Monday, 28 April 2014

GUNS IN SCHOOLS

Governor Deal extends Georgia’s Stand Your Ground Law

The Governor of the US State of Georgia has signed into law a bill that will allow guns to be carried in schools, churches, bars and public buildings.

The new law was approved by both Georgia’s legislative houses by a substantial majority, but could have been vetoed by the Governor. John Nathan Deal has been Georgia Governor since 2011 and was previously a member of the US Congress, a lawyer, prosecutor and army captain.
Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia

Governor Deal owns an auto salvage business and was recently criticized for pressuring officials over new rules that would have seen his business suffer a downturn.

By world standards, and even by US standards, Georgia’s gun laws were already exceptionally liberal. Georgia is a Stand Your Ground state where there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force for self-defense, or the defense of others. In most democracies the law permits only enough force for self-defense and no more.

But in some jurisdictions only a minority of people understand that carrying a gun does not make anyone safer. People who carry guns are more likely to die by a gun than people who don’t carry guns. I suspect that Governor Deal understands this proposition, but politics was more important than real public safety. Perceived public safety was allowed to carry the day.

Last Saturday I sang at Te Aroha Country Music Club in New Zealand after hearing about Georgia’s new gun law. I dedicated this song to the Governor of Georgia:

Don't Take Your Guns to Town  (Johnny Cash)
                                                                                    
A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm,
A boy filled with wanderlust, who really meant no harm.
He changed his clothes and shined his boots and combed his dark hair down.
And his mother cried as he walked out,
"Don't  take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

He laughed and kissed his mom and said, "Your Billy Joe's a man.
I can shoot as quick and straight as anybody can,
But I wouldn't shoot without a cause, I'd gun nobody down."
But she cried again as he rode away,
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

He sang a song as on he rode, his guns hung at his hips.
He rode into a cattle town, a smile upon his lips.
He stopped and walked into a bar and laid his money down.
But his mother's words echoed again,
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."


He drank his first strong liquor then to calm his shaking hand,
And tried to tell himself at last he had become a man.
A dusty cowpoke at his side began to laugh him down.
And he heard again his mother's words:
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

Filled with rage the Billy Joe reached for his gun to draw
But the stranger drew his gun and fired before he even saw.
As Billy Joe fell to the floor the crowd all gathered 'round
And wondered at his final words:
"Don't take your guns to town, son.
Leave your guns at home, Bill.
Don't take your guns to town."

Governor Nathan Deal was the place where this new law could have been stopped dead. But perhaps he hasn’t been listening to the mothers in his state.


Australia successfully outgrew

its heritage of convicts, guns,

murder and mayhem




 Nathaniel's Bloodline is now available for E-readers from:


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

DRIVING IN FLORIDA 1949

Florida – A Guide to the Southernmost State
Published by Oxford University Press, New York in 1949

Information for the Motorist

Non-resident owners or operators have the full use of Florida highways. Florida registration laws extend reciprocal privileges to the motorists of any other state; but the motorist must purchase a license plate immediately upon becoming gainfully employed, engaged in any trade or profession, or placing children in school. License tags can be purchased at county courthouses, or branch license bureaus in various cities. The registration authority for the State is Commissioner, Motor Vehicle Dept., Tallahassee. Driver’s license 50 cents.

A Florida interstate highway in 2014
Legal Speeds: 15 mph (24 k) in business districts, 25 mph (40 k) in residential districts, and 45 mph (72 k) elsewhere . . . .

General Rules of the Road: The first rule of the Florida road is for the motorist to exercise caution when approaching livestock, particularly cattle, which roam most of the State’s principal highways. In case of injury or death to livestock, Florida law enables the owner to collect damages from the motorist equal to the value of the livestock. Passing another motorist on a hill is illegal. There are prohibitions against parking on highways, coasting in neutral, passing stopped streetcars, and the use of windshield stickers . . . .

Peter’s Piece

In 1949 the State of Florida had a population of just under 3 million people compared with today’s 20 million. Florida must have been little changed then from when Ponce de Leon stepped ashore in 1513. But it has certainly changed since the guidebook was published in 1949.

