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Friday, 28 March 2014

Record 27% for Muslim prisoners in London jails

I find the bare facts of this quite astonishing - and there is no clear or simple explanation. From the 2011 census, of a population for England and Wales of 56.1m, some 2.7m declared the Muslim faith - about 4.8% (Source: ONS). However, latest government figures give the Muslim prison population across England and Wales at 14% - rising to 27% in London prisons, with 29% in Belmarsh - almost a third of all those held there. 

With the current prison population in England and Wales of about 83,000, that's nearly 12,000 Muslims locked up across the country, at a cost of £38,000 a year each - some £442m annually in total. If Muslims were imprisoned at a rate consistent with their share of the population, only 3,980 of them would be banged up - saving nearly £300m a year. The costs of the crimes and offences that put them there are of course incalculable; as are the costs of the police and security services in tracking and monitoring those connected with terrorism. 

There is surely more to this than an increased proclivity to criminality. It may be that the population of young Muslim men at peak offending age is higher than other population cohorts, or there are particular problems with for example drugs or sexual offences amongst Muslims. Whatever, we need to understand exactly why this is happening. 

And of greatest concern, as prison is often a hothouse for radicalising previously non-extremist Muslims, we will also have created a very considerable number of potentially asocial, criminally inclined extremist jihadists all due for release.  

I've found a 2010 Justice Department report on this subject HERE; this suggests that up to 30% of Muslims in prison are converts, and up to 19% of them are Afro-Caribbean. However, the numbers - both absolute and proportionally - have grown since this report, which indicates this may be a growing problem.  

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Debate - good game

Just one or two observations to add to all the noise out there;

1. I'd disregard those 'who won?' polls - the figures are too close to 'Out or in?' to be clear that people weren't voting on the referendum question itself

2. Farage's Achilles heel was his nepotism. Clegg's was exposed as being untruthful - far worse.

3. UKIP gained more than the LibDems - they've moved out of that 'others' category that included the Greens, the ScotNats and all to be the fourth named party when people talk politics

4. I was a bit surprised that Clegg put up such a good fight - but then he'd have to be a cocky little dog to get where he is anyway. That side of him is usually well hidden. On the other hand we all know that Nigel's a scrapper, and we learned he can do 'restrained' as well. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Catherine Ashton's protégé wants genocide of Russians

In a further embarrassment to Catherine Ashton, an unelected EU official, her Ukrainian protégé Yulia Tymoshenko, last seen in Kiev hugging and bussing the fragrant Catherine like a long-lost sista, has had the contents of an intercepted phone call published.
"...This really crosses all the boundaries; one has to take up arms and go wipe out these damn katsaps (Russians) together with their leader."

"I am sorry that I am not able to be there and am not in charge of these processes, they wouldn't have had a fucking chance of getting Crimea off me. I would have found a way to finish off these bastards. I am hoping that I will use all my connections and will get the whole world to rise up so that not even scorched earth would be left of Russia ..."
In a monumentally ill-advised public comment, Ashton was reported to have proclaimed in Kiev that the blessed Yulia was the EU's choice of President, before the report was rapidly redacted by the Telegraph. 

How reassuring that the EU, US and NATO are backing people as sensible, pragmatic and level-headed and as committed to peace and reconciliation as Tymoshenko as Ukraine's new leaders.   

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Ukraine becomes a Rogue State already

Well, it couldn't last. On Sunday, Ukraine's 'acting Interior Minister' from Julia Tymoshenko's Fatherland party, Arsen Avakov, reportedly ordered the assassination of fellow coup plotter Aleksandr Muzychko from the neo-fascist Right Sector party. Muzychko was gunned down in Rovno, Western Ukraine, by police allegedly acting under orders from Tymoshenko's chum Avakov, perhaps with the sanction of the blessed Julia, the favoured candidate of the fragrant and accomplished Catherine Ashton, an unelected EU official.

Further assassinations and tit-for-tat Mafia style retributions are expected as Ukraine's new Failed-State self-appointed government starts to self destruct less than a month after it received the support of the EU, NATO and the US. As billions of IMF and EU money are set to flow into the country, it is suspected that a turf war has broken out over who gets their snouts in the newly refilled trough first.

Perfect Information

Those of my generation will probably have read Alvin Toffler's 'Future Shock' some time back in the '70s. This was a time when there was a three-month wait to have a telephone installed by a government department, the GPO, under the control of a cabinet minister. A manager at British Leyland, the national car producer, would allocate new cars to dealers on a pot-luck basis; Didsbury might get half a dozen new Austin Maxis with mustard bodies and red upholstery, whilst Halesworth was sent six with green bodies and blue upholstery. Steel was made in areas that no longer had access to cheap labour, coal, iron ore, limestone or electricity and each nation in Europe had its own national washing-machine manufacturer. As Toffler's unlikely predictions played out in the decades that followed, steel production moved to places with cheap factor costs, car buyers could customise their new purchases on the production line, half of Europe's washing machine makers closed to achieve an optimal economic scale and the GPO stopped prosecuting people for fitting their own extensions. 

