Friday, 20 January 2017

Worrying trends in the NHS and the police force

UK Column begin Friday`s news with: Highland woman told she will have to wait a year - just to get on a hospital waiting list.

"She needs a cataract operation, a fifteen minute procedure, but she has been told that she has to wait a year... just to get on the waiting list, and that means when she starts waiting for the actual operation... Is this normal procedure these days in Scotland, that you have to wait to wait?" Mike Robinson asks David Scott.

"Obviously we monitor time spent on the waiting list and have to report that politically and therefore there`s a waiting list for the waiting list so we can keep some people off the waiting list to make the figures look better... It is becoming more prevalent... there were questions asked in First Minister`s questions on Thursday where a woman was having to travel three thousand miles to get treatment in Europe because she could not receive treatment in Scotland and the NHS in Scotland is often trumpeted as a great success for administration... There is clearly a rationing by delay going on..."

Brian Gerrish asks: "Do people north of the border recognise there`s a problem with the NHS because our illustrious prime minister Theresa May says there isn`t a problem and Mr Jeremy Hunt also says there isn`t a problem ?"

"There`s some recognition but it`s being used as a political football... It`s not a very enlightening debate."

Gerrish then goes on to tell viewers that he made contact with the National Health Service Party, the party which is setting itself up specifically to fight the case for the NHS and says: "I`ve got to say out of a twenty minute conversation with a lady, she gave me a lot of detail about their thoughts about what is going on... We`ve been almost swamped by stuff coming in about the NHS. And yes, we think the right way to deal with this is an appropriate conference to expose what`s going on..."

The topic then turns to the police and an article in the Mail complete with a video. Police are caught on camera tasering the founder of THEIR own race relations group in the face after mistaking him for a wanted man. Gerrish says: "You need to go and watch this. As this man tries to go into the gateway of his own house it ... turns physical - I would say - largely as a result of the actions of the police` [who have escalated the situation.] The man is tasered and fell and he hit the back of his head very hard."

"Yes there was no warning that she was going to taser him..." Mike Robinson adds. "The thing that struck me about the article, Brian, was looking at the comments. Probably 70 percent of the comments underneath the article said: `Well if the man had just given them his name there would have been no problem`. This demonstrates a complete lack of the constitutional position in this country. There is a presumption of innocence in any common law jurisdiction and that includes no obligation to identify yourself to anyone including the police. The police have to demonstrate that there is the possibility that there is a crime, either in progress or that has taken place. This man wasn`t being arrested for anything... The duty, constitutionally, is to uphold his constitutional position which is his right to remain silent."

Gerrish asks the question: "Who has been training the police because we`ve seen a massive change in the way the police deal with the general public...? The head woman of the College of Policing is a psychiatrist. Why should that be? We`re seeing the use of NLP... I think we need to be looking at police training and also police recruitment." 

He believes the police are using psychometric tests to select low empathy people to become police officers. Addressing the idea of arming the police: "In the context of the tasering report, that has got to be a dangerous situation. ..You desensitise, you reframe your own police force to make them think that the public is an enemy and then you consult that police force on whether they should be armed."

Changing the subject Mike Robinson says: "It`s not just in Britain that we have problems with the police, David. What is happening here? What is the police lion?"

"This is a video that everyone should go and watch. It`s truly horrendous. It`s Finland..."
"In their newest campaign to raise awareness and engage Finnish citizens through social media, Finnish police have launched a YouTube channel providing information and advice. By the Finnish police's own admission, the idea is to reach children and young people in particular by providing relevant information and facilitating communication with police officers as a preventive measure."
"Whereas the first video on `PoliceTube` focused on the problem of hate speech, making it clear that it did not constitute bad manners, but rather a full-fledged crime, its sequel was even more controversial."
"Using the catchy `Police Lion` mascot (which happens to be an allusion to Finland's coat of arms), Finnish children are taught to snitch on their parents for decrying politicians using social media..."
"This is not the first time the Nordic countries have addressed children to promote an `adult` political agenda. Earlier in January, Sweden used Bamse the Bear, one of the country's most popular cartoon characters from a 50-year-old comic series, to teach children about the dangers of `fake news.`"
After explaining the content of the video David Scott  finishes by saying: "The message is clearly that children should report their parents to the authorities and where have we heard that one before?"

