AUTISTIC BOY HANDCUFFED: Police restrain 12-year-old after fight with own brother

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Lanark, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via STEPHEN JONES and Mirror

A police force in Scotland have been condemned for excessive force after officers handcuffed a schoolboy with autism after he got into a fight with his brother in class, The Mirror newspaper reports.

Twelve-year-old Colin Gow, who attends Lanark Grammar school in Lanark, got into a dispute with his older brother Keiran, aged 13 and also autistic. He allegedly hurled a plastic bottle at his brother which set off the fight, and was then subsequently handcuffed by police. Colin was said to have been left ‘distressed and sobbing’ after the incident, which took place at a special Additional Support Needs class.

 

 

Colin and Keiran’s father, Colin Gow Senior, told the Mirror: It broke my heart to see my son in handcuffs.

“It wasn’t the way to deal with this incident.”

“The first thing I did was ask the officer to take the handcuffs off – he was clearly very distressed – and I put my arms round him to comfort him,” he said.

Lanarkshire authorities said that Colin had to be handcuffed for his own and others’ safety, but the boy’s parents have demanded an urgent review of how the incident was handled by police and the school. The incident took place just before the end of the school day on February 2nd, and a pair of officers were called to Lanark Grammar, where they handcuffed Colin, who also has spina bifida and is only 5’1″ tall. As a result, Colin’s parents now say he has developed a phobia of the police. The child also had to be taken for treatment at Wishaw General Hospital in Wishaw, north Lanarkshire county, the Mirror states.

Police and education chiefs at South Lanarkshire Council insist Colin had to be restrained to keep everyone “safe from physical harm”. Police representatives also claimed that Colin’s special education needs and his conditions were not made apparent to them at the time.

According to the Daily Record newspaper, Colin started attending Lanark Grammar, which was founded in 1183 and is one of Scotland’s oldest secondary schools (for pupils aged 11-16), after he was expelled from his previous school for allegedly punching a teacher. Lanark Grammar has a specialist unit for children with ‘Additional Support Needs’, including those with autism and dyslexia. During the day, Colin attends the unit and mixes with the non-unit students during morning assemblies, break times and lunch hours.

Despite the school’s specialism, Colin’s parents expressed concerns about the way his condition is being handled. His mother, Sharon, said that she was informed that they as parents would not have to do anything as the school’s dedicated staff would handle any issues that arose. They were at first optimistic that Colin would thrive at Lanark Grammar, but Sharon told the Mirror that Colin was not getting the support he badly needed.

South Lanarkshire Council’s head of education Carole McKenzie confirmed the police were called into the school as a result of “concerns for the pupil’s safety”.

She said the boy was attempting to leave school grounds without permission, which his parents deny.

Superintendent Louise Skelton, of Police Scotland, said officers quickly established “no criminality”.

She said: “In order to protect the boy involved, staff and officers, handcuffs were deployed in an effort to keep all parties safe from harm.

“Officers remained with the boy until he was left in the care of a relative.

“Police Scotland has been engaging with the family. No complaint has been received at this time.”

SOURCES:
HEM News Agency, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-news-agency
Daily Mirror, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/DailyMirror
“Police handcuff 12-year-old autistic boy after fight with brother at school” – Stephen Jones, Mirror – News – UK News – Schools/MGN Limited (12 February 2017) http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/police-handcuff-12-year-old-9803082
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Handcuffed Girls Qiqi Lourdie December 05, 20104” – Steven Depolo, Flickr (5 December 2010) https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/5242520722

GAS MAIN EXPLOSION: ‘Huge’ fire reported in Whitstable

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Whitstable, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via KEELY LOCKHART, PA & The Telegraph

There have been reports of a large explosion and fire in Whitstable, Kent, in the south of England, leaving two men injured, according to national newspaper The Telegraph.

The explosion, believed to be centred around a subterranean gas main (gas pipe) at the Estuary View Business Park, an industrial site, occurred at 10:00 pm yesterday night, The Telegraph reports.

One of the victims, a gas engineer who was repairing the main at the time, suffered burns to his legs and face and was rushed to William Harvey Hospital in nearby Ashford, also in Kent county, by emergency services who arrived at the scene. A second man, possibly a fellow engineer or passer-by, sustained minor injuries.

The injured engineer, employed by the gas distribution firm SGN, had been called out to fix an issue with the medium-pressure main believed tampered with by an unknown ‘third party’, when the gas ignited. It is not known what exactly set off the explosion. The second casualty was treated at the scene. Neither are in serious danger.

 

File image (c) robert wade

Images posted by local man Chris Rowden on Twitter showed large orange flames rising from the ground ferociously, with ambulance teams from the South East Coast Ambulance Service and fire engines in attendance. Another witness, who lives a mile away from the scene, reported seeing the sky ‘lit up’ at the time of the incident.

Kent Fire and Rescue, which manages emergency services in the county, told the Telegraph that SGN was able to cut off the gas supply to the main and extinguish the fire at around 3 am this morning. A spokesperson told the paper “It is not known what caused the explosion at this stage.”

