Saturday, December 19, 2009
Australian local council avoids naughty word: "Christmas"
Sunshine Coast Council has defended its decision to exclude the word "Christmas" from its 2009 corporate Christmas cards. Mailed and emailed cards wish their recipients "seasons greetings" and "all the best for the festive season and the New Year", but no reference to Christmas.
Defending its generic message, council initially said it had no policy to remove Christmas but was "mindful of people’s different backgrounds and beliefs". A further statement added: "Council’s vision is to be Australia’s most sustainable region vibrant, green, diverse. With diversity of belief and cultural background in mind council seeks to promote goodwill and peace during the festive season."
Noosa Christian Outreach Centre pastor Michael Clift said he was baffled as to why council would choose not to acknowledge the very season that provided the reason for it to mail cards. "I’d also then ask why they are sponsoring our Christmas carols concert?" Pastor Clift said. "Dear me, at the end of the day why sponsor that event as they do every year when we will be giving Christmas one heck of a belting?"
He said anyone offended by use of the word Christmas should not take a holiday on December 25. "Rock up to work on Friday the 25th and, for goodness sake, don’t have the following Monday off as that would really be hypocritical," he said.
"If the ethos is to avoid offending people then they’ve already done it. "I’m offended they’ve not had the courage to encourage Christmas."
Noosa District Catholic Parish Father Mark Franklin was similarly perplexed. "It sounds a little crazy if you ask me," he said. "I cannot see the sense in sending cards to wish people a happy or merry anything unless it is about Christmas, seeing that is why we have a holiday. "I know that lots of people from our church would find this strange."
Rev Scott Ballment of Tewantin and Sunrise Beach Uniting Churches said it was a shame Council had taken the stance it had, but he added that it would not stop his congregation celebrating Christmas. "It does seem strange that if you’re sending out Christmas cards to only use season’s greetings," he said. "It’s certainly somewhat odd. It’s a shame they’ve removed it but we will still be celebrating in full force."
A former Noosa Council staffer told The Noosa Journal the old council had no policy against use of the word Christmas and had used the word on cards in previous years.
University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in public relations Dr Amalia Matheson said companies and councils ran the risk of being "bland" in their corporate messages in a bid to try to please all sections of the community with their choice of words. "At least they have not gone for the American `happy holidays’," she said.
British Health and safety killjoys remove village Christmas tree... "in case it distracts motorists"
Highway officials have been branded festive killjoys today after removing a village Christmas tree because it could distract passing motorists. The 8ft tree, which was covered with decorations, had been placed in the middle of a drab roundabout by residents in Dobwalls, Cornwall. But officers from the Highways Agency moved in overnight and took the fir down claiming it was an 'unauthorised item'. They said they had taken the tree away over health and safety fears.
Initially, residents thought that their new tree, complete with baubels and tinsel, had been stolen, but the agency confirmed it had taken it away to a depot. Sylvia Crome, who helped erect the tree, branded the agency 'Scrooges'. She said: 'It's Christmas and with all the terrible things happening in the world they have to do something like this.
'A Highways Agency van drove past us when we were putting it up and they took it away in the dead of night two days later - they didn't even tell us. 'I think they are being quite petty, they have no Christmas spirit. 'I think it's absolutely pathetic, I really don't believe it.'
Peter Scott, 56, who runs Heads or Tales newsagents, added: 'We thought we'd try to brighten up the roundabout for Christmas and put up the tree, complete with baubles and tinsel. 'We tried to make an effort to brighten things up. It is just unbelievable it has happened - the tree was doing no harm to anyone and certainly wasn't any sort of risk.'
He added that the 8ft Norwegian Spruce, which was donated by a farmer, was wedged securely two feet into the ground and that all the decorations were tied on with cable ties. He said: 'We were very careful not to put anything in there that wasn't securely attached and we didn't want anything that was a hazard in any way. 'The tree itself was two feet in the ground and was wedged into the ground. The wedges were driven in with a sledgehammer.' Robert Newton, chairman of the parish council, said: 'It's supposed to be the season of goodwill - where is theirs?'
The tree was put up on Sunday night by villagers, but had disappeared by 6am yesterday morning. A Highways Agency spokesman said the tree could be a danger to road users. He said: 'Our policy is to ensure the safety of road users by removing any unauthorised items placed on our roundabouts or roads. 'Anything that causes a distraction or impairs visibility presents a real danger to motorists on high speed roads.
'The tree has been taken to a nearby depot, where it can be collected by the owner. 'Alternatively, if the owner wishes, we can arrange to have the tree taken to a suitable site, where it can be enjoyed safely by the local community.'
Investigate EVERY crime report, British police are ordered in new crackdown on 'no crime' scandal
A political force to become a real police force? This is going to cut into the time they have for their more favoured pursuits -- such as harassing photographers and Christians
Police are to be forced to investigate all crimes reported by the public. Tough new rules will end the scandal of officers writing off thousands of assaults and thefts under the heading 'no crime'. This happens when police dismiss a person's report of an offence without making even cursory inquiries, in effect deciding the victim is either wrong or lying.
