Tuesday, 31 August 2010

An Entirely Unsurprising Result...

'Do you want to be catered to at someone else's expense?' asks a council?

'Yeah, like, whatever', says the area's children:
Young people in Littlemore do not believe enough is done for them on the estate, a new survey has found.

More than 87 per cent of 189 schoolchildren polled feel the area does not have adequate provision for them.
Well, that was a shock, eh? Who could have predicted that...
The survey, commissioned by Littlemore Parish Council, comes as community leaders prepare to secure funding for an all-weather sports facility on the estate.

The money would pay for a street sportscage – a large ‘caged’ area suitable for playing football, netball and basketball – at the Oxford Road recreation ground.
I do rather like the idea of a cage, I think that definitely has potential!

Who will be funding this, then?
The council local ratepayers has have committed £5,000 towards the scheme, and last year Oxford City Council country ratepayers promised £10,000. The parish council will apply for a £60,000 grant from Wren (Wastes Recycling Environment) central government via a quango, i.e. income tax payers.
Another shock, I'm sure you'll agree...

A Dangerous Precedent...?

Or a return to common sense?
A thug who beat up his pregnant girlfriend twice has been given a reduced sentence after a judge decided she was also to blame.
Huh..?!?
A jury heard Richardson first beat up Miss Thompson, 31, at her home in Brixton in front of her 13-year-old son, tearing off her dress and hitting her repeatedly in the face and threatening to kill her and her son. She fled naked to seek help from a neighbour but told police she would not cooperate with them because she wanted her relationship to work.
Ah. So she can't then have claimed surprise when he did it again.

In fact, she can't really claim surprise over the first attack, since he's got previous violence convictions and has done some bird for it too!
Judge Roberts said: “This was clearly a difficult relationship and I am sure that not all the rights were on one side and all the wrongs on the other side.”
Commenters are outraged, and I'm just awaiting the rabid 'women need protection from savage brutes' society to start up a campaign to get this reversed.

But...he's not totally wrong, is he?

Just why should women (and who knows, maybe some battered men too, not that the MSM would ever highlight this) continually fail to assist the police and courts in punishing their attackers and yet still expect to be believed and supported on the eleventh time the cops and ambulance personnel turn up to pick up the pieces?

Maybe this is the start of some common sense and a new engendering of the concept of personal responsibility in the justice system? I can dream, can't I?

If The 'Daily Mail' Asks A Question...

...the answer is invariably 'No':
Pathologists are investigating whether MI6 spy Gareth Williams could have been the victim of the ‘perfect murder’.

There are no signs of a violent struggle on the body of the cipher and codes specialist and it is possible that the cause of his death will never be fully discovered.

Doctors examining the body of the 31-year-old for clues are focusing on any evidence which would suggest a professional hit and are scrutinising the area around his neck, sources said.
Surely the perfect murder is one that never appears to be a murder? In which case, stuffing his body into a holdall and leaving it is the bath rather defeats the object, I'd say...

Clearly, I should have gone into professional assassination, as it obviously has lax professional standards and tolerates sloppy work.

Or maybe journalism...

Monday, 30 August 2010

Bank Holiday Round-Up

Because I'm enjoying this, the last Bank Holiday before Christmas, too much to spoil it with a look through the news, here's a selection of excellent posts from others:

DumbJon has the guaranteed shoo-in recipe for Oscar success.

David Duff ponders the universal fear of the dark.

Counting Cats is looking for reasons to watch one of the greatest shows of the modern age.

Longrider notes the (sadly totally predictable) consequences of allowing Town Hall staff access to wider sources of information.

Fuel Injected Moose has a 'Gordon' moment.

Ross finds consternation at the possibility of offensive words in Scrabble.

Tom Harris shows once again why he's probably the only Labour blogger worth reading.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

I Spy, With My Little Eye...

...a marketing opportunity!
British parents and teachers are unwittingly putting children's eyes at risk by not making them wear sunglasses and not having their sight tested during the critical first eight years.
Says who?

Says the people who make a living out of eye tests, of course!
"There seems to be a wide lack of understanding about eye health," optometrist Karen Sparrow told the Observer. "I would urge parents to remember taking their children to see the optician is just as important as the trip to the dentist or having their feet measured."
And BMWs don't buy themselves, she may have added...

Marching Season...

Michael P Jeffries has a column in CiF regarding the popular conservative talk-show host Genn Beck.

What's that? Who's Michael P Jeffries? Well, according to his bio, he's 'an assistant professor of American studies at Wellesley College. His book, Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop, is available for pre-order at major booksellers...'

Wow. Must put that on my Amazon want list!

So, he's an inveterate race hustler. He's also either got a curious grasp of grammar, or his sub-editor didn't do his job very well:
Glenn Beck has constitutional rights, including the right to free speech – which he exercises regularly. These exercises include calling the Barack Obama a racist.
'The Barak Obama'..? Freudian slip?

That aside, little Mikey is upset at the thought of Beck holding a march to Washington to speak, on the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech:
King and his colleagues were social justice advocates who fiercely defended workers' rights, and worked to eliminate institutional racism and other forms of inequality and exploitation for the benefit of all Americans. Beck's stance on issues from military engagement to social justice bears no resemblance to King's.
Does it have to? Is that how it works, then? Beck can never tread the same ground on a significant date unless he's mirroring the same reasons?
Impassioned responses to Beck's event, Dr Laura Schlessinger's recent N-word gaffe and offensive remarks about female supreme court justices are justified and necessary. But they must occur in the context of an unrelenting commitment both to change the institutions that provide platforms for such regrettable incidents, and to move away from soundbites towards a sustained discussion of racism and sexism in all its complexity.
Somehow, I don't think those words mean what little Mikey fondly imagines they mean. A 'sustained discussion of racism and sexism in all its complexity' is the last thing he and his ilk want.

After all, if they were so certain of their righteousness, why would they be getting so worked up over the symbolism?

Sunday Funnies

Fancy some light reading..?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

When The Licence Fee Isn't Enough Any More...

The BBC director-general's whinge about Sky is as predictable as another evening of BBC repeats or cheap reality shows, and about as appetising, but one extract made me take notice:
Thompson also attacked Sky's content, conceding that it had spent heavily on news and sport but saying it had failed to invest enough of its £4.8bn subscription revenues in British programming.
'failed to invest enough'..? To suit whom, Thompson? You?
He said Sky should be forced to pay ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 a fee for carrying their channels on its satellite platform through a "retransmission" charge.
So, as well as sticking your hands in our pockets, you want to stick them in other competing businesses' pockets too? You've got some cheek, I'll say that.

Needless to say, the comments are priceless, with much fretting about the eeeeevil empire of Murdoch. Best comes from someone calling itself ClassConscious, who (after decrying them as capitalist organisations that exist to make profits) believes that "Anyone with a doubt over the negative impacts of the mega news corporations should refer to Noam Chomsky."

Errr, OK, then...

"...moral and ethical and corporate responsibility..."

...is apparently something that Internet servicer providers have that no other company has, according to this woman:
Alexis Bowater, of Network for Surviving Stalking, said: "We need the internet service providers to get on board they need to take moral and ethical and corporate responsibility for what is happening to the millions of customers that they make billions out of."
Mmm. Get back to me when Ford are held 'morally, ethically and corporately responsible' for ram-raids carried out with Ford pick-ups. Or when the Royal Mail has to dance to the tune of the charities and authorities over threatening letters and blackmail attempts...
However, the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) says it is doing all it can about the abuse but it is not possible to police the internet in the way demanded by victims' groups.

