Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Nasty Argument ...

Labour councillor Luke Akehurst on why people who sell fruit and veg by the pound are criminals :

"Most traders have complied with the legislation - so why should a minority who refuse to comply be allowed to get away with it?"
"Everyone else has obeyed us, what's YOUR problem ?"

Mr Akehurst is (by proxy) exhibiting power - letting everyone know who's in charge.

You can see parallels in the business world, too. A new director or chief exec in charge of the Acme Widget company will dream up "The Acme Behaviours" - a set of key values and behaviours which will "define the company and the way it does business" (actually the dreaming up will be by some ambitious young smoothie in marketing, 18 months out of uni).

For the next few years, until the exec gets the chop or it gets quietly forgotten, everyone at Acme presenting a project or new initiative will be required to get sign-off on compliance with the Behaviours. Every document will have its behaviours check-boxes. The staff and lower management will see a blizzard of posters, mugs, training sessions and mousemats. Every ambitious climber - right up to board level - will need to demonstrate how fully bought-in they are.

The actual content of the Behaviours will be a mixture of apple-pie stuff ("we won't rip the customers off") and additional boxes which will need to be ticked. Some of the ideas may be foolish - but these, as we shall see, serve an important function.

There'll be widespread cynicism - especially among the lags who've already seen 13 similar initiatives in 15 years. But it doesn't matter. Indeed, the more ridiculous the ideas, the better. That's why Mr Akehurst's so keen on protecting the people of Hackney from the monsters in their midst, with their Imperial scales and pounds of bananas.

Because the point is not to make the company better, but to publicly demonstrate that you can enforce your will on your inferiors. It's the equivalent of the top dog making all the others roll on their backs submissively, the gangsta making a captured enemy footsoldier lick his shoes, or the Assassin leader Rashid al-Din Sinan impressing a visiting Crusader lord by asking two of his followers to jump to their deaths from the castle tower (they did so at once).

In local government and education, the creepy "Every Child Matters" initiative currently serves the function of the Acme Behaviours. It won't stop kids being beaten to death or left in burning flats, but it lets everyone (i.e. the staff - in this case local government employees and school governors - the poor consumers are only there to have "services" "delivered" to them) know who's boss.

Which brings us nicely back to Mr Akehurst, and his outrageous follow-up comment.

"One of the reasons why Hackney has often been in a mess in the past is the misconception that the rule of law stops east of the A10 and a merry state of anarchy prevails. One of the ways in which you squeeze out major crime, as shown in New York, is by zero tolerance of all the minor law and rule breaking too."
That is absolutely breathtaking. William Bratton's police force were concerned about crimes which increased the perception of lawlessness - graffiti, panhandling, riding the subway with no ticket, littering, drunkenness, abusiveness, pickpocketing, soliciting, petty theft. How many people in Hackney feel less safe when they see someone selling veg from Imperial scales ?

Either he knows the "Broken Windows" comparison is nagombi and he's scrabbling for any justification he can find - in which case he's utterly cynical - or he really believes it - in which case he's idiotic. Either way it does him no credit.

Oh - and this morning it was announced that HMG are calling off the attack dogs. I'm sure Mr Akehurst will regret it, but it looks as if we may no longer read in the news about hardened villains convicted "of selling mackerel at £1.50 a pound".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"And what will happen to us?"

One of the reasons comments returned is that I missed the knowledge and inspiration of the commenters, from whom I have learned - and continue to learn - so much. Thank you.

I wrote in my post on Rubery Owen about :

"the infrastructure which is so essential to any hi-tech industry - the network of small, specialist-skill providers which grows organically round the major firms. I'd imagine that in China and Korea there are a host of such small firms servicing the computer industry - the motherboard and memory manufacturers etc. It's impossible to build those sort of skillsets quickly. Take a look at the list of engineering contractors and weep for a lost past - and a bleak future"
and lo - commenter jrackell pointed me to James Dyson's Dimbleby Lecture, containing the following :

"the biggest lesson came four years ago when I located our assembly in Malaysia. Much as I was resisting the change, there were very clear reasons why we had to change direction.

We needed to invest heavily in research and development. But our manufacturing costs were going up and our market place prices were going down. And we were trying to expand our factory in the face of local planning opposition.

Meanwhile all our competitors were manufacturing in China, while we were watching our profits go into freefall. I could see our demise.

But the biggest problem was that we had no local suppliers. Our British three-pin plugs were made in Malaysia. Our polycarbonate plastics came from Korea. Our electronics came from Taiwan. It was a logistical nightmare. We needed our suppliers on our doorstep so that we could drive them to improve their quality and keep pace with technology.

