Saturday, November 24, 2007

Media Blackout Over Racist Attack

There's an ongoing Old Bailey trial, but try finding anything in the MSM about the people who left John Payne paralysed and brain-damaged.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Appearance And Reality

Appearance ...

Gordon Brown promised severe punishment for people caught carrying firearms as he met a special police task force tackling gun crime in Manchester. The prime minister met officers at the task force's base at Greenheys police station in Moss Side.

He also talked to families who have had relatives murdered by gang members. The visit came as officers continue to hunt the killers of Jessie James, 15, gunned down a few streets away in a local park in September 2006.

Reality ...

Oh right, so the PM came to Greenheys (Moss Side) did he?

That would explain why:

*The toilets that perpetually smell of piss (to save water) and bad farts (no other reason than too many blokes using too infrequently ventilated small spaces ;)) were all cleaned
*The stacks of paperwork were all stuffed into filing cabinets.
*Response were told to get out and look like they were doing something useful.
*Area Policing Teams were told even less than normal and just pushed out of the door, leaving piles of full files unfinished.
*The entire centre of the car park, not exactly a large space to begin with, was cordoned off - leaving police officers to park their vehicles in the middle of Moss Side on nearby estates.
*You couldn't get through the hangers on.

On the bright side:
*First time I have seen the Chief Constable, ever.
*The toilets didn't smell so much.
*We were released from a half days drudgery of filework.
*Got to watch where we work on the news. Still looks like the set of "Life On Mars" however.

They should have left it how it was so that:
*The PM could hear people complaining about how crap it is working here with too little resourcing and staffing.
*The PM could go into the "bubble" and get stuck in there because he left his keyfob upstairs. Then he could have all his associates look through the door and laugh at him.
*The PM could have had his carkeys or wallet (in the absence of a warrant card) put into the vending machine with it's stupid slidey doors.
*The PM may have actually had to speak to a serving officer that hasn't told him how spiffing it was working in such a diverse community and that everything was all good and rosy, Sir.

Fat chance.

The Wrong Trousers

Two sisters have beheaded their own uncle and his wife in front of the couple's children because the man wore Western-style trousers, according to Iraqi police.

If they were those show-yer-pants baggy trousers you can sort of see their point, although I think beheading's going a bit far.

No Wonder They Scored So Quickly

Opera singer Tony Henry mis-pronounced a key line in the national anthem before Wednesday's match and sang "my penis is a mountain" to the delight of the Croat players.

Strange ...

Call me old-fashioned, but isn't it worse for a solicitor to smuggle drugs to her client than for her client to accept them ?

A man who collected drugs from his lawyer while on remand in Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison has been jailed for three years and nine months.

Peter McConnville, 29, admitted accepting a cigarette packet stuffed with heroin and diazepam from solicitor Angela Baillie in October 2005.

She was jailed for 32 months last year after admitting supplying the drugs.

She gets 32 months, he gets 45 !

(There may however be something going on that the Beeb aren't telling us about. The guy was on remand for a shooting, and he'd legged it from an arrest warrant. He was cleared - maybe a witness didn't turn up ? Is this a bit of 'afters' from the judge ?)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Few Smears on the Curate's Windowpane

Grayson Perry, the Turner Prize-winning artist who is perhaps better known to the general public for his extravagant cross-dressing, has admitted that he censors himself when it comes to matters relating to Islam.

Speaking at a meeting organised by the Art Fund, Perry said that it was simple fear which stopped him from addressing Islam in his work. 'I don't want my throat cut', he said.

Way back in April I had a teensy spatette with Alex Hilton of Recess Monkey, in which I noted a tendency to play the man rather than the ball.

Since then he's been putting himself forward as a Labour Party candidate - not selected yet. I'm not sure that trawling the Facebook accounts of the families of political opponents speaks that well for his judgement. As an obsessive trawler myself, I can see the appeal. But I'm not trying to be selected as a Parliamentary candidate.

