Local authority cover-ups

Something about UK local authorities – unable to grasp any notion of serving anyone’s interest but their own – that is the interests of the ‘managers’ who run them.

This is one example – but there are countless.

In this story a judge has found that Gloucester County council had erred in removing a child from his or her mother. Note the strong language used by the judge. This was not a small error.

Note then the response by the Council:

Gloucestershire council said it apologised “to the court unreservedly that in our attempts to safeguard the welfare of this child, members of our children’s social care team breached the terms of a previous court order.

Well – not just a previous Court Order but also the law. So that is a little fib for a start. Then notice the attempt to claim that they were acting in the ‘safeguarding’ interests of the child. This is called ‘putting it onto the other’. Teachers use this tactic a lot. And of course they are playing the ‘Safeguarding’ card – a well-worn get out of jail free card.

Local authority managers set new standards in cynicism and dishonesty even by the already low standards of the times.

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Child abuse in the name of Safeguarding

It has been a theme of this web site that Safeguarding is insincere. Its primary purpose is to protect officials from liabilities that arise from being linked to child abuse. Underlying attitudes towards young people, put simply, a tendency to turn young people into objects, have not changed at all.

A real change in attitudes would mean a change towards valuing young people as subjects. This hasn’t happened yet.

The world of schooling is filled with examples of abuse of young people – or at least extreme objectification – which pass unnoticed. The same schools where these abuses happen no doubt hold many ‘Safeguarding’ training courses and events and believe they are havens of… something. This is an example – a school makes young people wear ‘lanyards’ around their necks if their uniform is out of shape. This is an example of isolation, internal exile, par excellance. From the school’s point of view it is a development of the (horrible) practice of internal isolation – when a student is sent to study at a desk alone in a corridor or room. In this example the student continues to mingle with their peers but are marked out by the sign they are forced to wear. Shaming and humiliation are the emotional effects. But really this is about an extreme ‘docilisation’ in Foucault’s sense – a training of the subjects.

However; the main theme of this post concerns an even more disturbing trend. It is now considered normal to discuss child sexual abuse even with quite young young people – primary school age. These discussions are not proposed as something delicate and serious a parent might have with their child – to warn them about possible dangers, but in a way that doesn’t alarm them. These discussions are proposed as explicit and routine and delivered by ‘professionals’. All this amounts to the sexualisation of young people. We have commented before – there are two groups of people who see school-aged children as sexual objects; paedophiles and Safeguarding advocates. Like any other disciplinary system the first move of Safeguarding is to normalise the behaviour it claims to be opposed to. It does this so it can manage it. In reality this probably increases the behaviours.

The following takes this to a new level. This is an advert for someone to manage a team of ‘youth ambassadors’ – themselves young people – who will talk to other young people about child sexual abuse:

This is an exciting new opportunity at Step Out, we are seeking to recruit an innovative and passionate practitioner to develop our Youth Ambassadors Programme. Youth Ambassadors are young leaders and your role will be to support them to deliver early intervention and preventative work within primary education settings to other young people, focusing on raising awareness around CSE prevention and protective behaviours. [from a youth project job advert in Oxford]

This is the exact analogy of how paedophiles sometimes like to use an already groomed and compliant young person to help them groom and manipulate even younger victims.

This is in effect the mirror image of paedophilia. It passes as normal.

New US Sanctions may target Europe’s gas relationship with Russia

Congress has passed, overwhelmingly, a new sanctions bill – which includes sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea.

The bill now goes to the Senate where it is expected to be passed. President Trump will then be under strong pressure to sign it into law.

The sanctions against Russia include new Iran-style sanctions. These go beyond instructing US businesses what they can and cannot do. These sanctions target the businesses of other countries; imposing penalties on their US operations if they work with Russia in certain ways. The EU is up in arms – though they may not in reality do very much.