In the 1970s, when I was developing the Ballbarrow, I needed some bent metal tubing. I got in my car and went to Birmingham. In the space of a few streets, I found workshops and suppliers who between them could provide the tubing, cut it, bend it and coat it. It was an extraordinarily vital environment. And it was absolutely essential to the small engineering entrepreneur.

You might ask what happened to these British suppliers and subcontractors? Quite simply: we drove them out of existence. Employment and property laws made it difficult for them to take on extra staff and premises. They needed a tax regime that appreciated the volatile nature of their business. Instead, Governments imposed PAYE and hammered them with high interest rates, year after year. By the mid-1980s, most had gone to the wall."
I rest my case. But there's a lot more in the Dyson lecture.

I'm frequently told that championing manufacturing is yesterday's game. That we live in a post-industrial society. That the service and creative industries have replaced manufacturing.

Well consider this:

Of the world's ten largest corporations by revenue, nine make big, heavy things. Like cars or ships' turbines or computer hardware or consumer electronics. These companies rely on their engineering and their technology – not their styling – for their wealth. Only one – WalMart – is a service company. Look at the most profitable companies and again the facts speak for themselves. In the top ten, only three are service companies. And as for the world's least profitable company? Why it's Vodafone, a service company that made a loss of more than 15 billion dollars last year.

So why does Britain need a manufacturing industry in this supposed age of the service economy?

My answer is simple. We have no choice. Only one in seven British jobs is in manufacturing, yet they generate nearly two-thirds of exports. Manufacturing creates the wealth and spending power that feed the service industry. It's obvious. The rest of the world relies on manufacturing for its wealth. Why do we think we can be different? If we want to maintain our position alongside other leading nations, we've got to join the rest.

We must take steps now. In ten years time China, with its mantra of employment over profit, will not only be the workshop of the world, it will be the technological superpower.

And what will happen to us?

Laban :

"I suppose the theory is that a combination of lethargy and convenience (between time zones) will keep the dosh rolling into the City, even when world manufacturing is centred in Asia.

Just the way that Florence and Antwerp remained the capitals of world banking despite the rise of Britain, the USA and Germany, eh ?

It may take time, but inevitably the services will follow the manufacturing."

Dyson again :

Britain's service industries will wither without their manufacturing customers. Call centres and software developers are already disappearing to efficient service economies. Such as India.

Innovation will be stifled. We will be surrounded by products that we have not made. That's something that is already culturally destructive. Ultimately we will be at the mercy of the buying habits of Chinese shoppers. The impact on the trade deficit will be ruinous.

The loss of manufacturing expertise will compromise our military strength. History repeatedly shows the correlation between a nation's wealth and its diplomatic and military powers. Before the Industrial Revolution, Britain accounted for just one fiftieth of the world's manufacturing output, while China spoke for a third.

Fewer than a hundred years later, China had been invaded by a small British army. Its industry was now backward. Britain, with two per cent of the world's population, was making nearly half the world's goods. And politically we led the world.
Now Laban doesn't want to invade anywhere or dictate to anyone. But it's sensible not to put ourselves in the situation where others can do that to us. At least the current invasion is self-inflicted.

Dyson :

In 1950, we produced a quarter of the world's exports; in 1970, just one tenth. By the mid 1980s our international goods trade was in deficit. Fast forward to today.

We rely on our service industries to prop up our alarming trade deficit. And this sorry situation, is often presented as the conclusive argument, that we have tipped from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.

Time and time again, I'm told Britain can rely on service industries. "It doesn’t matter if we buy all our low-cost goods from abroad," I hear. "We can rely on our service industry to finance it."
For which see my post quoted above. Services will in the end follow the money.

Look at those trade figures. The cultural collapse and the economic collapse ran in tandem. Contrast with Japan or Germany- a lot of flattened buildings in 1945, hi-tech export giants within 30 years.

Dyson :

Since 1997, we have closed 18 physics departments and 28 chemistry departments.
As a result, we now produce only 3,000 physics graduates a year. Compare that to an astonishing 15,000 psychologists !
Makes sense of a sort. We're living in a fool's paradise where mental illness is one of the few growth industries. I bet counselling of all sorts is growing too - drug, alcohol, smoking, eating, "sexual health". But where will the money come from? Can our 3,000 physicists create enough wealth to feed 15,000 trick-cyclists ?