Florida's Interstate 4 near Orlando
Today, Florida’s largest industry is tourism and the state has 1,500 miles of interstate highway to speed vacationers south to their favorite destinations. Millions drive in every year and millions more arrive by sea and air. We don’t hear much these days about people trying to swim from Cuba.

I found this part of the guidebook fascinating. I tried to visualize motorists driving through town at the death-defying speed of 15 mph. If everyone drove at that speed now, the entire State of Florida would be permanently gridlocked and the President would have to declare the State a disaster area. It would take the combined forces of the CIA, FBI, DOT, FDA and Homeland Security to formulate a five year plan of action.

I’m assuming that they meant overtaking, or meeting, another motorist when they had a law against passing a motorist on a hill. Today, passing a motorist would mark the end of a very long bout of severe constipation. That law must have been revoked when the legislators discovered that Florida has no hills other than Britton Hill which towers 345 feet above sea level with a gradient that must be all of one per cent.

Considering I’ve driven every mile of Florida interstate, I was fortunate in not ever having to pay damages to livestock owners. I did meet a number of alligators on and near the highways, but they seemed more interested in elimination rather than litigation, so I didn’t stop.

Coasting in neutral was another old law that tickled my fancy. One could never expect to coast very far in such a flat state, even on Britton Hill. But, perhaps in 1949 coasting in neutral was a popular sport in the hurricane season. It must have been a case of anything to break the boredom.

I liked Florida, in the cooler weather. But I did suspect a higher than usual accident rate on the interstates. Sometimes heavy rain appeared to be a factor, while at other times it was just bad driving, probably by visitors. The Florida accident rate per 10,000 drivers is 364 for under 19 drivers compared with just 95 for over 70 drivers.

Young drivers everywhere have great difficulty coming to terms with their lack of experience, and adjusting their driving to suit. They complain about the cost of insurance, but the insurance companies only charge according to risk. It’s not 1949 any more.



Available now as an E-book from:




Tuesday, 22 April 2014

CREATION AND EVOLUTION

Joe Bush – historian extraordinary

Hold onto your seat; don't blink your eyes for a second.

This is truly amazing!
 
Seventeen year old Joe Bush got a high school assignment to make a video production.  He chose history as his theme and tucked the history of the Universe into just two minutes.

Turn on your sound and hold on tight!  







This Ebook is now available for download from:
for just $0.99 USD!


Sunday, 20 April 2014

FREDDIE FUDDPUCKER

The Life and Times of Freddie Fuddpucker reviewed by a comic

I sent of copy of The Life and Times of Freddie Fuddpucker to a friend hoping for a friendly review. What a laugh. This is what he wrote:


‘From the time I picked it up to the time I put it down I couldn’t stop laughing. Some day I may get around to reading it.’

I wrote back: ‘Thanks for the friendly review. Look for my next book. You’ll be in it.’

Freddie Fuddpucker (originally a cocktail) is a laugh from start to finish and reading this book will make you laugh till you cry. But don’t let your tears fall on the page. The printer used cheap ink. It would be better to download the electronic version from Amazon or Smashwords.





Click one of these links for a laugh:




Thursday, 17 April 2014

ACCIDENT OR MURDER?

Malaysian tiger Karpal Singh dies in car ‘accident’

The driving force of opposition politics in Malaysia since 1970 has died in a car accident. Karpal Singh was 74. He survived an earlier ramming collision in 2005 and was confined to a wheel chair, but continued to serve in the parliament until his death.
Karpal Singh

Karpal Singh was a fearless rebel both in politics and the legal profession, and received many death threats during his long career. One of his most controversial cases was defending Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim who was charged with sodomy in 1998. Many people considered the charge to be means of fending off a challenge to the leadership and when Karpal mentioned that he was charge with sedition. That charge was later dropped.

Karpal was an outspoken opponent of Malaysia’s death penalty, particularly the death penalty for drug trafficking. He famously defended several Australians and New Zealanders charged with drug offences. One, Kevin Barlow, was executed in 1986. The others received death sentences which were later commuted to life sentences. A New Zealander, Lorraine Cohen, was sentenced to death and later pardoned.

