Friday, June 26, 2009

Power-mad British bureaucrats again

Thou shalt NOT show individual initiative: Gardener who spruced up council car park for free faces legal action for criminal damage. The "criminal" greenery below

A public-spirited gardener has been told she could face prosecution for criminal damage after sprucing up a neglected patch of land in a car park. Green-fingered Jayne Bailey gave the concrete island on her housing estate a makeover as the 30-year-old cobbles were coming loose and becoming a safety hazard. So she removed the stones and replaced them with flowers from her own garden and from friends, turning a crumbling eyesore into a bright display that won praise from some of her neighbours.

However, she has since been told by Cornwall County Council to rip out the flowers and replace the cobbles herself - or foot the bill for contractors to do it. 'In a letter I have been told I have 28 days to replace it or they will come out and do the work and send me the bill,' said Mrs Bailey, who is in her 50s. 'They also threatened that they would go to the police and report me for criminal damage. 'This is bureaucratic madness. The little area was showing its age and the entire thing was a crumbling mess, covered in weeds and rubbish. Some of the local children had taken to removing the cobblestones to play with because it was in such a dilapidated condition. 'It now hosts an assortment of sun-loving plants suited to that area which are all thriving.

'The centre-piece is a eucalyptus with other plants such as jasmine, buddleia and fuchsias, which were all planted on a budget and designed to fill that space over the coming years with minimal maintenance.'

Many of Mrs Bailey's neighbours in Bodmin have welcomed the new greenery. Naomi Luke said: 'It looks a lot nicer. It was disgusting before. In fact it was a hazard. Now it is somewhere everyone can enjoy and looks pretty.'

It is not Mrs Bailey's first brush with town hall bosses for showing the kind of initiative that many would see as entirely praiseworthy. Five years ago she planted an overgrown area on the estate that was being used for fly-tipping. 'They threatened me then too,' she said. 'I do not want to make a claim on the land - I just don't want it turning into a dumping ground. 'I was told to replace it then but I didn't - how do they expect me to get brambles that I cut down?'

Mrs Bailey added: 'The council is more than happy for areas to remain an eyesore but they cannot even carry out basic repairs that have been high on the residents' list for many years.'

A spokesman insisted the council backed residents who wanted to spruce up the public areas around them but added: 'This is done in partnership with ourselves to ensure appropriate plants and maintenance.' He said: 'In this particular case no agreement was sought to carry out the works. Several complaints from residents have been received concerning the planting.'

However, his comments suggest the council's approach might not be as draconian as the letter to Mrs Bailey had threatened. 'A council horticulturist has been asked to look at the suitability of the planting,' he said. [Publicity brings a backdown, as usual. The children of the light love the light and the children of the darkness love the darkness (See John 3:19-20). If they had been decent human beings, they would have started out with a polite and courteous personal approach -- but impersonal accusations and threats are so much more pleasing to the diseased bureaucratic mind]


Conviction of Gypsy family reduces crime rate in a British county to 20-year low

A county's crime rate fell to a 20-year low after a notorious criminal family was jailed, police revealed yesterday. The Johnson family was a ruthless gang of travellers who carried out countless crimes over two decades, from cash machine raids to sheet metal thefts. Their most profitable targets, however, were country mansions, from which they stole antiques and works of art worth £30million. One of their raids, in which they targeted a multi-millionaire property tycoon, is thought to be the biggest ever burglary of a private home.

Since they were jailed last year, Gloucestershire Police said the county's crime rates have plummeted to levels last seen in the 1980s. Figures show there were 44,136 recorded crimes in Gloucestershire in 2008-09, down from 45,685 in 2007-08 - a fall of 3 per cent.

This followed an even bigger decrease from 2006-07, when 52,388 crimes were recorded - the year the Johnsons committed some of their most brazen thefts. Chief Constable Dr Timothy Brain said of their arrest: 'What that operation showed is that no one is untouchable.'

