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Croatia’s Brush With Looming Security Crisis In Europe

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Croatia, the War, and the Future

Globsec 2015

As the refugees and illegal migrants surge continues in Europe, debate is growing in the European Union about the lack of unified immigration policies and funding for migrant rescue operations. Some EU member states are calling for each state to accept a quota of illegal migrants, share the burden as it were. European foreign and defence ministers agreed in Brussels on May 18 to use naval forces to intercept and disrupt ships used by smugglers/ first phase of a military operation against people smugglers in the Mediterranean. Croatia has already committed one 50-crew ship towards the efforts of saving lives of illegal migrants/refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.

While the world marked the World Refugee Day on Saturday 20 June, two security and terrorism related important gatherings occurred in Bratislava, Slovakia, this weekend, starting Friday 19 June and they are the global security forum GLOBSEC 2015 and summit of Visegrad…

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‘ Taliban Insurgency|Fiascoes of the FM Mullahs – Part II ‘

The use of community based radio for promoting terrorism is not a new phenomenon the world has seen. One cannot help but recall the radio messages calling out for ethnic genocide that we know as devastating Darfur War, on whose forefront were the Janjaweed militia.In other conflict near home, Tamil Tiger known for pioneering women suicide bombers too made use of clandestine radio station “Voice of Tigers.”

Inside a turbulent Pakistan, the militant groups like Taliban has been resisting Pakistan Armed Forces and NATO forces for almost last 11 years and no one really knows when there will be an end to this. The TTP and other groups utilized small scale radio stations for radicalizing people in the north west province, for a recap please see Part I.

Some Radio Mullas Personalities include:

Haji Namdar, a tribal chief leader that lived for several unaccountable years in Saudi Arabia and returned in 2003 to the Tirah valley in Pakistan’s Khyber Agency. No information is available regarding his activities in Saudi Arabia, how ever he is known to be closely related to Taliban and was a vivid believer in the Salafi segment of Islam. He established a local extremist FM radio station promoting on enforcing laws echoing the Ministry for the Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue in Taleban-run Afghanistan.

Local analysts say this organization effectively mirrored what the Taleban did in Afghanistan for it won public support by addressing the security deficit and then it shifted focus to introducing a more rigid form of Islam.

Another local tribal chief, Malik Waris Khan condemned these events by declaring Haji Namdar as a”religious terrorist”, the radio station was halted on government orders, but the seeds of tribal rivalry and discord had been sown, effectively.

Akhundzada Saif-ur-Rahman

Those who didn’t agree to this fanatic format, found their leader in another tribal chief Afghani-Pir Saifur Rahman, the Founder of Naqshbandia Saifiya Sufi Order who was arrested during Afghan war and after his release, migrated to Pakistan in Nowshera, however he moved up north on the invitation of the tribal leaders, hence the Saifi order originated. The Saifi are a community associated with the occupation of blacksmith and carpenter and focus on economic empowerment within Muslim populations. His radio station teachings softer and relatively humane infuriated many rising radical elements.

Mufti Munir Shakir

Mufti Shakir, founder of the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam started his radio station against the Afghani Sufi Pir and soon the violence escaled into 2006 tribal conflict that forced the Pir Saif Ur Rehman to move away to Lahore, Punjab province where he died some years ago. The Mufti Shakir group began as an anti-Barelvi sectarian group in 2004 but is an banned terrorist outfit and its radio station recruits followers by propagating their own interpretation of Islam. This group is active and continues to have strong hold in and around Khyber Agency, North.

Despite some key commanders surrendering to Pakistani Army, the banned organization continues to operate. Furthermore its members are unapologetic and uncompromising in their outlook. A local commander said “We believe in terrorism and instilling fear in the hearts of the unbelievers and those Muslims who do not follow the true Islamic way of life.” In 2011, Munir Shakir was arrested but he had already appointed another leader, Mangal Bagh.

Mangal Bagh

He belongs to the smallest of the eight sub-clans of the Afridi tribe and has no formal education but a few years in madrassa as well as he spent some time with a secular political party. Then intriguingly, in less than five years he becomes a militant commander. This is Mangal Bagh, the chief of Lashkar-e-Islam militant group, who virtually ruled Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency until June 2008 when he and his armed vigilantes were driven out in a security operation. He continues to operate from different locations and delivers fiery sermons from illegal radio stations whose location is not traceable, see end for more details.

Maulana Fazlullah

Mullah Fazlullah on the other hand started off with meager to form his own support base by broadcasting fiery sermons on an illegal FM station from a small village mosque in Swat in 2005 and within two years took complete control in Swat. Under his rule, men in Swat were forced to grow beards, and beheadings and public beatings were routinely carried out against alleged spies, soldiers, and offenders of Fazlullah’s hard-line interpretation of Shari’a.

Ironically his is movement was possible because women of Swat were immensely inspired by his dynamic radio sermons; and mistook it for a respite from the staunchly patriarchal and conservative Pushtun culture. This miscalculation has backfired badly for women rights within Swat and across Pakistan. Swati women donated large amounts of cash and jewelry in response to Fazlullah’s radio sermons broadcast from his mosque in Swat’s Imam Dehri village. But once Fazlullah established control, women suffered greatly. Through his radio teachings he discouraged women from public life, promoted burkas, forced marriages and attempted to shut down or else blow children schools within Swat Valley. During the military offensive of 2009, otherwise known as Operation Rah-e-Rast after failing to make peace with Fazlullah, the Pakistani military pushed him out of Swat in 2009. Until now, he was believed to have operated out of the northeastern Afghan province of Nuristan.