Karpal was an outspoken opponent of political corruption and a strong advocate for poor and oppressed people. He was suspended from parliament many times and was detained from 1987 to 1989 under the Internal Security Act but was never tried in court. In 2009 he was charged with sedition after threatening to sue the King of Malaysia, Sultan Azlan Shah. The charge was dismissed by the High Court in 2010.

Karpal Singh married Gurmit Kaur in 1970 and they had five children.

No doubt Karpal will be as controversial in death as he was in life. There may never be a final answer to the question on many lips: Was it an accident, or was it a political murder?




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CHAOTIC LAW ENFORCEMENT

Freedom campers challenge council law makers in court

New Zealand motorhome and caravan enthusiasts have trotted out internationally renowned constitutional lawyer Mai Chen to challenge the legality of the Thames-Coromandel District Council’s bylaws at the High Court in Hamilton.

Members of the 52,000 strong New Zealand Motorcaravan Association packed two public galleries to capacity, even though the Association’s two events of the year (the annual general meeting and national rally) were taking place elsewhere at the same time.  By contrast, the Thames-Coromandel District Council serves a population of just 27,000. The council was not supported at the hearing by staff or councillors.

Motorhomers outside the High Court, Hamilton, New Zealand where their 52,000 member
organization the New Zealand Motorcaravan Association was contesting anti freedom camping laws

The hearing was in the form of a judicial review of council bylaws and was presided over by the Honourable Justice Mark Cooper of Auckland who, as a lawyer, had extensive experience advising local government. Mai Chen, from Wellington law firm Chen-Palmer, is in partnership with former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, himself a renowned constitutional lawyer. Ms Chen has a Masters degree from Harvard University and worked at the United Nations in Geneva for several years. The District Council was represented by Padraig McNamara of the Auckland firm Simpson Grierson.
Thames is the main town on New Zealand's
Coromandel Peninsula and the seat
of local government.

The plaintiff (NZ Motorcaravan Assn) submitted that the Freedom Camping Act 2011 was passed by the New Zealand Parliament to encourage freedom camping within reasonable restrictions and that the Act prohibited a total ban in any council area. However, The Council had passed a Freedom Camping Bylaw which had the effect of creating a total ban with the exception of a half dozen car parking spaces throughout the area that could be used by motorhomes until 7:30 in the morning.

To assist with the council-wide ban the council relied on a Public Places Bylaw and a Parking Control Bylaw, the legality of which were both questioned by the plaintiff. It was submitted that the council had not followed the correct consultation process. It was also argued that the council’s last minute offer to revoke one of these bylaws and meanwhile to not enforce it was also illegal. At this point the judge commented that, “Either you have a law or you don’t have a law.” He went on to cite judgments that upheld that view.

The defendant (the District Council) submitted that there was a need for the three bylaws because of litter and other problems in the district. But the plaintiff countered this argument by pointing out that since the Act and Bylaws had come into force the council had issued 1,900 infringements at $200 each, but only three were issued for behavior matters. The remainder were issued for simply parking in the wrong place.

A lighter moment in the proceedings occurred when Justice Cooper spotted a fly landing on the bench in front of him. “I’ll just have to deal with this freedom camper,” he announced to laughter from the campers who were there because they believed their own wings had been clipped.

There was also argument about the clarity of the council’s bylaws and confusion between council locality descriptions and council maps.

  A life on the road as a paid tourist
Read a free sample of this EBook or buy
now from  Amazon or Smashwords

The plaintiff submitted that the bylaws breached several acts of parliament including the Local Government Act, Bill of Rights Act, and Acts Interpretation Act in addition to the Freedom Camping Act. When challenged on the intent of the Freedom Camping Act, Ms Chen read from Hansard (the Parliamentary minutes) part of a speech by the minister in charge of the bill as it proceeded through Parliament, confirming that the intent was to encourage freedom camping.
Judgments were cited from other High Court cases, as well as from the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.

In closing the case for the motorhomers, Ms Chen submitted that the Association had been trying to work with the Council for over two years and had brought the case to court as a last resort. She gave notice that the plaintiff would seek costs.