Especially when he doesn't quite seem to see what the problem is. His Guardian piece is "all about him".

Would you want this guy as your MP ? On the other hand he seems just the sort of chap they'd like at Labour HQ - but they have to work anonymously, in the shadows - as I do. I'm not sure he's cut out for that.

The Hypocrisy Takes Your Breath Away

February 2007 :

Rules doubling the amount of passenger duty people pay when taking flights from the UK have come into force.

The increase was announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown last December. He said airlines should pay more for damaging the environment.

November 2007 :

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly is set to outline plans for a third runway and possible sixth terminal at Heathrow. She will say a third, short runway will not breach noise and environmental limits as consultation begins on a huge expansion of the west London airport.

Expansion at Heathrow could see flights increase from 480,000 a year to 800,000 - a move that will anger local residents and green campaigners.

So air travel damages the environment. And we need to nearly double it.

More Cracks In The Monolith

BBC functionary (apparently) Sarah-Jane in the B-BBC comments :

I have been working on some different projects one of which is about how programmes are made based on key audience insights. I now know for a fact that the audience insight driving 'Life on Mars' was that "people are fed up with PC".

And by strange chance, this story :

The BBC is to provoke controversy with a series of programmes this winter exploring Britain's "under siege" white working class.

I imagine the idea is to control the discourse rather than reflect it, but at least their existence is being acknowledged.

And perhaps most cheering of all, the Daily Mail's L-isomer, the Indie, seems still to be losing readers.

Writing in The Observer (November 11), Peter Preston comments that “the relaunched, more anorexic Independent on Sunday is 8.37 per cent off October 2006 (with only 132,000 UK readers prepared to stump up £1.80)” and that, at the newsstand, the “Independent, with not much of a net presence at all, is down 6.72 per cent in a year.”

The circulation of the Indie in August, 2007 was a mere 240,116 [according to the UK ABC (Audited Bureau of Circulations)], a 5.37% drop from November 2006, and way, way below The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The Times.

Moreover, unlike The Guardian (c. 18 million unique users), the poor Indie is unlikely to be saved by its website, which must be one of the dullest in the world. The word ‘anorexic’ again crosses one’s mind.

Not much cheer, perhaps, on this day of gloom. But we need all the comfort we can get.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ho Ho Ho ...

Sadly now withdrawn by Ebay (via Guido's comments)

Another Day, Another Dead Teenager (or two)

My son came up to me the other day and said "You know what, Dad ? You were right".

When I'd recovered from these rare - nay, unprecedented words, "What about ?"

"That kid who got shot in Liverpool. You said that everyone would say how awful it was, and something must be done, and nothing would be done. I didn't believe you."

Ah yes. I did say something like that to him.

"But what really upsets me is that I know nothing will be done about it. Everyone will say how awful it is, and something must be done, and in six months we'll be watching a different set of relatives. I've seen so many of these interviews in the last thirty years, and the crimes get just that little bit worse. It makes me feel angry - and helpless."

A couple more kids in London this week, just typical stuff. Urban gun crime is the bastard child of the Scarman Report.

The death of Congolese immigrant Biendi Litambola has seen the traditional mourning rites being observed.

Today around 20 of his pals laid floral tributes to their friend at the murder scene and spray-painted "E6 Gangsta" in the doorway of nearby flats where it is understood two suspects were arrested.

But Ilford and Canning Town don't have any literary types nearby. Stoke Newington does, so the shooting of Etem Celebi was a little too close for comfort.

Suzanne Moore in the Guardian on shootings and urban child-rearing :

Most teenage boys act harder than they are, don't they? They have to. Unless they withdraw into their rooms smoking skunk, listening to angsty music, waiting till the next time they get mugged.

Baroque in Hackney on shootings and urban child-rearing (and more from her here):

"The Urban Warrior, my older one, is more philosophical, talking about other people he knows Etem was friends with, including one who was done last year for all sorts of egregious things; he sounds pretty hard. I don't want my kid to sound hard. But he's bought his hardness dearly, and he knows how to work the streets. He's hard because he can't help being part of it, because he's a teenage boy. The only alternative is to sit in your room like his brother."