In 2012, Mullah Radio Fazlullah ordered for the attack on the now Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, teen education activist who was shot by the Taliban.

Militant Radio Stations Broadcasting Content – An overview

Over all fiery radio speeches, radical preachers demand that the all Muslims must adhere to their version of Islam and join their nonsensical jihad. For non-Muslim minorities to pay the protection tax (jaziya) or face death by that jihad. In the same tone, they issue warnings to local non-governmental organizations, musicians and anybody else involved in “un-Islamic” activities.

The Lashkar-i-Islam chief through his recent broadcast also directed women belonging to Abdalkhel tribe to stop collecting firewood in the nearby forest. “A stern action would be taken against the male members of Abdalkhel tribe if their women are found collecting firewood in the nearby hills and forest,” he said. The oppressive tone warnings against consequences are noticed in such sermons for both men and women.

Fm Mullah or as we know him, Maulana Fazlullah programs are based on exclusive coverage of assassinations and beheadings, and his shows “Midnight with Mullah”, “Maulana Mornings”, “Jihad Jockeys” and “Wajib-ul-Qatal Weekends” received soaring ratings as well as critical acclaim.

All in all, most of these illegal radio stations also serve as a command and control center for the various militant militant groups and their fighters. Therefore maintaining their secrecy and security is crucial. Formally the term “ghost radio” is used for these illegal FM stations whose frequency and locations keeps changing so that Pakistan Army are are unable to locate the local operator placements and the media regulatory body PEMRA cannot jam their signals to stop their transmissions.

Stay tuned to The Human Lens for this series’ part iii that will highlight the effects of listening to more then a decade of this sort of radio transmission on local audiences and Pakistan’s up counter terrorism strategy for tackling these illegal destructive radios.

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CATHY FOX REPORT: ‘ Historic Abuse in Care Homes – The Management Context by Wally Harbert ‘

Wally Harbert writes from his personal experiences about the wider context in which child abuse was allowed to happen in the Social Services Sector. This is valuable not only so that we can understand how child abuse was allowed to happen, but also so that we can learn from this and prevent child abuse occurring in the future from the same reasons

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IF we learn the lessons from the past​: ​

This is even more valuable because it is available for the public to read and also for free, not stuck in academia or a report that needs to be paid for and thus the readership is limited. If we are to learn the lessons of the past, people must be able to access information to hold authorities to account. The sooner Wally and other knowledgeable professionals are able to give evidence to child sexual abuse inquiries, the better. An inquiry does not need “teeth” to learn valuable information from the vast majority of knowledgeable people who will give it willingly.

Historic Abuse in Children’s Homes – the Management Context

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Wally Harbert

Wally Harbert-2

Wally Harbert

In recent years, nearly every police force in the country has examined historic abuse in children’s homes and we await further developments in the delayed independent national inquiry into child sexual abuse. I was a director of social services from 1970 to 1990 and have described how my job was at risk when I sought to protect children from abuse [1] . There is more to learn about how abusive behaviour flourished in the 1970’s and 80’s but it is important to analyse what we now know to better protect children in future. I give below my perspective of some of the issues that led to children being failed.

All kinds of abuse – verbal, emotional, physical and sexual are closely related. Where there is one kind of abuse others are commonly present or may follow. Sexual abuse may be part of a process of dominating or humiliating children. It can be a demonstration of power making children compliant. Once there is a loss of respect for human dignity, the weak are at the mercy of the strong. Coercion can take many forms. That is why it is important to respond vigorously to all allegations of wrong-doing in homes, even when the presenting symptoms may appear minor.

When I worked in mental health services in the 1950’s I saw at first-hand how disparities of power between users and providers can corrupt relationships, particularly in institutions where it is difficult to provide outside scrutiny. Events in the Catholic Church demonstrate that those motivated by strong religious convictions are not immune from sexual urges that can lead to abuse. There is no doubt that many of the cruelties and indignities inflicted on girls in Magdalene laundries arose from the vicarious sexual gratification it gave to priests and nuns. For these reasons I believe the pending government inquiry cannot sensibly be limited by an arbitrary definition of sexual abuse.

All Change


Social services departments were created in 1971 by amalgamating the work of local authority children’s, welfare and mental health services. The approved school system, run by the Home Office was also included together with some responsibilities formerly undertaken by the Probation and After Care Service. Hospital social workers were later transferred. There were substantial changes in 1974 to local authority boundaries which created larger authorities, including some entirely new counties. Management systems were also changed profoundly. Gone was the system by which town and county clerks led teams of chief officers as ‘first among equals’. They were replaced by or became chief executives with clear, overriding, authority.

