29th April 2013
The first Chief Inspector of Constabulary without a police background, Tom Winsor, has been in post for six months. That has given him time to collect his thoughts and today he is making a speech at RUSI the security think-tank. He appeared on the Today programme this morning. His emphasis will be on preventative measures to reduce crime and on forces being as smart as possible in assisting the public to keep safe. Not unexpectedly it seems we find big police staions rather forbidding places. Drop in counters in shops and libraries would be much more welcoming he feels. Another really intersting idea in this era of modern technology, coming from Policy Exchange I think, is to have unmanned contact points on street corners. If we wanted we could use them to report crimes, provide intelligence and access information. I would look upon that as getting us to think along the right lines in our fight back against the Gang, just as I recorded last Wednesday in my note on a Simon Kuper article.
I wrote about the Dutch prime minister in my diary note of 11th April 2013. Before that on 27th March 2013 I briefly remarked on what seemed to be a bit of a spat between two web firms. I specifically said it did not appear Gang related. Now I am not so sure. It was the Dutch website hosting firm Cyberbunker making a Distributed Denial of Service attack against the Spanish anti-spam website Spamhaus. A DDoS event is where previously organised robot computers, with unsuspecting owners, all bombard a particular website with requests so that it goes down under the volume coming at it. Spam, often not quite so random as we might think, is in my view an essential Gang tool. That Dutch, British and American authorities all cooperated to keenly investigate the attack, as reported on a BBC website on Saturday, indicates to me that some poeple know a lot more about the situation than I do. A Dutchman has now been arrested in Barcelona suspected of being behind the assault, one of the biggest ever web events. He will be extradited to the Netherlands for trial. I have never mentioned in writing before but in March 2011 [Chrissy] and I flew to Amsterdam for the day to visit some famous gardens nearby. That visit showed, in my view, that the American Gang have strong influence at Schipol airport and at least one of their well known public attractions.
The Czech Republic crops up a few times in my book. For example I pass on in Chapter 7 that it is thought a Coservative MP and a Labour Cabinet Minister both spied for what was then Czechoslovakia in the 1960’s. More recently I did use free anti-virus sofware from a company based in the country. When I realised a possible Gang connection from there I stopped. I used to experience problems with my Internet Explorer web browser being unstable. Now I do not. Then this morning’s news is there has been an explosion in a building in central Prague. It houses an IATA office, an art gallery, a film school and the social sciences faulty of the city’s university. Up to 40 people have been injured by the blast. It is thought a gas leak could be the cause.
The Syrian prime minister has survived a car bombing, in which his bodyguard died, in Damascus this morning. No one has claimed responsibility.
As Mark Easton comments it is a bit rum. A large police investigation in the 1990’s and a judge led public inquiry didn’t find very much. Now an investigation by the National Crime Agency, initiated by Theresa May following the ill fated Newsnight report last November, has found evidence of serious, systematic sexual abuse against children in care homes in North wales between 1963 and 1992. 140 complainants have come forward naming 84 alleged abusers in 18 homes. The fact that those people have not been adequately listened to before is quite shocking.
Assuming there were over 50 exploiters I believe only the weight of the Gang could have allowed such ongoing undetected activity over that length of time. And preventing it initially from being properly exposed when it was investigated. Dealing with the second aspect first, responsible people who could have shown an interest, did not. They must have been gently leant on. They were frightened of some pretty powerful people. For the organised abuse itself I feel the most likely way that could have worked would have been within one or more masonic lodges. Some criminals will have deviant sexual ways. If there were a hidden nerwork already set up for breaking the law, and the money was available to indulge themselves, their systems could be extended to employ the right people in children’s homes to provide the back up and protection for the activities of the really important ones. Natural abusers themselves, whose predilections could be satisfied too to keep them sweet, would be ideal employees for the role.
It is common ground that bee populations are plunging but not what is causing it. Some say it is a parasite, some a virus. The European Commission believes the reason is use of insecticides farmers spray on crops which contain neonicotinoids. Of the 27 member states a simple majority have voted for a two year ban starting later in the year. That means it will come into effect. We voted against on the basis that the case isn’t proven. Farmers have alternatives available so it isn’t too bad for them. And after two years we will know what the bees think about it. That might not be too bad for them either.