Sounds like the Guardianistas are breeding a 50/50 mix of intelligent street-smart kids, young warrior Beowulfs, and frightened victims. Back to the future !

"We have created the classic conditions for the emergence of a warrior class: separation of economic activity from family maintenance; children reared apart from fathers; wealth subject to predation; and male status determined by combat and sexual conquest."

The CiF comments are impressive too :

Has anyone seen that episode of the Simpsons where Flanders uber-liberal, beatnik parents go to the psychiatrist and complain about their inability to control his behaviour? "We've tried nothing Doc, and and we're totally out of ideas!"

"I give thanks every day my boy returns home safe. What kind of a society produces a reaction like that. He lives in London ffs, not Gaza."

"for those of you who dont live on a council estate and believe that people just wilfully will not deal with the police. Let me break it down for you. If you snitch to the police and the thugs find out, you will be killed/stabbed,/beaten up/ hounded out of your house, depending on the ferocity of who you snitched on. People who go about their day to day business not killing, using drugs, and all the other stereotypes abounding on this thread are hostages to the area they live in. It is not out of choice that they do not 'give up names'. Get real."

"all this is a spectator sport for a lot of middle-class white liberals. They LIKE a bit of deprivation and anti-social bahaviour, even the odd murder (not too close to home). It gives them a vicarious thrill. In Nick Hornby's 'Fever Pitch'. He talks about how despite coming from a nice house in Maidenhead. he's always wanted to come from a rough part of North London: "With a tube station and a West Indian community and terrible, insoluble social problems.""

"As a veteran criminal lawyer, I've got to say I've been alternately amused and disgusted by the clueless bleatings both of the column, and the various flavours of lefty who want to blame 'society' (or 'capitalism', or Thatcher, or whatever).

I actually have a clue, because I have known many, many, many of these thugs on a professional basis: my clients.

It's not the poverty.

It's not guns.

It's not the TV.

It's not Iraq.

It's not insufficient public spending, as if you could simply bury the problem by shoveling money at it.

The problem is the criminals.

The criminals, violent, selfish, callous sods; as well as a considerable segment of their subculture which worships the same idols: easy money, contempt for honest work, law enforcement, and decent society; and fatherless households going on four generations of workless state-supported existence, supplemented by thievery and narcotics.

What is the answer? Simple. Real law enforcement with serious sentences- not ASBO's or six months at a holiday camp, but hard time. You would be amazed at the change in a hardened thug's expression when he learns that *this* time he's looking at five years mandatory minimum, no parole. Serious incarceration also gets them off the streets, reducing the spread of the infection to the impressionable younger ones on the cusp.

And it *does* work. At this point somebody will bring up the USA's very high rate of imprisonment- and that's true. But it's true *because* thirty years of namby-pamby penology of the sort that plagues Britain produced an explosion of criminals, who all had to be placed when we finally got serious about it again. The price we had to pay for our hand-wringing softly-softly folly, as reflected by America's plunging crime rates over the last ten years. Yes, Britannia, your rates of serious crime are now *higher* than ours in all categories except murder, and you're rapidly overtaking us there.

You want to solve this problem? Lock 'em up. By the time they're 18 it's too late- concentrate on saving the younger ones. Make sure that minor vandalism and shoplifting are punished, not laughed off. Don't allow poor estates to become warzones of graffiti and broken glass. Give the poor jobs, not handouts. Make it abundantly clear that the law applies everywhere, not just in the leafy suburbs- then you'll see a change."

"Like Suzanne I lived, as I said, in the inner cities; when it came time to choose my lad's first school I walked in to the playground, clocked the looks I got from the older kids there, added that to the four shootings within two hundred yards of our house in eighteen months, and put the house on the market. I took a 50% wage cut to get out and head north, and it was a bargain. Anyone who makes their kids grow up in london when they don't *have* to, needs their head examined."

