He who destroys a child destroys all of humanity

January 17, 2009 2 comments

gaza-strip-children

By Kate Smith

Of all the victims of Israel’s assault on Gazan Palestinians, the suffering of the children is the most barbarous.  As the destruction and willful desecration of innocence, it is unacceptable brutalism.  Children, of all creeds, are powerless, they have no choice but to accept what the world gives them.  They are acted upon rather than actors.

This includes devastating violence.  Such as the use of chemical weapons like white phosphorous, which sticks to and burns the skin down to the bone.  Or being left to starve in the ruins of homes alongside their dead mothers as available humanitarian aid is denied.

The prolonged terror of indiscriminate bombing and the consequences and trauma of carnage of these last weeks will live with these children all their days.

The lack of intervention caused by the paralysis of the international community, the compound failure of intergovernmental and diplomatic action, is manifest in the unheeded terrified screams of these abandoned children of collective neglect.

With children as “collateral damage”, what has happened to the UN convention on the Rights of the Child? Where is the recognition of the human rights of these children? Lying in the ashes of the shelled safe house in Zeitoun perhaps?

The violence against the children of Gaza turns our existing human rights into mere rhetoric, the good intentions and drive for justice and equality simply empty high words hanging in the fog of war.  Read more…

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2008: The year of global food crisis

October 26, 2008 Leave a comment

By Kate Smith

The new face of hunger?

The new face of hunger?

IT IS the new face of hunger. A perfect storm of food scarcity, global warming, rocketing oil prices and the world population explosion is plunging humanity into the biggest crisis of the 21st century by pushing up food prices and spreading hunger and poverty from rural areas into cities. Read more…

Political Children

October 26, 2008 Leave a comment

By Kate Smith

IT IS not your average childhood experience. Dressed in your Sunday best, face scrubbed and told to be on your best behaviour by a finger-wagging parent and advisers, you are thrust on to a stage like a rock star in front of 84,000 fans.

Far from looking bewildered, nine-year-old Malia Ann Obama and her little sister Natasha, seven, bestrode the podium in Denver with all the confidence of two children oblivious to the nature, scale and significance of the situation.  Read more…

Times Higher opinion piece December 2010

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Most of all beware ignorance

28 December 2010

Scotland must stand against tuition fees and preserve universal state-supported access to higher education or risk a return to Dickensian darkness, argues Kate Smith

“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

When the Scottish government set out its Green Paper on tuition fees two weeks ago, the rest of the UK watched with interest. Michael Russell, the Scottish National Party education secretary, told the Scottish Parliament that introducing tuition fees for Scottish students was “off the table”.

Ragged Schools were set up to teach the poorRussell said: “Our universities deliver tens of thousands of graduates into the world of work every year and carry out not just world-leading, but world-beating, research. It is because of this ‘greater good’ that we believe the state must bear the primary responsibility for funding our universities.”

The argument against upfront tuition fees in Scotland was successfully made when they were abolished 10 years ago. Instead, in a post-devolution context, the debate is about how to finance university education sans tuition fees.

Read more…

Mother Courage?

Invisible mothers

Mothers and children will have to use the degrading vouchers during their asylum here.
Mothers and children will have to use the degrading vouchers during their asylum here
By Kate Smith
Desperate for food, a young mother scavenges in a black bin bag looking for sustenance for her new-born baby. A common sight throughout the Third World, we might feel sympathy for her plight.
But this scene is not being played out in Bombay, San Salvador or Mombassa, this is Britain in 2002. Eva (not her real name) was initially refused support from social services because she took temporary private accommodation when she arrived at Heathrow Airport. She was turned out and while living rough, was raped on the streets.

“I was getting food from bins, in these black plastic bags,” said Eva. “I started begging. I begged a man, I asked him if I could do some work, some housework, if he could pay me. He just asked me to follow him. So when I followed him, he attacked me.”

Eva’s story is not uncommon. Pregnant asylum seekers in Britain, many of whom are rape victims, are being maltreated, their maternity needs ignored and have been subjected to inhumane treatment, according to a report published by the Maternity Alliance. Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Pelted by cyber-tomatoes

January 28, 2009 Leave a comment

The Guardian

When are online student comments about lecturers free expression, and when are they harassment?

There was a time when a gripe about a university lecturer went no further than a grumble over a pint in the union.

Now social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo and Myspace have created a forum akin to public stocks for professors who, as their students would see it, do not cut the mustard.

Such websites get to the heart of the row about the internet. On the one hand, it is heralded as a great democratising force where the voiceless can have a say. What greater way to tear down the ivory towers of academia than via the great leveller of the internet? Students view these sites as their domain, more so than a general public forum.

Read more…

One in every four children in Scotland still living in poverty

October 26, 2008 Leave a comment

By Kate Smith

CHILD poverty campaigners last night called on the chancellor to pledge an extra £4 billion in tax credits and benefits in this week’s Budget to get Labour’s targets on tackling impoverishment back on track. Read more…

Gap year for soldiers -army desperate to retain personnel

October 26, 2008 Leave a comment

By Kate Smith

Work-life balance is difficult to attain in most careers, but with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq service personnel seldom see their families let alone find the time to start one.

Now top brass in the British armed forces are offering discretionary career breaks in a bid to combat the growing crisis in staff retention. Read more…

Organised crime in Scotland

October 26, 2008 Leave a comment

By Kate Smith

Business is booming, profits are up and staff have never had it so good. The pay is high and there may even be a flash company car thrown in. The only setback is you might end up in concrete slippers at the bottom of the Clyde, or worse, the gaol.

While the rest of the economy may be cruising towards recession, the world of gangsters is on the up, prompting Glasgow University to set up a centre for the study of organised crime, the Institute for the Study of Serious Organised Crime (ISSOC). Read more…