Saturday, June 30, 2007

Working Class Hero

Working Class Hero
by John Lennon

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and class less and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Still time to stop millions in feminist pork .

Still time to stop millions in feminist pork
30 Jun 2007

From: TWSchuett

There has never been a better time to speak out and be heard. Our legislators in Washington are learning quickly that the people will not be ignored, and despite their political intentions, they must serve the desires of the people.

While the big news of the immigration reform bill was being talked about last week all over the country, the Senate Appropriations Committee was quietly rubber-stamping funding for some of the most divisive and least productive programs in the country. While the National Network to End Domestic Violence is lauding this markup as a done deal, this funding has yet to be approved.

These programs, mandated by the Violence Against Women Act were created and implemented in the late 1970s and early 1980s based on Victorian-era feminist ideals and principles, by a group of people who had no qualifications whatsoever in the fields of psychology or human services. These people were mainly former victims bent on revenge, divorce attorneys, and others whose interest was in little more than financial benefit and propagation of anti-male, anti-family misinformation.

After 13 years of VAWA programs, there is no evidence that any individual has gone on to live an abuse-free life because of them - not one. The actual services they provide include little more than secure shelter for a deliberately (and severely) limited population of women, and divorce assistance, combined with a total immersion course in feminist ideology. Men are provided incarceration and/or the study course conducted at separate facilities.

These services, without the ideology, are already provided in most communities in the form of police departments, homeless shelters and legal aid programs, making these VAWA-mandated programs fully redundant. The advantage to the police departments, homeless shelters and legal aid programs is that they serve their entire communities, without regard to gender, age or employment status.

Phyllis Schlafly has called VAWA programs "feminist pork", and with good reason. These programs provide employment for thousands of otherwise-unemployable women's studies graduates, and support outdated, backward and ignorant approaches which hamper practical solutions for the problem of intimate partner abuse, thus ensuring their job security. Meanwhile, the extremist feminists enjoy the unique situation of being the only political movement with a government mandate and funding from the federal down to the local levels.

What these programs have accomplished is the encouragement of violence BY women, the endorsement of suspicion and division in the community, and the needless destruction of many thousands of lives.

If we truly want to seek an end to domestic violence, to aid victims, to stop abusive behavior, then we will deny government funding to programs which have demonstrated their inefficiency and lack of knowledge of the real problem.

Phone your legislators and let them know that VAWA's political solution to this human problem is no solution at all. Our tax dollars cannot continue to be squandered on these programs which benefit only those who administer them, and those who manipulate them for personal gain.

Trudy W. Schuett

P.O. Box 1252
Yuma AZ 85366

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

UK - Jailed for waving at my daughter

Mark Harris is one of the campaigners who built the foundations of a platform from which F4J was launched from.

Mark was doing F4J before it was even on the drawing board.

For details about Mark's book - "Family Court Hell" by Mark Harris, £8.99 - call 0845 1080530, or visit uk or www.penpress.


http://www.dailymai live/articles/ news/news. html?in_article_ id=464132&in_page_id=1770

Daily Mail
25 June 2007

Jailed for waving at my daughter
By Jenny Johnston and Rachel Halliwell

Picture: Reunited: Lisa, 20, with her father, Mark Harris
http://img.dailymai pix/2007/ 06_02/harrisDM24 06_468x291. jpg

Denied access to his three children after his divorce, Mark was jailed for standing outside his house to wave to them. It took ten years and 133 hearings before they were reunited.

How CAN the Government insist cases like his are kept secret?

Every day there is some reminder of what Mark Harris calls 'the lost years'.

It could be his daughter's reference to a particular birthday party or a family holiday. It could be talk of exams sat, dentists visited or pop stars worshipped.

Each time it happens, he feels a stab of regret. 'I missed so much,' he reveals, with understandable bitterness. 'They took my daughter's childhood, her formative years, from me. Lisa is 20 now. I didn't see her between the ages of ten and 16. An awful lot happens in a child's life in that time, and I missed it all.'

Lisa missed a lot, too. She sits by Mark's side as he talks, a beautiful and assured young woman, but one still coming to terms with the fact that her father simply wasn't there when she needed him - and for an entire decade she did not know why.

'There were times when I needed a father figure - for reassurance and advice,' she says, with quiet restraint. 'There just wasn't one there.'

But the story of what happened to the Harris family isn't just another tragic case of broken homes and estrangement. Mark, Lisa and her two younger sisters were wrenched apart by the state.

Mark was not a feckless, irresponsible father. He did not walk out of his children's lives. Rather, he was ordered out by the family courts, and when he objected - insisting it was his right to see them - he was dealt with in a scandalous way.

Mark Harris went to prison for his girls. He was jailed for waving to them after a court order demanded he sever all contact. It was the most shameful chapter in an extraordinary ten-year custody battle.

He has now 'won' - today, two of his daughters live with him - only because they shared their father's determination to re-establish their relationship.

He has lived every father's worst nightmare, and every miserable step is etched on his face. 'It took ten years, 133 court appearances before 33 different judges, two prison sentences and a hunger strike before I was given permission to be with my daughters again,' he says quietly.

'What happened to my family is unforgivable. And that it was all sanctioned - ordered - by a system that is supposed to help families is outrageous.'

The controversial family court system has much to answer for in this case. Mark Harris isn't the first father who has questioned how it operates. Family court proceedings are notoriously secretive, and campaigners have long appealed for the proceedings to be more open and judges more accountable.

That is not to be, however. Last week the Lord Chancellor ruled that proceedings must remain secret - something that horrifies Mark and his girls.

So angry is he about his experiences that he has written a book, Family Court Hell. 'Surely my story is evidence enough that the system needs to change.

'If it doesn't, the family courts are open to abuse by unaccountable judges and social workers with their own agendas, whose word is taken as law and who almost invariably favour the mother.

