Saturday, August 16, 2008

Summer Floodwaters From The Curate's Brook

More a collection of links, really - stuff I just haven't found the time to blog about :

This story is one of a number in the last couple of years about Muslim prison gangs. Wasn't someone killed by Muslims in Frankland in the last year or so ?

Prison authorities have compiled an action plan for dealing with a kidnap plot involving radicalised Muslim convicts inside Britain's jails. The dossier has been compiled in the past few months following rising tension in the prison system. Intelligence gathered from Britain's eight top-security prisons indicate that specific threats to kidnap and decapitate an officer first emerged at Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire six months ago. However, a senior prison source said that the risk went beyond one jail.

Most primary school teachers have been women - and that's probably true even going back to Victorian days. It wouldn't be so bad that only one primary teacher in 50 is male - if so many boys didn't have a male role model / authority figure in their lives.

"The secret state that steals our children" - Camilla Cavendish on the family courts - a must-read. One family's story here. More here.

Rasputin's real views on homosexuality and Christianity revealed - it wasn't exactly a secret now, was it ? Like John Humphrys, Mary Ann Sieghart wishes he'd have the courage of his convictions.

Ross is posting some good stuff at the moment ... and Marko Attila Hoare - where did he get that name ? - is worth reading on the ex-Soviet Empire, even if you don't agree with everything.

Who's been stabbed or shot recently ? Public Perception has the stories.

They've got your phone calls. Now they want your email and browsing habits. Not just MI5/6, who one tends to assume already has that sort of thing. Your local council, health authority, etc. Surprise surprise, it's driven by an EU directive.

And for details of all such things, EU Referendum - in terms of adding to one's knowledge, it has to be the best Brit politics site on the Web. Also highly informative - the Yorkshire Ranter - he may be a lefty, but he knows an awful lot about technology, particularly the military stuff. A rattling good read.

So, he left her flat at 6 am, leaving - according to his testimony, the deceased still alive and well.

Her body was found two days later. I can see that, were she still alive, she might not have spotted him pinching her mobile and Oyster card, which he used on his way home. They're the kind of things you can slip into a pocket. But how in God's name, if they are alive, do you steal someone's DVD player and Freeview box without them noticing, leaving the flat with "a big bag" ?

You do have to wonder if the jury was made up of people who don't like pre-op transexuals like poor Kellie Telesford. Alleged illegal immigrant Shanniel Hyatt is very fortunate that the full weight of British law didn't descend on him. Had he been found guilty, he might have ended up doing two whole years for manslaughter !

Thursday, August 14, 2008

She Always Did Like To Shock

"I believe, literally, in the God of the Old Testament, whom I understand as the Lord of the Jews and the Protestants. "

Julie Burchill comes out ... as a Church of England Christian.

US Census Bureau Details

The report is here :

"By 2023, minorities will comprise more than half of all children" - they're more than half of all babies born in London now - and nearly a quarter of primary school children in England.

The Future Starts Here

White people of European descent will no longer make up a majority of the US population by the year 2042 - eight years sooner than previous estimates. The big change is among Hispanics and Asians, whose numbers are expected to double by the middle of the century to form 30% and 9% of the population. It is projected that black people will account for 15%, a small increase.

The US Census Bureau's latest projections are based on birth, death and current immigration rates. According to the bureau's statistics, ethnic and racial minorities will become the majority by 2042 and account for 54% of the population by 2050.

I'm not terribly hung up on the whiteness, or the genetic inheritance. By a tragic accident of history most Europeans, who have hitherto made up the majority of US immigrants, have been white. It's not their fault.

America has been taking in immigrants and turning them into Americans for two hundred years. But starting - where else ? - in the 1970s, the idea of the melting pot, of integration, became unfashionable. The idea of maintaining and celebrating difference - for the recent arrivals, anyway - became increasingly acceptable. Sounds familiar ?

"In the current immigration wave, something markedly different is happening here in the middle of the great American "melting pot."

Not only are the demographics of the United States changing in profound and unprecedented ways, but so too are the very notions of assimilation and the melting pot that have been articles of faith in the American self-image for generations. E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One) remains the national motto, but there no longer seems to be a consensus about what that should mean.

There is a sense that, especially as immigrant populations reach a critical mass in many communities, it is no longer the melting pot that is transforming them, but they who are transforming American society.