The part of the bill (Section 232) which has so offended the EU is that part which imposes penalties on entities which make financial investments which “directly and significantly contributes to the enhancement of the ability of the Russian Federation to construct energy export pipelines” or which make technology transfers which “could directly and significantly facilitate the maintenance or expansion of the construction, modernization, or repair of energy export pipelines by the Russian Federation”. I.e they are targeting non Russian companies who work with Russia to develop export pipelines.

The penalties are various (given in Section 235 of the document). They include:

  • withdrawal of US government export credit facilities
  • curtailment of any export licenses concerning goods which would be exported to the targeted entity
  • blocking of loans made by any US financial institution to the targeted entity
  • using the US vote to block loans made by international organisations
  • withdrawal of a right to be a primary dealer in US government debt
  • blocking of any US government contracts made with the targeted entity
  • blocking of any financial transactions made with/by/to the targeted entity via the US financial system
  • blocking of US purchasing debt from the targeted entity

This is very serious stuff.

The immediate target of this is the the Nord Stream 2 project – a pipeline Russia is building under the Baltic to export gas to Europe, bypassing Ukraine. (There is already one pipeline on this route; this is to add capacity). This project is a joint project between Russian state controlled Gazprom [2] and several European energy companies. [3]

These companies will now have to decide if they want to risk substantial negative repercussions if they continue to be involved.

A secondary target might be Russian plans for a gas pipeline across the Black Sea to Turkey.

The EU – which was looking forward to its citizens consuming the exported gas will have to decide if it wants to make a political response.

The way out for everyone appears to be that the bill permits the President at will to impose the sanctions. The bill can be passed and become law but President Trump might simply choose not to take advantage of the provisions in the bill. Though one imagines that if the bill is passed then he will face pressure to use the measures in it. But for the EU to accept some kind of fudge like this would set a dangerous precedent for them.

Up till now EU and US sanctions have targeted Russia’s oil industry rather than gas. Russia exports oil to Europe but China, South Korea and Japan are also recipients. But almost all of Russia’s gas exports go to Europe. [4] Up till now – the EU has been careful to avoid doing anything which could affect its own gas supply. And, clearly, the continued export of its gas to the EU is a major source of revenue for the Russian state. The US bill thus threatens both the EU (in terms of cheap, reliable, gas supplies) and Russia (in terms of a potential loss of revenue).

The argument being made by the Russian side is that the driver for this is a US desire to sell its own gas products to Europe. This view is also being openly voiced in Germany. [5] (Readers of RT cannot but fail to notice that the long predicted division between the EU and the US over sanctions is now coming to pass).

The bill also makes existing sanctions which currently have the status of a directive into law which will make it harder for them to be removed.

This is a kind of declaration of war.

In the end all this will probably backfire on the US. When Congress chants ‘we are protecting freedom’ what they are actually chanting is ‘we are protecting the profits and interests of US business’. But they are in the long run backing themselves into a backwater. The world will go on – whatever difficulties they try to create for people who don’t ‘get’ the American way.

Notes

1. Full text of the Bill in Congress

2. https://www.economist.com/news/business/21573975-worlds-biggest-gas-producer-ailing-it-should-be-broken-up-russias-wounded-giant

3. https://www.rt.com/business/357176-nord-stream2-biden-us-russia/

4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2015/04/07/heres-where-russia-shipped-oil-last-year-as-ukraine-europe-diversifies/#4755fb017c5d

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=17231

5. https://www.rt.com/news/394783-germany-russia-sanctions-nordstream/

Tacky anti-Russia propaganda in the Telegraph

This is a typical example of the kind of low-grade anti-Russia propaganda that the free press likes to fill its pages with.

It’s a story in the Daily Telegraph about some apparent changes to the Russian tourist visa application process.

Apparently the changes include new questions about income and about the applicant’s social media accounts.

The questions are described as ‘intrusive’. The article presents this as something sinister – and uses it to paint Russia in a bad light.

