Friday, May 16, 2014

Multicultural car racketeer

In Britain, Khans are mostly Pakistani

The mastermind of a multi-million pound car theft scheme has been jailed after he was caught taunting police with a personalised number plate that read S20LUN.

Shanwaz Khan, 30, led a ring of carjackers who stole vehicles and sold the parts abroad.

But he was tracked down after brazenly driving around in his £55,000 Audi RS4 with the bragging registration plate designed to resemble the word 'stolen'.

Officers who followed his car across Birmingham in March 2012 found it was one of a convoy of stolen cars.

Launching a six-month investigation into his dealings, they discovered he was linked to more than 80 thefts and violent carjackings - valued at £1.1million.

Finally, on October 15, 2012, they raided his home and lock-ups across Birmingham and found an 'Aladdin's cave' of chopped up car parts.

A court heard Khan, his brother Wajid, 24, and cousin Seyed, 32, sold more than 3,000 parts stripped from the cars to unwitting buyers on the auction site eBay.

The trio worked with fellow conspirators Ross and Matthew Dunham to steal vehicles from driveways and car-jack other victims.

Khan admitted conspiracy to commit burglary and handle stolen goods and at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday and was jailed for seven years.  Wajid Khan and Seyed Khan, both from Birmingham, admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods and were both sentenced to 30 months behind bars.  Ross, 21, and Matthew Dunham, 24, from Coventry, West Midlands, were jailed for five years and 39 months respectively.

After the case Detective Constable Mo Azir, from West Midlands Police, said: 'We meticulously pieced together their network of premises and, when officers raided one unit in Aston, we found an Aladdin’s cave of stolen cars and parts.

'Many of these were high-value luxury cars that had been brutishly ‘chopped’ up, whilst another premises in the city centre was used exclusively to store engines ripped from the stolen cars.

'The scale of their criminal operation was vast and they showed a complete disregard to the trail of destruction and misery left behind to victims of these offences.

'The brazen attitude of Shanwaz Khan was typified by his personalised number plate; this was a clear jibe at the authorities and he believed his underground theft racket was going unnoticed.  'The joke is on him now, though, as he starts a long prison term.'

The gang were linked to 82 vehicle thefts during 2012 all but 17 in the West Midlands with Audis and BMWs their favoured marques.

They included a petrol station car-jacking at a Total garage when a man was dragged from behind the wheel of his £25,000 Ford Focus ST.

And in the early hours of April 27 they stole two Mercedes C-Class from a driveway in having grabbed keys during a break-in,

Late on June 11 they drove off in a Seat Leon from outside a house in Coventry’s Standard Avenue.

However, the owner spotted her car being driven around Coventry on false plates the next day and later picked Matthew Dunham out as the driver during an ID procedure.

The court heard Shanwaz Khan was responsible for stripping down cars and storing parts at industrial units across the West Midlands.

He also rented space at City Self Storage, in Digbeth, Birmingham, to stash stolen engines before shipping many of them abroad.

Det Con Azir added: 'The premises were leased by the Khans using false names and documentation of the cars were stolen to order for engines which the Khans shipped out to the continent.

'All five are subject of on-going Proceeds of Crime Act investigations and we’ll look to seize any assets obtained through criminal activities.'


A Lesson on Racial Discrimination

Walter E. Williams

Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers owner, was recorded by his mistress making some crude racist remarks. Since then, Sterling's racist comments have dominated the news, from talk radio to late-night shows. A few politicians have weighed in, with President Barack Obama congratulating the NBA for its sanctions against Sterling. There's little defense for Sterling, save his constitutional right to make racist remarks. But in a sea of self-righteous indignation, I think we're missing the most valuable lesson that we can learn from this affair -- a lesson that's particularly important for black Americans.

Though Sterling might be a racist, there's an important "so what?" Does he act in ways commonly attributed to racists? Let's look at his employment policy. This season, Sterling paid his top three players salaries totaling over $46 million. His 20-person roster payroll totaled over $73 million. Here are a couple of questions for you: What race are the players whom racist Sterling paid the highest salaries? What race dominated the 20-man roster? The fact of business is that Sterling's highest-paid players are black, and 85 percent of Clippers players are black.

Down through the years, hundreds of U.S. corporations have faced charges of racism, and many have been subjects of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigations, but none of them had such a favorable employment and wage policy as Sterling. How does one explain this? People with limited thinking ability might conclude that Sterling is a racist in his private life but a nice card-carrying liberal in his public life, manifested by his hiring so many blacks, not to mention paying Doc Rivers, the Clippers' black head coach, a healthy $7 million a year. The likelier explanation is given no attention at all.

