Saturday, May 21, 2011

AFC Wimbledon - You Can't Kill The Spirit

The Dons are back - having beaten Luton 4-3 on penalties in the Conference playoffs - and I'd just like to say how hard it must feel for Luton supporters and players, losing on penalties. Last time I saw them play Luton it was an FA Cup semi-final.

Guardianistas are always on about the evils of money in the game - and for once they are right. There are plenty of examples of it - not least the loss of Plough Lane and the sale of the club to Milton Keynes. There can't be many better instances of localism than the recreation of the club :

In June 2002, in order to assemble a competitive team at short notice, AFC Wimbledon held player trials over three days on Wimbledon Common, open to any unattached player who felt he was good enough to try out for the team. From these trials, the club's squad for their inaugural season was chosen.
While Kingsmeadow hasn't got the atmosphere that made a trip to Plough Lane so difficult for big teams twenty years back, it's a nice little place - and the artwork's always something to look forward to. Best of luck next season - it's great have them back where they belong. Where the eagles fly ...

On Ken Clarke and Rape Stats

Clarke is a let-em-all-out Euro fanatic, and I will unsay no word I've spoken about him. But his main failing in his now-notorious interview was to be ill-prepared and ill-briefed to discuss what he should have known is an incendiary topic.

The good Inspector speaks - I merely report :

As a serving policeman, there are several things I am not allowed to talk about.

There are plenty of operational secrets we cannot discuss, but I’m not referring to those. I’m talking about the taboo subjects. The ‘detection’ rate for rape is one of these.

It’s very frustrating to sit and listen to pundits talking about the low number of rape convictions in Court, when as police officers we all know what lies behind these poor numbers.

For example, I couldn’t possibly tell you that out of every ten rapes which are reported in Ruraltown, at least eight turn out to be nonsense. To be fair, eight out of ten of everything reported at Ruraltown police station is nonsense, why should rape be any different?

I couldn’t tell you that of the remaining two, an existing alcohol-fuelled chaotic drug-based relationship is a factor in at least one of these, and ‘consent’ is probably present in the other to some degree. In my whole service I can only recall three stranger rapes and a half a dozen where consent was withdrawn at the time and he carried on. But I can’t tell you that.

I can’t tell you that most of the adult rapes reported in Ruraltown represent either the latest in a series of allegations designed to score points against an ‘ex, lies designed to fend off an angry parent when a curfew has been missed or a defence mechanism when a jilted ‘partner’ discovers an infidelity.

A rape once reported, even if withdrawn later, is in the system and a failure to bring someone to justice, even if it never happened, shows up in the ‘detection’ rate. The ‘detection rate’ is low because the number of rapes which actually happen is low. I couldn’t possibly say that though...

The facts about rape seen from the street are this: most genuine rapes are against children under 13 years old and are within the family or family circle. Genuine adult rape is rare and nearly always charged to Court; what a jury do next is for them, but it usually comes down to ‘consent’ issues, and being as they were not in the bedroom at the time, and we are not simply proving intercourse because that is already admitted by the defendant, it’s not really within our gift to prove or disprove consent. Consent can amount to one word, said in a half whisper six months before in a darkened room where no one else was present.

But we can’t possibly say any of this. We will simply accept that it’s all our fault and promise to do better in the future.
I don't know. The one thing I'll say is that from purely anecdotal evidence, the chats a young man has with young women, is that an awful lot of girls seem to have had some kind of assault in their early teenage years - from the groper on the bus who you dread to see getting on board (and of course you've not told your parents although it's happened several times) to the one-off stranger exposing himself as you take a short-cut though the churchyard. There are definitely some bad people out there.

Meanwhile, back in lovely Croydon - into what category would the inspector put this alleged attack :

A teenager was chased down a residential street after being raped by her new “boyfriend” and his flatmate, a court heard. Cousins Corrie Pinney, 35, of Yardbridge Close, Belmont, and Jermaine Kraftner, 27, from Poole, Dorset, also invited Desmond Enwright, their uncle and father respectively, into the room to join in the attack, Croydon Crown Court heard on Monday... the group stayed up drinking, smoking cannabis and listening to music before Mr Kraftner said: “You don’t know what you’ve signed yourself up for.”