'It's a scandal which has left hundreds of fathers like me in desperation. The only solution is to have a court system that's transparent. Otherwise it is simply not fair to fathers or, more importantly, to the children it is supposed to protect.'

When Lisa was born in 1988, Mark felt 'like the happiest man alive'. He had been married to his wife - whom we cannot name even now for legal reasons - for three-and-a- half years, and he had longed for fatherhood. Over the next four years, two more daughters followed.

MARK says: 'I remember thinking how lucky I was because I had a job that I could organise around the children. I'm a driving instructor, so my work was flexible. I loved the time I spent with Lisa. Not every father could read their children stories, bath them or take them out for walks in their pram.'

Mark thought he had a happy marriage, too. The only difficulty was his strained relationship with his mother-inlaw. Yet it didn't concern him much.

'Looking back, we rowed constantly about my mother-in-law, but I never thought it would lead to drastic action,' he says. Perhaps he will never know exactly what was wrong in his marriage, but his wife was clearly unhappy.

One day in 1993, Mark returned from a football match to find the house 'looking as though it had been ransacked'. Almost all the furniture had disappeared. So, too, had his wife and children, and he had no clue where they had gone.

'I went to the police,' he says. 'I was beside myself, distraught. They said my

wife was in a rented house nearby, but that I shouldn't go round until the next day. When I did, she told me she no longer loved me, but said I could see the children whenever I wanted. I was bereft.

'I took the children home for a few hours and they spent the time crying - they were only six, four and two, and it must have been horrific for them to see their parents like that. They wanted to know when we'd all be at home together again, and I didn't know what to say. I was as shocked and bewildered as them.'

Over the next few weeks, Mark stumbled through life in a daze. He saw his girls every day he wasn't working, but his anger towards his wife was building up.

Two months after she left, she asked if he would take her back. Mark was too hurt to contemplate that. Instead, he launched divorce proceedings.

'At that point, it didn't even occur to me that access to the children would be an issue. I was granted unrestricted access - but later I discovered that even then my wife was seeing a solicitor, with a view to having my time with them reduced. She said it was confusing for them to see me.'

THE FAMILY court agreed, and his access was reduced to three times a week, then to once a week and finally to once a fortnight. Mark was stunned to discover he was powerless to resist. 'I petitioned the judge every time, but there was nothing I could do,' he says.

A year after they had separated, the couple divorced. Again, Mark made a bid to see more of his girls, and asked the court if they could live with him. His wife retaliated, claiming that seeing him at all was unsettling them. The court's reaction? It banned him from any contact at all with his daughters.

'I was just floored, disgusted. On my wife's word, the judge simply severed all my rights of access. When I protested, no one listened. I was devastated, but there was no way I was going to turn my back on my children. How could a court order stop me from being a father?'

Every morning, while he waited for a court date to argue against this judgment, Mark saw his children being driven past his house to school by their mother. He'd wave - angry that he couldn't say hello, but grateful for their smiles.

Then his former wife was granted an injunction stopping him even gesturing to his children as they passed. 'It was incredible. She said it was harassment, and the court believed her. But I carried on waving. I was looking for a job and I'd walk to the Jobcentre every morning - knowing how to time it so they would come past.

'I was damned if I was going to be prevented from waving at my own children. Naively, maybe, I assumed the whole business would be cleared up at the next court hearing.'

It wasn't. Instead, Mark left that courtroom in handcuffs, sentenced to four months, having been told that waving was tantamount to stalking his ex. He couldn't believe what was happening.

'On my first night in jail I shared a cell with a murderer,' he says. 'It was so intimidating. The next few weeks just blurred into one long nightmare. Every waking hour I pined for my girls, wondering if I would ever see them again.

'When I got out, the nightmare continued. It took another year for me to convince the courts I should be allowed to see them at all. Life was an endless round of court hearings. It was a wretched existence. Time and again I'd be facing a new judge and having to re-tell the story. To me, it was a matter of life and death, but to them, it seemed I was just another pushy, undeserving father who was trying to interfere in his former wife's life.

'I was so messed up by it all that I had a vasectomy to ensure I couldn't find myself in that position again.'

Finally, five years after the separation, Mark was granted permission to see his daughters. He was excited about the planned date - but devastated-when Lisa didn't turn up. 'By then I was livid at the system. It was destroying my life. I know it was a foolish thing to do, but I started picketing the homes of the judges who had denied me contact, hoping they would take pity on me.'

His protests were to no avail. Instead, in 2001, he was sentenced to ten months in prison for contempt of court for driving past his girls' house to catch a glimpse of them. By then spiralling into depression, he went on hunger strike. For two weeks he refused food and water. 'I stopped only when I realised that if I died I would never see my precious daughters again,' Mark says.

Who knows how this desperate fight to be a father would have ended had Lisa, then 16, not intervened. 'After a row with her mother, she called Mark and told him she and one of her sisters wanted to live with him.

'I got this call saying they had packed their bags and were at a bus stop. Would I pick them up? In breach of all court orders, I got in the car and brought them home. Seeing Lisa again, for the first time in six years, was incredible. I didn't know how to speak to, or look at, this young woman before me. She was wearing make-up. She had her 6ft boyfriend in tow. It was surreal, but in the end we fell into each other's arms and sobbed.'

It was only then that the family court system seemed to consider Mark's rights. He called the High Court emergency hotline and eventually spoke to a 'decent, humane judge'.

Ten minutes after their conversation- he was faxed a temporary residency order. In court the following week, every previous court order was set aside. 'It took ten minutes to put right and ten years of injustice, which made me realise just what power those judges have,' says Mark.

The ruling meant that Lisa and her sisters could choose which parent they lived with. Lisa and her youngest sister - who, again, we can't name for legal reasons - now live with him.

Lisa is studying to be a legal secretary. Her story is even more poignant. She tells of the confusion that has blighted most of her life, and you cannot help but wonder what long-term damage has been inflicted on her and her sisters.

