Thursday, August 20, 2009

Britain's totally deranged justice system targets a good Samaritan over a fraction of a penny

When nine coppers turned up and found that there was nothing for them to do, they arrested the only guy who happened to be there. No doubt it helped with their "targets". Tick box: One villain arrested. They were really scratching to find something he had done wrong, however. One doesn't expect police to be bright but the lawyers in the Crown Prosecution Service were just as bad. No doubt they had government targets to meet too. It took the threat of a jury trial before anybody started thinking.

But if your car is stolen in Britain don't bother reporting it to the police. They're not interested. Looking into that matter would require some effort from them before they can tick a box. Leftist Britain's target-driven and box-ticking rules have destroyed sanity wholesale

A documentary film-maker was hauled into court on a charge of stealing electricity worth 0.003p. But by the time the ludicrous case was dropped, the bill to taxpayers was more than £5,000. Mark Guard, 44, had to appear at two separate hearings before the Crown Prosecution Service finally saw sense.

Mr Guard, who makes documentaries about crime and the homeless, was filming squatters entering a disused building through an open window at 10pm on August 1. A security sensor inside detected the movement and the alarm was triggered. The squatters fled but Mr Guard, a former electrician, decided to stay behind and turn off the alarm to save neighbouring families from the noise. To do so he had to turn on the electricity in the building for a few seconds, to give him light, and then turn it off.

Nine police then arrived in response to the alarm. When Mr Guard told them what he had done, he was arrested and held in a cell for six hours before being charged. At his first magistrates' court hearing last week, the film-maker pleaded not guilty and asked for the case to be tried at a crown court so a jury could decide.

He said last night: 'When I told the chairman of the bench I wanted a jury trial, he began to realise the ludicrous nature of the case. He said: "Why is this going to a trial in the crown court when it's going to cost £200,000?".' But Mr Guard had to appear again in front of Highbury Magistrates in North London, before the charge was dropped.

Experts estimate that the court hearings cost taxpayers £4,200 - Mr Guard's legal bills were paid from public funds - a night in police cells added £385 and the arrest operation around £600.

Mr Guard, from Knightsbridge, West London, said he was astonished the case went as far as it did. He added: 'I thought I was acting in the public interest. It was late in the evening and I knew families would have struggled to get to sleep if I hadn't done something. 'I even offered to pay 1p to the energy company which supplies electricity to the house, but it's not bothered about collecting such a paltry sum. I've been mugged three times and the police know who did it - but they have never been able to prosecute. 'But on the night in question officers wasted no time in slapping handcuffs on me. I feel this is double standards. If the charges had not been dropped I would have fought all the way.

'Part of me is relieved that I can get back to making my documentary, but most of me is angry that I've been forced to go through all this.'

Neither the squatters nor Mr Guard broke the law by entering the disused house in Camden, North London, because they did not force their way in. Mr Guard has been following and filming criminals and homeless people in London for two years. Using hidden cameras he has been able to capture drug deals and shop thefts as they happened. In 2006, Mr Guard made news when a building firm paid him £3.5million for a plot of land in Surrey he had bought 11 years earlier for just £1,000.


Slandering Christian Zionists

It is often said that ridiculing Christians and their beliefs is the last acceptable form of bigotry. Ultra-secular critics on the left, of course, usually scoff at this notion. But sometimes an example of anti-Christian bile comes along that is so blatant, misleading and littered with judgmental smugness, that I find it difficult to remain silent. Consider the left-wing organization J Street, which claims to be a pro-Israel advocacy group, but which, oddly enough, never misses a chance to slam Israeli policies, particularly when the Jewish State dares defend itself against Islamic terrorism. J Street released a bordering-on-hysteria press release last month to coincide with the annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) conference in Washington, D.C. Here is the most relevant excerpt:
" …J Street opposes an unholy alliance between right-wing Christian Zionist evangelicals and pro-Israel organizations. Besides being out of step with fundamental Jewish American values, Hagee’s so-called support for Israel is actually a means to an apocalyptic end of destruction or conversion for the Jewish people.

