Thursday, March 12, 2009

Insane British bureaucrats: It's too wet for swimming when it rains!

They are tinpot Hitlers who just like harassing people

For those hardy souls who enjoy an outdoor dip, a little extra water seems unlikely to be a major deterrent. But the threat of a spot of rain - when combined with the implacable nature of 'elf and safety regulations - look like succeeding where the cold and the wind have failed. Swimmers at one outdoor pool have been warned they may be banned from taking a dip whenever the heavens open.

The bizarre measure came to light at the popular London Fields Lido in Hackney, East London, during a brief burst of rain. Customers arriving at the baths were advised to wait outside while the downpour was monitored. Eventually the rain eased and the swimmers were allowed to go about their exercise. Staff at the Olympic- sized pool informed them that rain could cloud the water and make it difficult for lifeguards to see the bottom. One swimmer said: 'It was difficult to believe that what I was hearing was serious. The idea that it could be too wet to swim seems almost incredible, but that was what they were actually saying.'

Hackney Council, which runs the Lido, said swimmers would be warned at the earliest opportunity about possible rain-related closures. A spokesman said: 'In exceptional circumstances the pool may be required to be closed in order to protect users' safety. 'For example, exceptionally heavy rain or foggy conditions can distort the clarity of the water, restricting lifeguards' visibility and their ability to keep swimmers safe.'

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer said: 'This rule is ridiculous and the ultimate example of risk avoidance. 'If we continue down this mad path of mindless health and safety rules it will get even worse. There's no common sense and this is just a continuation of the growing nanny state that prevents people from doing more and more things.'

A raft of contentious health and safety rules have been introduced at swimming pools during recent years. Many now insist that anyone taking more than two children under eight for a swim must be accompanied by at least another adult. It means that a parent of three young children is not allowed to take his or her family swimming.

Meanwhile, managers at the Crystal Palace National Sport Centre in South London barred the public from swimming in half of the pool's eight lanes amid fears lifeguards may not be able to see them properly. The rule was introduced despite senior staff reporting they had never experienced that kind of problem.

And retired civil servant Alan Treece, 64, was ordered out of Erith Sports Centre in Bromley, Kent, in 2006 for breaching health and safety rules by diving into the pool. Guidelines required swimmers to gently lower themselves in instead.


New battle for Britain

Warning to tourists - it is now illegal to take a photo of a London bobby (policeman). The time-honored tradition of tourists having their pictures taken with London cops is being dealt a silly death blow by those who control the British nanny-state. The British are not only losing their economic prosperity, but their civil liberties as well.

Will Britain again become the "sick man of Europe"? A quarter-century ago, Margaret Thatcher led Britain out of an economic wilderness and enabled it to have the fastest-growing economy among the four big countries in the European Union. Today, however, under Gordon Brown's Labor government, Britain is rapidly rushing backward with pre-Thatcherite economic policies. Taxes are being raised, government spending is soaring, and deficits, as in the United States and most other countries, are projected to reach record levels. Despite the Thatcher reforms, government spending was only reduced to about 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) while the United States was able to keep government spending at about one-third of GDP for the last quarter-century.

The British public sector is almost certain to grow to about 48 percent of GDP, while the U.S. government spending will grow to the old British level of 40 percent of GDP. The large countries within the EU that had government sectors approaching 50 percent of GDP (i.e., France, Germany and Italy) grew at about half the rate of the United States over the last 25 years, with Britain falling in between. Thus it is reasonable to expect British growth to fall to the anemic levels of the other big EU countries and the United States. to drop to the old British levels.

Britain had the first big bank to fail - Northern Rock - as a result of the global financial crisis. The government nationalized not only Northern Rock, but now has also effectively done so with its recent takeover of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The London property price bubble has burst, and, as in the United States, many people are no longer making their mortgage payments.

As the government attempts to prop up the banks and other affected industries, while expanding the social safety net, deficits will soar. The British will add more than $1 trillion in new debt in the next few years, while its economy is less than one-sixth that of the United States.

As a result, public sector debt will rise from the current relatively prudent 40 percent of GDP to well more than 100 percent in the next couple of years. Britain has relied on foreigners to buy much of its debt, but this is unlikely to continue as many countries increase their own debt issuance severalfold.

As a result, interest rates will rise, greatly increasing debt service costs. This, in turn, will put further pressure on the pound, making foreign investment in Britain even less attractive. The U.K. economic establishment is all worried about deflation while it should be worried about the potential for a high rate of inflation from all the new deficit spending.