"In states where there are no human rights record is the answer. I`ll just add that in Devon - and I know this has happened in other places across the country -  police have been using children in order to work with them to stop motorists for speeding. So when the car`s pulled over it`s a child who approaches the driver... This is very very nasty and dangerous reframing of the children: politicisation of the children  Where does it lead? Well I think I can add to that.  I watched a video on Youtube a little while ago, a haunting video. It was Germans talking about what was going on at the very end of the second world war ... and this particular aspect was a small group of Hitler youth. They were only just 16 arriving in the village and telling the... German villagers what they should do whereupon the elders stopped these boys. Two days later they came back with their adult SS colleagues and hanged three of the men who`d stopped them doing their duty."

"That`s where it ends."

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Write to Chris Leslie MP on behalf of Melanie

Says UK Column: "This is Chris Leslie the MP who Melanie Shaw worked for, many years ago. And he came to see her at one of the points she was out of prison. He was there shaking her hand.  He was showing sympathy and concern.  But this man has NOT done anything since Melanie has actually been in prison."

"Now we asked for people to take some action on this, and a lady has sent this fantastic letter... "

Dear Mr Leslie,

Melanie Shaw

Please find enclosed a letter for you to deliver to Melanie, the next time you visit her. I am sure you will be doing this, as you must be very anxious, given her past work on your behalf, to hear from her own mouth how she is being treated at Foston Hall.

In the light of the fact that your constituent is being denied the rights guaranteed to all English subjects under Magna Carta, you will no doubt have noted with interest the recent judgement of the Supreme Court in favour of Abdel Hakim Belhaj ,  on whose behalf those guarantees were specifically upheld. I have written to Lord Mance to congratulate him and his fellow judges on their wise decision, and pointed out that other British subjects - Melanie among them - are, at the time of writing, less fortunate than Mr Belhaj. A copy of this letter is enclosed.

What are you doing to ensure that Melanie does not continue to suffer torture at the hands of UK government agencies ?

I look forward to your prompt reply.


"I`ve got to say what a fantastic letter and we need to ask here how many other people ... have taken this sort of action to support Melanie?"

"We are asked time after time again what can people do to make a difference to help this lady and indeed other people and we say you need to take action..."

"Get those letters in to Chris Leslie. Don`t allow him to fob you off: on the telephone, emails, letters, personal visits, to ask as politely as possible what this gentleman is doing to help his constituent."


Brian Gerrish also reminds viewers that by writing letters in support of Melanie they will be raising the importance of Magna Carta and Common Law. These are two laws, he believes,  need to be reinstated in order to deal with MPs who are clearly out of control.

See `Jack Straw and UK government must face kidnap and torture claims, court rules.`

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Charities are promoting government policy

Despite the grandiose claims by the Daily Mail, this is old news, but it is worth regurgitating:

"More than £3 billion of taxpayers` cash is being pumped into some of Scotland`s biggest charities each year. A major Scottish Daily Mail investigation has uncovered a vast network of charitable organisations effectively promoting government policy while being bankrolled at public expense."

"Many of these supposedly not-for-profit enterprises can barely raise a penny in donations, yet they are able to pile up enormous surpluses worth millions of pounds, using the excess cash to accumulate lucrative property portfolios - and even invest in hedge fund schemes."

"The Mail`s findings blow apart the traditional image of charities as reliant on the goodwill of donors and staffed by volunteers."

"Most of Scotland`s charity funds are now raised behind closed boardroom doors by chief executives on sky-high salaries and gold-plated pensions. Our investigation has identified: The `third sector`fat cats taking home six-figure salaries and bumper pensions..."

"[T]axpayers` money is spent creating `sock puppet` charities to prop up SNP policies such as the Named Person scheme."

Let`s not forget the many not-for-profits springing up south of the border and across Europe. This is a global racket.


Fostering agencies make significant profits

‘A charity that relies in the main part on taxes’, writes the blogger Guido Fawkes, ‘is no more a charity than a prostitute is your girlfriend.’
"Recent research from Corporate Watch shows that in 2014-15, eight commercial fostering agencies made around £41m profit between them from providing foster placements to local authorities."

"This is pure profit. It’s after allowances for foster carers, staffing costs and support services. Who did this money go to? Well, according to Corporate Watch, one company, Graphite Capital, made £14.4m on shareholder loans from the National Fostering Agency, which it owned, and then sold it on. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan accrued £13m from its ownership of Acorn Care and Education. And Sovereign Capital took £1.9m in 2014 alone from company Partnerships in Children’s Services, a group that comprises several foster care agencies..."

"Meanwhile, in 2014-15, local authorities were making significant cuts and services for vulnerable children were being squeezed. The fact that £41m of public taxpayers’ money, allocated to support children in state care, actually ended up in the pockets of a Canadian pension fund and some seriously rich capital firms is obscene."