Guidance on management systems was given to local authorities by the Bains Working Group [2]. This emphasised the need for strong central management in each authority. Unfortunately, the Working Group was composed of enthusiasts, none of whom had experience running public services for which local government existed. The report was used to justify excessively centralised control. As a result, some new monolithic authorities placed immense power in the hands of chief executives and party leaders who had little interest or knowledge of very sensitive services. That was fine where they were prepared to learn……

The local authority associations attempted to prepare local authorities for their new responsibilities. I addressed several meetings of local authority chief officers and councillors about the changes but there was little enthusiasm from participants. The education service took up the lion’s share of local authority budgets.

I ceased to be responsible for children’s services in 1990 so it is for others to judge the current quality of services. Inspection systems have been greatly strengthened but the move towards independent providers means that there remains intense pressure to minimise management and staff training costs – areas which were extremely weak in the 1970’s and 80’s.

The Inheritance


Throughout the 1960’s there was a vigorous debate about the organisation of care services for vulnerable children. Local authority children’s departments provided care and protection for those deprived of a normal home life while the Home Office was responsible, through the probation service and the approved school system, for young offenders. There was a strong desire to integrate the two systems.

In the 1960’s, I was a member of the Home Office Probation and After-care Advisory Board. We found no enthusiasm among probation officers for an amalgamation with local authority services. They preferred to relinquish their responsibilities for children altogether rather than follow their Scottish colleagues into a monolithic local authority family service in which they might lose their special status as a service to the courts. They were strongly supported in this by magistrates. In 1971 the new social services departments absorbed responsibilities for child offenders from the probation service and incorporated approved schools into an enlarged community homes system.

Community homes had been developed by children’s departments since 1948 when the Poor Law was broken-up. They were mostly small in size, domestic in character and close to the communities they served. Approved schools, now re-named, community homes with education (CHE’s), tended to be much larger and were often geographically isolated; staff in both services were largely untrained and came from a variety of backgrounds.

Staff in former approved schools were entitled to feel defensive. Probably no social services department employed anyone in its senior management team with significant approved school experience. Moreover, some had no senior manager with a background in child care services. Also, departments were under pressure to reduce management costs. The new centralised local authorities required senior managers and it seemed reasonable to some, that the cost should be met by cutting back on the cost of management in social services and other departments. In practice, a large bureaucratic centre made enormous demands on individual departments but it was difficult to persuade anyone that sizeable institutions like approved schools required management oversight. Thus, few social services management teams were capable of forestalling problems in former approved schools and they varied in how well they responded when failure became apparent.

Not only was the oversight afforded to former approved schools inadequate but two distinct residential child care systems continued, one endeavouring to be relaxed and informal, mirroring home life while the other, deliberately institutional and authoritarian with an emphasis on discipline and good order. In smaller homes, discipline and punishment were applied with reluctance as a last resort. In former approved schools, staff and children expected punishment to play a more central role. Many male staff had experienced National Service which ended in 1963 and some regimes for boys were distinctly militaristic.

When staff from the two services met as part of the new social services department, there could be tension as they competed for status and recognition. This was exacerbated because CHE’s were often called upon to admit children who were too unruly to be contained in other parts of the system. Official documents continued to refer to “Former Approved Schools” because pay and conditions were still negotiated separately. This made any kind of integration between the two workforces difficult to achieve and it proved impossible to harmonise underlying philosophies.

Many children requiring residential care had already been badly let-down by adults and were emotionally damaged. Residential services, especially former approved schools, were providers of last resort. They stepped in when education and health services claimed to have no suitable provision. Unlike schools and psychiatric units, they could not turn away children yet, in comparison, their staff were poorly paid, were less well educated and trained and less well supervised. After a high influx of violent offenders, rapists and arsonists, one officer in charge threatened to put-up a sign made famous by the Windmill Theatre after the London blitz. We never closed. This, he thought, might intimidate the visiting psychiatrist.


Psychiatric services for children and adolescents were highly selective and unable to meet the enormous need. In the County of Avon the position worsened in the 1980’s when it became necessary to withdraw social workers from child guidance clinics to meet the growing need in area teams for social workers to investigate and monitor allegations of abuse and neglect by families.

The new arrangements were impressive on paper. Each region was required by law to establish a Children’s Regional Planning Committee which assembled information about the various homes available and determined which would be regarded as regional resources open to other local authorities. There was a network of residential observation and assessment centres, some regional, and some local. In practice the care received by children was largely a matter of chance. Research showed that children assessed in residential units were most likely to be allocated to residential care and that the nearer children lived to a secure unit the more likely they were to be allocated a place in it.

The former approved schools system was in a time-warp and was overdue for reform, when it was transferred to local authorities in 1971. Some of the most sensitive and complex tasks in local government were now being undertaken by untrained and untutored staff. Meeting the needs of children from failed working class families was not on any political agenda.

Exercising Control

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By the time they were admitted to CHE’s many children had been abandoned by fostering services and family group homes and were in conflict with their families. They were often frightened, resentful and angry. One of the first tasks for staff on admission was to control aggressive behaviour. This could require physical restraint to protect a child, other children or staff but it was rare to find a member of staff with any formal training in physical control.

Research suggested that there was a widespread belief among staff that, to express concern about controlling aggressive children was to admit failure; also, colleagues might be reluctant to intervene to help a struggling co-worker for fear of implying that he or she was failing [3]. CHE staff habitually denied to me and other managers that they experienced difficulty exercising control yet it was clear they faced enormous problems. This denial was worrying.

