Saturday, March 05, 2005

What A Country II - Evil and Stupidity

What's the connection between my sons and a 27-year old underclass adolescent ?

They all enjoy using their air rifles.

The boys are taught never to point, never to leave loaded. Never have anyone in front of the gun. Targets are concentric paper circles, tin cans, or (a favourite competition shoot with friends) small balloons tied to tree branches on long lengths of string - quite tricky on a windy day at 50 yards.

The other, a lowlife from the notorious Easterhouse estate in Glasgow, likes to take pot-shots at passing firemen and two year olds. He killed the toddler.

There are two things you can do here.

You can try and do something about a culture that produces physically, if not socially, grown men who think sniping at strangers is a reasonable way to spend a Wednesday evening. You can try and do something about a culture, and a benefits system, that produces places like Easterhouse, visted in 1989 by Charles Murray before he wrote 'The Emerging British Underclass'.

Or you can just ban airguns. Take them away from law-abiding people. After all, it worked with handguns, didn't it ?

It's a great thing, the welfare state. The law-abiding pay taxes to house and feed the underclass (their drugs are usually bought with the proceeds of burglary). Then when a member of said underclass acts as you might expect, the law-abiding get one of their pleasures taken away. Because it's far, far easier to hassle the law-abiding than to do anything about the underclass.

NOTE - Easterhouse has probably had more written about its problems than anywhere in the UK, partly because of the presence there until recently of the holy fool Professor Bob Holman, who gave up a well-paid academic career to work with residents groups, work which produced an idiotic book and an idea - the idea being that large sums of taxpayers money should be given to residents groups. Perhaps until their leading lights are paid as much as a Professor of Social Work ?

(The idiocy consists of a complete refusal to judge the poor the way he would judge others. I find that patronising and disrespectful, treating the poor as children who don't know any better. But he is a saint - albeit an idiotic one. Talk about going the second mile.

One Sunday afternoon, I settled down to watch Rangers v Celtic on TV. The buzzer to our flat went and for once I told the boy to go away. A few minutes later, it went again. A neighbour shouted, "Mrs Brown is having her contractions, can you take her to maternity?" Reluctantly, I heaved the woman into the minibus. What annoyed me was that her husband refused to accompany her as he preferred to watch the game.

Words fail me.)

CONTEMPT OF COURT WATCH - of course the 27-year old underclass adolescent may be entirely innocent. The toddler might have been shot by a different underclass adolescent.

What A Country

The theory :

Home Office minister Hazel Blears on anti-social behaviour :

"we are seeing much more cooperation from the courts in making sure decent people who are prepared to stand up and challenge this behaviour are properly protected."

The practice :

An unemployed kickboxer who killed a pensioner with a single punch was jailed yesterday for just 2 1/2 years.

Brutal Craig Swann hit out at 67-year-old William Bird who had asked him to stop cycling on a footbridge. Swann, 21, then cycled off, leaving Mr Bird seriously injured, and boasted later to his mates that he had "beaten the c*** out of an old duffer".

The grandfather-of-five died five days later in hospital. The attack in the Somerset seaside town of Bridgwater sparked outrage at the time and feelings were running high yesterday.

Deputy Mayor Bill Monteith said: "It's an absolute scandal that this happened in the first place. It's hardly a sentence at all. With good behaviour, he'll be out in 14 or 15 months."

More on the story here.

Distraught wife Jane broke down when the sentence was read out and was too upset to comment after the case.

Naturally the Tories have condemned Judge Thomas Crowther's (who described the killing as ‘unnecessarily violent’ – how much violence did he consider necessary ?) derisory sentence on the 'unemployed father-of-one who has previous convictions for battery'. Not.

Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said: "There is no excusing what he did, but he has pleaded guilty and it must be left to the judge to decide on the sentence."

The Home Office are putting lots of resource into tackling anti-social behaviour. Faced with three yobs riding their bikes towards you on a pedestrian bridge, they recommend Mr Bird should go here. What a pity his Blackberry wasn't working that day.

Meanwhile, just up the A38 in Bristol. This hardly bears thinking about. That poor child. England, 2005 :

A boy aged three spent three days alone weeping over the body of his father, who had been battered to death at their home in an apparently motiveless attack.
Abraham Marshall is thought to have survived on a few biscuits and had been sleeping huddled next to the corpse. He was finally rescued when relatives called at the flat in Bristol.