I think not. One of the effects of the global financial crisis IMHO will be a move away from the dollar and sterling, the weakening of US and UK financial institutions, and the start of the decline of London and Wall Street. At some point we may HAVE to start making things again if we want to eat.

(Thanks also to jrackell for this Dyson MIT lecture (video) - fascinating stuff, and to Mark Holland for links to this archive cinema of the Black Country)

Enfants de la Patrie ?

I see that the French National Anthem has been dissed yet again by young Frenchmen of Tunisian heritage at a home soccer international - despite the singer (Grace Jones' little sister in a hoodie) being as street and multiculti as one could wish for.

It follows the dissing of the French National Anthem by young Frenchmen of Moroccan heritage at a home soccer international.

Not to mention the dissing of the French National Anthem by young Frenchmen of Algerian heritage at a home soccer international - such patriots that they invaded the pitch and stopped the game when France went 4-1 up.

There seems to be a problem here. Any native Froggie saying "these guys aren't Frenchmen" would be rightfully denounced by one and all as a hideous racist. Trouble is, the guys whistling the anthem would agree with him.

I don't know. It's not as if the French football team doesn't reflect the faces you see on the streets of Paris (if not of Sourdeval). After the 1998 World Cup they were hailed by the usual suspects as the fair face of multicultural France.

Reading the comments there seem to be a fair few people saying 'you deserve it for massacring x thousand people in 19nn'. I don't know much about France's colonial wars, except that the Algerian one was exceedingly dirty and unpleasant, apparently including torturing to death and dumping in the Seine (plenty of torturing to death on the Algerian side, too). Nonetheless, if there was so much resentment, maybe it was unwise of previous French governments to move so many resentful chaps across the tideless ditch.

Except that ... these aren't (mostly) the chaps who moved. They're the children and grandchildren. The chaps who moved were generally OK. But the interaction of unease, welfare, an increasing cultural vacuum (though not on our scale) and post-colonial guilt have bred people who hate and despise the country they live in.

Sarkozy responded angrily, saying that games would be stopped at once if it happened again. But they're already having second thoughts, having perhaps considered what would happen if they released 50,000 peace-loving and disappointed soccer fans onto the Paris streets without having first got the CRS into position.

Making threats that you can't back up generally doesn't intimidate, but emboldens an opponent.

So what, you may say. Why should we care about what happens in a far-away country of which we know little ?

Because their problems are ours. There's a terrible symmetry between the children and grandchildren of immigrants to France, much more radicalised, violent and discontented than their grandparents, and those to the UK. One can never be sure, but if there were national anthems at cricket matches is it not likely we'd see the same thing at England v Pakistan ?

Agreed !

Timothy Garton Ash - he say "don't decide on historical truth in a court of law".

Among the ways in which freedom is being chipped away in Europe, one of the less obvious is the legislation of memory. More and more countries have laws saying you must remember and describe this or that historical event in a certain way, sometimes on pain of criminal prosecution if you give the wrong answer. What the wrong answer is depends on where you are.

Agreed, agreed, agreed.

My kids are taught in school that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent (they were guilty).

My council tells me that one woman in four is a victim of domestic violence and that a third of our food is thrown away.

CiF posters tell me that when the BNP vote goes up, racial attacks increase, or that thousands of British women were dying in back-street abortions before 1967.

For years I carried with me the tragic story of poor Hyacinth's lynching, so brilliantly described by Martha Gellhorn in "Justice At Night". She made it up.

An amateur historian, Jerry Brotton, claims that the Ottoman Empire was decisive in defeating the Armada.

All of these things I believe to be untrue. But I don't want people banged up for saying them (although I don't want my taxes to fund their propagation, either). Let us play the light of reason and historical enquiry upon such claims, as a high-pressure hose is turned upon anti-globalisation protesters.

Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend, as a famous mass-murdering dictator once said. Or was he the greatest revolutionary leader of the twentieth century ?

You decide. Not a court.

Oh Dear


The Audit Commission seeks to ensure that £180bn of public sector spending provides "value for taxpayers". It said it deposited £5m in Landsbanki in April this year - and a further £5m in July in Iceland's Heritable Bank. The commission said the deposits were in "full compliance" with their guidelines "on prudent investment".

Hmm. March 2008, This Is Money. The Audit Commission put their money in in April and July. With one bound they've managed to discredit themselves. This severely damages their right to a respectful hearing when they castigate others for mismanagement.

But the real horrors are in Iceland.

