Monday, October 20, 2008

British senior citizen ordered to stop mowing grass because it's too tidy

Brian Hubbard has regularly cut and weeded the small patch of grass outside his three-bedroom home since he moved in four years ago. He also picks up any litter, rakes the leaves and cleans up after the council contractors have left their grass cuttings.

But he has received a letter accusing him of "encroaching" on council land and been told that he must stop tending to the grass and "return the area to its original state within 28 days" or the work would be carried out at his expense.

He said: "I like the place to be tidy and attractive and I know the council's contractors cannot do it all so I decided to help out. "I find it grossly irritating that just because I have taken pride in the area where I live and made it more attractive I have had this threatening letter. "Whoever would have thought that cultivating the grass, cutting it regularly and raking the leaves off could be described as encroachment? Do they want me to put daisies and dandelions in?

"The other day there were people smashing glass over the road. I got a broom, went over and swept it up. Is that encroachment? "This is a perfect example of an overzealous council wasting taxpayers' money. I'm going to ignore the letter and carry on."

Mr Hubbard, a former parish councillor who is retired and in his 70s, lives in the house in the Belmont area of Hereford with his wife, Mary. He received the letter from Herefordshire Council's parks, countryside and leisure development service last week. The letter, which is dated September 8, orders "the removal of garden tools and furnishings and all vegetation not in keeping with the surrounding area". It also accuses Mr Hubbard of "blocking gate way access", "undertaking maintenance" and gives him "28 days to return the area to its original state". The letter warns: "If there is still an encroachment issue with the property further action will be taken which may result in the above works being carried out at your expense."

Heather Davies, councillor for the Belmont area, said the Hubbards should be congratulated and not punished for taking pride in their local area. She said: "When I was on my way to see them the road looked a mess because the grass had been cut but the cuttings left. Mr Hubbard always picks his cuttings up. "If more people were like that the area would look really nice. We should be supporting him because it's brilliant what he does - not sending him letters like this."

Yesterday a spokesman for Herefordshire Council apologised for the tone of the letter and suggested a meeting to discuss the situation. He said: "We are aware of Mr Hubbard's endeavours to tend the land next to his home in Dorchester Way and commend him for his public spiritedness. "We apologise if he feels the letter he received from us is heavy-handed. We are happy to meet Mr Hubbard to discuss the issue." [Big backdown under the searchlight of publicity]


Muslim danger in America right now

(From Muslim critic Robert Spencer) Spencer speaking tonight at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which may no longer be in America

I got off the phone a little while ago with one of the student organizers of my address tonight at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He told me that I would be led to and from the stage via secret passageway; that thirty security personnel would be on hand (in addition to my own); that attendees would have to pass through metal detectors; and that a bomb-sniffing dog would also be on hand.

It is rather amazing to me that all this would be necessary anywhere in America today -- and all because I am saying things they don't like. MSA students have been accusing me this week of fostering an atmosphere of hate that leads to innocent Muslims being victimized. This is a preposterous charge to make to anyone who is trying to defend human rights, but it is also a noteworthy case of projection: it is they who are fostering an atmosphere of hate and thuggery, with all their lies, smears, and hysterical rhetoric, which combined with the way they and their allies have behaved at talks by previous speakers they disliked has made all this security necessary.

The Left and the MSA's on campuses all across the country are fostering a very dangerous atmosphere that is completely opposed to the classic spirit of the university. The increasingly apparent fact that all too many universities have become nasty little propaganda camps suggests that the principles of free inquiry, of honest and open discussion and dissent, and of the old adage, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," are far more endangered than most people realize.


British government retreat on "metric martyrs"

Another victory for publicity over power-mad bureaucrats

Fruit and vegetable traders who sell their produce using imperial measures will not be prosecuted, under guidelines being drawn up by the Government. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said that it was updating advice to councils to ensure that action against so-called metric martyrs was "proportionate, consistent and in the public and consumers' interest".

