Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shame as British Navy seizes 17 armed Somalis, gives them halal meat and nicotine patches... then sets them free!

Walking the plank was once a guarantee of preventing future offending by pirates. Why not now?

When a Royal Navy warship captured a crew of Somali pirates, it seemed like a rare chance to strike back at the ruthless sea gangsters. The 17 outlaws were armed with an arsenal of AK 47s and rocket-propelled grenades, and had forced hostages on a hijacked fishing vessel to work as slaves for three months.

But instead of bringing them to justice, the British servicemen were ordered to provide the pirates halal meals, medical checks, cigarettes – and in one case even a nicotine patch – before releasing them in their own boats.

The extraordinary treatment – revealed in a Radio 4 documentary to be broadcast tonight – came at a time when Somali piracy is causing mayhem to shipping in the Indian Ocean. More than £60million was paid in ransoms last year and pirates currently hold 30 ships and nearly 800 hostages.

HMS Cornwall is one of two Royal Navy frigates patrolling two and a half million square miles of ocean to try to capture pirate ships.

The apparent breakthrough came in February when the captain of a merchant ship crossing the ocean radioed to say he had seen something suspicious. A helicopter was scrambled and spotted a Yemeni fishing vessel which had been hijacked by pirates and was being used as their ‘mother ship’ to attack other vessels.

Armed Royal Marines launched boats and swooped on the pirates, who were found with nine AK 47s plus rocket-propelled grenade launchers and boarding ladders. The five slave crew from the fishing vessel were released and the 17 pirates initially detained on board the warship.

Commander David Wilkinson, Cornwall’s captain, said: ‘This team admitted their intention was to commit piracy activities.’ But after compiling the evidence against them and submitting it to his superiors he was ordered to ‘set up arrangements for putting them ashore in Somalia’.

Before being freed, the pirates were given a medical check-up in accordance with UK law and food which included a halal option to take into account religious needs. After showing they were compliant, some were given cigarettes, and one was given a nicotine patch on medical advice because his tobacco withdrawal had caused his heart rate to soar.

Close to shore, the British servicemen set them free in two skiffs which they had earlier seized from the gangsters – with no food and just enough fuel to get them to land.

As they stepped off the warship, Commander Wilkinson told the head of the pirate gang: ‘If you are a leader, go back and lead for good. ‘If you are going to carry on in this trade, expect to find me and my colleagues waiting for you. And if I see you again, it’s not going to go well.’

Commander Wilkinson added that he believed the order to free the pirates was the ‘right decision’ because he was not convinced bringing them back to the UK would have been a deterrent. He also said he was unconvinced that they had enough evidence to convict the pirates – even though they were heavily armed, were carrying hostages and had confessed.

The decision to release the pirates was made by the UK’s Maritime Component Commander based in Bahrain after considering UK policy and law.

Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham said the Government is reviewing the ‘catch and release’ approach to piracy. ‘It is not going to happen in the future unless there isn’t any other alternative.’


British "safety" measures make racecourse more dangerous

Measures pushed by animal rights people in order to make it safer for horses are actually killing them -- and hurting riders too

A jockey was clinging to life in a coma last night as a champion trainer accused ‘do-gooders’ of making horse racing more deadly. Red Rum’s trainer, Ginger McCain, said safety measures at the Grand National had made it faster and more dangerous.

Two horses died in Saturday’s National and jockey Peter Toole suffered horrific injuries in a fall during an earlier race at Aintree. A third horse, Inventor, was destroyed after breaking its leg in a race on Thursday.

The incidents prompted condemnation from animal rights organisations, which called for the National to be banned or made safer.

But Mr McCain said safety measures, including reducing ‘drops’ on the landing side of fences, had inadvertently made it more dangerous. The veteran trainer, who won three times with Red Rum, said: ‘It’s getting quicker and it’s speed that does it… They’ve taken the drops out for the do-gooders and it has encouraged the horses to go quicker. It is speed that kills.’

Winner Ballabriggs – trained by Mr McCain’s son Donald – completed the race in the second-fastest time ever but his jockey was handed a five-day ban for excessive use of the whip. Donald McCain said: ‘It’s unfortunate that accidents and injuries happen. ‘Every horse deserves his chance to be a great horse. There is no great joy for a horse being stuck in a field. If it does not want to jump at Aintree, he won’t jump. ‘They have done everything they can to be the safest race it can be.’

An estimated worldwide audience of 600 million viewers saw his triumph, but many watched in horror as two horses, Ornais and Dooneys Gate, died on the Grand National course.

