Friday, November 14, 2008

Nasty British bureaucrats lose one

Man hauled before court for letting his rubbish bin fall over and spill rubbish

A man was taken to court by a council after his wheelie bin was knocked over and rubbish spilled into the road. Gary Rostron, 34, had placed the bin outside his home before he left for work. He was astounded to receive a $120 fixed penalty notice from his local council for 'incorrectly placing his rubbish bags beside his collecting receptacle'. When he explained that the rubbish bags were originally inside his bin and that it must have been knocked over, council officials refused to believe him. Instead, at a cost of up to $10,000 to taxpayers, they took the case to court - where magistrates found him not guilty.

Today Mr Rostron, a care worker from Blackburn, blasted the authority for wasting taxpayers' cash on needless legal action. He said: 'The council told me they had evidence I had dumped the rubbish because there were three envelopes with my name and address on them in the bags found in the alleyway. 'Of course there were - it was my rubbish. I had put the bags in the bin and left them out for the binmen. They must have been knocked or pushed over after that. 'I tried to explain to the council thinking they would see reason, but they didn't want to listen.'

Mr Rostron's ordeal began in March when he left his bin out for collection in the alleyway behind his home. He was subsequently sent a $120 fine by Blackburn with Darwen Council and when he refused to pay was taken to Blackburn Magistrates' Court. He was charged with breaching section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act, but was found not guilty. Mr Rostron said: 'This is penalising people who go out to work and who cannot put their bins out minutes before the binmen come, or bring them back in the moment they are emptied. 'I was not willing to have a criminal record because of something I did not do, which is why I fought it. 'The whole thing must have wasted thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money, which would be better spent on cleaning up the streets. I'm glad I fought it and the magistrates realised I was telling the truth.'

Despite its defeat in court, Blackburn with Darwen Council insists it made the correct decision and claims the prosecution was a last resort. Alan Cottam, Conservative executive member for regeneration and environment on the coalition-led council, said: 'No one would be convicted of anything if we dropped cases when people said they were innocent. 'Evidence has to be tested in court and it is then up to the magistrates to decide.'

Labour leader Kate Hollern said: 'I think that people dumping rubbish should be taken to court but I do have sympathy with this gentleman because I have had a number of complaints about bins not being collected and then getting knocked over. 'What are residents supposed to do?'

Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 'This court case should never have been brought and taxpayers have been landed with a totally unnecessary bill. 'People don't pay their council tax for the council to squander it on over-zealous prosecutions.'


Media Have a Proposition for Calif. Churches: You're Bigots

The liberal media worked overtime against California's marriage amendment, Proposition 8, which the voters passed 52 to 48 percent. After the Nov. 4 vote, the media quickly jettisoned professional objectivity - and respect for democracy - to spin a yarn about the pain of victimhood. Now they are working to elevate angry gay protesters who are vilifying opponents and targeting churches.

As reported by CMI's Colleen Raezler, ABC, NBC and CBS aired a total of 13 news stories on Prop. 8 in the five days following the vote. Six of the stories, nearly half, emphasized the reactions of the roughly 18,000 same-sex couples whose California "marriages" have been invalidated. Only four Prop. 8 supporters made it on air, compared to 15 opponents. None of the networks could spare even 15 seconds of precious air time to explain why keeping intact the foundational institution of human society might be a good idea.

The worst example we've seen of TV reporting on Prop. 8 protests came from the local CBS station in Palm Springs, Calif. On the grounds of City Hall, furious "gay" protesters knocked a Christian cross out of an elderly woman's hands and stomped on it. The woman remained calm and collected. When reporter Kimberly Chang tried to interview her, protesters screamed and blocked the camera with their signs. Hilariously, the station identified the victimized woman as "Phyllis Burgess, Involved in Prop 8 Rally Altercation." That's like saying Poland was involved in a border altercation with Nazi Germany. In a masterpiece of moral equivalence, CBS anchor Kris Long told viewers, "There's a lot of anger and a lot of hate, quite honestly, on both sides."

Print journalists have more freedom, time and space than their broadcast colleagues, so they should have produced a more balanced account of the Prop. 8 controversy. They did, for roughly 48 hours. Initial press reports last Wednesday and Thursday included statements by Prop. 8 supporters and the vital fact that a 70-30 majority of African-American voters pushed Prop. 8 over the top. By Friday, Nov. 7, however, news reports focused on "civil rights" street theater by fuming Prop. 8 protesters. The villains of the piece, Catholics, evangelical Protestants and especially Mormons, no longer were allowed to explain their views or even to defend themselves against ugly charges of bigotry. The pivotal support of black voters quickly dropped out of the story.

Newsrooms apparently followed the lead of the editorial pages. A Nov. 6 New York Times editorial condemned "the ugly outcome of these ballot fights," referring to votes in three states - California, Florida and Arizona - to uphold one man-one woman marriage. According to the Times, "the immediate impact of Tuesday's rights-shredding exercise is to underscore the danger of allowing the ballot box to be used to take away people's fundamental rights."

In this editorial, the Times broke new ground in political philosophy. Who needs all that Founding Fathers blather about government requiring the consent of the governed when razor-thin 4-3 judicial majorities are creating new human "rights?" Maybe America needs some new rules regarding court-concocted "rights." When a court decides to override public opinion and thumb its nose at the moral order created by nature's God, shouldn't we require at least a 5-2 majority? But I digress.

The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board chimed in on Nov. 7, describing popular support for one man-one woman marriage as "discrimination and nonsense." The New York Times ran seven letters to the editor on Prop. 8 - six by opponents.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Los Angeles Times posted a story headlined "Anti-Prop. 8 protests spring up in California." A photo showed angry protesters waving signs accusing Mormons of "hatred," and proclaiming "I am a second class citizen." The Times quoted several speakers at an anti-Prop. 8 rally, including a woman who called traditional marriage supporters "bigots, bigots, bigots." Ignoring minimal standards of decency, not to mention journalist ethics, the Times gave Prop. 8 supporters no opportunity defend their honor.

A Nov. 10 AP/New York Times story, "In California, More Protests Over a Vote On Marriage," focused on 1,000 protesters gathered Sunday outside Saddleback Church, the evangelical Protestant megachurch pastored by Rick Warren. The story described protesters as "advocates of equal rights for gay people." A "volunteer" from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay pressure group, accused Saddleback of spreading "misinformation" and telling "obvious lies." The reporter didn't try very hard to allow Saddleback to respond: "A message for comment left at the church's main office, which was closed on Sunday, was not immediately returned."

A secular reporter can be forgiven for not knowing that Christian church offices are usually closed on Sundays. But shouldn't he have learned, somewhere along the line, that churches themselves are open for business? The reporter was on the Saddleback campus. If he had bothered to peek through the windows, he surely would have seen a few people milling about. Did it not occur to this intrepid soul to walk into the church and ask Pastor Warren to reply? Perhaps he was too busy bonding with those angry protesters.


The Leftist love of censorship is running amok in Australia

Internet filter to block 10,000-plus "unwanted" sites. I guess that this site will be pretty "unwanted" too

AUSTRALIA'S mandatory internet filter is being primed to block 10,000 websites as part of a blacklist of unspecified "unwanted content", Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy revealed in Federal Parliament. The 10,000 blacklisted websites would be blocked in addition to 1300 websites identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Senator Conroy revealed details of the Rudd Government's proposed web filter as he called for expressions of interest from internet service providers for a live trial of the technology. As part of the trial, ISPs will test different methods of filtering the web with subscribers who volunteer. The trial is expected to last six weeks and will start before Christmas. "The pilot will specifically test filtering against the ACMA blacklist of prohibited content, which is mostly child pornography, as well as filtering of other unwanted content," Senator Conroy told Parliament. "While the ACMA blacklist is currently around 1300 URLs, the pilot will test against this list as well as filtering for a range of URLs to around 10,000 so that the impacts on network performance of a larger blacklist can be examined."

