Saturday, 2 February 2008

Holocene over - official

Just when I was looking forward to planting some French vines in the garden rather than the robust Black Sea varieties I have at the moment, comes news on R4's 'Today' that the Holocene era is over and the current ice age will resume shortly.

As far as I understand it, each 100,000 year long ice age is punctuated by an 11,000 year long 'warm' period, the current (or past) one being termed the Holocene.

Under the circumstances, I think we should all generate as much CO2 as we can to keep us warm a tad longer.
Livingstone tired and emotional at Davos

Livingstone's love of the bottle must be of some concern to the Islamic Jihadists to whom he has allied himself in the hope of retaining the east London vote. The Telegraph reports today
Mr Livingstone created a stir among senior Labour figures when he appeared at an event at the recent World Economic Summit in Davos apparently under the influence of alcohol. Tony Blair, David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, and Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, were among those in the room.
The particular problem with whisky drunks, as we old sea dogs well know, is that not only are they aggressive but too much of the elixir permanently distorts their contact with reality.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Police - truthful and honest?

Looking at the following table of members of the public killed or injured by speeding police cars
(a) Number of accidents/casualties—police force

Accidents Fatalities Seriously injured casualties

2002

2,184

34

333

2003

2,025

27

245

2004

2,026

31

293

2005

1,817

26

222

2006

1,827

30

244

(given in a Parliamentary answer), I was struck by the ratio between those of us killed by the police and those merely seriously injured - it looks like about 1:9.

Then I looked at the following table, given in answers on the same day in response to a question about assaults on the police:
Assaults( 1) on police officers 2000-01 to 2004-05( 2,3)
England and Wales Fatal injury Serious and other injury

2000-01(4,8)

1

12,255

2001-02(8)

1

13,096

2002-03(4,8)

4

14,360

2003-04(5,7)

0

11,654

2004-05(6)

0

13,087


Hmmm - a ratio of about 1:10,000.

It couldn't be that our fine, upstanding, honest plods are lying about the extent of their injuries, could it?
Is calling a Labour minister an 'arsehole' fair comment?

The 'Mail' reports today that Libdem MP Greg Mulholland stormed out of the Commons yesterday after calling Labour's Ivan Lewis an arsehole.

Seems a fair comment to me.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

HMRC proposals on 'Income Shifting' law; MPs should take note.

Last month HMRC issued a set of proposals for a change in the tax law that would govern, for example, the boss of a small firm paying his wife (or sons) as 'employees' of the business. Details HERE.

The proposals are intended to prevent unwarranted payments being made to family members by those in a position of power to decide such payments, thereby costing the taxpayer.

After Conway's audacious misuse of funds, I see no reason why the same rules should not be applied to MPs. They should also be above reproach in ensuring that the Equal Opportunities legislation that they themselves enacted is fully and transparently applied in the employment of any persons using public funds.

It is high time that an independent body had oversight over the employment of secretaries and assistants by MPs paid for from Parliamentary allowances; such appointments should be advertised, open and transparent, and both the selection process and the remuneration should be independently scrutinised. This would not prevent their spouses and children from applying for such posts, but would ensure that our tax funds paid only for the best people for the job.
Conway's snout deep in the public trough

There is no excuse for what the Parliamentary Commissioner called an "arrangement [that] was, at the least, an improper use of parliamentary allowances: at worst it was a serious diversion of public funds."

Conway was caught with his snout deep in the trough, siphoning off our tax funds to his family in a corrupt and sleazy misuse of office. His is typical of the arrogance of the political class, who believe that they are above the law. He and his kind are the worst kind of scum, in the same gutter as benefit cheats and fraudsters.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

The Curse of Slavery (longish)

The Telegraph's lead story today is of the involvement of West African immigrants in Britain in a modern-day slave market. Nothing in this story will surprise anyone who has any knowledge of Africa. That continent has a cultural history of slavery that pre-dates by millennia the arrival of the first European explorer on its shores; possession of slaves, cattle and wives have formed the basis of personal wealth in many parts of Africa since before the first Roman soldier set foot on Britain's shore.

Despite the weasel and mendacious words of Nu Labour's 'official' history of slavery to mark the 200th anniversary of abolition last year, the bare truth is that Europeans hardly enslaved any Africans at all. The Portuguese mounted a few military expeditions in Angola, and there were a few opportunistic coastal raids (which were much discouraged as antagonising the slavers' African partners in trade), but the results of these were statistically insignificant. Nearly all of the 11m - 12m slaves bought and transported by Europeans had been enslaved and sold by fellow black Africans.

Simply, Europeans and Africans were equally responsible for that vile 400-year trade. Without the active and willing participation of Africans, we would not have had a slave trade; as the Portuguese found, Europeans trying to capture Africans to enslave them was wasteful of money and lives, not worth the effort, and yielded meagre and scanty rewards.

