A close aide to David Cameron has resigned over allegations involving child abuse images, Downing Street has said. Patrick Rock has been closely involved in drawing up government policy on internet porn filters. He was arrested by detectives from the National Crime Agency (NCA) over a “potential offence relating to child abuse imagery”, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
The spokesman said: “This is an ongoing investigation so it would not be appropriate to comment further, but the Prime Minister believes that child abuse imagery is abhorrent and that anyone involved with it should be properly dealt with under the law.” Mr Rock was a protege of Margaret Thatcher and has held a series of senior posts in the Conservative Party. He has been close to Mr Cameron for two decades.
Are Any Plastics Safe? Industry Tries to Hide Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Containers: Interview with Mariah Blake
‘A new exposé by Mother Jones magazine may shock anyone who drinks out of plastic bottles, gives their children plastic sippy cups, eats out of plastic containers, or stores food with plastic wrap. For years, public campaigns have been waged against plastic containing bisphenol-A (BPA), a controversial plastic additive, due to concerns about adverse human health effects caused by the exposure to synthetic estrogen. But a new investigation by Mother Jones reporter Mariah Blake has revealed that chemicals used to replace BPA may be just as dangerous to your health, if not more. Plastic products being advertised as BPA-free — and sold by companies such as Evenflo, Nalgene and Tupperware — are still releasing synthetic estrogen. The Mother Jones piece also reveals how the plastics industry has used a “Big Tobacco-style campaign” to bury the disturbing scientific evidence about the products you use every day. Blake joins us to discuss her findings.’ (Democracy Now!)
Working class children should act middle class if they want to succeed in higher education and land the best jobs, a government advisor has said. Peter Brant, head of mobility at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, claimed less well off pupils needed to change appearance and mannerisms. He also said in a blog on the Commission’s website that they needed “shared cultural values” such as choice of clothes, restaurants and having varied hobbies.
Mr Brant wrote: “It seems likely that worries about ‘not fitting in’ will be one reason why highly able children from less well-off backgrounds are less likely to apply to the most selective universities. It probably contributes to a lack of confidence amongst those who are upwardly mobile as they struggle to adapt to their new social environment with detrimental impact on their ability to reach their potential.
“And the lack of effective networks and advice to help navigate this new alien ‘middle class world’ probably make it more difficult to translate high attainment into success in the professional jobs market.” Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, said last year that it was “truly shocking” that a privately-educated elite still ran Britain.
Looking back from 2014, it seems extraordinary that an organisation with a name like the Paedophile Information Exchange was taken so seriously for a time in the 1970s that it was able to present itself as a legitimate pressure group. Yet the continuing row involving Harriet Harman, Patricia Hewitt, Jack Dromey and the Daily Mail reminds us that this was indeed the case. While superficially it may seem that there were a lot of gullible people in the 1970s prepared to consider PIE’s arguments, the reality is more complex. The boundaries of what was acceptable in terms of sexual behaviour were changing rapidly. Homosexuality had been decriminalised in 1967 but there was still considerable discrimination against gay people. Gays were beginning to hold demonstrations; even the word “gay” was just starting to be accepted. The wider political movement of the libertarian left encompassed a whole range of other issues, from abortion rights and domestic violence to getting troops out of Northern Ireland and supporting liberation movements in third world countries. Naturally a lot of confusion ensued about what was acceptable and where the boundaries should lie.
Into this maelstrom plunged PIE, which was formed in 1974 by a group of paedophiles who defined themselves as child lovers – as the word literally means in Greek – rather than necessarily being interested in sex with children. The strategy was masterminded by Tom O’Carroll, the organisation’s public face. (This did eventually cost him his job as press officer for the Open University.) PIE’s aim was “to alleviate suffering of many adults and children” by campaigning against the laws on the age of consent, to allow adults to have sex with children. Knowing that the idea of middle-aged men buggering young children was an unpalatable image to promote, members transformed their message into a language of liberation in tune with the zeitgeist. Since the Gay Liberation Front represented homosexuals and the feminist movement supported women, paedophile activists could be for children’s rights. People interested in children were to be considered as “kind persons”. just as homosexuals had managed to appropriate the word “gay”. It seems a preposterous plan; but for a while it came close to working.
