for disease and death, or a particularly fierce-looking human enemy – is as yet unknown.

The quasi-legendary high status individual that Beowulf is based on probably lived in the 6 century AD. The story of his exploits was most likely brought to England by Scandinavian (potentially southern Sweden originating) settlers in the 6 or early 7 century AD.  The poem was then written by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, probably sometime in the 7th or  8 centuries.

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| Greenwald to publish UK secrets after Britain detains partner!

Greenwald to publish U.K. secrets after Britain detains partner ~ News Sources, War in Context.

Reuters reports: The journalist who first published secrets leaked by fugitive former U.S. intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden vowed on Monday to publish more documents and said Britain will be “sorry” for detaining his partner for nine hours.

British authorities used anti-terrorism laws on Sunday to detain David Miranda, partner of U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, as he passed through London’s Heathrow airport.

Miranda, 28, a Brazilian citizen, said he was questioned for nine hours before being released without charge, minus his laptop, cellphone and memory sticks, which were seized.

Greenwald, a columnist for Britain’s the Guardian newspaper who is based in Rio de Janeiro, said the detention was an attempt to intimidate him for publishing documents leaked by Snowden disclosing U.S. surveillance of global internet communications.

Snowden, who has been granted asylum by Russia, gave Greenwald from 15,000 to 20,000 documents with details of the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

“I will be far more aggressive in my reporting from now. I am going to publish many more documents. I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England’s spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did,” Greenwald, speaking in Portuguese, told reporters at Rio’s airport where he met Miranda upon his return to Brazil.

“They wanted to intimidate our journalism, to show that they have power and will not remain passive but will attack us more intensely if we continue publishing their secrets,” he said.

Miranda told reporters that six British agents questioned him continuously about all aspects of his life during his detention in a room at Heathrow airport. He said he was freed and returned his passport only when he started shouting in the airport lounge.

Brazil’s government complained about Miranda’s detention in a statement on Sunday that said the use of the British anti-terrorism law was unjustified.

Many Brazilians are still upset with Britain’s anti-terrorism policies because of the death of Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, who was mistaken for a suspect in a bombing attempt in 2005. Menezes was shot seven times in the head by police on board an underground train at a London station.

Reuters also reports: British authorities came under pressure on Monday to explain why anti-terrorism powers were used to detain for nine hours the partner of a journalist who has written articles about U.S. and British surveillance programmes based on leaks from Edward Snowden.

Brazilian David Miranda, the partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained on Sunday at London’s Heathrow Airport where he was in transit on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro. He was released without charge.

“The detention of David Miranda is a disgrace and reinforces the undoubted complicity of the UK in U.S. indiscriminate surveillance of law-abiding citizens,” Michael Mansfield, one of Britain’s leading human rights lawyers, told Reuters.

“The fact that Snowden, and now anyone remotely associated with him, are being harassed as potential spies and terrorists is sheer unadulterated state oppression,” he wrote in an email.

Related Posts…

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| Islam is way more English than the EDL!

Islam is way more English than the EDL ~ Religion, The Telegraph.

Whither the articulate nutters? Yesterday I got into a Twitter spat with the EDL’s Tommy Robinson (isn’t Twitter fun? Please don’t ban it, Caitlin) and I’m not very impressed. He was angry with a piece I wrote about him linking to an anti-Semitic website, and this cued an evening of tweets accusing me of not understanding the plight of Luton and how I obviously hate the English working class. It’s all predictable stuff, but the latter point does interest me. I’ve often suspected that the EDL’s grip on the popular imagination comes from its claim to represent what remains of the native proletariat – and a lot of middle class folks in the media think that maybe they do, which is why they invite Tommy onto TV shows to share his toilet wall history of Islam with the nation. But they’re wrong. The EDL’s definition of what constitutes the English working class is a classic case of projection.