ACMA's laboratory trial of web-filtering technology this year found filtering technology could slow internet access by as much as 87 per cent and by at least 2 per cent.

Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Colin Jacobs says live trials of ISP-based web filters would be rushed, as they were scheduled to occur as internet companies geared down for Christmas. He said large internet providers such as Telstra and Optus would find it difficult to participate, while mid-sized providers might take part in the trial simply to prove the technology "unfeasible".

Mr Jacobs said the civil liberties group was also concerned at what would be deemed "unwanted content". "It is unclear how ACMA will scale up their blacklist to 10,000 websites and what will go on the list," he said. "Conroy said the list would contain illegal and unwanted content but we still have to see what would end up on that list. "Under the current mandate that includes adult material, which would mean most material that could be rated R and, in some circumstances, material rated MA15+."

Readers of The Courier-Mail online have spoken out against the filter plan, with the majority of 191 comments posted to 11.44am yesterday revealing fears of interference from ''Big Brother.'' Britomartis of Camp Hill thundered: ''How can the government be allowed to do this? ''Block content and not tell us what it is! ''The list should be public or they should listen to the people and not go ahead with this at all!''

Johan Zetterlund of Annerley and Jason Davies of Greenslopes said the move seemed more in line with certain authoritarian, communist regimes rather than the ideals of a free nation. Paul of Carina raged: ''This is typical of a government that thinks it knows better than the people that voted them in and the arrogance of (Prime Minister Kevin) Rudd to think he should impose his morals and ideals on the population! ''This is a communist style of imposition and the dopes that voted Labor into power should wake up to themselves!'' Derek Squire of Redcliffe and Dan of Brisbane said that implementation of the policy would ensure electoral defeat for the Labor government.


Special privileges for Muslim criminals in Australia

Charges have been quietly dropped over a riot in which an out-of-control mob attacked and injured police. The policeman who laid the charges said last night he was disgusted at what had happened and he believed there was no justification for abandoning the case. Sen-Sgt Mario Benedetti, the officer in charge of Moonee Ponds police station, said he did not find out until this week about last month's decision.

He said he suspected the matter may have been dumped because those charged after the incident at Flemington one year ago were of north African descent. "That could be a factor. I wonder if that applies to youth in Sunbury or Craigieburn or Broadmeadows," he said.

Sen-Sgt Benedetti said four teenagers arrested were initially hit with charges including assaulting police, assault in company, resisting arrest and hindering police. When those charges were dropped, less serious counts, including offensive behaviour, remained; but they were also withdrawn last month.

Senior police last night did not indicate that the prosecutions were dropped because of a lack of evidence. Sen-Sgt Benedetti said the matter could not have been dropped because it would not stand up in court, as the case was "cut and dried". "It was a very strong case. The evidence is there. It wasn't circumstantial. It was corroborated," he said. Sen-Sgt Benedetti, who is on sick leave, said he had never known a case to be dropped in such circumstances. "I was never consulted, nor were any of the co-informants. I'm flabbergasted. We've been left high and dry," he said.

Violence broke out after police attempted to arrest an 18-year-old for throwing a rock. One member was assaulted and taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs, while others were abused. Supporters of the youths later claimed police had been harassing local youths.

Supt Jack Blayney said last night: "The withdrawal of these charges followed consultation with the members and youths concerned and was deemed to be the best outcome for both parties. "There are a number of pro-active projects in place at the moment which are aimed at improving relations between some youths in the Flemington area and the police, to increase social responsibility and awareness."

But Sen-Sgt Benedetti said last night he had not been approached nor, to the best of his knowledge, had the brief co-ordinator or the co-informants. At the time, police said they were surrounded after 21 officers converged on a commission housing estate on Racecourse Rd



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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