Civil libertarians on both the left and right are increasingly concerned that Britain is drifting toward becoming a police state. The government has been trying to obtain the right to detain anyone up to 42 days without bringing charges, which would severely undermine the centuries' old right of habeas corpus. Police monitoring cameras in London are more pervasive than in any other city in the world. Public demonstrations near Parliament and other government buildings are restricted more and more. British libel laws are much more restrictive than those in the United States and have effectively make it increasingly difficult to charge public officials with wrongdoing.

The British are also feeling increasingly oppressed by the surge in growth of regulations by both their own government and that of the EU. The cost of regulation has soared by 74 percent in just the last three years. Worse yet, the number of laws and rules the British are now subject to has grown by two and a half times in the last 10 years.

For good reason, the British are increasingly feeling less free, as the politicians in Brussels and Westminster raid their pocketbooks and strip them of their independence. As in the 1940 Battle of Britain, the current struggle to keep Britain both free from control by Europe and from its own bureaucratic class depends on the courage of the young men and women of those fair isles to stand and fight for liberty.


Muslim protest arrests over British Army homecoming

Two people were arrested after a protest against the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment as they paraded through Luton yesterday. The Prime Minister said in a statement: "The whole country is proud of our brave servicemen and women who serve their country with great distinction and courage. "That pride in our Armed Forces was shown once again today when thousands turned out to welcome the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment. It is therefore disappointing that a tiny minority tried, but ultimately failed, to disrupt today's event."

The battalion were returning from their second six-month tour in Iraq in two years. The mainly Muslim protesters held cards with slogans including "Anglian Soldiers: Butchers of Basra" and "Anglian Soldiers: cowards, killers, extremists". Protesters accused the soldiers of "gloating" about "killing innocent women and children". Crowds began a counter-demonstration and two people were arrested.

Shahid Malik, the Justice Minister, said that "all decent people, irrespective of religion, will be sickened by the antics of this group of extremists".


EU Gestapo defeated in EU court

"Gestapo" is short for "Geheime Staatspolizei" or "Secret State police". And it was precisely official secrecy that was used oppressively but eventually defeated in this case

A tennis player today won his case at the European Court of Justice against airport security staff who believed that his racquets posed a terrorist threat and threw him off a flight. Judges ruled that the unpublished European Union register of hand luggage restrictions could not be enforced because passengers had no way of knowing exactly what was prohibited. The EU list shows that racquets are not specifically banned from the cabin. However, it contains a catch-all prohibition on "any blunt instrument capable of causing injury". An over-eager airport official might still argue that racquets fall into that category.

BAA tonight advised tennis travellers at British airports to play safe and store their racquets in the hold. A spokesman said that even if they escaped a ban as a terrorist weapon, they would most likely exceed the size limits for cabin baggage.

The case was brought by Gottfried Heinrich, Austrian tennis enthusiast. On his way to a tournament he was thrown off a flight at Vienna airport in 2005, having already cleared general security screening. It highlighted what one legal adviser called the "fundamental absurdity" of European anti-terror regulations from 2003 that outlawed a range of possible weapons from the aircraft cabin - but were not made public for security reasons. The EU eventually published the secret list last summer, finally explaining why passengers had found that skateboards, golf clubs and fishing roads were not allowed in the cabin.

Mr Heinrich was so angry that he brought a compensation case against the Austrian authorities for failing to inform him that he was carrying banned items. The Austrian court felt that the matter was of such great importance to all airline passengers in the EU that it referred it up to the ECJ in Luxembourg. After winning his case today, Mr Heinrich is now able to pursue his compensation case at the court in Austria.

Ignasi Guardans, a Spanish MEP who campaigned on behalf of Mr Heinrich, said: "It was utterly illogical to produce a list of banned objects from cabin baggage yet not tell anyone what they were."

A spokesman for BAA said: "Our view is that tennis rackets will clearly contravene the hand baggage size regulations of 56x45x25cm, and therefore we would definitely recommend to passengers that these are placed in their hold luggage. Even if they were smaller than that, it is worth noting that the regulations prohibit "sporting bats, cues and darts" from being taken aboard."

Sarah Ludford, a Liberal Democrat MEP, said: "This categorical judgement is a victory for democracy and openness, and a slap in the face of the European Commission and EU governments who thought Kafkaesque methods acceptable. "The Court has now agreed with our protest that it cannot be right for 500 million EU citizens to be told to obey laws they cannot read for themselves."



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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