Some staff were superb at diffusing tense situations but others, unwittingly, provoked them. A study published in 1978 found, “few staff have had even the simplest instructions on how to take preventative action. Frequently they hasten into confrontation in which neither staff nor boy feels he can back-down without a significant loss of face”; when violence occurred, it was most commonly staff who struck the first blow [4].

By 1980, only 15% of staff in community homes were qualified. In the absence of strong theoretical models, clear guidance and effective supervision, staff used their own judgements as to what represented the best interests of children. Drawing on their own limited experiences, they invented systems for controlling unruly children. Fancy names like “regression therapy” and “pin-down” were given to the methods that were developed. Others adopted what they called, “a toughening-up regime” in which older children were encouraged to bully and intimidate (i.e. abuse) those younger than themselves. These were self-delusional devices to present crude retaliation, humiliation, abuse and punishment as sophisticated therapeutic techniques.

Evidence suggests that some homes developed regimes that met violence with violence mistaking acquiescence by children as a sign of success.

Complaints from the public about the control of adolescents in community homes were fewer when offenders were cared for in large, remote institutions. But, increasingly, they were now cared for in small homes in ordinary residential streets. It became a priority to suppress disruptive behaviour to reduce the volume of criticism from neighbours. When their constituents complained about out-of-control children in a local home, councillors who, for years had shown no interest in children’s services began seeking information about staffing levels.

I explained to them that the shouting, screaming and swearing about which they received complaints occurred because the children knew neighbours would be provoked into complaining. When complaints proliferated, some children were moved around but policy options were limited to further improving the quality and quantity of staff or returning children to geographically remote institutions where, if shouting, screaming and swearing continued, it would not be heard by the public. There were stormy and uncomfortable meetings where some councillors searched for someone to blame but this was exhilarating stuff. Children now had the ear and the attention of policy-makers. In consequence, there was even greater pressure to improve services. This represented a seismic and unexpected shift of power.

At this time, a home might be judged by how far it was successful in keeping out of the newspapers. The harsh regime in a Leicester home was criticised by a coroner following the death of a child and the director of social services, who had been a distinguished children’s officer, reported “The unit is being far more successful with disturbed children than any similar establishment I know” [5a] . She said about the officer in charge, “I don’t know quite what he is doing but he’s doing it very well” [5b]. When the police finally found out what he was doing he was sentenced to 24 years in prison plus five life terms for buggery, rape and indecent assault.

We should be careful not to sully the good name of every employee in residential children’s services during that period. Some community home staff worked with considerable skill and dedication. There were successes as well as failures. But good quality care was sometimes achieved at a heavy price in terms of stress to staff.

In larger homes it was relatively easy for staff to conceal abusive behaviour from the officer in charge. Shift systems complicated communications and children were generally disbelieved. Officers in charge tended to respond to allegations of abuse informally. It was not in their interests to acknowledge maltreatment.

During visits to a family group home a casual visitor was likely to see at firsthand how staff and children related to one another in unguarded moments. It was much more difficult to ascertain this in a CHE where, because everything was on a larger scale, there were seldom opportunities to discern the quality of relationships. Visitors placed greater reliance on the word of staff. This was true also for governors of homes who mostly took their responsibilities seriously, spending many hours on visits. But they almost invariably saw children in groups and were escorted by staff so had limited opportunities for casual exchanges with children.

Changing Services

At the end of the 1970’s I served on a government working partyvi which reported on observation and assessment services for children. It revealed how the sophistication of assessment processes was not matched by the quality of facilities available for children passing through the system. The number of children in residential care was artificially high because so many were assessed in residential centres where residential care was the predominate expertise; some CHE’s only accepted children who had passed through a residential assessment. The system was self-perpetuating.

Residential assessments were inclined to be flawed because, instead of judging needs based on how a child behaved at home, at school and in the community they studied how the child behaved when wrenched from home. We recommended greater flexibility knowing that if more assessments took place while children were living at home fewer would be sent to children’s homes.

Our terms of reference precluded a review of staffing arrangements in former approved schools but the report said about staff, “The lack of recruits of good calibre not only impoverishes the lives of children in care but it is clear to us that pressures of the job, inadequate staffing ratios and problems of recruitment have led to staff feeling unable to cope with many difficult youngsters” [5c]. It went on, “security is a matter of personal relationships, of close individual support and of constant personal involvement” [5d].

Mrs Thatcher gained her first election victory before the report was published. Political rhetoric was now about boot camps and short sharp shocks. Government ministers were in no mood to increase expenditure on the care of children in trouble. They did not accept that children who received poor quality care became recidivists in the next generation. An opportunity to improve staffing levels and staff training was lost. Indeed, social services departments were singled out for the most savage cuts of all.

There is no magic bullet that will transform the outlook of angry and distressed children. What most of them need is a period of calm in a safe environment where they can test-out relationships. They need opportunities to build self respect and gain a sense of achievement. That requires skilled and painstaking work by staff to build effective relationships. This is expensive but, in the long run saves money on health, criminal justice and other public services.

I was a professional adviser to employers on a national joint negotiating committee with trades unions for staff in former approved schools. It was soon clear that there was no basis on which we could reach agreement about the future shape of services. Progress would only be made by destroying existing provision and re-building from scratch. I took part in discussions about the future of former approved schools at two annual conferences of staff in CHE’s. Although everyone present accepted the need for change, they could only envisage a new package in which their service took the lead. This mirrored my experience locally. It did not offer a way forward.