To take the “working class” tag, never mind that Tommy owns his own business and so is technically petit-bourgeois – making him officially entitled to buy a cream and gold bathroom. The EDL also overlooks a long history of working class progressiveness summed up in three words: the Labour movement. Yes, the contemporary Left is dominated by middle-class wets who dislike many of the people they claim to represent – but this wasn’t always the way. The 100,000 protesters who turned out in 1936 to humiliate Oswald Mosley‘s fascists at the Battle of Cable Street were overwhelmingly working class, and many voted to elect the Jewish Phil Piratin as a communist MP for Mile End in defiance of anti-Semitism. Mosley’s blackshirts frequently ran in working class constituencies and always got hammered. They failed to present a populist alternative to the Labour Party because the working class was uninterested in their brand of racist radicalism. In short, while there certainly is a protectionist tradition within England‘s working class – fueled by the fact that they’re the ones who suffer first and suffer the most when the country’s borders are opened to cheap labour – this country lacks a fascist tradition because it runs counter to our homegrown culture.

Which brings me to the more contentious bit of the EDL’s identity: its claim to represent “the English”. The problem with this claim is that a hundred people will come up with a hundred ways of defining Englishness, and each with disagree violently with the other. To quote George Bernard Shaw: “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.” This is a good thing by the way. Nations that are solidly cohesive can turn exclusivist and nasty; there’s something of the Vichy about France’s recent treatment of its Muslims and Roma.

So while football hooliganism, covering your car in St George’s flags, wearing balaclavas and spending time in prison is one definition of Englishness, others do exist. The one I prefer is a little more “liberal”, in the 19th century meaning of that word. Its the Englishness that was fascinated by the Orient, the Englishness that saw Christians turn native in North Africa and India and lovingly translate the Koran and the tales of Arabian Nights for the mass market back home. Queen Victoria spent some of her last years harbouring a crush on her Muslim servant, Abdul Karim (a relationship the dear old Daily Mail calls “shockingly intimate”). It’s an Englishness rooted in laws and values rather than race. Crucially, it flowered in the 1800s because that’s when we had a lot more self-confidence as a nation: someone who is secure in their identity is at ease with exploring the imaginations of others. Today our meetings with foreign cultures are awkward precisely because we lack a solid sense of who we are. A lot of the fear shown towards Islam comes from the death of the Christian soul – we see a people who actually believe in something and we are intimidated.

By contrast, most Muslims cling on to values that were once definitively English and that we could do with rediscovering. Islam instructs its followers to cherish their families, to venerate women, to treat strangers kindly, to obey the law of any country they are in (yes, yes, it really does), and to give generously. One recent poll found that British Muslims donate more money to charity than any other religious group. Much is written about the need for Muslims to integrate better into English society, although I’m sure 99 per cent of them already do. But I hope they retain as much of their religious identity as possible – it is vastly superior to the materialist, secular mess that they’re being compelled to become a part of.

I’m not one of those New Labour metropolitan types who wants to create a rainbow nation of hippies – I’m a cultural conservative, a Catholic chauvinist and a defender of everything worth venerating. But its precisely because I’m a traditionalist that I look at Islam and see much to admire – ordered, sensitive to the sacred, civilised – and then look at the British far Right and see much to loathe – ignorant about history, invariably irreligious, law-breaking, lacking in charity. Of course, I’ll be labelled a snob for writing all of this. So, to reassure the critics, I rang up my father – the most working class Englishman I know – and asked him what he thought of the EDL. “Idiots”, he said.

So, that’s that.

As English as tea and crumpets?

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| UK: More young women dying from alcohol misuse!

More young women dying from alcohol misuse ~ Channel 4 News.

There has been a “worrying” increase in the number of women in their 30s and 40s who are dying from alcohol misuse, says a new report based on a study of women in Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

News

Despite a downward national trend in the number of alcohol-related deaths in England and Scotland, the number of deaths of women born in the 1970s has “disproportionately increased” since the middle of the last decade, the study found.

The researchers urged health officials to see the figures as a “warning signal”

The news comes days after the government decided to drop plans to introduce minimum price levels for alcohol, prompting one Tory MP to say she fears that “public health has been downgraded”.

The study, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, focused on three UK cities: Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester, all of which have similar levels of poor health and deprivation.

Given this increase in the younger cohort is seen in all three cities it is hard to dismiss this as a city-specific phenomenon– Report authors

Researchers analysed trends in deaths related to alcohol from the 1980s up to 2011 among people born between 1910 to 1979.

In the early 1980s, rates of alcohol related deaths were three times as high in Glasgow as they were in Liverpool and Manchester, and rates rose over the next three decades in all three cities.

Death rates stabilised in all three cities by the early 2000s, and fell during the latter part of the decade in all three – apart from in womenborn during the 1970s.

Men vs Women

The researchers said that unlike the men born at this time, women in Glasgow were dying from alcohol related causes at a much earlier age than women born earlier than 1970 and in “notable numbers” during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

They noted similar trends in deaths in Liverpool and Manchester.

“The similarity of trends in alcohol-related deaths in young women in Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool raises real concerns for the long-term health of this cohort in both England and Scotland,” they said.

“It is imperative that this early warning sign is acted upon. Given this increase in the younger cohort is seen in all three cities it is hard to dismiss this as a city-specific phenomenon.

“Failure to have a policy response to this new trend may result in the effects of this increase being played out for decades to come.”

More from around the web

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| Shameful: Fox News endorses English Defense League, a violent, nationalist, anti-Muslim hate group!

“We Got Your Back”: Fox Host Kilmeade Endorses Tommy Robinson, Leader Of Violent Anti-Muslim Hate Group ~ ERIC HANANOKI, Media Matters for America.


Fox News host Brian Kilmeade told the leader of a violent nationalist hate group that targets British Muslims, “We got your back” and “it’s great what you’re doing.”  

Kilmeade offered his endorsement to the English Defence League (EDL) and co-founder Tommy Robinson, who appeared as a guest on the June 10 edition of Kilmeade’s Fox News Radio program. Kilmeade’s support followed an interview in which Robinson railed against the immigration of Muslims into the United Kingdom, and warned of Muslims “forcefully putting us under Sharia” Law and planning a “silent takeover” to “implement Sharia” in his country and across the world.

Robinson (whose real name is Stephen Lennon) also said he didn’t regret his recent conviction for using a false identity document to enter the United States to attend an anti-Islam event with anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller. Robinson pleaded guilty and was jailed in January and released in February. Robinson’s offense was not his first brush with the law.

Fox News has previously reported on the violent and fringe nature of the EDL. On August 28, 2010, America’s News HQ anchor Gregg Jarrett noted there were “hundreds of extreme right-wing protesters rioting in northern England. Members of the so-called English Defence League tossing bottles and rocks at police in the city of Bradford. There’s the map. Police penned the group in, keeping them away from a separate rally headed by a leftist group. The English Defence League opposes what it calls the spread of Sharia Law and Islamic extremism in England. Police arrested five people, but there are no reports of any injuries.”

Several other news outlets have similarly described the EDL as a violent and extreme anti-Muslim group:

  • The Associated Press described the EDL as “anti-immigrant” and “a right-wing nationalist group.” The APalso reported: “The English Defense League says it is a non-racist group set up to oppose the spread of militant Islam. But at previous demonstrations its members have clashed with police, chanted anti-Muslim slogans and made Nazi salutes.”
  • The Guardian reported that the EDL has “staged a number of violent protests in towns and cities across the country this year” and is “targeting some of the UK’s highest-profile Muslim communities.” The British paper reported that it “attended its demonstrations and witnessed racism, violence and virulent Islamophobia” and found “a number of known rightwing extremists who are taking an interest in the movement – from convicted football hooligans to members of violent rightwing splinter groups.”
  • The New York Times’ The Lede blog described the EDL as a “virulently anti-Islam group” and noted it “sent a delegation to New York to attend a rally on Sept. 11, 2010 against the building of an Islamic cultural center and mosque in Lower Manhattan.”
  • CNN has described the EDL as “a far right extremist group.”
  • NPR has called the EDL “a far right anti-Muslim fringe group.”