James Blessing, of ISPA, says many people "assume that internet service providers can do more that they actually can", comparing expectations of them to "asking the police to put a speed camera on every stretch of road in the country".

He said: "Internet service providers are there to help charities and government to find solutions to this and we have been talking to them for many years. Unfortunately expectations from other parties seem to be a lot higher than what is actually achievable in a technical and operational sense."
Whatever new technology we invent soon gets used to commit crimes. It's just life.

Thr answer is never to put restrictions on the technology.

The Appliance Of (Politically Correct) Science...

Quoth uber-lefty Hugh Muir:
...I'm all for a bit less Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, Galileo and Copernicus, if it means a bit more McCoy, Banneker and Carver. It's a question of balance. It's important.
Who are they, you ask? What have they done to be bumped up ahead of those greats?

Well, I had to Google them. Carver was a botanist who got poor farmers to grow alternative crops, McCoy was a big cheese in the world of industrial lubrication (Woo!), and Banneker appears to be most famous for making a wooden clock...

Yes, really.

So, why should we elbow aside the greats of history? Only one reason:
It's a question of balance. It's important.

I talk it over with Joe, a black school governor. Get the black scientists on the curriculum, he says. Black engineers, black investors, black surgeons. "If I see another school trying to boost black achievement by talking about black pop and sports stars, I am going to do someone a serious injury," he says. At a young age, the only limit most kids have is their ambition, says Joe, and yet we limit those ambitions. "What's the best they see to aim for? A West Indian takeaway. A barber shop, if they are lucky. Who plants the seed in their minds that they might be a metallurgist or a physicist; that people who looked a bit like them have already done it?"
There you go.The only thing that can possibly give kids ambition is to see other kids that look a bit like them.

Never mind are they any good, are they the right size, shape and colour...
There is black history month, I tell him. We are lucky to still have that. No sign of a Polish history month, a Chinese history fortnight or even a Pakistani history week. But it's stuck, he says. On Mary Seacole, and Martin Luther King.
Oooh, that reminds me! Wasn't it MLK who said that he wanted to see a world where the only criteria that mattered was the colour of a man's skin?

No, wait, that's not right, is it?

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Oh, Martin. You'd turn in your grave if you saw what passes for today's 'leaders'...

Update: As NickM over at 'Counting Cats...' shows, that's something the ladies want in on too.

"If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing."

It seems Croydon Police are taking the words of Homer Simpson to heart:
Fomer policeman Graham Peacock, 65, caught a violent thief, on camera, stealing £90 from his till at the Security Centre in Purley on May 17.

Police issued the picture of a man called Leroy Lawless (Ed: no wonder he turned to a life of crime!) who they wanted to question in connection with the crime, however they have been unable to trace him through their appeals.
Oh, well. No doubt he'll turn up sometime, and they can then charge him with...

Oh. Wait:
Mr Peacock recently received a letter from the Victim Focus Unit which read: “We have reviewed the crime but so far there is not enough evidence to continue with further inquiries and the case will now be closed.“
But it's amazing what a little bit of shaming puiblicirty can do, isn't it?
A police spokeswoman said: “A thorough investigation has been carried out by Croydon Borough's Burglary squad and this has led to the suspect in this offence being identified. Although a number of enquires have been made to locate him, he is yet to be arrested. The suspect has been circulated as wanted and Police will continue to pro-actively seek him.

“Unfortunately, the victim was sent an incorrect letter advising him that the matter was being closed. I regret that this has happened, particularly in light of what was an excellent investigation by the Burglary squad and can confirm that Mr Peacock has received a personal apology on behalf of Croydon Police"
A mistake. Sure it was.

Friday, 27 August 2010

"...she ‘equally suffered the loss of a relative’..."

The widow of a July 7 suicide bomber yesterday launched a High Court bid to be represented at the victims’ inquest - saying she had also suffered the loss of a loved one in the atrocity.
Well, I'm lost for words...

Not so those who are paid for their use of them, of course:
Lawyers for Miss Patel claim there should be ‘no material distinction’ between her and the families of those killed, because she ‘equally suffered the loss of a relative’.
It must be nice to have no conscience at all, to stand up in court and argue the most unconscionable things, never letting it trouble your sleep...
Miss Patel’s request for equal funding was refused in May this year.

Afterwards, her solicitor Imran Khan said: ‘There appears to be no material distinction between the victims’ families and the position of my clients as family members who, through no fault of their own, have equally suffered the loss of a relative.’
In the same way as the now-infamous victory flag 9/11 mosque can't be prevented, under US law, from being built slap-bang next to the site of a Muslim atrocity, they use our own rights and freedoms against us...
Yesterday Ashley Underwood QC, representing the Lord Chancellor, said Miss Patel wanted legal aid only to defend her reputation.
Defend her what..?
Miss Patel, who was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, married Khan in 2002 after they met at Dewsbury College, where both were studying to work in the education sector.

She has described her husband as a ‘good person’ who was brainwashed by Islamic militants.
Don't bother, love. I think your reputation's beyond any defence...

Massive Understatement Of The Week

From Chris Shepherd, South-East Asia deputy regional director for Traffic:
"If people are trying to smuggle live tigers in their check-in luggage, they obviously think wildlife smuggling is something easy to get away with and do not fear reprimand," he said.
There really isn't anything to add to that, is there?

Trim That Bush, Citizen!

Or else...
Company director Robert Johnston, 51, and his wife Nicola, 48, were fined the maximum amount when they were found to have breached the terms of the order forbidding them from letting their conifer hedge reach 19ft.
Ahhh, the ASBO. Truly, New Labour's finest contribution to the justice system. Keeping us safe from unruly street youths vegetation...

They are, amazingly as it may seem, still proud of them too!
The Johnstons say that the neighbours who made the original complaint moved out a year previously and claim they were not kept informed by the council of the court proceedings.
A likely story?
Mr Johnston, a company director, today expressed shock at the fine.

'I asked the officer at the council if the complaint still applied because the neighbour had moved out and she said she would get back to me,' he said.

'I haven't heard anything since and that was about a year ago.

'We weren't told anything about a court hearing. I wouldn't have let it go to court. I really had no idea what was going on.'
Who do we believe? I mean, it's not like councils are famous for incompetence, is it..?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Nan Down!

A grandmother broke her wrist in three places after slipping off the wall of a seaside paddling pool.
And what was a grandmother doing on the wall of a paddling pool?

Well, if the term ‘grandmother’ tends to conjure up a little, apple-cheeked old lady, better not linger on the accompanying photo…
Mary’s grandsons, aged 18, 11 and five, and her ten-year-old granddaughter set off along the rocky wall around the pool, which is covered in slippery seaweed, to reach some other children who were crabbing.
The five year-old slipped, but was grabbed and lifted to safety by his eldest brother.

The shock of seeing her grandson lose his balance caused Mrs Chalk, who had gone with them, to fall into the pool, where she landed awkwardly and broke her wrist in three places.
Hmmm, well, if you’re going to walk along a slippery, seaweed-coated wall, then clearly you only have yourself the council to blame…

Wait, what?
She said: “It is not safe at all. They shouldn’t let anyone, adults or children, along that wall.

“It is just waiting for a child to slip over and kill themselves.

“I’m just glad it happened to me and not one of my grandchildren
.”
And how exactly are they supposed to stop idiots like you from climbing on the wall, and letting their five year olds climb on the wall? Build another wall around that one, perhaps?

And she wasn’t the only adult in the party, either:
Her son Lee, 41, who went to try and help his mum after she fell, also slipped on the wall and cut his hand on a shell, but did not need medical treatment.

Sherina Chalk, from Orsett, said: “It was so upsetting.

