Friday, March 25, 2011
If the quake won't wreck it, Council will: Out-of-control bureaucracy in New Zealand
By Dr Eric Crampton, a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand
When governments grant themselves emergency powers, regardless of fine intentions, liberties are in danger. It can lead to a sad erosion of rights as people are dictated to and no longer allowed to assume their own risks.
As a result of the two earthquakes in Christchurch, and the subsequent declaration of a national emergency, the central government and Civil Defence Controller have been extraordinarily empowered by Parliament to dictate measures to repair the damage and help the city recover.
A selection from last week’s Christchurch Press:
• A restaurant owner was prohibited from recovering items from his restaurant ‘for his own good,’ only to find that soldiers guarding the cordon had been inside to grab a few chairs to sit on. The restaurant was demolished despite assurances it wouldn’t be; the owner wasn’t even notified of the demolition.
• A sound building was demolished because it was the same colour as the neighbouring building. Again, the owner wasn’t notified.
• Responsible owners left notes on the windows of their locked buildings saying the building was clear of any people. Search teams then smashed doors open without contacting the owners.
This isn’t the New Zealand to which I immigrated. The advertised New Zealand was a place where folks could muck in, sort out their own problems, and assume their own risks. People could do ridiculous things in kayaks and on mountains, but would sometimes be called on to front the bill for their rescue if they wound up doing something stupid. It’s a country where when a woman tragically died of hypothermia going through Cave Stream in the middle of winter with insufficiently warm clothes, the response was to put up a slightly bigger sign warning people to wear warm clothes in winter: ‘We can’t fence off all the mountains’ was the very sensible reply.
Civil Defence Coordinator John Hamilton, Minister of Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee, and Mayor Bob Parker are doing their best to wreck what I’ve always found best about New Zealand: folks were more or less free to pursue their vision of the good life and to bear their own risks so long as they weren’t burdening anyone else. Yes, business owners going into downtown may be assuming some risks and might wind up needing rescuing if there’s a bad aftershock. But in some cases, even where they’ve hired professionals to come in and ensure everything’s done safely, they’re still prohibited.
Fortunately, after public protest by business owners earlier in the week, the powers that be have eased up a bit on restrictions. But even on Thursday, the Christchurch Press reported that owners were being denied access to safe buildings on the cordon boundary because Civil Defence worries it ‘would make security much more difficult to enforce.’
What a way to rebuild a city.
The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 25 March. Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.
Catalogue of appalling blunders by politically-correct British police let the Night Stalker claim 500 victims
But there is no shortage of zeal in policing thought crimes, of course. And golliwog owners are cracked down on immediately
An appalling catalogue of police blunders allowed ‘Night Stalker’ Delroy Grant to carry out sex attacks on 500 elderly people in a reign of terror spanning two decades. He should have been stopped in his tracks 12 years ago, when police were given his car registration number. There were two further positive identifications in 2001 and 2003.
But ‘basic policing errors’ allowed the Jamaican-born predator to continue raping and assaulting vulnerable pensioners after stalking them and breaking into their homes at night – often cutting their telephone lines and electricity cables.
Detectives believe the 53-year-old’s tally of victims could even be as high as 1,000. Many of the elderly men and women on whom he preyed have either died or are too traumatised, ashamed or confused to come forward.
The shocking revelation that the one-time Jehovah’s Witness could be Britain’s most prolific sex attacker came yesterday as Grant faced a sentence which could see him die in prison. A judge warned him the jail term would be ‘very long indeed’ after a jury convicted him of 29 specimen charges by a 10-2 majority.
They rejected the ‘ludicrous’ assertion that his ex-wife planted his DNA at the crime scenes to ‘frame’ him for a wave of attacks which terrorised old people in south London, Kent and Surrey from the early 1990s.
One of the victims – a grey-haired woman he indecently assaulted in her home – stared at him through opera glasses from the back of Woolwich Crown Court as the verdicts were delivered.
Grant – who refuses to admit his crimes or offer any explanation – simply shook his head. In a corner of the court, a policewoman sobbed into her hand.
The massive manhunt dedicated to finding the Night Stalker was riddled with a series of errors, oversights and ‘simple misunderstandings’ which critically undermined it, a formal inquiry concluded yesterday.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the mistakes and confusion ‘had horrific consequences’. Some of the bungles proved to be catastrophic. In May 1999 an elderly woman was burgled in Bromley, Kent. A Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator told police she had seen a black man putting on gloves and walking towards the house. She gave details of his car, including the registration number.