- How did the pro-paedophile group PIE exist openly for 10 years?
- Patricia Hewitt ‘sorry’ for stance on paedophile group
- Hewitt ‘Backed age of consent as low as 10′
- Jack Dromey denies approving NCCL call to lower age of consent
- High Court judge Anselm Eldergill ‘resigned in disgust’ from 1970s human-rights group over paedophile link
- Hewitt’s civil rights campaign offered legal advice to adults who have sex with 14-year-olds
- New evidence casts doubt on Harriet Harman’s defence over paedophile links
- Harriet Harman rejects allegations of 1970s link to paedophile campaign
- Newsnight: Harriet Harman talks exclusively about the Paedophile Information Exchange (Video)
- Did Thatcher’s Government Give Taxpayers’ Money To Paedophile Group PIE?
- Savile’s child victims ‘were laughed at and told they were lucky to be targeted by the DJ’
- UK Establishment Closes Ranks as Organised Child Sex Abuse Network Leads Back to No. 10
Here’s something we don’t hear much: good news on the nation’s childhood obesity rate. The CDC says it’s down among kids ages 2 to 5 by 43% over the last decade, reports Time. That’s not just a mild surprise, it’s “stunning,” declares the New York Times. Specifically, the percentage of kids in that group who were obese dropped from 14% in 2004 to 8% in 2012. “This is the first time we’ve seen any indication of any significant decrease in any group,” says the author of the new report to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “It was exciting.”
Of course, the federal survey shows that obesity in the overall population remains a problem, reports NBC News, with about 33% of adults and 17% of all kids and teens classified as such. But the drop among the very young obviously bodes well. What’s going on? The stories cite a slew of potential factors, from fewer sugary drinks, to increased breastfeeding, to better physical-education programs at school, to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. In a statement, Obama said she was “thrilled” at the improved numbers. (A recent study show why it’s important: Kids are who obese in kindergarten are more likely to remain that way as adults.)
University applicants are adopting the “frantic self-advertisement” of contestants in The Apprentice in an effort to stand out, according to admission tutors.
A growing number of sixth-formers are littering the personal statements of their Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) form with the kind of hyperbole favoured by candidates on the BBC1 show.
But statements designed to impress, such as “My achievements at school were vast” or “I tackle the tasks presented to me with wisdom and sincerity”, are having the opposite effect.
In advice to applicants hoping to study English, Southampton University tells students to avoid “frantic self-advertisement” and says they are “applying to the English department, not The Apprentice”. Linda Ruth Williams, a professor of film studies at Southampton, said: “Some personal statements suffer from hyperbole, it’s media-fuelled… we want to hear their own voice, not a self-aggrandising voice.”
Toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children — such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia — according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The researchers say a new global prevention strategy to control the use of these substances is urgently needed. The report [was] published online February 15, 2014 in Lancet Neurology.
“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis. They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH.
The report follows up on a similar review conducted by the authors in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as “developmental neurotoxicants,” or chemicals that can cause brain deficits. The new study offers updated findings about those chemicals and adds information on six newly recognized ones, including manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides), tetrachloroethylene (a solvent), and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants).
A bill permitting euthanasia for children has passed the lower house of the Belgian Parliament by a vote of 86 to 44, with 12 abstentions. The parties gave their members a free vote on the controversial issue. It will become law when King Philippe gives royal assent. This will make Belgium the only country in the world which allows euthanasia without an age limit. This has come only 12 years after it was first legalised. Neighbouring Netherlands also allows euthanasia for children, but only up to the age of 12.
Supporters of the bill insist that it is safe and that there will only be a handful of cases each year. The child must be suffering from a terminal illness, with “constant and unbearable suffering”. He or she must demonstrate a “capacity of discernment”. Can an eight-year-old give informed consent to a lethal injection? Yes, they say, because youngsters in this situation often display a maturity beyond their years.