'One minute we were normal children. The next we were in a rented house with Dad hammering on the door demanding to be allowed to see us,' she says. 'We were scared. None of it made sense. Sometimes we'd be allowed to see Dad regularly, then there were times with no contact at all.

'When Dad disappeared out of our lives, we just thought he had stopped loving us. I was certain I'd done something wrong. 'The first time we saw him waving to us as we went to school, I was thrilled. I remember thinking: "He still cares."

'Every morning, Mum would tell us we shouldn't look at him - that he was a bad man - yet we couldn't help but grin when we saw him. It made our day.' It was impossible for Lisa's mother to go a different route.

WHEN her father went to prison, no one explained to Lisa why. 'Mum said: "You see - I told you he was bad." I was ten years old. As far as I knew, you had to do something pretty awful to go to prison.'

She turned against her father, telling social workers she didn't want to see him. Yet with hindsight she explains she was simply trying to gain control over the horrific situation.

'There was this endless pantomime with social workers wanting to know what I thought. All I wanted was to be allowed to love both my parents, but I knew that was never going to happen.

'Mum's hatred for Dad was so deep that to keep her happy, and to get them off my back, I said I wouldn't see him. Turning love to hate made that easier. I told myself that my dad had been wicked, so he deserved it.'

When the courts finally granted access, Lisa was so tortured that she often didn't turn up to see her father. She thought she was protecting her mother by siding with her.

However, when she fell out with her mother during a phase of teenage rebellion, it was to her father that she fled - and when she discovered he had never stopped loving her, she was left reeling.

'I'd never forgotten Dad's number. I know I was only ringing him then to get back at Mum, but when I heard his voice, I wanted to cry. I told him I loved him and that I wanted to see him. Everything just flooded out.'

The first meeting was as hard for her as it was for him. 'The last time I'd seen him I'd been ten and carrying a skipping rope. When I walked into my old bedroom - and saw it was as I had left it - I wanted to sob. I didn't dare do so, though, because I knew if I did I'd never stop.'

Four years on, Lisa and Mark are only just beginning to rebuild their relationship. Every day, more gaps are filled, and more trust regained.

Meanwhile, Lisa rarely sees her mother, and she is angry at her mother's behaviour. It is a desperately sorry story, with no real winners. But then, as Lisa points out, it was never supposed to be a contest.

'I wish to God that my parents had avoided the courts from day one, and simply shared us, the children they created together,' she says.

'Instead, complete strangers were allowed to get involved in our lives to such an extent that everyone lost sight of the needs of us children.

'I love both my parents; I always will. But I will never get my childhood back. It is gone for ever.'

- "Family Court Hell" by Mark Harris, costs £8.99. Call 0845 1080530, or visit uk or www.penpress.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Fatherlessness Statistics

This proves that fatherlessness is a huge problem for Western societies.

*63% of youth suicides (Source: U.S. D.H.K.S., Bureau of the Census)
* 70% of juveniles in State Institutions (Source: U.S. Dept. of justice, special Report, Sept 1988)
* 71% of teen pregnancies (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services)
* 71% of High School dropouts (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High schools)
* 75% of children in chemical abuse centres (Source: Rainbows For All God's Children.)
* 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger (Source: Criminal Justice & Behaviour, Vol 14, p- 403-26, 1978)
* 80% of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals (Source: "Family Matters: The Plight of America's Children.' The Christian Century, July1993: 14-21.)
* 85% of youth sitting in prisons (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations ,Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992).
* 85% of children with behavioural problems (Source: Centre for Disease Control)
* 87% of the juvenile offenders in the Virginia juvenile justice system do not live with both natural parents and 73% are rearrested within three years of their release. (Source: Virginia Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission)
* 90% of homeless and runaway children (Source: U.S- D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)

or put another way;
5 times more likely to commit suicide
32 times more likely to run away
20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
14 times more likely to commit rape
9 times more likely to drop out of school
10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
9 times more likely to end up in a state operated institution
20 times more likely to end up in prison

Time to address this insidious problem for the children and community .

Friday, June 22, 2007

Police recruits struggle with ABC !!!

Police recruit standards plummet
By EMILY WATT - The Dominion Post | Saturday, 23 June 2007

Public safety is at risk as the standard of police recruits plummets, a damning secret internal report reveals.

Police chiefs have been accused of "turning a blind eye" to the consequences of accepting sub-standard rookie officers - including one recruit who had to be taught how to write the alphabet.

Many criminals and members of the public would be able to outsmart some officers, the report warns.

"Some of our staff are in a very vulnerable position and some of the public are probably being placed at risk or offered very poor service.

"The police, in turn, are at risk of claims of negligent hiring because we know these things."

The report reveals that Royal New Zealand Police College trainers are increasingly having to warn managers that "poor performers" have graduated and been posted to their area.

The revelation confirms fears among frontline police that the standard of recruits has been compromised to meet the Government's promised 1000 more officers by 2009.

Police national headquarters had publicly lauded the number and quality of new recruits - but the information used was "inaccurate, misleading and poorly interpreted", warns the report, which was prepared late last year.

Police risked "significant embarrassment" if the actual details were made public.

Police national headquarters did not want the public to see these findings, which The Dominion Post obtained under the Official Information Act after the Office of the Ombudsmen ordered its release.

It was written by Senior Sergeant Iain Saunders, a senior trainer at the police college.

Mr Saunders, a trained psychologist, was asked to assess recruits' standards and performance.

The findings - sent to top police managers - condemn the growing number of sub-standard applicants accepted as recruits, including some who had initially failed the entrance test.

Some took three attempts to pass.

While most recruits were an asset, there was an "obvious determination to accept a marginally able member".

Allowing low-intelligence recruits to graduate as officers had flow-on consequences for police - including decisions they would make in incidents such as high-speed vehicle pursuits, and when to use force, such as a 50,000 volt Taser.

"Current recruitment policy and practice places the future of the organisation at some risk," the report warns.