The development of non-residential assessment services led to a reduction in the demand for care in CHE’s. Many staff from former approved schools could not be found a place in the new services being developed. Occupancy levels fell and unit costs rose prompting comments about the cost per place compared with places at top-end public schools. Closures were accelerated but there were no quick solutions. The closure of a large home could take many months. While managers struggled to provide an acceptable service with a depleted and demoralised workforce, staff felt abandoned. We can only guess at the impact this had on children.

Investigations into allegations of malpractice in homes at this time were greeted with a chorus of “You are trying to close us down” from staff and governors alike. Some behaved as though they had a moral duty to resist any criticism or change. In their way, the changes that were taking place were as profound as those occurring in heavy industry at the time. Closures evoked anger, fear, resentment and despair which had a direct effect on the quality of care and the behaviour of staff towards children. There was no national plan to ease the changes or lessen the pain and no precedent to follow.

The Political Dimension


Political tension and partisanship were strong in the 1970’s and 80’s. The three day week, the Winter of Discontent and the miners’ strike served as a backdrop. Militant Tendency caused havoc in some local authorities. People were asking “Who runs Britain?” and strikers were called, “The enemy within”. Mrs Thatcher was at her most strident. High political feelings over-spilled into committee meetings. Everything, including the care of children, was politicised.

I vividly recall reporting on the death of a child in care. I explained to the committee that a coach party of children was returning from London when it broke-down on the motorway. A boy ran across the carriageway and was killed. I intended to tell the committee about the number of staff present and the supervision arrangements but, when I explained that the trip had stopped-off at a demonstration about youth unemployment a member shouted ,
“Why the hell did they do that?”
“Because they need to know what your government is doing”, replied another.

“Well, see what happened to him. That wasn’t very clever was it?”
I gave the chairman a nudge and he moved the discussion on.

Any attempt to describe the attitude of councillors towards children’s services at this time is in danger of being a caricature and I do not know how far my experience is reflected elsewhere. Many councillors took their responsibilities seriously and did their best to improve services. However, few took a strategic view or resisted the commonly held belief that, in the light of financial constraints, the needs of children in care could not be a political priority.

A significant segment of the Labour Party took the view that managers could not be trusted and that the best child care experts were closest to the coal face. They persuaded themselves that the maltreatment of children was not an issue and that staff needed protection from over-zealous, college-trained, so-called, experts. They had the power to hinder investigations and to assist in hiding malpractices from view. Other Labour Party members had an entirely different approach but were unable to silence their colleagues. However, as opportunities arose, they fought fierce battles to radically increase staff ratios in homes and also strengthened the departmental management structure.

When the Conservative Party held power locally, leading politicians seemed to take the view that putting money into services for failed working class families yielded no political or social advantage. They kept staffing and salary levels to a minimum and froze vacant post arbitrarily. Some homes became little more than warehouses for wayward children.



Services for vulnerable children in England have a nomadic history and no natural home. Responsibility for them has moved from the Home Office, to the Health Department and, most recently, to Education. Locally, responsibility has relocated from Children’s to Social Services departments before arriving with Education. This reflects changing perceptions as well as uncertainty about core values. It is now on the periphery of a service that is substantially driven by a middle class constituency. That may not be to its advantage.

The Chief Inspector of Schools has drawn attention to falling educational standards for white working class children. He could have added that this does not augur well for children in care who mostly come from working class families that have failed. There is no effective pressure group. History tells us that the system will not work to the advantage of vulnerable children unless there is a champion in government and ring-fenced budgets. Without purposeful action backed by hard cash there will be future generations of neglected, forgotten and even abused children.

Those unfortunate enough to spend their childhood being humiliated and degraded by authority-figures develop a distorted view of the world. Given the widespread abuse that we now know existed in homes during the 1970’s and 80’s, it is little wonder that children in care are over-represented in the prison population. Two of the three jihadists in the Paris January shootings were, we are told, brought up in residential care. Is that coincidental? We know that some jihadists come from apparently well-adjusted families but it would not be surprising to discover that significant numbers were brought-up in demeaning circumstances, including poorly run-residential homes.

Perhaps the lesson is that children deprived of affection become easy prey to religious radicalism as well as to Fagin.

Wally Harbert was director of social services in the London Borough of Hackney from 1970 to 1973 and in the County of Avon from 1973 to 1990. He was President of the Association of Directors of Social Services in 1978-9.
Among his ten published books, Bent Twigs, (2005), is a fictionalised account of his experiences responding to abuse in children’s homes. [7] [8]


2nd February 2015.
Wally Harbert.

References and Links

[1] Wally Harbert Child protection in a hostile environment
[2] The New Local Authorities HMSO 1972
[3] Hargreaves, D. What teaching does to teachers. New Society. Vol 42. No. 805, p 541. March 1978.
[4] Milham, S. Bullock. R. and Hosie, K. Locking up Children. Saxon House p 63.
[5] D’Arcy, Mark & Gosling, Paulo. Abuse of Trust. Bowerdean. 1998. [5a] Pg 193, [5b] Pg21, [5c] pg 44, [5d] pg 45.
[6] Observation and Assessment. Report of a Working Party. Department of Health and Social Security 1981.