In fact, the very concept of assimilation is being called into question as never before. Some sociologists argue that the melting pot often means little more than "Anglo conformity" and that assimilation is not always a positive experience – for either society or the immigrants themselves. And with today's emphasis on diversity and ethnicity, it has become easier than ever for immigrants to avoid the melting pot entirely. Even the metaphor itself is changing, having fallen out of fashion completely with many immigration advocacy and ethnic groups. They prefer such terms as the "salad bowl" and the "mosaic," metaphors that convey more of a sense of separateness in describing this nation of immigrants."

Hmm. Isn't the "salad bowl" what they've got in Kenya ? Or Bosnia - before the ingredients shook themselves apart ? Or South Ossetia ?

Not that I can quite see how the BBC can separate "whites" and "Hispanics" anyway. While Diego has traditionally been somewhat swarthier than his sherry-swilling, beef-eating cousins, the difference isn't massive as far as melanin's concerned.

Culturally there ARE some differences. Like their Spanish relatives, the Mexicans went in for bloodshed on a fairly hefty scale - indeed you can't but wonder if the persecutions which triggered the Cristero War didn't inspire the slaughter of the faithful during the Spanish Civil War, only a few years later. Indeed, the whole history of Latin America isn't a terribly inspiring one, although some would put that down to the baleful influence of US foreign policy.

There's also the small matter of large chunks of the SW United States being originally Mexican territory. The lovely church we attended at San Luis Obispo last year was founded by the Spanish in 1772. Some Mexicans are calling the repopulation of Texas, California and Arizona la Reconquista. There's mucho talk of "Aztlan" and even "La Raza" - these chaps don't seem to have been told that race doesn't exist.

Like the UK, the US is importing large numbers of people from a very different culture without attempting to integrate them. (Even 20 years back people were moving out of California into Washington State because they didn't like the scale of Hispanic immigration into California, and I was reading complaints in the Seattle press about the influx of Californians. The Californians complaining about Hispanic immigration were of course racist bigots, while the Washingtonians complaining about Californians were concerned citizens seeking to maintain the unique character of their state) .

Just as in the UK, this importation is supported by the major parties of both left (who see more voters) and capitalist right (who see cheap labour). George Bush's amnesty plan for up to 12 million illegal immigrants was torpedoed by his grass-roots supporters - but the plan was championed by his business supporters.

The question is - what will America be like by 2042 ? Will it be less like America, and more like Mexico ? The answer has implications for us.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Matthew Syed - He's At It Again

Mr Syed is either obsessive or lazy.

This time last year the former international table-tennis player and failed Labour candidate was using his Times column to attack one Jon Entine, American author of a book about why black athletes dominate sport - well, some sports, anyway. Laban gave it a bit of a shoeing on the grounds that he was attacking Entine for things he hadn't actually said.

One year on and he's substantially repeated the same article - again in the Times.

August 2007

The men’s 100m at the World Athletics Championships in Japan this month will be won by a black athlete. This is not so much a prediction as a statement of fact.
August 2008

Pundits are sharply divided as to the outcome. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that the winner will be black.

August 2007

There is a natural conclusion to be drawn from all this: blacks have an inbuilt superiority over whites when it comes to sprinting. Many scientists and writers have made this claim, to the fury of equal rights campaigners who fear that any acknowledgement of natural differences between the races might usher in a new wave of racism.

August 2008

What conclusion should we draw from all this? That blacks have a genetic advantage over whites when it comes to sprinting? It would seem a natural inference except for a nagging voice giving warning about the consequences. If we were to acknowledge systematic genetic differences between the races, where would it lead us? To the conclusion that the superior performance by whites in education is genetic? These are deep waters indeed.

I must confess that I thought it was Chinese and other Asians who had superior performance in education - certainly in Britain. No matter.

August 2007

The prototypical argument for black athletic superiority can be found in Taboo: Why Blacks Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk about it by Jon Entine. Entine’s central assertion is that it is not blacks as a whole that are good at sprinting but rather a subset who can trace their origins to western African coastal states. Indeed, he makes the point that “no white, Asian or East African runner has broken 10 seconds in the 100m” (my italics).

August 2008

The most famous argument for the reality of black genetic superiority is to be found in Jon Entine's Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk About It. Entine's principal argument is not that all blacks are gifted at sprinting, but rather those that can trace their ancestry to West African coastal states. Indeed, Entine makes the point that “no white, Asian or East African has broken ten seconds in the 100 metres”.

