Saturday, 31 December 2016

Lord Blair of Baghdad !

Now we have a peerage for `fake services` to world peace:

"Tony Blair is to receive a peerage in the New Year’s Honour’s List for services to world peace, it has been announced."

"Since leaving UK politics in 2007, Blair worked as the Middle East peace envoy until 2015, when he felt as if his job was completed."

"As all peers are allowed to choose their own title, the ex-Prime Minister has opted for Lord Blair of Baghdad in recognition of all that he did for the Iraqi city."

"`To echo the words of my good friend George Bush, mission accomplished!`"

Friday, 30 December 2016

Clamping down on `fake news` ?

"Germany is considering imposing a legal regime that would allow fining social networks such as Facebook up to 500,000 euros ($522,000)."

"In a move that will most certainly lead the way to other EU vassal states adopting similar measures, Angela Merkel is considering imposing a 500,000 euros ($522,000) fine on Facebook, and other social media platforms, for each day they leave a `fake news` story up without deleting it."

"The German government will consider the bill in the new year. The initiative has bipartisan support, allowing both official and private complainants to flag content that is considered `fake news`."

"The law forces social networks to create in-country offices focused on responding to takedown demands, and makes social networks legally responsible for compensation, if a post by individual users were found to slander someone…and we are confident that no private individuals will abuse such laws for financial gain."

"With George Soros financing the `third-party fact checking` organisation retained to flag, and censor `fake news` on Facebook, we are positive that any publication not of the neo-liberal, globalist kind, will be properly removed from social media platforms, so as to avoid Merkel’s book burning fine."

The Guardian was caught disseminating `fake news.`

Thursday, 29 December 2016

FAKE NEWS experts want to guide us ... as if we don`t already know

Now here come the FAKE NEWS experts:

"After Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, the BBC ran a quiz asking readers to distinguish fake news stories from real ones. [The BBC, no less, the biggest propagandists on the planet.]

They asked, for example, which of these widely reported stories was an actual event:
(1) Putin issues international arrest warrant for George Soros (2) Black Lives Matter thug protests President Trump with selfie…accidentally shoots himself in the face. (3) Passenger allowed on to flight after security confiscate his bomb If you can’t pick the correct answer, that’s because it’s virtually impossible to differentiate true headlines from false. They all look equally implausible, but then headlines are meant to grab attention by highlighting the striking or unusual (answer 3 is the real one, if you’re interested)...

I`m interested in who says number 3 is the truth and who says number 1 and number 2 is NOT the truth. I certainly am not going to believe an article like this now am I?  -  nor should I -   if I have my critical faculties intact.  I`m sorry, you`re fighting a losing battle here.

But there`s more:

Much of the debate has centred on how the technology itself needs to be refined to combat this problem. But blaming technology alone implies a rather credulous population with little knowledge of how media works and liable to believe anything they’re told.

The ability to make informed decisions isn’t dependent solely on the information one is fed, but on evaluating that information, understanding its provenance, and appreciating that its mediation influences its nature...
At a time when universities are struggling to justify their position, the heightened need for critical literacy skills in tackling fake news and media manipulation highlights the central role that higher education can play for society as a whole.

Ho Ho. The higher education establishment  is trying to carve out another wee niche for itself.

Technology baloney !

I`m sorry Ms Higher Education you`ve missed the boat completely. People have always lived in their own bubbles surrounded by like-minded bubblers and don`t need advice from you. They have always talked to each other about the news and got their information from each other as well as official sources. They have also criticised those sources but not much of that got into the mainstream. Really the only difference with Facebook is that it happens faster and criticisms of the mainstream media cannot be contained.

Now that commentary on the news can happen as fast as official news sources themselves, the mainstream is struggling to TELL US WHAT TO THINK.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Vaccine damages triplets

"Brenda and David McDowell visit the VaxXed bus while in Detroit Michigan to [tell] the story of all three of their triplets vaccine injury stories following the pneumococcal vaccine."

How you can tell when Obama is lying about Syria

Strong language.

Improving life chances for families

"The life chances strategy, which was first announced by fomer Prime Minister David Cameron in January, was initially intended for publication in the spring."

"The strategy had been due to feature measures designed to address child poverty, including a plan to significantly expand parenting provision, and potentially introduce a voucher scheme for parenting classes. The government had also said it would contain future policy on children`s centres, a consultation on which had been due to launch in autumn 2015."

"But in June it emerged that publication of the strategy had been placed on hold in the wake of the result of the EU referendum."

"In July, the government said it `remained committed` to pursuing efforts to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children."

"Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: `It's very disappointing to hear that the government's much-promoted life chances strategy has been quietly abandoned`..."

"Andy Elvin, chief executive of The Adolescent and Children's Trust (Tact), said: `The life chances strategy and the child poverty unit were the two planks of government approach to tackling the rampant inequality in the UK`."

"`By sidelining these and replacing them with a nebulous social justice paper the government have clearly shown they lack any meaningful commitment to improving life chances for families who are 'just about managing', let alone those who are not managing at all`."

"`Radical solutions, such as the basic minimum income, are required to address the entrenched social inequality in the UK`."

Friday, 23 December 2016

Sanctions at Christmas

"A Department for Work and Pensions whistleblower has told how mean-spirited bosses have demanded staff focus solely on handing out benefit sanctions over Christmas rather than sorting out appeals."

"Hundreds of staff at the Northgate DWP centre in Glasgow have allegedly been asked to only give out sanctions until January 9th and not to process mandatory reconsiderations - where a claimant has asked for a decision, such as a sanction, to be looked at again - until next year."

