Owners of fat cats and obese dogs could be fined or jailed under controversial Government rules. New beefed-up codes of practice for pet owners published today state that overfeeding pets is a 'serious welfare concern' that can lead to unnecessary suffering. People who refuse to put seriously fat pets on a diet could be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act - and face a fine of up to œ20,000 or even 12 months' jail.
Environment Minster Hilary Benn said the toughened codes of practice were designed to remind pet owners of their responsibilities under the law and would protect animals from cruelty. But Tories branded the guidance 'absurd' and warned that much of the advice was patronising.
The draft document, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, gives detailed advice to dog, cat and horse owners about looking after animals - and tells them how to avoid being prosecuted for cruelty. It also tells owners to provide 'entertainment' and 'mental stimulation' for pets, make sure upstairs windows are 'cat-proofed' to stop animals falling out and to avoid taking dogs for a walk in the hottest part of the day. In addition, it points out the importance of giving animals a suitable place to live and ' somewhere to go to the toilet'.
The codes follow last year's Animal Welfare Act which introduced a legal duty on owners to ensure that pets are properly looked after. The documents will be published as leaflets after an eight-week consultation period. Although breaking the code is not an offence, courts will use it to judge whether owners have been cruel. The document on cat welfare begins with a warning: 'It is your responsibility to read the complete Code of Practice to fully understand your cat's welfare needs and what the law requires you to do.' It warns that if they are taken to court, failure to follow the code could be used against them.
The code tells owners to ensure their cats are looked after when they go away and to brush them regularly. Long-haired cats should be groomed 'at least once a day'. The code also tells owners to have a cat litter tray available inside, even if their cat has 24-hour access to a garden. Dog owners are warned not to feed their pets chocolate or raisins for health reasons and to avoid giving them medicines designed for people.
Mr Benn said the new codes of practice ensure that 'no one will be able to claim ignorance as an excuse for mistreating any animal'. But the Tories' spokesman for animal welfare, Bill Wiggin, said: 'These new codes are absurd. Defra has missed the opportunity to produce a set of sensible proposals that would protect animals from abuse and mistreatment. 'Here we have this ridiculous guide which tells people not to walk their dog in the heat of the day or feed it at the table. Defra are taking people for fools.'
Sarah Palin retrospective (and prospective)
Like most Americans, I had barely heard of Sarah Palin until August 29, 2008, when John McCain selected her as his running mate. Oh, I knew she was Governor of Alaska. And that she was stunningly beautiful. I think I knew she had five children, but certainly not that the youngest had Down's Syndrome. And I most assuredly did not know that she was one of the most dynamic and articulate conservative advocates in America today.
I guess what I'm saying is that I learned about Sarah Palin at just about the same time the mainstream media did. The difference was: I loved her for what I learned. And they hated her to the core for all that she is, has been, or now strives to become.
I'm not ashamed to admit that in the past three months, my esteem for this selfless, gracious, and courageous woman has grown with every passing day. She has withstood the slings and arrows of the outraged fortunate, and has never lost her poise. She has been flung into the jaws of the hellions and harpies, and has emerged with her core values still intact, her smile still as winning and winsome as the day she first took center stage.
And surely, it could not have been easy. If there is any fairness in the annals of time, then surely some just scribe on a distant day will record that Sarah Palin was the most ruthlessly abused vice presidential candidate in American history. She was attacked for the way she walked. She was attacked for the way she talked. She was attacked for what she said, and for what she didn't say, as well. She was attacked for her choice of a wardrobe, and then attacked for letting someone else choose it for her. She was attacked for neglecting her children, and then attacked anew for taking them with her on the adventure of a lifetime.
She was bullied by the duplicitous Charlie Gibson, who falsified her statements and then called her a liar for standing true. She was entrapped by the saccharinely Katie Couric, who lured her in for a little friendly "girl talk," then edited her comments to make her seem uninformed and ill-bred. She was cruelly mimicked by a second-rate Saturday Night Live comedian, and then spurned by the mimic when she was gracious enough to share a stage.
Yet, through it all, as those who found fault but never favor continued their brutal assault, something occurred on the American scene that is as rare as Carlyle's "well-spent life," yet as real as the rising sun. Sarah Palin captured the hearts of the American people, not by backing down, but by shining through. Time and again, as the critics pilloried her every move and predicted her imminent fall, Sarah Palin "filled the unforgiving moment with sixty seconds worth of distance run."