Mr Saunders compared recruits' performance at the police college before and after a new intelligence test for applicants was introduced in 2005.

Since that date more recruits had required remedial tutoring to pass their police training.

"In recent time we had a recruit being taught by a consultant, literally, how to write letters of the alphabet by drawing within bubble letters in the same style as a five-year-old."

Asked to comment on the report, Mr Saunders said it was designed to contribute to the debate over the quality of recruits.

He was now assessing the recruits' performance on the frontline.

Police Minister Annette King said it was not her job to screen recruits.

She accepted management's assurances that police college graduates were up to scratch.

Deputy Police Commissioner Lyn Provost said recruits had to complete their training and pass exams before they graduate: "I can assure you that nobody's going out of the college that we don't have confidence that they can make the right judgment when they go out on the streets."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said: "I deal with the recruits. New Zealand can be proud of the standard of the vast majority of them."

Kiwiland injustice killing dad4justice

15 June 2007

Dear Mr Burns

Thank you for your application for Kiwibank Life Insurance .

We’ve received the information required to complete our assessment of your application. Due to your heart condition we’re unable to provide you with cover for Kiwibank Life Insurance at this time.

Yours sincerely
New Business & Underwriting.

I hate living in Kiwiland and when I get to shortly accompany my mum and dad I will be saddened that my children are lumbered with my funeral expenses.

Request for Mercy to Supreme Court .

Dam Sian Elias
Head of Supreme Court / Chief Justice
High Court Registry
Molesworth Street
1st June 2007

Dear Honourable Madam,

I write in a last ditch effort to try and clear my badly damaged credibility and dignity as a heartbroken father who has suffered from a considerable travesty of justice.

I have enclosed a recent Court of Appeal document that is frustrating for me, as I have already exhausted my appeal rights in the High Court Registry. On that occasion the judge said that although he had every sympathy for my predicament the essential thrust of my appeal hinges on the contention that the original 2001 protection orders were invalidly made. He directed me back to the Family Court. I did that, and after a hearing it was determined that the six named people remain court protected.

I cannot move forward with my life, as I feel constantly ill because my life has been unjustifiably invaded by unwarranted circumstances.

I request your assistance in helping me obtain a fair hearing so I can address a major miscarriage of justice, which was fatal recently for my heartbroken mother.

I am the heartbroken father to four New Zealand born children, two boys, and two alienated young girls.

I am on the WINZ invalids benefit with heart and depression problems and I appeal for the Court to show me mercy.

Yours faithfully

Peter Joseph Burns
27 Elizabeth Street

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I can understand Mr Alec Baldwin's frustration

I can understand Mr Baldwin’s frustration, as I have stormed from the courtroom on several occasions heartbroken and cursing the sick system since my nightmare started for my two alienated daughters in July 2001. In solidarity – fathers’ rights – kids need dads too.

LATEST: Actor ALEC BALDWIN and his ex-wife KIM BASINGER are no closer to resolving their bitter custody battle, after the Departed star branded yesterday's court appear

The former couple have been locked in a legal fight to determine custody of their 11-year-old daughter Ireland since their divorce in 2002, but five years later, there is still no resolution in sight.

The proceedings have also been hampered by the leaking of an angry voicemail message Baldwin left for his daughter on his ex's answering machine earlier this year (07), in which the actor verbally chastises Ireland and calls his Basinger "a thoughtless pain in the ass".

He has since apologised for the "improper" message. Appearing at the closed hearing at Los Angeles Superior court on Friday (15Jun07), Baldwin and Basinger sat far apart from one another, leaving their lawyers to battle it out.

Baldwin was seen leaving the courtroom on two occasions during the four-hour hearing, and later emerged saying, "This is a waste of my f**king time." Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Maren Nelson had previously expressed her determination to discover who released the answer phone rant to the media, but no further light was shed on the matter yesterday. Baldwin and Basinger are due back in court for another hearing on 25 June (07).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Muriel Newman

The Right to Justice

The rule of law and the right to justice are fundamental to a democratic society. The thought that someone could be imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit is the stuff of nightmares.

New Zealand’s most famous such case was that of Arthur Allen Thomas. Convicted in 1971 for the deaths of Pukekawa couple Harvey and Jeanette Crewe, he was reconvicted after an appeal in 1973 and again in 1975. An appeal to the Privy Council was rejected in 1978, but largely as a result of the compelling evidence provided in books written by Pat Booth, a journalist with the Auckland Star, and British author David Yallop, Thomas was granted a free pardon in 1979.

In 1980 a Royal Commission of Inquiry found: “Mr Thomas should never have been convicted of the crimes, since there was a real doubt as to his guilt. He should accordingly have been found not guilty by the juries. Our own findings go further. They make it clear that he should never even have been charged by the Police. He was charged and convicted because the Police manufactured evidence against him, and withheld evidence of value to his defence.

They made the point: “At our hearings there have been often repeated statements about whether Mr Thomas can be proved innocent. Such a proposition concerns us. It seems to imply that there falls on to him some onus positively to prove himself innocent. Such a proposition is wrong and contrary to the golden thread which runs right through the system of British criminal justice, namely that the Prosecution has the duty to prove the accused guilty and until so proved he had to be regarded as innocent”. (To read the Report click here>>>)

In its report, the Royal Commission makes mention of New Zealand’s many 'crusaders' who attempt to right a wrong or fight for a principle at great personal sacrifice in time and money. Certainly, Mr Thomas would not have been pardoned if it had not been for the valiant efforts of his champions. David Dougherty, jailed for rape in 1992 would not have been retried and acquitted if Donna Chisholm of the Sunday Star-Times had not argued his case. Nor would David Bain have had his conviction quashed by the Privy Council if it had not been for Joe Karam and his books.