And in High Wycombe the girls are proving that when it comes to killing your schoolmates, equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity, is the name of the game. Sisters are doing it for themselves.

A girl aged 12 has been questioned over the “sudden and unexplained” death of an 11-year-old girl, police said yesterday. The suspect, who has not been named, was arrested on suspicion of assault after Alisa Haywood died from acute swelling of the brain.

Friday, March 04, 2005

"As long as you can't see any cameras, hit 'em"

Following the uncovering of abuse at the privately-run Oakington detention centre, immigration officials have found a sure-fire method of preventing further occurrences.

(and new reality TV star Jason Martin looks a perfect candidate for the Big Brother house. When he gets out, that is.)

BBC pay criminal for story

The Scotsman

"The BBC tonight came under fire for paying one of the men who burgled Norfolk farmer Tony Martin to appear in a programme.

Brendan Fearon – who was wounded by Mr Martin and whose 16-year-old accomplice was killed – is to receive £4,000 for appearing in a docu-drama.

The BBC has defended the move. But the farmer’s MP has accused the corporation of “gross insensitivity”."

The BBC version is here.

Perhaps they're trying to do a deal before the law is changed.

Doubtless Mr Fearon will be able to think of something to spend the money on.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Poverty, Crime and Terror

As all good liberals know, poverty is a breeding ground for terrorism. That's why most of the 9/11 crew were middle class grads, why the people who killed Daniel Pearl were lead by a public schoolboy, why a grammar school kid from Gloucester has just pleaded guilty to plotting to blow up an airliner, and why there seem to have been more Web designers in Guantanamo than in Silicon Valley.

Similarly in the UK, poverty is inextricably linked to crime. It's nothing to do with culture.

Just look at this FT report, analysing the 10 wealthiest and 10 poorest seats in the UK. Forget that the wealthiest seats are more likely to vote Labour than Tory. Just think on the poor seats and the associated crime and disorder.

Take the poorest seat of all - Camarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, a notoriously high crime area where no-one goes out after dark for fear of gangs of marauding English hippies asking the way to the nearest Steiner school.

Or the seething multicultural melting-pot of the next poorest - North Cornwall, where it's literally impossible to leave your towel on the beach in summer without it being vomited on by a sixteen year old public schoolboy. No wonder houses there are so hard to buy - I mean sell.

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. Caernarfon and Meirionnydd Nant Conwy. The very names strike fear - by-words for burglary, alienation, drug abuse and gang violence. Places where after dark the inhabitants cower in their fortified, alarmed and bolted houses, anxiously waiting the daylight hours.

In the wealthiest places, like Wimbledon, crime is almost non-existent.

How right the liberals are that poverty causes crime.

Ordinary People ...

Research their family tree. The 1861 data is out now.

Guardianistas take "A Journey Into The Heart Of Belonging".

Posting ...

At Biased BBC this morning. I should have added that Radio Four's James Naughtie was of course one of Mr Blair's Chequers dinner guests.

Meanwhile mosey on over to Dumb Jon's, back on top form, taking in Douglas Hurd and gay bishops ("Yes, Julian, people refusing to give you a job as a bishop is exactly the same as abducting you to a foreign continent and working you to death").

And don't forget to visit Peter.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I Don't Often ...

... take a crack at a Gary Younge piece, in the same way that I try to avoid hitting suicidal pheasants on the lanes hereabout. Fish, barrels, and all that. When he gets off the subject he was hired to write about he can be good.

But this is awful.

We're talking colonial oppression. I just can't be bothered to fisk it all (you can look at his Auschwitz comparison), but he does commit one gross outrage against truth.

" ... photographs from Camp Breadbasket showed British soldiers standing on Iraqis enmeshed in netting, forcing them to simulate oral and anal sex, feigning to punch them in the head and parading them around on forklift trucks. "

Yes. All very bad form. But atrocities ?

"... the truth is that the atrocities committed in Camp Breadbasket were not aberrant ..."

Gary, an atrocity is what happened in Iraq on Monday. The kind of thing that gets the editor of the Independent running into the room, trousers round his ankles, shouting "Hold The Front Page !"

Not taking photographs of someone 'feigning to punch them in the head'.

If feigning to punch someone, and photographing it, is an "atrocity", I look forward to Gary's take on this story.