30th April 2013
Six Asian men, all with heavy beards, have just pleaded guilty in court to planning a bomb attack on an English Defence League rally in Dewsbury last June. The event did not last as long as expected. When they got there it had finished. On their way back their car was stopped by police on the motorway in a random check and impounded because it did not have insurance. The police later found the bomb and other things in the boot. We are specifically told the arrests were not intelligence led.
That is the official version. It seems highly unlikely to me. What I do in that sort of situation is see what would marry with the details I know and then challenge myself to see if it really makes sense. What would fit is if MI5 as a body did not know but one or two well meaning individuals within it had strong suspicions which were being blocked by their colleagues. They did the right thing and spoke to some friends in Yorkshire Police. If they had been wrong no harm would have occured as all that would have been involved was a traffic offence. If I am wrong about that I do have to ask why the police and MI5 feel it is appropriate to lie to us.
The prosecution at the first day of Mark Bridger’s trial have said that part of a human child’s skull was discovered in the fireplace of his home and traces of blood, that matched April’s DNA, were found in the living room, hallway and bathroom. That does not mean of course that the blood did not come from April when she was alive and living in Machynlleth. Neither does it explain why the police spent six months trying to find her body in the surrounding countryside.
Apparently shingles happens when an old chicken pox infection is reactivated, possibly from childhood. That of course is what [someone I know] has. It tends to come back when you are old and the effectiveness of your immune system fades. From September the government will start offering those over 70 free immunisation. It is considered to be an effective use of scarce funds. Apparantly we Brits are becoming one of the best vacinated populations in the world.
The BBC radio news reported this morning that extra medical staff went to Guantanamo Bay over the weekend to help force feed the now 21 detainees who are on hunger strike. The protest started in February and now covers two thirds of the 166 inmates. Then this afternoon it was reported that Mr Obama had called for the centre to be shut. He said it’s standards are contary to who Americans are. It’s existence is not necessary to keep America safe. It damages the standing of the USA in the eyes of the world. He asks Congress to help him devise a legal solution to sort it all out. He cannot do it on his own.
I feel that story is all about taking advantage of pressure. One for home readers could be the smooth running of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka in November. The government there are accused by Amnesty International of systematic human rights violations in defeating the Tamil Tigers in the country’s 26 year civil war ending in 2009. Already Canada have said they most probably will not go. The Sri Lankan government quite naturally want to show us all how reasonable they are. So much so that their High Commissioner battled through London traffic this morning to tell Today listeners that any respectable investigators can go to his homeland to assess things for themselves. I suspect some of his colleagues at base would not agree.
John Humprys was speaking to Nigel Farage on the broacast ahead of the local elections. John suggested Ukip’s position is a bit like the taxi driver telling his fare about all the things wrong with our country, and the Ukip chap in the back agreeing. Mr Farage carried on regardless.
Today were highlighting the issue of Restorative Justice, or Community Resolutions, this morning. They are instances where the victim of a law breaker does not press charges. The crime is recorded but the perpetrator does not receive a criminal record. They are one down from a formal caution. Interestingly it is the Labour party who through FoI requests have found out for us that their use has increased twelve fold in five years, to 10,160 in 2012. The Metropolitan Police did not respond to their submission. The shadow Home Secretary is worried they are being used where they shouldn’t; for serious crimes where a custodial sentence should always be sought. That, I feel, should be a matter of judgement for the police. If the miscreant knows he or she has just had their last chance, it might help them. The real power however should be with the victim. Their true wishes should be followed wherever possible. I say true because even there the professional’s judgement is needed. A battered wife might find it very difficult to say what she really thinks would be best for her.
As I am an ignoramous I have never heard of him but the world famous American basketball player, Jason Collins, has just come out as being gay. Apparently that is a really big thing in American society. I understand both President Obama and former President Clinton both rang the gentleman to offer their support.
The Justice Secretary has announced that prison regimes are to be more incentive focused to try to positively influence inmates’ attitude. If you wish to have a TV in your cell or use leisure facilities your behaviour will have to warrant it.
I delayed writing this note to see if there were any later news reports. There weren’t. On Sunday evening I saw a BBC webpage saying that a former associate of the first Mississipi man has been charged with sending the ricin letter to President Obama. Like the first, the second man’s home was also searched. This time you presume something was found leading to his arrest.
Edward Luce was writing pessimistically about future cooperation betwwen Republicans and Democrats in America in yesterday’s FT. His assessment, I think, is that the tax increase agreement in January was a step too far for some Republicans. They have not been able to forgive and forget. That does not bode well I feel for ordinary Americans who yearn for a positive lead from their elected represenatatives.
