Sunday, May 10, 2009

After 400 years, health and safety bans stepladders from historic Oxford library... but nobody can reach the books

Britain's ladder phobia again

Stepladders have been banned from part of Oxford University's historic Bodleian library - because of health and safety fears. The ruling by officials means that students cannot use items on the higher shelves of the Duke Humfrey reading room. However, the university is standing its ground and refusing to move the books from their 'original historic location' on the room's balcony.

As a result of the stalemate, students have to travel to libraries as far away as London to view other copies. Art History student Kelsey Williams, 21, had to travel 80 miles to London to view a copy of Arthur Johnston's 1637 work Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum after librarians refused to get it down for her. She said: 'Access to these books is necessary for my research and I wasted a day travelling to London and looking at the one in the British Library. 'It's madness because I can practically see the Bodleian's copy every time I walk into Duke Humfrey's.'

Stepladders have been used by scholars to reach books since the library was built more than 400 years ago. But the University's Health and Safety officer put his foot down last year and they were removed two weeks ago. A notice given to students requesting the books reads: 'Unable to fetch, book kept on top shelf in gallery. Due to new health and safety measures, stepladders can no longer be used.'

Laurence Benson, the library's director of administration and finance, said: 'The balcony has a low rail and we have been instructed by the health and safety office that this increases the risk. 'As part of the process the restriction on the use of ladders on the balcony have been introduced.

'The library would prefer to keep the books in their original historic location - where they have been safely consulted for 400 years prior to the instructions from the Health and Safety office.'


Britain's useless political police again

Mother told police she feared stalker would kill her. They didn't come. That night she was murdered. Stalkers are not as dangerous as ladders apparently

A mother of three was knifed to death by a stalker just hours after she rang police begging for help, it emerged yesterday. Mary Griffiths, a 38-year- old fitness instructor, had told friends that she was concerned for her safety because of the unwanted attentions of a man. At around 6pm on Tuesday she dialled 999 saying she was being harassed and asking for help.

Police assured her they would be with her within an hour, but never showed up. She was discovered dying from stab wounds to the chest at her home in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in the early hours of Wednesday. A 40-year-old man, who sources say had a brief relationship with her, has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Yesterday the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed the matter had been referred to them. A spokesman said last night: 'The victim, Mary Griffiths, telephoned police at around 6pm on the evening prior to her death to inform them she was being harassed by a man. 'She was found seriously injured at her home early on the morning of Wednesday May 6, 2009. She was taken to West Suffolk Hospital but died there a short time later. 'Investigators will now consider the response of Suffolk police to the contact from Mary Griffiths prior to her death.'

Friends yesterday told how Miss Griffiths feared she was being stalked in the weeks leading up to her death. She had sent worried text messagesto friends, who warned her not to open the door of her £250,000 home to anyone. The three daughters from her marriage to estranged husband Jeremy, 39, were in the house at the time of the attack, but it is believed they were asleep.

A neighbour called emergency services at 2.45am after hearing screams. Armed officers were then sent to the scene.

Miss Griffiths' daughters Jessica, 13, Hannah, eight, and nineyearold Sophie were last night being cared for by their father.

Yesterday devastated family members arrived from Ireland. They were seen weeping and hugging each other outside the house. A message on flowers left by her sister Irene said: 'Don't worry, we will take care of your little princesses. I can't believe I am never going to see you again. Rest in peace sweet beautiful Mary.' Another from her brother Paul said: 'You excelled at everything you did and ended up with a beautiful family, a beautiful house and amazing friends. You'll never be forgotten little sis' by all your family. Just wish I could have been there when you needed me most of all.'

A friend, who asked not be named said: 'She was completely dedicated to her three daughters. She was devoted to them. She was an excellent mum who was there for her children and she was very caring.' Police arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of murder at a house two miles from the scene. He is currently receiving treatment in hospital. Details of his condition have not been released.