Lynley Hood, through her book “A City Possessed”, has been a champion for Peter Ellis, convicted in the Christchurch Civic Creche case, and now another champion, journalist Keith Hunter, is arguing the innocence of Scott Watson - convicted of murdering Ben Smart and Olivia Hope on New Year’s eve in 1997 - in his book “Trial by Trickery”.

Last year, retired High Court Judge Sir Thomas Thorpe released a report “Miscarriages of Justice” in which he examined miscarriages of justice in England, Scotland, the US, Canada and Australia and concluded that up to 5 percent of all convictions could be miscarriages of justice. He also analysed 53 applications to the Ministry of Justice that claimed a miscarriage of justice and concluded that some 20 people may at present be wrongly imprisoned in New Zealand.

The “Innocence Project” has recently been established at Victoria University to help fight for freedom for those who have been wrongly convicted. The movement began in New York in 1992 and has now spread to Canada, Wales, England and Australia, where teams of legal experts, psychologists, scientists and journalists work together to identify potentially wrongful convictions and campaign for justice.

And there is no shortage of wrongful convictions. A report from the US Department for Justice, “Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science” showed that in the seven years from 1989, new forensic DNA testing excluded about 20 per cent of sexual assault case suspects. The five main reasons for wrongful conviction: mistaken eyewitness identification, witnesses being coerced to make confessions, misconduct by law enforcement agencies, unreliable forensic laboratory work, and ineffective representation by defence counsel. (To read the report, click here>>>)

Another report “A Broken System: Error Rates in Capital Cases, 1973-1995” undertaken by researchers at Columbia University that looks at mistakes in capital punishment cases - where one would expect the highest standards of care to be taken - found that “during the 23-year study period, the overall rate of prejudicial error was 68%. In other words, courts found serious, reversible error in nearly 7 of every 10 of the thousands of capital sentences that were fully reviewed during the period. Capital trials produce so many mistakes that it takes three judicial inspections to catch them - leaving grave doubt whether we do catch them all. After state courts threw out 47% of death sentences due to serious flaws, a later federal review found "serious error" - error undermining the reliability of the outcome - in 40% of the remaining sentences”. (To read the report click here>>>)

The report goes on to identify the following two main reasons for these errors: “egregiously incompetent defense lawyers who didn't even look for - and demonstrably missed - important evidence that the defendant was innocent or did not deserve to die; and police or prosecutors who did discover that kind of evidence but suppressed it, again keeping it from the jury”.

Bill Hodge, Associate Professor of Law at Auckland University, in the Forward to “Trial by Trickery” describes Keith Hunter’s work as a “relentless, detailed dissection of the Scott Watson investigation and prosecution, and a legitimate commentary on the adversary system as providing for a contest, not a search for truth”.

He goes on to describe the ‘mystery yacht’ in the case as “a forty-foot ketch, being an old-fashioned wooden vessel, with two masts, a blue feature band, a row of portholes, heaps of elaborate rope work on the decks, a high rear deck, akin to a Chinese ‘junk’, and a high step up to board”, whereas “Watson’s Blade, was a 26-foot steel sloop about half the size of the other vessel, with only a single mast and none of the features of the larger vessel, and a step down to board”.

The ‘mystery man’, who boarded the ketch with Ben and Olivia, was “repeatedly identified by witnesses unknown to each other, as a wiry man, whose face had had no recent exposure to a razor, with lank, unkempt, wavy, shoulder-length hair, wearing a green shirt” whereas “Watson, was repeatedly identified as a solid man, with close-cropped hair, clean-shaven and wearing a blue denim shirt”.

In a review of the book in the Law Society’s “Law Talk” Victoria University law lecturer and journalist Steven Price makes the point that Guy Wallace, the water taxi driver who was the main witness against Watson, now insists he was hoodwinked into making the identification. Price states that the prosecution theory that Watson could steam out into Cook Strait and dump the bodies, was physically impossible given the boat speed and timeframe, and that this “two-trip” theory - which was sprung on the jury at the last moment - was disproved by the occupants of the boat Blade was tethered to.

He concludes: “Hunter asserts that those involved in securing Watson’s conviction were party to a horrendous miscarriage of justice. He says the police were deceptive and tunnel-visioned, the media helped spread damaging misinformation, and the prosecutors misled the jury.

“They’re serious allegations. But Hunter explains his grounds for them. His case is persuasive. The onus now, I think, is on the police and prosecution to answer it. What has Hunter got wrong? What other evidence has he missed out that should convince us that Watson is guilty? Is there a good response to his allegations of police and prosecution misconduct?

“I phoned the police and asked those questions. I was told that Rob Pope, who was in charge of the Watson investigation and is now Deputy Police Commissioner, hadn’t read the book, and didn’t want to relitigate the case, which after all had been through an appeals process.

“Not good enough, I say.

“Hunter has raised serious questions here, and they go to the heart of public confidence in the administration of justice. The fact that an innocent man may be in jail is just the beginning of what should trouble us about this case”. (To read the review, click here>>>)

Keith Hunter put together a documentary on the case, “Murder on the Blade” which was screened in 2003. So convinced is he that Scott Watson is innocent, that he wrote his book to set out the issues. I invited him to be the NZCPR Guest Commentator this week in the hope that it might help to bring justice to bear. Keith’s article can be viewed by clicking the sidebar link>>>.


The NZ Centre for Political Research is founded on the belief that a democracy flourishes when the public are kept well informed and are encouraged to have their say. Accordingly I would like to advise you that two new services to progress those goals have been added to the website.

The Consultation page provides links directly to Government agencies where details of reviews and proposed regulations that are open to public submissions can be found. I would urge you to keep an eye on this page and send in your submissions where appropriate - click here to view>>>.

The Media page provides quick links to radio, newspapers and television websites. If you click the radio links you can listen to the stations while you work. You might like to set this page up as your Homepage or add it to your “Favourites” - click here to view>>>.

How much is an independent voice on politics worth to you? Is it worth as much as a cup of coffee? The NZCPR is funded totally from the voluntary donations of readers of this newsletter. Your support is greatly appreciated - please click here>>>


The poll this week asks whether you believe that the New Zealand Supreme Court offers the same level of impartiality that was offered by the Privy Council.
To vote click here>>>
[Comments received during the week on the column and the poll will be posted here>>>]

Last week's poll asked: Do you agree or disagree with the critics of the NCEA that educational standards in New Zealand are falling.
The result: 96% voted Agree, 4% voted Disagree. You can read the hundreds of comments that were submitted by clicking here>>>.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

F4J is back with vengeance

10 June 2007 11:44

Matt O'Connor was the force behind the stunts involving comic-book heroes that kept his pressure group in the news. After a year sorting out his domestic troubles, he has returned to the fray and a big surprise is planned...

Interview by Cole Moreton
Published: 10 June 2007

Holy security cordons, Batman is back. He won't be wearing tights this time but does promise to make more enemies than ever before. "This one is a fucking cracking idea," says the fast-talking Matt O'Connor, founder of the campaign group Fathers 4 Justice, with a grin. "It's the most controversial thing we have ever done. If it happens they will come down on us like a ton of bricks."
"They" are the police, the law, the politicians - the people O'Connor has been irritating since he started the most spectacular protest movement of modern times, four years ago. Batman on a ledge at Buckingham Palace. Spiderman on the London Eye. Purple powder hitting the Prime Minister in the House of Commons when the country was afraid of terrorist anthrax. They were all Fathers 4 Justice stunts. They were all condemned as irresponsible, stupid, dangerous or offensive.

Then came a plot to kidnap Leo Blair, the Prime Minister's young son, as "revealed" in The Sun in January 2006. O'Connor condemned the idea as "sick" and insisted he knew nothing about it. The story wasn't true anyway, he says. But it made him walk away, declare that his campaigning days were over. So why, after more than a year out of the headlines, is O'Connor back and promising to make the biggest stink yet?

"We have a high-profile idea that will take the protest right to the heart of government," says the 40-year-old marketing consultant, whose rapid, freewheeling sentences often morph into slogans. "Literally. To the heart of our democracy."

We are at his home in Winchester, Hampshire, a modern apartment with wooden floors and walls that are lined with framed newspaper front pages. "Purple flour bomb hits Blair," tuts The Daily Telegraph. "Flour Show Special," wisecracks Private Eye. O'Connor wears a chunky silver bracelet on his wrist in the shape of barbed wire. If the verbal machinegun that is his mouth is telling the truth, then his troops will go over the top in London some time before Father's Day next Sunday.

"There will be no men in tights," he says. "That was right for its time, but it's not for now. I won't tell you what this one is but it will fuse two highly charged issues together." Excitement blurs his estuary accent. "Among the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan 54 fathers have died, orphaning about 83 kids. There is an irony about going off to fight a phoney war on behalf of a country which doesn't even afford you the right to be a father."

He knows the risks. "Last year the police thought we were going to target the State Opening of Parliament. Scotland Yard said to me: 'Make sure you're not coming into London on the day, because you will be arrested. And if anybody tries to do anything you will be shot.' Period."

Not that the master strategist will be placing himself in front of a gun. "Erm. I've done several things... but at this moment in time it wouldn't fit in with my long-term political plans." Those include starting a new party in the autumn, to campaign against the erosion of civil liberties. That will follow the publication by Orion in August of a book called Fathers 4 Justice: The Inside Story. He has also sold the rights to a movie, although it appears to be stuck in development.

Perhaps they are toning down the lead character. In real life, Matt O'Connor looks and sounds like a cheeky chappy survivor of Britpop (he even has a union-flag guitar on a stand in the study corner of his open-plan living space). He's wearing Chelsea boots, and faded and frayed grey jeans, a black leather box jacket and a grey T-shirt that bears the logo "Fathers 4 Justice Campaigner" on a roundel.

During his time out of the headlines the campaign didn't disband as he had said it would but consolidated quietly, putting up a slick website with a merchandising operation. It still doesn't make any money though, he says. Everyone's a volunteer. O'Connor still works as a brand consultant some of the time and his hair is spiky, gelled and highlighted. His glasses have thick, funky frames. In the lobe of each ear is a small silver cross, evidence that this lapsed Catholic has recently returned to his faith.

On his dining table are books that may well have been piled there to make several points: V for Vendetta describes a dystopian, authoritarian Britain; The Audacity of Hope by the new star of American politics Barack Obama; the works of agit-prop artist Banksy; and The Book of Dave by Will Self, a novel about a disgruntled father. "It's about a right-wing mysogynistic, racist, homophobic cab driver," O'Connor protests. "I'm centre left, raised in the Labour Party, I was in the anti-apartheid movement... this is a civil rights issue."

Any film may as well open with a shot of him standing on a bridge over the Thames, late at night with a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand, trying to jump. That happened for real six years ago when O'Connor was at his lowest. His business partner had died in an accident. The banks had foreclosed and taken away the company flat in which he was living. His ex-wife wouldn't let him see their two sons.

"It's like someone dragging a serrated knife across your heart," he says. The ex-couple were at war in the courts. "I went in like most naive, probably arrogant, slightly sexist pigs and it was a slaughterhouse. They say, 'You have no right to see your children.' Your jaw hits the floor. 'Ugh? What happened there?' Then you discover this grotesque edifice, this cathedral of cruelty which is the Royal Courts of Justice."

He's a natural spin doctor, obviously. So was he really going to jump, or just drunk and miserable? There is a long pause. "Put it this way ... I set off with the intention. There is a safety mechanism that asks how it would damage your kids. I lost my father in 1990 and I know what that does to you."