Today’s FT says that the Cayman Islands is home to 9,400 hedge funds managing assets of $2.2 trillion. The largest provider of hedge fund fiduciary services there is suing the Regulator on the Islands to try and stop it going ahead with it’s planned improvement to transparancy and corporate governance. You do have to wonder what the motive for that is.
Imran Khan, former cricketer and head of The Movement for Justice Party, is running to be Pakistani prime minister in their elections. I saw an interview with him on the BBC TV evening news on Sunday. He says 80% of high public officials in his country are criminals. If elected he pledges to end corruption within 90 days. A pretty tall order I would have thought.
To emphasise they are interested in long term planning I feel, the government created in 2010 a National Infrastructure Plan showing how we will ensure we live in a modern country stretching into the future. They talk about big spending plans amounting to £310 billion, with two thirds coming from the private sector. However the Commons Public Accounts Committee called it all a bit unrealistic yesterday. In tough economic times it really couldn’t see where that sort of money would come from.
1st May 2013
Three UK soldiers were killed and six injured in a bomb blast against a heavy armoured vehicle in Afghanistan yesterday, a few days after the Taliban allotted date for their spring offensive. It seems likely the bomb was very large and possibly placed under, or at the side of, the road many weeks ago. Mr Cameron has referred to it as being a high price for our country to pay in order to make Afghanistan a safer place.
Mark Bridger’s team have outlined their defence at his trial today. He agrees that he picked up April and that her blood was found in his house. He says he ran her over and put her in his car. No details are yet given of that. He was driving around with her on the seat drinking vodka. He looses his memory until he wakes up at home in the early hours. I doubt if all that is entirely correct. There maybe elements of truth in it however, if only because it is such a weird story. It is not a defence you could reasonable expect others to believe. For that purpose I think you would have made up something better. From the prosecution statements it seems Mr Bridger was in quite a state that day. He badly felt he needed company. He had looked at pornographic images of young girls on his computer.
From my visits to London I believe ambulance crews are heavily leant on by the Gang. I think it would be a good idea therefore for CCTV cameras to be placed inside vehicles as reported on my local TV news last night. South East Coast Ambulance are currently consulting their staff about the possibility.
There was a man on Today this morning before 7am from the agency War Child. His organisation has said that so far this year 550 young people under 25 have been killed in Iraq. Schooling in the country is worse that it was in 1990. A quarter of Iraqi children have stunted growth due to malnutrition. We should be doing something to help them.
I shall be watching a BBC 2 TV programme this evening on the ‘Ndrangheta, an Italian mafia organisation. However they are also part of a global brand with links to gangs in at least Switzerland, Germany, Canada and Australia. The presenter of the programme was on Today this morning. He says that, in my terms, the American Gang used to use the Cosa Nostra based around Naples as a partner for smuggling cocaine into southern Europe until the beginning of the 1990s. My supposition is that they then switched to the ‘Ndrangheta in 1991. A power struggle arose within the smaller Italian partner which resulted in a shoot out between two clans in the village of San Luca that year leaving two young men dead. Being Italians it led to years of feuding until a truce was finally called in 2000. Perhaps the killers were told to depart to Germany. However criminals do not forget. The rancour runs deep. So the watching began, the opposing factions waiting I expect for the other to show some form of weakness. Then I came along I guess by contacting Kent Police in July 2007. Besides the financial crash, it seems I also caused the Duisberg Massacre on 15th August 2007 when six Italian men were shot dead in Germany by two Italian gunmen shooting off 70 rounds of amunition. Additionally however I should mention the killing of Gerry Tobin on 12th August 2007 as I relate in chapter 6 of my book. Mr Tobin was a Canadian Hells Angel living in London. His seven attackers were from the Outlaws gang. My hypothesis therefore is that Mr Tobin was also a Canadian affiliate of the ‘Ndrangheta. Those who could not forgive smelt a bit of fear that August and pounced. And that the attack three days later was an act of revenge against the Pelle-Romeo clan of the ‘Ndrangheta who were the losers out voted in 1991.
Although I made a note of the Chiasso financial smuggling case from 2009 it looks as though I decided not to put it in the book. It concerned the apprehension of two apparently Japanese gentlemen trying to smuggle $134.5 billion of fake US Treasury Bonds out of Italy into Switzerland. According to Wikipedia there have been similar instances since. My hunch is that was the ‘Ndrangheta gang doing a job for it’s Daddy in the States.