And the last word to commenter Peel :

This left wing commentator laments the products of the wholesale reconstruction of a culture, reconstructed by the cultural left.
It dug up the old moral ethos. It assumed that ethos was just part of the atmosphere, not the result of centuries of Christian civilization.
Now she realises the tide is coming in fast, there are no moral absolutes or norms, all is a sea of relativism and multi culturalism.
The people who suffer most from this liberal elite destruction are the poor, and poor blacks worst of all.
Well done Ms Moore - please don't think you and yours are not deeply implicated in this grotesque social catastrophe, as is most of New Labour.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Great Inland Revenue Disaster

And with one almighty clanger the whole of Britain said "How can we trust these people on ID cards ?"

But don't think that'll stop them, any more than voters rejecting it stopped the EU constitution or the North East referendum will stop them trying to break up England into 'regions'.

On tonight's PM programme Jane Kennedy, Secretary to the Treasury was arguing that the IR systems were old and therefore less secure, whereas the shiny new e-enabled identity scheme was more modern and therefore would be more secure. At which my daughter said "It's like the Titanic, the 'unsinkable' ship".

Of course it makes very little difference how old the system is, given that at the heart of just about every system is a database - unless you encrypt the database and build decryption into the access method. Strong encrypting/decrypting takes time and computer resource, slowing response times and making bulk querying of the data a big job for even modern computers. Third parties can send data to HMRC via a "secure gateway", although it would take a long time to shove 25 million records down a pipe. A disk is probably as good a way as any - if you encrypt the data and use a trusted courier. I wouldn't like to be in the shoes of the poor chap who dropped this particular testis.

Systems were in fact a lot more secure twenty years back, when pretty much everything was on a mainframe or midrange. If you did wander out with a tape under your arm you'd still need an IBM tape machine and some kind of large computer. Now an ill-intentioned person could get all those client details onto a keyring flash drive or with a quick CD burn, and have all the resources to dice and slice the data available at home. I wonder if and how HMRC stop flash drive usage, given that USB runs the keyboard and mouse on modern PCs ?

(Ms Kennedy's qualifications for making her statement include "residential child care officer at Liverpool City Council (LCC) (1979-1983) and care assistant at LCC Social Services (1983-88). Other past roles include Branch Secretary (1983-88) and Area Organiser (1988-92) of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE)").

Congratulations !

I've got a pal,
A reg'lar out an' outer,
She's a dear good old gal.
I'll tell yer all about 'er.
It's many years since fust we met,
'Er 'air was then as black as jet;
It's whiter now, but she don't fret,
Not my old gal!

We've been together now for sixty years,
An' it don't seem a day too much.
There ain't a lady livin' in the land
As I'd swop for my dear old Dutch.
No, there ain't a lady livin' in the land
As I'd swop for my dear old Dutch.

I calls 'er Sal,
'Er proper name is Sairer,
An' yer may find a gal
As you'd consider fairer.
She ain't a angel - she can start
A-jawin' till it makes yer smart,
She's just a woman, bless 'er 'eart,
Is my old gal!

Sweet fine old gal,
For worlds I wouldn't lose 'er;
She's a dear good old gal,
An' that's what made me choose 'er.
She's stuck to me through thick and thin,
When luck was out, when luck was in.
Ah! wot a wife to me she's been,
An' wot a pal!

I sees yer, Sal -
Yer pretty ribbons sportin'!
Many years now, old gal,
Since them young days of courtin'.
I ain't a coward, still I trust
When we've to part, as part we must,
That Death may come and take me fust
To wait ... my pal!

(Words by Albert Chevalier (1861-1923))

Monday, November 19, 2007

Racist Police Officer To Be Replaced

For a long time this man was able to get away with being hideously unrepresentative of London's population, very few of whom have circular noses or bright yellow eyebrows.