One of his neighbours said he believed the man had also been working as a fitness instructor and had only lived at the address for a few weeks. He added: 'I was woken up at about 3.30am by the sound of police arriving at the house. They got out of their cars and had their guns drawn. 'They went to the back fence and looked over to see him unconscious on the grass in the back garden. I heard them shouting out "armed police", but there was no response from him.

'Then paramedics turned up and started treating him for about 15 minutes. They put him on a drip before getting him on a stretcher and taking him to an ambulance.' The neighbour added: 'I have heard rumours that he was having a relationship with her (Miss Griffiths).'

IPCC Commissioner Len Jackson said: 'People will be understandably shocked and concerned by this vicious attack on a woman in her own home. It is important that we look carefully at how the police chose to respond to contact from Mary Griffiths prior to her death. 'We will therefore carry out a full and independent investigation into the police response.'


Liberty and Tyranny

by Mike Adams

As a child growing up in the 1970s, I was always taught that Franklin Roosevelt was a great president – largely because his New Deal policies lifted us out of the Great Depression. But my teachers never told me that Roosevelt raised the top income tax rate to 79 percent before raising it to 90 percent.

The year after the 1929 stock market crash, unemployment was less than nine percent. It would not fall below that level until our nation was involved in World War II. In fact, unemployment would peak at 24.9 percent during FDR’s first year in office. Now that unemployment is rising to levels approaching those of the early days of the Great Depression, we are in grave danger. The statist welcomes each oncoming crisis as an excuse to grow the state at the expense of individual liberty.

America’s very real economic crisis comes at a singularly inopportune time. It threatens to feed economic statism at a time when enviro-statism is on the rise. Mark Levin coined the term enviro-statism in his recent book Liberty and Tyranny. It is a term one must understand if one is to comprehend fully the statist agenda and its threat to constitutional liberty.

Those of us who lived in the 1970s recall the establishment of the EPA during the first year of that decade. Needing something to justify it existence, the EPA banned DDT in 1972. The ban was, of course, in response to Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, which argued that children were especially vulnerable to cancer – all without specific evidence that DDT was causing cancer in children.

With each passing year it is becoming more and more obvious that the ban on DDT has killed millions of children – especially in Africa – by crippling our ability to fight malaria. The home where Carson wrote Silent Spring is now a National Historical Landmark. Levin summed the situation up best when he observed, “There are no landmarks or memorials for those who suffered or perished from the banning of DDT.”

But the statist does not understand what Mark Levin is saying. The statist fails to recognize unalienable rights, which come from a Creator. To him, the creed “earth first” is more meaningful. Nor does the statist understand the concept of the trade-off. His smug arrogance allows him an unlimited confidence in his capacity to find a “solution” to a “problem.” That is why Greenpeace statists campaigned against the incandescent light bulb in India. The fact that it emits carbon dioxide was a problem. So they proposed a ban as a solution.

In their rush to impose their enviro-statist agenda on India – a nation where 600 million live without electricity – they forgot about one thing: The polluting effect of burning kerosene for light. But the statist rarely stays around long enough to determine whether his “solution” may have caused another problem.

The statist Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards of the 1970s were intended to cut gasoline use, which would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Of course, the more fuel-efficient cars have allowed drivers to pay less and, well, drive more. The statist rarely mentions that in 1970 we imported twenty percent of our oil. The “solution” did not work. Today, we import sixty percent of our oil.

And what about trade-offs? In order to meet standards imposed by Congress, we began to build smaller and lighter vehicles. The evidence indicates that thousands die annually in these smaller, lighter cars. But, remember the mantra: Earth first!

Indeed, urban planners are talking more and more about the concept of “smart growth.” The goal of these planners is to establish a closer balance with the ecosystem by forcing man into increasingly dense areas where cars are not needed. Instead, people rely on public transportation and bicycle paths. The statist may insist he is not a communist. But, clearly, he wants to bring people closer together and establish a communal existence.

What appears, at times, to be a lack of continuity in the statist’s message can best be explained by the statist’s insatiable appetite for problems, which provide opportunities for statist solutions. For example, in 1975, Newsweek ran an article called “The Cooling World.” In it, they concluded that “The central fact is that after these three-quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down.” In 2008, Newsweek ran a piece called “Global Warming Is a Cause of This Year’s Extreme Weather.”