"Anne McLaughlin MP, whose constituency of Glasgow North includes the centre, has asked Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green to explain the reasoning behind the cruel guidance and called for all benefit sanctions to be halted at Christmas time."

"Anne McLaughlin MP said: `I have never heard anything so mean-spirited in my life and I am absolutely gobsmacked by the callousness of the directions being given to DWP staff just before Christmas`."

"Nobody should have to endure the misery of having their benefits stopped at Christmas let alone face an increase in the likelihood of a sanction."

"For someone struggling to make ends meet, Christmas is always going to be a difficult time with lots of added financial pressure such as presents, festive activities and food but if a person is sanctioned in December they will be left with absolutely nothing - unless they can face going to the local foodbank."

"For someone to have their benefits stripped from them is bad enough but at this time of year it is truly wicked - they won’t be able to take their kids to see the Christmas lights because they won't have the bus fare."

Scrooge is alive and well: 

Thousands queue for food parcels in Dublin city centre

"Last Christmas the centre gave out about 2,500 Christmas parcels."

"`But this year I think it will probably go over 3,000,` says Br Kevin. `It is shocking, but I am not surprised. What is really appalling to see is the number of children coming here, mothers with children`."

"The Government may say there’s a recovery, but there is no recovery for the poor."

"As we speak, several people queuing call over to Br Kevin, thanking him and wishing him a merry Christmas. Two members of the public approach with donations."

"Each person queuing has a ticket entitling them to two blue plastic bags of food one of non-perishables including tea, sugar, cereals, tinned fish, tinned beans, custard, chocolates and biscuits, and one of such perishables as milk, cheese, a chicken and butter."

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Troubled families programme has not proved its effectiveness

"The Public Accounts Committee report says that Government has not proved the effectiveness of a programme to support troubled families."
"The Committee also concludes the Government overstated the programme's success through its use of terminology and the method used to estimate financial savings to the taxpayer."

"Families were considered `turned around` on the basis of short-term outcomes rather than `long-term, sustainable change in families' lives`, says the Committee, while £1.2 billion of claimed savings was an overstatement."

"An official evaluation of the programme was `unable to find consistent evidence` the Troubled Families programme had any significant impact."
"The first phase of the Troubled Families programme was launched in April 2012 with initial central government funding of £448 million between 2012 and 2015."

"It followed a commitment in 2011 by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, to `turn around' the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families in England by 2015."

"The report describes the delay of more than in year in publishing the phase one evaluation, commissioned by the Government to assess the programme's impact, cost-effectiveness and implementation, as `unacceptable`."

Grants cut for low income families


Adventures in Evidence:

"It’s the simplest and most unanswered question."

"In the summer of 2012, Ministers decided to reduce grant levels substantially for all low-income students new and continuing from the following autumn. And we still don’t know why."

"It was inevitable this would have one of two effects on students from lower-income families: they would either have to borrow more than before to make up the gap, or make do with less. The extra debt/lost income was non-trivial: around £35m a year of cash support for people from low incomes would be lost, or around 40% of existing means-tested grant."

"So this was an odd choice of a target for cuts, for a government which had repeatedly expressed concern that people from low-incomes are put off going to university by debt, and emphasised its creation in 2013-14 of a "minimum income guarantee" and a much higher universal minimum loan, to meet NUS concerns about immediate hardship."

"The decision to visit cuts on grants has never been explained (it’s also unclear why the SAAS budget took a much larger hit than the SG budget as a whole that year). Instead, the SG’s discussion of the 2013-14 changes has concentrated entirely on the way these provided more money up-front (using extra loan). But topping up the package with more loan doesn’t logically imply cutting grant at the same time."

Read more

A case for direct teaching

The quirky teacher:

"Children seem increasingly averse to looking at a human face and the current cohorts of children who have grown up looking at iPads in addition to not having dinner table conversations etc are yet to transfer to secondary school. Group seating is also the norm and this means that children not only instinctively turn away from the teacher, but also struggle to decipher the more subtle display of emotion of an adult. This is a situation that will not miraculously right itself during the 6 week holiday between year 6 and 7 but actually needs an act of kindness from decision makers in primary education; children need to be trained to listen and concentrate on what the adult is teaching from an early age and this will only happen if children are all facing the front! This would also facilitate better back-and-forth questioning that is the norm in places like Shanghai, for example."

"Textbooks: use them and stop feeling so guilty about it."

"Worked examples, sequenced learning trajectory worked out by experts, containing useful vocabulary and giving children a sense of progression, of getting better at maths and a chance to have a sneaky peek at what is coming up or remind selves of what was done last week. How can a worksheet ever compare? I also rather like the Eastern idea of having the odd page devoted to information about famous mathematicians. I don’t understand the guilt and hand-wringing that goes with, ‘Oh we must spend thousands of hours producing personalised worksheets’. Even when people admit to the usefulness of textbooks, there is always this caveat thrown in about how it is best to just use them sparingly, like some health worker talking about the dangers of salt on chips. Let’s face it, we all know chips taste great with lots of salt."

"Pre-learning and catch up, daily."

"Children with SEN don’t need the teacher to facilitate their falling behind by allowing them to do fewer and easier calculations and less thinking every lesson, what they need is more time to over-learn and do extra practice. This can only happen in addition to the usual maths classes rather than during them, otherwise we have this weird situation where children are both catching up and falling behind at the same time."

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Dartington Social Research Unit: a social enterprise facilitator

According to the Dartington Social Research Unit (DSRU), it is an independent charity that brings science and evidence to bear on policy and practice in children's services.