“My poor mum was in so much pain, but she tried to keep her wrist under the water so the children couldn’t see how badly it was broken.

We certainly won’t be taking our family down there again.”
No doubt that big cheer you just heard was the long-suffering residents of Canvey…
Andrew Smith, contracts officer at Castle Point Council, said: “We are very sorry to hear about Mrs Chalk’s accident. This is the first we have heard about it, as it was not reported to us.

“There are safety signs at the pool, but it is a matter of common sense for users and parents to see that some areas are covered by the natural growth of weed and to be careful. After all, this is a beach.”
Indeed.

Life’s a beach, and sometimes you fall off a wall, Mrs Chalk…

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid...

It seem to be the case that ideas (particularly of the politically-correct sort) spread over here from the States. I really, really hope not, in this case:
Did you know the Justice Department threatened several universities with legal action because they took part in an experimental program to allow students to use the Amazon Kindle for textbooks?
Huh..?
Last year, the schools -- among them Princeton, Arizona State and Case Western Reserve -- wanted to know if e-book readers would be more convenient and less costly than traditional textbooks. The environmentally conscious educators also wanted to reduce the huge amount of paper students use to print files from their laptops.
And that's when the trouble started...
It seemed like a promising idea until the universities got a letter from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, now under an aggressive new chief, Thomas Perez, telling them they were under investigation for possible violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
It seems that, although the Kindle did text-to-speech, the menu system wasn't fully accessible, so requiring the assistance of a sighted person to fire it up. And...

What's that? It's still better than a normal book in those respects? Well, yes, true, but that cuts no ice with fanatics.
In subsequent talks, the Justice Department demanded the universities stop distributing the Kindle; if blind students couldn't use the device, then nobody could. The Federation made the same demand in a separate lawsuit against Arizona State.
Now, surely, you're thinking, the market will resolve this, by making their products disability friendly with an upgrade, yes? Yes, indeed.

Is that good enough to suit the government. No. Of course not...
One obvious solution to the problem, of course, was to fix the Kindle. Early on, Amazon told federation officials it would apply text-to-speech technology to the Kindle's menu and function keys. And sure enough, last week the company announced a new generation of Kindles that are fully accessible to the blind. While the Justice Department was making demands, and Perez was making speeches, the market was working.

But as Amazon was unveiling the new Kindle last week, Perez was sending a letter to educators warning them they must use technology "in a manner that is permissible under federal law."
You see, there's nothing in the world more dangerous than a zealot.

Oh, except, of course, a zealot with power and a hungry ambition to extend that power:
Now, Perez is at work on a far bigger project, one that could eventually declare the Internet a "public accommodation" under the ADA. That could result in a raft of new Justice Department regulations for disabled access to all sorts of Web sites.

Let's Just Skip All That Pesky 'Trial' Stuff, Shall We?

Motorists accused of throwing litter out of their cars should face fast-track justice and instant fines, town hall chiefs said yesterday.
Something wrong with that sentence? Let's look at it again:
Motorists accused of throwing litter out of their cars should face fast-track justice and instant fines, town hall chiefs said yesterday.
Ah, yes. That's it.
At present police or local authority officials who want to fine a motorist accused of littering cannot enforce the penalty if the driver denies the offence. They have to go to court to prove the identity of the person who was littering. Councils want an amendment to laws so that fines automatically go to the registered owner of the car or truck....
Yes, it's yet another attempt to stick their hands in our pockets and rummage around for any loose change that we haven't already given them in taxes and rates...
Local government leaders said that the fines would clean up roads and streets as well as raise cash to pay for services at a time when cuts are imminent.
To pay for services, eh? What sort of services?

More Owl Enforcement Officers? More People Collection HR officers? More FrogBusters?

I Think I Need A New Hobby....

...something to do on my days off that will torment the helpless, frighten passers-by, amuse the YouTube crowd, and, above all, not run the risk of attracting unwelcome attention from the authorities.

Hmmm, what to do, what to do....
Police considered that no offence had been committed and no-one was arrested but police enquiries continue she said.
*snaps fingers*

That's it! I'll get a large, vicious mastiff-type dog and set it on random drunken members of the public! Perfect!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

This Town Doesn’t Need ‘Life Breathed Into It’…

..it’s going to need full medical-intervention-grade life support before long:
Drinkers and smokers could be targeted in a bid to change Colchester after dark.
I’m tempted to say ‘Change it into what..?’ but I think I already know the answer…
More than 40 recommendations have been made by a task group to breathe life into the town from 6pm to 9pm and stop it becoming a no-go area after 9pm.
Ideas include an early warning scheme where police will warn pubs not to serve customers they have identified as having drunk too much already.

Another plan is to ban outdoor smoking areas from the streets and improve taxi marshalling in Head Street and Queen Street.
Now, I can see the sense in cracking down on unruly, rowdy drunks.

That is, after all, what we’d all prefer to see, rather than blanket bans and revision of the licensing laws. It’s sensible, and a proper use of council and police time.

But banning outdoor smoking..?

When was the last time a smoker made me fear for my life, or was sick on my shoes, or started a fight with another smoker?

Or stole some private property from a complete stranger? That seems to be something exclusively confined to the smokeophobes…
A report is to be presented to Colchester Council’s policy review and development panel on Wednesday, September 1.

Nick Barlow, chairman of the task group, said: “We get lots of people complaining about the town centre at night, so we were looking at what can be done to improve the experience.

“People think there are simple solutions, but it is quite a complex issue.”
Is it?

Drunks and vandals are simple criminals, causing simple crimes. Smokers are neither...
His biggest desire is to see a cultural change with people taking part in all kinds of activities.

Mr Barlow added: “If we get a greater mix of people out for different reasons, it changes behaviour and makes people out drinking more conscious of their behaviour.”
Does it?

I think you’ll find that if you are prepared to get hammered and cause trouble, you’ll do it no matter who happens to be around…

And what other kinds of activities does he want to see to supposedly get ‘a greater mix of people’ in Colchester Town Centre at night? Anyone able to figure this out, because I certainly can’t!

It seems to me that what people want to do in Colchester is drink and smoke and get a taxi home. Why not try making that easier for them, rather than harder?

But we all know what this is. Just another front in the ongoing war against a perfectly legal activity, and moreover, one that brings in a great deal of tax revenue.
“With the decline of clerical power in the 18th century, a new
kind of mentor emerged to fill the vacuum and capture the ear
of society. The secular intellectual might be deist, sceptic or
atheist. But he was just as ready as any pontiff or presbyter
to tell mankind how to conduct its affairs. He proclaimed, from
the start, a special devotion to the interests of humanity and an
evangelical duty to advance them by his teaching. He brought
to this self-appointed task a far more radical approach than his
clerical predecessors. He felt himself bound by no corpus of
revealed religion. The collective wisdom of the past, the legacy of
tradition, the prescriptive codes of ancestral experience existed to
be selectively followed or wholly rejected entirely as his own good
sense might decide. For the first time in human history, and with
growing confidence and audacity, men arose to assert that they
could diagnose the ills of society and cure them with their own
unaided intellects: more, that they could devise formulae whereby
not merely the structure of society but the fundamental habits of
human beings could be transformed for the better. Unlike their
sacerdotal predecessors, they were not servants and interpreters
of the gods but substitutes.”

Paul Johnson, Intellectuals, 1988.