Credit insurance for debts at Iceland's biggest bank, Landsbanki, is priced at 610 points while that for Kaupthing is priced at a hair-raising 856. Given that these two have taken billions in UK retail deposits, it may be a sobering thought for savers to consider where they are putting their cash. These banks are now seen as the most unsafe in the developed world. Of course, no one can be sure that disaster looms for anyone, but the figures on credit default swaps show clearly where investment professionals think the big risks are.

You have been warned.

Rubery Owen

The death of the former "wheels and assemblies" MD, David Lanfear, seems a good time to note the decline and fall of another piece of Brit manufacturing.

Rubery Owen, which not so long ago employed 6,000 people in the heart of the Black Country, are still very much alive - in that post-industrial sense.

The last major manufacturing interest was sold in 1993 and since then the company has focussed its attention on 3 key strands – Property, Investment, and a number of independent operating subsidiaries. Yes, it’s smaller than it used to be in the late ‘60s and early ‘70’s, but it’s still innovating and it’s still active.

As we approach the 125th anniversary of the firms founding, we are investing heavily in our operating companies, and as the world faces different issues – climate change, social responsibility, the internet age etc – we hope that we are doing our bit to contribute, and see real opportunities to be at the forefront of the evolution of a new type of “British Industry” and “Industrial Revolution”.

"A new type of British Industry” denoting absence of same. As commenter Dearieme put it :

My wife made a new friend this year, the wife of a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge, a Chinese. After a few weeks here she had a good question. "I don't understand how this country is so rich", said she, "where are all your factories?"
Still, I'm grateful to the company for recording their history here and here.
The ‘70’s were a difficult period – with the early ‘70’s came fuel crises and fluctuating fortunes particularly due to smaller numbers of cars being produced in the UK at a time when production in both France and Germany was expanding significantly, and though there was the occasional ‘highlight’, by the late 70’s things were difficult again as a result of considerable rationalisation in the UK Aerospace industry and well as the Materials Handling/Forklift Truck sector, allied to the continuing difficulties and disruption in the UK Automotive Industry – The Group was significantly exposed to all of these sectors, and suffered as a result.

In 1981 the Company took the momentous decision to close its main Darlaston factory, with over 6000 jobs having been lost during the course of the previous 5 years, and from that point on the company took the decision that it would pursue a strategy of ‘orderly exit’ from its traditional manufacturing and engineering businesses – successful and growing manufacturing businesses were sold to organisations with access to larger amounts of capital and therefore better placed to drive their growth, whilst other operations were rationalised or even closed.

The story of RO can really be viewed as a microcosm of the change in British Industry between the late ‘60s and early 90’s – for a whole variety of reasons, what the company used to do is no longer done in this country anymore. Our fortunes, as a supplier of components and other assemblies under long term contracts to manufacturers of finished goods, were largely in the hands of others and in many ways our hands were tied. The lessons that we have learnt have been valuable ones, and the fact that we are still here is testament to that! Indeed, many of our contemporaries, business that used to do what we used to do, are no longer around and in many ways the fact that we are still in existence is as much of an achievement as the original growth and expansion of the business.

"Considerable rationalisation in the UK Aerospace industry" meaning goodbye to Blackburn, Handley Page, Bristol, A V Roe, English Electric, de Havilland, Hawker Siddeley, Tom Cobbley and all. Some bits survived in the form of British Aerospace. The adverts are from this wonderful archive of aviation engineering ads, a reminder of the infrastructure which is so essential to any hi-tech industry - the network of small, specialist-skill providers which grows organically round the major firms. I'd imagine that in China and Korea there are a host of such small firms servicing the computer industry - the motherboard and memory manufacturers etc. It's impossible to build those sort of skillsets quickly. Take a look at the list of engineering contractors and weep for a lost past - and a bleak future.

UPDATE - to any aged Midlander, it's like a memorial list. Sankeys of Wellington in Shropshire, later taken over by GKN, Birmal at Smethwick, Terry's in Redditch, where Laban spent a Seventies summer stamping out hose-bands, Jenks and Cattell, Birmetals in Quinton, Wilmot Breeden in Brum.

Good Grief !

I can't see this judge - one James Simpson, a man of undoubted perspicacity and genius - lasting long. This sort of thing could turn our entire justice system upside down.

Mr Mohamed fled persecution in Somalia with his mother and father when he was four and claims to know nothing about the country today.

Since arriving in Britain, he has tried to build a life in north London but took up petty offending to support his drug and alcohol addictions. Mr Mohamed came into contact with law enforcement when he was 12 and later began committing burglaries to buy cannabis and cocaine. His most recent conviction was for an assault on a prison officer, after which the Home Office applied to have him deported to Somalia.