Two hours earlier, 22-year-old jockey Mr Toole suffered serious injuries in a fall during the Maghull Novices’ Chase. His horse, the 100-1 outsider Classic Fly, fell at the first fence of the race, which is not run over the Grand National jumps. Video appeared to show another horse kicking Mr Toole’s head.

He was taken to hospital and later transferred to the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Liverpool, amid fears he could have suffered brain damage. Doctors put him into a medically induced coma as they battled to treat bleeding on the right side of his brain and are expected to keep him in it until today at the earliest.

The Grand National is billed as the ‘ultimate test’ of horse and jockey, but critics said the treatment of horses amounted to animal cruelty. Forty horses started the race this year but only 19 completed it. The League Against Cruel Sports branded the Grand National ‘ritualised animal cruelty’ and called for a boycott of racing’s ‘day of shame’.

Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler said: ‘The public has been conned into believing the Grand National is a great sporting spectacle when, in reality, it is animal abuse that is on a par with Spanish bullfighting.’

Aintree’s managing director Julian Thick said: ‘Safety is the first priority. We are desperately sad at the accidents and our thoughts go out to the connections of Ornais and Dooneys Gate.’

RSPCA equine consultant David Muir said the charity could not stop deaths, despite working with Aintree to improve safety.


'Non jobs' gravy train rolls on for British councils

Councils have recruited an army of climate change workers, equality officers, communications staff and other "non jobs", while cutting front line services

The first survey of local authorities since the coalition came to power last May has found that town halls created more than 4,000 new posts during the period.

Despite the public sector being told to make sweeping cuts, councils have advertised for posts such as "woodfuel development officer", "new media staff" and "healthy workplace coordinators".

Last night Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, said the appointments were "self indulgent" and "irresponsible".

The findings come as councils are under unprecedented financial pressure and try to cut costs by increasing charges, cutting basic services and closing facilities such as libraries.

Mr Pickles accused some authorities of making "politically-motivated" cuts, ahead of next month's local elections, by blaming the Tory-led coalition for cuts to services on which the public rely, while protecting "pet projects" and bloated bureaucracies.

The research show that in total, 205 councils have created a total of 4,148 new posts since May 1 last year.

Most have reduced their overall staffing levels during the period but the study found that while doing so, many have continued to create brand new roles for "communications officers", "equality officers" and "climate change staff".

Councils have also recruited dozens of workers to enhance the "wellbeing" of staff and "customers", as well as "life skills" experts, who teach members of the public basic tasks such as ironing.

The figures also reveal a boom in such jobs as "walking coordinators", "obesity strategy officers", and "active" workers, whose job is to encourage the public to pursue more healthy lifestyles.

* At Anglesey, where no party is in overall control, 48 council jobs and 16 teachers are to be cut, the authority has created new posts for an "age friendly communities" manager – to make the island a better place to live for older residents – a walking and cycling officer, a "community conservation" officer – to run "green gym" schemes, where people are encouraged to create community gardens and plant trees – and an "Energy Island" programme office administrator, to promote renewable energy. The council insisted the roles would benefit Anglesey economically.

* In Hastings, the Labour-run council has put up parking charges, shut down public lavatories, reduced maintenance of allotments, cut the budget for lifeguards and closed the local museum one day a week, and is planning job cuts. But it has also created 25 new jobs including three "active women officers" whose job is to get local women involved in netball, athletics, cycling, badminton, rounders, tennis, table tennis or swimming. A spokesman justified these posts saying they could help to reduce costs to the taxpayer by increasing fitness levels.

One post, created by Tory-run Charnwood council – where charges for using public lavatories have been introduced and job cuts planned – is for a member of staff to encourage asylum seekers and ethnic minorities to get involved in nature conservation projects. It is partly funded with Lottery money

Mr Pickles said: "The public will be very unimpressed to see some pet project put together when front line services are being chopped.

"These recruitment decisions are made at a local level and it is up to local people to let their council know exactly how they feel about what can only be described as irresponsible, short-sighted appointments.

"There are people on the front line who will be losing their jobs because of the self-aggrandisement and self indulgence of these appointments." He added: "It is pretty clear that a number of Labour-run authorities are cutting front line services and blaming the Tories, but I think people are rumbling them.

"Councils should be grown up and take responsibility rather than expecting everything to be decided for them at the centre. We gave the clearest indication that there would be significant reductions in public expenditure.

"They have ignored that advice and will be delivering – because of these non-jobs – a worse service to the public.