Comparing Like With Like

Polly Toynbee gamely sallies forth to lead the charge against the awful, awful coalition government that plans huge cuts in the public sector (unlike the huge cuts in the public sector proposed by Labour? Polly never mentions those..):
Professor Julian Le Grand, Tony Blair's adviser who created the quasi-markets of the NHS, talks of the public sector's "knights and knaves", prescribing competition as an antidote to laziness or absenteeism. Indeed, everyone can cite cases of knavish behaviour – the bloody-minded GP receptionist, a sullen council jobsworth or disobliging clock-watchers shutting down switchboards at 4.55pm, regardless. Bad service is unforgivable in public servants, but it is rarely compared fairly with knavish behaviour in the private sector: what public service would dare tell you to stay in all day to get a washing machine repaired without a fixed appointment? Or deliver goods unannounced so they must be queued for at some distant depot?
The problem being, Polly, that if I find a private sector company offering a service that doesn’t suit me, I can go somewhere else.

Not so with the public sector, eh?

For more detailed critique, see Angry Teen's take on it.

Blaming The Victims (Again)

Barbara Ellen seems to be making a bit of a career out of sympathy for the most unlikely targets.

From the Edlington junior psychopaths to Gordon Brown via her own thoroughly discredited profession, she’s now decided the next person who needs love and understanding is war-memorial piddler, Wendy Lewis.

Yes, really:
Lewis, 32, appeared at Blackpool magistrates' court and then ran away before she was sentenced. On her arrival, she'd been surrounded by more than a dozen war veterans, who berated her as "disgusting" and slow handclapped her into court. Now I wonder, however "disgusting" Lewis's actions were, was there any justification for this?
Does there need to be?

To whom should they justify themselves, Barbara? You? The rest of the ‘ahhh, the underclass are disadvantaged!’ CiF crowd?
…while the sex is regrettable and, in public spaces, illegal, it's only what happened on the cenotaph that is definitively morally unforgivable – and even this is muddied by the obvious levels of intoxication.
Ah. Right. The demon drink made her do it! She’s not responsible!
Does anyone believe that Lewis walked out of her house that night in June intending to urinate over a war memorial? Or do we all agree that she was trashed, so drunk she didn't know what she was doing?
Yes, probably.

But unlike you, we don’t consider that to be mitigation...
Looking at other high-profile cases of war memorial urination (Philip Laing in Sheffield; Douglas Tullin in Newcastle upon Tyne), this seems to be the pattern – person gets smashed and because they're so drunk, or just plain thick, they probably don't even register that the blurry shape they're taking a slash on is a war memorial.
So? I fail to see how that makes anything better.

I don’t want my streets to smell of urine any more than I want my war memorials to be so decorated.
If memory serves, Laing was unreservedly contrite once he'd sobered up. Indeed, somewhat buried in the coverage of Lewis, among the pointed and irrelevant references to her being a single mother, there was the fact that, at a previous hearing, she'd apologised for her behaviour.
Completely off her own bat? Or advised to do so by her legal counsel as a standard way of avoiding punishment?

The ‘same old, same old..’ magistrate’s court dance, in other words? Is anyone other than Barbara (and the occasional new magistrate) ever fooled by that?
Why then,did she end up running into court, hiding under her jacket, shouting what appeared to be an expletive, and then run away again? Considering the previous apology, why did this turn into anything other than a routine sentencing procedure, for which Lewis, for her sins, had obediently turned up? Well, sorry, veterans, that's your fault.
Wait, what?
…it was intimidating and unseemly, a form of heckling and harassment, to surround a woman on her own in the way they did.
Ummm, it’s a bit late to start in with the ‘fragile flower of womanhood’ stuff to deflect any unpleasant consequences of her actions when your chosen heroine has been arrested for getting completely hammered, giving a blowjob and urinating in public like a dray horse, Barbara.

It doesn’t help that she looks like she could bench-press a dray horse, either…
Moreover, their actions had consequences.
Oh, please!

Why do their actions suddenly have consequences, and hers do not?
So yes, Lewis was disgusting, and it says something about her too that she scarpered. However, perhaps the veterans should take on board that in this instance they played their own key part in justice not being done.
Actually, I think justice was done.

A case that might have gone unnoticed – apart from a brief mention in the local press – and unpunished – she wouldn’t have got anything like the punishment she deserved – now attracts national attention. A woman whose name would have been quickly forgotten by the court processors is not firmly embedded in the Internet’s search engines.

In short, public shaming appears to have worked, for once.

In fact, if we count the cat woman of Coventry (and I do), then twice...

The Scientist Proposes, The Bureaucrat Disposes…

Stocking up on vitamin D supplements and enjoying the summer sun could cut the risk of a host of diseases.

An Oxford University study has linked the vitamin, which is made when our skin is exposed to sunlight, to the activity of more than 200 genes in the body.

Some of these genes are already known to raise the odds of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, dementia and some cancers.

Boosting levels of the vitamin could keep illness at bay, said the researchers.
Hurrah! Finally, science works for us!
Expert Sreeram Ramagopalan recommends 50 micrograms a day - the equivalent of ten multi-vitamin pills.
Hmm, might be a bit expensive. Is there a cheaper option?
Britons should also make the most of the summer sun by sunbathing-without sunscreen for 15 to 20 minutes a day.
Splendid!

A free source of a health-giving substance. What could be better? There’s no way the government could possibly cock this u…

Oh. Wait:
Government scientific advisors are looking for ways to boost levels, with options including fortifying milk and other foods.
Oh, fantastic! It’s going to be the fluoride in water/folic acid in bread ‘resolution’ all over again, isn’t it?

They just can’t help themselves, can they?

We will now have the Righteous clamouring for another additive to all our food so that Mr Kamil from No. 26 can still swathe his wife and daughters in yards of cloth when out in public, and Ms Cholmondly-Warner at No. 84 can still ensure that little Arabella slaps on the Factor 5000 sunblock before setting foot out in the garden on sunny days….

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Fighting Back…

Christopher Booker’s column in the ‘Telegraph’ lays into the police and RSPCA:
Norris Atthey is a retired military policeman who for some years has been trying to defend one of the last pockets of red squirrels left in England… After trapping them, Mr Atthey has quite legally shot hundreds with an air pistol, very much more humane than hitting them over the head in a sack, as Natural England and other wildlife bodies prefer.
And so Mr Atthey was a little annoyed to read his morning paper to find out what other (presumed) wildlife defenders had been up to….
Mr Atthey was outraged when a Burton window cleaner was recently given a criminal record and lost £1,547 in costs after being prosecuted by the RSPCA for drowning a grey squirrel. He publicly challenged the charity by announcing that he had drowned one too.
Did they sense a trap, and stay safe in their holes?

Reader, they did not:
The ever-zealous RSPCA rose to the bait, knocking on his door to demand an interview. He responded that he had no more to say, beyond his published statement.
And there it would have ended, except….
Next morning, the RSPCA official returned, summoning two policemen to arrest Mr Atthey for “causing unnecessary suffering to an animal”.
I’m surprised the police were so co-operative, given that reciprocal assistance is so often not forthcoming…

But it was more than just assistance they got:
He was handcuffed and taken to the police station at Bedlington, some miles away, where he was held for nine hours in the cells. Eventually he was interrogated for an hour by an RSPCA official, with a policeman standing mutely by, before being released.
Without charge? It seems so. No charge is mentioned.

And isn’t it a little surprising that the police take no part at all in the interview?

Christopher Booker certainly thinks so:
Why was Mr Atthey arrested on the orders of the RSPCA? Why was he handcuffed, and imprisoned for nine hours? When I put this to Northumbria police, they replied that “the RSPCA is leading this investigation” and that “the arrested man remained with police until suitable arrangements were in place for an interview to take place”.
What? Seriously?
This provokes much wider questions, also raised by other cases reported in this column, such as that of Alan Brough, who was held by Carlisle police for six hours while the RSPCA took away his 90 fell ponies, and who immediately went and hanged himself.
Another case that hasn’t got half the publicity it deserved…
The RSPCA, that once-admirable charity, now often seems to pursue animal-lovers through the courts simply to win the publicity that keeps its £115 million a year in donations rolling in.
Which, as with all charities that grow too big, seems sadly inevitable.