And so on and so forth - the Kenyan distance runners, the pygmies and their unique ability to cope with low ceilings, a morph from "the problem for the “racial scientist” is his yearning to generalise" to "Entine's error lies in his compulsion to generalise". Indeed there's only one new piece of evidence for Mr Syed's theory, if it can be dignified as such, that race doesn't exist except in the minds of white men.

It is surprising that Entine fails to spot his error when he goes on to discuss the success of the Pacific Islands in producing rugby and American football stars. He seems to think this supports his argument that blacks have a genetic superiority at such sports because they have been “bred to run”. It actually does the reverse: there are few populations more genetically distinct from sub-Saharan Africans than Pacific Islanders.

It's lazy, lazy, lazy. If you google "taboo jon entine", this Kenan Malik piece pops up at #1. I hope he's getting reprint rights.

Entine points out that a cluster of South Pacific Islands, such as Samoa and Fiji, have in recent years produced an extraordinary number of American football and Australian rugby players. Such islanders, Entine argues, 'tend to be large and explosively fast', implying that their success somehow gives credence to his 'blacks are bred to run' thesis. In fact it does the opposite: genetically there are few populations in the world more different from sub-Saharan Africans than Pacific Islanders.

My conclusion of last year still stands.

"Mr Syed seems to be afraid of anyone saying that there are any differences between anyone at all. "

"Now we see the violence inherent in the system"

I don't pretend to be a student of Caucasian politics and strategy ... a few impressions of the current unpleasantness in Georgia :

a) you might think it's all about oil

Local police recorded 51 strikes. "I have no doubt they wanted to target the pipeline, there is nothing else here," said Giorgi Abrahamisvili, a policeman who witnessed the attack. "It was terribly intense, the smell of cordite spread everywhere. I had to abandon my car and hide in a ditch but the jets weren't interested in other targets."

BP operates the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which transports one per cent of the world's oil needs, or one million barrels a day from Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean. A spokesman played down the impact of the strike, pointing out that pumping was suspended last week because of a terrorist attack in Turkey. "At the moment the pipeline is not running at any capacity, because there was a fire," the spokesman said. Georgia is a crucial link in a three country energy corridor vital to Western Europe's oil and gas supply. The £2 billion pipeline is the only major conduit for Central Asian resources not under Russian control.

b) but South Ossetia and Georgia were in conflict long before :

On March 15, 1918, the Ossetian peasants rose in rebellion and managed to hold off an offensive by a Georgian People’s Guard punitive detachment commanded by an ethnic Ossetian officer, Kosta Kaziev. The fighting culminated in the town of Tskhinvali which was raided by the rebels on March 19, 1918. Tskhinvali’s Georgian population was massacred and the town was looted. The People’s Guard regained the control of Tskhinvali on March 22.

On May 8, 1920, the Ossetians declared a Soviet republic in the Roki area on the Russian-Georgian border. A Bolshevik force from Vladikavkaz crossed into Georgia and helped the local rebels to defeat a Georgian force in the Java district. The rebellious areas were effectively incorporated into Soviet Russia. However, Lenin’s desire to keep peace with Georgia at that time and eventual military failures of the rebels forced the Bolsheviks to distance themselves from the Ossetian struggle. The Georgian People’s Guard under Valiko Jugheli crashed the revolt with great violence. The insurgents were defeated in a series of hard-fought battles. Several villages were burned down and some 3,000 to 7,000 were killed during the hostilities. About 20,000 Ossetians were forced to seek refuge in Soviet Russia.

c) A Fistful of Euros has - or had - some bloggers on the ground in Georgia.

d) I must confess I can't quite see the driver behind the push for surrounding Russia with NATO members. NATO was set up as a mutual defence pact aimed squarely at the old Soviet Union. While Turkey, on the borders of Asia, has been a member since 1950, the alliance was, as its name (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) implies, created to defend the democracies of Western Europe and to keep open the sea and air lanes between Europe and the USA. Georgia is a very long way from the Atlantic coast.

Russia thinks that NATO expansion is aimed squarely at surrounding and isolating her. Speaking without much knowledge, it certainly looks that way. Anyone know what's going on, if this is in fact true, and if so why ? After all, there's another former Communist state that's both expanding economically (and by extension, in military capability) at an unprecedented rate - a state that is also starting to project its power on a global scale. What's so dangerous about Russia ?