But the statist is not merely satisfied with monitoring the weather affecting everyone who ventures out-of-doors. In California, statists are currently considering “programmable communicating thermostats” for all new homes in the Golden State. These devices will allow power authorities to set air conditioning and heat levels in private homes in accordance with what they deem to be the public good.

Don’t think for a moment that the statist will fail in his attempt to control every inch of our private property in search of “solutions” to environmental “problems.” The federal government has already (in 1992) outlawed the 3.5-gallon toilet and replaced it with the 1.6-gallon toilet. A government that can control the inner workings of a bathroom is, indeed, a statist’s dream. But we will flush these and other issues out in a third, and final, installment tomorrow.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of Liberty and Tyranny, by Mark Levin.


"Empathy" Versus Law

by Thomas Sowell

There is a reason why the statue of Justice wears a blindfold. There are things that courts are not supposed to see or recognize when making their decisions-- the race you belong to, whether you are rich or poor, and other personal things that could bias decisions by judges and juries. It is an ideal that a society strives for, even if particular judges or juries fall short of that ideal. Now, however, President Barack Obama has repudiated that ideal itself by saying that he wants to appoint judges with "empathy" for particular groups.

This was not an isolated slip of the tongue. Barack Obama said the same thing during last year's election campaign. Moreover, it is completely consistent with his behavior and associations over a period of years-- and inconsistent with fundamental principles of American government and society.

Nor is this President Obama's only attempt to remake American society. Barack Obama's vision of America is one in which a President of the United States can fire the head of General Motors, tell banks how to bank, control the medical system and take charge of all sorts of other activities for which neither he nor other politicians have any expertise or experience.

The Constitution of the United States gives no president, nor the entire federal government, the authority to do such things. But spending trillions of dollars to bail out all sorts of companies buys the power to tell them how to operate.

Appointing judges to the federal courts-- including the Supreme Court-- who believe in expanding the powers of the federal government to make arbitrary decisions, choosing who will be winners and losers in the economy and in the society, is perfectly consistent with a vision of the world where self-confident and self-righteous elites rule according to their own notions, instead of merely governing under the restraints of the Constitution.

If all this can be washed down with pious talk about "empathy," so much the better for those who want to remake America. Now that the Obama administration has a Congressional majority that is virtually unstoppable, and a media that is wholly uncritical, the chances of preventing the president from putting someone on the Supreme Court who shares his desire to turn America into a different country are slim or none.

The only thing on the side of those who understand this, and who oppose it, is time. Reshaping the Supreme Court cannot be done overnight, the way Congress passed a vast spending bill in two days.

Replacing Supreme Court justices is something that can only be done one at a time and at unpredictable intervals. What this means is that Senators who do not have enough votes to stop an Obama nominee for the High Court from being confirmed nevertheless have an opportunity- and a duty-- to alert the public to the dangers of what is being done.

This does not mean turning confirmation hearings into a circus or a kangaroo court with mud-slinging at judicial nominees, the way Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas were smeared. But it also does not mean taking the path of least resistance by quietly voting for people like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer, who treat the Constitution as a grant of arbitrary power to themselves, rather than a restriction of power on the government as a whole.

It is all too easy to say "a president has a right to appoint the kind of people he wants on the Supreme Court." He does. But that does not mean that those who don't have the votes to stop dangerous nominees from being confirmed are obliged to vote for them or to stand mute.

Since Justice David Souter is likely to be replaced by another liberal, it is all too easy to say that it is no big deal. But with all the indications already as to how the Obama administration is trying to remake America on many fronts, the time to begin alerting the public to the dangers is now.

Given the age and health of other Supreme Court justices, more replacements are likely during Obama's time in the White House. Time is an opportunity to mobilize public opinion and perhaps change the composition of the Senate that confirms judicial nominees.

But time by itself does nothing. It is what we do with time that matters.



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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