[7] Bent Twigs by Wally Harbert

[8] CathyFox Bent Twigs by Wally Harbert

betn twigsPlease note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information

​: The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers. National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups. Other useful sites are One in Four [C] and Havoca [D]. Useful post on triggers [E] from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.

[A] Sanctuary for the Abused


[C] One in Four

[D] Havoca

[E] SurvivorsJustice Triggers post

[F] SurvivorsJustice Blog

This is all written in good faith but if there is anything that needs to be corrected please email

Cathy Fox: The truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free

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‘ How I Got into Debt in My Search for Love ‘

This is my story: ​Simply l start with me and my debt’s that to say the least were massive, caused by wanting some people might say, and they would be right in part.

Though ​I did want not cars, houses and trappings of wealth, but simply to be loved. In fact half a million pounds worth of wanting to be loved. So here is my story …….. well at least part one!!! ​Part will come when l can find the words and the feelings. ​

That’s right just to be loved by someone who thought l was more important than the pound in my pocket.

Maybe l should say a little about that last statement. It all started when l was a child and my parents did not have time for me, in fact they were too busy to care about me, except when they wanted me to be a parent. That is right as a child l needed to do their job for them, and sort out my own problems​,and also my younger brothers problems. When ever he got himself in trouble ,they called on me to get him out of trouble, and l did. Though when it went wrong and he took no notice it was my fault, not my brother’s or my parent’s.

So we move quickly forward to 1984 l was by now just 30 – still a child in many ways and still breaking up the fights over money – sorry forgot mention my parents driving force, it was money or simply pounds, shillings and pence. They argued incessantly over every penny, meanwhile my brother carried on getting into scrap’s and l carried on bailing him out.

It was at this time in April of that year my dad became ill, rushed into hospital and diagnosed with Leukemia and my mother fell back on me to become the father figure, looking after bills and sorting out – well everything. You see my dad was of Victorian upbringing and l was brought up by him as he was, so l knew no different, you became a man at 14 and that was that, well l was 30 and my dad in my eyes was dying.

Though nobody would still talk to me about it, my brother had gone​ off, marrying the first girl who would have him, and l was left sorting everything out.

Well he did die after 9 hard months and l was not there, for the first time in my entire life, l was doing something for me, well someone else really but not my family. I was earning a crust, money – doing a job of insuring another persons home. You see in the morning l phoned the hospital and he was in a coma, no change.

But when l got back the answering machine was flashing, and the words were my uncles – l never forget them: ‘ Come Quick Your Dad’s Dying ‘ l never drove so fast in my life – but it was too late their faces told me it all. He is dead he died 10 minutes ago, you are too late.

So after the funeral and everything was sorted by me, well who else​, and everyone but me had grieved l started trying to get him to love me. You see he never said a word to me about that all my life, l wanted to hear those words so much and to know and feel he really cared.

So l started to build a business and make him proud of me and to do that l borrowed money, something l had never ever done, but all l could remember him saying were these words ‘ People will ​L​ove you if you have MONEY but 6 years later and half a million in debt, all my so-called friends disappeared and all l was left ​with ​
with was debt. I lost everything houses, cars and eventually my health and l had a nervous breakdown.

It was only then my mother who l had taken care of since he died, came to help me and nobody​ else. So this would seem finally l would receive this so-called love at 36. She did what she could but really when l was well enough it was my turn to take over again with the after words still ringing in my ears, l look after you when you were ill, so l need your help now. So l became my so-called brother/mothers keeper, well she had grabbed my arm and said to my brother at the funeral 6 years before, l have got Ian now.

Time moves forward some years l reach 55 left home and numbers of failed relationships looking for love, not a rich man but not what l call poor man. One day l find out after a visit she has not been eating, taking her tablets for thyroid problems and basically not looking after herself. Well being me l started to look after her​ full-time​ ,taking care of everything eventually​,as l tried to get her to care for herself. But she had this problem it was called the truth and my mother could not tell the truth if her life depended on it, and as it turned out it did.

 As the years progressive l looked after her and left my care position after 4 years and became a so-called main carer, with my financial and organised manner l was able to sort-out a basic care package, 2 hours a day, to visit and leave a meal. The problem was my mother wanted her own way, l would say take you​r ​time walking and she would run and when she ended up falling, she became reliant on a walking aid.

It got worst and she feel more often on a number of oc​c​assion​​s cracking her head and being admitted to hospital to be patched up. Finally on the 40th fall – that is right 40 falls she lands on her hip, lucky does not crack it​,but traps a blood vessel and that would eventually become too painful to walk.

 It is now 4 years later and she is housebound, being hoisted chair to bed and chair to commode, l am her fully time slave, now 2 houses full-time cooking cleaning and no real money, savings gone, no job. Nearly lose the roof over my head and bailed out by my mum, but with a proviso or should l say promise never put me in a care home, you look after me here in my home.

No choice agree. ………. so l did as always..!!

It is now 2014 – 30 years since my dad died and l started looking after my mum, her health deteriorates, as she still wants her own way, l am now in debt as l have no real income and suddenly l realise she is dying. It hits me hard, harder than l ever realised l have known nothing first since l became her carer. We struggle through Christmas and Jan​uary arrives nothing changes and mother is now bed ridden, catharised and refusing to take her tablets, drink or even eat.