Charming. I keep hearing that most sexual assaults take place within the family, not with the participation of a family.

Mr Pinney and Mr Kraftner deny charges of rape, sexual assault, false imprisonment and ABH against two victims in separate attacks. They have admitted charges of ABH relating to a second alleged rape, which Cassie Webb, 20, from Croydon, denies aiding and abetting. She also denies false imprisonment during the attack in 2010.


Also in Croydon :

The mother and daughter were visiting Taryn’s boyfriend Jason Stevens, who had lost his 17-year-old sister in a car accident in August, when the trio spotted Georgia Marney walking down Cudham Drive. She had been banned from the road pending her upcoming court case for causing death by dangerous driving.

As Mrs Price was driving towards Marney she shouted at her out of the window of her car. She told the court: “I said ‘What the hell are you doing here, you are not supposed to be here. I did call her a murderer, which I should not have done. She was shouting rubbish at us, f-ing and blinding.” Marney walked towards the car, punching the window three times to make it shatter. Her daughter Taryn jumped out of the car to protect Mrs Price, whom she feared Marney was going to punch, and began grappling with her in the street. She also admitted calling the teenager a murderer as they fought and pulled each other’s hair, before Mrs Price stood on Marney’s hair so her daughter could escape.

As Taryn Price got up to collect her phone from the middle of the road, Marney kicked her mother in the face, breaking her glasses and leaving a cut above her eyebrow which required hospital treatment.
Ho hum.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Night Music - Ivan Koslovsky

A year or so back I found a video (which I can no longer find !) of Paul Robeson singing in Moscow in the Fifties alongside the Ukranian tenor Ivan Koslovsky. I thought he sang beautifully, and it was a shame that he could never perform in the West :

Kozlovsky was never allowed to perform in the West because his brother Fedor Kozlovsky, who was also a singer, had left Ukraine to tour Europe with Oleksander Koshetz in 1919. Upon hearing of the Bolshevik takeover of Ukraine he refused to return.

Here he is, singing in Moscow aged 79 singing the Neapolitan 'Fenesta che lucive' - and still ripping the floorboards off the stage - not to mention the scarf off his (much younger) accompanist.

Croydon (V)

I noted Julia's post on the recent Tamil gang fighting in Croydon, and put it down as one more milestone on the road of diversity.

I forgot they've been at it since at least 2008 :

Gangs of violent men from Sri Lanka are "constantly tooled up" and "ready to go", according to police.There have been a number of violent clashes involving groups of Tamil men in Croydon and other parts of south London in recent years.

It's because of this sort of thing that I wasn't in the chorus of righties a few years back demanding that all the Gurkhas (and their families) be allowed in. Admittedly the Tamils of Sri Lanka have a violent recent history, whereas the violence of the Gurkhas has always been directed against the Queen's enemies. But it struck me that there were three objections to the idea :

a) do we want to recruit soldiers for whom the family immigration pass is the chief motivation?
b) is this not likely to impact upon Gurkha society back home, if the (hopefully - see (a)) bravest and best don't return to form a respected elder statesman class?
c) what's going to happen to their children and grandchildren, brought up in the culture of the UK? Will they retain both their fearsome warrior credentials and their dignified Nepalese culture, going straight into the forces as their fathers did? Or might they perhaps keep the warrior bit, but turn out like the children and grandchildren of those highly respectable people who got off the Empire Windrush, or those who arrived in the textile mills of the Pennines? The Gurkhas seemed OK to me just as they were, although there was always a case for upping the pensions.

I noted this killing a couple of years back :

Morden residents Rocky Gurung, 21, from Haig Place, and Kemik Thakali, 21, from Legion Court, both pleaded not guilty to murder during the trial last month but were found guilty of the manslaughter of the 23-year-old waiter.

During the trial, the court was told Bishal Gurung, who worked at the Sherpa Kitchen in Esher High Street, was chased along the Thames Embankment by a gang of 10 to 15 men including Rocky Gurung in the early hours of April 13, 2008, after being falsely accused of hitting Kemik Thakali with a bottle during a boat party to celebrate Nepalese new year.