“This is an act of humanity that allows the doctor to make the most humane course of action for his patient,” said Philippe Mahoux, a doctor and Socialist Party senator who sponsored the legislation. “What is scandalous is the suffering of sick children when they are going to die.” Opponents are not convinced that children are capable of making a mature decision on such a momentous matter. British barrister Charles Foster commented late last year: “children could easily think, or be actively or unconsciously persuaded, that they should opt for death because their illness causes trouble for their parents.”
A senior Tory MP handed an explosive dossier alleging VIP child abuse to the Government almost 30 years ago, the Sunday People can reveal. The 50 pages contained information about suspected paedophile rings, police misconduct and abuse of boys in a care home. There are suggestions the dossier contained links to the notorious Elm guest house in south-west London which is currently the focus of the Met Police’s investigation Operation Fernbridge. But the file has disappeared.
It was presented to the Home Office by Geoffrey Dickens MP in 1984. Later he had a half-hour meeting with the then-Home Secretary Leon Brittan which Mr Dickens described as encouraging. The MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth said he had been assured his allegations of a UK-wide paedophile ring would be fully investigated. But there is no evidence Mr Dickens’ findings were ever followed up and the Home Office admits it has no idea where the file is now.
Two years ago Mohamed Aden was a shoe shiner in Mogadishu, walking the streets of the Somali capital in search of clients even as his friends attended school. Now the 12-year-old boy sits proudly among classmates. For Aden, a poor boy whose family lives in a derelict building in a Mogadishu slum, the transition from streets to classroom might never have happened without a new government-run program called Go2School that seeks to give a free elementary school education to at least 1 million children.
Many in Somalia are happy with the new program, but the country’s al-Qaida-linked militant group this week warned that schools are legitimate targets for attack. Sheikh Ali Mohamed Hussein, a senior al-Shabab official, told reporters on Tuesday that the education program seeks to secularize Somali children. Despite a long history of such anti-education threats, the donor-funded program has proved popular with parents as well as children who otherwise would have no opportunity to get even the most basic education in a country with one of the worst literacy rates in the world.
When the size and price of computers first dipped low enough to make them viable for private use, they were primarily used for business applications. Things have changed, though, and while computers are still used to crunch numbers and calculate data, today their primary use is arguably to store and disseminate information, or in other words, communication.
So while young kids aren’t likely to set up a spreadsheet detailing their sales targets for the upcoming fiscal year, if they want to read a story, listen to a song, or watch a video, they’re more than likely going to do it with a PC, tablet, or smartphone, given that those are the same avenues society as a whole is employing.
Multiple Twitter users in Japan said they were surprised at how often they see children young enough to still be pushed around in strollers confidently swiping away at smartphones or tablets. If you’re old enough to remember when only top of the line cell phones came with cameras, this is an amazing development. But from a different perspective, it’s no different from what kids have always done, and for that matter what their brains are programmed to do: implement the means at their disposal to satisfy their curiosity.
A six-year-old boy suspended for having a packet of Mini Cheddars in his lunchbox has now been expelled from school.
Riley Pearson was suspended for four days last Wednesday from Colnbrook CofE Primary School in Berkshire, after teachers found the packet of snacks in his lunchbox.
He had been due to return to school on Tuesday, but his parents say that both Riley and his four-year-old brother have now been permanently excluded because of the row over what he eats for lunch.
Chairperson Kirsten Sandberg discusses the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child report outlining massive allegations of child abuse coverups and its demands The Vatican take action to hold guilty parties accountable. (The Real News)
Teachers and social workers have a responsibility to tell some people they are “bad parents”, the chief inspector of schools and social care has insisted.
Sir Michael Wilshaw called for an army of “good citizens” to be given financial incentives to wake problem families up in the morning and make sure the children are fed and sent to school.
The former inner-city headmaster who is now the Ofsted chief, also told MPs that there was “undoubtedly” a link between family breakdown and the neglect and abuse of children.
