Saturday, August 16, 2008

Paperwork more important than saving a life?

Only in Britain: Coastguards face reprimand for using "uninspected" boat to rescue girl

A volunteer coastguard crew face disciplinary action after going to the rescue of a teenage swimmer in a boat that had recently been repaired and was awaiting a seaworthiness inspection.

The four crewmen were on duty at Hope Cove in South Devon when the 15-year-old girl was swept out to sea by a powerful rip tide. They braved heavy surf to launch their 17ft rigid inflatable. The girl was rescued by a diver and the coastguard crew brought her ashore. But within hours their boat had been confiscated and the station officer and his crew had been threatened with disciplinary action.

The boat had been out of service since June and the 11-strong crew, fed up with waiting for it to be repaired by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), spent $4,000 of their own money on the work. But the repairs had yet to be approved and the boat - which has rescued more than 120 people since 2000 - was languishing in the boathouse at the pretty fishing village awaiting a further inspection.

Ian Pedrick, 49, the station officer, radioed for permission to launch the boat because the girl was already 150 yards out to sea but the crew lost radio contact with coastguard headquarters at Brixham and went ahead with the rescue.

Within three hours the boat was towed away by a senior MCA officer and is now locked in a garage at their office five miles away in Kingsbridge. Mr Pedrick, who runs the Hope and Anchor pub near the beach, said that he had been ordered by the MCA not to comment on the incident. Dave Clark, aged 54, a recently retired coastguard, said: "Everyone in the village is very angry. They feel the crew are being punished for trying to save a life. "The boat at Hope Cove is vital because it takes 25 minutes for the lifeboat to get from Salcombe and a swimmer could easily drown. When the MCA withdrew the boat in June they said it would be for six weeks but the crew wanted it back as soon as possible so they paid for the repairs themselves.

"They were then told it had to stay off service until it was surveyed and that would have taken it out for the whole of the summer season. Anyone would have done the same thing when they saw the girl in trouble."

A spokesman for the MCA said: "The health and safety of the boat crews and those who they may render assistance to is of paramount importance." He added: "Search-and-rescue effectiveness will not be compromised by the suspension of the general purpose boat. These general purpose boats are additional facilities and are not generally used as part of the first response to an incident. "We have identified serious breaches of health and safety procedures and they are currently being investigated. The boat has been stood down for a further eight weeks while we investigate the possibility of repair or replacement." [I'd like to shoot that c*nt!]


An idiotic prescription for US foreign policy

It is easy - as Ted Galen Carpenter illustrates in Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America - to criticize US foreign policy. It is indeed a mess of incoherent and ill defined goals, expressing the confused thinking of the State Department bureaucracy and its associated foreign policy establishment.

Carpenter's criticism is part of a growing debate in the US among several schools advocating different approaches to foreign policy. As Carpenter, who is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, rightly claims, present policies lead the US to try to "dictate outcomes everywhere and on every issue," a mission impossible even for a great power. US foreign policy gets enmeshed in relatively marginal conflicts as in Serbia or Somalia. It focuses far too many energies and resources on a putative Middle East peace process - on what strategically is really a neighborhood brawl - while neglecting crucial challenges, such as the uncertain future of the Saudi regime and its vast oil resources, or the devastating impact a nuclear Iran will have on the availability and the price of oil, namely on Europe's and America's economic and political future.

Carpenter's solution, however, is not the reordering of priorities to better focus on such prime strategic threats, but the application of a simpleminded libertarian, isolationist foreign policy. He recommends that the US withdraw from crucial areas of conflict and cut its strength rather than use it more effectively. Dangerously, he ignores or belittles serious threats to America and to the world like the spread of a triumphalist Islamic fundamentalism, especially by Iran, and the effective use it makes of oil and terrorism as strategic weapons against the West. Carpenter also overlooks the challenge posed by Russian and Chinese collusion with US enemies, notably Iran, and other such major threats.

'TERRORISM IS a tactic," Carpenter avers, "not an identifiable adversarial threat." Considering the adroit strategic use Iran - a definitely "identifiable adversarial threat" - makes of its terrorist proxies, instigating threats and attacks that have jacked up the price of oil and helped it reap huge profits that it uses for nuclear armament and ever more dangerous terrorism, Carpenter's semantic evasions seem ludicrous.

