Wednesday, March 29, 2017

There, but for the grace of God....

Image result for white drug bottle
I see Susan Austen’s case has been postponed again. She’s been charged with two offences of importing a Class C drug, sodium pentobarbitone, well known as nembutal, the drug of choice for people who may wish to end their own unbearable suffering. Her apparently straightforward case has already been adjourned since charges were laid last year.

Now the Police have asked for more time to bring another charge. Perhaps they are just "kicking for touch". Perhaps they have been warned they have a rather shaky case. Perhaps they are still shrugging off the huge public criticism for their disgraceful and embarrassing Operation Painter last year. Perhaps they are realising that this minor court case could become a major public issue in an election year. Well, why not?

I think if I had been living within a reasonable distance, I, too, would have been protesting in front of the Courthouse the other day. Not because Susan hasn’t done anything wrong—she appears to have broken the law, all right. But because she was equipping herself to do what I want to be able to do legally myself. 

Oddly, having the stuff is illegal. Using it, isn't. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Operation Painter

In our country there is a growing number of unnecessary suicides of elderly people who would rather leave this life prematurely by their own hand than trust their last days and weeks to the health system.

So several months ago Wellington Region Police apparently resolved to make contact with people connected with Exit International or the Voluntary Euthanasia movement. They called on at least one dear old lady who did indeed own a balloon inflation kit, complete with a supply helium, readily available from her local shopping centre. The photo is her bold response. 

The Police went a good deal further with Operation Painter. This involved a very heavy-handed and probably illegal road block - ostensibly a blood/alcohol check - to collect names and addresses from people who had been attending a meeting on ending one's life. They appeared to be building up a Police dossier of (elderly) people likely to harm themselves. All this at a time when a Parliamentary Committee was already deep in discussions about "ending one's life in New Zealand"...

At the time I facebooked:  "As a member of the local Community Patrol I am in and out of the nether regions of the local Police station more than most people and know some of the officers by name. It will be interesting to see if I receive such a visit. Maybe I should just pop in and ask them if I'm on a list..."  Well, I haven't had a call yet.

Operation Painter raised headlines around the country and there was considerable outrage. The affair was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Authority which has apparently not been able to reach a conclusion in eight or nine months. This timely delay could help to ensure that medical aid in dying becomes an election issue this year.

Goodbye to the Godwits

Over the years when I had more time for posting to this blog I commented several times on the amazing migratory feat of the local bar-tailed godwits. 

Last night Bev and I took fish and chips and cordial down to the real Red Beach last night and sat in the car and watched the very smooth sea. The gulls even sat on our bonnet in vain hope of a snack.

Gazing out at the sea we had the strange feeling that the distant surface was moving. Suddenly we realised we were seeing greyish birds on the wing. Out came the binoculars and there was a thin straggling column flying northwards low over the water. It continued for several minutes.

By chance, we had happened on a major part of the annual migration of bar tailed godwits. This flock would probably continue north and link up with others from around New Zealand, heading for the Arctic tundra.

Of course, as we discovered a few years ago, the really incredible part is that their newly raised young ones will fly back here by themselves in six months.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Report a bad Driver

I work with our local Community Constable in producing joint articles for a local monthly paper. Recently we considered promoting the "Report a Bad Driver" form that is available on the Police Website. I have made several of these reports, mainly involving dangerous or blatantly illegal overtaking.

The idea is that motorists who observe bad driving can make a formal complaint with all the details. The procedure then requires Police to visit the alleged offender and discuss the incident with them. Of course, this involves quite a bit of work. And the discussion can soon become a kind of "He Said" but "I Say" thing. Apparently the results are not very often conclusive.

I can understand that it could easily consume Police time that will not have any significant outcome. In most cases it would only be an irritant for the offending driver. So we decided not to promote the form with a magazine article.

But encouraging drivers to be responsible for each other doesn't seem to be a bad thing. If the present system is not efficient why not adjust the procedure so that reports are simply noted in a file for the vehicle concerned. When a consistent series of, say, three significant reports accumulates on the file within a defined period, apparently involving the same driver, there could surely be some justification in the Police taking the matter up with the person concerned by letter or, in some cases, a personal visit.

Let's not throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater.