Saturday, June 25, 2011
Murdered girl's family's in 'appalling' British court ordeal
The treatment of Milly Dowler’s family in court has been branded “appalling” by the Government’s victims’commissioner, Louise Casey. Bob and Sally Dowler were made to feel as if they and not Levi Bellfield, their daughter’s killer, were on trial, she said.
Their ordeal in the witness box, enduring intense cross-examination about intimate aspects of their lives, is just the latest “shocking” example of grieving families being treated as an “inconvenience” in the system, she added.
Miss Casey questioned why the rich and famous are able to obtain court injunctions to hide their adulterous affairs while ordinary families such as the Dowlers had to endure their private lives being raked over.
She called for the case to be a spur for lasting change to a judicial system which, she said, affords defendants a “long list” of rights while victims and their families get only “vague promises”.
During Bellfield’s trial at the Old Bailey Bob Dowler had to admit that he had kept pornographic magazines at the family home in Walton-on-Thames and that bondage equipment had been found in the attic.
His wife was cross-examined on her daughter’s teenage insecurities including distressing poems suggesting she thought she was a “disappointment” to her parents. Relatives said that the way their family life had been portrayed during the trial process had “damaged” them.
Miss Casey, the commissioner for victims and witnesses, said the family’s ordeal since the abduction in 2002 been “heartbreaking” but that they had shown dignity and courage in the face of “unimaginable” horror. “It is appalling that they have also had to go through a court process where it must have seemed that they were themselves on trial,” she wrote in The Sun.
While accepting that defendants were entitled to a strong defence, she went on: “At the same time as the rich and famous obtain court orders to prevent reporting of their extramarital affairs, surely it is not too much to ask that a family who have had their lives torn apart by a murder be afforded a little privacy too?”
Miss Casey listed a series of example of victims being effectively ignored. She cited the case of a family who had to sit close to relatives of their loved-one’s killer as they laughed and joked through the trial.
One mother unable to bury her dead baby for almost a year because of constant requests for fresh post mortem examinations from the defence, she said. Another woman was not told that her father’s killer was being released until she bumped into him in the street.
British singer says ginger jibes are akin to racism
He's right. In politically correct England, some bigotries are still OK: Dislike of people from a different social class; contempt for people from the North of the country; amusement at anything Scottish; dislike of Jews and mockery of redheads
He may have found fame with Simply Red, but you mustn’t mention the colour of Mick Hucknall’s hair. The ginger singer claims making fun of his roots is akin to racism.
After facing a series of belittling comments on social networking website Twitter, the 51-year-old told his followers: ‘Let’s play a game: whenever you read “ginger” try replacing it with “black” or “asian” and see how it reads.’ A later post added: ‘Bigots are mostly best ignored. Tho a little outing once in a while spices up ones Tea!’
The pop star questioned why a string of prominent Britons were not similarly defined by the colour of their hair. ‘Interesting also that Prince Harry almost never referred to as Ginger by the media,’ he noted. ‘Or Churchill, or Elizabeth 1 or Shakespeare (allegedly). And lest we forget, dear old Henry VIII!’
Approximately one in ten people in the UK [mostly in Scotland] has ginger hair, or titian hair as it is sometimes known, giving us one of the highest redhead rates in the world.
The colouring is caused by high levels of the pigment pheomelanin and relatively low ones of the darker eumelanin.
There are plenty of historical examples of extreme ‘gingerism’. In 15th-century Germany, redheads were seen as witches and 45,000 were tortured and murdered. Elsewhere, the Egyptians burned ginger people alive, and the Greeks claimed they turned into vampires when they died.
Nevertheless, some of the modern world’s most desirable women are redheads, including models Lily Cole and Karen Elson.
Hucknall – once known as the Ginger Lothario for his womanising ways – married former art dealer Gabriella Wilke-Wesberry, 40, the mother of his four-year-old daughter Romy True, 13 months ago.
Another war on victimless crime
In Llano, in the middle of the Southern California high desert, a bewhiskered Jacques Dupuis stands in front of what was once his home. His laid-back second wife, Marcelle, her long, silver hair blowing in the breeze, takes a drag on her Marlboro Red as they walk inside and, in thick French Canadian accents, recount the day in 2007 when the government came calling. "That's the seat I have to offer you," she tells a visitor, motioning to the exposed, dusty wooden floor planks in what was once a cozy cabin where Jacques spent much of his life, raising his daughter with his first wife.
On Oct. 17, 2007, Marcelle opened the door to a loud knock. Her heart jumped when she found a man backed by two armed county agents in bulletproof vests. She was alone in the cabin, a dot in the vast open space of the Antelope Valley, without a neighbor for more than half a mile. She feared that something had happened to her daughter, who was visiting from Montreal.