Among their trustees is Naomi Eisenstadt CB who happens to be poverty advisor to the Scottish government. This independent charity has burrowed its way into the heart of government. The proposition is that evidence-based prevention and early intervention will eradicate poverty. It is a gross misrepresentation of the current economic situation. People need jobs that offer a living wage, not early interference in their parenting.

Regardless, the Dartington Research Unit has some wonderful things to say about itself. "We have a reputation for being represented by intelligent, provocative, nice people who are passionate about improving the well-being of all children... Our staff and trustees exude our values for innovation based in science, high quality evidence and logic."

When they write about science they are referring to data obtained from very dubious surveys and when they use the term innovation they show that they are prepared to use trial and error studies on whole populations of children and families.
"In 1999 we published Prevention and Early Intervention with Children in Need. This book encouraged policy makers and commissioners to learn from the US and to invest in what works, and made the case for higher quality evaluation, particularly more randomised controlled trials (RCTs). This was not a popular position to take."
No, and neither was the Evidence2Success survey popular that was inflicted on the children of Perth & Kinross Council, using their place based reform approach. Asking fourteen-year-olds if they ever carried a knife to school or if they had anal sex during the previous 30 days was not considered nice at all by protesting parents whose informed consent was not required. Read Dee Thomas`s first hand account. She makes the point that Evidence2Success underpinned the planned Named Person scheme and it is true that had the Supreme Court not ruled against the data sharing aspects of the Children and Young People Act, then the Scottish population was ripe for data mining.

But there is more going on than simple data mining and the clue comes from the Dartington Research Unit itself. It tells us that it has a product focus, turning ideas into things that policy makers, practitioners, children and families can use..."We help charities, social enterprises [see previous post] and children’s services agencies to design, test and refine services."

In other words, while they obtain public funding for their ventures, they are designing products for social enterprises and charities. This is the third way, Big Society and the fragmentation of the welfare state. Since it will be mainly volunteers who man the frontline services - think of Childline - it will be the managerial class who soaks up taxpayers money.
"We were thought to be maverick and very much on the periphery of children’s services research and policy. It was hard to imagine that by 2015 our views would have become mainstream, that there would be six ‘What Works’ centres in England, and that RCTs would have their proper place in the evaluator’s toolkit."
Oh it has been on the cards for a long time I would say, but see how nicely they feign surprise. I think they have had a little help from their friends.
"While we value the huge contribution of the US prevention scientists, we are increasingly looking ‘East and not West’. Thanks to support from the European Commission, we are collaborating with centres across Europe to recognise smart, robustly tested European innovations."
 And no thanks to these nice people for turning Scottish schoolchildren into guinea pigs. It is time to stop collaborating.

Ten year action plan for social enterprises

"A new strategy to ensure Scotland’s social enterprises continue to thrive over the next decade has been revealed by the Scottish Government."

"The first ever dedicated, long-term, social enterprise strategy published, it includes a number of steps aimed at growing the sector over the next 10 years."

"Concentrated in three areas, the government will focus on stimulating social enterprises, developing stronger organisations and realising market opportunities..."

"Launching the strategy on Wednesday, communities and equalities secretary Angela Constance, said doing so would help Scottish social enterprises add to their £1.68 billion economic value."

"Action plans spanning the decade ahead will be created for each focus area, the first of which isn't due to be published until next year."

"In the meantime, to kickstart the strategy £140,000 is being made available to expand the Social Entrepreneurs Fund to help individuals who want to set up and run a social enterprise..."


Social Enterprise – A New Phenomenon in the Field of Economic and Social Welfare?

Leandro Sepulveda

"One key implication of this approach is that any non-profit or charity that gets involved in commercial activity can, in theory become a social enterprise and so could any for-profit private enterprise with social aims. In both cases, the definition corresponds to the social enterprise characterization as double bottom line organizations that strive to achieve social and financial outcomes. This characterization of social enterprises as double (or triple) bottom line organizations and the blending of the different institutional traditions and logics entailed have led to some scholars to recognize them as ‘hybrid organizations’ (Powell 1987)."

"There is considerable scope for the further marketization of the UK public sector, from health and social care to social work, housing, education, work integration, and so on, and the magnitude of the current economic crisis may well be used to justify such an agenda."

DOI: 10.1111/spol.12106

The Traffickers

"[The] staff of Griffini is ... under administrative and judicial investigation for not having denounced the activities of an organization in Congo that procured illegally children who were adopted in Italy. The serious irregularities revealed by the investigation , `Thieves of Children` published in `L’Espresso` in July 2016, have recently been confirmed by `The Traffickers documentary film` aired on Sunday, November 13 by American TV"

The documentary can be viewed on the Against Child Trafficking (ACT) website

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The adoption scandal

Charles Pragnell on 6 December 2016

"Very serious concerns first arose regarding British Adoption Laws and practices in 1976 with the passing of an Adoption Act pressed by David Owen, on the singular basis of one case where the parents of a child who had been placed for adoption sought the child’s return and the potential adopters protested very loudly and it became a `Tug-of-Love’ case as the media reported it. What David Owen’s Act achieved was to begin a process of diminishing the rights of natural parents in favour of the rights of foster carers and adopters, with Custodianship Orders and increased grounds for Courts to override the wishes of natural parents and remove their parental rights in adoption hearings."