Within 72 hours of her being named John McCain's choice for vice president, she was thrust onto the proscenium to give her acceptance speech in front of a live audience numbering in the thousands and a viewing audience in the tens of millions. Her detractors salivated at the thought of her stumbling or mumbling, of falling flat or failing the test. But, Sarah Palin didn't fall flat; she filled the moment as few before her had ever done. She "knocked it out of the park," as the pundits were forced to admit. And the truth is, they hated her for it.
Then came her debate with a 30-year Washington fixture, who prides himself on his forensic skills and oozes unction like a snail trails slime. The mainstream media exuded all of the grizzly glee of Madame Lafarge at chopping block. Joey Plugs was going to show this bumpkin up once and for all - and she may even have to be dropped from the ticket.
But, Joey Plugs didn't show her up. With a wink and nudge she parried Joe's every thrust. And you knew she had carried the day when the media elite termed it a "draw." Yes, it was a draw - as in the moosekiller from the frozen tundra drawing and quartering Joey Plugs.
Then came Saturday Night Live, when Sarah Palin's now obsessive critics predicted she would be made a fool of by some second-tier TV cue card reader named Tina Fey. Fortunate enough to look somewhat remotely like Mrs. Palin, Ms. Fey tried to parlay that gift into a last-ditch effort to salvage a sinking career. And when Sarah Palin agreed to appear on the same stage with Tina, the critics licked their chops in anticipation of a defrenestration. But, alas, her detractors should have studied up on their Edwin Markham: "They drew a circle that shut me out/Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout/But love and I had the wit to win/We drew a circle that took them in." As Tina glowered, Sarah glowed.
So sterling was Sarah Palin's performance that SNL producer Lorne Michael was moved to say, "I watched the way she connected with people, and she's powerful. Her politics aren't my politics. But you can see that she's a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she's had a huge impact. People connect to her."
"People connect to her." And do you know why? Because Sarah Palin connects to people. Good, decent Americans of all races, creeds, and colors see in Sarah Palin something we all long to know is buried, perhaps deeply, within our souls. Lincoln called it "the better angels of our nature." And through three, long, grueling - often unspeakably cruel - months Sarah Palin's "better angels" made tens of millions of grateful Americans know in our hearts that we could all be better people.
At the end of the preface to her book, Audrey Meadows thanks Jackie Gleason for inspiring in those who shared his moment upon the stage all that any of us could ever ask: "He made us all run faster, reach higher, go further than we ever dreamed we could." For "one, brief, shining moment," so did Sarah Palin. And that's why this is a love letter that will last a lifetime. Thank you, Mrs. Palin, from the bottom of our hearts.
The marvelous writer whose work appears under his pen name Theodore Dalrymple has long argued that in statist regimes like that in the UK local authorities do little to prevent or punish real crime but use every law at their disposal to beset and harass the honest, law abiding citizens -- because it's much easier work. The end result is that the big issues of right and wrong get no attention as honest citizens are reduced to scurrying around complying with ever-increasing and ever more stupid petty regulations on their every action. Nothing illustrates his point better than this story:
More than half of town halls admit using anti-terror laws to spy on families suspected of putting their rubbish out on the wrong day. Their tactics include putting secret cameras in tin cans, on lamp posts and even in the homes of 'friendly' residents. The local authorities admitted that one of their main aims was to catch householders who put their bins out early. Many councils have been spying on residents and fining them if they put rubbish out on the wrong dayThe shocking way in which the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act -- an anti-terror law -- is being used was revealed through freedom of information requests made by the Daily Mail.
Big opponents of change on the Left
"Change": the official buzzword of Campaign 2008. Everyone seems to be for change. Barack Obama and his supporters first shouted it as a slogan, but John McCain and his backers have long since dittoed their fondness for it. The "why" is obvious: Both camps desire to connect with voters, who have long been denied the political change they so overwhelmingly favor. Yet, while political folks have learned to annunciate the word "change" and to use it correctly in many, many sentences, not quite everyone is really for it.
A question on Connecticut's ballot next Tuesday makes this painfully obvious. The question automatically appears, by constitutional mandate, on the Constitution State's ballot every 20 years. It gives voters the opportunity to call a convention where delegates can propose amendments or revisions to the state constitution.