Detectives ran a trace on it which showed it was registered to Delroy Easton Grant’s wife Jennifer at their home nearby. When the name ‘Delroy Grant’ was fed to police computer databases, it identified six people of that name. One Delroy Grant, in London, showed a burglary conviction. For a moment, it looked as if the hunt could be over. But a DNA sample taken from this man, which eliminated him from the inquiry, somehow became assigned to Delroy Easton Grant’s profile.
Although a detective did visit Delroy and Jennifer Grant’s home to check on his movements on the night of the burglary, Delroy was out – and no follow-up action was taken. Had his DNA been taken that day, he would have been identified instantly as the Night Stalker rapist.
In 2001, a BBC Crimewatch appeal prompted a call saying an e-fit picture resembled Delroy Grant. Investigations were carried out – but Delroy Easton Grant was wrongly eliminated by the 1999 DNA blunder.
In 2003, an elderly woman attacked by Grant scratched him in the struggle and got some of his DNA under her fingernails. She told police her attacker looked like one of the minicab drivers at a local firm she used. In fact Grant did work for that firm – but he was never interviewed.
He was not caught until November 2009 after his car was captured on CCTV near a crime scene in Croydon.
Commander Simon Foy, head of the Metropolitan Police homicide and serious crime command, issued an apology to victims and their families for the ‘missed opportunity’ to catch him, and for ‘the trauma suffered by all those victims and our failure to bring Grant to justice earlier’.
He added: ‘Grant is a rapist who preyed upon the most vulnerable section of society. He has never given any explanation for his offending and we may never know why he did it.’
Muslim violence a fact, not prejudice
Comment from Australia by Mark Durie, a Melbourne Anglican vicar
Those who denounce critics of Islam should allow that, like all global faiths, Islam has its detractors and a religion will be judged on what its followers say and do.
There is a debate going on about Islam. The question being asked is: Does Islam itself - not just poverty or social exclusion - provide ideological fuel for extremism and violence?
It is all too tempting to promote one-dimensional explanations of religious violence. Monash University doctoral candidate Rachel Woodlock said on this page on Wednesday that social exclusion was the root of Islamic radicalism.
On one hand, there are those who, like Woodlock, demand that critics of Islam be stigmatised as ignorant, right-wing racists. On the other hand, Islam's problems cannot be simplistically reduced to social or economic factors.
Violence in the name of Islam is well-attested in nations in which Muslims are dominant, and it is non-Muslim minorities that suffer the exclusion. It does not do to argue that religion has no relevance to such events.
In Muslim-majority Pakistan on December 3, Pakistani imam Maulana Yousuf Qureshi, in his Friday sermon, offered a $6000 bounty to anyone who would murder Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who has also been accused of "blaspheming Allah". Pakistani minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab governor Salman Taseer were subsequently assassinated because of their opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
These laws are supported by Pakistan's Islamic elites. The killer of Salman Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, was praised by religious leaders from mainstream schools of Pakistani Islam, and when he was being led to court on January 6, 400 Muslim lawyers showered him with rose petals, offering him their legal services free of charge.
There has also been a rush of recent assaults on Copts and their places of worship in Egypt, sparked by a wild tirade by a leading Egyptian cleric.
Closer to Australia, there have been well-publicised attacks on Ahmadiyah Muslims in Indonesia, including brutal murders. These were undoubtedly influenced by a theological belief that Ahmadiyah adherents are apostates from true Islam. Although prominent Indonesian leaders were quick to express abhorrence for the attacks, many Indonesian Muslims have called for Ahmadiyahs to be outlawed.
These events demonstrate the ugly effects of stigmatising minorities, and it would be deplorable to simple-mindedly extrapolate the religious views of Pakistani, Egyptian or Indonesian Muslims and apply them to Australia.
However, it is irrational to insist that any and everyone who seeks to expose the religious roots of such hatred must themselves be decried as haters.
All over the world, every religious belief is disliked by someone or other. Christianity has its prominent detractors, too, from Bertrand Russell to Richard Dawkins. A Google search for "Evils of Christianity" yields tens of thousands of hits.
Australians can be thankful for a culture of tolerance, which has been carefully nurtured over decades. Tolerance is strengthened when people are able to debate ideological issues freely - especially those which impact profoundly on human rights - without being shouted down.
