Monday, November 18, 2013
Eton to the rescue
Britain's old Etonian PM, David Cameron, was invited to bat at a game of cricket during downtime at the GHOGM conference in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka happens to be the home of one of the world's greatest bowlers (Muralitharan) so the Sri Lankans got him to send down some balls to Cameron. But Cameron's Eton background served him well (Eton has 25 cricket teams) and he sent back the ball every time. Cricket is very important in Sri Lanka so Cameron would have gained kudos for his batting skills
It's normally him who's doing the spinning - but this time David Cameron was on the receiving end.
The PM was at Sri Lanka's National Cricket Academy where he faced up to one of the sport's greatest ever bowlers from 22 yards.
Sri Lanka's spin king Muttiah Muralitharan, or Murali, as he is affectionately known, is the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket - but he didn't have it all his own way.
According to onlookers, Mr Cameron acquitted himself well when he pitted his batting skills against Muralitharan, although he later admitted the retired star may have gone a little easy on him.
Mr Cameron is in Colombo to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and was also given a working over on politics by the sportsman.
Muralitharan suggested the Prime Minister had been 'misled' about the latest situation in the war-scarred north of the island.
Mr Cameron is pressing the Sri Lankan regime to do more to improve conditions for the minority Tamil population still suffering the effects of a 26-year civil war which ended in 2009.
Yesterday he visited families still unable to return to their homes after spending 20 years in refugee camps, in the first visit by a foreign leader to the region since 1948.
In what he described as 'frank' talks with president Mahinda Rajapaksa the PM said he would press for an international investigation of alleged war crimes if the regime failed to hold a credible one by March.
But asked about the politician's calls for more action from the government of Mr Rajapaksa - which has been criticised internationally over human rights abuses - Muralitharan, a Tamil, said Mr Cameron was underestimating the improvements already made.
'I'm a sportsman and we don't think about politics,' he told reporters. 'My opinion is, there were problems in the last 30 years in those areas.
'Nobody could move there. In wartime I went with the UN, I saw the place, how it was. Now I regularly go and I see the place and it is about a 1,000 per cent improvement in facilities.
'Cricket is the main game to narrow the bridge between the people. But facilities-wise, schools are built, roads are built. Businesses are started. So many things have happened. It is improving.
'Thanks to the Sri Lankan army, they are putting a lot of effort there. This country is 20-odd million people. In the north there are only one million people. They are getting more attention than the south at the moment.'
Peaceful protests that disturb residents 'may be outlawed' under new powers given to British local authorities
Peaceful protests that disturb residents 'may be outlawed' under new powers given to local authorities
The orders are intended to give local authorities the power to deter drinking, aggressive begging and dog-fouling from nuisance hotspots.
But civil rights campaigners fear they could be misused to crack-down on lawful demonstrators trying to make their point.
They could even be used to ban youngsters from skateboarding and teenagers from gathering in public parks.
The contentious new powers are contained within a little-noticed section of the Government’s Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, currently going through Parliament.
The new public spaces protection orders (PSPOs) aim to give councils the authority to tackle low-level problems.
The Home Office said the legislation could help stop valuable public spaces being turned into ‘no-go zones’.
But critics claim the ‘shockingly open-ended powers’ could be used to stifle legitimate demonstrations and criminalise young people.
They said small community groups could find themselves subjected to the bans if they demonstrate outside a council office.
Isabella Sankey, of Liberty, said: ‘These next-generation antisocial-behaviour powers are bigger and badder than ever.
‘Dangerously broad powers granted to regulate the ‘quality of life’ of the community will allow local authorities effectively to shut down activity in public places.
‘Just like stop-and-search without suspicion, the collateral damage will be peaceful protest and other basic rights and freedoms.’
The PSPOs will be used to replace alcohol-control zones, dog-control orders, gating orders and other local bylaws.
Council officials will be able to work with police to restrict any activity deemed to have a ‘detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality’.
The orders, which could last for up to three years, would be directed at ‘all persons or only to persons in specified categories.’
The scheme is part of the Coalition’s commitment to handing powers to local authorities and reducing bureaucracy.
A risk assessment found it could increase pressure on police, courts and prisons, but said on-the-spot fines would reduce this.
Among the protests that could have been targeted are the Occupy camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral. Brian Haw, the anti-war protester who spent years outside the Houses of Parliament, could have been forced to move.
Environmental campaigners demonstrating against airport expansion, new roads and power stations could also be forced to move on.
Janet Davis, of the Ramblers Association, said: ‘They could be used on wide-open areas, they could be used on commons, any land to which the public has access.’
Minister Norman Baker, who is responsible for crime prevention, said: ‘The Coalition Government is simplifying the complex array of antisocial powers introduced by the last government.
‘This power will make it easier to stop the behaviour of those who act antisocially, turning our public spaces into no-go zones.’
