Sunday, October 09, 2011

In Britain, it's not only government bureaucrats who are nasty and inefficient

Give a Brit a little bit of power and his/her inner Hitler comes out

British Gas has been accused of using 'bullying tactics' on a 91-year-old to recover an unpaid £5,000 bill - despite him never having had gas at his home.

Sir John Tavare, 91, and his 87-year-old wife Lady Daphne were stunned when a debt collector arrived at their house in Prestbury, Cheshire, and claimed they owed the money. This was because the couple, who have lived there for 30 years, have never used the fuel.

Sir John, a respected businessman who received a knighthood for a campaign to clear up the River Mersey, later called police after thinking he could have been the victim of a scam.

But British Gas admitted there had been a blunder, and eventually apologised to the family by stating the outstanding debt was owed by someone at a property of a 'similar address'.

Nick Tavare, the couple's son, said his parents were deeply disturbed by the experience and accused British Gas of employing 'bullying' tactics without having first made sufficient checks.

He said: 'A man came along to see the gas meter. He refused to show any identification. 'When he was told there was no meter, he began to shout 'If you don't give me access to the house, I will come back with a bailiff in the middle of the night and kick the door down'. Fortunately for my parents, their carer was in and answered the door as well as a guest who also overheard what was said. 'My parents are 91 and 87. If they had been in on their own, who knows what would have happened?'

Sir John, the former chairman of the Mersey Basin Campaign, helped raise funding to clean up the polluted river and attract new developments. He was awarded a CBE for services to industry.

His son added: 'One of the problems was we couldn't speak to anyone in authority to deal with the problem. 'British Gas eventually conceded the house with the alleged debt has the same street name but a different post code - and a completely different name. 'How can it be that they can send debt collectors to a house that has no gas without doing any basic checks first of all?'

British Gas bosses apologised for the mix-up and spokesman Sara Powell-Davies said: 'I am very sorry for any upset and inconvenience. 'We visited their property in error and we have contacted Mr and Mrs Tavare to apologise and to advise them that we have updated our records to make sure this doesn't happen again.'

And debt recovery firm Chase Solutions denied their caller had acted aggressively on the doorstep. John Wolfenden, from the Chorley-based firm, said: 'Our agent visited the address, in connection with an unpaid British Gas account of £5,134.62. 'Our agent, who has been engaged in this work for some years, denies emphatically any allegation that he behaved in a threatening, bullying or intimidatory way. 'Our agent asserts that throughout his conduct was business-like.'

A spokesman for Cheshire Police confirmed they had received a phone call immediately after the visit. He said : 'A call reported that a man who purported to be a debt collector was demanding money in an aggressive manner. 'On investigation it transpired he was a legitimate collector working on behalf of a gas company but had gone to the wrong address.'


British Police say sorry to cafe owner threatened with arrest over Bible DVDs

Give a Brit a little bit of power and his/her inner Hitler comes out

Police have apologised to a Christian cafe owner they threatened with arrest for displaying passages from the Bible on a television screen. The Mail on Sunday told last month how Jamie Murray was visited by two officers who warned he was breaking the law by showing the DVDs.

But after our report appeared, another officer from Lancashire Constabulary visited Mr Murray’s cafe and admitted the force had misinterpreted the Public Order Act, which bans the use of insulting or abusive language – but allows the reasonable expression of religious beliefs.

Mr Murray, 31, welcomed the apology but said he would pursue an official complaint against the force because, he claims, it still refuses to admit he was threatened with arrest.

The two original officers visited his Salt and Light cafe in Blackpool after police received a complaint that Mr Murray was inciting hatred against homosexuals by showing New Testament DVDs.

Mr Murray said: ‘I accept the police apology as far as it goes, and I forgive them. But some things need to be cleared up. ‘They have said they were duty-bound to investigate me. But it wasn’t an investigation. They had already made up their minds I was in the wrong. They never asked to look at the Bible DVDs or asked my side of the story. They have also said they never banned me from showing the Bible DVDs. That’s not true. ‘I asked them straight – “Are you telling me I can’t show the Bible DVDs?”

They left me in no doubt that I risked being arrested if I continued to do so. I don’t want this to happen to other Christians. I won’t let the police brush this under the carpet.’

He claimed he was subjected to an ‘aggressive inquisition’ for nearly an hour and feared that if he did not switch off the DVDs, he might be led out of the cafe in handcuffs.

And he said he was told by WPC June Dorrian, the community beat manager, that if he continued to show offensive material under the Public Order Act, the police would have to ‘take the matter further’.

The Salt and Light cafe has for years repeatedly played the entire 26-hour-long Watchword Bible – a 15-DVD set produced in America in which a narrator reads the whole of the New Testament – on a small flatscreen TV on the back wall. The sound is turned down but the words flash on to the screen against a series of images.

Mr Murray worked in a homeless shelter for five years before taking over the cafe three months ago – and said it prides itself on being an oasis of calm in a high-crime area of the seaside town.

The police’s original response provoked dismay among Christians, with former Conservative Minister Ann Widdecombe writing in a newspaper column: ‘Does the Chief Constable of Lancashire want to ban the Bible itself? After all, that is the logic of his position if what his force is doing meets with his approval.’