He was kicked and beaten before being rolled into the Thames by Rocky Gurung and Thakali, the court was told.

Now I doubt that these people, though Nepalese, were the sons of Gurkhas. There's been no time for that. I just wonder what the streets of Aldershot, admittedly never the safest place to be out on the lash, are going to be like in twenty years time?

A town risks being 'overwhelmed' by Gurkhas and their families in the wake of the landmark decision to grant former servicemen the right to live in Britain, an MP says. Gerald Howarth, MP for Aldershot, has made a plea to the prime minister for more funding to deal with an issue he said was of 'grave concern' in the area, following an influx of thousands of former soldiers and their families. The former shadow Defence Minister's letter to David Cameron, reported in, said: 'This has had a very significant impact over a very short period of time and it is now estimated that 10 per cent of the borough of Rushmoor’s population of approximately 90,000 is Nepalese.'

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ancestral Voices Prophesying War

BBC news journalism to a very large extent relies on reporting stories that fit an existing left-liberal narrative and ignoring stories which challenge this narrative - the classic example being the enormous disparities in their reporting of racist murder - those disparities relating to the ethnicity of both perpetrator and victim.

Where BBC journalists go looking to make the news, by unearthing new facts or obtaining an admission from a politician or businessman, the same rules apply. Sending undercover cameramen into BNP meetings hoping to hear bad things being discussed? Sure. Sending them into mosques with the same brief? Er ... we'll leave that to Channel Four, thanks very much.

A favourite sport of Today presenters is to try and create the lunchtime news headlines by getting some interviewee to either "drop a clanger" or "reveal their real agenda", depending on your viewpoint. Even a Victoria Derbyshire can do it if the interviewee is ill-briefed and ill-prepared enough.

But sometimes the quest for what's perceived to be the killer admission can ruin the interview - for some reason I always think of Evan Davies interviewing anyone at all on drugs policy, where he seems incapable of keeping his personal enthusiasms in check.

And sometimes the quest for a not-very-important admission can blind the interviewer to the most remarkable statements being made by the interviewee - which go straight past the journalist's head because they're nothing to do with the little verbal traps he's setting.

That failure to actually listen to the interviewee constitutes IMHO diabolical journalism. John Humphrys (for it is he) should listen to his Patrick Mercer interview from yesterday morning, then tear up his NUJ card and announce his retirement.

The subject of the interview was a leaked letter written by Defence Secretary Liam Fox to the Prime Minister, expressing concern that the Government planned to make a legal commitment to increasing its overseas aid spending at a time when armed forces budgets are being cut heavily. The subtext of the interview, as Humphrys revealed, was Conservative division.

In the studio were Patrick Mercer, a former army officer and former Conservative security spokesman, broadly sympathetic to the Fox concerns, and Lib Dem MP Malcolm Bruce, very much against them. You'd imagine Mercer is reasonably close to current military thinking, and current M.O.D. thinking.

It was near the end of the interview, emboldening is mine :

Mercer :

"At a time when the armed forces are being cut and cut hard, when they're at war in Afghanistan, Pakistan and indeed in Libya, with other conflicts on the horizon ... you can see why the defence secretary is concerned"

Humphrys, completely missing the above and intent on his 'Tory division' narrative (I paraphrase) :

"But .. Liam Fox wrote to the Prime Minister and addressed him as 'Dear David Cameron' .. now we know he would like to be Tory leader - isn't there an ulterior motive?"

Mercer :

"at a time when money is stretched ... at a time when we are at war on at least two fronts, and probably a third front to come, no doubt Liam Fox is fighting his corner as any other Secretary of State would do".

Now it may be that Mercer's statement that we are at war in Pakistan is a slip of the tongue, and he's thinking of the Americans, who do seem to have made one or two trips across the Durand Line recently. But what are these "other conflicts on the horizon"? What is this "third front to come", assuming Front 1 to be Afghanistan and Front 2 Libya? Have I been asleep lately - should I know all about this war to come?