To minimise the risk of secondary gas leaks or explosions to Whitstable residents, SGN ordered the ceasing of gas supply to 430 homes in the Old Thanet Way residential area, and Kent police has set up roadblocks near the business park the gas explosion occurred in.

In a statement, SGN said: “It is too early to know what caused the fire last night but an investigation is under way.

“We would like to reassure the local community that we are continuing to closely monitor the situation to ensure their safety.”

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Mauritius Now, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/mauritiusnow
“Huge fire erupts after gas main explodes in Whitstable, Kent” – Keely Lockhart & Press Association, The Telegraph – News/Telegraph Media Group Limited (28 May 2016) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/28/huge-fire-erupts-after-gas-main-explodes-in-whitstable-kent/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Flames Following the Gas explosion at Townsendfold, Rossendale, Lancashire” – robert wade, Flickr (31 July 2007) https://www.flickr.com/photos/rossendalewadey/3131234197

 

UK TERRORISM SCARE: Four-year-old threatened with ‘counter-terrorism measures’ after mispronouncing word

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Luton, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via DAVID BARRETT & The Telegraph

A British four-year-old child was allegedly threatened with counter-terrorism measures after mispronouncing the word ‘cucumber‘ as ‘cooker bomb’ as a wave of hysteria permeates the U.K. in the light of ongoing terrorism threats, national newspaper The Telegraph yesterday. 

The unidentified boy was at nursery when teachers overheard him say ‘cooker bomb’ instead of cucumber during play and workers at the nursery have said the child should be referred to a de-radicalisation and counter-terrorism project, despite the fact that many children of his age regularly mispronounce longer words.

The boy, said to be of ‘Asian‘ heritage, also allegedly drew a picture of a man chopping up a cucumber, technically a fruit, but used widely as a vegetable in both British and South Asian cooking, with a large knife, which triggered further concerns in the worried nursery workers.

Staff at the nursery in Luton, Bedfordshire, around 33.5 miles from central London, spoke with the boy’s mother and said he commented ‘cooker bomb’ when asked about the subject of his picture. They also expressed a wish to refer the incident to the ‘Prevent’ deradicalisation scheme, run by the Home Office government agency. Instead the case was referred to police and social services, who decided no further action would be taken, according to the BBC Asian Network.

The little boy’s mother, who was not named in the Telegraph report, told the newspaper “[The member of nursery staff] kept saying it was this one picture of the man cutting the cucumber, which she said to me is a ‘cooker bomb’.

“I was baffled. It was a horrible day.”

The mother also expressed fears that her child would be taken away from her into care once social services became involved. The case echoes that of a 10-year-old boy, also British Asian, who was visited by police at his home, after he wrote ‘terrorist house’ instead of ‘terraced house’ for a school assignment, triggering a radicalisation alert from his teacher.

Since July 2015, as part of the UK government’s strategy to combat extremism and radicalisation among young people and the voting in of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, teachers have been required to report any incidents alluding to terrorism and violence amongst their pupils, but this has led to numerous mistakes, many almost farcical, as teachers complained that the reporting rules were not clear enough. Many teaching unions have said that the government measures have been poorly laid out to the educational community. 

Alex Kenny from the National Union of Teachers said: “Teachers are scared of getting it wrong.

“They think Ofsted is going to criticise them if they haven’t reported these things, and you end up [with] the boy making the spelling mistake, or the boy saying something in Arabic – that then gets reported on.”

Figures published by the Telegraph state that just under 2,000 under-15s were referred to counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation initiatives such as Prevent in the period between January 2012 and December 2015.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
AsianWorld Newspaper, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AsianWorldNews
“Four-year-old who ‘mispronounced the word cucumber’ threatened with counter-terrorism measures” – David Barrett, The Telegraph – Home – News – UK News – Terrorism in the UK/Telegraph Media Group Limited (11 March 2016) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/12191543/Four-year-old-who-mispronounced-the-word-cucumber-threatened-with-counter-terrorism-measures.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

ALTON TOWERS ‘AIR’: Eighty people trapped as popular rollercoaster breaks down

More than a month after British theme park Alton Towers became a disaster zone when its Smiler ride malfunctioned, seriously injuring four people, another rollercoaster broke down yesterday, which was the hottest day of the year so far. The broken down car was alleged to have helped trap more than eighty people on and around the ride for two hours, the Metro newspaper reports.

On the same day the United Kingdom experienced the hottest daytime temperatures since 2003, the theme park’s Air rollercoaster seized up, causing dozens of thrillseekers to be suspended upside-down mid-air for twenty minutes. Another eighty visitors hoping to follow them onto Air were stuck in sweltering carriages for more than an hour after two monorail trains stopped.

Air , montagnes russes à Alton Towers
Air , montagnes russes à Alton Towers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the beginning of last month, sixteen people on a rollercoaster car on the recently opened Smiler were injured when it collided with an empty car parked further down the ride after the safety braking mechanisms failed. Two of the injured visitors had legs amputated due to their horrific injuries.

A spokesman said delays were ‘within expected levels’ and the monorail would re-open on Thursday.