Despite the group’s extreme ideology and violent nature, Kilmeade gave Robinson an enthusiastic and unchallenged platform for nearly 15 minutes to rail against Muslims. Among Robinson’s claims:

  • “Sit and work out the demographics. Look at how our country’s changed. I think, every ten years the Islamic community doubles … Where does it stop?”
  • “In the World War, we need America’s help. Now in this country, we need America’s support because we need to take our country back.”
  • “In thirty years’ time, they will be forcefully putting us under Sharia. There will be a violent struggle across this country, complete civil breakdown and disorder.”
  • “I don’t regret doing it at all.” — Robinson on entering the United States with improper documentation.
  • “That’s the tip of the iceberg. You see, the violent jihadists — now they are a real problem and they do [inaudible] what they’re doing. But this silent jihad that’s going on. This silent takeover and planning to take over and implement Sharia, they’re the ones I’m terrified of because they’re actually sitting around tables of government. They’re actually in positions of power. They’ve infiltrated major positions across the whole entire government. And I say don’t listen to what we’re saying. Listen to what they’re saying. They’re openly telling us they want to take over the country. They’re openly committing treason. They’re openly Islamifying areas, and it has to end, and that’s what we’re saying.

At the conclusion of the interview, Kilmeade told Robinson: “Well Tommy, we got your back, and we’ll definitely look to keep in touch and I really think it’s a very — it’s great what you’re doing.” After the interview, Kilmeade tweeted: “Englishdefenseleague.org [sic] check out Tommy Robinson and his mission to rid brit ian [sic] of muslim extremists @foxandfriends.”

Media Matters has previously noted that Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor also gave Robinson a platform to push his views. Host Bill O’Reilly noted reports calling the EDL “fascist” and “racist,” and described the group’s views as militant, but didn’t cover the group’s history of violent actions.

The Guardian reported today that the BBC has been recently criticized for “giving an uncritical platform to” Robinson, “who was interviewed on the Radio 4 Today programme on Tuesday morning. … He admitted that the organisation has ‘completely questionable’ tactics and said ‘the non-Muslim working class don’t have a voice’ and warned ‘it’s not going to end pretty’.”

Kilmeade, who also co-hosts Fox & Friends, has a long history of pushing Islamophobia on Fox News. For instance, Kilmeade has (twice) claimed that “all terrorists are Muslims,” proposed bugging U.S. mosques, and said that Muslims “have to understand” they’re being profiled because of “the war that was declared on us.”

Listen to Kilmeade’s full interview with the EDL’s Tommy Robinson from the June 10 edition of Fox News Radio’s Kilmeade & Friends:

UPDATE: Huffington Post United Kingdom reported that Kilmeade’s pro-EDL remarks have caused “horror among anti-fascist activists”:

Hope Not Hate director Nick Lowles told HuffPost UK said the channel “obviously doesn’t know who the EDL leader is.

“If they did they would know his name was Stephen Lennon and he has several convictions for violence, including being imprisoned for attacking a police officer.

“I would like to think that if they knew about the EDL then they would know that its supporters have been involved in murders, arsons and violent assaults. However, Fox News has a track record of providing platforms for the so-called ‘Counter-Jihad’ movement and Islamophobes and so their understanding of the EDL leader is depressingly predictable.”

Faith Matters director Fiyaz Mughal, who co-ordinates the Islamophobia monitoring group Tell Mama, has appeared on news programmes with Robinson. He told HuffPost UK: “Tommy Robinson, seems to be an angry young man whose fixation on Islam and Muslims is not healthy for communities, nor for himself.

“Whilst pleasant and courteous, he nonetheless is part of the ratcheting up of tensions through his far right group.”

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| Wag the dog: Jewish bloodlines turn up in most interesting UK places!

LONDON – Seder Night at Buckingham Palace may not be in Queen Elizabeth’s diary of events but placing an order for Matzah may just be on the cards for a future King of England.

When Prince William tied the marital knot with Kate Middleton in last year’s fairy tale wedding he is said to have married into a Jewish blood line stretching back centuries.

William follows his father Prince Charles as heir to the throne and his new mother-in-law is the former Carole Goldsmith. Despite five generations of Goldsmiths marrying in church some royal observers say there’s a very real Jewish heritage in the Goldsmith clan.

The revelation is just one of countless Jewish links that continue to surface among English society both past and present.

 

Carole Goldsmith (second left) poses on Buckingham Palace balcony with her husband Michael, Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Carole Goldsmith (second left) poses on Buckingham Palace balcony with her husband Michael, Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Not of royal blood but certainly considered a blood brother to one monarch was Sir Ernest Cassel whose best pal, King Edward VII, was the wayward son of Queen Victoria.