There is, IMHO, an inherent problem with expanding an organisation like the EU or NATO beyond what might be said to be its 'natural' borders. As long as you're using air power to zap an opponent without retaliatory capability - as in Kosovo and Serbia - no worries. Except for the people being hit. But when your opponent has the ability to give you a hard time, and you need to put boots on the ground, then questions about Pomeranian grenadiers become relevant. Although we may not have liked it, it was probably generally accepted that had Red Army tanks rolled across the North German plain or into Italy, we would fight. I'm not at all sure how people would feel about fighting for Latvia or Lithuania, who are already NATO members. Who in Western Europe, let alone America, is going to fight for Belarus or the Ukraine ?

e) it wasn't as if you couldn't see it coming. April 2008 :

Officials from Georgia are embarking on a major diplomatic offensive in Europe, fearing that Russia will do everything possible to destabilize the country before NATO membership talks can begin in December. David Bakradze, the Georgian foreign minister, who met Friday with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said his country was becoming caught in a bitter struggle between the West and Russia as it tried to anchor its political and security institutions solidly in Euro-Atlantic organizations and rid itself of Russian influence.

At stake in the coming months, Bakradze said, is whether the West will bow to Russian pressure and possibly trigger a domino effect or stand firm until Moscow backs down. "If you draw lines and give Russia a free hand here, it will never work," Bakradze said in an interview with the International Herald Tribune. "If Russia is given a free hand, it will extend to other parts of Europe. Russia thinks it still has the right to interfere. But we say to the Europeans, if there is any appeasement towards Russia over the way it deals with us, it will have repercussions for other countries."

f) from the same IHT piece, the baneful influence of the Kosovo settlement :

Germany, in particular, strongly opposed offering Georgia the fast track. In interviews at the time, Steinmeier said Moscow had already had a hard enough time accepting the independence of Kosovo from Serbia, whose unity Russia had supported.

Kosovo has had two repercussions. The dismemberment of a chunk of Serbian territory at NATO and EU behest - if not gunpoint - has both cheesed off Russia and given her a blueprint for intervention in South Ossetia and Abhkazia. After all, like Kosovo, the two territories contain lots of people who wish to leave the parent state, a minority of (if you like) loyalists, and a history of bad blood and ethnic strife. Russia can claim to be protecting the majority Ossetian community against the Georgians, just as KFOR protected the majority Kosovo Albanians against the Serbs.

g) so far the US /EU offers of NATO membership have given Georgia the great benefit of Russian invasion, and given the US/EU the great benefit of the third largest coalition force in Iraq - 2,000 men - being withdrawn. While the game is not yet played out, we can say that so far the process hasn't done much for either party - or their relationship. Is America going to do anything ?

In recent years, Bush has lavished praise on Georgia — and the so-called Rose Revolution that brought Mikheil Saakashvili to power — as a model of democracy-building. The feeling was mutual: when Bush visited Tbilisi in 2005, the authorities estimated that 150,000 people showed up to see him. He famously climbed up on a platform and wiggled his hips to loud Georgian folk music.

Those exuberant days seemed very distant around Gori on Sunday, as people fled, leaving behind corn fields and apple orchards. A group of men tried mightily to push a truck with a blown-out tire, but it got stuck on the road, and they finally abandoned it ...

The grimmest among the Georgians were the soldiers, haggard, unshaven and swinging their Kalashnikovs. A group of them had piled onto a flatbed truck, crowding on in such numbers that some were sitting on the roof, their feet dangling over the windshield. One, who gave his name as Major Georgi, spoke with anger.

"Write exactly what I say," he said. "Over the past few years, I lived in a democratic society. I was happy. And now America and the European Union are spitting on us."

h) I don't see Russia as a major long-term imperial power as long as her demography is still pretty disastrous. While the number of births is rising, the number of early deaths is more than keeping pace - and those Russian citizens who ARE having babies tend to be, like the Chechens and Ingush, Muslims near the periphery of Russian territory - perhaps more of a problem than a solution to Moscow. Russians still abort more children than they give birth to each year. Furthermore, the culture of many educated Russians is becoming more ... individualistic ? European ? - well, whatever makes psychology students get purple hair and a stud in the chin. What I think we may well see are attempts to gather more ethnic Russians back into the Russian State. I'd be nervous if I lived in an ex-Soviet state with a large ethnic Russian minority - and there are a few of those.

i) where are the anti-war left ? I don't see them here in any numbers. Or here. Or here. Or here. Looks like those Georgians shouldn't have cheered for Bush so wildly.