All posts for the month January, 2016
Sometimes something that looks legitimate is not always what it seems.
For example, have look at the clip below were UK police pulled over and booked the driver of an ambulance responder unit. The public would have perceived this as an incredulous situation! But, the ambulance turned out to be a bogus unit.
A quick look a the vehicle should have raised suspicion, as the vehicle clearly has no specific ambulance service markings on it, only than the generic word “AMBULANCE” on the front and rear, and the Battenburg pattern hi-viz pattern applied to the exterior of the vehicle, and the blue light bar on the roof.
What the driver of the vehicle expected to achieve by this subterfuge beggars belief! There is no financial reward as a result of this behaviour. Delusions of granduer, perhaps?
However, senior ambulance officers in Britain’s NHS trusts say the ongoing privatisation of ambulance services has meant “sham” crews are able to operate legally. There is nothing illegal in writing “Ambulance” in bold letters across your car or wearing a flashy jumpsuit with “paramedic” emblazoned on it. The use of blue lights and sirens on public roads would constitute an offence.
John Divall, principal training officer of the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust, who has gathered nationwide reports on paramedic impersonators, said: “The NHS Executive Intelligence Unit are aware of this. They’ve been gathering cases of these Walter Mitty people who seem to want to trade on the prestige of real crews. And there is nothing we can do about it.
The other thing of note here is the quiet professional way the police went about their business. No throwing the “offender” against the vehicle, no raised voices, no slamming of doors, no behind-the-back handcuffing. All very quiet and purposeful.
The offender attended caught and was convicted and was fined for his efforts. I am led to believe that he re-offended, and received a prison sentence. He has since been at it again. refer to this article.
A very sad affair, with a man with clear mental health issues. Hopefully whist in prison he may receive treatment for this.
Questions asked of Australia by would be tourists, as posted on the official Australian Tourism Website. The answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a great sense of humour and probably also have a low tolerance threshold for stupidity!
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A:Depends how much you’ve been drinking.
Q:I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only three thousand miles, take lots of water.
Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia ? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane , Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay ? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?
Q:Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe .
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not.
Oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.
Q:Which direction is north in Australia ? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.
Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia ? (UK)
A:Why? Just use your fingers like we do…
Q:Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is
Oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia ? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?
Q:Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.
Q:Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from.
All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.
Q:I have a question about a famous animal in Australia , but I forget its name. It’s a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It’s called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them.
You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
Q:I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia ? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Q:Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia ? (France)
A: Yes, but only at Christmas.
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? ( USA )
A: Yes, but you’ll have to learn it first.
I have always said that wee drop of whisky (in moderation) was good for you. I have a large collection of whiskies (usually single malt) which I enjoy on special occasions.
I recently found this article which seems to support my belief:
The Health Benefits of Whisky:
1. Memory Boost: Whisky contains antioxidants that help improve the health of the brain. Additionally, alcohol boosts blood circulation, both of which contribute to your memory. Also, the ethanol in whisky helps your neurons function properly, which further aids recall.
2. Stress Relief: In moderation, whisky can reduce stress and calm the nerves. The combination of slowing down brain activity and increasing circulation (which helps provide the body with oxygenated blood), are essential for achieving tranquility.
3. Fight Weight Gain: Compared to its counterparts, whisky is a low-calorie alcohol, free of fat and cholesterol. If you’re on a diet but still want a drink – it’s your best choice.
4. Reduce the Risk of a Stroke: Whisky prevents cholesterol from accumulating in the cardiovascular system and can help remove excess cholesterol from the body. It also relaxes the walls of the arteries, reducing the risk of obstruction. All of these factors help reduce the risk of stroke considerably.
5. Reduce the Risk of Cancer: Whisky contains an antioxidant called ‘ellagic acid’, an acid that stops DNA from coming in contact with cancer-causing compounds, such as nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It is also beneficial in protecting the body from damage during chemotherapy.
6. Helps with Digestion: For centuries, whisky was considered a digestive aid, to be consumed after a heavy meal. Whisky’s composition and high alcohol percentage also make it an effective appetite suppressant.