Let's use a bit of simple economics to analyze the contrast in Sterling's private and public behavior. First, professional basketball is featured by considerable market competition. There's an open opportunity in the acquisition of basketball playing skills. Youngsters just buy a basketball and shoot hoops. There's open competition in joining both high-school and college teams. You just sign up for tryouts in high school and get noticed by college scouts. Then there's considerable competition among the NBA teams in the acquisition of the best college players. Minorities and less preferred people always do better when there are open markets instead of regulated markets.

Recently deceased Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker pointed this phenomenon out some years ago in his path-breaking study "The Economics of Discrimination." Many people think that it takes government to eliminate racial discrimination, but economic theory predicts the opposite. Market competition imposes inescapable profit penalties on for-profit enterprises when they make employment decisions on any basis other than worker productivity. Professor Becker's study of racial discrimination upended the view that discriminatory bias benefits those who discriminate. He demonstrated that racial discrimination is less likely in the most competitive industries, which need to hire the best workers.

According to Forbes magazine, the Los Angeles Clippers would sell for $575 million. Ask yourself what the Clippers would sell for if Sterling were a racist in his public life and hired only white players. All the evidence suggests that would be a grossly losing proposition on at least two counts. Percentagewise, blacks more so than whites excel in basketball. That's not to say that it is impossible to recruit a team of first-rate, excellent white players. However, because there is a smaller number of top-tier white players relative to black players, the recruitment costs would be prohibitive. In other words, a team of excellent white players would be far costlier to field than a team of excellent black players. It's simply a matter of supply and demand.

The takeaway from the Sterling affair is that we should mount not a moral crusade but an economic liberty crusade. In other words, eliminate union restrictions, wage controls, occupational and business licensure, and other anti-free market restrictions. Make opportunity depend on one's productivity.


Why I'm sick to death of modern men who think it's their job to play mum (When they should be unblocking my sink!)

When my computer crashed the other day, I reached for the phone to call my trusty technical support man. Then, with a heavy heart, I remembered.

Last month, while he was at my house installing a new printer, he told me he wasn’t going to be available soon, because his wife was having a baby.

How long would he be out of action? I asked. Weeks? Months? He couldn’t say. He was just going to play it by ear. ‘Any day now,’ he said with a faraway look, before checking his phone for the millionth time to see if his wife had called.

So when my computer broke down, I tentatively texted him to see if he had surfaced after the birth. ‘Are you around?’ I said. ‘I really need your help.’  The text came back: ‘I have my little daughter sleeping on me at the moment. Can I call you back in an hour?’

To be fair, he did call back. But he couldn’t come out. He said he might be able to come out next month. But he couldn’t be sure.

Basically, until the tech man felt able to leave his baby, I would have to cope with my laptop not being properly hooked up to the internet.

Feeling mounting frustration, all sorts of questions ran through my mind. Where was his wife? Did the baby really need both of them tending to it full time?

Why did he seem to be relishing taking on the traditional role of a woman?

It wouldn’t have been so bad if my brush with modern fatherhood had been an isolated incident. But it wasn’t.

I recently tried to book a horse trainer to school my young thoroughbred. But the trainer said he wasn’t taking any new clients because — you’ve guessed it — his wife had recently had a baby.

‘Oh no!’ I almost blurted out. Instead, I forced myself to say ‘congratulations!’ through gritted teeth.

Then I asked whether he could see his way clear to maybe train my horse at some point in the foreseeable future. I was prepared to wait two, three months if it meant I could secure his services. ‘How long,’ I wanted to say, ‘do you really want to stay at home mopping up baby sick and changing nappies?

Wouldn’t you rather get back to tending the business you have built, so that you will be able to pay the bills and make the financial contribution needed to raise your child?’ But I bit my lip and resolved to find a child-free person to train my horse.

So what on earth is going on? Is the baby brain-drain that stops women breaking through the glass ceiling now starting to take middle-aged men out of gainful employment as well? It would appear so. Both these men were successful, affluent professionals.

A generation ago, they would have seen their role as providing the best financial support they could for their family.

But now it seems it’s becoming a badge of shame for men to take pride in their traditional role of breadwinner. Today’s breed of new men see doing the night feed as more important than doing the nightshift at work.

The problem, as I see it, isn’t the two weeks’ statutory paid paternity leave so beloved by David Cameron and Nick Clegg. It’s the whole culture of paternal rights they have fostered that has led a generation of men to believe they are duty-bound to spend oodles of quality time at home with their offspring.

I see examples of this depressing ‘New Man-dom’ everywhere.

What I object to is the growth of a father-centric culture which means that vast swathes of the workforce will soon be off work simply because they have managed to pro-create

Now don’t misunderstand me. Of course men need to take responsibility for their children, particularly if something happens to the mother which makes her unable to take full care of the baby.

Nor am I being unfairly critical of parents because I am a jealous, single woman who has never had children — an assumption I know many will immediately leap to.

I was the first to applaud an acquaintance of mine who recently took two weeks off from his job at an investment bank because his wife had a difficult labour, ending in an emergency Caesarean, and needed help with the baby while she recovered from the operation.

What I object to is the growth of a father-centric culture which means that vast swathes of the workforce will soon be off work simply because they have managed to pro-create.

Since 2003, fathers have been entitled to two weeks’ paternity leave following the birth of a child — they can also negotiate extra weeks with their employer throughout their child’s first year. Now it’s about to get even worse — and more complicated.

From next April, parents will be able to share their parental leave, dividing the year between them — either in six-month chunks each, or individually crafted arrangements.

To me, as a simple customer desperate to get my computer fixed or my kitchen sink unblocked, it sounds like utter lunacy.

What must it be like for employers? Even for big companies, the disruption and lack of continuity is likely to be intolerable. For small companies, where even the scheduling of the holiday rota impacts every penny generated, I can see many being brought to their knees.

Resentment will seep in, inevitably. Let’s not forget that just as the poor, sad singletons are expected to tailor their holidays around the demands of smug marrieds who throw the proverbial beach towel over the whole of the school holidays, it will be those same sad singletons who have to cover when the family guys are home winding infants and making carrot puree.

It’s terribly hard to see  the greater good for society when one is constantly forced to bear the brunt of other people’s decisions to have a family. The new scheme — the seventh change to parental leave in a decade — is the brainchild of Nick Clegg, who could quite easily be crowned king of the new men.

Cast your mind back to the opening months of the Coalition and you may remember the farce of Mr Clegg and David Cameron both trying to take time off from running the country to spend more time with their children.

At one point, they competed so frantically with each other to see who could be the newest man that they were both trying to do the school run in the morning. Cabinet meetings had to be postponed as a result. This is senseless posturing, designed to prove a political point.

But to ordinary working fathers the obsession with extended paternity leave is either deeply irrelevant — one in four fathers don’t take any leave — or, worse, an excuse to be lazy.

Even if a new dad genuinely can’t bear the idea of being away from his baby for the length of a working day, whether or not he is helping the child by doing so is another matter.

As most of us brought up in the Seventies will testify, it never seemed to matter that fathers did very little with their children, aside from providing for them.

When I ask my mother now if she wished my father had spent more time at home when I was a baby, she says: ‘Goodness no. He would have got under my feet.’

But nowadays men don’t seem to mind if they have no natural ability in the baby-rearing department. They want to spend time learning how to make up formula and fit the perfect nappy.

But is this really time well spent? And what will the implications be for our already fraught relationships if men do persist in getting under their wives’ feet?

The battle of the sexes will almost certainly become more heated as women lose their hegemony in the home as surely as men have lost theirs in the board room.

Eventually, firms could become less willing to take on new staff of childbearing age, male or female, because they cannot know how long they can be relied upon.

It may even become standard practice to try to employ men with stay-at-home wives as the only guarantee that the man will not demand baby time.

In the future the job market might not be the family-friendly utopia Clegg predicts, but a nightmarish place where desperate employers offer underhand incentives to remain childless.

And that, in the end, cannot be good for any of us


Bicycle wars

Below is a comment from a left-leaning lady in which she rightly detects something of a "war" between cyclists and motorists.  She misattributes the war however.  It's rather simple.  Motorists resent cyclists for slowing them down

The bicycle is a machine of utmost elegance. If you had to invent the minimum-gesture device to address the maximum number of contemporary crises – carbon, congestion, pollution, obesity, health costs, land-pillage, sprawl – that device would surely be the bike. Is that why Australians hate it?

The weekend cycling death of Mudgee grandmother Jill Bryant will no doubt intensify Roads Minister Duncan Gay’s urge to ban cyclists from certain roads. In NSW, 14 cyclists were killed last year: double the year before. But to ban bikes for that reason would be the transport equivalent of closing primary schools because kids were shot at Sandy Hook.

Instead, the Minister should expedite measures for making cycling safer without pushing cyclists off the road.

There is tempting symbolism in the Mudgee accident: eco-minded female run down in daylight, from behind, on Mother’s Day by that hyper-male vehicle, the 4WD ute.  In general terms, if not in the particular, the symbolism is real. Any cyclist knows it. The bike wars are culture wars.

Bike-hate is not principally about delay. Motorists show remarkable patience for other cars. They’ll sit comfortably behind stoppers, parkers, turners and incompetents of all kinds. But sitting behind a bike makes many people mad. Really mad. Why? Because bikes represent cultural change. Cultural change is threatening.

This is ironic, since the bike easily predates the car. But the bike is also the form of the future. That makes it dangerous.

Admittedly, there are rainy days and long trips that cycling does not suit. But for the half of household trips that are under 5 kilometres, cycling is perfect.

The car, by contrast, is deeply last century. Aggressive, loud, fast, filthy, thrilling, conscienceless and blindingly convenient, it either exacerbates these crises or has caused them.

Don’t get me wrong. I love driving. I adore road trips. But this isn’t about what I want. Sadly, it’s not even about what you want. It’s about the wants of the other 7.2 billion planetary humans. Which makes it, simply, obvious. We can’t all drive everywhere.

In cycling policy, as in all things green, Australia lags. Well, naturally. Just being young, wealthy, educated, immense and sunny is no reason for us to lead the way to the future.

Yet even in America, people are driving less. This is especially marked amongst millennials (born 1981-2000) and, since it predates the downturn, is not economically driven. Which is why it is increasingly seen as the way of the future.

For 80 years, from 1920, vehicle use in the US grew steadily. In 2004 it peaked, and by 2010 was roughly ten 10 per cent below the long-term trend. The same shift, though smaller, has characterised Australian cities. Young people are choosing to drive less.

This phenomenon is so striking that it has been seriously studied. Dozens of explanations are proposed, including smartphone connectivity and the non-car-dependent availability of sex.

But what matters is that it’s not a cost thing. It’s a lifestyle thing. A choice.

Greg Fischer, entrepreneurial mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, is completing the Louisville Loop, a 180-kilometre shared cycleway, specifically to attract inner-city residents. San Francisco and Boston have major ‘'walk first'’ programs, prioritising pedestrians, then bikes, then cars. San Francisco has its amazing Critical Mass event and dozens of small Michigan communities are pursuing '‘complete streets'’ – designed to validate bikes, transit and pedestrians, as well as cars and trucks, as essential street users.

Pedestrians are core. You can run a city without cars (Venice, say, or Sydney in Olympic mode). But a city without pedestrians is inconceivable. Such a city has no retail. No bars. No music. No buskers. No theatres. No sense of place, connectedness or community. A city without pedestrians is not a city. It’s a business park. And bikes are pedestrians on wheels.

Cars have economic upsides, certainly. But they also have economic, as well as health and environmental, downsides. A Texas Transportation Institute study found that in 2007 congestion caused an annual $78 billion fuel-loss.

Yet in Sydney, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian cancelled funding for the Inner West GreenWay, a cycleway along the new light-rail. She defunded the last, connecting bit of the Liverpool Street cycle lane.

Instead we have Lend Lease’s hideous, $25 million engineering extravaganza, the Albert (Tibby) Cotter Walkway on Anzac Parade, opposed even by cycling groups, yet contracted before it was even approved. The entire Seacliff Bridge cost only twice this amount – and all so that visitors to the 2015 Cricket World Cup won’t have to cross at the lights.

This is madness. Grade separation has never worked well for cities. What sane pedestrian will loop-the-loop when you can cross at grade? Groundedness is a pedestrian’s right, and a cyclist’s. Cities need pedestrians and, increasingly, pedestrians demand cities.

This is why Surry Hills and Redfern continue to skyrocket. It’s why youngsters bus in every night and why opinion-leaders are immigrating from Gordon and Hunters Hill. Everyone wants that walking-and-cycling lifestyle.

For me, cycling to a downtown meeting is quick, reliable, clean, fun and free. Better still, it saves me from gym-time. But it’s not safe. Cycling deaths are up, but fewer than 20 per cent are caused by cyclist error. License cyclists if you must, Mr Gay, but it won’t reduce deaths. We need cycle paths: more, connected, now.

It’s no longer an inner city thing. In Bateman’s Bay, Coffs, Junee and Coonabarabran, cycleways proliferate. Three-quarters of NSW people want to be able to cycle.

We know the benefits. Weight loss. Clean air. Interesting streets. Walkable nightlife. Explorable shopping. Street talk. And time not-spent-commuting to enjoy it.  In short, villages.



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 and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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