But it’s the shameful police action here that’s all the more surprising:
And why do the police now regard themselves as the charity’s enforcement wing? What an admission from Northumbria police that they seek to justify holding a 66-year old man of impeccable character for nine hours by saying “the RSPCA is leading this investigation”. When did Parliament empower RSPCA officials (all ordinary members of the public) to order our police around like this?
Good questions.

Mr Atthey seems determined to find out:
theredsquirreldefender

Just to let supporters know the latest.Having already taken expert advice i have formally lodged an official complaint to Professional Standards of Northumbria Police for unlawful arrest and imprisonment.Have also complained of improper use of police premises by permitting someone of no standing ( RSPCA) to lead an interrogation.Have also requested the Inspecorate of Constabulary to investigate whether correct procedures have been adopted in relation to guidelines issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers.in assisting the RSPCA.I have to stress that I am absolutely delighted that the RSPCA have taken the bait.it is a bonus that the Police have responded in the manner they have.I am now considering setting up another group for endangered species. Honest, law abiding, decent respectable members of society. It is obvious that the police do not see themselves as serving society.
Can’t really argue with his conclusions, can we?

Update: Subrosa asks questions too...

They Shoot Clamp Horses, Don’t They?

Nina Pettit, 11, was left in floods of tears after her treasured pet went missing from its paddock off the old A130, Rayleigh.

So when she discovered Steel, a year-old Welsh section A pony, had been recovered nearby by the police she was over the moon.
Three cheers for the police!

Oh. Wait…
However, her mother, Alison Pettit, then spent ten hours frantically trying to find out where the animal was because police had lost the records.
*grinds teeth*
Officers finally tracked him down, but said a private company is holding the animal. Mrs Pettit claims the company wants £806 to release him.
Ah. They’ve clearly learned from the car clamping racket
Mrs Pettit, who lives in May Avenue, Canvey, said: “I understand one of the sanctuaries around here charges £50 a night for a horse.

I don’t know how they can come up with this figure unless it’s been eating golden straw and was taken away in a limo. I can’t afford to get him back.”
So, just how did Essex Police manage to cock this one up?
The first she knew about the pony missing was on Wednesday morning when her husband went to do his daily check.

She then rang Rayleigh police station, but the system was down. She tried to call Wickford, but couldn’t get through. Eventually, she spoke to the force information room in Chelmsford.

She was advised to try ringing a kennels and cattery in Sevenoaks, Kent, to see if the pony was there, only for them to tell her they only dealt with dogs and cats.
Good grief!
She was even advised to call the British Horse Society to check no one had tried to get him a passport.
Well, I’m sure armed police would have been available to halt any attempt to have it on his hoofs to a country with no extradition treaty…
An officer finally tracked the pony down at 8pm, but demanded the huge fee for its return. Police also said, for security reasons, they could not disclose the company holding the pony.
Nice!

Mind you, highway robbers DO often wear masks for prevention of identification, so that’s not as unusual as you might think.

So, why are the police acting as go-betweens for this company, then? What contracts have they signed to enable them to accept payment on its behalf? What regulations allow this?

A spokescreature was dragged to the starting gate to explain:
She said: “We did have some difficulty finding where the horse had been taken. However, later that day officers advised the woman the horse had been found and advised her of the charge for transport and livery.

“Essex Police had no involvement in the charges levied by a private company.”
But you’re acting as go-betweens, aren’t you?

I don't think that'll spare you any of the opprobium that's coming your way. A pimp takes no part in the actual sex act, but we still regard them with contempt just the same….

Just Because There's A Recession On...

...doesn't mean councils are going to neglect their main responsibilities so easily.

No, not keeping the streets clean and the verges mown, or any of that other boring stuff:
The district council has sponsored a marquee at the forthcoming Essex Pride event to develop closer contacts with the gay community.

Officers from Epping Forest District Council have said they will attend this year's event, at Central Park in Chelmsford, on Sunday, September 5 to gain more information about sexual equality.
Well, that's money well spent, I'm sure you'll agree? And what will they be providing at this marquee?
As well as providing community play workers and face-painting at their marquee...
*boggle*
...council offices will undertake a consultation exercise on the day.
A consultation exercise on what?

And it's not as if this event gives one a representative sample, any more than a country and western concert or a rave gets one a representative sample of music-lovers, after all...

The most likely target audience for this sort of event is the activist or professional grievance monger - is that the sort of person likely to give the council a balanced idea of how it can attract gay or bisexual employees?

Because it seems that's the point of this:
A spokesman for the council said: “The aim is to promote Epping Forest District Council as a progressive service provider and employer seeking to provide excellent services.”
Aren't councils supposed to be in dire financial straights, and shedding staff, rather than attracting them?

Monday, 23 August 2010

'Big Society' Finally Working...

...albeit perhaps not in the way iDave expected:

Anna Raccoon takes the fight to Sandwell over their hi-vis Staazi

Fuel Injected Moose feeds the loons of 'Ciggy Busting' infamy to an ever hungry local press

Obo The Clown has a hi-larious excerpt from some epic eco-warrior bothering

Captain Ranty and MummyLongLegs ensure some unwanted public attention is paid to the ever-useless PCSO force farce

Leg-Iron has some ideas on strategy

The autumn's starting to look interesting...

Just Another Day In Croydon...

Seven people have been arrested after a man was seriously injured in an early morning bottle attack.

The victim, believed to be in his 20s, was found by police with three puncture wounds to his back near West Croydon station at about 2.20am.
The newspaper prints the contact address if you have any information about this:
Did you see what happened, or do you know the people involved? Contact Mike Didymus on 020 8330 9556, or email mdidymus@london.newsquest.co.uk
Wait, what?

Shouldn't it be the police you contact? Aren't they the ones who...

Ah. Actually, there might be a good reason why the paper doesn't bother with them:
Croydon police let a man off with a caution who attacked his former tattooist, hospitalising him for two days and almost tearing off his ear.
Eh..?

The victim is equally bemused:
"The police deemed it important enough to come see me while I was in hospital but then I got told about two weeks after the attack he was being let off with a caution.

"It’s disgusting they didn’t do anything about it. I had two witnesses and they must have had it on CCTV.

"Whether they were just being lazy, they just thought it was just another Croydon attack or they wanted to keep the stats down I don’t know.

"I just want to find out why the police decided to do absolutely nothing about this and didn’t push it further. It should have gone to court and instead it was just left with the guy getting a caution."
Well, quite. His girlfriend has had a few illusions shattered too:
Mr Wilkies girlfriend, flim studies student Lois Jones, said: "Up until now I have had total faith in the police, but now I am shocked with their actions as now they are giving out the message 'go beat the crap out of someone, that's fine, we don't care as long as our statistics are down."
And it seems the police don't consider this worthwhile enough to even trot out a spokescreature to make the usual soothing noises:
A spokesman from the Metropolitan Police said: "We are not prepared to discuss this matter."

"Is this what we are? Savages?"

I'm going to have to reply in the affirmative...

Mind you, I'm surely going to hell for finding this phrasing grimly amusing:
Malik criticised the spectating police officers' lack of action, saying they should have at least fired their guns in the air to disperse the crowd.

He also said the disgusted nation are baying for the mob's blood.
/facepalm

Oh, These Two Have Got To Share A Cell...

Cretin One:
A businessman embarked on a two year campaign of hate after a woman accidentally bumped into him in the street.

Michael Scott, 58, tracked down the 23-year-old woman who he claimed had not apologised for colliding with him in the street.

After the brief encounter in Worthing town centre, Scott spent two months making repeated phone calls pestering her.

During calls Scott, of Stewards Rise, Arundel, told his terrified victim she would be sold into slavery and shipped to the Middle East.

Cretin Two:
A man tried to stab a house-mate after a row about leaving the loo seat up.

Sanjhiv Auchraj saw red and took the toilet seat away altogether after his patience snapped.

He scrawled a message on the cistern telling others living in the shared house to leave the lid down in future.

Clifford Meaden was asked by other residents to speak to Auchraj about the missing seat, Brighton Crown Court heard.

Auchraj, 44, who had been drinking, was in bed in his room when Mr Meaden asked him where it was.

Auchraj told him he had thrown it in the bin and then jumped out of bed brandishing a 12ins kitchen knife.
It'd just be awesome, wouldn't it?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Tough On Traffic Disputes, Tough On The Causes...

...of traffic disputes:
A man was ordered off a flight and arrested by four armed police at Heathrow over a traffic dispute seven months earlier.
Wow! Clearly a dangerous fugitive! Did we have another potential Kenneth Noye here?

Err...
Officers swooped on Tom Hardyment as he returned from a trip to Washington – even though he had told them he would be away and had offered five times to fix a date to report to a police station.
D'oh!
The car dealer was led off the Virgin plane, driven away in a cage inside a van, then held in cells for six hours before being released without charge.

Five days later he was told no further action would be taken.
That must have been some traffic dispute, surely? I mean, forgetting the sheer incompetence of rocking up mob-handed to arrest a man who'd already made plans to come quietly, to generate that kind of response he must have done something to trigger...

Ah:
Police were investigating claims from a driver that he had been threatening and racially abusive.
Well, let's not be too hasty. To certain sections of the Met, this'll be a sensitive area, and a tick in the box for them if they can pro...

Oh, FFS!
Mr Hardy­ment swerved at a junction after a car pulled out in front of him. When both cars stopped at lights, an Asian woman leapt out and pounded on his passenger window.

He said: ‘At first I thought it was an attempted robbery. The woman was going berserk.

‘I got out and the woman was screaming abuse. She said she was a nurse looking after a child. I said judging by her violent behaviour she shouldn’t be in charge of children and I’d make sure she never worked in this country again.’
*sigh*

Now, admittedly, we only have his side of the story here. Maybe the police were suspicious because he couldn't keep those appointments. It was him who cancelled them, wasn't it?

Errr...
On one occasion when he tried to meet police, the officer concerned was away on holiday, and a further meeting was cancelled because a new officer assigned to the case needed more time to research it.
/facepalm
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘We treat all allegations of race crime seriously.’
You missed out the words 'far too'...

Why The Certainty That This Must Be A Conspiracy?

Julian Assange, the founder of the Wikileaks website, was at the centre of an extraordinary "dirty tricks" row today after the Swedish government issued and then withdrew an arrest warrant against him for rape.
Is it convenient, given the ire he's raised in the US government?

Hell, yes! But that doesn't mean it has to be a conspiracy...

After all, it's not as though there's a shortage of women out there who are perfectly happy to accuse a successful man of awful things entirely off their own bat and for their own twisted reasons, is there?

What it does mean, as Jack of Kent and Al Jahom point out, is that the case for anonymity for rape suspects just got that little bit more urgent.

And Angry Exile points out that the Swedes take a very dim view indeed of false rape claims. Our prosecution authority should take note of that too.

Sunday Funnies

Silver linings. They exist in the most unlikely places...

Saturday, 21 August 2010

And I Thought 'Silly Season' Would Pass....

...without, well, someone being silly. So vive la France!
English Channel beaches in France were closed yesterday after a crocodile was said to have been spotted in the sea.

The 'huge' creature was apparently seen swimming around sailing boats in the port of Boulogne.

It is high season on the Channel beaches, with thousands swimming and sunbathing, and a local official said: 'We decided to close all beaches nearby and ban swimming just in case.'
Just in case...what?
Earlier this week beaches were shut in the south of France following a shark alert, but the creature turned out to be a dolphin.
*sigh*

Artists impression of the hunt for the Beast of La Manche

She Should Be Easy To Catch...

...because looking at her picture, she won't be spending too much time on the run:
Wendy Lewis, 32, of Princess Street, Blackpool, was due to be sentenced at the town's magistrates court earlier.

Lewis was last week convicted in her absence of outraging public decency.

As she arrived at the court, she swore at the veterans - some of whom called her "disgusting" - but left the building before the hearing began. A warrant has been issued for her arrest.
In fact, she looks like the word 'run' is somewhat unfamiliar. Not, however, the words 'pies' or 'chips'...

OK, Who Can We Charge With Wasting Public Money?

Sorry, that should be 'more public money':
BBC television presenter Ray Gosling is to be charged with wasting police time after claiming on air that he smothered his terminally ill lover.
I mean, seriously, what's the point of this?

Is it disappointment that it turned out not to be true and they can't lay more serious charges? Do they believe a judge is going to impose a fine equivalent to the cost of the investigation?

Friday, 20 August 2010

No, Not Another New 'Health Risk'...

Headline in today's 'Indy':



Wow! Now that's what I call a computer virus!

The answer, of course, is 'Well, no. But taking his eyes off the road and subsequently crashing almost certainly did'...

Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis….

Police, responding to a "domestic" incident, had been attacked by a Staffordshire bull terrier as they walked up the path to the house.

The dog went for the policewoman, biting her stomach and arm.
A terrifying thing to happen, and it could have been much worse…
One of her colleagues drove off the dog with an incapacitating spray and the dog was cornered in the house in Newcastle Gardens.
Whew! Dog secured, all’s well (or at least as well as it could be), owner in a whole heap of trouble when she returns, job done, right?

Ah, no:
Colin Northcott, head keeper of Dartmoor Zoo at Sparkwell, was called to a house in Whitleigh.
Wait, what..?
Mr Northcott said: "When I got there, the dog was in a pretty ferocious state.

"A vet provided the necessary drugs and I went into the house with the police."

He said members of the police dogs team, wearing "bite" suits, helmets with full visors and carrying riot shields, had the dog cornered in the kitchen.

The dog was snarling and jumping up, trying to attack the police officers.
Well, hardly surprising, given that you are now in its territory and antagonising it!

What’s wrong with simply ensuring the door (or pet door) is securely closed and waiting until the owner gets back or is found?
The dog has been seized by police and will be assessed to establish whether it is a banned breed.

Police were considering an application for a destruction order of the dog.
Shouldn’t have any trouble, given the initial act was unprovoked.
Officers were visiting the Whitleigh house after reports of a disturbance in the street at about noon on Monday.

Neighbours said the incident lasted about five hours.
Now here’s where sloppy reporting comes in – do they mean the initial domestic (in which case, good response times there!) or this incident, which seems to have taken up an extraordinary amount of police time and resources?
Kayleigh Meara, 21, who lives in Newcastle Gardens, said: "I left home at about noon and that's when I first saw one police car and a riot van speeding up Shrewsbury Avenue.

"I came back at about 3.30pm and there were two riot vans and three police cars and most of the police were standing around in the street."
Well, that’s helpful. Good time to be a burglar in Plymouth…
Police first called in the RSPCA to deal with the dog.