7. Live Longer: The antioxidants in whisky help fight free radicals – the number one cause of aging, as well as prevent various diseases. This double-whammy helps your body live a longer, healthier life.
8. Diabetic-Friendly: Containing zero carbs, whisky won’t readily elevate blood sugar levels, making it the number one choice for diabetics. However, alcohol intake significantly increases the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). So if your diabetes is already well controlled, a moderate amount of alcohol may be fine either before, during or soon after a meal. Alcohol (whisky or otherwise) should be drunk in moderation and avoided on an empty stomach. Always consult your doctor for specific advice.
9. Improve Your Heart’s Health: Drinking whisky actually helps your heart stay healthy, similarly to red wine. It reduces the risk of blood clots, thus it can prevent strokes and heart attacks. The antioxidants in the whisky also inhibits the oxidation of low density lipoprotein – a main factor in heart disease.
10. Improve the Health of Your Brain: A 2003 study found that, thanks to the antioxidant qualities of the ellagic acid, moderate consumption of whisky reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and also improves cognitive functions. Basically, one drink a day will keep the brain doctor away.
11. Prevent & Treat Cold and Flu: Whisky is known for its positive effects in battling allergies and colds. It’s an effective cough syrup for people suffering from an itchy throat, and the alcohol helps kill bacteria in the throat. The best results are achieved by adding a little bit of whisky to a cup of hot water and lemon.
Some of the legal decisions that come out of the USA, never cease to amaze me. Now a US federal court has ruled that it is OK to wear military medals that you did not earn, and to lie about earning those medals. The wearing of an unearned medal, in my opinion, dilutes the intent conveyed by the medal, thus making the public skeptical when accepting the legitimacy of any medal. That said, the sheer number of medals (144 at last count) available to US servicemen and women, for all aspects of service, weapons handling etc., serves to foster that dilution on its own.
A federal law that prohibited people from wearing military medals they didn’t earn is unconstitutional for the same reason as a law that made it a crime to lie about earning a medal, a US federal appeals court ruled on Monday. It’s a falsehood that is protected by freedom of speech.
In an 8-3 ruling, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the now-repealed law against wearing unearned military decorations was a ban on a type of “symbolic speech.” Although the government can forbid falsehoods that cause tangible harm, like fraud or perjury, the Constitution restricts government regulation of expression based solely on its content, the court said.
“Suppressing a symbolic communication threatens the same First Amendment harm as suppressing a written communication,” Judge Sandra Ikuta said in the majority opinion. “Wearing a medal has no purpose other than to communicate a message.”
She cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2012 striking down a related law that prohibited lying about receiving a military honor. That 5-4 decision said the law punished speech without requiring proof of intent to defraud, and that the government had other ways of protecting the public from deception — for example, an easily accessible database of legitimate medal recipients.
A year after that ruling, Congress enacted a revised law that makes it a crime to lie about military honors, but only if the liar intended to profit or defraud someone. The new law does not punish someone solely for wearing an unearned medal.
Dissenters from Monday’s ruling said falsely wearing medals is conduct, not speech, and is potentially more harmful than lying about them.
“The wearing of an unearned medal dilutes the message conveyed by the medal itself,” making the public less likely to accept the legitimacy of any medal, said Judge Jay Bybee, who was joined by Judges N. Randy Smith and Paul Watford. “The lie here is told in a more effective way.”
The ruling came in the case of Elven Swisher, an Idaho man who served in the Marines from 1954 to 1957. In 2001, Swisher filed a claim for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder benefits, saying he had been wounded and traumatized in a secret combat mission in North Korea in 1955, two years after the Korean War ended. He said an unnamed captain had awarded him a Purple Heart and told him he was entitled to other service medals.
After initially rejecting his claim, the government reversed itself and granted Swisher benefits in 2004 for PTSD from the secret mission. The government canceled the benefits in 2006 after concluding that Swisher’s claims about the mission, the harm he suffered and the medals he earned were fraudulent.