It took an hour for Alton Towers staff to remove 80 people off the monorail using the evacuation walkways installed for such emergencies.

A spokesman told the BBC television broadcaster: “The train drivers kept guests informed via the on board PA system and refreshments were provided.”

Guests trapped on the Air ride were rescued “within standard operating procedures”, according to the theme park’s management. Nobody was injured in the rollercoaster malfunction, and there are no reports of damage to the ride. After the Smiler incident, Alton Towers agreed to pay compensation to the affected and also to review their safety and maintenance policies. 

Air is a fast-paced ride that promises visitor they will “experience the feeling of flying” as they sail into the clouds and through the resort’s trees. It is located in the Forbidden Valley section of the park and stands at a height of 20 metres. Its cars can reach speeds of 75 kilometres per hour along the 850 metre long track and was built at a cost of GBP £12 million. Air can accommodate 1,500 riders per hour.

SOURCES:
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/
Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK?fref=nf
“Alton Towers’ Air rollercoaster broke down for two hours trapping 80 people upside down” – Carri-Ann Taylor, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (2 July 2015) http://metro.co.uk/2015/07/02/alton-towers-air-breaks-down-leaving-guests-stranded-upside-down-5275895/?ito=facebook
“Air” – Alton Towers Resort, Alton Towers Resort Operations Limited/Merlin Entertainment Group http://www.altontowers.com/things-to-do/theme-park/air/
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:Air (Alton Towers) 01.jpg” – Andyfishburne, Wikimedia Commons (15 October 2007) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Air_(Alton_Towers)_01.jpg

 

VENICE BEACH TRAGEDY: 1 killed, 11 injured as driver loses control on US beachwalk

One person has died and 11 have been injured after a driver used his vehicle to accelerate and mow down pedestrians in the popular seaside resort of Venice Beach near Los Angeles in the American state of California.

Witnesses reported seeing a driver in a black saloon-type car rapidly accelerate down the Venice Beach Boardwalk, a pedestrian-priority promenade facing the beach, before he indiscriminately ploughed into tourists leisurely strolling along the pavement.

Venice Beach and the Boardwalk, as seen in the...
Venice Beach and the Boardwalk, as seen in the music video for “When Love Takes Over” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Californian summer brought out thousands of tourists and sun-seekers at around 6:40pm local time, the busiest time for the area, and witnesses described the boardwalk as being packed with people when the motorist rampaged through the crowd. He then fled the scene, leaving the promenade “in chaos”, according to a report by Singapore’s Strait Times.

The victim, who has not yet been identified, passed away from their injuries a few hours later in hospital after being struck in the crash, which happened yesterday (Saturday) evening, said Los Angeles police spokesperson Lt. Andy Neiman.

A security CCTV video taken at the scene shows the man parking his car at the boardwalk at sunset, leaving it for a while to watch the sun go down. He then re-entered the vehicle before driving it directly into the crowd at the beachwalk. Families, vendors, and street performers were seen fleeing for their lives as the man aimed at them, cutting an S-shape through the crowds of panicking holidaymakers. According to a news bulletin by local news television station KTLA, the young man first targeted a group of vendors near a cafe. People were said to have bounced off the bonnet of the man’s car “like bowling pins”, said KTLA reporter Steve Kuzj. Victims were left lying on the pavement, one was seen with bloody injuries to her arms. The unknown driver was said to have deliberately aimed his vehicle at innocent walkers at high speed before disappearing down a side street.

He left behind a scene of utter devastation and victims strewn along the roadside as frightened, but unharmed locals attempted to administer first aid amidst the confusion. “There was people kind of stumbling around, blood dripping down their legs looking confused not knowing what had happened, people screaming,” said 35-year-old Louisa Hodge, who was out enjoying the day on the Venice Beach boardwalk with a friend visiting from San Diego. Street furniture were also scattered around the incident zone.

Los Angeles police and local fire services attended the scene of the atrocity and the affected stretch of beach was closed until today.

Police have now apprehended the driver and have impounded the car after the killer fled on foot, according to another LAPD officer, Daniel Chun. No details are yet available on the driver’s identification or motive

The Venice Beach sidewalk draws in millions of tourists every year to California’s famed “Golden Coast”. It is renowned for its beachside cafes and restaurants. It is said to be the state’s most eccentric tourist hotspot, home to several tattoo parlours, skateboard parks and the legendary Muscle Beach, an outdoor weight-training gym. The beachfront runs for 2.5 miles along the town of Venice, in the Westside area of Los Angeles and it is normally a traffic-free zone.

VIDEO: The KTLA news report of the Venice Beach attack.

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SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind on Twitter LINK 
Straits Times on Twitter LINK 
“1 dead, 11 hurt as car turns LA seaside into chaos” – The Sunday Times/Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (reporting by AP/Associated Press) (4 August 2013) LINK 
“Car ploughs into pedestrians at Venice Beach” – Bonnie Malkin and agencies, The Telegraph/Telegraph Media Group Ltd. (4 August 2013) LINK 
“Venice, Los Angeles” – Wikipedia LINK