"This process of removing parental rights in favour of adopters was reinforced and further developed in the 1989 Children and Young Persons Act, which also increased the grounds for the removal of children. At the same time social work practice with children underwent a significant change in that social workers virtually abandoned any form of Family Preservation work and restoring children to their natural families where removal had become necessary. Such work is immensely demanding on workers and resources and naturally local authorities very greatly favoured the speed and efficiency of adoption. At this time, voluntary adoption agencies were the major placement agencies of children for adoption and local authorities were solely engaged in the latter part of the process in steering matters through the Courts. But the 1989 Act changed that and allowed the local authorities to become adoption agencies as well as the child removal agencies. In effect, children came in one door of Social Services Departments and out through another the heads of the child protection services very often had offices adjoining the offices of the adoptions managers. It became therefore a morally and ethically corrupt system of child trafficking. Many such senior managers had beliefs in their rights to act as social engineers and to decide which natural parents were `deserving’ of not having their children removed and in favour of socially respectable adopters."

"In 1997 the Blair government were falsely informed that there were thousands of children in the State care system who were awaiting adoption. This was untrue because the vast majority of children in local authority care were aged over 10 years, had serious emotional and behavioural disorders from their years in care and had experienced the damaging effects of numerous foster homes. They were therefore entirely unsuitable for adoption as adopters mainly wanted small babies and infants (preferably with blue eyes and fair hair) and would not consider such older emotionally damaged children and young people. Nor did those children want to be adopted after their negative experiences of family life in foster care."

"So armed with this misinformation the Blair government placed a bounty on the heads of children in care with targets for the numbers of children successfully placed for adoption by local authorities and social workers were instructed to achieve those targets, in order to attract the financial rewards for the local authorities. I recall that Kent C.C. were top of the league table for the largest sums allocated for such achievement."

"But the small number of children in care under 5 years were very quickly placed for adoption and this represented an immense problem for local authorities, as to how they could continue to gain such financial awards and thus the focus turned onto how to remove babies and small children for the most specious and dubious reasons and force the matters through the adoption processes and the Courts."

"Ms Philimore claims that the financial incentives for placing children for adoption, `its more complicated than that`. Yes, but it is now hidden within the financial support given by Central Government to local authorities, but it is basically the same. Financial rewards for child trafficking."

"The removal of children at birth and even in labour wards by social workers in Britain was roundly condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in P,C, & S. 2001. Yet such practices by social workers continues unabated."

"Ms Phillimore seems more intent on attacking the personalities and experiences of those who have brought this scandalous situation to public attention , so I will add that I was engaged in child protection social work in England for over 30 years most of which at a very senior level. The last two decades I have spent as an advocate for children and families, an Expert Witness in criminal and civil Courts in England, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia, and for the last six years as the Executive Chair of the National Child Protection Alliance of Australia. Several articles I have written n child protection work and social work are available on line."

"If there is any desire in England to bring an end to this child trafficking then it must begin by detaching adoption placements from local authority child removal services, and secondly to re-direct local authority resources into supporting families "to keep children with their families’ and to diminish the need for them to be removed into State Care and to restore them to their families as soon as reasonably possible (Such provisions are still a key part of the law relating to children, but are ignored by local authorities.). Thirdly, the rights of natural parents in such matters must be fully restored and not simply `dispensed with` at the whim of Courts presented with biased and fabricated, embellished, and distorted evidence."


In response to the Transparency Project


Monday, 19 December 2016

Never over-estimate Stephen Brown in his onward journey to old age

"Head of Children, Families & Criminal Justice, North Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership. Chief Social Work Officer, North Ayrshire Council."

While standing by the collapse of the Scottish education system, the underfunding of the NHS and the privatisation of the welfare state, Stephen Brown has the audacity to tweet about the progress of GIRFEC -  the Named Person wreckage that John Swinney is lying so low about. Time to retire Stephen.

Wellness optimisation in an era of austerity

This is best savoured slowly, but in Coding the biodigital child: the biopolitics and pedagogic strategies of education data science, Ben Williamson from Stirling University reveals all.

"The identification and measurement of psychological indicators through content analysis, natural language processing, emotion questionnaires, as well as big data techniques of sentiment analysis and `machine emotional intelligence systems` are all expert techniques for mining children`s emotions and `with increased affordances to continuously measure facial and voice expressions with tablets and smartphones, it might become feasible to monitor learners` emotions on a real-time basis` (Tientes and Rivers 2015,15)."

"Emotional learning analytics and positive behaviour apps, as a particular psychopedagogic branch of educational data science, are an instantiation of a broader set of historical, social and technical developments relating to the measurement of the emotions. The psy-sciences have long played a significant role in generating classifications by which children are measured and monitored. Through psychological techniques, children have been made visible and assessable through scales, charts, visual displays and other inscriptions, pertaining to norms of posture and movement, personal habits, personality, and diverse forms of conduct. These transform the child through the scientific and technical imagination into an `object-child` rendered in manipulable, coded, materialised, mathematised, two-dimensional traces, which may be utilised in any procedure of calculation (Rose 1996, 112)."

"In the contemporary big data setting, techniques of emotion measurement and management have been developed further in commercial and governmental objectives. Davies (2015) has detailed how the psy-sciences have proliferated through big data, face-reading software, sentiment analysis and `more emotionally intelligent computers` that can be taught how to interpret human emotional behaviours and produce social trend data on population mood. These technologies enable unprecedented psychological tracking and gauging of the emotions of both individuals and populations, but can also be programmed to judge and influence feelings.  As a consequence, `the truth of our emotions` will allegedly become plain, once researchers have decoded our brains, faces and unintentional sentiments` and society becomes designed and governed as a vast laboratory, which we inhabit almost constantly in our day-to-day lives (Davies 2015)."