Syria ? Seems unlikely. Iran ? Ditto. Are the Argentinians planning another crack at the Falklands (and if they were, how could we possibly form a front down there once Mount Pleasant was lost, having no carrier capability?).

I would really love to have known what Mr Mercer was talking about - and I imagine BBC listeners might have been interested, too. Pity the BBC couldn't find a journalist to ask him!

(cross-posted at Biased-BBC)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Topical Tunes

I don't know why, but people seem to be linking this old song all over the Web :

While we're on Neil Young, there can surely be fewer finer exponents of the jangly guitar than he.

'Tis 40-plus years since a chap walked into the Lower Sixth Common Room and put on this, by a band we'd never heard of called Crazy Horse.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bad Timing

I suppose publishing a piece on how Socialist candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn may be a bit of a lad with the women (but the sophisticated French electorate won't let that bother them) on Friday the 13th was always tempting fate.

"There was a fuss last year when a young French author, Tristane Banon, described her encounter with him. She explained that she had interviewed him for a book about public figures and their missteps, and claimed she had to fight him off physically. She said she hadn't made a complaint at the time, because she didn't want to be "the girl who had a problem with a politician".This side of DSK's life has almost become folklore in France. In 2009, humourist Stéphane Guillon even dedicated his comedy slot on the popular morning radio show La Matinale de France Inter (the French equivalent for Radio 4) to this particular side of the politician:

"Exceptional measures have been taken at Radio France in order not to awaken the Beast. Here are the measures, as detailed by the trade unions. I quote: 'In order to guarantee the safety of the personnel, female workers are asked to wear long, unrevealing and anti-sex clothes. High heels, leather pants and chic lingerie are banned. The head of information, who will greet DSK, will wear a burqa. Dark corners like the toilets, car park, some cupboards, have been momentarily closed off." He added: "But no panic. We have put bromide in his coffee ... and we have two cameras, the usual one on the table and a second under it.'."

Will DSK's reputation matter in the election? Do we, female voters, care about male politicians' sex lives? We all heard the stories in the news, and it is true that he might not be really popular among feminists. But the answer is no. As old-fashioned as it might seem, French voters tend to judge politicians according to their projects...We will have to keep an eye on him. But not in his bedroom."

Or, as another Guardianista put it a while ago, "Womaniser? He's just French".

Well, either the author has very bad timing, or ("puts on tinfoil hat") someone in Chateau Sarkozy has very good timing.

He was taken off an Air France flight by officers from the Port Authority of New York and turned over to Manhattan police, according to a spokesman from the agency. Plainclothes officers boarded the flight at 4.45pm, moments before take-off, and took the 62-year-old out of the first-class cabin and into custody. He had been due to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday. "It was 10 minutes before its scheduled departure," said John Kelly, a Port Authority spokesman.

Port Authority officers were acting on information from the New York Police Department, whose detectives had been investigating a brutal alleged attack on a woman employee at the Sofitel New York on West 44th Street in the heart of the city's theatre district. The 32-year-old woman told police that she entered Strauss-Kahn's room at about 1pm on Saturday and he emerged from the bedroom naked, threw her down and tried to sexually assault her (a/c/t this story he's alleged to have done more than try - not to mention this story - LT), NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. She broke free and escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened who called the police. When New York City police detectives arrived moments later, Strauss-Kahn had already left the hotel, leaving behind his mobile phone and other personal items. "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry," Browne added.

In the UK an extremely wealthy economist and lobbyist with a reputation as a sexual harasser wouldn't necessarily be top of the list when choosing a Labour leader (Labour leaders are supposed to lay the groundwork during office for self-enrichment after office) - but they do things differently in France, where Socialist leaders are quite happy to use the Security Services and tax authorities as private enforcers of their personal interests.

"Among other verifiable events, Hallier's telephone conversations were continually eavesdropped on by the Elysée palace from 1985 onward. He and any potential publisher were hounded by tax inspectors dispatched to instill the fear of "God" (Mitterrand's nickname) into them, his apartment burned, etc."