The question amounts to, in more simple language: Should we select delegates, and have them sit down, talk about and hopefully propose some changes? I note that proposing actual changes certainly seems to be associated with the whole idea and motto of "change." So, yes indeed, Connecticut voters now consider a Yes vote. A convention to debate and write constitutional changes, changes that would then be approved or rejected by the voters, might produce the kind of reform voters desire. In instances where that is not the case, poor ideas can be rejected.
Given the alternative - the special interest-dominated legislature - those who really do want change see a convention as by far their best opportunity. Top of the reform list for Connecticut voters is a process for direct voter initiative, like neighboring Massachusetts has - as do 23 other states, including California, Florida, Maine and Ohio. That's smart, because initiative and referendum is the path to all kinds of other reforms like term limits, tax limitation, protections from eminent domain abuse, and much more. Of course, voter initiative is anathema to politicians and special interests (who don't fancy giving an inch to the general public interest) and thus it is not likely to fair so well in the state legislature.
This week, a poll conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut showed 50 percent of the state's voters have voted or plan to vote Yes on calling a constitutional convention. With 39 percent opposed, there remain 11 percent undecided. That same poll found that 65 percent of Connecticut citizens favor establishing a statewide ballot initiative process.
Meanwhile, the forces opposing change (and even its mere possibility), slapped together a million dollars to begin a barrage of TV ads to frighten voters against a possible convention.
The group formed, "Vote No - Protect Our Constitution," received a $325,000 check from the National Education Association in Washington, DC, another $315,000 was quickly kicked in by the Connecticut Education Association. The state's chapter of the American Federation of Teachers plopped down another $105,000, along with $10,000 from each of the professors' unions at the Connecticut State University system and the University of Connecticut. Other big checks rolled in from groups including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Council 4) and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.
These are some of the most powerful - if not the most powerful - political forces in the state, organizations designed to gain specific funds and particular policy benefits from government for themselves. And yet, they actually have the arrogance to suggest they are seeking to protect voters from the bad, ole "special interests." Like them.
In fact, it's the message of their campaign: Fear. Fear of ourselves and our ability to self-govern. Fear of special interests (like them) and their power to rip us off no matter what.
The "Vote No" campaign's television advertisements argue, "Question One means special interests set the agenda. Eliminate our basic rights. Ban gay marriage and abortion. Tax giveaways to corporations. Cut workers rights and benefits."
The arguments are almost too ridiculous to warrant a response. The so-called special interests urging a Yes vote had raised just $12,000 at the time the No forces approached the million-dollar mark. As John Woodcock, a former Democratic state legislator and a leader on the Yes side said, "We are being outspent 83 to 1. It's the individual vs. behemoth special interests. It's the grassroots vs. the establishment. It's David vs. Goliath."
Attack ads to the contrary, none of the freedoms recognized by the Bill of Rights is open for tinkering. Furthermore, supporters of a Yes vote, like the Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer Organizations, are most assuredly not seeking "tax giveaways to corporations."
It is true that the state supreme court's recent 4-3 ruling recognizing a right to same-sex marriage in Connecticut has mobilized the Catholic Church, The Family Institute and some religiously motivated activists to support a convention even more than before. The recent UConn poll, however, showed a majority of state voters opposed to a ban on gay marriage.
At the No website, one reads this ominous warning: "The public has no say on what the lobbyists propose to do to the constitution." But most certainly the public does. The people get to vote any proposed change up or down. This omission is, of course, essential to whipping up irrational fears of a convention.
Perhaps Connecticut's political bigwigs exclude this important fact also because they dare not mention what they most oppose: The voters having "more say." Voters get the final word on both the changes proposed by a constitutional convention and ballot issues proposed by citizens, should the convention lead to the enactment of a ballot initiative process.
Similar constitutional convention questions appear on the Hawaii and Illinois ballots this year, similarly mandated by their constitutions. And the campaigns in those two states echo the Connecticut campaign. Voters seeking initiative and referendum to check the power of politicians and special interests are also urging Yes votes on those state convention questions. And, likewise, find themselves bullied in the battle by the well-heeled insiders.
In Illinois, the company of David Axelrod, Barack Obama's campaign guru, has the $3 million contract to convince voters to say No to change. There is good change and bad change. The entrenched political insiders in every state and in Washington don't want either one . . . no matter what jingles you hear this time of year.
That's why the change we most desperately need is more citizen control of government. In Connecticut, there is a real chance for real change.
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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.