The anger and frustration felt by people who are the victims of crimes to which they have already alerted the police can be imagined. But when a loved one is murdered because the police failed to act in time, despite warnings that something terrible might be about to happen, the feelings of relations and friends can only be guessed at. Spare a thought, then, for the parents of Giles Van Colle, who will on Wednesday learn if a legal battle they have waged since he was murdered nearly eight years ago has been successful. If it is, the implications are profound. Irwin and Corrine Van Colle sued the police for failing to protect their son, who was a witness in a court case.
However, this is not a story of gangland intimidation: Mr Van Colle, 25, was simply preparing to do his duty as a responsible citizen in what should have been a straightforward case of theft. But it was to turn into a nightmare - and the police did nothing to stop it unfolding. Mr Van Colle was an optometrist with his own business, GVC Opticians, in Mill Hill, north London. He had employed as a laboratory technician an Iranian whose real name was Ali Amelzadeh, but was known by the alias Daniel Brougham. He had obtained the job using a false CV and when he was challenged about his National Insurance number and the disappearance of equipment from the clinic, he left. Subsequently, stolen property, including glasses and frames belonging to Mr Van Colle, were found at Brougham's home and he was charged with theft.
Mr Van Colle was asked to identify the property as a court witness. Until now, this was fairly unexceptional case. However, Mr Van Colle began to receive threats to his life and his family from Brougham, to which the police were alerted. Then his car was set ablaze outside his home. Yet nothing was done to protect him. In November 2000, two days before the trial was to start, Brougham lay in wait for Mr Van Colle as he left work and shot him three times at close range.
Most murders happen out of the blue and there is always a danger of accusation by hindsight. But that was not the case here. A witness in a court case was specifically threatened on a number of occasions by the man against whom he was giving evidence. It should have been relatively straightforward for the police to have offered him protection or to have revoked Brougham's bail.
Since Brougham lived in Stevenage, that job fell to Hertfordshire constabulary and specifically Det Con David Ridley. At a disciplinary tribunal in 2003, he was found guilty of failing to perform his duties diligently, failing to investigate thoroughly the intimidation of witnesses, and failing to arrest Brougham. He was fined five days' pay.
Mr Van Colle's parents considered it was important to establish where the duties of the police lay and invoked the European Convention on Human Rights, claiming a violation of Article 2 - which enshrines the "right to life" - and Article 8, which guarantees everyone's right to respect for their home and family life. In the High Court, Mrs Justice Cox awarded them $100,000 in damages against Hertfordshire Police. She said that, had Mr Van Colle been placed in a safe house or given other protection after Brougham threatened his life, there would have been "a real prospect of avoiding this tragedy". The award was reduced in 2007 to $50,000 by the Court of Appeal; but the judgment against Hertfordshire Police was upheld. This is where the case stands.
The chief constable appealed to the Law Lords, who will rule on whether the police can be sued for failing to carry out their duties properly to investigate a crime. The police say that unless it is overturned, they - and other public services - will face a flood of similar claims. But is that true? Are they simply not being required to do their job properly? After all, Mr Van Colle's case is not an isolated one.
Alex and Maureen Cochrane died and their daughter, Lucy, was seriously injured in an arson attack on their home in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, in 2006. The attack had been preceded by an incident at the Cochranes' home in which a fluid was poured on to the front door and a tree uprooted in the garden. Police, who were aware of a feud with another family subsequently convicted of the killings, failed to act. Last year, an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found Greater Manchester Police guilty of "individual and systemic failings" over the tragedy.
Scotland Yard is investigating complaints that it failed to respond to threats made against a schoolgirl a few weeks before she was killed. Last year, the same force apologised for doing nothing to protect a young father shot dead after confronting a gang in the road where he had been stabbed just months earlier.
Wiltshire Police were strongly criticised by the IPCC for failing to protect Hayley Richards, a pregnant woman who was murdered by her boyfriend a week after he attacked her. Even though police were told where he was, officers who could have responded were dealing with a report of a dog locked in a car.