Dismissing his appeal, the immigration tribunal judge said: "His experience [criminal activity] will make him more street wise than someone of a similar age who has led a crime-free and more conventional life. These experiences will place him at a distinct advantage in dealing with the circumstances in Somalia and should make it much easier for him to avoid pitfalls."
There can be little doubt that his presence here is not conducive to the public good. But given that we've handed residence to Afghan hijackers and Iranian Embassy hostage-takers, it's remarkable to find a judge who has, to paraphrase this chap, grown a pair.

That Ten Point Plan

Rising Inflation ? Check.

Rising Unemployment ? Check.

Ethnic division ? Check.

Alienated working class ? Check.

Fearful middle class ? Check.

Savings destroyed ? Check.

Investments collapsed ? Check.

Clueless rulers ? Check.

Right-wing parties on the rise ? Check (well, acording to Jon Cruddas and Mike Ion, anyway. See under "rulers, clueless") .

Anti-Semitism likewise ? Check.

Starts to take on a certain resonance, doesn't it ? If, as some on the far right and far left would have it, those pesky Zionists control everything in their own interests, they're making a pretty poor fist of it - to put it mildly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tony Pomeroy - Magistrate From Hell

Don't even think about getting a fair hearing from this idiot if you're a victim. Because he doesn't know a victim when he sees one.

I Heard Somewhere ...

That it's the Anglos, the English-speaking, generally more liberal whites who are voting on the Rainbow Nation with their feet, and that it's the crusty, racist Afrikaners who are staying put.

'Twould be ironic if true. Wouldn't be the first liberals to run for the hills.

I'd forgotten all of Rory Carroll's piece. The Guardian correspondent left SA with a sigh of relief for the States.

"The anxiety about crime, the crunching on racial eggshells, the juxtaposition of first-world materialism with third-world squalor - it all added up."

Let's hope for his sake they don't make him Home Affairs Correspondent !

The Lucky Generation

The Magistrate on the post-war baby-boomers and the contrast with their parents generation. I don't even like to think about the contrasts with our children's generation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Alum Rock Update

Two arrests, no names.

Two views of the area - from the native Brummies and the young people who live there (aka "ppl dat liv ther")

Gordon Brown - World Leader

As I said - "events, dear boy, events".

Who would have thunk it ? Three weeks ago you couldn't turn on the telly or open a paper without seeing that nice Mr Cameron or the lovely Samantha. It was a close call in the media bashing stakes between Gordon Brown and Gary Glitter.

Now Gordon bestrides the financial world like a colossus - with Europe and America following him. Gordonomics has raised the Nikkei by 14% in one session where Paulson and Bush's interventions brought continued collapse.

In some ways he's been more of a world leader than Blair ever was - and what were the odds on that ever happening ?

It won't last. As far as I can see he wants to solve the crisis by restoring the property overvaluation - in which case we may get another collapse in a few more years. The British economy is still completely knacked - more than ever at this level of government borrowing. Manufacturing shot, education shot, criminal justice shot, culture shot, huge tax-funded ('child poverty') demographic change with all the potential for civil strife that brings.

But he's at least given me a breathing space in which to liquidate a chunk of my shareholdings, fortify the house, dig a cellar and a well and invest in gold, a rotovator, and several thousand tins of beans. Cheers mate !

UPDATE - various commenters have accused me of "following the BBC cheerleading" etc and generally having an incorrect attitude to the worst Chancellor in the worst Government since the Baldwin/Chamberlain years.

Let me put your mind at rest. GB has been, and is, a disaster. If by some tragedy he were to win the next election a grievious thing 'twould be. And his 'reforms' won't solve our problems - maybe not even his problems.

Nonetheless it would be churlish not to acknowledge that in this crisis he IS leading - and is seen by others to be leading. It may just be chance that indices plunged following both the rejection and the acceptance of the Paulson plan, where Gordon's second, nationalising stab at the issue has produced a measure of market recovery. I believe that he's doing more or less what the Swedes did in the early 90s. But ... in the country of the financially blind ...Maybe he's just lucky. So far.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oops !

via Dogwash :

The Nigerian man told immigration staff he had a place at university in Northern Ireland to study engineering and would live in Dagenham - and produced false papers to back up his claim.

He later admitted he wanted to work illegally after being questioned over the 900-mile, 10-hour round trip by car and ferry he would need to make every day. A source said: "His explanation was laughable. He'd clearly never even looked at a map."