John Denham, the Innovation Secretary, is expected to issue his proposals within months. They will mean that traders who insist on selling goods in pounds and ounces, despite European Union laws, will not be taken to court by local authorities. It is understood that the decision was prompted by the case of Janet Devers, 64, the East London market trader who was made to pay nearly $10,000 in costs and received a criminal record this month after a prosecution brought by Hackney council. She was found guilty of using imperial weighing scales without an official stamp and of selling vegetables for one pound a bowl rather than counting them out individually.

Mr Denham, who has responsibility for weights and measures as part of his science brief, said: "It is hard to see how it is in the public interest, or in the interests of consumers, to prosecute small traders who have committed what are essentially minor offences. I would like to see an end to this kind of prosecution, which is why I have asked for new guidance to be introduced."

Neil Herron, director of the Metric Martyrs campaign group, said that the decision was a "spectacular victory for people power" and dedicated the victory to Steven Thoburn, a greengrocer from Sunderland who died in 2004 at the age of 39 while fighting a conviction for selling bananas by the pound. Mr Herron said: "Finally we have a government minister with an ounce of common sense."

In 2001 Mr Thoburn became the first man to face prosecution for using scales that could not weigh in metric units. He was given a six-month conditional discharge but his case, along with three others, went to the Court of Appeal, where the convictions were upheld. He took his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, where it was rejected. He died of a heart attack three years later. Mr Thoburn's widow, Leigh, said: "This is absolutely fabulous news, but it is a tragedy that it had to come to this in the first place."

John Gardner, director of the British Weights and Measures Association, said that he "warmly welcomed" the guidance. He said: "The proper role of Trading Standards is to check whether customers are receiving what they pay for, not persecuting shopkeepers and stallholders whose only crime is selling apples in pounds and ounces, not grams and kilos."

Metric measurements were introduced in Britain in the 1970s. Under legislation that came into force on January 2000, all goods sold loose by weight are required to be sold in grams and kilograms. Traders can still display weights in imperial but a conversion must also be given.

A spokesman for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said: "While individual enforcement decisions are rightly a matter for Trading Standards, we are keen to encourage action that is proportionate, consistent and in the public and consumers' interest, which is why the National Weights and Measures Laboratory is updating guidance with local authority bodies for Trading Standards officers. We are reviewing the current legislative framework with a view to making it easier for everyone to understand, business to comply with and Trading Standards officers to enforce."


"Peacenik" chimps not always so nice

Leftists have often idealized Bonobos

They're sometimes called "hippie chimps"prolific lovers, inhabitants of femaleheaded societies, relatively peaceable toward their neighbors.

Except that last part isn't always true, according to a new study that puts in dent in the "makelovenotwar" image of bonobo chimps. The study's authors say they've seen several cases of wild bonobos hunting down the young of other primate species for food.

Bonobos were thought to restrict their modest meat diet to forest antelopes, squirrels, and rodents. That had put them in stark contrast to closely related species such as chimpanzees, where males often band together to hunt and kill monkeys. Humans, too, are closely related to both chimps and bonobos.

The unexpected predatory lusts found among bonobos challenge a conventional theory that male dominance and aggression must be causally linked to hunting, said Gottfried Hohmann, one of the study's authors. It's "relevant for the discussion about male dominance and bonding, aggression and hunting," added Hohmann, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. "In chimpanzees, male dominance is associated with physical violence, hunting, and meat consumption. By inference, the lack of male dominance and physical violence is often used to explain the relative absence of hunting and meat eating in bonobos."

Bonobos live only in the lowland forest south of the river Congo. Along with chimpanzees, they are humans' closest evolutionary relatives. Bonobos are perhaps best known for their promiscuity: sexual acts both within and between the sexes are a common means of greeting, resolving conflicts, or reconciling after conflicts.

Hohmann's team made its observations while studying a bonobo population living in LuiKotale, Salonga National Park in Congo. The researchers said they saw three cases of successful hunts in which bonobos captured and ate their primate prey, and two failed hunts. Both bonobo sexes seemed to play active roles the hunts, unlike the case with chimpanzees, according to the scientists.

The study appears in the Oct. 14 issue of the research journal Current Biology.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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