A man told today how he was attacked by a gang on a London bus while an accomplice took pictures on a mobile phone.

Andrew Greenwood was asleep on the top deck after a night out in the West End when as many as five youths beat him up.

He said they took turns to punch him in the face "as if it were a game". One witness said a gang member captured the attack on his mobile phone camera - and police believe the assault may have been part of a violent craze where youths broadcast images of attacks on the internet and send them to their friends.

Mr Greenwood, who is 28 and works for Victim Support, suffered a fractured eye socket. His left eye is still closed and badly bruised and doctors fear his sight may be permanently damaged.

He said: "It's sick and disgusting people could take pleasure out of watching others suffer like that. They were bantering as though it was some kind of joke or a game."

A new AL Kennedy Column

Subject : dead people.

Madness rating : moderate

Phase of Moon : half full (or half-empty)

Mentions of

Depleted Uranium : No
Reality TV : Yes
Christians : No
Porn : Yes
Blood : No
Celebrities : Yes
Bush'n'Blair : Blair
Swearing : Yes

It Is Right To Give Thanks And Praise To The Most High

As Mick Hartley well knows.

And especially necessary when I've got my tickets for Murrayfield. I can't believe they haven't sold out yet.

So on the 13th, God willing, Scotland v Wales (with four children in tow). Hopefully we'll have time to show them that fine city before the match. Not at all confident - the Scots have a way of pulling out great performances against the Welsh. And if that crowd get behind them ...

Ken Owen at Militant Moderate wonders what's happened to England.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Your Postal Vote Frauds Tonight

Remember the postal vote fraud riots, as Labour, Lib Dem and Muslim activists scrapped in the streets of Brum over the contents of a postbox, amid allegations of widespread abuse ?

Slowly, things are happening, in Blackburn.

"A former councillor tried to rig postal voting by collecting ballot forms from voters and getting other people to fill them in in his favour.
Muhammed Hussain, 61, from Logwood Street, Blackburn, Lancashire, admitted the election fraud on Monday. He was warned he faces a prison sentence.

The ex-Labour councillor had a 685 majority in the elections for Bastwell ward on Blackburn Council in 2002."

In Birmingham Bordesley Green and Aston.

"The petitioners claim correction fluid was used to change votes marked for the PJP, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats into votes for the Labour Party.

It is claimed that the fresh crosses were made in the same handwriting and with the same blue pen.

The court also heard evidence from handwriting expert Michael Allen.

He was given 213 electoral documents to analyse as a sample of ballots cast in favour of Labour that were believed to be suspicious.

His findings suggested at least 80% of those ballots had been faked."

"The mobile phone records of a senior Labour councillor may be commandeered to check if he had any involvement in an alleged city postal vote scam.

Coun Mohammad Afzal denies being present when police were called at midnight to a deserted industrial estate before June's local elections.

Officers found hundreds of blank postal votes in the boot of a car which was driven by Aston Labour activists who claimed they were in the process of " sorting them out".

Liberal Democrats, who are fighting a High Court battle to overthrow the Aston result, have applied for a court order to obtain Coun Afzal's mobile phone records from the local authority.

Coun Afzal has signed a witness statement denying he was on the estate. He said he had been asleep in bed since 10.30pm on that night after consuming a "warm drink"."

Words fail me. Even the Observer is concerned, in the shape of the great and good Nick Cohen.

"There's an almost pathetic desire in everyone with a stake in the democratic process to make postal and internet voting work. A senior official at one very respectable organisation told me he wished I wasn't writing this piece because it would send the 'wrong message'. I'm sure he didn't mean it the way it came out. He was just desperate to get more people involved and break the contempt for politics of the post-democratic age.

It is an honourable aspiration. But the political class doesn't seem to realise that the post-democratic attempts to make voting customer-friendly are reviving the corruptions of the pre-democratic age, and forcing us to fight the battles of the Chartists all over again. "

Read the whole thing.

And what is the Government doing to prevent this happening again ? A big fat zero.

"The Government has ruled out safeguards against rigging postal votes in the general election because time has run out, it emerged yesterday, as a court was told that Labour supporters forged 1,200 votes in a single council ward last June.
One of the country’s leading election experts outlined changes that the independent Electoral Commission believes could prevent people having their votes stolen, but said Whitehall had decided that it was too late to make reforms."