An RSPCA spokesman said: "We didn't have anybody on duty with the relevant equipment or training."
Translation: ‘We didn’t fancy getting our nuts chewed off – unless there was a guaranteed TV appearance in it!’.
A 33-year-old local woman was arrested on suspicion of having a dog dangerously out of control in a public place. She was later released on police bail until September 16.
Can’t wait to find out what the real story behind this was…

Huh..?!?

Now, I know why Tesco make such huge profits:



We thought 'OK, well, maybe some of the others are more expensive'. And the first of the others that we saw was the Gaymers cider at ... £3.

No saving, but at least, no loss...

Oh, well. At least there were no obvious spelling errors. As WoaR pointed out on that thread, their arithmatic is indeed suspect.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Another Candidate For Sterilisation…

Following on from Al Jahom’s lucky finds amidst the underclass, we have this sterling example of fatherhood:
A two-year boy shot in the neck with an air rifle by his father was critical but stable in hospital today.

Blake Lowing was injured when Jamie Lowing, 29, accidentally fired the gun at him in his family home in Lincolnshire.
Pity he wasn’t aiming it at his own groin instead of his offspring. Now, that would have been amusing!
Mr Lowing, who was arrested after Monday's incident, was released on bail to be by his son's bedside, Lincolnshire Police said.

It is thought he fired the gun without knowing it was loaded.
/facepalm

As QuietMan points out, you always assume they are loaded and act accordingly!

Playing Fast And Loose With The Figures…

Ah, a morning isn’t complete without Gary Younge’s grinning mug at the top of yet another article pushing the Open Borders agenda, is it?
When it comes to media coverage of immigration the facts that are given the floor, the context in which they are interpreted and the conclusions that then emerge make rational debate, let alone effective policy making, nigh impossible.
And does that have anything to do with the progressives insistence that any such discussion is ‘racist’?

No, that would be crazy talk, eh Gary?
The problem is not that the facts are selective – all facts are selected somehow and for some purpose. But they are selected poorly and with the specific intent of creating panic, fostering resentment and stoking xenophobia.
Whew! All that?
And it works. A Mori poll in 2002 revealed that more than a third of the country believed there were too many immigrants. It's not difficult to see why.
Because there are too many immigrants? Particularly in their areas?

Well, no. It’s all an optical illusion, according to Gary:
The public's mean estimation of the proportion of immigrants in Britain is 23%; the actual figure was around 4%.
Ah, yes, Comparing numbers with area of the UK (including all the farmland plus uninhabitable rocky bits, naturally!) to come up with a harmless sounding figure to ‘prove’ that your opponents are all racist.

Completely overlooking the fact that that 4% is almost entirely in already overcrowded inner and outer cities

The rest of the article is basically a rant against the media for whipping up prejudice against migrants, and not worth the photons it took to publish on CiF.
Unemployment is important and people's anxieties about immigration should be addressed.
That, Gary, is the last thing you and your ilk will ever allow. You aren’t sure of the answers you’ll get…
But their prejudices needn't be pandered to and can't be confronted on the basis of wanton misinterpretations.
You mean, like the one you just tried?

The Market Always Prevails…

Domino's Pizza, which was among the first fast food outlets in Britain to serve halal-only takeaways, has ditched the menu after poor sales.
Well, someone sure screwed up in the research department!
The chain enraged customers 18 months ago by completely removing pork from its pizzas in favour of halal-only meat at its branch in Hall Green, Birmingham.

But the pizza firm have been forced into an embarrassing U-turn back to their original menu due to poor sales.
So, either they grossly underestimated the number of Muslims who would flock to Domino’s once it went halal-only, or they grossly underestimated the number of non-Muslims who decided to boycott the place in retaliation.

It’s interesting that no-one seems to want to find out which it is, isn’t it?
Domino's Pizza have also reverted to conventional menus at the other two branches where they trialled halal-only menus for Muslim customers in Bradford and Blackburn.
So this wasn’t just a local ‘blip’…
In a letter to customers from its branch in Hall Green, which caters for surrounding Birmingham areas including Sparkhill, Moseley and Sparkbrook, Dominos explained: "I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the store is no longer serving a halal menu.

"Dominos Pizza Group decided to trial a halal menu in Hall Green and two other stores in 2009, but it hasn't had the impact expected and the company has reluctantly decided to return to a conventional Domino's menu in all three stores.

"This has not been an easy decision for us and we are sorry for an inconvenience."
‘Reluctantly’..? Why would they be reluctant to decide to stop losing any more money? Why would it not be ‘an easy decision’?

Oh, well. It’s not like they could have forseen this thou…

Oh:
The forced imposition of halal-only meat at a Burton fast food outlet has now ended.

KFC, in Middleway Park, finished its nationwide trial of selling halal only meat to its customers in Burton yesterday, after a reported dip in sales.

Waaaah! I Want My Playground!

Plans to build a new play area in Castle Park, Colchester, may still go ahead, even if the Government pulls the plug on funding.
Oh, really? And what plans are those, then?
Bob Penny, Colchester Council’s parks and recreation manager, said the council was trying to clarify the effect of the announcement on plans for two local playgrounds.

He said: “The park at Castle Park is in the design stage and we are seeking proposals from six different companies for designs for the play area.

“The other one, at High Woods Country Park, could involve a series of play features scattered around the park.

“We went out to consultation with schools on that and are expecting to place orders in October.”
Hmmm, and yet, despite the fact it may now burrow into your cash reserves, you still want to go ahead?
The Castle Park scheme will cost £200,000 and was set to be partly funded by the Playbuilder scheme.

The £45,000 playground at High Woods County Park was to have been paid for entirely by the Playbuilder scheme.
So that’s a big chunk o’ change for the council to find. How does it plan to do this?
The council is waiting to hear if Playbuilder cash will still be available, but Mr Penny said alternatives might be sought, possibly as part of deals with developers looking to get planning permission for commercial schemes.
Ah. There you go, people of Colchester. Your betters have decreed that you shall have two playgrounds after all.

All it will cost you is a dirty great housing development somewhere you hadn’t expected and possibly didn’t want. Just as you may not have wanted these two playgrounds in the first place….
He added: “If the schemes are ones we want to deliver, we can go further into funds from agreements with developers.”
When normal people experience a sudden loss of income, they tighten their belts and decide to do without luxuries.

In town halls around the country, the response is quite, quite different…

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Of All The Excuses...

...this must be the worst ever:
A man drove at twice the speed limit and forced cars to swerve off the road because he thought the Spanish police were chasing him, a court heard yesterday.
Why, no, he wasn't in Spain at the time, actually...
Darren Keats, 38, of Colne Drive, Didcot, believed he was being pursued by the Spanish authorities because he had forgotten to take drugs to calm a psychiatric disorder.
Ah. Now it's becoming clearer.
Oxford Crown Court was told Keats made offensive gestures to a police car following him...
Yes, that's what you do to make sure that people don't chase you. He's mad, all right.

Here’s Some ‘Plain English’ For You…

…stop acting like a crazy, attention-seeking old harridan:
The English professor asked for a toasted multi-grain bagel but became angry when a staff member asked her: ‘Do you want butter or cheese?’
Wow, she must have the shortest fuse in the world! She also hasn’t learned that it’s not wise to insult or harangue the people serving you food and drink…

Prof Rosenthal, that stuff on the top of your next coffee? Might not be froth, you know…
Prof Rosenthal, who also declines to use Starbucks terms such as ‘grande’ for a medium drink, said: ‘I just wanted a multi-grain bagel. I refused to say “without butter or cheese”. ‘
How do you expect the poor sod serving you to know, then? Do Starbucks have to hire telepaths?
‘When you go to Burger King, you don’t have to list the six things you don’t want. ‘
If I don’t want cheese, or pickles, I do have to tell them that, since that’s how the burger comes…
Linguistically, it’s stupid and I’m a stickler for correct English.’
No, you’re an attention-seeking old cow who likes to grandstand in restaurants while everyone slowly backs away, trying not to make eye contact with the crazy woman.