In our search for allies in the fight to keep Israel secure, American Jews should neither compromise our core Jewish values of tolerance and justice, nor gloss over the reality of the damage the settlement enterprise causes to Israel and the prospects for peace.
Where to begin? First off, let’s try a little experiment. Substitute “devout, Koran-believing Muslims” or “Torah-believing Jews” for “right-wing Christian Zionists.” The outcry from leftist groups like J Street would undoubtedly be loud and intense. But slander Christian evangelicals as J Street does in this outrageously bigoted press release, and it registers nary a blip on the radar of the mainstream media or most civil rights groups.

Indeed, J Street’s statement goes far beyond criticizing the views of Pastor John Hagee, who organized the CUFI conference. The group is, of course, perfectly free to criticize Hagee if it disagrees with his personal viewpoints. This is a free country. But by tarring all evangelical Christian supporters of Israel as part of some sinister movement that is “unholy,” “apocalyptic” and destructive for the Jewish people, J Street descends into stereotyping and demonization of the worst kind.

Since I spent two full days covering the CUFI conference at the Washington Convention Center on July 21 and 22 (watch my report on the event here and read my blog entry here), let me give some personal observations on what I saw and heard--and what J Street is so contemptuous of.

Not once--in the course of some 20 hours of coverage and countless conversations with conference-goers—did I hear the terms “apocalypse,” “Armageddon,” ‘Antichrist,” or “End Times,” mentioned. Nor did I hear any discussion of the Book of Revelation or of converting Jews. I realize this may come as a shock to J Street, which apparently views such events as fire-and-brimstone hatefests complete with snake taming and calls to nuke Mecca. What I witnessed instead were thousands of attendees, Christian, Jewish and secular, expressing a genuine, deep and heartfelt love for the Land of Israel--its history, beauty and legacy—and especially, its people. As you can see from my report, the place was literally a sea of Israeli and American flags: a true celebration of the Jewish State. There were Hebrew prayers, Hebrew songs, shofars, Torah readings and passionate speeches by Jewish leaders, lawmakers and religious figures. There were also some tears shed. I know it may all sound very “kumbaya,” but I have covered countless manufactured, shallow mega-events in DC over the past six years and let me tell you: what I saw at CUFI was 100 percent genuine.

If this was the kind of doom-and-gloom affair that J Street alludes to, I must have missed it. So must have Senator Joe Lieberman, Rep. Shelley Berkley and talk radio hosts Dennis Prager and Michael Medved: all prominent, proud Jews who spoke at the CUFI gala.

Since the folks at J Street obviously have a very narrow view of what it means to be a Christian supporter of Israel, let me enlighten them a bit by sharing my own personal story. I was raised in a heavily Catholic area of working class Philadelphia by a father who was a veteran of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division. Not surprisingly, my Dad was a big military history buff and a close follower of current events. He passed those passions on to my brother and me. By the time I reached my teen years, we would stay up, sometimes into the wee hours, discussing history’s great empires, battles and military leaders.

Maybe it was the fact that we Philly guys always love an underdog. But my dad was one tough dude, and there was no country he admired more for its grit and determination than Israel. “That tiny sliver of land,” he used to marvel. “They’re surrounded by enemies on all sides. And yet still they pull off victory after victory. Those are some tough Jews!” From Moshe Dayan to Entebbe, from King David to Camp David, through my father, I became well acquainted with Israeli history in my formative years and developed a lasting admiration for the Land and its people. As I reached high school, I was also fortunate enough to develop great friendships with Jewish teammates, teachers and coaches.

Nowhere did my religious beliefs factor into those friendships. As a matter of fact, all of this happened years before I even picked up a Bible or began taking my Christianity seriously. Interestingly enough, I found that my buddies from the neighborhood in Philly shared my positive view of Israel. They may not have been big observers of geopolitics, but they were hugely patriotic. common sense told them that the Israelis were fighting the good fight and were kindred spirits: a free, democratic people who were loyal allies of the United States.

When I finally did get around to picking up a Bible about seven years ago, I discovered a startling thing: this Book was essentially a history of Israel and the Jewish people up until the first century AD. Even more jarring to my senses was the realization that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who fiercely loved his fellow Jews. His mother, Mary, was also a Jew. So were all twelve apostles. In fact, Christianity was founded by—you guessed it—Jews. In addition, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, King David and all the Old Testament heroes who I had grown to love and admire so much were Israeli Jews. I began to realize that Christianity owed a huge debt to Israel and the Jewish people. It may sound crazy to some, but let’s face it: this is both a historically and biblically undeniable fact, and--apologies to J Street--has nothing to do with the “end of the world.”