Victorian Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Nettle, in his findings on the case of the Islamic Council of Victoria v Catch the Fire, pointed out that criticism - or even hatred - of a religion should not be conflated with the hatred of people who hold those beliefs. It is one thing to promote tolerance, quite another to mandate it.
Perhaps the most powerful evidence against Woodlock's thesis - that it is exclusion, and not religion, that drives some Muslims to terrorism - is the fact that across the globe the most diverse religious minorities do not resort to violence, even when persecuted.
There are no Falun Gong terrorists in China, despite all the bitter persecution. The same can be said for persecuted Christians in many nations.
Even in Australia, many ethnic and religious groups have been subjected to disadvantage and exclusion, but none have produced the level of terrorist convictions of our own home-grown Islamic radicals.
It is a bitter pill for the vast majority of Australian Muslims to swallow that their faith has been linked, globally and locally, to religious violence.
Unfortunately, this link cannot be dismissed as the product of media prejudice or "Islamophobic" propaganda. It is in part an issue of some Muslims behaving very badly, and their often strident claim is that they do this in the name of religion.
Taking such claims seriously and debating them publicly must not be equated with stigmatising law-abiding and peaceable Australian Muslims.
U.S. military indoctrinated on gays kissing, behavior: Materials offer scenarios on gays
Four branches of the military have begun sending training material to 2.2 million active and reserve troops as a prelude to opening the ranks to gays, with instructions on, for example, what to do if an officer sees two male Marines kissing in a shopping mall.
Key themes are that sexual orientation will no longer be a bar to service, that all service members must respect each other, and that the partners of gay troops will not receive the benefits of heterosexual spouses. “We are going to make [gay ban] repeal training expeditiously,” said Maj. Joel Harper, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon. “It’s great training.”
The briefings first target commanders, who will have to enforce the new law and deal with disputes, and then the entire force. The slides, vignettes and talking points by the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps are similar.
The Marine Corps, which a Pentagon survey found holds deep opposition to lifting the ban, plans to publicly release its training material April 1. A Marine source provided copies to The Washington Times.
The vignette about seeing two male Marines kissing is part of a list of scenarios to help instructors prepare commanders for incidents likely to arise. “Situation,” it begins. “You are the Executive Officer of your unit. While shopping at the local mall over the weekend, you observe two junior male Marines in appropriate civilian attire assigned to your unit kissing and hugging in the food court.
“Issue: Standards of Conduct. Is this within standards of personal and professional conduct?”
The answer to Marines: “If the observed behavior crosses acceptable boundaries as defined in the standards of conduct for your unit and the Marine Corps, then an appropriate correction should be made. Your assessment should be made without regard to sexual orientation.”
The vignettes’ talking point states that commanders cannot rule a bar off limits simply because it caters to gays. Nor can commanders bar an off-duty homosexual from marching in civilian clothes in a gay-pride parade.
A Marine recruiter may not refuse to induct a gay civilian even though he views it as violating his religious beliefs. Commanders may honor a request not to shower with known gay service members.
“Marines are expected to obey lawful orders and could be subject to discipline or adverse administrative action if they refuse orders, even if such refusal is based on strong, sincerely held, moral or religious beliefs,” the briefing states.
The briefings were dispatched to service members worldwide, including to combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan, as part of a major indoctrination program ordered by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to ensure that gays and heterosexuals will serve and fight together.
President Obama signed legislation to repeal the military’s ban on open gays. Once training is completed this summer, Mr. Gates must certify to Congress that repeal will not hurt readiness before the ban officially ends.
The Service members Legal Defense Network, which led a long effort in Washington to kill the ban, said the military is taking too long to finish the training. “By and large, the materials are on target,” said Aubrey Sarvis, the group’s executive director. “Where we take exception is with the timeline that the Army has articulated for completing training as late as August. We believe training can be wrapped up by the end of next month, especially given the fact that there will be an additional 60 days for training that may take place after certification.”
In another scenario outlined in the Marine material, a lesbian Marine approaches her platoon sergeant and states “she can no longer tolerate her heterosexual roommate.” The answer: “The Platoon Sergeant must take a very active and positive leadership approach with a focus on conflict resolution and professional obligations to uphold the policy.”
A separate training guide answers 23 frequently asked questions, such as “is consensual sodomy still a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice?” Answer: “The U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces found that private, consensual sexual activity, to include consensual sodomy, regardless of sexual orientation, is a protected liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment.”
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.