In the meantime, Swisher wore his unearned Purple Heart when he testified as a prosecution witness against David Hinkson, convicted in 2005 of plotting to murder three people, including a federal judge. Despite learning of Swisher’s apparent deception, the appeals court later upheld Hinkson’s convictions.
Swisher, who has never recanted his claims, was convicted of the false-medal charge and three other crimes and has served his one-year sentence. His lawyer, Joseph Horras, said Monday’s ruling was a worthwhile expansion of First Amendment protections.
San Francisco Chronicle, Published: January 12, 2016
The Sydney Daily Telegraph (29/12/2015) headline “Thin Blue Fine” details that NSW Police “Push for more speeding tickets, RBTs to curb (road) toll.” The article goes on to say that traffic cops in NSW are being told to increase the number of random breath tests (RBTs) they perform and to issue more speeding tickets in response to the state’s “soaring” number of fatal road crashes. The NSW road toll for 2015 is 345, which is increase of 34 over 2014.
Highway patrol officers are concerned that their managers have an unrealistic expectation about the number of infringements that can be issued, and the number of RBTs that can be performed.
During my tenure as an emergency services officer, the yearly road toll in NSW has been reduced by 75%, from 1200 deaths annually, to 300. This is due in part to a combination of better car design, more safety features, seat belts, air bags, ABS, traction control and the introduction of RBT and other high profile policing measures. Driver training, experience and ability have remained unchanged. Speeding fines have had no effect in reducing road fatalities.
However, senior police deny that there is “quota” system in place, and emphasise that it is “their duty” to book speeding and drunk or drugged drivers. This author supports this approach, as dangerous and illegal behaviour needs to be eliminated from the roads.
However the issuing of more speeding fines will not stop drivers from speeding. The use of fixed and mobile speed cameras has exploded in NSW with mobile speed cameras now being used for 7,000 hours per month, up from 930 hours per month. But this has done little to reduce speeding. Moreover, the use of these cameras is seen as blatant revenue-raising by the NSW state government, rather than an emphasis on safety. Data reveals that over 50% of all speeding fines issued in NSW are for offences in the lowest category; 1-10 kmh over the speed limit. Less than 1% of fines issued have been for speeds greater than 30 kmh over the speed limit. Revenue from all speed and red-light cameras will be directed into a community road safety fund, the Road & Maritime Service spokesman said.
Government agencies maintain steadfastly that speeding increases the chances of a crash, as well as the likelihood of serious injury or death in a crash. While the latter is true, the former is not so accurate; many drivers who speed and are never involved in an incident or accident. Speed on its own is not the issue. Crashes (including fatalities) occur at all speeds, both high and low. But when speed is combined with alcohol, drugs, fatigue, inexperience, aggression, testosterone, inclement weather or any combination of these factors, the outcomes can be severe. An aggressive driver under the influence of “ice” is a recipe for disaster! Governments steadfastly state that speed cameras help reduce the road toll and lower the chances of having a crash. Our annual reviews show that speed cameras continue to improve road safety in NSW. In my professional experience, speed cameras make drivers slow down, while they pass them, and then drivers resume their usual behaviour thereafter.
Point-to-point speed cameras are used to measure the average speed of heavy vehicles over long distances, there is serious doubt as to the value or effectiveness of these as heavy vehicle drivers are very aware of their existence and adjust their driving accordingly, once past the average speed check zone, truckers resume their usual driving habits. Even if these cameras were used for all vehicles their effectiveness would be suspect.
There is no real effective way to combat all speeding, and many of those detected speeding are repeat offenders who do not seem to learn from the experience. Perhaps mandatory disqualification and/or impounding of vehicles of habitual speeders may be a solution!
In conclusion, there needs to be a greater emphasis on RBT and drug testing, as these two factors will have the greatest impact on reducing road crash fatalities in NSW. Highly visual mobile speed cameras and fixed speed cameras will have no effect on driving habits. Covert detection, where any car or object on the side of the road could be a mobile speed camera, will have the greatest effect on reducing speeding.