Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?
It's a safe bet, dear reader, that the title of this column has caused you to either (a) roll your eyes and wonder, What century do you think we're living in? or (b) scratch your head and ask, Yes, why don't we? Wherever you come down, the question defines a fault line in the civilized world's view about the latest encroachment of barbarism.
Year-to-date, Somalia-based pirates have attacked more than 90 ships, seized more than 35, and currently hold 17. Some 280 crew members are being held hostage, and two have been killed. Billions of dollars worth of cargo have been seized; millions have been paid in ransom. A multinational naval force has attempted to secure a corridor in the Gulf of Aden, through which 12% of the total volume of seaborne oil passes, and U.S., British and Indian naval ships have engaged the pirates by force. Yet the number of attacks keeps rising.
Why? The view of senior U.S. military officials seems to be, in effect, that there is no controlling legal authority. Title 18, Chapter 81 of the United States Code establishes a sentence of life in prison for foreigners captured in the act of piracy. But, crucially, the law is only enforceable against pirates who attack U.S.-flagged vessels, of which today there are few.
What about international law? Article 110 of the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Convention -- ratified by most nations, but not by the U.S. -- enjoins naval ships from simply firing on suspected pirates. Instead, they are required first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates. A recent U.N. Security Council resolution allows foreign navies to pursue pirates into Somali waters -- provided Somalia's tottering government agrees -- but the resolution expires next week. As for the idea of laying waste, Stephen Decatur-like, to the pirate's prospering capital port city of Eyl, this too would require U.N. authorization. Yesterday, a shippers' organization asked NATO to blockade the Somali coast. NATO promptly declined.
Then there is the problem of what to do with captured pirates. No international body similar to the old Admiralty Courts is currently empowered to try pirates and imprison them. The British foreign office recently produced a legal opinion warning Royal Navy ships not to take pirates captive, lest they seek asylum in the U.K. or otherwise face repatriation in jurisdictions where they might be dealt with harshly, in violation of the British Human Rights Act.
In March 2006, the U.S. Navy took 11 pirates prisoner, six of whom were injured. Not wanting to set a precedent for trying pirates in U.S. courts, the State Department turned to Kenya to do the job. The injured spent weeks aboard the USS Nassau, enjoying First World medical care.
All this legal exquisiteness stands in contrast to what was once a more robust attitude. Pirates, said Cicero, were hostis humani generis -- enemies of the human race -- to be dealt with accordingly by their captors. Tellingly, Cicero's notion of piracy vanished in the Middle Ages; its recovery traces the recovery of the West itself.
By the 18th century, pirates knew exactly where they stood in relation to the law. A legal dictionary of the day spelled it out: "A piracy attempted on the Ocean, if the Pirates are overcome, the Takers may immediately inflict a Punishment by hanging them up at the Main-yard End; though this is understood where no legal judgment may be obtained." Severe as the penalty may now seem (albeit necessary, since captured pirates were too dangerous to keep aboard on lengthy sea voyages), it succeeded in mostly eliminating piracy by the late 19th century -- a civilizational achievement no less great than the elimination of smallpox a century later.
Today, by contrast, a Navy captain who takes captured pirates aboard his state-of-the-art warship will have a brig in which to keep them securely detained, and instantaneous communications through which he can obtain higher guidance and observe the rule of law.
Yet what ought to be a triumph for both justice and security has turned out closer to the opposite. Instead of greater security, we get the deteriorating situation described above. And in pursuit of a better form of justice -- chiefly defined nowadays as keeping a clear conscience -- we get (at best) a Kenyan jail. "We're humane warriors," says one U.S. Navy officer. "When the pirates put down their RPGs and raise their hands, we take them alive. And that's a lot tougher than taking bodies."