But after an in-depth investigation by the Met's Diversity Directorate decided he looked a dead ringer for a Somali suicide-bombing suspect, PCSO Steve could be living on borrowed time.

A police mascot criticised for being too male and white will be replaced by more "ethnically diverse" models.

PSCO Steve was created by the Metropolitan Police to visit primary schools but drew criticism for failing to represent London's communities.

The Met will spend £15,000 in making three new characters.

The new costumes, expected to be ready early next year, include a woman PCSO, named Sunita ...

If they'd named her Mingeeta they'd have got two minorities for the price of one.

Brights Out !

Fraser Nelson in the Spectator ...

We’re so focussed on the 1,500 arriving here every day that no one really focuses on the 1,000 leaving every day. Figures from the OECD (pdf here) show more graduates, 1.3million, have fled Britain than any other developed country (even America, which has five times our population). On Brits deemed to have “high skills,” 15% have left to live abroad – the highest ratio in the developed world save for the notoriously itinerant Irish and Kiwis. In Britain, high skills are used as a passport to get the hell out and go make money elsewhere. (Perhaps why every English-speaking country has had better economic growth than Britain since 1997). An economic exodus is underway, and only mass immigration is covering it up.

and the Business.

We all know of the millions of Mexican emigrants who have left their country in the hope of a better life, usually to head to America. Among OECD member states, Mexico counts the largest number of emigrants – some 9.4m of them across the globe. But what few realise is that the second-largest group of exiles – some 3.4m at last count – are the British.

Two Early Release Killers and an Early Release Lord Chief Justice

In reverse order of dangerousness, John Campbell, Richard Hanson, and Lord Chief Justice Phillips of Worth Matravers.

Campbell, 34, was serving an eight-year sentence for two offences of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement when he was granted unsupervised leave. He was initially placed on a high supervision level when he was sentenced in August 2002. But his supervision level was wrongly reduced to medium at Kilmarnock prison within 12 months of his sentencing. At a review in December 2004, Campbell's supervision level was again wrongly reduced to low, making him eligible for unsupervised home leave when he was transferred to Castle Huntly.

Sentenced to eight years in 2002. Two years later he's tranferred to Scotland's legendary comedy "prison", Castle Huntly. He's given "home leave" in 2005, three years into an "eight" year sentence, takes it and kills Catherine Thomson a day later.

The court was told that Richard Hanson, who has an IQ of 78, had suffered from disturbed behaviour since the age of three, when it was reported that he kicked a teacher and set fire to a bed. He has numerous previous convictions and was most recently sentenced to 18 weeks' imprisonment on July 3 last year for offences of resisting or obstructing a person assisting a constable, shoplifting and driving while disqualified. He was released on September 8, just under two weeks before the attack.

Kicked "a teacher" at the age of three ? What was he doing with a teacher at that age ? I know not, but his release seven weeks into an eighteen week sentence killed Gemma Roberts. Hanson cut her throat in the street as she walked past in a random and motiveless attack. He did it because he could.

If he had "numerous previous convictions", why exactly did the Probation "Service" think he was fit to be released less than half way through his latest sentence ?

The most depressing bit of this depressing saga is the sentence. The poor chap's ill, you see. Unlike Gemma Roberts.

Setting a minimum period in custody of two years 320 days, Judge Collier said he would be subject to a licence for the rest of his life.

Less than three years for cutting a girl's throat in the street. Can't say Judge Collier's not got a sense of humour, even if it is rather sick. As for this "on licence", "may never be released" nagombi, Hanson was on license when he killed. Some social worker will certify he's free to go - as likely as not within five years. Especially if the prisons are full.

Which brings us on to the biggest danger to society of them all - Lord Chief Justice "The Jails Are Full" Phillips of Bryanston, Cambridge and Worth Matravers.

Top judge attacks sentencing laws

Prison overcrowding is at a critical level because of the government's sentencing policy, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales has said.