When, as the result of the Enlightenment and especially of the Second Enlightenment, Europe saw the moral fault in slavery, it was abolished by virtually all of Europe between the end of the eighteenth and the middle of the nineteenth centuries. Africa has never undergone an endogenous enlightenment. Adopted European moral systems and beliefs overlie traditional African cultural norms awkwardly and lightly.

Not all slaves in the African tradition were taken by force. It has long been the practice in parts of Africa for those faced by famine to give themselves over to slavery; in the choice between living as a slave or dying as a freeman, many Africans have over the centuries chosen voluntary captivity and have lived.

Now, I expect by this point there will some of you who are doubting the veracity of the case I am making. I assure you I am relying on the most impeccable academic sources for what I write. For British readers I'd recommend Hugh Thomas' seminal 'The Slave Trade - The history of the Transtlantic slave trade 1440 - 1870'. For online readers, Bartleby's World History presents much of the same evidence.

After the abolition of the export trade by the mid-nineteenth century, Africa reverted to internal slave trading of the kind that had subsisted since long before they met the first European buyers. Paradoxically, when Europe returned to Africa with Quinine prophylaxis, breech-loading rifles and the steam gunboat towards the end of the nineteenth century to colonise that continent (and without those three technological developments it had not been previously possible to do so), it was European rule and law that curbed Africa's traditional slave economy.

I say curbed, not ended. For everywhere in Africa where Europe has withdrawn in decolonising that continent, slavery has returned in one form or another. We're mostly ignorant of it - a Western liberal news agenda normally fights shy of stories about Africans and slavery. It's really only now in Britain, awash with well over a million African immigrants (an additional 20,000 in the past ten years alone in the London borough in which I live) that the media can no longer ignore the reality.

Many years ago I worked for some time in West Africa. One morning on the road between my compound and my down-town office, my driver swerved to avoid the corpse of a small boy on the carriageway. We didn't stop. The flies were already hovering. When I drove back that evening, the day's traffic of buses and trucks hadn't been so squeamish and all that was visible was a Tee-shirt and shorts flattened into a bloody mess on the road. I saw many African corpses, floating in drainage ditches, at the side of the road, visible on a refuse pile. If you haven't experienced it, it's hard to describe the matter-of-factness of death and the tenuousness of the hold on life there; I've been called a racist by disbelieving London liberals for recounting that story.

As I say, Africa has never undergone an endogenous Enlightenment. I'm no racist; I despise those who seek to define British cultural identity in terms of colour or race. I do however believe passionately in a British cultural identity defined by shared values and cultural congruence. It is this that is threatened by the African diaspora here.
Nu Labour's corrupt cabal falling like ninepins

Remember the old anecdote about the wealthy man and the barmaid? He had offered a million pounds to sleep with her, and she had accepted. He then asked "Would you sleep with me for a hundred pounds?". "No!" she replied, "What do you think I am?"

"We've already established what you are. All we're doing now is negotiating the price."

After Hain's resignation to spend more time with his sunbed, the sword of Damocles hangs over Harman, Alexander and, as today's papers reveal, Johnson. There must be a hope in Brown's dark heart that the referral of the matter to the police in Hain's case will not be repeated with the others; that his corruption was of £103,000 and therefore great, but that the others were less corrupt because the payments were smaller.

As the businessman in the anecdote might have said, we've already established what they are, and all that remains is to ascertain how much it took to corrupt them. Or, in the barmaid's eyes, that they were corrupted for small amounts makes them more culpable, not less.

As possessors of drugs have discovered, de minimis non curat lex does not prevent criminal charges being brought for small amounts, but the punishment on conviction may be adjusted according to the value of the haul.

So let's see the lot of 'em in the dock and let justice be done.
Brown's ban of Britannia only the start

The Daily Mail today leads with the story that Brown has banned Britannia from the British coinage for the first time in 300 years. The Mail finds it hard to reconcile this with Brown's protestations of 'Britishness'. I don't.

Brown is still in his dark heart a redistributive socialist who loathes the British love of the monarchy and our symbolic history, expressed through restrained but ubiquitous public heraldry. He seeks to displace our traditional loyalties and identities with a nation schooled since childhood to see the central State as provider, judge and regulator of our individual welfare.

Therefore expect Brown to remove the Royal cipher from our post boxes, the Royal arms from our courts, the crowns from the helmets of our police, the heraldic symbols from our coins. Once he has done this, he will want to replace the Queen's head on our currency with something vile and socialistic.

Brown's idea of Britishness is to have the nation dressed in their 'young pioneers' scarves and carrying socialist banners marching past his politburo on May Day.