"The scientific roots of such practices lie in economic variants of psychology, such as behavioural science and happiness economics. These psy-sciences have ascertained that humans are susceptible to `unconscious emotions and sentiments, and can therefore be `nudged` to change their behaviours and decision-making towards healthier lifestyles and more emotional fulfilment (Jones, Pykett, and Whitehead 2013). Such techniques have now been installed in the dominant operating model of many governments. The science of `nudge`, happiness and wellbeing indicators, and the mobilisation of techniques of sentiment analysis, represent the mass psychological surveillance of population mood being carried out by scientific experts on behalf of governments. Through such techniques, psychopedagogies of emotional management extend beyond the school walls into the governance of the social order as a whole. Individuals and populations alike are increasingly amenable to a constant psychological and emotional analytics, producing an affective audit trail that can be mined for purposes of governmental prediction and pre-emption. They are exhorted to turn their lives `into an exercise in wellness optimisation` as part of a new `biomorality` that demands individuals act to become more happy and healthy even as governmental austerity cuts into welfare and social services provision (Cederstromm and Spicer 2015)."


Unreported news from East Aleppo

"Andrew Ashdown is a Church of England priest studying Christian-Muslim relations in Syria. In the last few days he has visited East Aleppo. This is the report of his visit to the area yesterday (14th December) that he published on his facebook page." Photos by Andrew Ashdown


"This morning we visited the main IDP Registration centre at Jibrin, for Internally Displaced Persons from East Aleppo. They are registered here for humanitarian reasons and access to services, before they go either to relatives in other parts of Syria if they have them (many do), or to other reception centres where they are provided with accommodation, food and other services. During the past two weeks they have registered 95,000 refugees, but estimate there may be a further 10,000 who have not registered. There were thousands of people there who have arrived within the last couple of days. Let me make clear that we visited in a taxi without Government or Army accompaniment, and without prior notice. We were not expected."

idp10"The Centre is well organised. The Syrian Red Crescent have tents available that offer information about all social welfare facilities available, and offer free medical attention. In cases of emergency, ambulances are on hand to transport patients to hospital. Free food is being distributed by the Syrian Red Crescent and the Syrian Army, and we saw a convoy of Russian lorries providing aid. There is also a Russian field hospital on site which offers immediate medical treatment."

idp16"The sense of relief amongst the thousands of refugees is palpable. All were keen to talk, and we interviewed several who had arrived only yesterday and today. They all said the same thing. They said that they had been living in fear. They reported that the fighters have been telling everyone that the Syrian Army would kill anyone who fled to the West, but had killed many themselves who tried to leave – men, women and children. One woman broke down in tears as she told how one of her sons was killed by the rebels a few days ago, and another kidnapped. They also killed anyone who showed signs of supporting the Government. The refugees said that the ‘rebels’ told them that only those who support them are “true Muslims”, and that everyone else are ‘infidels’ and deserve to die."

idp3"They told us they had been given very little food: that any aid that reached the area was mostly refused to them or sold at exorbitant prices. Likewise, most had been given no medical treatment. (A doctor who has been working with the refugees for weeks told me last night that in an area recently liberated, a warehouse filled with brand new internationally branded medicines had been discovered.) Most of the refugees said they had had members of their families killed by the rebels and consistently spoke of widespread murder, torture, rape and kidnap by the rebels. They said if anyone left their homes, their properties and belongings were confiscated and stolen..."

Read more

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Who betrayed Anne Frank?

"Anne Frank whose diary and death brought home the horrors of the Holocaust across the world could have been found by chance and not because she was betrayed by anti-Semites collaborating with Nazis."

"Many people have been identified as possible betrayers of the Frank family, including Tonny Ahlers, who was well known for being involved in many fights in Jewish-owned cafes."

"Now the Anne Frank House museum in the Netherlands believes that the Frank family's hiding place was searched over ration fraud. According to new research, police who discovered the secret annexe behind a movable bookcase may not have been on the lookout for the Jewish family living there."

"These researchers have been asking the question: `Why did the raid on the Secret Annexe take place, and on what information was it based?` rather than `Who betrayed Anne Frank?` The new study has looked into possible reasons for the search being illegal employment and ration-coupon fraud."

California vaccine law

"A federal judge has refused to block a new California vaccination law, which eliminates an exemption based on the parents` personal beliefs. The law requires children in both public and private schools to be inoculated against 10 contagious illnesses."

"`Society has a compelling interest in fighting the spread of contagious diseases through mandatory vaccination of school age children,` said U.S District judge Dana Sabraw of San Diego. He noted in Friday`s ruling that the California Supreme Court had upheld mandatory vaccination for schoolchildren as long ago as 1890."

"Seventeen parents and four anti-vaccine organisations sought an injunction against enforcement of the law."

"Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say 33,000 students in California whose parents oppose vaccinations will be denied enrolment unless they agree to be vaccinated, and argued that they were being denied the right to freely practice their religion. Sabraw countered that their religious right `does not outweigh the state`s interest in public health and safety.`"

See also Jon Rappoport:
"A bill introduced by the notorious Richard Pan, the mover and shaker behind the mandatory vaccination law in CAthis new one, SB18, is a grab-bag of generalities basically giving over care of children to the State."

Blame the curriculum

"People who emphasize teaching quality and the central importance of teachers are right to do so. Where some go wrong is in thinking that teacher quality is an innate characteristic. The effectiveness of a teacher is not some inherent competence, as the phrase teacher quality suggests. Teacher effectiveness is contextual. I have witnessed over and over that in a coherent school most teachers can become highly effective..."

"It's true that in the United States, there has been a deep problem with teacher preparation for more than half a century. We have a system that, according to teachers themselves, does not prepare them adequately for classroom management or the substance of what they must teach. Therefore, my counterthesis to the blame-the-teachers theme is blame the ideasand improve them."