Cassel was born in mid-19th century Germany where his father, Jacob, owned a small bank but the son arrived in England penniless at 17. With an enormous capacity for hard work and a natural business sense he was soon a major player in the private banking sector and one of the country’s wealthiest men by the beginning of the 20th century.

Cassel mixed in the grandest circles befriending the then Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and a young Winston Churchill. So constant a companion was he to King Edward that he earned the nickname Windsor Cassel.

The Jewish Connection is present in modern day British politics too…and in whichever political direction you turn.

Current Prime Minister David Cameron’s great, great grandparents were stalwarts in London’s Jewish community. His paternal great, great grandfather was Emile Levita, a German financier who was granted British citizenship in 1871.

Levita was a director of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, which became Standard Chartered Bank. He married into the wealthy Danish Jewish Rée family.

Today, when Conservative PM Cameron taunts his greatest adversary in Parliament, he may just have a moment’s hesitation before heaping insults, because facing him is Labour leader Ed Miliband, Jewish opposition leader.

And the official referee on these heated occasions is the speaker of Parliament – the current holder of the post having a possible dilemma as to who to favour when the war of words gets nasty. He is John Bercow, grandson of Romanian Jewish immigrants.

But if Bercow’s attempts at mediation are in vain and the two opponents come to blows in Parliament, they can seek treatment for any injuries sustained just yards away at the famous St. Thomas Hospital…and it’s thanks to a scion of the Rothschild banking dynasty. For in the late 19th century, before the advent of the National Health Service, hospitals relied on public donations to survive. And it was Lord Nathan Rothschild and his wealthy co-religionists who often came to St. Thomas’ rescue when it was in dire financial straits and on the verge of closing.

Religious Jews who found themselves in hospital also had much for which to thank Rothschild. With the massive influx of East European Jewish immigrants to London from the 1880s onwards, Lord Rothschild came to a very special arrangement with the governors of St. Thomas Hospital and, more importantly, its sister hospital the Royal London in the capital’s East End where 200,000 impoverished Jews lived. In return for further massive donations from London’s wealthiest Jewish families the hospitals began providing kosher food, Jewish only wards, facilities for celebrating Shabbat and even separate ice chambers for Jewish bodies.

The arrangement was unofficial with all parties shaking hands on it and all keeping their word for many years.

At several other famous London landmarks a surprise or two lurks for the connoisseur of Jewish trivia. Standing proudly outside the Houses of Parliament is a statue of Oliver Cromwell who led his anti-Royalist forces to victory in England’s 17th century Civil War. Authoritarian and cruel maybe, but Cromwell later orchestrated the return of Jews to England after 350 years of forced exile.

Just feet away and competing for the attention of passersby is the monument to another of England’s leaders at time of war – Winston Churchill. It is not readily recalled that Churchill was often at the forefront in defence of Jewish interests. He opposed the 1905 Aliens Act that sought to restrict Eastern European Jewish immigration; was one of the lone voices against harsh immigration quotas during the 1930s; and before a packed Parliament after World War II he urged Zionists seeking a Jewish state to: “Persevere! Persevere! Persevere!”

Not all heads of state though were as sympathetic to the Jewish community. In the shadow of the dreaded Tower of London, symbol of oppression, torture and execution in bygone days, the visitor is reminded of the tragic fate that befell the country’s Jewish leaders in medieval times.

In 1255, the body of a young Christian boy was found at the bottom of a well in the garden of a Jew. On the promise of having his life spared he was induced by the local priest to ‘confess’ the boy had been murdered by several prominent Jews, despite the widely believed assumption he had wandered into the garden and slipped into the well.

The heads of 18 leading Jewish households in England were then accused of the boy’s ritual murder, taken to the Tower of London and, after prolonged torture, hanged.

It’s a far cry from 200 years earlier when the Tower was built by King William I after popping over from France and vanquishing the English, earning him the sobriquet William the Conqueror. He invited French Jewish moneylenders to join him and help prop up his new realm.