Then came the shift from mainframe to desktop, from IBM to Microsoft. Then the internet. Then freedom from the copper network prison. All the time economic efficiency has increased and we're moving closer and closer towards markets endowed with that caveat of economic theory 101, 'perfect information'. Consumer markets on an individual basis are now growing globally; in the past year I have ordered online from China, the US and New Zealand, in addition to more frequent online purchases from mainland Europe, to my own economic advantage. Courier and delivery systems are maturing as shops in my London village have become parcel drop-off and pick-up points, making waiting-in for a parcel as much a thing of the past as waiting three months for a telephone. 

All this has been achieved without government direction, irrespective of the EU, in the face of import tariffs and quotas (the sheer volume of international parcel traffic overwhelming the system; it's easy to monitor the import of 10,000 shirts from the US, almost impossible to police parcels containing two or three shirts each).

I'm not yet sure why all of this is important, but it is. We're living through a period of massive change in the way the world works - a change that has huge implications for the way in which we choose to be governed, in the way we protect ourselves and our economic interests, in the balance between individual and collective. All this is seen through a glass, darkly; I have no Alvin Toffler at my elbow to predict the direction things will take. It's exciting, though.   

Monday, 24 March 2014

All over Europe, people massively oppose their governments over Ukraine

One of the most remarkable aspects of this crisis is the massive, clear and universal divergence between the peoples of Europe and their governments on the subject of Ukraine, if the balance of reader comments in a whole slew of online papers and media are to be counted. All over Europe, the majority of commentators oppose the position of their governments, disbelieve the message the media is pumping out and above all express grave suspicions about the US. In every publication, of right and left, bullish pieces by warmongers are trashed by hundreds or even thousands of comments to the contrary. These people don't support Putin, nor are they blind to his manifold wrongdoings - they're saying clearly and universally that their own governments are wrong. Even here, on an unashamedly right-wing blog, only a single commentator unreservedly supports Cameron's silly words. The ratio is about the same as that in the Telegraph - a bastion of RW traditionalism. 

If the EU saw this as a 'beneficial crisis' to boost support for European federation, or to improve the publicity ratings of governments that are everywhere increasingly distrusted by voters, it may spectacularly have backfired. The reason may be Europe's own open borders; we all now know and work with Slavs, shop with them, share public transport with them, joke with them in bars and pubs. We know that they're not brainwashed bogeymen, but just ordinary folk no different from us. The old propaganda just doesn't work any more.

Dannatt is right for the wrong reason

General Dannatt's claim that the UK needs another Brigade (at least) is quite right; cutting the army to 82,000 is beyond foolish, and losing the expertise that we have gained in Afghanistan an utter waste of talent. A standing army of 100,000 with a further 100,000 in reserves, yeomanry, militias and terriers has been long established as about the least we need to fulfil obligations to defend ourselves and assist Commonwealth nations or support our NATO partners.

As for Dannatt's assertion that an additional Brigade should be stationed in Germany to deter Putin, nuts. Giving even the slightest encouragement to the lunatic territorial ambitions of Ashton, van Rompuy, Barroso and Reding is too much. They've provoked this crisis with tacit if not overt German approval and they need to live with the consequences - a bear with a sore head and a mechanised infantry Division on the border rather than a quiet and co-operative neighbour. And in military terms, as Dannatt must surely know, an isolated little UK unit of just three infantry battalions will make no difference whatsoever - he's seeking to use soldiers as political pawns. Or perhaps, like many of our generation, he's just nostalgic for BAOR, Sennelager and Osnabrück. BFG will end their final deployment in 2019, and quite right.

Any battles in NE Germany will be heavy-metal affairs; main battle tanks, artillery, rockets. It's not what we do any more. The kit is relatively low-tech to maintain and operate and can now be left to the Poles, Czechs and Hungarians to contribute - with German support. Short supply lines, established maintenance facilities. It's also what the Germans are good at. Leave them to it.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Will Cameron lose Gibraltar to Spain?

Mass riots and chaos on the streets of Madrid yesterday can mean only one thing - that a Spanish government desperate to deflect public attention from mass unemployment, poverty and hunger in Spain will make another determined attempt to recover Gibraltar from the UK. 

This time, Cameron has immeasurably weakened the UK's negotiating position with his myopic support of the self-appointed new Ukrainian 'government' in Kiev. The position of Gibraltar is not unlike the Crimea in that its British speaking population is determined to remain separate from the Spanish speaking majority in the mainland, and in its links to the UK rather than to Spain over several hundred years. Like the Crimea, it has restricted referenda on its future to its own residents - something Cameron has condemned as 'illegal'. Cameron's condemnation of Russian assistance to the Crimean people also places in doubt his support of the Royal Navy's presence in support of the people of Gibraltar, where, like the Crimea, there is a substantial strategic naval base. 

Cameron has never been known for cerebral acuity, but this time his short-sightedness may achieve in the Tories' one brief period of government 2010 - 2015 the loss of Gibraltar to Spain after 310 years.