"Sensible and prudent councils could see that cuts were on the way and prepared for them by not recruiting. All these other councils have done is make their situation worse. They have cut off their flexibility."

Some councils responded to the survey to say they had not created any new posts, while others said they were unable to provide the information.

Some of the new jobs are part funded by other public bodies, such as NHS Trusts or Natural England.

Councils argue that some of the posts are created by reorganising their structures, that others are to cover for maternity leave and that some of them are in schools.

John Ransford, chief executive of the Local Government Association, said: "Far from being a bloated bureaucracy, the local government workforce is being reduced by 140,000 over the next year as councils cut their cloth to prioritise frontline services.

"Many local authorities are restructuring their entire operations to cut management costs, and if some new posts are created it must be seen in the context of the overall numbers of staff being reduced.

"Councils are responsible for providing 800 different services, and many of the posts often denigrated as 'non-jobs' reflect a lack of understanding about the complex nature of the vital work local authorities do."


Governmental arrogance

A dialectic of judicial deference and political arrogance is on display in St. Louis. When excessively deferential courts permit governmental arrogance, additional arrogance results as government explores the limits of judicial deference. As Jim Roos knows.

He formed a nonprofit housing and community development corporation that provides residences for low-income people. Several times its properties have been seized by the city government, using "blight" as an excuse for transferring property to developers who can pay more taxes to the seizing government.

The U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo decision legitimized this. It permits governments to cite "blight" -- a notoriously elastic concept, sometimes denoting nothing more than chipped paint or cracked sidewalks -- to justify seizing property for the "public use" of enriching those governments.

Roos responded by painting on the side of one of his buildings a large mural -- a slash through a red circle containing the words "End Eminent Domain Abuse." The government that had provoked him declared his sign "illegal" and demanded that he seek a permit for it. He did. Then the government denied the permit.

The St. Louis sign code puts the burden on the citizen to justify his or her speech rather than on the government to justify limiting speech. And the code exempts certain kinds of signs from requiring permits. These include works of art, flags of nations, states or cities, symbols or crests of religious, fraternal or professional organizations. And, of course, the government exempted political signs. So the exempted categories are defined by the signs' content.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm defending Roos, notes that signs may be the oldest form of mass communication -- Gutenberg made advertising posters -- and they remain an inexpensive means of communicating with fellow citizens. St. Louis says it regulates signs for "aesthetic" reasons and to promote traffic safety, but admits it has no guidelines for the bureaucrats exercising aesthetic discretion and no empirical evidence connecting signs with traffic risks. And why would Roos' mural be less aesthetic and more distracting to drivers than, say, a sign -- exempted from any permit requirement -- urging the election of the kind of city officials who enjoy censoring Roos?

St. Louis is not the problem; government is. Many people go into it because they enjoy bossing people around. Surely this is why a court had to overturn a decision by the government of Glendale, Ohio, when it threatened a man with fines and jail because he put a "for sale" sign in his car parked in front of his house. The city said people might be distracted by the sign and walk into traffic.

St. Louis Alderman Phyllis Young is distressed that Roos' speech might escape government control: "If this sign is allowed to remain then anyone with property along any thoroughfare can paint signs indicating the opinion or current matter relevant to the owner to influence passersby with no control by any City agency. The precedent should not be allowed."

The alderman's horror of uncontrolled speech is an example of what Elizabeth Price Foley, law professor at Florida International University, calls "an ineluctable byproduct of disregarding the morality of American law." In her book "Liberty for All" (2006, Yale), she says the growing exercise of legislative power "in the name of majoritarian whims" has eroded America's "twin foundational presumptions" -- limited government and residual individual sovereignty.

The original constitutional structure has, she says, been inverted: Citizens are required to convince the courts that laws restricting liberty are "irrational"; government should be required to articulate justifications for limiting liberty. The Founders' goal -- in John Adams' formulation, a nation of "laws, and not of men" -- has, Foley believes, "been taken much too far."

She thinks we have become a nation of laws, and not of liberty. We are, she notes, a nation with local laws prohibiting the wearing of hats in theaters or courtrooms, catching fish with one's bare hands, carrying a slingshot, teaching others about polygamy, having a garage sale for more than two days a year, serving alcohol within a mile of a religious camp meeting....

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether the city of St. Louis can regulate what Roos can say concerning what the government has done to him. This case, which arises from unwise judicial deference to city governments wielding the power of eminent domain, demonstrates the dialectic of courts inciting governmental arrogance by deferring to it. So judicial deference often is dereliction of judicial duty.



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.


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