Friday, July 05, 2013
MORE multiculturalism in Britain
A dangerous fugitive wanted for a knife attack on a teenage girl has taunted police by setting up a new Facebook page - and posting a photograph of himself posing in a wig and glasses.
The picture shows brazen thug Michael Easy, 27, sporting the fancy dress items while pressing his finger to his lips - apparently mocking police for failing to track him down.
But the silver wig and Dame Edna Everage-style sunglasses do little to hide the identity of the man who has been on the run since May following the attack on the 19-year-old in Southampton.
Easy is a prime suspect in the incident, which saw a 19-year-old woman's neck cut outside a party.
The 27-year-old, who has a history of attacking women, allegedly punched her in the face and kicked her in the thigh before cutting her neck with an eight-inch knife.
Detectives immediately launched a manhunt as the serial offender, who has more than 27 convictions on his record, went on the run.
Police have branded him a danger to the public and will make a national TV appeal to try and catch the fugitive.
He has repeatedly taunted detectives on the internet since he went on the run five weeks ago.
After the alleged attack, Easy, who is of no fixed abode, vanished - but took time out while in hiding to update his Facebook profile, which he holds under a different name.
He previously uploaded a new photograph of himself just 24 hours after allegedly unleashing a terrifying knife attack on the teenager.
In his latest stunt he has set up a new Facebook account under the name 'Michelle Dirt', running in tandem with his original account, which bears the name 'Michael Dirt'.
Police refused to comment on the account, but Sergeant Al Dineley, from the integrated offender management team, is hopeful that the national appeal will help.
He said: 'We have carried out extensive local inquiries and liaised with other police forces across the country to track Michael Easy down.
'We have had positive responses to our local appeals but we want to expand our appeal to the whole country now. 'We have used Crimewatch successfully many times before and we are hopeful that the programme will generate further sightings and bring in fresh information for us.
'I would urge Michael Easy - or anyone who knows where he is - to get in touch with police. 'We have teams of officers working to locate him and we are not going to give up trying to find him.'
The teenage victim was hit in the face and suffered a thigh injury in the knife attack which took place in the early hours of Sunday, May 26.
Detectives have also advised two women feared to be at risk from Easy to move house.
They believe Easy may no longer be hiding in Southampton and want to raise awareness in London where the Metropolitan Police have been working with detectives.
His string of previous offences includes an unprovoked attack on his girlfriend in front of her toddler son nearly four years ago.
School prizegiving days are un-Christian and should be scrapped, says clergyman
Prizegiving ceremonies that recognise the achievements of outstanding pupils should be scrapped from Church schools because they are 'un-Christian', a clergyman has said.
The Rev Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard argued that singling out the brightest pupils for praise left those students not receiving prizes with the 'gently corrosive sense of being not quite good enough'.
Dr Rayment-Pickard, who co-founded an education charity with the aim of getting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into university, said prizes cultivate an 'individualistic and competitive attitude to success', which he described as being at odds with the 'servant ethics' of the Christian kingdom.
Writing in the Church Times, the former parish priest said prizegiving ceremonies, by allowing only a chosen few to 'bask in the warm glow of success', had a negative impact on the rest of a school's pupils.
In his opinion piece, entitled 'Why not "all must have prizes"?', Dr Rayment-Pickard cited a Bible passage which says the contribution made be individuals should be honoured - but that all should be treated as honourable.
He highlighted a ceremony he attended at an East London school during which he presented certificates to each pupil leaving the school that year, and praised the fact that 'every single young person came on stage to have his or her particular achievements celebrated'.
Church of England spokesman Steve Jenkins said: 'How schools operate is decided not by the Church of England but by their headteachers and governors, and I'm sure they will consider the Rev Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard's thoughts as they would any one else's in education.'
The charity IntoUniversity, of which Dr Rayment-Pickard is co-founder and director of development and external affairs, sets up local learning centres designed to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in gaining a university place or other aspiration.
The BBC has been outpaced by reality, and has become unsustainable
The BBC has been closed down. The furore and shock such a headline would stir up is almost unimaginable. Questions would be yelled in Parliament, Polly Toynbee would sob blue murder in the pages of the Guardian and parts of Twitter would solidify into pitchforks and burning torches.
Far-fetched as it may seem, last week Greeks awoke to their own national equivalent of such news. The state broadcaster, ERT, was closed with immediate effect by the Prime Minister as unaffordable and unviable.
Of course, Greece is Greece - once a byword for classical ruins, now a byword for modern economic ruin. Extreme measures are to be expected in a country in which the outright majority of young people are unemployed and a delegation of European Central Bank officials hold unaccountable control over fiscal policy.
It could never happen here, could it?
It seems highly unlikely that it would ever happen in Britain for the reasons it happened in Greece (unless Ed Balls gets a really long stretch as Chancellor, in which case all bets on the state of the nation's finances are off). But for deep-rooted reasons, the BBC has serious trouble ahead; we just don't like to admit it.
Turning a blind eye
Human beings - and the British in particular - are naturally small-c conservative creatures. We may gripe and grumble, or wish for various things to be improved, but an institution has to be very obviously flawed and failing before we will accept that its very future is in doubt.
Ironically, this preference for the comfort of things we know rather than the discomfort of revolutions tends to result in crises. Instead of identifying problems which can be fixed or planned for, we sit in blissful ignorance until they are too large and too immediate to ignore any longer.
This is the reason why so many disasters seem to spring from nowhere, leaving people wondering why no-one saw them coming. Consider the banks which plunged almost immediately from untrammeled success into total disaster - or the Euro, which some British commentators still refuse to accept is fatally flawed. Anyone who remembers the titanic nationalised industries of the pre-Thatcher period will recall the air of permanence which hung about them for so long - and the remarkable speed with which they were torn down.
So it may be with the BBC.
We all know Auntie. It has become a calendar for our lives. Most of us were raised on a staple diet of Blue Peter, then Grange Hill, growing up to shout at Question Time, choking on our cornflakes out over the Today Programme and eventually find ourselves wondering if listening to the Archers means we are officially old. The BBC News website is one of the most read news sites in the world. Our lives are shot through with the Corporation's output. But its size belies its growing weakness.
Outpaced by technology
Technological changes mean that the television licence funding model is swiftly becoming unenforceable and outdated.
Funding the BBC through compulsory licences was first conceived 86 years ago, in the form of the radio licence (later fully replaced by the television licence). It was a simple solution in a simple market. At the time, the Corporation was the only broadcaster in the entire country - if you bought a device to receive broadcasts, you were by definition using its services and you were easy to identify in the shop.
Now, as the BBC's tenth decade approaches, that model is broken.
The simplicity of the system was first fractured by the advent of commercial TV channels and radio stations. Ever since, the Television Licensing Authority (TVLA) has fought a war to enforce payment. While those of us with TVs are assailed with untrue stories of detection vans which can prove that your aerial is receiving a signal, people who prefer not to own a TV have found themselves bombarded with letters from officials who refuse to believe them.
But it is the advent of the internet which rings the death knell for the licence fee. This week, a Freedom of Information request revealed that there are now more than 400,000 households in Britain who inform the TVLA each year that they do not need to buy a licence - and that's just the number who actually respond to the hectoring letters they receive.
Many may well be people who don't watch TV, but it seems clear that a growing number are watching exclusively through the internet. It's perfectly legal to watch catch-up services, rather than live broadcasts, online without a licence. With the fee rising just as incomes have been squeezed it is unsurprising that many have chosen to do so.
I first noticed this among my friends four or five years ago. A growing number were buying a TV, hooking it up to their laptop or Playstation and watching shows through that, legally and licence-free. And why not? Plenty of others were watching live TV online in outright breach of the rules, and yet the TVLA proved unable to prove they were doing so.
Ironically, it is the BBC itself which has pioneered this way to avoid paying. It is now many years since the Corporation focused solely on broadcasting, and it has expanded into every conceivable form of media.
As part of that policy, along came iPlayer - the incredibly useful, legally free to access, online catch-up service. With broadband connections spread across much of the country, it runs like a dream - and is proving to be a nightmare for the TVLA. In terms of the service it offers, iPlayer is precisely the right response to the digital age - it offers flexibility and choice, rather than fixed schedules, it is easily searchable and browsable. In short, it provides a service completely out of keeping with the compulsory licence fee model.
Technology - and particularly the technology we use to consumer media - is moving swiftly away from top-down, one-size-fits-all paying and consuming. In music, not only has the physical been replaced by the digital, the bulk purchase in the form of an album has been replaced by micro-purchasing, song by song. At a click of a button I can buy any particular episode of any commercially available TV show, or any film, that takes my fancy - or I can rent access to them for the weekend. I can design my own TV package through Sky or Vigrin - choosing not to pay for sport or children's television if I don't intend to use it.
So not only is the television licence now legally unenforceable, it is clunky and out of step with the wider world. As consumers become used to building their own digital radio stations based on personal preference, having access to a thousand times the capacity of an old-fashioned video shop through their laptop, or picking and choosing the form of their cable TV packages, more will start to wonder why they pay £145.50 for the BBC at all.
There are plenty of other arguments to be had about whether the BBC is a good or bad thing.
It does produce much high quality drama - though notably much of that has been made in partnership with American cable companies or to pursue international profits. And the need for it to generate poorer quality products like "Hotter Than My Daughter" or "Snog, Marry, Avoid" is questionable to say the least.
There is also clear evidence of political bias withing its reporting of the EU, green policies, fiscal issues among other topics. I tend towards the cock-up rather than the conspiracy explanation, in that I suspect this is the product of groupthink and the impractical idea that one organisation can represent all views at the same time. Whatever the cause, the impact of unfairly slanted reporting from a state broadcaster is both sizeable and negative.
And we are all aware of the series of scandals which has struck at the BBC's greatest asset - the trust people place in it. From the horrifying facts of the Savile case, through the vast amounts paid to ineffective senior executives, to the disgraceful treatment of Lord McAlpine, the Corporation has lost much of its friendly reputation.
But whatever your view may be on its quality, bias or scandals, none of them poses the greatest threat to the Corporation's future. Many would make a case for the BBC's abolition, while plenty of others would line up to defend it to the death. In reality, either case is irrelevant. It is a simple truth that the BBC as we know it - licence-funded, compulsory, immovable - is unsustainable, a dead Auntie walking.
BBC a total waste of money: more evidence
By James Delingpole
Dear Jonathan, I like you but you're so wrong about the BBC.
The last two or three occasions I've been on Any Questions, Jonathan Dimbleby has introduced me by quoting some disobliging lines I have written somewhere or other about the BBC. "No single institution has done more damage to Britain," he reads out in a disbelieving, "we've-got-a-right-one-here, folks" voice which always guarantees a chortle from the studio audience.
Of course he thinks that way. He's a Dimbleby. But I'm right and he's wrong and here's yet another reason why: "The BBC has been criticised by the National Audit Office for paying out £25m to 150 senior BBC managers in severance payments."
Expressing outrage and disgust about this kind of epic waste and incompetence does not mean you're against the Shipping Forecast, the Today programme, beautifully shot nature documentaries from BBC Bristol, the Proms, Dr Who, lavish Glasto coverage et al, any more than being against the NHS means that you're for accident casualties lying untreated in the streets, old ladies being denied walking frames or children dying of leukemia. It simply means you've grasped the basic fact that public sector provision will always and inevitably lead to more waste, less efficiency, more tenured incompetence, more useless idiots on unjustifiably inflated salaries, and more cock-ups than would ever be tolerated within the private sector:
"The National Audit Office (NAO) found that the BBC had breached "its own already generous policies on severance payments".
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: "Weak governance arrangements have led to payments that exceeded contractual requirements and put public trust at risk.
The BBC Trust also came in for criticism, with the NAO noting "decisions to award severance payments that exceed contractual entitlements have, until recently, been subject to insufficient challenge and oversight"."
"Weak governance arrangements". Yes. Is anyone remotely surprised by this? This is what happens when you get an institution featherbedded with free money (confiscated from the taxpayer or licence-fee payer) and utterly unaccountable to its customers. Over the years this has led to the creation of a top-heavy management culture imperiously aloof to the point of contempt over what its audience wants, likes or needs, and splendidly indifferent to the kind of efficiencies it would certainly need to adopt were it subject to the disciplines of the private sector. (And if you think the BBC's bad, check out its uglier more bloated sister ABC in Oz.)
The BBC Trust, as the NAO has twigged, is the definitive example of "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" In other words, as Juvenal would no doubt have said had he been around today, it's as useless as a chocolate fireguard.
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, 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 here. Email me (John Ray) here.