Nursery ‘raised fears of radicalisation’ over boy’s cucumber drawing


School authorities think Daddy doing this really means he’s making a bomb

Staff at a nursery school threatened to refer a four-year-old boy to a de-radicalisation programme after he drew pictures which they thought showed his father making a “cooker bomb”, according to the child’s mother.

The child’s drawing actually depicted his father cutting a cucumber with a knife, his mother says, but staff misheard his explanation and thought it referred to a type of improvised explosive device.

On Friday the boy’s mother showed the Guardian video footage of her son in which he is playing happily on the floor of his home, and is shown a cucumber and asked what it is. “A cuker-bum,” he says, before going back to his toys.

The footage was taken by the mother at the family home in Luton after the nursery discussed referring the child to a de-radicalisation programme out of concerns that pictures drawn by him referred to explosions and an improvised explosive device known as a “cooker bomb”.

In between the odd tear and laugh of disbelief, the mother spoke about the experience, which she said had left her shaken and upset, and involved her being told at one point:Your children might not be taken off you … you can prove yourself innocent…”

A spokesperson for the nursery…said…“Under statutory guidance, as reflected by our own safeguarding policies, early years providers are required to record – and if necessary, report – any incidents that they feel may warrant further attention or discussion.

“In this instance, after seeking advice from the appropriate agencies, we concluded that no referral was necessary…”

Don’t you just love cover-your-ass language?

The child’s mother says that she remains disappointed that no apology was made and claims to have come under pressure from the nursery to sign a form which appeared to endorse its assessment.

“When I dropped him in one day they were there as a pack, with his various pictures and a report,” she said.

“Some of the pictures were just scribbles, but I said that I knew one of them and it was of his dad cutting a cucumber. She said: ‘Well, he said to us that it is a cooker bomb.’ For the life of me I didn’t associate the two words.”

She said that she was left distraught by the experience and particularly by what she says was a mention of social services. “The thing you think about is that they take children away from families,” she said, “so that was the worst thing you could say to a parent…”

The conversation, she says, also turned to what her son had been watching on television: “I said to her: ‘Can we just put it to bed? I won’t let him watch Power Rangers … I actually went home and put parental control over the kiddie channels…”

“Initially I was so upset and distraught that I told him not to do any more drawings … God bless him, he said: ‘I won’t draw anything … I’ll just draw a house, or the remote control. And I said: ‘Don’t draw the remote!’”

Sounds like anything that could happen here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Petty bureaucrats, small-minded authority pimps in charge of children want to run other people’s lives as if everyone shared the fear-and-trembling crucial to their own pitiful existence.

BTW, this isn’t so much a Liberal vs Conservative thing. Pointy-headed psychologizers are as responsible for the demise of much Western education as anyone else. Mostly worrying that you may harm a child’s self-image for life by suggesting they actually learn stuff.

Governments have way too many crap politicians who have learned it’s easier to pass repressive laws by shouting it’s needed to “protect our children”.

Thanks, Honeyman

Autumn 2015 — from around the world

Bosque Apache New-Mexico
Click to enlargeFlickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Throw on a scarf and grab your cider; it’s time to embark on a far-reaching fall foliage tour. From Scotland to Russia, Canada to Iceland, and (of course) the United States’ New England region, here are some of the most lush shots of fall 2015 we have come across.

Click through to some lovely photos – and a video explanation of the colors of autumn.

Economics 101 for our latest Coalition of the Willing

US/UK warplanes are flying sorties, at a cost somewhere between $22,000 to 30,000 per hour for the F-16s, to drop bombs that cost at least $20,000 each, to destroy ISIL hardware.

That means if an F-16 were to take off from Incirclik Air Force Base in Turkey and fly two hours to Erbil, Iraq, and successfully drop both of its bombs on one target each, it costs the United States somewhere between $84,000 to $104,000 for the sortie

Watching today’s endlessly repeated video clip of one of our heroic sorties bombing a freaking pickup truck. At a cost of $85K-104K.

Just send in some creepy salesman from a local used car lot and offer the bandit in charge $20K cash on the spot for his truck – and we’re in business – making the world safe for capitalism.

25 year-review finds no lives saved by annual mammography

Annual mammography failed to reduce breast cancer mortality in women, ages 40 to 59, compared with physical examination or routine care, according to 25-year follow-up data from a Canadian screening program.

Women screened annually by mammography for 5 years had had a breast cancer mortality hazard of 1.05 compared with the control group during the screening period. During follow-up for a mean of 22 years, the mammography group had a breast cancer mortality hazard of 0.99 versus the control group. Neither value was statistically significant…

The findings suggest a need to reassess the value of screening mammography…

The publication drew a quick and forceful response from the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI). In a joint statement, officials of the two organizations characterized the results as “an incredibly misleading analysis based on the deeply flawed and widely discredited Canadian National Breast Screening Study (CNBSS).”

Noting the 32% rate of cancer detection by mammography, the ACR and SBI said “this extremely low number is consistent with poor-quality mammography.” Mammography alone should detect twice that many cancers, they added. The organizations noted that a prior outside review of the CNBSS confirmed the poor quality of mammography in the study…

Dr. Anthony Miller and colleagues reported 25-year follow-up data from the CNBSS, which began in 1980. All women, ages 50 to 59, had annual clinical breast examinations, as did women 40 to 49 in the mammography arm. Younger women in the control arm had a clinical breast exam at enrollment, followed by usual care.

The study included 89,835 women enrolled at 15 centers in six Canadian provinces. During the 5-year mammographic-screening period, 666 invasive cancers were diagnosed in the mammography arm and 524 in the control group. During the 25-year follow-up period, 180 women randomized to mammography died of breast cancer, as did 171 in the control group.