He is apparently so blinded by his ideological blinkers that he even tries to make light of the consequences of the use by terrorists of a dirty bomb. Since al-Qaida "has no realistic hope of obtaining thousands of nukes..." he argues, "the scope of destruction [of one such dirty bomb], while terrible, would still not begin to rival the horrors of last century's bloodletting..." This pathetic bid to minimize the danger of terrorist dirty bomb attacks on US cities by creating a one to 10 scale of horrors and claiming that since such an attack could not match the horrors of World War II it should not be taken seriously is typical of his attempt to shoehorn reality into his shallow analyses and then draw from them "alternative" foreign policy directives. Carpenter repeatedly draws questionable policy conclusions from analogies between vastly different events, occurring in entirely different circumstances.

ALTHOUGH THIS book is published by the economically oriented Cato Institute, it does not even consider the huge economic consequences that Iranian control of oil flow and price (which a nuclear Iran could impose) will generate. Nor does it consider the devastating economic consequences - beside the tremendous loss of life - a mega terrorist attack on US cities might cause. Carpenter may be correct that terrorists might not be able to get "hundreds" of dirty bombs. But might they not be able to acquire four or five, or succeed in spreading a smallpox epidemic or in setting off toxic gases?

Would Carpenter still insist then that radical Islamic terrorism is "minor league"? Would he still claim that if not for neoconservative "panic mongers" (the real enemies of peace in his book because they, and their support for Israel, are responsible for "provoking" Islamic rage), Islamic Jihad would be no more than a "nuisance," similar to the anarchists of yore? Would he still argue that while the Islamic threat may be "a little more potent" than that, it is nevertheless a "manageable" one? Manageable? With possibly hundreds of thousands of casualties and immense destruction?

Generally, Carpenter indulges in ad hominem attacks on his adversaries. Instead of facing neoconservative arguments, he tries to discredit them by calling them "shrill," "hysterical," "inflated," etc., not exactly a technique conducive to serious discussion.

Carpenter's shallowness becomes even more evident when his principle foreign policy prescription is examined: "Encourage multiple centers of power," he admonishes, which ostensibly will provide the world with "security buffers" and protect it.

Carpenter does not spell out who will do the "encouraging" and "protecting," nor how. Should it be US diplomacy or the UN, institutions which have demonstrated their efficacy in stopping the slaughter in Darfur or in imposing sanctions on Saddam Hussein or on the Iranians?

Carpenter writes that "ideally" such centers should be "stable and democratic." This rules out China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. It leaves one "pole" besides US - Europe.

But as the prolonged agony around the formation and role of NATO and the growing power of Islam within Europe indicate, Europe can hardly be counted upon to defend itself, let alone provide an effective "security zone." Moreover, in the past, "mulitpolarity," Carpenter's panacea, resulted not in "balance" or security and peace but in two bloody world wars and perpetual strife between multipolar entities. Smart power? One wonders.


Stupid EU rules lead to huge waste of fish

A UK fishing boat has been caught on film dumping tons of unwanted fish into the sea. A Norwegian coastguard vessel took video footage of a Shetland boat discarding about 80 per cent of its catch. Under EU rules the trawler Prolific had no choice to but to get rid of the fish because they were the wrong type. The film of the discard at a time of diminishing fish stocks and food shortages has caused outrage in Norway which is not an EU member.

Norway bans the dumping of fish in its own waters but the Prolific - which caught the fish legally in Norwegian waters - waited until it reached British waters in the North Sea before dropping an estimated five tons of fish overboard. In the film a steady stream of fish mostly saithe - a relative of the cod - can be seen being pumped out of the hold and hands are also seen emptying boxes of fish over the side.

Norwegian Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Minister Helga Pedersen slammed the incident and said she will now demand that all foreign vessels fishing in Norwegian waters must land all fish caught at whatever port the boat docks in. She described discard as one of the most serious threats to sustainable management and added: "Discard is a terrible practice. In addition to the moral aspects of this sheer waste of food, discards lead to unrecorded catches, which lead to incorrect fisheries statistics, which again disrupt the basis for scientific assessments of stocks and scientific advice on management."

Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Willie MacKenzie said: "The best scientific advice is that we shouldn't be fishing for cod at all because stocks have been so depleted in the North Sea and yet here we have tons of fish being dumped overboard. "Discard is happening all the time but normally it takes place at sea where nobody can see what is happening. This incident has to be multiplied many, many times to get an idea of the scale of the waste. "The fishermen would say it happens because quotas are too small and they have to throw fish back but you would have to be insane to agree with that argument."