Instead he "set off on this insane adventure called Fathers 4 Justice". O'Connor himself was the force behind the stunts - such as the condom filled with flour that an F4J member threw at Tony Blair during Prime Minister's Questions in May 2004, and the scaling of Buckingham Palace by two men dressed as Batman and Robin that September. They were reviled and despised by those who said the actions endangered lives, demeaned dads and damaged the cause. But F4J also changed the nature of protest, showing how the right absurd image in the right place could dominate the news. It was bad timing and tasteless though, surely, in the wake of 9/11? "There is never a good time," he says. "Before that were the mainland bombing campaigns by the IRA."

The irony was that by F4J's peak he had sorted out his own domestic problems. "I'd been a lousy, drunken husband," he says, "but I was never a bad dad to the boys. We're a very close, tight-knit group of people. Me and my ex, Sophie, have strived to get on well since that time."

Daniel is now 11 and Alexander 10. O'Connor also has a son called Archie by his girlfriend Nadine Taylor, a fellow campaigner. Taylor was one of the F4J activists who ran on to the set of The National Lottery: Jet Set show, protesting that family law was a lottery. "She's fucking feisty," he says with pride. "Très formidable."

At its most popular Fathers 4 Justice had 12,000 paying members; now 3,000 people are registered to its website. Surprisingly, a quarter of them are women. "They have experienced family breakdown; their fathers haven't been living with them; they miss their dads. They're very supportive."

Archie was three weeks old when The Sun published its story about Leo Blair. "I knew jack shit about it," says O'Connor. "I couldn't believe it. Then the world started caving in." There was "barely a shred of truth" to the alleged plot, he says. "The organisation had been infiltrated by Scotland Yard. It was a hatchet job."

Furious and frightened, he stayed up all night talking to the media but snapped next day, on a lawn by Winchester Cathedral. Tearing off a Sky earpiece mid-interview he walked away, with the presenter calling after him. "I just didn't want to be involved any more. I was totally and utterly mentally shattered. The police, the media, the internal shenanigans, the courts, the judges... it's very difficult to remain sane."

Some people - who hated his self-confessed "dictatorial" style - didn't think he had the right to say it was all over. They called themselves Real Fathers 4 Justice and tried to put handcuffs on the then education secretary, Ruth Kelly. O'Connor admits, "There is always a danger people will go off at a tangent. One chap was threatening to blow his brains out in front of Tony Blair. You would be irresponsible if you didn't pass that information to Scotland Yard."

Fathers are now "emphatically better off" than they were four years ago, he says, not least because of the increased presumption of shared residence. "Most judges recognise and accept it. And we have started a chain of events that is unstoppable: the reform of the shambolic family justice system."

So why come back now? "I want to see mandatory mediation, before people even get to speak to their lawyers. Second thing is that both parents recognise and accept they should have equal or sensible contact. The third is that we must have an open, transparent system where the judges are held accountable for their outrageous decisions."

Maybe, as he insists, Matt O'Connor has been brought back to direct action by the stories of desperate men who come to F4J needing help. Or maybe he just can't give up the buzz of planning great stunts. And getting other people to do them. This week he - and we - will find out if they're still willing.

Further reading: 'The Book of Dave' by Will Self is published by Bloomsbury.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Men , Misogyny and Misandry

Men, Misogyny and Misandry

Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson

6th April 2007

In our society’s concern for the rights of women, we’ve created another silent class of victims: men

Last week’s mass-media blitz over the cyber-bullying of blogger Kathy Sierra has reinforced the common belief that women as a class are victims and men as a class victimizers. How else can we explain pervasive misogyny?

As usual, most people accept the threats against Ms. Sierra as yet another exposure of the misogyny that contaminates boys and men. Those who react in that way demand more policing of the internet, along with even more feminist “re-education” and “zero-tolerance” policies. Deplorable as this incident is, the proposed solutions are counter-productive and even the diagnosis is inadequate.

We’ve tried the proposed solutions for decades, in fact, and have not succeeded in eliminating hostility toward women, on the contrary, such hostility might be increasing among young men. Isn’t it time to consider that the problem might be much more complex than most people have imagined so far?

That brings us to the diagnosis, which makes much of the fact that women are victims of cyber-bullying (and other forms of bullying) but ignores the fact that boys and men are as well. Men are much less likely than women to complain about it, of course, because the most “unmanly” thing that they can imagine is admitting their own vulnerability. And when they do complain, people are very unlikely to take them seriously, due to the assumption that men can take care of themselves. (Researchers have already begun to explore these problems in connection with male victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment - and yes, even rape.)

A more adequate diagnosis, therefore, would be the prevalence of hatred in our society not only toward women and minorities, but also toward every available target, including men.

Movies routinely present adult men who act like children, whether sweetly or destructively - often as eternal frat boys. Commercials routinely present them as idiots. In a recent one for Kinko’s the male office worker slops coffee all over himself due to the prospect of staying up at night making copies. His smirking female counterpart, having contacted Kinko’s, knows better. The reverse, of course, would be inconceivable. Ridiculing men, but not women, is politically correct.

The elite culture of academia, moreover, routinely relies directly or indirectly on the belief that every major problem is due ultimately to “patriarchy” (and therefore to men as a class). Many social scientists try to make this point by indulging in what we call “statistics abuse”: manipulating or even inventing statistics to show that women are either victims of men or in constant danger of becoming victims.

As a result, both judges and legislators have either allowed or mandated discrimination against men. This can be overt (establishing affirmative action programs for many groups except men) or covert and therefore systemic (interpreting and applying apparently gender-neutral laws in ways that nonetheless work against men).

Because of discrimination (but also political correctness) , the courts, schools and other institutions now care almost exclusively about the needs and problems of women.

This world view relies on the morally despicable notion of “collective guilt” and the axiom that a good end can justify evil means - in this case, the equality that institutionalized inequality is supposed to create.

But these are the symptoms of an even deeper problem, a hidden one called misandry. This word, which most people don’t even know, refers to the direct or indirect teaching of contempt for men as such.