The Johnsons would stake out country mansions and stately homes for weeks at a time, to pinpoint the best means of entry and escape. Their targets included the 17th-century Wiltshire mansion of property tycoon Harry Hyams, where they stole property worth £23million in a raid described as Britain's biggest burglary of a private home. In February 2006, they smashed their way inside with a 4x4 vehicle and stripped the home of one of the country's largest private collections antiques, jewellery and china in ten minutes. Mr Hyams, who has an estimated fortune of £320 million, was not at home when the raid took place.

The month after the Hyams raid, police received an anonymous tip-off which led them to a bunker in Warwickshire where the Johnsons had stored some of their booty. A third of the property taken from Mr Hyams's house was found there.

Members of the Johnson family were last year found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary between April 8, 2005 and October 13, 2006. Ricky Johnson, 54, was jailed for eight years while his two sons, Richard 'Chad' Johnson, 33, and Albi Johnson, 25, were sentenced to 11 years and nine years respectively. Ricky's nephews, Danny O'Loughlin, 32, and Michael Nicholls, 29, were jailed for 11 years and ten years.

The notoriety of the Johnsons had been cemented when a BBC film crew spent weeks on the family's caravan site for a documentary in 2005. The family made clear their contempt for the law - but insisted they were scapegoats for crime in the area. Chad said: 'Don't get me wrong, I have committed a few burglaries and pinched a few handbags, but you grow out of it, get a family and settle down. I've got no GCSEs. 'I just know street life and gipsy life - that is all I know.'

The family's other targets included Warneford Place in Wiltshire, the home of Formula One advertising tycoon Paddy McNally, an old flame of the Duchess of York. The raid netted items worth £750,000. In all, detectives investigated 116 offences of country house burglaries, cash dispenser and metal thefts.


The domestic violence myths are still going strong

“Sentence first, verdict afterwards!” Remember that memorable line from Lewis Carroll’s classic, Through the Looking Glass? And if we take a recent Department of Justice report to heart, we will soon be marching to the tune of “Accusation first, incarceration next!” Adding to the absurdity, the DoJ report was written not by a recognized university researcher, but by a former probation officer who was once indicted on charges of stealing probation fees to set up a personal slush fund.

The Department of Justice report, “Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research,” purports to pull together the research on partner abuse, a sort of handy-dandy guide for police officers, prosecutors, and judges. But the document ends up making a mockery of objective science and an impartial judiciary.

To understand where this 96-page report went wrong, you have to realize that the domestic violence industry has created a separate universe, a parallel legal system that puts on a fine show of respecting due process. But in this world the judicial outcome is virtually predetermined -- especially if the accused is a male.

As you ponder the many bloopers in this report, keep in mind the fact that all the research shows women are just as abusive as men. And men are unlikely to report the incident to law enforcement, so police reports are of questionable value.

So let’s peer through the looking-glass to find out what the Practical Implications report wants us to believe.

In the document, there is no such thing as a false allegation of abuse. So save yourself the trouble. Once an accusation of abuse is made, it’s simply a matter of meting out the proper punishment – the modern-day equivalent of “Off with her head!” Don’t look too hard for the word “alleged,” because that implies the accused person might actually be innocent.

And don’t expect the report to accurately summarize the studies, either. In some cases, the DoJ paper states the exact opposite of what the research really says. A couple examples…

The DoJ report informs us on page 11, “arrest deters repeat reabuse, whether suspects are employed or not.” But go back to the published research study and here’s what said it really says: “This research found no association between arresting the offender and an increased risk of subsequent aggression.”

In regard to restraining orders, we’re told that such orders “do not appear to significantly increase the risk of abuse” (page 59). But the study cited by the DoJ stated the opposite: “women with temporary protection orders in effect were [four times] more likely than women without protection orders to be psychologically abused.”

Other times the Justice report is flatly misleading. On page 45 the DoJ report discusses mandatory prosecution, claiming the research “suggests most prosecutors should be able to significantly increase successful prosecutions.” But the paper highlighted in the DoJ report actually found in two out of four cites, no-drop prosecution had no impact on conviction rates. Zilch, zero, nada.