A Utah school’s child nutrition manager threw out the lunches of about 40 elementary school students this week after the kids’ parents fell behind on payment.
Some parents at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City say they didn’t even realize they were indebted to the school. The school apparently made calls Monday and Tuesday telling some parents that there was a balance on their accounts, and the children of those who had missed the call were the ones whose lunches got thrown out.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the child nutrition manager’s original plan was to withhold lunches for kids whose parents hadn’t paid. But cafeteria workers were unable to distinguish who was on that list before serving. Once the food had been dished out, food safety codes say it can’t be given to another student and must be thrown away.
The children were given milk and fruit instead of a full lunch — the meal that the school says it gives any child who isn’t able to pay.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to outfit autistic kids with tracking devices. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning to unveil “Avonte’s Law” on Sunday, a day after 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo was laid to rest. The autistic teen disappeared from his school Oct. 4. His remains were found Jan. 16.
The senator wants to expand an existing voluntary program for people suffering with Alzheimer’s to include autistic children. Schumer first raised the idea in November when the autistic teen from Queens was still missing.
The tracking devices could be attached to wristwatches, affixed to ankle bracelets, clipped on belts, or woven into shoelaces. ”The program would be completely voluntary for parents and run by local law enforcement,” a release from Schumer’s office said.
The state Education Department is in the final stages of creating a system to share student data with colleges and a half-dozen other state agencies so that New Yorkers can be tracked from preschool to college to the workforce and, potentially, “throughout their lives.”
As education reformers push the power of data analysis, state officials say the new system will let researchers find the keys to student achievement and failure. What does prekindergarten background say about the likelihood of success in high school Advanced Placement classes? How did college students who fail science do in middle school? What are the links between applying for unemployment benefits as an adult and one’s educational history?
“The only purpose of this work is to get information that can make our education programs better,” said associate education commissioner Ken Wagner, who is leading the initiative. “We want to learn the types of courses that kids do well in that will predict success in college and the workforce.”
But this is a time of growing public anxiety about the use and security of data. Many educators and parents have railed against the state’s separate plans to send identifiable student data to the privately run inBloom cloud service for storage and controlled public use. Critics say the Education Department’s little-known plans to share data with other agencies — known as P-20 — raise all sorts of concerns about how closely government should be following citizens’ lives.
At first glance, Quiet Time – a stress reduction strategy used in several San Francisco middle and high schools, as well as in scattered schools around the Bay Area – looks like something out of the om-chanting 1960s. Twice daily, a gong sounds in the classroom and rowdy adolescents, who normally can’t sit still for 10 seconds, shut their eyes and try to clear their minds. I’ve spent lots of time in urban schools and have never seen anything like it.
This practice – meditation rebranded – deserves serious attention from parents and policymakers. An impressive array of studies shows that integrating meditation into a school’s daily routine can markedly improve the lives of students. If San Francisco schools Superintendent Richard Carranza has his way, Quiet Time could well spread citywide.
Fury at £105,000 pay rise for Sheffield University boss Sir Keith Burnett after he refused to raise employees’ salaries to the living wage
A leading university vice-chancellor secured a £105,000 pay rise last year while his institution was refusing to lift its employees’ salaries to the level of the living wage.
The decision to award the increase to Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of Sheffield University – one of the elite Russell Group – has infuriated staff at the institution, who have been told their rises must be limited to just 1 per cent. They have joined national strike action over the award which included a two-hour walkout of lessons and lectures earlier this week.
The package awarded to Sir Keith includes £27,000 in lieu of pension payments after he withdrew from the pension scheme. However, according to accounts, that still leaves him with a 29 per cent rise, or £78,000, the largest in the sector in 2012/13.
Close to 400 priests were defrocked in only two years by the former Pope Benedict XVI over claims of child abuse, the Vatican has confirmed.
The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase compared with previous years, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press (AP).
The file was part of Vatican data collected for a UN hearing on Thursday.
It was the first time the Holy See was publicly confronted over the sexual abuse of children by clergy.