The hazard ratio (HR) for breast cancer-specific mortality during the screening period was 1.05 for mammography versus control…

The authors of an accompanying editorial noted that some evidence suggests that improved treatment, rather than breast cancer screening, has fueled the decline in breast cancer mortality in recent years. Regardless of the rates found in different studies, overdiagnosis represents a larger problem…

Referring directly to the ACR and SBI, Miller said the study’s outcome “has to be unwelcome to this highly financially conflicted group, but which will be of substantial interest to policy makers in considering the future of screening for breast cancer.”

Been a spell since I’ve been involved with folks working in oncology. Just as long since I’ve dedicated sufficient reading and online investigation to have an opinion I’d risk someone’s life on.

Please, read the whole article. There are answers – and answers to questions raised by the answers.

Setback in bid to keep US air base on Okinawa


Mayor Inamine [center] and his supporters celebrate re-election

Efforts to relocate a US base on Japan’s Okinawa appeared to suffer a new setback Sunday, 17 years after they began, with the reported electoral victory of an opponent of the project.

The mayor of the town of Nago on the east coast of Okinawa has won re-election, according to the TBS news station after the majority of votes were counted.

Susumu Inamine, supported by several leftist parties, is a strong opponent of the joint project by the US and Japanese governments to move the US Marines’ Futenma Air Station, sited in an urban area in the south of Okinawa, to Nago bay.

Understand, the mayor wants the base off the island altogether!

Last month, more than 17 years after Washington and Tokyo agreed to move the base from the densely populated urban area, the Okinawa government finally consented to a landfill that will enable new facilities to be built on the coast at Nago.

The issue had been deadlocked for years, with huge opposition to any new base among Okinawans fed up with playing host to an outsized share of the US military presence in Japan…

The mayor of Nago does not have the right to overthrow plans to relocate the base but could refuse to approve the use of roads and other facilities necessary for building works…

Okinawa’s Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, long a thorn in the central government’s side, gave the plan his approval after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised Okinawa financial aid of at least $2.9 billion every year until fiscal 2021.

A bribe of $8,000 per resident per year.

Opponents support the removal of the US base from the town of Ginowan but want it relocated out of Okinawa altogether.

Let me insert an educated guess here. Founded on over a half-century of watching our Cold Warriors in action. I guarantee there is a secret treaty stashed in the GOUSA that specifies US troops will leave Okinawa and Japan ONLY when the United States says so – a treaty signed after Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945.

Japan has even elected national governments on this issue and then rec’d an unpublished phone call from the White House – most recently from Obama in his first term – and then announced they wouldn’t be able to close the US Base in Okinawa. No further discussion allowed. So much for transparency, enlightened democracy.

Ex-Microsoft manager plans first public U.S. marijuana brands

MicropotXP

A former Microsoft executive plans to create the first U.S. national marijuana brand, with cannabis he hopes to eventually import legally from Mexico, and said he was kicking off his business by acquiring medical pot dispensaries in three U.S. states.

Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, said he envisions his Seattle-based enterprise becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis – much like Starbucks is the dominant name in coffee, he said…

Shively laid out his plans, along with his vision for a future in which marijuana will be imported from Mexico, at a Thursday news conference in downtown Seattle.

Joining him was former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime Shively acquaintance who has been an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana. Fox said he was there to show his support for Shively’s company but has no financial stake in it…

Shively told Reuters he hoped Fox would serve an advisory role in his enterprise, dubbed Diego Pellicer after Shively’s hemp-producing great grandfather…

Shively said he ultimately plans to create separate medical and recreational-use marijuana brands. Shively said he also plans to launch a study of the effectiveness of concentrated cannabis oil in the treatment of cancer and other illnesses.

Worth a modicum of discussion. I see this only as a symptom of “early days” in the removal of marijuana from the Prohibition ideology of American politicians, priests and pundits.

For me, it’s just a chuckle that a former MSoft exec who made his mark hustling a crap OS to corporate IT plans to make this his new frontier. Har.

And, BTW, all the major tobacco brands already have their portfolio of trademarked brand names sorted – along with growing fields, etc.. You’re only kidding yourself if you think they won’t jump in when the heavy lifting is over.

University of Sydney developing robots to automate farming

The idea of an automated farm has probably been around since rural electrification started in the early 20th century. Replacing back-breaking labor with robots has an obvious appeal, but so far cheap labor in many countries and the insistence of agriculture on being so darn rural has made automation limited in application. Despite this, Salah Sukkarieh, Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies of the University of Sydney, is heading a team working on developing robotic systems for farms with the aim of turning Australia into the “food bowl” of Asia…

With its abundant arable land, Australia has the potential of profiting by meeting this need, but Australian labor costs are high, so automation has the potential to increase yields and improve efficiency by eliminating many manual tasks. The current project is more than just a mechanized farm with robots added. It’s an approach that involves developing intelligent machines that not only carry out manual tasks, but can observe their surroundings and assess situations.

Professor Sukkarieh’s team is testing the new automated systems at the Horticulture Australia regional center in Mildura. The first phase is the development of robots that can patrol orchards and gather data for a “comprehensive in-ground and out-of-ground model…”

Next year, the team will start the second phase, which will see the technology applied to standard tractors to allow them to automatically carry out tasks like applying fertilizers and pesticides, watering, sweeping and mowing.

The third phase is to develop harvesting robots. “The devices we’ve developed already can identify each individual fruit on the tree and its degree of ripeness, which is about 80 percent of the job done. But being able to harvest them is our ultimate goal,” he said.

Would have been happening in the US – and Oz – long ago if farmers didn’t have easy access to cheap migrant labor. And robots don’t distribute e.coli bacteria.