The incident on August 2 has also led to angry exchanges on websites with one Norwegian claiming: "It is morally wrong and its just p***ing in your own bed. This has been illegal in Norway since the eighties and the boat would have been arrested had it done it in the Norwegian sector. It is just calculated environmental criminality. The whole thing is very provocative, disappointing and shocking."

But Hansen Black, chief executive of the Shetland Fishermen's Association, said the Prolific had been caught between a rock and a hard place. "The system forces fishermen to go to a place they are unfamiliar with to seek the fish they have quotas for. Unfortunately in this case they landed a quantity of saithe which they didn't have a quota for. "If they had dumped it there and then they would have been breaking Norwegian laws and if they had landed it back in the UK they would have been fined. "They did the only think they could do which was to steam 100 miles away - wasting time and fuel - to an area where they hoped to find the type of fish they are entitled to catch and where they could legally dump the saithe. "This is a horrible indictment of the system fishermen have to operate under. These are young men under massive pressures trying to make a living. No fisherman wants to dump fish - his job is to find fish for people to eat - not to see it thrown over the side."

A Defra spokesperson said: "Throwing dead fish back into the sea is a waste that nobody wants to see, but there is no easy answer. "UK fishermen have shown that they are committed to finding new ways of protecting vulnerable stocks, and the European Union has backed a UK action plan designed to reduce the amount of discards. "The UK is keen to ensure more effective and sustainable fisheries by reducing by-catch and discards, and the Government is working closely with fishermen to achieve that."

Mark Anderson, skipper of the Prolific's sister boat, Copious, returned to Shetland after five weeks at sea, and said he had not yet seen the film footage. He said the vast majority of the fish that was dumped by the Prolific was not cod, as reported in the national media, but low value coley or saithe. He said it was not too small to land but had it been brought ashore part of their fishing quota would have been lost. Mr Anderson condemned the European quota rules which force fishing boats to dump vast quantities of fish by only giving permission to land small quantities. "This is all about quota management. They give us so little that we have to do crazy things just to make a living. Two years ago when we came with the Copious the quotas were better, but what they have done is whittled it away," he said.


Australia: "Health" Nazis kill valuable horse

More "safety" insanity. Becoming as bad as Britain

A $200,000 racehorse which survived the deadly Hendra virus has been put down this morning after being declared a health hazard. Officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries sedated the prized thoroughbred, called Tamworth, before administering a lethal injection just after 10am. The gelding's owners were not present when vets put down Tamworth at the Redlands Veterinary Clinic. The two-year-old gelding was put down despite surviving the deadly Hendra virus that claimed four other horses at Redlands Veterinary Clinic. The horse's body now will be taken to a secret location, understood to be at Gatton, to undergo tests so scientists can find out more about Hendra virus. [Wouldn't a LIVE horse provide more information?]

Biosecurity Queensland chief veterinary officer Ron Glanville insists there was no other option but to put down the horse. But owner Warren Small remains unconvinced that his horse is a threat and is even willing to quarantine himself with Tamworth so the horse can assist with research into the mystery virus. "If they haven't got anyone with enough guts, I'm prepared to risk myself to do it," he said. "Hendra virus is going to come back again and again and again because it comes from bats, and there's millions of bats and they're a protected species. We need to know a lot more about it." Mr Small has no access to compensation under existing workplace, health and safety legislation.

The Hendra Virus Expert Committee - chaired by the department's principal veterinary officer, Simon Bewg - on July 15 recommended the state's first horse to survive the virus be kept alive and monitored for 12 months. Meeting minutes obtained by The Courier-Mail reveal the committee found the decision a low-risk option that would also produce the best scientific outcomes.

Dr Glanville said a national body known as the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases overruled the recommendation. "It was overturned on the basis not enough is known about the virus to be sure the horse will not pose a threat to human health. Quite simply it's just not worth the risk," Dr Glanville said.

Premier Anna Bligh yesterday backed the decision to destroy the racehorse, which is the only one of five horses at the clinic to be infected with the virus and survive. "This is being done as part of a national agreement about protecting the entire equine industry from outbreaks of this kind," Ms Bligh said. "There is a very serious concern that this horse could have a relapse of this disease."



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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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