Bringing it back to the secular level, the friendships I have developed with Israeli colleagues over the past six years, and especially my trip to Israel last November, have solidified my support for the country. As if I didn’t realize it before, walking through the besieged city of Sderot and seeing Hamas missiles literally stamped “Made in Iran” truly brought home the fact that Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies. We share a common radical Islamic foe that seeks our destruction. That alone is reason enough for mutual understanding and support.

I strongly suspect that the vast majority of attendees at the CUFI conference view Israel in a similar way. Or as JTA’s Eric Fingerhut—who also covered the event—puts it: “I've talked to enough Christian Zionists over the past few years to believe that for the vast majority of them, their support for the Jewish state is genuinely motivated by Genesis's admonitition that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people, as well as their respect for Judaism as a foundation for Christianity or even their general beliefs about U.S. foriegn policy.”

In closing, if J Steet truly has Israel’s best interests at heart, why on earth would it seek to alienate an estimated 70 million American evangelical Christians who are strongly inclined towards Israel during a time of great need? What is really going on here? And when will J Street issue an apology to evangelicals for its inflammatory CUFI press release?


Oppressed British snappers focus on police

Photographers attempt to reclaim the right to photograph

Relations between police and photographers, already at an all-time low, look set to worsen this week as activists set up a new national campaign group to protect photography, and protesters get ready to take to the streets in Chatham. The national campaign launched last Saturday in the Foundry pub in East London, with more than 200 photographers showing their support for a new photographers' rights website by being snapped holding up a placard saying "I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!"

Although the campaign is skewed very much toward professional photographers, it claims that it is the rights of all photographers that are currently under attack. According to the site: "Not only is [this attack] corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording." It goes on: "This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not only photographers."

Materials available on-site include a "bust card", that photographers should carry in case they are stopped under anti-terror legislation, as well as a Google map pin-pointing areas of the country known to be problematic for photographers. Supporters of the campaign are encouraged to upload a self-portrait including the campaign slogan "I’m a photographer, not a terrorist". There is also a fan page available on Facebook.

Meanwhile, in Chatham, to mark the recent arrest of local photographer Alex Turner for the heinous offences of being too tall and laying claim to his legal right not to give his name and address to the police, Medway Eyes is planning a meet up in the Riverside Gardens and photo walk on August 15th. Medway Eyes is an informal umbrella organisation that supports, promotes and collaborates with Medway artists and venues.

They have sent an open invitation to photographers and friends, stressing that the event is not a protest, but adding that they will be happy to speak on the subjects of photographers' rights and the value of social documentary photography whilst the group assembles.


Freedom is now flowing from West to East

In August 1989 as communism collapsed, Britain was a beacon to the new regimes. Today Britain is squandering that liberty

I’ve spent much of the past 20 years living in or reporting on the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Nowadays, with Budapest, Prague and Warsaw two hours away by budget airline, it’s hard to imagine that before 1989, half a continent was imprisoned behind landmines and barbed wire, its citizens terrorised by secret police, intentionally ground down by the endless, intrusive demands of the one-party state. I saw those borders torn down, democracies arise and the basic freedoms that we take for granted — speech, movement and public protest — enthusiastically embraced.

Twenty years ago today the world witnessed the power of the crowd. Hungary’s reformist communist Government permitted the pan-European picnic near the city of Sopron, on the border with Austria, as a symbol of its commitment to a united Europe. The border was to be opened so that about 100 dignitaries and officially approved picnickers could cross freely back and forth. But Hungary was crowded with thousands of East Germans desperate to escape to the West. Many camped near the site of the picnic, waiting for the crucial moment. When the border was opened at three o’clock they surged forward. The guards did not open fire. They stepped back and allowed the East Germans to break through.

This, not the opening of the Berlin Wall in November, was the tipping point. August 19, 1989, accelerated a chain of events that brought down communism and the Soviet Union itself. Such is the power of the crowd.

After 1989 Big Brother was no longer welcome in Budapest, Prague or Warsaw — he moved to London to be ever more warmly embraced by successive Labour administrations. The birthplace of political liberties, the home of the Magna Carta, is now one of the most intrusive democracies in the world. Labour governments have introduced surveillance and monitoring systems of which the communists could only dream. Of course, Britain is not a real police state. But it is certainly sliding further into authoritarianism.