There was an outcry when it emerged in October that up to 6,000 cases of serious violence had been wrongly 'no crimed' - denying victims the chance of anyone being punished. They included a woman left battered and bruised after her partner slapped her, grabbed her by the neck and threw her on the floor, and a man who needed six stitches in a head wound after a street attack.
One force - Devon and Cornwall - admitted that an internal audit had found 40 per cent of violent incidents marked 'no crime' should not have been. Overall, it is estimated that around 200,000 complaints are 'no crimed' each year.
Now ministers have ruled that, in future, crime reports can not be written off unless there is hard proof the offence did not take place. This could include CCTV footage showing that it could not have happened - for example film of a drunk falling before claiming he had been assaulted. Home Secretary Alan Johnson said in a statement that 'no crime' rulings must have 'hard' evidence such as CCTV footage. 'Soft' evidence, like an officer's belief that the complainant was lying, was not enough.
The ruling will delight campaign groups, who say victims have for too long been ignored by the police and Government. But police are concerned it will burden them with even more bureaucracy, and that time which could be spent on patrol will be spent trawling through CCTV footage.
Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, said: 'We are going to end up investigating every incident to prove no crime has happened. 'We need to trust the officer's discretion. All we are doing is making the process more bureaucratic.'
Critics questioned the timing of the Government's announcement, which follows a blistering report on 'no criming' by Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary. It is likely to lead to a rise in crime figures as cases which were previously written-off are included in official statistics. But this will not happen until after a General Election.
The ruling will also do nothing to end the separate police practice of 'screening out'. This happens when officers accept a crime has taken place, but decide there is little or no chance of securing a prosecution. As a result, they do not bother to carry out a full investigation. Last year, police chose not to investigate 1.5million reported crimes under this system including sex attacks, robberies, drug use, fraud and thefts.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'This Government's reputation over its use of crime figures is so shot to pieces that frankly most people will think that Labour Ministers are engaged in yet another attempt to massage figures.'
A spokesman for Victim Support said: 'We are glad the government is taking this issue seriously, because if victims feel their experience of crime is being dismissed that risks adding insult to injury. 'But as well as making sure crimes are recorded properly, the police need to do more to promote the help available to victims and witnesses.'
You're not worthy: Council snubs move to honour British Army's most decorated regiment
The usual Leftist hatred of the military
They have fought bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan and count Victoria Cross hero Johnson Beharry among their number. But the troops of the most decorated regiment in the British Army are the victim of an extraordinary snub by a council in Surrey, which says they are not 'appropriate' recipients of a public honour.
More than 2,000 people in Epsom have signed a petition to hand the freedom of the borough to the soldiers of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, which has won 57 Victoria Crosses in its 350-year history.
But a furious row has erupted after Liberal Democrats and independent councillors united to block the move - which would not cost taxpayers a penny - because the regiment, based in nearby Guildford, is 'not local enough'.
The regiment said it would be a 'huge honour' to have the freedom of the borough and march through the streets of the town when they come home from fighting the Taliban. More than 30 other councils have bestowed the same honour on the regiment, including Tunbridge Wells in Kent, 50 miles away.
Guest of honour at a homecoming parade in Tunbridge Wells was Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who won the Victoria Cross in 2004 for saving 30 colleagues by guiding them through an ambush in Iraq.
The Epsom and Ewell council committee that voted to snub the soldiers last conferred the freedom of the borough on their own retiring chief executive, while other previous recipients include a man who ran Epsom buses, the wife of a leading trade unionist, and two local businessmen.
Critics said the objection was rooted in political prejudice, because the move was proposed by a Tory councillor, and bureaucracy. On Tuesday night the council agreed to hold a special meeting to make a final ruling in the coming weeks but it will not be open to the public, and councillors are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea. Jean Steer of the Residents Association council group conceded that the regiment regularly signs up recruits from Epsom but said that granting them the freedom of the borough would be 'inappropriate'. 'It would be a nice thing to do but it's a high honour,' she said. 'I would love to see them marching through the borough but I don't think they should be given the honour. It has to be appropriate.'
Sean Sullivan, the Tory councillor who is pressing to honour the troops, said: 'The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment contains what used to be the East Surrey regiment. This is a local regiment. 'It would be wrong and downright offensive to refuse to honour this regiment.'
Three soldiers in the PWRR were killed during the Iraq War, including Private Lee O'Callaghan, 20, of London, who was killed in Basra during an attack by insurgents in 2004. Last night his mother Shirley said: 'To refuse them this honour seems so petty and shows a lack of gratitude for what they are doing.'
The PWRR, also known as 'The Tigers', has a long and illustrious history in Britain's Armed forces. It has been involved in virtually every theatre of war since The Battle of Tangier in 1662. For recent service in Iraq soldiers have also been awarded three Conspicuous Gallantry Cross medals, two Distinguished Service Orders and 16 Military Crosses.
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.
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