The report says that they tried to contact the Foreign Office to get a list of questions that Russian visitors to the UK are asked for comparison but the Foreign Office could not supply them. This is third-rate journalism. If you want to make a comparison then you need to get the form yourself e.g. – ask a contact in Russia to make an application so you can get a form. To put your lazy and half-baked research into the article and leave it at that is shoddy journalism – the kind, one hopes, would lead to a fail in journalism school – but which is all too common in the Western press.

In reality; questions about having sufficient income are hardly unusual in Visa application forms. Russia already asks these questions for business long-stay visas and has it seems simply decided to ask them for tourist visas as well. It isn’t clear from the article but these new regulations may apply to visa applicants from countries other than Britain.

As concerns social media accounts. Russia is perhaps interested in finding out if people visiting are bloggers who plan to write hostile material about Russia and/or support terrorism. Again – these changes probably apply to people from countries other than Britain. Russia (like Britain) has a problem with terrorist supporters who are very active on social media. This is probably connected to those problems. As the article acknowledges the US asks visa applicants similar questions.

So. A complete non-story – dressed up as evil Russia behaving in a sinister fashion.

This is the kind of low-grade hate propaganda that papers like the Telegraph feeds its readers on a daily basis. Ah. The ‘free press’.

Media propaganda on Ukraine

This is just a small example. An article in the Telegraph about the recent announcement on the creation of a new ‘state’ by the DNR. [1] Just a couple of points.

i) This is an example of what this site calls ‘narrative overlay’. The Western media often reports the news in this way. They don’t just limit themselves to reporting facts – someone said this; someone else claimed that. They tell their readers what to believe. These are editorial glosses laid on top of the news to make sure everyone is on the right page. A sort of organized group think. For example;

The proposed country – which has no chance of getting off the ground – would be founded after a referendum and called Malorossiya, a tsarist-era name meaning “Little Russia” that once described most of the area covering modern-day Ukraine.

Well. In all likelihood this plan is just intended as a wind-up; perhaps part of a strategy to say to Kiev that if Kiev doesn’t start implementing the Minsk agreements soon (with regard to political autonomy for the Eastern regions) then the stakes will be raised. In all likelihood it “does have no chance of getting off the ground”. But why does the Telegraph have to tell its readers this? Why not just report the facts? These kinds of editorial glosses are about managing the narrative. In essence; telling people what to think.

ii) A second characteristic of the Western media is the way that claims are made and are treated as self-evidently true but in fact rarely evidenced.  See:

Moscow has denied the allegations despite overwhelming evidence that it has been involved in the fighting and its explicit political support for the rebels.

A good example. This works simply be repeating ‘overwhelming evidence’ enough times. In reality there has been astonishingly little credible evidence in the media to support the claim of Russian ‘involvement in the fighting’. Reuters published a story which provided some evidence (though far from conclusive) that Russia had supplied two tanks to the militias in Eastern Ukraine. [2] This report stands out as being a rare case when journalists have made a serious attempt to back up the narrative with the fruits of investigative journalism. In the main the source for the “Russia is involved in the fighting” is either the US State Department or the Ukrainian defence ministry. This isn’t to say that Russia has not been sending military support to the militias. Quite possibly they have. But there is as a matter of fact no ‘overwhelming evidence’. And ‘explicit political support’ is also a fiction. The Kremlin has studiously avoided supporting the rebels in the DNR and LPR in any demands they might have made to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. The Kremlin has been explicit that the conflict should be solved with reference to the Minsk agreements.

Why does the Western press lie so much? Because – in the end Western (mostly US) finance capital is running a racket. Bringing ‘freedom’ to the world – in reality a vulgar and crude materialist culture. And the role of the press (owned by that self-same finance capital) is to soak the masses in the myths needed to sell this horrible culture as the best thing that’s ever happened to humankind.

Notes

1. https://sputniknews.com/politics/201707181055660081-dpr-malorossiya-kremlin/

2. http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-tanks-exclusive-idUKKCN0IC1GE20141023

The stocks are back

This is a story about a school in Bristol where they make the students were a ‘lanyard’ round their neck if they are wearing the incorrect school uniform.

Something straight out of the worst kind of Victorian schooling.