The men demanded her driver's license, telling her, "This building is not permitted — everything must go." Normally sassy, Marcelle handed over her ID — even her green card, just in case. Stepping out, she realized that her 1,000-square-foot cabin was surrounded by men with drawn guns. "You have no right to be here," one informed her. Baffled and shaking with fear, she called her daughter — please come right away.
As her ordeal wore on, she heard one agent, looking inside their comfortable cabin, say to another: "This one's a real shame — this is a real nice one."
A "shame" because the authorities eventually would enact some of the most powerful rules imaginable against rural residents: the order to bring the home up to current codes or dismantle the 26-year-old cabin, leaving only bare ground.
"They wouldn't let me grandfather in the water tank," Jacques Dupuis says. "It is so heart-wrenching because there was a way to salvage this, but they wouldn't work with me. It was, 'Tear it down. Period.' "
In order to clear the title on their land, the Dupuises are spending what would have been peaceful retirement days dismantling every board and nail of their home — by hand — because they can't afford to hire a crew.
Tough code enforcement has been ramped up in these unincorporated areas of L.A. County, leaving the iconoclasts who chose to live in distant sectors of the Antelope Valley frightened, confused and livid. They point the finger at the Board of Supervisors' Nuisance Abatement Teams, known as NAT, instituted in 2006 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in his sprawling Fifth District. The teams' mission: "to abate the more difficult code violations and public nuisance conditions on private property."
L.A. Weekly found in a six-week investigation that county inspectors and armed DA investigators also are pursuing victimless misdemeanors and code violations, with sometimes tragic results. The government can define land on which residents have lived for years as "vacant" if their cabins, homes and mobile homes are on parcels where the land use hasn't been legally established. Some have been jailed for defying the officials in downtown Los Angeles, while others have lost their savings and belongings trying to meet the county's "final zoning enforcement orders." Los Angeles County has left some residents, who appeared to be doing no harm, homeless.
Some top county officials insist that nothing new is unfolding. Michael Noyes, deputy in charge of code enforcement for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, says, "We've had a unit in the office through the '70s and '80s." But key members of the county NAT team say that "definitely, yes," a major focus on unincorporated areas was launched in 2006. Cooley declined to comment through his media spokesman.
Click here to watch our video exclusive, "L.A. County's War on Desert Rats."
Many residents insist a clearing-out is under way in these 2,200 square miles of arid land an hour north of L.A., a mountain-ringed valley at the western tip of the Mojave Desert named for elegant pronghorn herds that were all but wiped out by an 1884-94 drought. Their anxiety has prompted conspiracy theories about whether the county has its own plans for their land.
The crackdown has the strong backing of Antonovich, whose spokesman, Tony Bell, says of its critics, "I've probably ruined your story because you want to say it's a horrible thing going on. ... We have gotten a very, very positive response from the community."
Not everyone. Oscar Castaneda, pastor of Lancaster's historic adobe Sanctuary Seventh-day Adventist Church, built in 1934 and featured in Kill Bill, recalls the day he says he was ordered to "freeze" in front of his mobile home on isolated land where his only neighbors are rattlesnakes. Decades ago, Castaneda says the county gave him verbal approval to live there in a mobile home. He told the NAT team, which began photographing his spread: "Listen, I've been living over here for 22 years. And nobody has come over here to bother me."
Photography phobia at a D.C. Taxi Commission Meeting
On June 22, 2011, I attended a meeting of the D.C. Taxi Commission for a story I'm currently working on about a proposed medallion system in the district.
About 30 minutes into the meeting, I witnessed journalist Pete Tucker snap a still photo of the proceedings on his camera phone. A few minutes later, two police officers arrested Tucker. I filmed Tucker's arrest and the audience's subsequent outrage using my cell phone.
A few minutes later, as I was attempting to leave the building, I overheard the female officer who had arrested Tucker promise a woman, who I presumed to be an employee of the Taxi Commission, that she would confiscate my phone. Reason intern Kyle Blaine, overheard her say, "Do you want his phone? I can get his phone."
(The woman who was given assurances by the officer that she could have my phone can be seen at the end of the video telling me, "You do not have permission to record this!")
As I tried to leave, I was told by the same officer to "stay put." I told her I was leaving and attempted to exit the building. I was then surrounded by officers, and told to remain still or I would be arrested. I didn't move, but I tried to get the attention of a group of cab drivers who were standing nearby. At this point I was arrested.
I spent the remainder of the day in a cell in the basement of the building. In the late afternoon, I was released. We will be reporting more on this as it unfolds.
The subsequent official wriggling here
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.