Like misogyny, misandry is a form of hatred. And hatred isn’t an emotion, unlike anger, but a culturally propagated and institutionalized world view. Therefore, misandry is a form of sexism or even racism (given that maleness is a biological classification) .

Men still earn more money than women, some argue, so what’s their problem? This is true at the moment, but skewed statistics don’t tell the whole story. For one thing, older women often have less education and therefore less lucrative jobs than young women in this transitional age. Women in general often lack the experience to negotiate for entrance salaries and promotions; avoiding high-risk, high-mobility and therefore high - paying jobs; decide to stay at home with young children; and so on.

Nonetheless, no group has ever improved its economic status more quickly than women already have without resorting to political revolution. Given new “equality” programs, in fact, and given the downward mobility of men in connection with both education and income, women will soon overtake men.

Most politicians are men, others argue, so men don’t need any protection. But men aren’t the only ones who vote them into office. More important, women have acquired a great deal of power by establishing lobby groups and even government agencies such as Status of Women Canada, acquiring government grants for research on women, implementing their policies indirectly (through bureaucratic fiat behind closed doors instead of public discussion in legislative assemblies), and so forth. Although the women’s movement has not produced utopia, it has greatly improved the lives of women.

There can be no such thing as discrimination against men, allegedly, because legislators always use egalitarian language. And yet women have effectively had laws reinterpreted in their favour by appealing to Charter law, The Court Challenges program, and human-rights commissions. Because the courts have excluded men from the list of the groups that have suffered historically from discrimination, here or elsewhere, (even though governments have routinely conscripted only men for military or labour service), the perspective of men is seldom even heard in the public square.

Men have caused every problem that women face, supposedly, and therefore deserve no protection for themselves. Most Canadians wouldn’t make this argument, at least not explicitly, but some do. And they’re wrong for several reasons.

For one thing, they rely on what we call the “conspiracy theory of history.” But the world, even the patriarchal world, doesn’t revolve around women. Men haven’t spent the past 10,000 years thinking about nothing other than how to afflict women.

Moreover, men (and boys) clearly do have problems that would evoke concern in any society worth living in. Besides, revenge has nothing to do with morality. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Despite the few alpha males, we need to examine these assumptions in view of some very obvious indicators that men as a class are in trouble. Think, for instance, of education. According to the Canadian Council on Learning, 12 percent of boys but only seven percent of girls drop out of high school. Male student are already a minority in Canadian universities, and yet how many have established affirmative- action programs for men? If this trend continues, the inevitable result will be an undereducated and impoverished male underclass.

Most men, as we say , are still reluctant to admit that they can be vulnerable and therefore need to defend themselves as a class. But those who do speak out in public - politicians , journalists, academics, and so on - know that challenging any feminist idea can amount to political or professional suicide; being denounced as misogynists.

As for those in the business world - entertainment, say, or advertising - they know that misandry sells, just as misogyny once did. In fact, it’s the one form of prejudice that remains respectable.

Only by acknowledging misandry as yet another form of hatred, facing the growth of male underclass, and taking seriously the full humanity of all people will we begin to solve the larger and deeper problem of hatred itself.

At the moment, many people deplore hatred toward some people but not others. Moral consistency does not allow that, and human psychology doesn’t tolerate it for long.

It’s time to wake up.

http://www.canada. com/ottawacitize n/news/opinion/ story.html? id=044bc793- ca33-4cad- 95a6-36d4a4ef8ac d&k=81394

This article was submitted to and published by the Ottawa Citizen on April 6th. It was written by Katherine Young (a professor at McGill University ) and Paul Nathanson (a senior researcher there). They are the authors of Spreading Misandry: the Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (2001) and Legalizing Misandry: from Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men (2006), both published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Distributed by:

Jeremy Swanson

Fathers and Men's Rights Activist

" For The Children”

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

The true neighbour will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others". (Strength in Love -1963)

Martin Luther King (1929-1968)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Conference & Rally on the case of Alec Baldwin

Please distribute, blog, and re-post this press release. Let's get the word out and if you are in the LA area please attend.

Attention: Assignment Editor

Press Conference & Rally on the case of Alec Baldwin

FROM: Children’s Rights Initiative for Sharing Parents Equally (CRISPE).

EVENT: Supporters and advocates from a coalition of state and national organizations for children’s rights, sharing parents equally, and ending parental alienation will be rallying and demonstrating at Alec Baldwin’s custody hearing.

WHEN: June 5, 2007.

TIME: 8:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M.

LOCATION: Los Angeles Courthouse, 110 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Alec Baldwin, like hundreds of thousands of parents, is alienated from his child. Parental Alienation is when one parent causes their child to be indifferent or hateful toward the other parent. The family court system facilitates Parental Alienation by ensuring a continuation of hostility between parents. The driving forces behind the adversarial nature of the family court system; are money and ideologically driven political interests. None of which are in the best interests of the family, particularly the children.
Mr. Baldwin’s frustration is like many parents alienated from their children. Many parents go for years not seeing their children despite the fact they have a court order allowing them to see their children. The solution is “a presumption of legal and physical 50/50 shared parenting,” says Larry Kerkman, President of CRISPE. Harry Crouch, Director of California Men’s Center of San Diego says, “Parental Alienation is a horrendous form of child abuse and domestic violence, for which abusive parents should be held accountable, but are not.” Donald Tenn spokesman for Fathers-4-Justice further states. “It is an unfortunate fact of life that all too many fathers can relate to the frustration which we heard in Alec Baldwin’s voicemail message to his daughter, Ireland. It is also unfortunate, that in what is supposed to be a civilized society, medieval decisions are being made by this country’s family courts which will adversely affect our families and society as a whole for generations to come.”
CRISPE and the coalition formed, like Mr. Baldwin, are determined to affect the necessary reforms to ensure that all children have the opportunity to share their parents equally.

For additional information or to schedule interviews please contact:
Press Contact
Marcy Ganz, Public Relations Specialist
(888) 827-4773 or (619) 233-4773