Hard to believe that it can happen in the 21st century.

This sort of thing shows conclusively that all the fuss about ‘Safeguarding’ is so much froth and front.

The abuse continues.

There is another aspect to this. Reading the article we can see that one reason the school gives for this cruel policy (based around, isolation, shame, humiliation, differentiation) is that it means that teachers don’t have to pull a student up several times during the day about a uniform violation. What is happening here is the school is institutionalising avoiding student-teacher interactions. Because the student is wearing a sign there is no need for there to be any interaction between teachers and student on the question of uniform (other than the first interaction when the student is ordered to wear the lanyard). This avoidance of interaction is characteristic of a therapeutically inspired trend in education. The ‘rough edges’ of interaction, “Oh come on Johnny get some proper school shoes. Oh; you’ve already been told. Well; I’m telling you again” are too much for then over-sensitive and fragile personnas of the therapy generation.

It’s completely chilling. And doubly so because it goes unremarked and unchallenged.

 

 

 

Towards the Horizon – Emil Gataullin

This is a book of the photographs of Russian photographer Emil Gataullin.

Emil Gataullin came to public attention after he won the Alfred Fried Awards competition in 2014 with a photograph of two boys upside down on a swing. This photograph is included in the book. Emil Gataullin is based in Moscow where he works as a painter of frescoes. Most of the images however depict scenes from rural Russia. Gataullin trained as a painter at first in Kazan and then at the Moscow State Academy Art Institute.

Gataullin works primarily in black and white, though there are a handful of colour images in the book. His recent work appears to be more in colour.

These are superb photographs. The composition of the photographs is as near to flawless as is possible. The photographs communicate a vision of life which is tender, forgiving and sensitive. The text on the cover of the book, produced by Austrian publishers Lammerhuber, likens Gataullin to Cartier-Bresson. This is probably a mistake. A closer analogy might be to Russian poet Osip Mandelstam. There is a lyrical beauty to these photographs of ordinary life. Like Mandelstam Gataullin does not impose himself on the world. Like Mandelstam Gataullin does not appear to take overt political positions. After all; beauty is enough. Most of the images are of people. Though there are dogs and birds here too. No image could be strictly described as  a ‘landscape’ though there are images just of natural scenes. The world which Gataullin engages with is the human one. There is beauty and love here.

The images are sparsely captioned and offered without explanations. They stand alone and communicate on the visual plane without reliance on words. The images are distinctively about Russia. Some are taken in the Far East, others in the North West, or in the regions around Moscow. We could say this is the Russian soul being depicted here and in a way this is so inevitably. But perhaps there is no conscious intent to publicise the Russian soul. There is certainly much to photograph. Scenes such as a devout woman reading the gospel framed by the shadow of a Church cast on a wall behind her, or a boy peacefully asleep on a roof above two banners from an Orthodox procession – the crosses on the banners met by the cross formed by a TV aerial on the roof, two pilgrims asleep on the grass with their icons around their necks, all such scenes are distinctively Russian. As are the landscapes and images of vast tracts of land, or sea, taken in the Far East. But this is not a collection of photographs ‘about Russia’. Gataullin photographs what he sees.

Cartier-Bresson’s images are more reportage than Gataullin’s. With Cartier-Bresson there is profound handling of composition. Drama is frozen in a moment. We learn something about the subjects. Gataullin is more lyrical. His images are more mysterious. They are saying something, but what, exactly?

The book contains a small selection of colour images. The colour is handled as skillfully as the form in his black and white images. The colour is not just there because it happens to be in the scene – but has been subject to a process of artistic selection. The colour is absolutely part of the composition which gives the images their meaning. This is not easy to do.

The book itself is superbly produced. A decent size and the pages open very nearly flat, meaning that the images, which span both pages, are easily viewed. For a work of this quality it is priced at a more or less ludicrously low price.

Buy now on Amazon

 

If you don’t want to buy the book, you can view many of Gataullin’s images on his Flickr feed.