So delighted was he with the service he received from his Jewish ‘bankers’ William ordered that all his new castles, including the Tower of London, be sanctuaries for Jews at times of anti-Jewish violence by the populace. What a tower of strength he was!

Journalist and tour guide Stephen Burstin specializes in Jewish-themed conducted tours of London.

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| UK Fact Check: The nasty surprise in Boris’s police plan!

FactCheck: The nasty surprise in Boris’s police plan ~ Patrick Worrall, Channel 4 News.

The claim:

London is unlike virtually any other part of the country in that we are now actively recruiting 4,500 more police in order to drive crime down further.”
Boris Johnson, 25 March 2013

The background

Boris Johnson received something of a mauling over the weekend from the BBC’s Eddie Mair, who accused him of being “a nasty piece of work”.

The mayor of London was no doubt hoping to get an easier ride from the press today when he published a long-awaited new policing plan for London.

FactCheck would never accuse Boris of being nasty, but we have cast doubt in the past on his claims that he is protecting the strength of the Metropolitan police in the age of austerity.

Last time we checked, the mayor had failed to honour a pledge to have 1,000 more officers on the beat at the end of his first term in office than he inherited from Ken Livingstone. And police officer numbers were falling, not rising.

What’s the latest from City Hall?

The analysis

Let’s have a look at the claim again, particularly the phrase: “We are now actively recruiting 4,500 more police”.

The bit about “now actively recruiting” can’t be true. Go to the Met’s careers page and try to apply for a job as a police officer and you get this message:

But the mayor’s office told us the phrase Boris used in his Telegraph column was just a slip of the tongue. The Met will begin actively recruiting some time later this year, we were assured.

Fine. Will we really get 4,500 more police?

Actually the official plan is more ambitious than that. The aim is to “strengthen the Metropolitan police service by recruiting 5,000 new constables over the next three years”.

Don’t get too excited, though. This doesn’t mean that if we have 32,000 officers now, we’ll have 37,000 in 2016. It means we’ll have the same number of police in three years time, as London’s population continues to grow.

There won’t really be “more” police. There’s no real “strengthening”, it’s just that officers who leave the force through natural wastage will be replaced by new recruits. So there won’t be a cut in police numbers in London, as there will be in almost every force in England and Wales.

Or at least that’s the plan. If we sound sceptical, it’s because the mayor has so far failedto deliver on his promise to maintain police officer strength at around 32,000 officers.

The key pledge in today’s plan is to “keep police numbers as high as possible at or around 32,000″. But we are not really at that level.

The latest figures supplied to the London Assembly’s police and crime committee show that there were 30,843 officers at the end of last year. And the forecast for the end of this month is 30,437.

We were supposed to have 31,957 officers at the end of March, so the potential shortfall between the target and the reality is just under 1,500 officers.

This means, among other things, that there are fewer officers now than there were when Boris took over from Ken Livingstone back in 2008 (31,398).

And there’s nothing in today’s announcement that makes us confident that this shortfall will be made up.

According to the Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, staff turnover in the Met runs at about 5 per cent a year.

If that’s right, recruiting 4,500 or 5,000 new police officers over three years will only just keep numbers on an even keel.

At that rate of recruitment we’ll still be stuck at just over 30,000 by 2016, or we might have scraped to 31,000 officers, a level the deputy mayor for policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, described last year as “the worst case, the doomsday scenario”.

The verdict

Boris’s latest Telegraph column suggests that the Mayor had a choice between selling off police stations to save money, or failing to keep officer numbers high.

Actually, the evidence is that he’s doing both. The number of stations will be slashed from 136 to 73, although that is offset by a promise to create 100 contact points in libraries, hospitals and neighbourhood police team bases where you will be able to speak to a bobby at least three times a week.

As far as officer numbers are concerned, there are fewer now than there were when Boris first became Mayor in 2008, and fewer than what Mr Greenhalgh may live to regret calling “the doomsday scenario”.

We think that the most Boris can claim is that London will not suffer the same fall in officer strength that most other forces will have to endure over the rest of the spending review period.

This is true on paper, but as we have seen, the reality has failed to live up to the rhetoric on many occasions in the past.

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