And Mike Judge of the Christian Institute, which is backing Mr Murray, said: ‘This incident is serious and needs to be dealt with through official channels. Too many police officers – not just in Lancashire – are using the Public Order Act to investigate Christians for expressing their beliefs.’

A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary insisted they had merely ‘discussed’ the matter with Mr Murray ‘and at no point was he asked to remove any materials or arrested’.

Initially, the force had said they were satisfied the beat manager had performed her duties professionally and ‘the action we took was completely proportionate’.

However, the spokesman has now admitted: ‘The officer misinterpreted what she believed to be appropriate legislation. An apology has been made to the proprietor of the cafe for any distress we may have caused and this was accepted. As a result of this incident, the Constabulary is issuing guidance to staff.’


Babies know difference between right and wrong when they are just 15 months old

So much for the Leftist "blank slate" theory

It is often thought of as one of the qualities which distinguishes humans from animals. And a new study has shown that the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong is a skill which even babies can possess.

Infants who show a good understanding of what is fair and unfair are also more like to share their possessions with others.

Babies in the study were able to differentiate between the equal and unequal distribution of food, showing an early awareness of fairness, scientists said.

There was also seen to be a link between how sensitive the babies were to fair behaviour and whether they would be willing to share a favourite toy.

Jessica Sommerville, associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington, said: 'Our findings show that these norms of fairness and altruism are more rapidly acquired than we thought.

'These results also show a connection between fairness and altruism in infants, such that babies who were more sensitive to the fair distribution of food were also more likely to share their preferred toy.'

The research, published today in the journal PLoS ONE, involved showing two short videos to 15-month-old babies.

In the first, a bowl of crackers was distributed between two people - first with an equal allocation of crackers, and then with one person getting more crackers than the other. The second video showed a jug of milk being shared between two people in a similar way.

Scientists measured how long each of the babies looked at how the food had been distributed, as babies pay more attention when they are surprised.

They discovered that babies spent more time looking at the allocation of food if one person got more than the other.

Dr Sommerville said: 'The infants expected an equal and fair distribution of food and they were surprised to see one person given more crackers or milk than the other.'

Previous studies had shown that two-year-old children can help others, which is considered a sign of altruism, and that those who are between six and seven years old show a sense of fairness.

Babies are likely to pick up on ideas of fairness and unfairness 'by observing how people treat each other', Dr Sommerville said.

In a second task, scientists recorded whether or not the babies were willing to share a toy with a stranger.

Those who had been more surprised by the unequal distribution of food were found to be more likely to share a favourite toy than the babies who seemed more surprised when there was an equal distribution of food.

Dr Sommerville said: 'The results of the sharing experiment show that early in life there are individual differences in altruism.'

Those who were willing to share a favourite toy had been 'really sensitive to the violation of fairness in the food task', she added.


Vandals Spray Paint Swastikas & Graffiti on ‘Joseph’s Tomb’ Near Israel

On Thursday, Israeli soldiers discovered that Joseph’s Tomb, a revered prayer site that is believed to be the place where the biblical character Joseph is buried, has been vandalized.

According to Jewish Week, swastikas and other graffiti were spray painted onto the tomb. The damage was found early in the morning before 1,500 Jewish worshippers arrived at the location to pray. To keep these worshippers from seeing what had occurred, the soldiers reportedly covered the damage with white paint prior to their arrival.

The Israeli Army has apparently been coordinating monthly pilgrimages to the tomb for worshippers since 2009. This particular event was planned in coordination with the military ahead of Yom Kippur (the holiest day on the Jewish calendar). According to an army spokesperson: “This morning, soldiers discovered swastikas painted on the walls of the building that contains the tomb. The soldiers cleaned the premises and a complaint was sent to the Palestinian Authority.”

Danny Dayan, who is the chairman of the Yesha Council which represents West Bank settlers, railed against the vandalism, calling it “shocking.”

Dayan was particularly surprised, as the defacing took place just days before Yom Kippur.

Gershon Mesika, who has been heavily involved in restoring the site and who is the head of the Samaria regional council, responded to the incident by saying that “only barbarians would be able to commit such terrible acts.” He continued, saying, ”People who can pathologically desecrate such a holy site are not worthy of being called human beings.”

AFP provides some history, which showcases the divisiveness that exists surrounding the religious site:
The tomb is a place of pilgrimage for religious Jews, who believe it to be the final resting place of the biblical figure Joseph. Muslims believe that an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Yussef (Joseph) Dawiqat, was buried there two centuries ago.

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the site was to remain under Israeli control. But the Israeli army evacuated the premises in October 2000 shortly after the start of the second intifada, or uprising, and it was immediately destroyed and burnt by the Palestinians.

The restoration of the tomb was completed recently, and following improved security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, the army allows Jewish worshippers to make monthly nocturnal pilgrimages to the site.

This isn’t the first time the tomb has been vandalized over the past decade. Interestingly, this most recent act of aggression comes just one day after a mosque was torched in Northern Israel, causing one to wonder if this act is retaliatory.



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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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