Not a good advert for your university, either, I’d have thought…

She said the cashier at the branch in New York would not serve her until she answered the question.

I yelled, “I want my multi-grain bagel” ,’ she added.

I’d have given it to you, love. At maximum velocity and with great accuracy. Pity I never went into retail, isn’t it?
Prof Rosenthal, who is in her 60s, told the New York Post she would not back down, so the store manager called police, who ordered her to leave. ‘It was very humiliating to be thrown out – all I did was ask for a bagel,’ she added.
No, that wasn’t ‘all you did’, was it? You abused some poor corporate drone who I expect makes a tenth of what the taxpayers pay to keep you in expensive coffee.

For someone apparently keen on semantic purity, you’ve got a real way of deflecting any responsibility for your own behaviour…

And because Prof Rosenthal’s blind spot isn’t exactly unknown among wackademics, here’s someone eager to capitalise on it:
Marie Clair, of the Plain English Campaign, said: ‘She sounds like a plain English champion.

‘We need more people with the confidence to fight back against language that doesn’t help them.’
What, against the frontline troops of the evil corporate machine, the poor bloody barista? Get a life, Marie!
One Starbucks employee said Prof Rosenthal was at fault for refusing to answer a ‘reasonable question’.
Indeed she was.

If she really wants to ‘stand up for the English language’, as she claimed, here’s the way to do it.

The People? Who Cares What They Think?

It seems it isn't just county councils that have a downer on successful businesses. London trusts are getting in on the act:
Thousands of people have signed a petition against the closure of a market’s food stalls.

Owners of Greenwich Market plan to slash the number of hot food stalls from 12 to five or six, and relocate them to the George II cafe area.
8,400 to be precise, but they expect that number to rise to 10,000. That's a pretty large chunk of the (presumably) voting population. Who could afford to ignore tha...

Oh:
...Greenwich Hospital property manager Jane Rowson said people had misunderstood the plans.

She said: “I think a lot of people who’ve signed the petition have been completely misled and think we’re closing down the food market.”

Ms Rowson added that shops and crafts stalls supported the move and said: “I’m not worried by those signatures.”
I wonder if Greenwich councillors are going to be quite so sanguine?

So, what's this all in aid of?
Food sellers say they were encouraged to come to Greenwich two years ago in a bid to create a place similar to London’s Borough Market.

But since the market management company changed hands, so the plans have also altered, with the aim of making it focused more on arts and crafts.
Hmmm, so they want to force out proven profitable businesses to take a flyer on people being just as keen, if not more, on arts and crafts instead? In the middle of a recession?

What you don't seem to understand, sweetie, is that even in a recession, people will still eat. But buy painting and knitted tea cosies and feather earrings?

Not so much...

We Can Can't Do Business Here...

A skateboard and sports equipment shop is pulling out of Colchester, claiming unhelpful council officials have driven it away.
And this isn’t a little struggling business that is hanging on a knife-edge, either.
Mr Khan managed to keep the business going after a fire at the Cowdray Centre in 2006 forced him out of his original unit in the centre’s A Block.
Since then, he and Ms Gooderham have turned the company into the UK’s biggest skate, hockey and extreme sports retailer.

However, they say the company’s growth has been in the face of a mass of petty bureaucracy brought down on them by council officials.
Just fantastic…!
The council tried to force the company to remove a van, painted with the Demon Xtreme logo from its regular spot in Cowdray Avenue, claiming – wrongly, it turned out – it breached byelaws.

Officials also physically removed advertising boards from the roadside, instead of asking the company to move them.

When Mr Khan made enquiries about recycling the busineess’s waste, he was frustrated to be told it would cost him more than £500 in council charges.
Way to go, Colchester! That’s the way to attract business to your area!

I can see why your motto is: “A place where people want to live, work and visit”. If you’d put ‘do business’ in there, you might have wound up being sued by the advertising authorities…
He said: “We have had nothing but obstacles put in our way from the council, with its nonsensical need to adhere rigidly to old byelaws.

“When the threatening letters they sent about our van were ignored, officials busied themselves trying to find some legal precedent to remove it, when we were doing nothing wrong.

“All this has cost us moneycost the taxpayers money, too – all unnecessarily.

“We tire of trying to promote our business to Colchester people in the face of these attempts to ‘clean up’ the town.

It will soon be exceptionally ‘clean’, if no businesses remain, because of the council’s stupidity.”
And that’s not just his opinion, either:
Mr Khan is the latest in a line of traders who have complained about the council’s tough stance on signs and promotional material.

The Federation of Small Businesses recently threatened to withdraw its backing from the council because of the dispute.
Naturally, the council is staring, wide-eyed, saying ‘What? Us? I don’t understand…’:
Nick Barlow, councillor responsible for business, said the council was in a “no win” situation.

He said: “If we allow leafleting and flyposting, the town would be covered with it and businesses would complain it looked a mess.

“If we don’t allow it, some businesses will still complain.”
Oh god, yes, I know, Nick. It's so hard, isn't it? It's just awful when you are forced, forced, to spend your working life hounding those evil, evil capitalists that do nothing but....errr...pay business rates so the council can...errr...employ people like you to...

You know what? I can hear the Sympathy Bus revving up, getting ready to pull out. Think I'll get aboard it, Nick, if you don't mind.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater…

…seems to be a specialty of our legislators. One such example is that of the plan to make car-clamping on private land illegal:
Lynne Featherstone, the Home Office minister, will announce plans to curb the activities of clampers in England and Wales.

Ms Featherstone will say the rules should be brought into line with those in Scotland, where clamping on private land was banned after a judge said it amounted to 'extortion' and 'theft'.
Now, there’s no doubt that unlicensed car-clampers and unscrupulous landowners have brought the practice into disrepute. The local papers are no stranger to complaints from aggrieved motorists genuinely (and sometimes, not so genuinely!) held to ransom by clampers.

Longrider relates a few personal experiences.

But then, if the problem is cowboy clampers and lack of regulation, as Subrosa points out from the Scottish experience, why not regulate them? Why leave the private landowner with no redress from the ‘I’ll park anywhere I like’ brigade?

Ms Featherstone said she wanted to encourage "more proportionate way to deal with parking transactions".

Landowners who wanted to protect their land could erect barriers, she said.

Where it’s possible to, or practical to, yes, I suppose they could.

But that wouldn’t help the car park owner shown on Monday’s ‘One Show’ spot about this; there, a car had parked alongside several parking bays (blocking them). On being ticketed and clamped, the driver had simply removed his personal possessions and abandoned the car! Is someone like that going to respect any other form of enforcement?

Patrick Troy, chief executive of the British Parking Association, said that the Government would have to explain to private landowners how the ban would work.

He said: "If clamping is banned the Government must describe how it would protect landowners' interests where vehicles are parked unlawfully on their land."

Quite.

Once again, legislation is being made on the basis of the few rogues, and hitting the mainly compliant and useful services.

After all, in a world that contains people who can do this
A taxi driver was arrested after he got behind the wheel of an ambulance answering an emergency call and moved it to make way for his own vehicle.
I thought I’d seen everything, but no:
Officers attended the incident after the ambulance crew reported their vehicle had been driven away from outside an address in Pevensey Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, as they were preparing to take a one-month-old baby to hospital yesterday.
Respect for others property rights is a noble idea, but the balance cannot swing too far the other way; without enforcement and penalties to rein in the likes of these people, we have anarchy…