"The `quality` of a teacher is not a permanent given. Within the American primary school, where curriculum is neither coherent nor cumulative, it is impossible for a superb teacher to be as effective as a merely average teacher is in Japan, where the elementary school content is coherent and cumulative. For one thing, the American teacher has to deal with big discrepancies in student academic preparation, while the Japanese teacher does not. In a system with a specific and coherent curriculum, the work of each teacher builds on the work of teachers who came before. The three Cscooperation, coherence, and cumulativenessyield a bigger boost than the most brilliant efforts of teachers working individually against the odds within a topic-incoherent system. A more coherent system makes teachers better individually and hugely better collectively."

- See more at:

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The liberation of Aleppo

Mike Robinson is accompanied by Vanessa Beeley in Damascus and Mark Anderson in the USA where the first topic on UK Column News is the jubilation of the population who have been liberated in Aleppo. Many children have come out of hiding for the first time in four years.

Given the way the Syrian occupation has been misrepresented in the mainstream, `fake news` was also featured prominently.

Here`s Zero Hedge:
"Behind almost every liberal crusade of the past several decades, from the blocking of voter ID laws to the Syrian refugee crisis, there has been one man quietly pulling the puppet strings from the background: George Soros. So imagine our complete shock when we discovered Soros to be the financing source behind Facebook's `third-party fact checking` organization retained to flag, and thus eliminate, `fake news.`"
"Just yesterday, Facebook posted the following press release to their website detailing their plans to use a `third-party fact checking organization,` known as The Poynter Institute, to flag `fake news.` The role of the `fact checkers` will be to review news stories and flag anything they deem to be `fake` so that it can be deprioritized on Facebook's news feed."

Friday, 16 December 2016

Survivors from Shirley Oaks to be compensated

Campaigner Lucia Hinton (left), Lib Peck of Lambeth Council (second left), Shirley Oaks Survivors Association founder Raymond Stevenson (third left), former Shirley Oaks resident Shayne Donnelly (third right), MP for West Norwood Helen Hayes (second right) and MP for Streatham Chuka Umunna (right) pose for a photograph before the report's unveiling today

A council will pay up to £40million compensation to thousands of former residents of a care home where abuse took place on an ‘industrial scale’.

"The biggest payout of its kind was authorised yesterday after an explosive report claimed to have uncovered widespread sexual and physical abuse of at least 700 children over 30 years. Lambeth council took the unprecedented step of agreeing to pay compensation to every former resident, even if they did not suffer abuse."

"Blanket payouts were offered because the council felt that all children were judged to be at risk. Those who suffered abuse will receive larger compensation payments."

"Doctors, teachers, priests, police officers, sports coaches and council workers were part of a 60-strong paedophile ring at the council’s flagship children’s home, Shirley Oaks, the report found...."

"Yesterday’s report claims senior figures at the council covered up multiple assaults allowing staff at the home to carry on ‘abusing in packs’. Football coaches who had links to Chelsea scout Eddie Heath named as a paedophile by former players were also named as paedophiles at the home." 

Appeal for Melanie

Thursday, 15 December 2016

A festive message

"Young Scot is the national youth information and citizenship charity. [They] provide young people, aged 11 - 26, with a mixture of information, ideas and incentives to help them become confident, informed and active citizens."

"Young Scot has released its annual festive message starring young people from across Scotland and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. The poem written by rising young Scottish talent, Ellen Renton, urges people across the country to look forward to the future after a challenging 2016 and focuses on Scotland being a welcoming nation this festive season."

They say: "You can take part as well! Film yourself reading your favourite line and post it to social media using the hashtag
#YSFestive while tagging three friends and challenging them to do the same."

Chain mail style. No thanks.  Co-starring Nicola. No thanks.

No harm to Ellen Renton either because her poem might have been fine except for one thing. People are beginning to find it more and more distasteful when Nicola Sturgeon, the Pied Piper of Holyrood, takes every photo opportunity to surround herself with children and young people.

You have to ask: what has she ever done for children and young people?

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Data protection in Scotland

At 8.52 minutes Maureen Falconer can be heard encouraging practitioners to share their clients` private and sensitive data without consent at the lower threshold of wellbeing: "We know that we`ve got the Children and Young People Bill coming through which is lowering that trigger down to wellbeing and that`s absolutely fine. If you`re going to do that then you may well rely on public functions and public interests, and that`s absolutely valid. There`s not an issue with that."  

Had she been doing her job properly she should have known that sharing private and sensitive data at this lower threshold was not absolutely fine.

Recently some emails from the Information Commissioner`s Office have been released following a Freedom of Information Request which reveal a degree of collusion between the ICO and the Scottish government regarding the data sharing aspects of the Named Person scheme.

From: Ken Macdonald Head of ICO Regions
Cc: Maureen Falconer
Subject: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court are due to rule on the Named Person scheme of the Sottish Government at 9.45 tomorrow morning (Thursday). Three issues are under consideration, two of which are directly relevant to us:

1. Whether the provisions of the 2014 Act concerning information sharing and disclosure of information associated with the exercise of the named person functions are compatible with EU law.

2. Whether the provisions of the 2014 Act concerning information sharing and disclosure of information associated with the exercise of the named person functions relate to matters reserved to the Westminster Parliament under the Scotland Act 1998.

The third issue relates to the compatibility of the scheme with the common law and the ECHR.

The petitioners` case has already been rejected by the Outer House of the Court of Session and then again by the Inner House on Appeal. However, there is a degree of concern by the Scottish Govt that at the very least it will come in for criticism and, at worst, parts of the Petition will be upheld. Depending on that outcome, we may also be criticised by association as we have advised on the Data Protection aspects. Hence there could be media interest following it.