The Thames-Coromandel District Council area is one of New Zealand’s most scenic places and includes most of the mountainous Coromandel peninsula on the north east of the North Island. It is a popular place for New Zealanders to visit and retire, but has become less popular with motorhomers since the council crackdown on freedom camping. This may be causing local businesses a downturn in trade. Due to a lack of tourism infrastructure and difficult roads the area is not popular with coach tour operators.

In spite of the difficulties that motorhomers have been experiencing with the Thames-Coromandel District Council, most agree that elsewhere in New Zealand local councils extend a warm welcome to visitors and motorhomers alike. It is still a great place to visit.




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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

MAN ON THE RUN

From A Twist of Fate
A novel by Peter Blakeborough

A silence came between them for a moment while Bob Asker’s thoughts were elsewhere.
‘Do you remember Mrs. Stockwell who went on the Ned Kelly tour?’ he asked.
‘You mean the lady that banks her money under the bed?’
‘That’s the one. She’s a marvellous old thing. I promised to look in on her from time to time and I’ve decided to pay her a visit tomorrow morning. I’m sure she would enjoy meeting you. Will you come with me?’
‘I’d love to.’
Janet and Polly Stockwell got along famously. The old lady loved to talk about the family she once had and Janet plied her with questions.
‘Please tell me about your childhood, Mrs. Stockwell? Did you grow up in Carrathool?’
‘No, me dear. I was born an’ grew up in Sydney in an area called the Rocks. We were a large family and pretty poor. It was hard in them times. Me pa was a blacksmith and he an’ ma lived in a rented shanty with a dirt floor all their lives. That’s how they brought twelve babies into the world. Only half the twelve got to see their twentieth birthdays. That’s how it was when yer were descended from convicts. Me great grandfather came to Australia aged twelve with the First Fleet. I wrote a book about it when I was fresh outta school, the first generation of me family to attend school. The world is a much better place now.’
Bob was spellbound and shocked. Now he knew where he had seen the name Polly Stockwell. There could be little doubt. There were too many coincidences. But he had to be careful not to reveal his own true identity.
‘Do you remember telling me that your son went to live in New Zealand?’
Polly smiled cleverly.
‘I might be old an’ a bit worn out, but me memory is still as sharp as a tack, Bob Doyle.’
‘I’m sure it is, Mrs. Stockwell. You see, I was wondering because Janet is from New Zealand she might be able to help you trace your son.’ He nudged Janet’s knee under the table. ‘You’d just have to give her some more information to go on.’
‘Oh, that’d be wonderful if you could find ‘im, Janet. I’d be eternally grateful, me dear. It was about 1902 when he sailed from Sydney with his bride. The ship they were on was wrecked on the New Zealand coast. Cedric and Doris made it to the shore an’ they went to live in a place called Napier where they had buses. They had a big family but Doris died about 1919 or 1920. I had several letters from Cedric after that but nothing after about 1930. I just don’t know what happened after that.’
‘Was his name Cedric Stockwell?’ Janet asked.
‘Oh, no. Cedric was born before I met Harley. Outta wedlock, as they say, so I gave ‘im me own name. I called ‘im Cedric Nathaniel Asker. If he’s still alive he’d be seventy something now. It’d be wonderful to hear from him. But if ‘e ain’t still o’ this world it’d be nice to hear from ‘is family. Let’s see there was Dick, Emily, Gordon, Connie, Mary, Ted, William, Martha and Clarrie.’
It was the name that Bob had finally expected to hear but even so the shock was too much for him. For years he had fretted for his family, his brother and sisters, his mother, his father and even the grandparents he had never known. And right there, sitting across the table from him, was his very own great-grandmother, Polly Asker. He wanted to jump up and hug and kiss her and dance and sing till it hurt. But he could not. Nor could he tell her that Cedric had been dead twenty-six years. Overcome with emotion he pushed his chair back and walked out the door choking back his emotions.
It was a long time before he could compose himself enough to go back inside the little old house. Granny Polly would never want for anything while Bob Asker was around.


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