At one point the DoJ paper turns positively Orwellian, lecturing us on page 15 that we need to avoid any “overrepresentation of female versus male arrests.” But remember, the whole domestic violence system is geared to accusing and incarcerating men, innocent or not, so the real problem is widescale unnecessary arrests of men.

I could highlight many other examples of bias, but I think you get the point. And what about the former probation officer?

The Practical Implications document was written by a fellow named Andrew R. Klein. According to a Boston Globe report, Mr. Klein had to resign as the probation chief in Quincy, Mass. following a state investigation into alleged misuse of funds. He was later indicted on seven counts of diverting $100,000 in probation fees to a private bank account.

But hey! That happened 10 years ago, and I’m sure it’s no reflection on Mr. Klein’s honesty and integrity.

The DoJ report is not the first time that the abuse industry has come down with a bad case of Ms.-Information. In fact the field has become so riddled with wild exaggerations and outright falsehoods that legitimate researchers such as professor Richard Gelles of the University of Pennsylvania dismiss such claims as “factoids from nowhere.”


'1984' + 60

by Jeff Jacoby

NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR OPENS with one of the most famous first lines in modern English literature -- the vaguely unnerving "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." The line it ends with is even more famous, and considerably more sinister: "He loved Big Brother."

George Orwell's brilliant, bitter novel turns 60 this month, but after all these years it has lost none of its nightmarish chill. Its hero is the decidedly unheroic Winston Smith, a weak and wistful man who lives in the totalitarian police state of Oceania, which is ruled by the Party -- personified in Big Brother, whose intimidating image is everywhere -- and in which the Thought Police ruthlessly suppress any hint of dissent. The Party enforces its will through constant surveillance, relentless propaganda, and the annihilation of anyone who rebels against its authority, even if only in private thoughts or conversation. Winston engages in such thought-crimes, first by secretly recording his hatred of Big Brother in a diary, then through a love-affair with a young woman called Julia. Eventually he is arrested, interrogated, tortured, broken.

Nineteen Eighty-Four was Orwell's warning of what unchecked state power can become -- a warning informed by the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, with their contempt for human life and conscience, their cult of personality, their unremitting cruelty and deceit. "I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe . . . that something resembling it could arrive," Orwell wrote shortly after the book was published. "I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences."

Orwell himself was a committed socialist, and he insisted that Nineteen Eighty-Four should not be taken as an attack on socialism or parties of the left. And, in truth, though the ruling ideology in the book is named Ingsoc ("English Socialism" in Oceania's fictional language of Newspeak), the Party's aims have nothing to do with collectivizing wealth, or creating a workers' paradise, or any other socialist prescription.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake," Winston is told by O'Brien, the Party official who interrogates him. "We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. . . . We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?"

Whether or not poor Winston understood, the totalitarians (and would-be totalitarians) of 1949 certainly did. Stalin's Pravda blasted Nineteen Eighty-Four for its supposed "contempt for the people," while the American Communist journal Masses and Mainstream, in a review titled "Maggot-of-the-Month," trashed it as a "diatribe against the human race" and "cynical rot." But in most of the free world it was acclaimed as an instant classic. "No other work of this generation," declared The New York Times in its review, "has made us desire freedom more earnestly or loathe tyranny with such fullness."

Even now, it is hard to think of any novel that can match Nineteen Eighty-Four in its insight into the totalitarian mindset. Orwell captured so much of it: The insatiable lust for power. The lies incessantly broadcast as truth. The assault on free thought as both sickness and crime. The corruption of language. The brazen rewriting of history. The use of technology to make privacy impossible. The repression of sexuality. Above all, the zealous crushing of individual identity and liberty. "If you want a picture of the future," O'Brien tells Winston during his interrogation and torture, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

From "Big Brother" to "Thought Police" to "unperson" to "doublethink," it is no coincidence that so many of the terms Orwell coined for Nineteen Eighty-Four -- to say nothing of the word "Orwellian" itself -- have become part of our lexicon for life without freedom. Tragically, Orwell died at 46, just seven months after Nineteen Eighty-Fourappeared, but 60 years later his great work survives, its power undiminished, its warning more urgent than ever.



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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