Perhaps because I live abroad, each time I return home I can clearly see quite how subtle and dangerous a process is unfolding. A series of Home Secretaries have presided over a steady, stealthy shredding of our civil liberties. I am amazed at how supine citizens allow local and national government to intrude ever further into their daily lives, logging, tracking and recording everything from household waste disposal to mobile telephone use.

These small changes seem to herald a more dramatic constitutional shift: the rewriting of the social contract under which citizens are apparently regarded not as active participants in society, but, at best as irritants to be monitored, and at worst as potential criminals to be pre-emptively arrested, just as George Orwell predicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The phrase Big Brother has entered common parlance. But Orwell’s book was published in 1949 as communist regimes in Eastern Europe cemented their control through “salami tactics”. These were invented by Matyas Rakosi, Hungary’s communist leader from 1948-56. He sliced away freedoms sliver by sliver, until he established one of the most feared dictatorships in Eastern Europe. When the communists took over a town, for example, they did not appoint the mayor, but a deputy, to work behind the scenes and stealthily take control of the police and municipal administration.

In my more cynical moments I imagine Labour ministers following a similar methodology. They would never say openly: “We intend to criminalise public protest; to grant sweeping blanket powers of arrest to the police and change the very foundation of law, making citizens prove their innocence, rather than have the police and judiciary prove their guilt while demonstrating.”

Nor would they say: “We intend to privatise formerly public spaces and hand over state functions of public order to armies of unaccountable security guards.” Instead, changes are introduced stealthily, rarely debated by Parliament and are nodded through with the acquiescence of the Opposition, in the name of that useful catch-all “security”. Whether by design or not, that seems to me to be happening.

Security is an issue. Communist regimes sought control for its own sake, to preserve their monopolies of power. The Labour Government has had to respond to a new wave of terrorism, perpetrated by British citizens who use the internet and covert communication techniques. Preventing further terrorist attacks is part of a government’s duty. But preventing government from intruding too far into our daily lives is our duty — one we have so far singularly failed to carry out.

In the communist era Hungarians, Czechs and Poles looked to Britain as a beacon of fairness. After 1989 our Parliament, judiciary and free press were models for them. The former one-party states are now vibrant democracies. Despite corruption and a sometimes prickly nationalism, most of the new EU members can be proud of their transformation into modern civic societies.

While our freedoms wither, theirs flourish. It’s a common sight to see far-right demonstrators in front of the Hungarian parliament, hurling abuse and calling for the resignation of the Government. The police watch, nobody is arrested and everyone goes home peacefully. And when the police do use force, there is a vigorous national debate about balancing the right to protest and public security.

Twenty years after the collapse of communism, Eastern Europe is showing us what freedom means. At last, there are signs that we are waking finally from our stupor. in 1989 the East Germans camped on the Hungarian-Austrian frontier showed the world the power of the crowd. So take to the streets, people. While you still can.


Australia: Murder a toddler? No jail if you are a feral

The toddler was Aboriginal. Welfare authorities knew of the case before the killing but probably threw up their hands from the beginning as Aboriginal families are very commmonly severely dysfunctional, with child abuse frequent. And it is absolutely VERBOTEN to take children away from black families. That used to be done sometimes but in recent years the Left set up a huge howl about "The stolen generation" (the black children fostered out to white families) in reference to the practice. The authorities obviously now feel that it is better to let black kids die than risk any more of that abuse

Rachel Pfitzner was ordered to address her anger management problem exactly a year before she murdered her toddler son, The Daily Telegraph reports. A judge handed her a suspended jail term so she could get the help she needed - and look after her children.

Twelve months later her two-year-old son Dean Shillingsworth was dead, his tiny body shoved into a suitcase and tossed in a duck pond. Pfitzner, 27, yesterday pleaded guilty to murder, the Crown rejecting her claim it was an accidental death. She now admits she murdered him - and meant to end his sad, short life.

Pfitzner faced Acting Judge Joseph Moore in October 2006 over a violent attack on Dean's grandfather and the judge had some sympathy for her. She was the mother of three small children with an alcoholic partner, Paul James Shillingsworth who was also prone to rages. Judge Moore made it a condition of her release that she get help - "especially anger management".

Perhaps if she had listened, or indeed the system had worked, Dean would still be alive.



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, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. 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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