 On the 15th January she is admitted to hospital and l go back to where 30 years before my dad was dying and now my Mum is dying as well.

We talk about going full circle well l have done just that gone full circle.

I w​as 61 on the 25th January and l was 16 when l started working in a job my dad put into, as his words spoken were ‘ l looked after you for 16 years now you need to get a job and pay your way ‘ after 45 years l am still doing a job l was put into namely nursing my Mum until she died.

 Part Two …………….. in next​ …!!!

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FEATURED: ‘ Woman Sentenced to Death at 16-years old she says People do Change views on Juvenile Justice System ‘

Featured Editors Post:June.01: This post is about one woman’s heart rendering story, ignored by the media, and changed views on juvenile justice. This is a story that just has to be told, hoping that it will help others.

An Indiana woman who was once the youngest death row inmate in the U.S. and whose case attracted international attention committed suicide on Tuesday, less than two years after she was released.

Paula Cooper, 45, was found dead in her Indianapolis home. Her cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot, the Marion County Coroner’s Office confirmed to Fusion. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police spokesperson Kendale Adams confirmed that a suicide note was found but declined to discuss what the note contained.

Cooper was sentenced to death in 1986 at age 16 after pleading guilty to the murder of a 78-year-old Bible studies teacher in Gary, Ind. Her case attracted international attention and helped spark reform of juvenile death penalty policies.

Her death sentence was commuted to 60 years in 1989, and she was released on parole in June 2013 after serving 27 years.

Most remember Cooper for her gruesome crime, but in the eyes of the people she spent her last two years with, Cooper had turned her life around. She was working to help indigent defendants as a legal assistant in the office of an Indianapolis public defense organization—a chapter of her life that’s largely been ignored by the media following her death.

It’s a transformation, her colleagues say, that shows how a criminal justice system that has sentenced thousands of minors to life in prison without parole still robs kids of a second chance today.

“It’s a very unusual ending to a tragic case,” attorney Jack Crawford, who prosecuted Cooper’s case in 1985, told Fusion. “A lot of people and Paula spent 27 years trying to save her life and get her out of prison. She’s out 23 months and she kills herself. The irony is just difficult to grasp.”

“People do change”

Since Cooper’s case, no one else in the U.S. has been sentenced to die for a crime committed at her age. But around the country, kids are still put in jail with little or no opportunity to redeem themselves or grow up. Almost 3,000 minors in the U.S. have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, an advocacy group.

Incarcerated minors face extreme mental health issues, research shows. Children and teens kept in adult jails are 19 times more likely to die by suicide than those out of jail and 36 times more likely than those housed in juvenile facilities, according to research from the Campaign for Youth Justice, another nonprofit.

In a 2012 interview with a local newspaper, about a year before she would be released, Cooper said she was grateful for a second chance at life.

“My time is coming and, you know, I just hope that people give me a chance out there,” she said. “That’s it—because people do change.”

“She felt worthless”

Prosecutors said Cooper, who was 15 at the time of her crime, was the ringleader of a group of four girls who killed Ruth Pelke in a 1985 home robbery. Cooper repeatedly stabbed 78-year-old Ruth Pelke with a 12-inch knife, demanding money.

Pelke, who had invited the girls into her home for a bible studies class, died while reciting the Lord’s Prayer, according to statements from the other girls.

While the other three girls — Denise Thomas, 14 at the time of the murder; Karen Corder, 16; and April Beverly, 15 — received prison sentences of 25 to 60 years, prosecutors called for the death penalty for Cooper. The judge in the case had previously stated his opposition to capital punishment, so “we thought there was no way it was going to happen,” Crawford said. “But he did it.”

The case immediately made international news: The Indiana Supreme Court received 2 million petitions to take Cooper off death row, and the UN received 1 million petitions, according to the Indiana Historical Society. Pope John Paul II personally wrote to the Indiana governor asking him to commute her death sentence.

“I had an emissary from the Vatican at my door maybe a month afterwards,” Crawford said.

On death row, Cooper felt suicidal, said Monica Foster, who was then a young defense attorney and worked on Cooper’s appeals.

“When I first went to see her, nobody had explained to her the appeal process, that they weren’t just going to bring her out of her cell and kill her,” Foster told Fusion. “She felt worthless.”

In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court found sentencing people to death for crimes they committed while under the age of 16 unconstitutional. The Indiana Supreme Court revoked Cooper’s death sentence, giving her 60 years instead.

While a separate Oklahoma case prompted the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Cooper’s sentencing—and the fact she was a woman—brought more attention to juvenile executions in the U.S., especially from abroad.

“Cases like Paula Cooper’s were responsible for some of the early challenges to the practice of executing teenagers,” Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit that studies capital punishment, told Fusion. “The fact that a girl so young had been capitally prosecuted and sentenced to death placed a spotlight on the practice.”

The U.S. Supreme Court raised the minimum execution age to 18 in 2005.

A “ferocious advocate”

During her years in prison, Cooper connected with Pelke’s grandson, Bill Pelke. While he originally supported the death penalty for his grandmother’s killer, Pelke said he changed his mind through prayer.