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Diagnosing need and reducing workload

At a meeting of the Education and Skills Committee on 2nd November 2016 Ross Greer brought up the issue that parents` requests for diagnosis and support for their learning disabled children are sometimes going unheard. There are also huge disparities between local authorities as to the figures. West Dunbartonshire has identified about 35 percent of young people as having an additional support need. The figure for North Lanarkshire is now 5 percent. He wanted to know if this difference was due to children going undiagnosed because of budget constraints.

John Swinney responded that there is a statute that has to be followed by local authorities to ensure that the needs of young people with additional support needs are met in all circumstances.
"There are various interventions to assess the capacity and capability of education authorities in fulfilling that obligation. I will certainly look carefully at the issues that Mr Greer has raised to ensure that I am satisfied that the needs of young people are being met..."

If Mr Swinney is sincere about wanting to reduce teachers` workloads, as well as binning the wellbeing and GIRFEC nonsense and the hundreds of Es and Os, he needs to address the issue of `inclusion`.

My granddaughter who is sixteen attends a primary school one afternoon per week as part of a work experience scheme. There are three children in the primary 3 class who have behavioural difficulties and never a week goes by when one or more of these children has a meltdown. None of the children has a support worker. So apart from my granddaughter who is still attending school herself and is untrained, there is no support for the teacher. It is not an ideal situation for the three children or the rest of the class who are being disturbed.

It is possible that one or more of these children could benefit from a support worker but if their needs are not diagnosed it is the teacher who is left to cope. Unfortunately, in this particular class that is proving too much.

Obama commutes Chelsea Manning`s sentence

"WASHINGTON President Obama on Tuesday commuted all but four months of the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army intelligence analyst convicted of a 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted Mr. Obama’s administration and brought global prominence to WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures."

"The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to kill herself last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman at the men`s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction."

"[When] McCord approached a van targeted by the airstrike, he heard a noise he wasn't expecting: the cry of a little girl."

"`I think she was four years old and you could tell she had a wound to the stomach and I remember her looking at me and the blood around her eyes made her eyes so ghostly,` he says."

"McCord grabbed the girl and ran her into a nearby building. There he picked the glass out of her eyes so she could blink and handed her off to a medic."

"`I went back outside and we were told to take pictures and so I started taking pictures of the van,` he says."

"Then he discovered another child."

"`That's me right there,` McCord tells Lopez as he walks her through the now infamous `Collateral Murder` clip. `That is a little boy that I originally thought was dead`."

"Despite their injuries, the children survived. Part of Ethan McCord, though, changed forever."

"`I couldn't stop myself from crying,` he says."

"McCord sought out mental health afterward, and says he was mocked by his commanders and threatened with expulsion from the military."

"`And that's when I started drinking,` he says. `And the mental health [doctor] had given me prescriptions: 13 prescriptions`."

Monday, 16 January 2017

Scotland and the `reading war` continues

The research unit called GUS has investigated the impacts of early parent-child activities in two `Growing Up in Scotland` cohorts. See the video above.

"Growing Up in Scotland is a large-scale longitudinal project which is currently tracking the lives of two cohorts of Scottish children from the early years, through childhood and beyond. The study is funded by the Scottish Government."

Their findings: Enjoyment of reading at age 8
"At age 8, most (66%) children liked reading ‘a lot’, with around a quarter (24%) saying they liked it ‘a bit’, and one in ten not liking it."
 "Girls were more likely to say they liked reading than boys (74% of girls liked reading ‘a lot’ compared with 58% of boys). There were no statistically significant differences by socio-economic characteristics."

"There were no statistically significant differences by socio-economic characteristics."

Let that sink in. Whether your mum and dad read to you, or whether your mum and dad did not read to you, had no significant difference in the outcome.

That means, that at eight years old, the difference between groups was more likely to be on account of whether their teachers  taught them to read in an appropriate manner - so that they could enjoy reading - and/or whether they had access to books.

Teachers who are trained in phonics to the highest standards are obviously required.  Keeping libraries open in poor areas is an absolute `must`.

Focusing on parents in the early years is politically expedient but absurd.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Searchlight model of reading is misleading

"The three-cueing system is well-known to most teachers. What is less well known is that it arose not as a result of advances in knowledge concerning reading development, but rather in response to an unfounded but passionately held belief. Despite its largely uncritical acceptance by many within the education field, it has never been shown to have utility, and in fact, it is predicated upon notions of reading development that have been demonstrated to be false."

