Saturday, December 31, 2011

And The Guardian says this like it's a bad thing

What worries me is that The Guardian seems to think this is a bad thing:
Britain's "benign, tax efficient" property laws have encouraged super-rich foreigners to buy up more than £4bn of luxury property in London this year. A string of property experts said the world's super-wealthy were flooding to London to buy £40m homes "without giving it a second thought". In total foreign buyers bought up £4.3bn of prime central London property this year, compared with £2.1bn in 2010, according to research by Savills, the estate agent.

You can tell it's a bad thing by the scare quotes around benign, tax efficient. It gets worse too:
London property was also viewed as a "safe haven" in times of strife in the Middle East and former Soviet Union countries, according to Barnes.

Buyers also favour London because of the excessive paperwork and legal technicalities of buying expensive properties in New York and much of Europe.

Just such horrors, eh? We've managed to create a system whereby those who have the wealth to go absolutely anywhere at all voluntarily decide to come to us? In fact, they decide to purchase, for very large sums of money, our exports?

For that's what such purchases are, exports. They are goods that are no longer going to be enjoyed, consumed, by native Brits and in return native Brits have been given piles of money with which they can buy whatever of the world's joys and riches they care to consume. In this respect flogging Johnny Foreigner a flat in London is no different from shipping him a car from Birmingham, a pork pie from Melton Mowbray or a loan syndication from Shoreditch. It's an export and isn't The Guardian the paper that continually bemoans our failures at exporting?

And the last line of the quote does amuse greatly. The po-faced disdain at the idea that deregulation, not having reams of paperwork, might be a good idea and encourage people to do things.


Convicts in Britain who are spared jail go on to attack 50 people every day

Thousands serving community sentences commit violent and sexual crimes

Fifty people a day suffer a violent or sexual attack by a convict spared jail in the ‘soft’ justice system. Victims include young children assaulted by paedophiles, figures released by the Government show.

They reveal that every year more than 18,000 convicts given a community punishment commit a sexual or violent crime within 12 months of being sentenced. Had they been sent to jail, the offences – which could range from rape to common assault – need never have taken place.

The revelation, in response to a Parliamentary question by Tory MP Priti Patel, will cast further doubt on the effectiveness of community sentences, which Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants the courts to use more. It came as separate figures showed that more than 43,000 criminals given community sentences broke them in the year to July 2011. A total of 43,521 had to be tracked down and sentenced again.

Miss Patel said: ‘This will do nothing to reassure the public, and in particular the victims of criminals who have been spared jail. The Government can’t stand by and watch.’

A scathing report by the Policy Exchange think-tank found that instead of being supervised while they do hard work on their community sentences, burglars and robbers were working in charity shops or making costumes for the Notting Hill Carnival. Some convicts were working with animals on farms or serving lunch at old people’s clubs. Others were found filling envelopes or sorting jewellery.

Within a year of completing such schemes, criminals had committed a further 250,000 offences in total.

Mr Clarke, who needs to reduce the record prison population, wants the courts to use community sentences in greater numbers. To persuade magistrates to opt for the punishment rather than jail, he is promising that convicts given a community sentence will be made to work for a minimum 28 hours, including ‘hard manual labour’.

The figures supplied to Miss Patel on sex attacks and violence show that in 2009, the latest period for which statistics are available, there were 18,133 attacks, including 172 sex attacks on children, by convicts who had been given community sentences in the previous 12 months.

They are the latest evidence of ‘soft justice’ to emerge in recent weeks. Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that tens of thousands of habitual criminals escaped jail last year despite having more than 15 previous convictions. Overall, serial offenders accounted for more than a third of the 294,000 cases ending in convictions in the adult courts last year.

Yet barely a third of those with more than 15 previous convictions were jailed. Of the 103,175 cases involving serial offenders, just over 36,000 resulted in immediate custody. In 4,579 cases, offenders were released with a police caution despite their lengthy records. Almost 11,000 cases that reached court ended in a conditional discharge, with another 16,000 offenders being let off with a fine. Just over 20,000 cases ended in community sentences, while another 8,000 resulted in suspended jail sentences.

The figures also reveal that the police issued more than 100,000 cautions to adult offenders last year, more than half of them to individuals who already had a police record.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Reoffending is falling and the overwhelming majority of people sentenced to community orders, or handed out-of-court disposals, do not commit further offences. If they do they face a potential prison sentence.

‘Despite this, we believe that levels of reoffending in this country are too high, which is why we’re determined to break the cycle and address the root causes of this behaviour.’


Capitalist ghetto is a pathway to tolerance

In the market for 500 knock-off Tag Heuer watches? A container-load of inexpensive African style clothes? A leather-bound Koran or a Bangladeshi curry? Head to Chungking Mansions, just up the road from the ritzy Peninsula Hotel on Hong Kong's famous Nathan Road.

Shunned by Hong Kongers and unnoticed by most tourists, Chungking Mansions is a meeting place for developing world traders, a clearing house of cheap Chinese goods, and an African and South Asian outpost in the heart of Kowloon.

The building's true importance lies not in its cosmopolitanism but in its thriving economy. Hong Kong's uniquely laissez-faire attitude - the city is rated by US think-tank The Heritage Foundation as the freest economy in the world - makes Chungking Mansions' brand of low-end globalisation possible.

Such globalisation looks shabby alongside the glitzy shrines to global capitalism across the harbour in Causeway Bay. But for consumers in the developing world, the influence of Chungking Mansions is profound.

Gordon Mathews, the author of the new book Ghetto at the Centre of the World, and a Chungking Mansions devotee, might just be the first ever anthropologist to use the term "neoliberal" approvingly.

African and South Asian traders - well off in their own countries but poor by Western standards - come to Chungking Mansions to take advantage of Hong Kong's lax immigration laws and porous borders, dreaming of the riches they can make taking cheap Chinese goods to sell in their impoverished and economically backward home towns. Fortunes are made and lost in the long hallways and hidden stalls of Chungking Mansions, where guesthouse rooms go for as little as $US13 a night and competition between the wholesalers on the lower floors is fierce.

Mathews estimates that 20 per cent of the mobile phones currently used in Africa were sold in Chungking Mansions. Large traders use the building to make contacts on the mainland, shipping containers of phones, clothing, watches and even cars directly from factories in Guangzhou to Nairobi or Lahore. Smaller traders carry a few hundred mobile phones in their luggage, hoping to make enough profit to cover their airfare and fund their next trip back to Hong Kong.

Immigration officials turn the other cheek when traders repeatedly cross the border on tourist visas. Police largely allow illegal workers to man Chungking Mansions' restaurants, guesthouses and phone stalls, intervening only when there is a complaint or a violent crime. Copy goods (such as "Sory-Erichssen" mobile phone handsets) are bought and sold; authorities only intervene if there is deception by the seller.

Like elsewhere in Hong Kong, business is the top priority.

The attitude of the Hong Kong government stands in stark contrast to the corrupt and statist administrations that traders must negotiate in their home countries. Many of the small-business people who pass through Chungking Mansions operate on the fringes of legality, not because they deal in illicit substances or are inherently criminal, but because local restrictions mean they must smuggle Chinese goods across their borders contravening import bans, or pay off crooked customs officials.

This, Mathews says, is the coal face of the protectionism versus free trade debate: where some new regulation can make the difference between a small trader being able to feed his family or go out of business.

Goods are usually of inferior quality or shoddy imitations of Western brands. But for the poor end-consumers in African villages, they are often the only conduit to the globalised world. A young Kenyan woman may never be able to afford a Nokia phone, but she can use her "Nokla" to communicate with her family, pay her bills, and perhaps start her own small trading business. This, says Mathews, "is the ultimate significance of these traders: they bring at least a facsimile of global goodness to the world's poorest continent".

Ghetto at the Centre of the World focuses not just on the traders but also on the guesthouse owners, illegal (or semi-legal) workers, asylum seekers, restaurateurs and tourists who congregate and often live in Chungking Mansions. Here, in a place where business matters above all else, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, Ethiopians and Somalis peacefully coexist in a way they never could at home.


Losing the War of Ideas due to Incompetence

By Isi Leibler, writing from Jerusalem. Leibler is a former prominent member of the Melbourne Jewish community

In the war of ideas, we operate under huge handicaps. Our adversaries attract sympathy as underdogs, yet carry enormous economic and political clout and effectively control international institutions like the UN. In addition, they have hijacked NGOs purportedly promoting human rights, yet are at the forefront of racist campaigns to demonize and delegitimize us. It is disgraceful that many western journalists collaborate with them.

Australia has consistently maintained a staunch bipartisan friendship with the Jewish State since its creation. Under the current Labor government headed by Julia Gillard, it remains, like the United States and Canada, one of the few countries where Israel still gets a fair hearing.

On November 26, John Lyons, the accredited Jerusalem reporter for The Australian, the leading national daily, wrote a 3000 word feature lambasting alleged inhumane Israeli treatment of Palestinian children.

Although The Australian has a consistent record of being fair and open-minded in relation to Israel, this was a classic compendium of anti-Israeli vilification, reminiscent of the wildest distortions and fabrications contained in the Goldstone report.

The sources attributed were the usual Israeli demonizers – B’Tselem, Public Committee against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din, and in particular, the organization Defense for Children International (DCI) represented by Australian lawyer, Gerald Horton. Lyons also interviewed a spokesman for ‘Breaking the Silence’, the discredited group which paved the way and actively collaborated with the Goldstone Committee, providing ‘evidence’ which, after investigation, proved to be largely unsubstantiated and was even significantly repudiated by Goldstone himself.

Lyons, who the IDF provided with unfettered access to closed courts, portrayed youngsters in shackles and weeping mothers observing swift justice by ‘brutal’ Israeli military authorities. He described IDF courts as a “Guantanamo Bay for kids”.

He quoted at length from DCI’s Horton, who referred to “385 sworn affidavits” alleging the worst imaginable atrocities, including beatings, torture, intimidating children with savage dogs, electric shock treatment, and every conceivable horror. He even referred to an “interrogator from Gush Etzion” who specialized in threatening children with rape.

If only a tiny proportion of these allegations contained a kernel of truth, we would have good reason to be concerned. But as in previous horror stories, I have every confidence that the evidence is based on testimony which will once again prove to be overwhelmingly false. We need only refer to the Mohammed el Dura fraud, the Jenin “massacre”, the Goldstone allegations of “deliberate” targeting of civilians in Gaza and other charges leveled against us, that months later, were shown to have been outright lies.

Not surprisingly, the marathon feature by Lyons created a considerable stir in Australia.

Australian Jewish leaders and pro-Israel activists promptly requested the Israeli embassy to respond with information for rebuttals from the Army, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Prime Minister’s office. Direct representations were also made to Jerusalem. For weeks, they were told that the authorities were reviewing the matter but no reply was forthcoming. One unofficial response idiotically suggested that the best approach to such a hostile article was to ignore it and it would blow over.

On December 17, the failure to respond resulted in a second article by Lyons, regurgitating what he had written previously, informing readers that Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was deeply concerned over the report and had instructed Australia’s diplomatic representatives to initiate a formal inquiry with the Israeli authorities. It is common knowledge that Rudd is personally keen to distance Australia from Israel in order to curry Arab votes for Australia’s candidature for a UN Security Council seat. But he would not have had credible grounds for initiating such an inquiry had the Israeli authorities provided a meaningful response.

Only following the Australian decision to investigate the matter, did the IDF spokesperson belatedly issue a bland legal statement, outlining the reasons why in this context, the custody of minors did not violate international law.

It may be difficult for those living in Western countries to comprehend the concept of jailing children for throwing stones. However, stone throwing has emerged as a staple component of terrorism and to some extent a wretched form of identity for Palestinian youth.

It should also be appreciated that stones are hurled equally at innocent Israeli civilians as well as soldiers, and in addition to maiming and scarring, have proven to be lethal. Only recently, Asher Palmer and his one year old son died after a stone smashed the windshield of his car.

Yet despite this, the reality is that as a deterrent, only a tiny proportion of stone throwers are being prosecuted. Otherwise, the Israeli jails would be overflowing with them.

The issue is additionally complicated because children in Israel are not tried under the same laws as apply to territories over the green line which, not having been annexed to Israel, operate under Jordanian and British mandatory laws.

Any Israeli official with a modicum of political sensitivity should have stressed that child terrorism represents one of the most reprehensible aspects of the Palestinian culture of death and criminality.

From kindergarten, Palestinian children are brainwashed into becoming martyrs by killing Jews in order to fulfill their Islamic obligation to expunge Jewish sovereignty from the region. Aside from continuously being employed as human shields, they are frequently exploited as suicide bombers.

The monstrous massacre of the Fogel family in March, which included the beheading of an infant, was perpetrated by a Palestinian family group which included a minor.

But what is both incomprehensible and disgraceful is that until now, the IDF response has still failed to repudiate the real source of concern – the outrageous lies and defamations concerning the torture of minors.

The response to the libels contained in Lyons article should have pointed out that many of the NGOs demonizing Israel are the same ones which provided “testimonies” about Israeli atrocities and war crimes to the Goldstone Committee which were subsequently demonstrated to be fabrications.

They should also have asked why Lyons did not query the failure of the defamers to raise these accusations in the appropriate Israeli tribunals such as the Supreme Court which even has a controversial record amongst Israelis for intervening in IDF related matters.

What is wrong with the IDF, Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Department? Do they really believe that they can ignore such vile accusations in the mainstream media of a friendly country? Their deafening silence even led to an editorial in the local Jewish weekly, the Australian Jewish News, foolishly asking whether “God forbid”, the “country we cherish” enabled “the torture of children”.

If this is how our senior military and government offices deal with such issues, it is high time to demand accountability.

It is the Prime Minister’s Office office which carries the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that such matters are efficiently handled. Binyamin Netanyahu, more than most politicians, has a genuine grasp of the crucial importance of the war of ideas. If his office is not fulfilling its obligations in this area, he must, as a matter of urgency, personally intervene to guarantee that government information offices are staffed by personnel who are sufficiently competent to confront such issues in a skilled and professional manner.



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, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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