British council orders couple to tear up flowers outside their home 'because people might miss the kerb while looking at the floral display and trip over'
A council has ordered a couple to rip up flowers outside their home over health and safety fears.
Mary and William Geidt planted the roses, irises and other flowers ten years ago to brighten up a patch of grass outside their home.
The couple, who live in the village of Great Cransley, Northamptonshire, claim a highways officer advised them to plant shrubs and flowers to reduce further damage to their property following two devastating floods.
Over the past decade the beauty of the flower bed has become renowned in the area with people stopping to take pictures of the displays.
But Mrs Geidt, 62, and Mr Geidt, 69, were stunned when they received a letter from Northamptonshire County Council ordering them to dig up the flowers or face legal action.
The couple believe it was reported after a council officer went to a neighbouring property in connection with a planning application and noticed the flower bed.
Council bosses claim the flowers obstruct pedestrians view of the kerb which could cause them to stumble into the road.
But Mr and Mrs Geidt say they have not received a single complaint in a decade and only receive compliments that the flowers brighten up the quiet road.
Mrs Gedit, who is a full-time carer for her 91-year-old mother Margaret, said: 'It does not make any sense, because there is a perfectly good footpath on the opposite side of the road. 'It seems petty and heavy handed and we feel like we're being singled out.'
Mrs Geidt said she wanted to come to a compromise. 'Our cottage is set below the road, so our ground floor windows are at the same level as the road. 'The verge is steeply sloped. The lane is not cleared of snow or gritted and there were two minor accidents last winter.
'From our own experience we know it is difficult to see the edge of the road in snow and there is a real possibility of a serious accident if drivers skid down the bank into our cottage.
'The flower bed helps to make it very obvious were the edge of the road is.' she continued, 'We spend hours tending to the border and planting it each year, we spend money on buying the plants as well. 'It is tragic to think we might have to pull it all up, we are willing to compromise but a sensible compromise.'
In a letter to the couple last month, the council said: 'It is occasionally possible to grant a licence to cultivate the public highway. 'It is unlikely a licence would be granted for the shrubs in situ, as some species are not encouraged because of their growth nature and form.'
Mr Geidt, who runs his own utilities consultancy, added; 'The border is very narrow, probably only 18 inches and there is footpath just the other side of the road where there is street lighting.
'There are only a few houses and a footpath at the end of the cul-de-sac so there usually more walkers along here than cars.
'To me, this decision is quite literally blooming petty. There is no other way to describe it.'
The council stood by their ruling. A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: 'Regrettably, highways law, which the county council has to comply with, is very strict when it comes to safety regulations regarding roads.
'In this instance the flower beds and shrubs interfere with visibility and so we have asked for the vegetation to be removed.'
Huntress sparks outrage after posting picture of herself with male lion she shot dead
One of the most ancient of human activities is no longer politically correct
TV presenter Melissa Bachman raised ire when she posted a photo of a mature male lion she allegedly shot and killed on Twitter and Facebook.
Within hours of the post, an online petition by Cape Town resident Elan Burman asking the South African government to ban Bachman from ever returning to the country was launched.
The picture depicts Bachman crouching over the carcass of a male lion with its eyes closed, paws either side of its head, as she holds her gun and smiles.
'An incredible say hunting in South Africa!' she tweeted. 'Stalked inside 60 yards on the this beautiful male lion... what a hunt!'
The post provoked a furious response from many Twitter users, who called her 'disgusting' and 'vile.'
At the time of writing, Burman's petition had 5,435 signatures. 'She is an absolute contradiction to the culture of conservation this country prides itself on,' wrote Burman.
Signatory Richard Robinson wrote, 'You didn't kill a lion, you stood behind a machine and pulled a little trigger, you pathetic, sad excuse of a human.'
The African lion is considered a vulnerable species. Numbers are rapidly declining due to loss of habitat and conflict with humans.
However, hunting lions is legal in several countries, including South Africa where Bachman bagged her big male.
Bachman's social media pages and website reveal an array of huge beasts that have died after coming in contact with her. The 'Trophy Room' section of her website features a grinning Bachman with dead deer, antelope, alligators, turkeys and hogs.
This latest furor is not the first time Bachman has run afoul of anti-hunting groups.
Last year, she was slated to appear on the National Geographic Channel's Ultimate Survivor Alaska but was dropped after a Change.org petition that called Bachman a 'contracted trophy killer' was signed more than 13,000 times in less than 24 hours.
Minnesota-based Bachman, whose blog includes posts such as 'Why every girl should try bowhunting' and 'Stupid hunting regulations I just can't stand,' is the host of a television series called Winchester Deadly Passion.
In each episode, she travels to a locale and hunts its native animals with a variety of weapons including her beloved bow and arrow.
Lourens Mostert, a manager at the Maroi conservancy where Bachman shot the lion said the hunt was legal. 'If it isn't right to hunt these lions, why does our government legally give us permission?' he told the Daily Telegraph. 'This is not the only lion that has been hunted in South Africa this year.'
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.