Grandmother Betty Davies has swept the street clean outside her house for the past 62 years without so much as raising an eyebrow. The 88-year-old widow prides herself on keeping her front doorstep and pavement pristine. But after one of her daily tidy-ups, a council worker knocked on the door of her home in Splott, Cardiff, to warn her she could be taken to court. Mrs Davies was told she could be breaking litter laws and might be fined for brushing the leaves into the roadway.
Neighbours in the quiet terraced street immediately rushed to defend her and dubbed the warning "political correctness gone mad". The uproar forced council chiefs to climb down and assure residents they would not be fined for sweeping leaves into the road.
Mrs Davies, a retired school cook who has lived on her own since her husband Bryn died 20 years ago, was incredulous at how she had been treated. The grandmother of 13, who also has three great-grandchildren, said: "I was just doing what I've been doing for more than 60 years, keeping my front door neat and tidy. "I'm always afraid of people tripping over the pile up of leaves so I was sweeping them into the gutter in the road. "After I had spent a few minutes with my broom I had gone back into the house when there was a knock on the door. "It was a council worker in a fluorescent jacket who I had seen earlier clearing up on the other side of the street. "He said: 'Do you realise you could be fined for doing that'."
The pensionser said she had given the council worker a "piece of her mind" and told him "I've been doing that for 60-odd years, young man". She added: "I just couldn't believe it - it's the first time I've been given a telling-off for sweeping my front door clean. "I have always done it - it was the way my generation were brought up. "You would think they would spend their time chasing litterbugs and vandals rather than people who really care about their homes and the streets they live in."
The 88-year-old is regarded by her neighbours as one of the most houseproud women in Wilson Street, Splott, which is where singer Shirley Bassey grew up. Until just a couple of years ago she used to scrub the front doorstep and pavement on hands and knees but has had to give that up because of her age. Neighbour Sharon John, 32, said: "Betty is always jolly, very fit and healthy and gives a lot to the community. "To warn her about litter was completely uncalled for and council workers like this should just get a life."
Another neighbour, Mary Merchant, 59, said: "This is the same as children banned from playing hopscotch in the street - it's political correctness gone mad. "These street cleaners pick up pieces of rubbish with their ridiculous clippers instead of using proper brushes."
A Cardiff council spokesman said: "We apologise for the comments made to Mrs Davies. "We want to assure people we won't fine them for sweeping leaves onto the road from the front of their home."
Arizona craziness: Has your kitchen passed a health inspection?
For more than two decades, Earlene McDonald and her neighborhood friends have baked cookies to raise dough for their central Phoenix neighborhood. They cooked thousands of rum balls, rows of gingerbread and loads of other Christmas treats to sell to the crowds at the annual holiday home tour in the F.Q. Story Historic District. And, until this year, they did it all in the comfortable, familiar settings of their own kitchens.
The tradition changed after a visit last year by a Maricopa County health inspector who said she would snatch up the cookies because they weren't prepared in a kitchen approved by the county.
So, instead of mixing and measuring in their own homes, they gathered one night this week to bake away inside the gigantic kitchen of a professional catering company. "Last year, (an inspector) was going to have us throw them away, and I about had a heart attack," said McDonald, 68, who is in charge of the neighborhood cookie operation. "This is a tradition. All our neighbors love it."
At the peak of holiday cooking season, as Valley residents enjoy tamales, cookies, breads and cakes, county Department of Environmental Services officials want to raise public awareness about bake-sale guidelines. The guidelines have been on the books for decades and are meant to prevent contamination and food-borne illnesses such as hepatitis. The rules call for all food that is sold or given away to be prepared and packaged in a central location, such as restaurants or school cafeterias, that are regulated and inspected by county health inspectors. More neighborhood groups, such as the residents of F.Q. Story, are borrowing or renting kitchens to comply with the rules.
But for years, many neighborhood, school and civic groups have flown under the health-code radar, officials said, partly because they're unaware of the rules. Also, it's tough for health inspectors to keep track of the many fund-raisers that pop up in neighborhoods throughout the year....
The F.Q. Story crew didn't want to be put out of business this year. So on Tuesday night, a dozen women baked away at Personal Touch Catering in east Phoenix. Personal Touch allowed them to use the ovens for free. For hours, they scooped, rolled and baked dozens of types of dough onto baking trays. Wearing aprons and oven mitts, they made cappuccino chocolate-chip, sugar, chocolate-mint and peanut-butter cookies. They expect to sell the cookies for 25 cents to $1 apiece and expect to raise about $1,000. They'll use the money to help pay for streetlights.
"I was shocked about what happened last year because the holidays are regarding home cooking," said Sherie Jacobs, scooping up sugar-cookie dough. "It's so much more of a hassle this way. We had to package stuff, put stuff in containers, bring it down here. "If you're doing it in your own home, you can do it on your own schedule. It's fun to get together, but it's not what I'd call ideal."
Writer's speech 'too Christian' for carol service
The Royal Commonwealth Society is at the centre of an embarrassing row after it barred a well-known Roman Catholic commentator from attacking intolerance towards Christians at its annual carol service
Cristina Odone, the former deputy editor of the New Statesman, was to be one of the "celebrity readers" at the service in St Martin in the Fields church in central London next month, which is attended by diplomats and politicians.
But she has pulled out of the event, accusing the society of demonstrating exactly the kind of intolerance she had planned to criticise. "I am incandescent," she said. "I was told that the words I had written were not appropriate because the congregation would include people of little or no faith who presumably would be upset. Even more insultingly, I was asked instead to read a passage from Bertrand Russell, a militant atheist."