We`re intending to watch the hand down of the judgment when it is streamed live. We`ll advise you of the judgment when we know so we can prepare responses if necessary.

From Kenneth Macdonald
To: Press Office (external)

Disappointing result. The Supreme Court has judged that the information sharing proposed under the Act is not proportional and has given the Scottish Govt six weeks to amend the legislation. In other words, the general principle of the scheme is seen to be valid but tighter controls are required.

See more emails covered at  NO2NP where they explain that Kenneth Macdonald got it wrong when he said that the Scottish Government had six weeks to amend the legislation. They are still engaging intensively about it.  

The Digital Economy Bill

And from BigBrotherWatch:

"PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY will change dramatically under Part 5 of the Digital Economy Bill. If the Bill becomes law the way government and public authorities will access, use and share personal information will fundamentally change. UK citizens will lose all control over any personal information they share with government. Control about how our data will be used will be given to a Government minister. Very little specific detail has been given about exactly what data will be shared, how it will be shared or what technical protections will be in place. Similar proposals were made in 2009. They were scrapped for being too intrusive and for removing control from the individual."

"Why will data be shared?"

"The Government have given three reasons for why your personal information will be shared:"

1. Fuel poverty

2. Troubled families programme

3. Re-tuning of television

"But personal information will also be shared for any `objective` the Government decide will improve the `well-being` of the individual or society, either now or in the future." [The original intention of the Named Person scheme.]

Read more

School closures in Baltimore

"In Philadelphia, Chicago, Memphis, we see closings followed by the proliferation of charter schools, leading one to conclude that this is a very deliberate strategy of outsourcing public schools to private operators. The Broad Foundation’s effort to get control of Los Angeles schools is the most recent plan to address budget woes with a plan to privatize the schools."

"Research has shown that these practices do not yield much success. Not only have privately operated schools not produced better outcomes for students, but the combined strategies of privatization, high stakes testing, and accountability have failed to produce better learning and better outcomes for children. Seeing these poor results, there has been resistance to market-based strategies all over the country."

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

State traffficking: children regionalised

Brian Gerrish on today`s UK Column News: "Now I`d just like to bring in this... It`s part of a letter from Melanie Shaw and I`ve got to say what is happening to this lady is just utterly outrageous. I`ll read a little piece of this. She says: `It`s bad; there`s no evidence at court. I`ll go guilty to anything. I`m being charged in jail weekly for offences now and they are piling up as outside court charges. It`s insane. I don`t even leave my cell. I`m abused daily. It`s become normal. I`ve gone guilty and now should be sentenced on the eleventh.  I believe I`m being set up and will remain in jail for a decade  Britain`s equivalent to Nelson Mandela. It`s hard to be positive. I`ve no cash to spend on coffee or shampoo but sod it I`ll cope. I stand by my decision to whistleblow. Christmas in jail, just another day`."

"And then she says she hopes to meet the person who sent her the letter and of course many of Melanie`s letters are simply not reaching her and we will say once again why is this lady in prison? We`re not fully sure. Is she on remand?  Or has she actually been sentenced? We don`t know. She doesn`t know. And what we`re very sure of is the fact she`s in prison in order to silence her because of what she knows about the abuse and indeed death of children at Beechwood children`s home, Nottingham, and also the role of politicians."

"So we`ve got a little bit more to say on child abuse but if anybody wants to write to Melanie Shaw, details of the prison address are on UK Column website. Some letters are getting through. We suggest you do not send her money because there are indications this is disappearing into the hands of prison staff.  Stamps may get through; your letter may get through but it would seem it`s only going to be letters and Christmas cards that are going to keep Melanie in a good frame of mind over Christmas."

Moving on through the news: "A police officer had been sacked for a sexual assault. The police say well this didn`t occur on duty so we`re going to take disciplinary action. So to me it says criminal offence, but don`t worry police are going to protect their own. So this is what was said: `The allegations were of serious sexual assault of an adult female and were said to amount to abuse of authority, respect and courtesy; unlawful use of force; and discreditable conduct under the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012."

"And what`s happening? Well they`re determined that the identity of the officer should not be made public - in the interests of the complainant and the harm that would be caused by publicity to other family members - and the case concluded just a day before a national report revealed that more than 300 officers had been accused of abusing their positions of authority for sexual gain. That`s across the country. But no worries because there`s no serious problem with sexual crimes or abuse of children."


"The Norwegians though are taking a different view on things and this is a report from the Local, a Norwegian newspaper: Police break up massive Norwegian paedophile ring and the significant thing here is that a former Norwegian Labour Party politician is one of the people who`s actually been arrested as a part of these Operation Darkroom investigations."

"Well, happily David Cameron said there are no child abusers in British politics. It`s those nasty Norwegian people that get involved with this.  Melanie Shaw in prison, I think, because she and many others hold information which is very dangerous to the British government - because of course it says that Members of Parliament have been involved in the trafficking and abuse of children."


"Well should we be concerned as parents? I think we should. And thank you to another viewer for sending us this. A Department of Education document just released: Practice and Improvement Fund: Round 2. Improving outcomes in a regionalised adoption system."

"So here we are Mike. This is the European model now being forced through to do with children. But basically we`ve got such a huge problem with these children; we don`t know where they all are; we`re still missing 300 Syrian children as a minimum but the state is now going to introduce the regionalisation of the adoption system. And they boast: `It`s well underway. The first wave of regional adoption agencies will go `live` by mid-2017 and we`re in discussion with 19 projects covering 132 local authorities and 23 voluntary adoption agencies.` So they are inviting people to bid for projects and of course what we know is that people can make big money out of fostering and adoption of children."