Piracy, of course, is hardly the only form of barbarism at work today: There are the suicide bombers on Israeli buses, the stonings of Iranian women, and so on. But piracy is certainly the most primordial of them, and our collective inability to deal with it says much about how far we've regressed in the pursuit of what is mistakenly thought of as a more humane policy. A society that erases the memory of how it overcame barbarism in the past inevitably loses sight of the meaning of civilization, and the means of sustaining it.
An entire population raised on hate
TO spend a week in Israel is to begin to understand that this country is generations away from peace with Palestinians. The people here talk about tahadiya: a period of calm. To an outsider, it is a week of alarming disquiet where each day reveals yet another culprit killing the prospect of peace. What you see and hear is disturbing enough. Even more destructive to peace is that which is hidden from you. This is how the week unfolds.
Sunday: A Qassam rocket is launched from northern Gaza into Sderot, an Israeli town within 3km of the Hamas stronghold.
Monday: Three more rockets are fired into this small town of 20,000 Israelis that has endured thousands of rocket attacks in recent years. I arrive in Sderot by helicopter just ahead of Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
I see some of the mangled Qassam rockets that have hit this town. The rockets proudly bear the brand of the terrorists who launch them, written in Hebrew so the Israelis know who is firing at them. The Israelis who later collect the rockets date each of them in white paint and pile them up at the local police station. More than a hundred rockets were launched after Israel destroyed a Hamas tunnel built to attack Israel, a tunnel like the one used in June 2006 by militants to kidnap Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from the edge of the Gaza strip. Shalit is the only Jew left in Gaza, a precious negotiating tool for Hamas. The Israeli Government has blocked access points to Gaza until the rockets stop.
Tuesday: A young Ethiopian woman, who has lost relatives to the rocket attacks from Gaza, tells me, "We don't count the rockets anymore". Three more qassam rockets slam into the fields of the Negev desert.
Wednesday: Two Qassam rockets land south of Ashkelon, a town well beyond the Gaza border, on the coast towards Tel Aviv.
Thursday: The Palestinian Authority runs advertisements in Israeli newspapers detailing in Hebrew Fatah's commitment to a peace plan. It is a meaningless commitment. Analysts call this a virtual negotiation. How can Israel negotiate peace with Palestinian interlocutors in Fatah, who have no control over Gaza, where more than 40 per cent of Palestinians live? If elections were held in the West Bank today, predictions are that Hamas would win there, putting an end to the co-operation that has stopped the terrorism emanating from that Palestinian enclave.
Friday: Another rocket is launched from Gaza into the industrial zone of Ashkelon.
Put aside the rocket attacks by Hamas, the ineffectual leadership of Fatah, the Israeli settlements that poison relations and stymie solutions, the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the other intractable hurdles to peace. The real, long-term harm is happening quietly away from the prying eyes of what the locals here call Pali-wood: the Hollywood stars, the array of doe-eyed peace activists and the knaves at the UN who simplistically side with the Palestinians. That said, no one imagines Israel is free from fault. But its Government is not creating civil institutions that preach hatred and violence.
By contrast, an entire generation of Palestinian children is being raised on a full diet of hate education, on jihad and anti-Semitism. This is the long-term hurdle to peace in this generation, and the next. Look at the website of Palestinian Media Watch (http://www.pmw.org.il) where analysts have long tracked what the Palestinian leadership under Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is doing. Not what is said to Westerners in English or what they tell Israelis in Hebrew.
Look at what Palestinians are teaching their children in Arabic. Look at the geography books for Palestinian children that encourage children to see no Israel, books that feature maps of Israel in the colours of the Palestinian flag, and described as Palestine. Learn about the May 2008 soccer championships for young boys in honour of terrorists such as Samir Quntar and Muhammad al-Mabhuh. Or the July 2008 summer camp held for young girls named in honour of female suicide bomber Dalal al-Mughrabi, who hijacked a holiday bus in 1978, murdering 12 children and 25 adults.
Listen to Fatah-funded children's television where children are taught to continue the way of the shahids (the suicide bombers) and quizzed about Mughrabi. She is presented as "the beloved bride, child of Jaffa, jasmine flower". Or quizzes where children routinely identify Israeli landmarks, towns and ports such as Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat as Palestinian. Where children are taught that "Palestine" covers 27,000sqkm; in fact Gaza and the West Bank total 6200sqm. When the next generation of leaders is taught from childhood that Israel does not exist, how is future negotiation possible?
The irony is that this hate education is funded by the West, by countries that pour money into the PA who use it to glorify terrorism and to twist young minds against Israel, and peace. Countries such as Australia. Last year in Ramallah, headquarters of Fatah, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith lauded one of the first acts of the new Labor Government as being a pledge of $45million to the Palestinian people and $7.5m going directly to the PA. Does the minister know how the PA is using Western money?
Hillary Clinton knows about the direct flow of Western money into Fatah's sewer of hate education. Last year she launched PMW's latest report and pointed out the consequences of the toxic indoctrination of children: "We cannot build a peaceful, stable, safe future on such a hate-filled violent and radical foundation."
The other irony is obvious to anyone with any understanding of the Palestinian leadership. Fatah is a discredited, corrupt, ineffective political party filled with the remnants of the Arafat era that has lost support of its people. Hamas is a terrorist movement still committed to bloody violence against Jews. There is no two-state solution until Palestinians can agree on one voice to represent them in a genuine peace settlement.
Yet consider this. According to the PMW, more than half of the Palestinian educators in the teachers' union are affiliated with Hamas. What hope the children? What hope is there emerging from the next generation a group of moderate Palestinian leaders capable of carving out peace for their people?
These are questions not simply for the present leadership of the Palestinian people. But also for the leaders of countries such as Australia, who talk in rhetorical flourishes about a renewed peace initiative, and yet must surely know that this money is used for propaganda that kills any chance of peace.
They call this a period of calm. Surely they mean the calm before the storm unless the hate education of the next generation of Palestinians ends.
Woman netted $200,000 by making 22 claims under stupid British "ageism" laws
She was only stopped when she got too greedy
A woman has made up to 100,000 pounds by claiming 22 firms discriminated against her because of her age. Taking advantage of controversial new legislation, 50-year-old Margaret Keane made identical applications for jobs as a chartered accountant, responding only to advertisements seeking 'recently qualified' staff. She then made swift follow-up calls demanding to know why she had not been offered the posts, before immediately launching waves of age discrimination claims - even though her error-strewn CV had not included her date of birth.
Up to 12 firms, fearing huge legal costs, caved in and gave her out-of-court payouts understood to be between 4,000 and 10,000 pounds each, underlining fears raised by employers about European age discrimination laws introduced in 2006.
But Miss Keane's campaign has suffered a setback when five of her cases were rejected by an employment tribunal which accepted that she was a 'not a bona fide job applicant, but a serial litigator' purely seeking compensation. The five firms are each demanding she pays them more than 10,000 in costs.
Miss Keane, from Harrow, north London, qualified as a chartered accountant in 1991, and at one time had a 75,000 a year post with HSBC. She currently works part-time for a publisher.
On May 4 last year she applied by email for posts offering up to 60,000 a year advertised through ten accounting recruitment agencies. In her tribunal claim she said: 'All these agencies use words in their advertisements like "newly qualified", "entry level role" and "high calibre candidate", I believe to attract younger and exclude older candidates.'
Miss Keane waited two weeks before phoning the agencies and demanding to know why she had not got the job. She then began actions for damages through the Watford Employment Tribunal. Days after the first wave, she applied for jobs through another 11 employment agencies, again swiftly making follow up calls and launching more claims for age discrimination, this time through the London Central employment tribunal.
Some agents tried to explain that although she was unsuitable for the job she had applied for - often because she did not have a degree - they might be able to find her another. She showed no interest in other opportunities, however, and was described as 'rude' on the phone by one recruitment agent.
The first cases to be put to a tribunal were the 11 London Central ones, but six firms settled out of court - largely, it is believed, because of the regulations applied to discrimination cases. If a claimant can prove simply that they might have been discriminated against because of age, the employer must show its actions were not motivated by age.
The remaining five London cases were heard together in March. All were rejected. Miss Keane continued with the process of taking the first ten agencies to the Watford tribunal. After one agency told her the name of the employer for whom it was advertising the job, Sony BMG Music Entertainment UK Ltd, she added it to her list. Before the case began, six of the companies concerned, including Sony, settled out of court. The remaining five fought on, all represented by barrister Peter Linstead.
Mr Linstead told the tribunal: 'Miss Keane has suffered no detriment as these were not bona fide applications. 'The evidence suggests she made these applications with the sole intention of bringing a claim, not doing the job. 'She has not explained why suddenly she wanted to do a job apparently aimed at someone with little or no experience. 'She deliberately obstructed the process of finding herself a job, failing to tailor her applications for different roles, gave the wrong date for her qualifications and left four typing errors on her CV, and failed to apply for jobs commensurate with her 18 years of experience.'
Before the tribunal's decision, Miss Keane told the Daily Mail: 'Bringing these claims has not been easy - it's taken me full-time study almost every night to try to understand the law. If the judge decides my cases were an abuse of the system, I'm stuffed.'
Lazy British child protection bureaucrats fail disastrously again
A major investigation has been launched into the failings of police and social services in two counties after a man was jailed for raping his two daughters and fathering nine of his own grandchildren. The 56-year-old businessman from Sheffield held his daughters virtual prisoners for 25 years, moving them around houses in South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire to avoid detection. The sexual abuse, which has chilling parallels to the case of the Austrian rapist Josef Fritzl, started when the girls were eight years old. Their father would rape them up to three times a week and punch, kick and hold them to the flames of a gas fire if they refused his demands.
The women were at Sheffield Crown Court to hear a judge give him 25 life sentences for rape, with a minimum term of 19r years. The man, who cannot be named to protect his victims' identities, refused to attend. The two women became pregnant 19 times in all. Two of their nine children died at birth.
Sentencing Mr X, Judge Alan Goldsack, QC, said: "In nearly 40 years of dealing with criminal cases and 14 as a family judge the combination of aggravating circumstances here is the worst I have come across."
Politicians and child protection experts asked how the abuse was not detected by the numerous social workers, doctors, teachers and police officers who came into contact with the ever-expanding family over 20 years. Sheffield City Council has launched an independent inquiry, and the role of South Yorkshire Police, Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police will also be examined. Both councils said that the family was known to them. The court was told of several contacts with authorities that could have raised the alarm.
The details of the case have come to light a fortnight after news of the death of Baby P in Haringey, North London, sparked public outcry and fears that the entire child protection system is fundamentally flawed.
The daughters described their father's sentencing as a final escape from decades of mental and physical torture. "His detention in prison brings us only the knowledge that he cannot physically touch us again," they said in a statement. "The suffering he has caused will continue for many years and we must now concentrate our thoughts on finding the strength to rebuild our lives."
The inquiries are likely to focus on health professionals' failure to raise the alarm. James Baird, representing the defendant, said that it was inconceivable that the crimes could go un-noticed. "All the signs were indicative of an incestuous relationship," he said.
Social services in Lincolnshire had contact with the family when the daughters were young and suspicions were raised about the children's parentage. In 1997 the women's brother came forward with "hearsay evidence" of incest. Police investigated the claim, but no further action was taken. The family moved back to South Yorkshire in 2004 and social services again became involved, but the abuse went undetected.
Chief Superintendent Simon Torr, of South Yorkshire Police, defended the force from claims that it could have stopped the abuse earlier. "This has been a thorough, robust, timely and professional investigation from the moment that the victims first disclosed the abuse, and Sheffield City Council have fully supported the police in bringing about a successful prosecution," he said.
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.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.