Damning judgment

Most pressing of all is the matter of physical capacity - the overstretched system is in a permanent scramble for cells, with hundreds of prisoners each night being dumped in police stations. Lord Phillips was blunt: "We simply cannot go on like this." And there is little doubt that some mix of early release and new prison building will be needed simply to relieve the immediate strain.

But the Lord Chief Justice also raised a second, more strategic, question - how many prisons will society pay for?

Prison overcrowding is at critical stage, says Lord Chief Justice

Britain’s most senior judge has given warning that the shortage of prison spaces was now “critical” as a result of ministers’ failure to take account of the cost implications of their sentencing policies.

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice, said that the present prison overcrowding could not continue. And he delivered a stark message to ministers — either they should fund the sentences that judges impose or change the sentencing framework that requires them, often, to jail offenders.

“We are in a critical situation,” he said. “The prisons are full to capacity.” Prisoners who went to court did not know if they would return to the same cell or even the same prison. Cells designed for one were being used for two and prisons were being forced, literally, to close their doors to more admissions. “Prisoners are being driven around for hours on end in a desperate search for a prison that can squeeze them in,” he added. “As often or not 200 or 300 are spending the night in police or court cells. We simply cannot go on like this.”

He said that Parliament had not been prepared to leave it to judges to decide if an offence merited imprisonment and, if so, for how long. Instead, it had set down how the seriousness of an offence should be judged, as well as starting points for minimum terms to be served for murder in the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

My problem with Judge Let'emout is that he's supposed to be the head of the judiciary - the people who interpret the law and pass judgement. Whether there are enough prison places should not be part of their calculations. It's not their problem. That issue, as even the Guardian recognises, belongs on the plate of the politicians. By poking his learned proboscis in, this unelected judge is using his position in the (nominally independent) judiciary to become a politician himself.

You can understand why he's shouting. What he says is quite true (discounting the anti-prison spin).

“Unless Parliament is prepared to provide whatever resources are necessary to give effect to the sentences that judges choose, in their discretion, to impose, Parliament must re-examine the legislative framework for sentencing.”

True. Send less people down (or shorter sentences) or cough up for new prisons. But it's not his place to say it. He should have been saying it in private, behind the scenes, to Home Office (or whatver it's called this week) ministers.

Maybe he did. And maybe they gave him carte blanche to campaign publicly with the Howard League for more community sentencing and less imprisonment, which is in fact what he's doing. He should have clammed up. Instead his (self-perceived) duty seems to be to follow his inclinations. He's bringing our pro-criminal, out of touch judiciary into even greater disrepute than they currently enjoy.

I'll leave with one more thought of the bewigged buffoon.

"“If you decide to lock up one man for a minimum term of 30 years, you are investing £1 million or more in punishing him.

“That sum could pay for quite a few surgical operations or for a lot of remedial training ..."

Nice of him to think about the poor taxpayer. I've got a better - and cheaper - idea. What kind of prisoners do thirty years these days ? You'd have to be a multiple child-killer to get that sort of sentence. Couldn't we go back to the future - and save that million ?

"My tools are but common ones,
Simple shepherds all,
My tools are no sight to see:
A little hempen string,
And a post whereon to swing,
Are implements enough for me !"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Game For Hooligans ....

My twelve year old came home from school rugby yesterday rubbing the side of his face where he'd been headbutted by an opponent - who got sent off.

Bathtime tonight :

"How's the head - does it still hurt ? ... anyway, why did he headbutt you ?"

"Well, you see ... I think he thought it was me that bit him on the leg"

Quote of the Day

Sam Tarran.

"Now, we can all appreciate the foresight of the Balfour Declaration."

Caveat Emptor !

Bought or buying a mobile phone from Cool New Mobile, Phonebox Direct, Mobile Affiliates or Phones2yourdoor (who still appear to be looking for customers) ?

I should read this article if I were you. And I'd be pretty wary of ANY small companies offering phones with cashback deals.