I imagine they are doing something - instructing their activists to be a bit less obvious this time round. Pretty straight guys.

More Snowdrops From The Curate's Garden

My little post on self-harm was pounced on by this blogger, who thinks that because tattoos and piercings are mainstream now, they always have been.

As always, Kipling has the words to describe this flaw in her logic :

In August was the Jackal born
The Rains fell in September
"Now such a fearful flood as this,"
Says he "I can"t remember!"

What I can't decide is whether she liked the post or not.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the culture of the Mother Country lives on :

"Police came under attack during a fourth night of rioting after the deaths of two teenagers whose stolen car crashed in a high-speed chase.
Teenagers pelted officers with petrol bombs, rocks, fireworks and bottles as riot police advanced on a crowd of about 100 people on the sprawling housing estate of Macquarie Fields in the southwestern suburbs of Sydney. "

And you'll never believe this one. Apparently youmg people's behaviour is getting worse.

Ofsted's annual report, published earlier this month, showed that the proportion of "good or better" behaviour in secondary schools had declined from more than three-quarters to two-thirds since 1997.

Following the latest report, England's chief schools inspector, David Bell, said: "Although the large majority of schools are orderly places where children behave well, it is worrying that unsatisfactory behaviour has not reduced over time.

I liked this :

The report recommends "regular training, focused on classroom practice, combined with an in-depth appreciation of child and adolescent development".

It's probably all a question of self-esteem. I blame the Daily Mail myself.

Monday, February 28, 2005

New US Atrocity

Guantanamera, My Lai, Hiroshima, Green Acres - and now this.

"The US has insisted abortion should not be recognised as a human right, at a review of progress 10 years after a major conference on women's rights".

Is there no end to the evil of this nation, condemning millions of pregnant women to give birth ?

Already the death-toll is rising. Among pregnant women.

"Illegal abortions are a major cause of death among mothers in many countries in Latin America, an international conference on the subject has been told."

Surely not among 'mothers' ? The whole point of abortion is to avoid that unhappy state, so indelibly associated with domestic violence, economic subjection, and grubby handprints on the newly painted walls.

"Unsafe and illegal abortion in Latin America is a social justice problem". It certainly is for the baby.

About Time Too

Strangely, the BBC seem to be ignoring this story - can't find it on their website.

"Michael Howard, the Tory leader, will seek to harness the growing nationalism south of the Border with a policy of stopping Scottish MPs from voting on English health, education and crime policies.

He will put the so-called West Lothian Question at the heart of the election campaign by claiming Labour’s support has retreated to the Celtic fringe, leaving his authority in England dependent on Scots and Welsh MPs.

The Conservatives expect that, even if Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, wins a third term, Labour will lose its majority in England - putting the power of Scottish MPs in the spotlight.

Mr Howard and Peter Duncan, the shadow Scottish secretary, will propose next month that the Speaker should decide what legislation applies only to England - and ensure Scots MPs do not debate or vote on such issues."

Ignore the spin about 'growing nationalism'. This is just a question of fairness. Scots MPs can vote on English issues - issues such as hunting or tuition fees where the legislation does not apply to Scotland. Scotland has its own Assembly which decides on such matters - and English MPs have no vote there.

You can't blame the Scots for wanting to keep the status quo, if the English are mugs enough to agree.

John Robertson, the Labour MP for Glasgow Anniesland, said:

"All legislation - English, Welsh or Scottish - requires money from UK coffers. Last time I checked, everyone in Scotland pays the same British tax, so every MP in Britain has a direct interest in how that tax is spent."

Quite right John. Makes sense to me. So you'll be scrapping that white elephant knocked up by Kirsty Wark's mates, will you ? No ? Oh.

And some English MPs will use the rift to further the EU agenda for the Balkanisation of England into 'regions'.

Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran Labour rebel, admitted it was "frustrating" to be defeated over particular legislation by Scots whose constituencies were not affected.

But he went on: "Unless we have devolved regional government in England, there’s no reason to bar the Scots."

That's right. The Scots and Welsh can have a Parliament, but the English ? Who are they ? My loyalties are to the ancient 'South West Region', aren't they ?

In The Inbox ..

A Viagra advert with the following text appended, a selection of random quotes. It seems to work rather well as one stream of consciousness. I think I recognise the work of the Marx brothers, St Augustine on chastity, Conan Doyle, Asimov on computers and Homer Simpson on beer, or is it Dave Barry ?

Begin doing what you want to do now (unless you are reading this in the public library - LT). We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake. Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. If you can count your money, you don't have a billion dollars. The problem with some people is that when they aren't drunk, they're sober. Who so loves believes the impossible. Distance between two hearts is not an obstacle; rather a great reminder of just how strong true love can be. I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. Solitude, if rightly used, becomes not only a privilege but a necessity. Only a superficial soul fears to fraternize with itself. Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws. Those who are willing to sacrifice essential liberties for a little order, will lose both and deserve neither. Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law. I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure -- that is all that agnosticism means. I heard someone tried the monkeys-on-typewriters bit trying for the plays of W. Shakespeare, but all they got was the collected works of Francis Bacon. But at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot hurrying near. There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. Love takes up where knowledge leaves off. Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. A book may lie dormant for fifty years or for two thousand years in a forgotten corner of a library, only to reveal, upon being opened, the marvels or the abysses that it contains, or the line that seems to have been written for me alone. In this respect the writer is not different from any other human being: whatever we say or do can have far-reaching consequences. I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. Yesterday is a dream, tomorrow but a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore to this day. Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut. Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. The great thing about television is that if something important happens anywhere in the world, day or night, you can always change the channel. Distance between two hearts is not an obstacle; rather a great reminder of just how strong true love can be. What the world really needs is more love and less paper work. Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch? The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as playing a poor hand well. I begin by taking. I shall find scholars later to demonstrate my perfect right. Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me. When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading. Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories. Why is it drug addicts and computer afficionados are both called users? A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous. If you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose. Love is the immortal flow of energy that nourishes, extends and preserves. Its eternal goal is life. Love is always bestowed as a gift - freely, willingly and without expectation. We don't love to be loved; we love to love. If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Autumn is the time when seasons merge because of bare necessity. No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy today, mix good cheer with friends today enjoy it and bless God for it. When a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it. A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous. A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation. Love is the beauty of the soul. Can miles truly separate you from friends... If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there? What do you take me for, an idiot? Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Give me a museum and I'll fill it. The great thing about television is that if something important happens anywhere in the world, day or night, you can always change the channel. When you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. Black holes are where God divided by zero. Compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. What the world really needs is more love and less paper work. Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life. Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her. Dancing is silent poetry. Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. A positive attitude will not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. Everyone is a genius at least once a year; a real genius has his original ideas closer together. All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher. Books are the shoes with which we tread the footsteps of great minds. The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad. His ignorance is encyclopedic It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, the finish by loading honors on your head. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it. While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances. Thank you for sending me a copy of your book - I'll waste no time reading it. Give me chastity and continence, but not yet. The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza. Dancing is silent poetry. A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years. All right, Brain, I don't like you and you don't like me -- so let's just do this and I'll get back to killing you with beer.

We're Top At Everything

When it comes to rape, drug abuse, abortions, crime or general naughtiness, you just can't beat the Brits.

The parallels with other indigenous peoples who've lost their culture really are striking. If you look an any social issues report on Australian aboriginals, Native Americans, or First Nation Canadians, you see the same indicators. As the UN said in December :

"There is a sense of hopelessness about the ability to control our own destiny that leads to social ills so common in indigenous communities, such as alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence"

"They get disconnected from their communities and the environment and many eventually get completely detached from their own indigenous identity"

The Canadian report shows increased levels of sexually transmitted disease, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, children in care, domestic violence, rape and crime. Sounds like the UK to me.

Cash For Good Causes Part 4

From the Sunday Times

"It is alleged that Comfort Afolabi, the 48-year-old head of the charity, put an undercover reporter posing as an asylum seeker in touch with an immigration fraudster who was selling fake passports.

The Big Lottery Fund, which distributes £600m a year to good causes, has suspended the charity’s latest grant of £200,000, which was awarded in March.

In a statement, the Big Lottery Fund said: “We have with immediate effect frozen the grant to DSHU and have begun an internal investigation into the organisation concerned.” "

They seem to make a habit of this - see stories here and here.

I criticise the BBC often enough, so credit to Radio Five for the investigation.

It almost makes up for James "toilet-mouth" Naughtie's Ken Tynan moment this morning when he made use of Anglo-Saxon (about 6.40 a.m, in a discussion of the Oscars).