Church officials at the hearing in Geneva faced a barrage of hard questions covering why they were withholding data and what they were doing to prevent future abuse.
Victims’ advocates complained there was still too little transparency.
A couple who took their three children out of school for a week’s holiday could be jailed under a law which came into effect days before they went away.
Stewart and Natasha Sutherland faced an appearance before magistrates in Telford, Shropshire today after they refused to pay fines which may now go up to £2,000 – and they could both be jailed for up to three months.
The family of five went on holiday to the Greek island of Rhodes for seven days in September last year. But under a change to the Education Act of 1996, from 1 September their children’s school was only allowed to grant them leave in “exceptional circumstances”.
Taxpayer-funded academy chains have paid millions of pounds into the private businesses of directors, trustees and their relatives, documents obtained from freedom of information requests show.
The payments have been made for a wide range of services including consultancy fees, curriculums, IT advice and equipment, travel, expenses and legal services by at least nine academy chains.
Critics fear that the Department for Education (DfE) is not closely monitoring the circulation of public money from academies to private firms.
While defending their use of public money, one trustee of an academy chain has called for increased scrutiny of their spending. Another said a director had resigned from the trust because of fears over a conflict of interest.
Disney has pulled the plug on a pro-fracking and drilling tour of elementary schools and science centers across Ohio, bankrolled by the state’s oil and gas industry, after drawing fury from environmental activists and concerned parents.
Yet critics charge Disney’s withdrawal, which was announced publicly on Thursday, falls short. “This is an important first step, but we want a policy to ensure children are not having fossil fuel energy promoted to them in Radio Disney’s programs across the country,” said Lisa Hoyos, director of the group Climate Parents that played a lead role in the campaign against Disney, in an interview with Common Dreams.
Billed as an educational program, “Rocking in Ohio” visited elementary schools and science centers across the state, with a total of 26 stops last month. It was led by Radio Disney staffers based in Cleveland, who presented workshops promoting oil and gas pipelines to youth attendees. The presentations created party-like atmospheres with thumping pop musicand pipeline-building contests, in what critics have slammed as propaganda for the oil and gas industry in a state that is ground zero for fracking.
All of the program’s funding came from the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), which is in turn funded by the state’s oil and gas industry.
Radio Disney, which does nation-wide youth programming, had planned to bring the tour to other states if proven a success, The Hill reports.
More than a million pupils have been fingerprinted at their secondary school – thousands without their parents’ consent, according to new research published on Friday.
Figures show that four out of 10 secondary schools now use biometric technology as a means of identifying pupils – with nearly a third failing in their duty to seek parental consent before introducing the system.
The figures are based on Freedom of Information request returns from 1,255 schools to the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch with the group warning pupils will grow up believing “it is normal to be tracked like this all the time”.
If he was expecting a hero’s welcome from fellow students when he begins a course at Cambridge University next week, the Duke of Cambridge may have to think again.
The news that the Duke will spend a term studying a “bespoke” course in agriculture has prompted a backlash from other students who resent him being given a “free pass” when they had to work so hard to get there.
In its report on the Duke’s imminent arrival, the university student newspaper The Tab pointed out that: “Normally students need A*AA at A-level to gain entry to Cambridge University, whilst the Prince only achieved a mediocre ABC.
“Conveniently though for Will, he is the registered benefactor of the department he will be studying at.”
Vice-chancellors at Britain’s top universities get £22,000 pay rises – as lecturers are stuck on 1 per cent
Vice-chancellors of the UK’s top universities pocketed average pay rises of £22,000 last year – while insisting their employees stuck to just a one per cent increase.
A survey showed the Russell Group universities – which represents 24 of the most selective higher education institutions in the country – awarded pay rises of 8.1 per cent on average to their vice-chancellors while overall benefits packages also soared by 5.2 per cent.
In many cases, argued union leaders, the rises themselves were more than the annual salary of their staff – now locked in a pay dispute after rejecting a one per cent pay offer.
The findings angered university union leaders, who warned of the prospect of more industrial action on campuses once term resumes later this month.