In all these cases, the police say that the murderous intent of the killers could not have been foreseen. But that is not the point. It is the fact that they did nothing that is so appalling. People can understand if, despite their best endeavours, some dreadful criminal act occurs; but it is the first principle of policing to prevent crime, not investigate it after it has happened.
In the Appeal Court, Sir Anthony Clarke, the Master of the Rolls, said the duty of the police to protect Mr Van Colle was "not an onerous one"; and nor was he persuaded that the court's ruling would "threaten police resources" or "open the floodgates to baseless claims against the police". "They should have done everything that could reasonably have been expected of them," added the judge. That is all that Mr and Mrs Van Colle, and the rest of us, are asking.
So wrong, so often, for so long, Yet it's Europe we should copy?
If anyone suggested that Tiger Woods should try to be more like other golfers, people would question the sanity of whoever made that suggestion. Why should Tiger Woods try to be more like Phil Mickelson? If Tiger turned around and tried to golf left-handed, like Mickelson, he probably wouldn't be as good as Mickelson, much less as good as he is golfing the way he does right-handed.
Yet there are those who think that the United States should follow policies more like those in Europe, often with no stronger reason than the fact that Europeans follow such policies. For some Americans, it is considered chic to be like Europeans. If Europeans have higher minimum wage laws and more welfare state benefits, then we should have higher minimum wage laws and more welfare state benefits, according to such people. If Europeans restrict pharmaceutical companies' patents and profits, then we should do the same. Some justices of the U.S. Supreme Court even seem to think that they should incorporate ideas from European laws in interpreting American laws.
Before we start imitating someone, we should first find out whether the results that they get are better than the results that we get. Across a very wide spectrum, the U.S. has been doing better than Europe for a very long time. By comparison with most of the rest of the world, Europe is doing fine. But it is like Phil Mickelson, not Tiger Woods.
Minimum wage laws have the same effects in Europe as they have had in other places around the world. They price many low-skilled and inexperienced workers out of a job. Because minimum wage laws are more generous in Europe than in the U.S., they lead to chronically higher rates of unemployment in general and longer periods of unemployment than in the U.S. - but especially among younger, less experienced and less skilled workers. Unemployment rates of 20% or more for young workers are common in a number of European countries. Among workers who are both younger and minority workers, such as young Muslims in France, unemployment rates are estimated at about 40%.
The American minimum wage laws do enough damage without our imitating European minimum wage laws. The last year in which the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate in the U.S. was 1930. The next year, the first federal minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act, was passed. One of its sponsors explicitly stated that the purpose was to keep blacks from taking jobs from whites. No one says things like that any more - which is a shame, because the effect of a minimum wage law does not depend on what anybody says. Blacks in general, and younger blacks in particular, are the biggest losers from such laws, just as younger and minority workers are in Europe.
Those Americans who are pushing us toward the kinds of policies that Europeans impose on pharmaceutical companies show not the slightest interest in what the consequences of such laws have been. One consequence is that even European pharmaceutical companies do much of their research and development of new medications in the U.S., in order to take advantage of American patent protections and freedom from price controls. These are the very policies that the European imitators want us to change.
It is not a coincidence that such a high proportion of the major pharmaceutical drugs are developed in the U.S. If we kill the goose that lays the golden egg, as the Europeans have done, both we and the Europeans - as well as the rest of the world - will be worse off, because there are few other places for such medications to be developed. There are a lot of diseases still waiting for a cure, or even for relief for those suffering from those diseases. People stricken with these diseases will pay the price for blind imitation of Europe.
It must be a bitter disappointment to those in the media and in politics who have been dying to use the word "recession" that, for the second quarter in a row, there has been no downturn in the economy, though growth has been slow. Alarmists have been reduced to quoting other alarmists on the supposedly impending recession, but that is still not the real thing. The definition of a "recession" is very clear and straightforward: Two consecutive quarters of negative growth. We have not yet had one consecutive quarter of negative growth....