Officials also queried how he could tackle a Masters Degree taught in English when he needed a translator to talk to them.

Alum Rock Update


The slightly built 16-year-old fled in terror as he tried to escape from the 10-strong mob, who slashed him repeatedly across his neck and face when they finally trapped him. The youngster begged for help from passers-by seconds before the savage attack in Alum Rock Road, Alum Rock. Three of the gang, two armed with large machetes and a third with a wooden baton, caught up with the victim and rained down blows during the broad daylight attack at 5pm on Saturday. Eyewitnesses saw the boy being chased from Woodwell Road by a gang of at least 10 youths in their late teens, who hit him indiscriminately as he pleaded for mercy. It was only when shopworkers, neighbours and passers-by closed in on the gang that they fled towards the nearby park.

Interpreter Iftikhar Ahmed, who was cleaning his car when the attack unfolded, said: “The boy was only small and ran up to an old man in the street screaming ‘help me, help me please’. But then one of the gang with a machete leaped over and struck the boy in the head. He fell backwards and stumbled a few steps before falling to the ground. He was lying on the floor when another youth with a machete struck him straight across his forehead. I was rushing forward to help when he was dealt the second blow and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It made my body tremble. Blood was pouring out of him, it was terrible. The machetes were about 18 inches long, they were identical with massive shiny blades.”

Onlookers were surprised by the pack mentality shown by the armed gang.

“The youths attacking him had no fear,” said Mr Ahmed “They didn’t think twice about doing this attack in broad daylight, on a main road with people watching. The boy didn’t stand a chance.”

The victim suffered terrible wounds to his neck, back and face while the mob also came close to slicing off his ear. He was taken to Heartlands Hospital in a serious condition but had today improved to become “stable” and was expected to undergo surgery this afternoon.

Resident Naseem Ahmed, a father-of-two from Alum Rock Road, said: “My wife rushed out to help this poor boy with the woman from Muskaan Tailors Shop, and were wrapping scarves around his wounds to stop them bleeding. His ear was hanging off and there was a large gash down his neck. There was also a big cut across his face and a wound on his back. He could hardly speak. This was a big armed group of teenagers against one person. It was unbelievable. They hunted him down like an animal. There are gangs in Washwood Heath but it has never been on my doorstep before.”

"Help me, please". It does sound like Martin Dinnegan all over again.

A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said: "A number of people were thought to be involved in the attack but details are unclear".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thank You, Mark

via Blognor Regis, not work or child-friendly, contains profanity and stereotyping (only acceptable stereotyping, though) - but it did make oi larf out loud. The film might be worth a look.

PS - What is it that Clevon shouts in the hospital bed ?

News via Google (again)

Getting hits for "gang attack in monk road, alum rock, birmingham".

And lo and behold

Teenager seriously hurt in attack.

A teenager has been seriously injured in an attack in the West Midlands which involved a number of people. Police were called to Alum Rock Road in Birmingham on Saturday at 1710 BST, where they found the 16-year-old. He is thought to have had head injuries. He is in hospital where his condition is described as stable. Police said a number of people were thought to be involved but details were unclear.
The Alum Rock area has featured in police anti-terror raids - to the point where the Birmingham Mail feels the need to report that "People living in Alum Rock today urged others not to feel wary of visiting the Birmingham suburb." It's also where Christian evangelists were threatened with arrest by a PCSO for preaching the Gospel.

Doubtless all will be made clear in time.

"Anger And Offence" - They're All At It


The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee will convene today to discuss the difficult events taking place in Acre and the decision of mayor Shimon Lankri to cancel the Fringe Theater Festival, which was scheduled to open in the city during the intermediate days of Sukkot.

Lankri claims the atmosphere of "anger and offense" among residents will not allow the festival to take place. However, committee chair Ophir Pines-Paz is certain the event is an important means of strengthening Acre's image as a cultural center and symbol of coexistence. "Canceling the festival is a prize for violence," Pines-Paz said.

The "difficult events" being the week of rioting since a young Arab man drove through a Jewish neighbourhood during Yom Kippur. Not only that, but with the car stereo on.

It's a good job Christians don't react like that when the Sabbath is profaned. There would be few car windows - or shop windows - unbroken in the country. However, we have our 'neighbourhoods' too. None of them are Christian, mind. It would be foolish to say that it could never happen here. In Brussels a couple of weeks back a vagrant was beaten up for drinking during Ramadan.