Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The East Riding of Yorkshire Cover-up?

Pam Allen, the head of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council's children and young people's support and safeguarding children services since 2009, was the director of child safeguarding at Rotherham Council. She faces a probe by South Yorkshire Police regarding her role in the organised cover-up of the failure to prevent mass child sexual exploitation in the town; as are two of her former Rotherham colleagues who are also now employed by the ERYC.

Although the ERYC claimed that it would "review" Ms Allen's position, it is evident that they retain confidence in her as she remains on their safeguarding children board, whose November 2014 newsletter (http://www.erscb.org.uk/news/newsletter/) notes her participation in a seminar on the history of social work:

"Pam Allen provided a whistle stop history of Social Work practice. It was a helpful reflection on how the profession has developed from the first Social Workers called hospital almoners right through to the recent publication of the Jay Report."

It is the same Jay Report in which Ms Allen is implicated in being involved in Rotherham Council's systematic cover-up of the mass rape, trafficking, sexual enslavement, and torture of hundreds of young people by paedophile grooming gangs; including children under the care of the institutions that she presided over. At least one was murdered. Perhaps the "whistle stop" referred to could be interpreted as techniques relayed to ERYC staff by Ms Allen with which to repressively bully and intimidate whistleblowers, as occurred in Rotherham Council?

Her department failed to act, despite multiple governmental and police reports detailing the extent of the abuse; the council staff who tried to speak out have reported being harassed and ignored by their superiors, and one researcher had her office broken into and her research papers detailing the council's failures stolen and presumably destroyed in an effort to pervert the course of justice.

How can the public possibly have any trust in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to safeguard children when those employed to do so by the ERYC display such brazen shamelessness and hypocrisy, even when they are under investigation for negligence and corruption of[potentially criminal proportions? It certainly incites concern for the welfare of children in East Yorkshire if these are the standards of ethics and accountability the ERYC is comfortable with.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Tear down this wall

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's falling, a group of Palestinians  activists punctured a symbolic hole in one of the separation barriers that segregates their country's borders from that of Israel's. The Israeli-Palestinian division is relatively similar to the divided Germany, but international recognition of the Palestinian state is limited in comparison to that granted to East Germany. The consensus of the "international community" (usually a euphemism for the United States government that obstructs any attempt to hold the Israeli government accountable for its violations of international law) advocates a two-state "solution" that would only slightly modify the borders defined by Israel militarism and annexation of Palestinian territory, while doing nothing to address the human rights violations the Palestinians are subjected to, which is in many ways identical to South African apartheid both practically and geopolitically. A bill proposed by Israeli MPs in the Knesset proposes an Israeli state officially defined as a "Jewish" one, that would abolish the cultural, linguistic and religious recognition of Arabs in the country. This one-dimensional racism is presumably motivated by a mentality in which "Arab" is interchangeable with "Muslim", when the country is in actuality also populated by minorities such as Christians and Druze from Jewish, Arab and other ethnic backgrounds. The moral mediocrity of the two-state solution will do nothing to counteract the militarism and racism of the Zionist far-right, which chants "Death to Arabs!" in the streets and is supported by an intelligentsia including MPs, rabbis and journalists who are openly enthused by the prospect of a Palestinian genocide.

In a geographical and logistic sense, the segregation between the Israeli and Palestinian states is equatable to the quasi-enclaves in apartheid South Africa that were the designated territories of the abused and suppressed blacks.

The real solution would be the one-state solution: constitutionally ratifying a unified, secular Israeli-Palestinian state in which basic human rights, including religious freedom, are enshrined into law rather than repressed by it.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The need for space travel

The explosion of the Antares and Virgin Galactic rockets might make us reconsider utility of space travel. Is it worth using so many resources and even endangering lives for a cause that is viewed by some as ultimately conceptually quixotic and practically superfluous? NASA has already abandoned its manned space flights and has been stripped of much of its spending while China increasingly overtakes it in terms of ambition. Since the height of the Space Race and the Apollo Program, humanity has massively regressed from the vision of the likes of Robert Goddard and Jack Parsons. But there is indeed a justification for civilian space travel and exploration in the most profound terms:

Even if we cease destroying the Earth's habitation with climate change, overpopulation or nuclear holocaust, its viability for supporting life is ultimately finite. The same thing can be said about the universe, but the planet will be destroyed by a Red Dwarfed Sun in around 7.5 billion years, whereas the entire lifespan of our known universe is estimated in the hundreds of billions. Ethical concerns about extraterrestrial life notwithstanding, with space travel humanity could be able to populate other planets, either through terraforming providing them with the correct acclimatization or that preexisting in them. Thus if our scientific knowledge and advancement keeps persisting over billions of years, then we could possibly manage to transcend the dimensions of our physical universe and find a home in alternate ones. If we really care about posterity and self-preservation, then it should be in our sights. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The capitalist malignancy

The ongoing catastrophic Ebola crisis in West Africa perfectly encapsulates the moral and practical pitfalls of our prevailing economic system. In the West, we usually react to human suffering in the alien lands we have plundered and devastated for centuries apathetically. It is probably most often referred in patronizing comparison to that which exists in our own societies, i.e. the implication that the millions living in relative poverty should be grateful for not living in absolute poverty. The asylum seekers fleeing to our shores from the social breakdown, war and environmental degradation of our making can always be condemned to death by drowning or suffocation or injury, or hatefully scapegoated if they otherwise succeed. But in the case of Ebola such selfishness is presumably, at least logically, not an option. Maybe I'm not alright, Jack? Even though our healthcare and outbreak prevention is comparatively robust, we know from much media fanfare that Ebola can effect us, and fatally. One is reminded of Joseph Stalin's remark of one death being a tragedy and a million being a statistic, a sense which is perhaps multiplied if those sparing deaths are Caucasian.

And yet (and yet!), despite all such circumstantial and existential leeway being granted to our racial and socioeconomic solipsism, we are faced with the grotesquely pitiful spectacle of international aid agencies effectively begging for charitable donations from the public to combat the ongoing outbreak and scientifically develop a vaccine to cure the disease, because the resources provided by governments and pharmaceutical conglomerates are inadequate. A fraction of the multi-billions in capital our elites hoard, or of the multi-trillions they have stashed in offshore tax havens, would suffice to meet these ends. Which addresses the central point, in this case represented by the rotting piles of Ebola-infected caresses in the room: that the disease and poverty that causes the unnecessary suffering of our species is, as Nelson Mandela stated, entirely preventable and man-made.