Some of the people who are most adamant against outsourcing economic activity from the U.S. to other countries often seem to think we should outsource our foreign policy to "world opinion" or act only in conjunction "with our NATO allies." Like so many things that are said when it comes to public policy, there is very little attention paid to the actual track record of "world opinion" or of "our NATO allies."
Often there is a blanket assumption that European countries are just so much more sophisticated than American "cowboys." But there is incredibly little interest in the track record of those European sophisticates whom we are supposed to consult about our own national interests - including, in an age when terrorists may acquire nuclear weapons, our national survival.
In the course of the 20th century, supposedly sophisticated Europeans managed to create some of the most monstrous forms of government on earth - communism, fascism, Nazism - in peacetime, and to start the two World Wars, the bloodiest in all human history. In each of these wars, both the winners and the losers ended up far worse off than they were before these wars were started. After both World Wars, the U.S. had to step in to save millions of people in Europe from starving amid the wreckage and rubble that their wars had created. These do not seem like people whose sophistication we should defer to.
Between the two World Wars, European intellectuals - more so than ordinary people - completely misread the threat from Nazi Germany, and were urging disarmament in France and England, while Hitler was rapidly building up the most powerful military force on the continent, obviously aimed at neighboring countries.
During the Cold War, many European intellectuals once again misread the threat of a totalitarian dictatorship - in this case, the Soviet Union. When they finally recognized the threat, many saw the question as whether it was "better to be red than dead." They were no more prepared to stand up to the Soviet Union than they had been ready to stand up to Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Worse yet, much of the European intelligentsia objected to America's standing up to the Soviet Union. Many of them were appalled when Ronald Reagan met the threat of new Soviet missiles aimed at Western Europe by putting more American missiles in Western Europe, aimed at the Soviet Union.
Reagan, in effect, called the Soviet Union and raised them, while many of the European sophisticates - as well as much of the American intelligentsia - said that his policies would lead to war. Instead, it led to the end of the Cold War. Are we now to blindly imitate those who have been so wrong, so often, over the past hundred years?
World's Most Successful AIDS Prevention Programme in Uganda "Sabotaged" by Western "Experts"
Western advisors used their control of international funding to force a change in direction to condoms and casual sex
While the US Senate considers a proposal to allocate US$50 million more for AIDS prevention programmes, one Ugandan expert says it will be wasted money if the attitudes of the Western AIDS prevention community towards AIDS transmission do not change. In a column appearing in the Washington Post on June 30, one of Uganda's leading AIDS prevention experts called on the Western "experts" to "Let my people go." "We understand that casual sex is dear to you, but staying alive is dear to us. Listen to African wisdom, and we will show you how to prevent AIDS."
Sam L. Ruteikara wrote in the Washington Post that efforts to maintain the world's most successful AIDS prevention programme was "sabotaged" by precisely those Western "experts" who insisted that only condoms would work. Ruteikara is the co-chair of Uganda's National AIDS-Prevention Committee. He wrote in a column in the Washington Post on June 30, "AIDS epidemics in Africa are driven by people having sex regularly with more than one person." The Western experts, dedicated to the exclusive promotion of condoms, were incensed when Ugandan AIDS rates plummeted with this "ABC" method that left condoms as a "last resort".
The success of the Ugandan programme, Ruteikara said, did not sit well with those international experts and advisors, sent to Uganda to oversee the spending of international relief funds, who are devoted to the condom as the first and last answer to the AIDS epidemic.
Despite the official line that Western "advisors" were to work within local programmes, these experts, Ruteikara asserted, actively stonewalled the Ugandan committee's recommendations. The Western advisors objected that the programme was an attempt "to limit people's sexual freedom" and they used their control of the international funding to force a change in direction.
"Repeatedly, our 25-member prevention committee put faithfulness and abstinence into the National Strategic Plan that guides how PEPFAR [President's Emergency Plan for HIV-AIDS Relief] money for our country will be spent. Repeatedly, foreign advisers erased our recommendations. When the document draft was published, fidelity and abstinence were missing."