Mike Robinson interjects: "So you have labelled this state trafficking; children regionalised. And this isn`t about taking care of children; they`re turning this into an industry."

"This is a well established industry and if any of our viewers or listeners like to go and have a look at the bigger charities - Action for Children is one in my mind - you`ll see vast amounts of money: hundreds of millions of pounds in circulation around the supposed care of very vulnerable children."

"Now this is a little bit of the text inside that document and it says: `We are interested in proposals which will bring together partners to provide a coordinated assessment and support offer and/or explore the regional delivery of the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).` (More money here; but the government doesn`t have any money.) `We are particularly interested in projects under these themes that will demonstrate a continued commitment to engaging users in the development and testing of support services. What type of projects are we interested in? Through PIF round 2 we would like to support the development of adoption support `Centres of Excellence` which bring together relevant partners including social care, health and/or education partners.`"

"So you see once again all the authorities being joined together in a hive type system where the moment of course a family is being engaged by one authority they can`t escape this Stasi-like net. This is very very dangerous stuff and whilst they`re boasting about Centres of Excellence of course we have across the country many many child abuse whistleblowers and we have no movement on the Inquiry into Child Abuse by the British government. Why? Because the government is desperate to protect its own members who have been involved in paedophilia and child abuse."

Unreported PISA finding

Here is Greg Ashman

"To me, the story was obvious. Whatever your view of the validity of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), there was clearly one newsworthy finding: the use of inquiry learning is associated with worse performance in science."

"This is newsworthy precisely because it is the opposite of what we often hear in the media. If you peruse the many articles about how to improve Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) performance, they invariably promote ways of better engaging students with science. And the solution for better engagement is usually variations of inquiry learning."

"Yet I saw no articles in the press that publicised the inquiry learning finding following the release of the PISA results. In fact, one piece in the Ages actually promoted more inquiry learning as the solution to Austrialia’s PISA decline."

"Professor Corrigan of Monash University is quoted as saying:"
"While the facts of science are important, recognising the way that you do science is equally important and that leads to better performance in PISA, which is about scientific literacy."
"This is the opposite of what PISA found."

"Why is this? What’s going on?"

Here is one possibility:
The Inter Academy Panel on International Issues, which represents over 100 National Science Academies, has been implementing a global Science Education Program which has the objective of improving science education at the pre-university levels in all countries and regions of the world. The IAP Science Education Program has specifically opted for the promotion of the inquiry-based science education (IBSE) approach.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Preparing for the knowledge based economy

In the video below, Keir Bloomer, a member of the original Curriculum Review Group describes Scotland`s response to globalisation.
"Knowledge is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. At the very least it calls for content to be constantly updated. But also fundamentally it also changes the very purpose of education."
His proposition is that Scotland needs to be at the cutting edge and operate in a knowledge based economy. 

Apart from the fact that `knowledge` is being used rather vaguely it might be imagined that the new curriculum for Scotland would produce cutting edge results in science, reading and mathematics.

Not so.

Following this so-called `altered purpose of education` and its implementation: "Lindsay Paterson, Professor of Education Policy at Edinburgh University, has described the decline in the Scottish PISA results as `shocking...`"

"The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests look at the performance of 15-year-olds in a range of countries in the three `domains of science, reading and mathematics`..."

"Prof Paterson highlights what he believes could be one of the causes of this decline - Scotland's 'Curriculum for Excellence' (CfE) the philosophy which underlies all school teaching north of the Border."

"In an analysis which will be widely read, Prof Paterson asks: `What has changed that might explain this dismaying Scottish performance?`"

He concludes:
"The main policy change in the decade is Curriculum for Excellence. When the PISA 2012 results were released in 2013, the beginning of this decline was evident, but the policy response was that it would take time for Curriculum for Excellence to bed in. It now has."

"The students who sat these PISA tests have been educated under Curriculum for Excellence since they were age 10.
Students in England in the same period have not suffered the same decline, and yet share an economic and social context that is broadly similar to Scotland's except in policy on schooling. If Curriculum for Excellence is not the explanation of Scottish decline, then what is?"

See also Professor Walter Hume`s excellent opinion piece in the Scottish Review:

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Controversial SBS doctor wins appeal

"Dr Waney Squier is back to work at last. A world expert on babies’ brains, she relished her return this week to the hospital where she first thought the unthinkable: that hundreds of British parents over four decades have been wrongly accused of killing their children by shaking them."

"After going public with this controversial view, she was considered a thorn in the side of the child protection and medical establishment, and was even accused of being an apologist for real abusers."

"Early in 2010, the mild-mannered neuro-pathologist, now 68, was reported to the General Medical Council by police for ‘deliberately misleading’ judges and juries in Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) cases."

"This led to a long-winded disciplinary inquiry and, in March this year, she was struck off the medical register."

"It was only after a successful appeal to the High Court last month that she was reinstated as a doctor, although the judge barred her from giving evidence in SBS cases for the next three years..."

"Dr Squier’s opinion has just gained credence from the most important piece of research on SBS to have been published for 40 years."

"Top health and ethics investigators in Sweden have concluded there is no science to prove, incontrovertibly, that the syndrome actually exists."

"The Swedish research challenges the long-accepted wisdom that a ‘triad’ of symptoms swelling of the baby’s brain, bleeding on the brain’s surface, and bleeding behind the eyes are concrete evidence that a baby or young child has been deliberately shaken..."

"In Britain, it is estimated that 250 SBS cases go through the criminal and family courts each year."

Read more: