Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Some multicultural shopping in Britain
A gang of armed robbers who repeatedly fired a stun gun at a pawn shop manager in a £43,000 raid have been jailed for a total of 94 years.
David Sadiku, 41, and Kelly Day, 36, posed as a couple selling a Rolex watch to con their way into a pawnbroker’s in Ilford, Essex.
Once inside Maxcroft Securities Ltd, Sadiku pulled out a gun and dragged manager Naom Margolin out of his office while Day let fellow gang members - Paulius Strasunskas, 27, Francis Carbon, 32, Amjit Bharj, 47, and Aamir Kayani, 31 - into the shop.
Mr Margolin was shocked up to ten times with the stun gun and pistol-whipped in the face but managed to press the panic button, while a woman employee was stunned in the face.
The gang escaped with £43,000 worth of cash and jewellery, but were today behind bars after they were foiled during another robbery at a convenience store.
Sadiku and Day pleaded guilty to taking part in the Maxcroft robbery and the others were convicted following a nine-week trial at Old Bailey.
Another man, Michael Carbon, 26, who was involved in the mini-supermarket raid confessed to armed robbery, and was found guilty of a gun charge.
During the raid on July 5, last year Carbon told at staff at Maxcroft ‘I will f****** kill you’ as he demanded they empty their desks, while Strasunskas demanded: ‘Where’s the f****** money’.
He then put a stun gun to the face of one of the female members of staff and fired it at point blank range, the court was told.
‘She heard a cracking noise and felt a lot of pain. What had happened is he had used the stun gun on her face,’ said prosecutor Kerry Broome during the nine week trial. ‘Her face was swollen and painful.
‘There was no need at all for anyone to administer a Taser, led alone to the face. ‘He also administered the same gun to Mr Margolin’s head and neck area.’
Two customers were also forced to hand over wedding jewellery they were attempting to retrieve from the pawnbroker’s.
On June 25, just a few days before the attack at the pawnbroker's, the gang had tried to raid a Muslim wedding celebration after it had been announced in the local paper.
One wedding guest was Tasered in the face by the gang, but still managed to stop them from entering the home.
Then on August 8, officers from the Flying Squad - who had been following the gang since the Maxcroft robbery - swooped on gang members during a raid on Milap mini-supermarket in Chadwell Heath, east London.
Sadiku, Strasunskas, Carbon, Kayani, Day, and Bharj, were linked to the Maxcroft raid, while Michael Carbon was identified as part of the gang in the third robbery.
Michael Carbon and Strasunkas threatened staff with a handgun, stealing cash and other valuables before were stopped by armed police as they tried to escape.
Francis Carbon and Kayani, who were acting as a getaway driver and a lookout, were arrested nearby.
Sadiku, of Walthamstow, east London, admitted to aggravated burglary, burglary, two counts of robbery, two counts of carrying a firearm with criminal intent, two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon and one count of possessing a firearm with intent to commit an offence. He was jailed for a total of 13 years.
Day, of Ilford, admitted robbery and carrying a firearm with criminal intent and was jailed for six years.
Strasunksas, of Clayhall, Francis Carbon, Barking, and Kayani, 31, of Romford, were convicted of aggravated burglary, two counts of robbery, burglary, two counts of carrying a firearm with criminal intent, two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon, and one of possessing a firearm.
Strasunksas was jailed for 15 years, Francis Carbon was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and Kayani was jailed for 17 years.
Bharj, 47, from Upminster, Essex, was found guilty of two counts of robbery, one of burglary, carrying a firearm with criminal intent, possession of a prohibited weapon, and possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Michael Carbon, 26, of Plaistow, east London, was convicted of burglary, robbery, and possession of a firearm. He was jailed for ten years.
Sentencing, Judge Nigel Seed QC told the gang: ‘The stun gun was used in the face of a female employee as well as several times on the manager.
‘The female employees were terrified, and one heard a shout of “I’ll f****** kill you”. ‘The employees were subjected to violence and forced at gunpoint to hand over the contents of their desk drawers.
‘An innocent couple of customers there redeeming family jewellery and gold had that taken as well.
‘This had been carefully planned.’
British government minister to cut 'penal' death tax on pensions
George Osborne, the Chancellor, will cut the 'penal' 55 per cent death tax on pension funds in his Autumn Statement
Hundreds of thousands of pensioners will be able to leave more of their money to their children under government plans to cut “penal” death taxes.
George Osborne will announce in his Autumn Statement that the 55 per cent rate on drawdown pension funds due when the holder dies will be reduced.
It is expected to fall in line with the 40 per cent inheritance tax rate in an attempt to encourage more people to take advantage of the Government’s pension reforms.
Under the reforms, Mr Osborne has scrapped rules that force most Britons to use their pension savings to buy an annuity.
The freedoms will make it easier and cheaper for people to withdraw money directly from their pension pots. Mr Osborne said on Monday that people will be given free, independent advice on how to invest their pensions. He added that it was time to end the “patronising” view that the “state knows best how people should spend their money”.
The Chancellor said that the reforms would “give people who have saved hard all their lives greater access to their pensions”.
More than 400,000 people have drawdown pensions, which remain invested in the stock market when people retire. They can then draw an annual income.
Drawdown pensions are seen as a more attractive option than annuities, which lock people into a fixed annual income for the rest of their lives. The Treasury believes that more people will take advantage of drawdown pensions under the government’s reforms.
At present if people die without exhausting their pension funds, their inheritance to their children or grandchildren is taxed at 55 per cent.
In a consultation document published on Monday, the Treasury acknowledged that the rate may be “too high” and “needs to be changed”.
The document states: “This is an important issue which could have implications for many people under the new system.
“The government will therefore continue to consider the options for altering the rate and will confirm its intention at the Autumn Statement 2014.”
Mr Osborne said: “We are talking about trusting people here. It’s not my money, it’s your money, this is the money of people who have worked hard and saved hard.
“We have reached a major milestone today in these reforms, which are going to come in and give people who have saved hard all their lives greater access to their pensions.”
Ros Altmann, a pensions experts and the Government’s “older people’s tsar”, said: “The 55 per cent rate is penal and we are trying to make pensions more popular.
“If someone is unlucky to pass away before they use their pension fund that shouldn’t mean that you penalise their estate. If they had their money in an Isa they would just face inheritance tax.”
The Government is also preparing the way for a new generation of more flexible “super annuities”, which could allow pensioners to withdraw lump sums.
Ministers also disclosed that they will be increasing the earliest age at which people can start withdrawing their pensions from 55 to 57 by 2028.
It comes after the Office for Budget Responsibility warned that people will have to work longer to help pay off Britain’s debts. The OBR suggested that the state pension age is likely to rise to 70 within 50 years.
UK: Civil servants more productive after spending cuts
Workers in the public sector have become more productive since the Government began wielding the axe on the sector, according to the head of its independent fiscal watchdog.
Robert Chote, chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), said the financial crisis and subsequent spending cuts had made the civil service more efficient and forced people to “respond” to these changes by working harder.
“In terms of, has it made a difference to the way people perform their jobs, I’m sure it does,” he told The Telegraph.
According to official data, productivity in the public sector showed zero growth between 1997 and 2010, meaning the only way the Government has been able to increase productivity is by hiring more staff.
While Mr Chote stressed that it was not up to the OBR to make a judgment about whether civil servants were providing more “value for money” than they were before the crisis, he said he was “sure” workers had changed their behaviour.
Mr Chote also said the OBR had been “surprised” that public sector spending cuts had not “acted as the drag on economic growth” that it had anticipated.
He said post-crisis output in the public sector had held up relatively well despite the reduction in input costs such as labour and capital spending, suggesting that public bodies have been able to squeeze the same amount of growth out of fewer resources.
Mr Chote also warned that Britons faced a permanent reduction in living standards if productivity growth remained weak across the whole economy.
He said that was the “biggest risk” to the UK economy getting back towards stable growth.
“In the medium term, [the question is] are we going to get back to a position where productivity growth grows reasonably healthily, and wages pick up as well? Because in terms of having a sustainable outlook for household consumption, you need to see that return to real income growth.
“It’s fundamentally productivity growth that determines living standards.
About Those Dirty Little Sisters of the Poor
Boy, our political debate is getting crasser by the moment.
And so it is that the National Organization for Women has put the Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Roman Catholic nuns who have devoted their lives to caring for the elderly poor, on its "Dirty 100" list.
NOW is upset that the Little Sisters sued the federal government, arguing that new ObamaCare mandates are inhibiting their constitutional right to freely practice their faith - that their vow to advance the dignity of life for every person, no matter how weak or unwanted, means they can never provide insurance policies that fund contraception, abortive drugs and sterilization, which ObamaCare was forcing them to do.
So NOW is calling the Little Sisters dirty - though the group should have done its research before attempting to tarnish some of the most remarkable women who have ever graced this Earth.
Little Sisters of the Poor was founded in France by Jeanne Jugan in 1839, when Jugan's association offered care and dignity to her first house guest.
Her mission, after all, was to dedicate her life to providing hospitality, dignity and care to the aged poor who could no longer care for themselves.
Born to modest circumstances, she trusted that God would provide the housing and resources she would need to care for her residents and she was correct.
To provide for the needs of the aged poor, she began a tradition still practiced today by which the Little Sisters visit merchants and others seeking alms of every kind - food, clothing, donations.
By 1849, she founded six more homes for the elderly. By 1850, she had 500 associates and houses as far away as England. By 1879, the year she died, she had 2,400 associates providing care.
Today, Little Sisters of the Poor operates 200 homes in more than 30 countries providing care to more than 13,000 elderly residents - including a wonderfully cheerful operation on Pittsburgh's North side.
For Jugan's efforts, she was canonized a saint in 2009.
Her "dynamism is continued today across the world in the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which she founded and which testifies, after her example, to the mercy of God and the compassionate love of the Heart of Jesus for the lowliest," said Pope Benedict XVI at her canonization ceremony.
What is most striking about Jugan's legacy is how her worldview was so different from that of NOW and so many others in our culture today.
Jugan's interpretation of the term "rights" was that every individual is a child of God and has a right to experience dignity and love in his or her final days. She never demanded her government establish mandates to care for the elderly poor or even provide funding. She simply did everything she could as a private individual to provide dignity and love.
In the United States, her organization has always been free to operate according to its principles. It has provided health insurance policies for its employees for years that did not fund contraception, abortive drugs or sterilization (though employees were, and still are, free to purchase such items on their own).
This was never a pressing problem until our ever-encroaching federal government demanded these things be included in insurance policies with the passage of ObamaCare.
So NOW, which considers government-mandated birth control a greater right than that of religious groups to run their organizations according to their religious principles, is calling some of the most humble and accomplished women on the planet dirty.
And that's why, as our government expands into our personal and religious lives, our political debate is getting crasser by the moment.
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.