“I became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that my grandmother would be appalled that this girl was on death row,” Pelke told Fusion.

The two began corresponding while Cooper was on death row, writing letters back and forth every 10 days at one point, Pelke said. He helped advocate for her release, and founded a charity promoting forgiveness. The two met 14 times while she was in jail.

About two years before Cooper was released, “she told me she was scared” of getting out, Peske said. “She said, ‘I’ve never written a check, opened a bank account, gotten an apartment, applied for a job. All this stuff really scares me.’”

Many ex-cons are unprepared for the real world: about 60 to 75 percent aren’t able to find a job within a year after their release, according to the National Institute of Justice.

“Think of how the world has changed,” Crawford pointed out. “All of a sudden she’s thrust into the world of 2015 from the world of 1985. It’s like being on Mars for 30 years.”

But after she was released, Cooper, who had received her GED and a Bachelor’s while in prison, managed to turn her life around. She first worked at a burger joint, and was promoted to a manager position. Since last September, she worked with Foster, her old lawyer, as a legal assistant at the Indiana Federal Community Defenders, which defends federal defendants in Indianapolis and the Indiana Southern District.

According to Foster, who is now the district’s chief federal defender, Cooper was a woman transformed. As a legal assistant, she was a “ferocious advocate” for the organization’s clients and a positive presence in the office. She talked personally to clients about her experience and helped them understand what they were facing.

In the weeks leading up to Cooper’s death, her colleagues didn’t notice any changes in her behavior or mood, Foster said.

“She was joyous,” Foster said, choking back tears. “On Friday, we were singing and dancing in the office, ‘Uptown Funk’ we were dancing to…There was not a thing that caused us to believe there was anything wrong.”

Cooper is survived by a mother and a sister.

“We’re grieving,” Rhonda Labroi, Cooper’s sister, told Fusion. “This is a very difficult time right now.”

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Ace News Room Chuqs' News Iraq United States

Iraq: Fracturing a Nation

In the glorious year of our Lord, 2003 we as a nation took it upon ourselves to invade then occupy a sovereign nation, Iraq………the invasion was based on a collection of circumstances, right or wrong, that made it imperative that the nation should be invaded and its leader, Saddam, killed. And so it began.

Once GW had declared that we had won the war we set about doing what we do best……f*cking up a wet dream. Early on then Sen. Biden suggested that Iraq should be divided into 3 states, a federal type of country, divided along Sunni, Shi’a and Kurd lines.

Of course he caught flack over his proposal………as the ‘victory’ dragged on and violence was a daily occurrence it became clear that the 3 state thing may not be as bad as once thought. But still there was no movement to set this up and as the idea stalled the sectarian violence grew… region was exempt.

While the US struggled to get a handle on the violence the Kurds were quietly setting up their own little state within a state…….as the relative calm of the Kurdish region was noticed the government slowly started seeing that they became their own little state to include an off hand recognition by the US.

Obama once elected seem to imply that we had won….again and since no deal was finalized the US forces starting leaving… Obama had promised during his campaign. As we left the violence started all over again and within this violence emerged ISIS.

Once ISIS, which started its push in Syria, got its toehold the violence was back and with a vengeance…..once it, ISIS, created the humanitarian crisis with the Yazidis the US sprang into action and we were off to the races in Iraq……again!

That brief history of the Iraq situation has been brought to you by the ‘geniuses’ within the State and Defense Departments.

There is a reason that I have regurgitated the events in Iraq……what Joe Biden had proposed in 2004 (?) may be what will actually happen……..Jason Ditz reported on……..

In an attempt to limit the prospects for overseas meddling, US law requires foreign military aid to be delivered direct to host countries, as opposed to just any old armed faction the US wants to throw weapons at.

That might seem like a straightforward rule, but House Republicans are seeing a pretty straightforward way to circumvent it, announcing their intention to declare Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as some Iraqi Sunni Arab militias, as “countries” of their own for the sake of aid shipments.

The latest defense bill includes $715 million in military aid to Iraq to fight ISIS, and seeks to give 25% of that to the Kurdish Peshmerga and a series of Sunni factions, some of which haven’t even been created yet.

What Mr. Ditz is talking about is the new U.S. National Defense Authorization Bill which, in Section 1223, calls for the recognition of Sunni and Kurdish militias as “a country” for direct armament and assistance……… essence it breaks Iraq into parts, the Sunni, the Kurd and the Shi’a who already get millions for being the official national government.

I believe that this move flies in the face of the whole "Iraqi unity" thing… that I mean the existence of Iraq as a single country.

Could this be the beginning of Iraq as a single nation? Is this interfering with Iraqi political atmosphere?

Could it be a trial run for financing conflicts worldwide? Is it an expansion of American interventionism?

The big question is…..who will benefit the most with this attempt?

These are questions that need asking……these are question whose answers will never see the light of day.

What international relations could not do…..the US budget will do…….add fuel to the fire of the destruction of Iraq…….the nation of Iraq teeters on the edge of destruction and if it falls apart then the world cannot place all the blame on the people……for the US Congress will be more to blame than anything the Iraqi people may have done.

Disclaimer: This article is provided by Ace Worldwide News Group. ​The writers news link is below together with his/her bio. ​

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