Ms Odone was invited three months ago to take part in the service alongside George Alagiah, the broadcaster, Gareth Thomas, the Government minister, and Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth Secretary General. As an experienced writer and broadcaster on religion, she was asked to write a short piece on the theme of "opportunities for all" that could be "political and controversial".
She developed the theme of secular intolerance towards believers of all faiths, from the British Airways worker suspended for wearing a cross to the Muslim schoolgirl banned from wearing the veil. "When it comes to expressing their faith, this country's believers have found that opportunities are blocked," Ms Odone wrote. "Whether it is the boss at work or the head at school, the local authority or the chattering classes, people of faith know that their worldview is under siege, and their allegiances under suspicion.
"To parade this allegiance by wearing a cross, a cap or a veil is red rag to the secularist bull. What little opportunity believers have to bear witness to their faith is being quashed. If you are black or gay or female, your plea for equal opportunity is met with respect, and your campaign is applauded by supporters. But not if you are a believer. In a culture increasingly hostile to God and his followers, expressions of faith have become taboo. The only opportunity we have is for silence."
Stuart Mole, the director-general of the society, an educational charity that promotes the Commonwealth and whose patron is the Queen, told her the script was not acceptable. He said it did not fit in with the overall theme of the readings, adding: "We also need to be mindful of the congregation, which will probably include quite a few drawn by the occasion and by the carols but who do not hold a deep (or even a shallow) faith."
Yesterday Ms Odone said: "I think there is a tremendous move to down play this country's Christian heritage, to silence, ridicule and marginalise religious belief. "They have shown precisely the kind of intolerance and disapproval of Christianity that I am talking about."
Mr Mole said he was "deeply sorry" Ms Odone felt unable to participate in the service but the tone of her script was too polemical for a "multi-faith" carol service. [Will the "carols" be restricted to Frosty the Snowman and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer too?]
"The Black KKK"
Post below lifted from Brutally Honest. See the original for links
Jason Whitlock, a black columnist writing for The Kansas City Star, is doing what will piss off the modern day civil rights movement. He's provocatively telling the truth:
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column originally appeared Wednesday, two days before Friday's arrests of four men in the shooting death of Sean Taylor.There's more where that came from. Read it all. And understand the risks that Mr. Whitlock is taking here. A black man bucking the Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson wing of the Civil Rights movement, a wing hell-bent not on stopping the troubles that ail young black America but on fomenting, for self gain, more problems. God bless Jason Whitlock. God protect him. God nurture his voice and allow it to spread. For the sake of young black men across the country.
There's a reason I call them the Black KKK. The pain, the fear and the destruction are all the same. Someone who loved Sean Taylor is crying right now. The life they knew has been destroyed, an 18-month-old baby lost her father, and, if you're a black man living in America, you've been reminded once again that your life is in constant jeopardy of violent death.
The Black KKK claimed another victim, a high-profile professional football player with a checkered past this time. No, we don't know for certain the circumstances surrounding Taylor's death. I could very well be proven wrong for engaging in this sort of aggressive speculation. But it's no different than if you saw a fat man fall to the ground clutching his chest. You'd assume a heart attack, and you'd know, no matter the cause, the man needed to lose weight.
Well, when shots are fired and a black man hits the pavement, there's every statistical reason to believe another black man pulled the trigger. That's not some negative, unfair stereotype. It's a reality we've been living with, tolerating and rationalizing for far too long.
When the traditional, white KKK lynched, terrorized and intimidated black folks at a slower rate than its modern-day dark-skinned replacement, at least we had the good sense to be outraged and in no mood to contemplate rationalizations or be fooled by distractions.
Our new millennium strategy is to pray the Black KKK goes away or ignores us. How's that working? About as well as the attempt to shift attention away from this uniquely African-American crisis by focusing on an "injustice" the white media allegedly perpetrated against Sean Taylor.
Within hours of his death, there was a story circulating that members of the black press were complaining that news outlets were disrespecting Taylor's victimhood by reporting on his troubled past. No disrespect to Taylor, but he controlled the way he would be remembered by the way he lived. His immature, undisciplined behavior with his employer, his run-ins with law enforcement, which included allegedly threatening a man with a loaded gun, and the fact a vehicle he owned was once sprayed with bullets are all pertinent details when you've been murdered.
Marcellus Wiley, a former NFL player, made the radio circuit Wednesday, singing the tune that athletes are targets. That was his explanation for the murders of Taylor and Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams and the armed robberies of NBA players Antoine Walker and Eddy Curry.
Really? Let's cut through the bull(manure) and deal with reality. Black men are targets of black men. Period. Go check the coroner's office and talk with a police detective. These bullets aren't checking W-2s.
Rather than whine about white folks' insensitivity or reserve a special place of sorrow for rich athletes, we'd be better served mustering the kind of outrage and courage it took in the 1950s and 1960s to stop the white KKK from hanging black men from trees. But we don't want to deal with ourselves. We take great joy in prescribing medicine to cure the hate in other people's hearts. Meanwhile, our self-hatred, on full display for the world to see, remains untreated, undiagnosed and unrepentant.
Our self-hatred has been set to music and reinforced by a pervasive culture that promotes a crab-in-barrel mentality. You're damn straight I blame hip hop for playing a role in the genocide of American black men. When your leading causes of death and dysfunction are murder, ignorance and incarceration, there's no reason to give a free pass to a culture that celebrates murder, ignorance and incarceration.
Of course there are other catalysts, but until we recapture the minds of black youth, convince them that it's not OK to "super man dat ho" and end any and every dispute by "cocking on your bitch," nothing will change. Does a Soulja Boy want an education?
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.