More insidiously, Ruteikara says that a "suspicious" statistic appeared in reports that claimed a significant increase in rates of AIDS among married couples. The claim was that 42 per cent of married couples were infected, a rate twice that of prostitutes. Repeated requests for the origin of this statistic were ignored. Domestic surveys done by Ugandan health officials found that only 6.3 per cent of married couples are infected, lower even than rates among widowed and divorced Ugandans.
Since the Ugandans were forced to change their programmes, surveys have shown that the percentage of sexually active men with multiple partners has more than doubled, undoing earlier declines, and the AIDS rate has begun to climb again.
The Ugandan success story is one of the most impressive in the fight against AIDS. Between 1989 and 1995, the number of men having three or more sexual partners in a year dropped from 15 to three per cent and HIV rates plunged from 21 percent in 1991 to 6 percent in 2002. At the same time, Western nations brought more than 2 billion condoms on Africa and the epidemic continued in nations that went along with the condoms-only approach.
The motive for opposing the Ugandan initiative, Ruteikara said, was financial as well as ideological. "In the fight against AIDS, profiteering has trumped prevention," he said. "AIDS is no longer simply a disease; it has become a multibillion-dollar industry."
Ruteikara's assertions are supported by Dr. James Chin, a former top AIDS epidemiologist at the World Health Organization, who said, "Easily preventable diseases are still killing millions of children each year, while billions of dollars are being squandered annually by AIDS programs."
Robert England, head of the charity Health Systems Workshop said in the British Medical Journal, "Although HIV causes 3.7 per cent of [worldwide] mortality, it receives 25 per cent of international health care aid."
Ruteikara concluded, "Telling men and women to keep sex sacred -- to save sex for marriage and then remain faithful -- is telling them to love one another deeply with their whole hearts. Most HIV infections in Africa are spread by sex outside of marriage: casual sex and infidelity. The solution is faithful love."
"We, the poor of Africa, remain silenced in the global dialogue. Our wisdom about our own culture is ignored."
Justice Department Bureaucrats May Set Risky Precedent with Extra-Territorial Tax Persecution
Bush Administration appointees involved with issues such as the Iraq war and coercive interrogation of suspected terrorists probably don't spend much time thinking about international tax policy, but they may rue the day that the Justice Department decided to persecute Swiss banks and Swiss bankers for obeying Swiss law and protecting the financial privacy of customers.
What's the connection? By going after Swiss banks and Swiss bankers in hopes of finding a few Americans who might be hiding money from the IRS, the Justice Department is embracing the notion that governments should not be constrained by national boundaries and national laws. Richard Rahn already has an excellent piece explaining why this is an absurd policy but let's consider some of the broader implications. What if John Yoo or Donald Rumsfeld travel to Europe in the near future for business or personal reasons and some European government decides to throw them in jail for violating "international law"? This may sound fanciful, but German authorities already have moved in this direction and it doesn't take much imagination to foresee politically ambitious officials from other nations grabbing the baton.
The Wall Street Journal report does not cover these broader implications, but it is a good summary of the Justice Department's fishing expedition:
The Justice Department, in an unprecedented move against a foreign bank, is seeking to force UBS AG to turn over the names of wealthy U.S. clients who allegedly used the giant Swiss bank to avoid taxes. .U.S. authorities have been holding discussions for several weeks with UBS and Swiss banking authorities to identify the U.S. account holders. People familiar with the talks say UBS officials floated the possibility that the U.S. could obtain the names through a request to Swiss regulators. Monday's federal court filing instead puts the bank in direct conflict with the U.S. government. .The filing is the first against a non-U.S. bank by the Justice Department using what it calls a "John Doe summons," a maneuver typically used to investigate tax fraud by people whose identities are unknown. The move could spark a major legal battle because the Justice Department is essentially gambling that courts will bless the move when it's directed at a company with extensive U.S. operations but that isn't based in the U.S.Source
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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