"Thus, as a basis for decisions about reading instruction, it is likely to mislead teachers and hinder students' progress. In the recently released Primary National Strategy (2006a), the three cueing model (known in Great Britain as the Searchlight model) is finally and explicitly discredited. Instead, the Strategy has acknowledged the value of addressing decoding and comprehension separately in the initial stage of reading instruction."

"… attention should be focused on decoding words rather than the use of unreliable strategies such as looking at the illustrations, rereading the sentence, saying the first sound or guessing what might 'fit'. Although these strategies might result in intelligent guesses, none of them is sufficiently reliable and they can hinder the acquisition and application of phonic knowledge and skills, prolonging the word recognition process and lessening children's overall understanding."

"Children who routinely adopt alternative cues for reading unknown words, instead of learning to decode them, later find themselves stranded when texts become more demanding and meanings less predictable. The best route for children to become fluent and independent readers lies in securing phonics as the prime approach to decoding unfamiliar words (Primary National Strategy, 2006b, p.9)."

Changing the world with ClassDojo

Ben Williams and Aliastair Rutherford raise a series of concerns about the globally popular classroom management app ClassDojo.

"Millions of parents will be familiar with the free mobile app, ClassDojo. It allows teachers to award or deduct points to children for their classroom behaviour, and has become a worldwide educational success story, with claims it is being used by over 3 million teachers and 35 million children from 180 countries globally."

"Despite its popularity, ClassDojo raises significant concerns many parents may not have considered. As our ongoing research shows, in 2016 its Silicon Valley team received over US$20 million to extend into a ‘school-wide’ platform, quickly making it into an indispensable tool for connecting schools with parents, enabling a constant flow of dojo points, classroom pictures, messages, videos and digital portfolios of children’s work to be sent from schools to homes."

"Meanwhile, teachers are involved in producing a huge database about children’s behaviour. It’s no longer just a cute app for promoting positive behaviour; it’s becoming more like a  social media site..."

"As a globally successful social media site for schools, ClassDojo is becoming as integral to the relationships between children, teachers and parents as mainstream social media is to the everyday lives of millions around the world. It is making teachers into data collectors and data entry clerks, encouraging children to see themselves in terms of their behavioural points, and inviting parents to become users of ClassDojo’s services. School leaders can now use ClassDojo data and local government authorities may also be able to access it in future, potentially making it into a key tool of whole-school management and performance measurement."

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Bill allows councils to opt out of child protection legislation

Hansard -   Mrs Lewell-Buck:

"I apologise at the outset that my comments are rather long but they are entirely relevant to the Government’s new clauses. As I listened to the Minister, I hoped he would offer some clarity on a number of key issues that have rightly plagued these Government plans to allow councils to opt out of primary and secondary protective legislation for vulnerable children and young people. I want that sentence to sink in with the Committee for a moment."

"The Minister is asking us to approve a power that threatens vast swathes of hard-fought legislation that was carefully crafted in the proper way, rooted in robust evidence and consultation with the sector, children and families, often in the wake of tragedies and failures that should not have occurred, and that had cross-party commitment to better protect and provide for children and young people."

"Of course, not all children’s social care legislation has evolved because things have gone desperately wrong. Many statutory requirements in the care system, in leaving care and in support for families have emerged through creative practice and innovation, but I fear that after the Bill, innovation will be forever associated with the removal of legal protection. That does a terrible disservice to all the excellent projects, pilots and world-leading practice that have developed in children’s social care across the decades."

"The Minister is asking us to hand the Secretary of State unprecedented power to dispense with primary and secondary legislation without any prior Green or White Paper consultation, any public evidence sessions, as there should have been for such a radical change, or any evidence that any of the endangered legislation works against children’s welfare. Once an exemption or ​modification to the law has been authorised, the trials could last up to six yearsthat is a long time for a child reliant on the state for his or her care and protection."

"Our most vulnerable children are being used as guinea pigs. That is no exaggeration. Look at the transcript of the Lords debate that led to the first incarnation of these awful clauses being kicked out. These so-called innovation clauses were described several times by noble Lords, even those on the Government side, as an experiment. Do we really want to give consent to such high-risk experiments when local authorities are facing extreme funding pressures and increased demand? Nagalro warned in its evidence to the Committee:"

"Anything which helps spread the budget further is going to be greeted with great enthusiasm in County Hall. It also warned that the Bill risks introducing perverse incentives into a system already buckling under great strain."