Another note that doesn’t seem to have made it into the book was about the killing of eight club cyclists in December 2010 when they were mowed down by a car in Lamezia Terme right in the heart of ‘Ndrangheta territory. After my 2008 holiday in Italy, which is mentioned in my work, I concluded that Organised Crime manipulate cycling clubs for their activities, here and in Europe, whatever the gang hue. It always struck me that incident would be one gang fighting another. It now seems, in my terms, it was the European Gang seeking revenge on the American gang for some preceived slight.
There was a bomb scare at Gatwick airport this afternoon. As usual in such situations no details are given but the authorities were worried about a Renault van without windows which was parked in one of the multi-storey car parks just after 2.30pm. We are told the driver could not be found which I suspect might be a euphemism for him or her having been seen being picked up by someone just after the vehicle was parked. Anyway controlled explosions were used to ensure nothing was amiss and the airport began to return to normal soon after 9pm.
2nd May 2013
I watched the programme, This World: The Mafia’s Secret Bunkers, last night. It was about the most influential of mafia gangs, the ‘Ndrangheta (say, un-drang-eta) based in the southern tip of Italy, close to Sicily and facing Sardinia and Corsica. The title bit was about how it’s leaders like to stay in their feifdoms when on the run, in a vast network of secret passages and bunkers, from where they can keep adequate control of their underlings. The piece describes how a tunnel was built once in Plati, the group’s stonghold, under the town’s main street. No pretence was made. They just did it. And no one in the town said a thing.
I have only mentioned the ‘Ndrangheta once before, in a diary note in the chapter six appendix of my book. I have said I believe Corsica is an American Gang stronghold though, as I highlighted in my webpage diary note of 13th February 2013. One supporting reason I think that is because about 10 years ago two work colleagues independently, and unknown to each other, decided to go to different parts of the island with their families for their summer holidays. You do not forget a coincidence like that. I am pretty sure the ‘Ndrangheta will be a cell system within the American Gang heirarchy. They are particularly close apparantly to organised crime groups in Australia, another lodge system of the American Gang I would say. The ‘Ndrangheta are the biggest smugglers of cocaine from South America into Europe and their preferred route it seems is through the Italian container port of Gioia Tauro which they control. Opened in the 1990s Wikipedia says it expanded massively in that decade becoming the largest Mediterranean container terminal in 1998. The ‘Ndrangheta charge protection money on every container passing over the quayside. Thousands of containers are unloaded every day. Looking for cocaine in South American cargoes in that lot is worse than finding a needle in a haystack. Only about 20% of illegal drug shipments are intercepted by the authorities. It is estimated that in 2007 the ‘Ndrangheta’s business turned over 44 billions euros, nearly 3% of Italian GDP, and that drug trafficking accounted for 62% of that volume.
In the programme the presenter explains how the Italian state for decade upon decade thought their problem was with the Scilian Mafia. Nobody was looking in Calabria. Then the Duisberg Massacre happened as I wrote about yesterday. Italy found, just like my Gang, that the ‘Ndrangheta had seeped into the State itself, imperceptibly over many years. They had become stronger and stronger until they were virtually unstoppable. They believed there was no individual who could not be bought. State intelligence gathering started and in September 2009 the breakthrough came. Until then it was thought the ‘Ndrangheta were a loose amalgam of families with commom aims. However through secret filming of a top lodge highly stylised outside meeting in a crowd they realised the organisation was a rigid pyramid structure directed from the top. It was a way of working that could be exported to any society anywhere in the world. The authorities started fighting back using, amongst other tools, a spy plane that flies at 2500 feet but can take clear photographs of activity on the ground. Their land based cameras will read number plates from several kilometers away. With the appropriate information a top clan leader was apprehended. The court process against him has started. I think the Italian secret services should be applauded for being so transparent with the programme makers. I cannot imagine MI5 doing anything like that.
Thanks to the BBC website this morning I am aware they published a page on 4th April 2013 reporting that one of the tallest buildings in the Chechen capital Grozny caught fire the day before. The Boston bombings were on 15th April. Fortunately the skyscaper was unoccupied. It is thought an electrical fault caused the conflagration. The video I watched showed it to be well alight towards the top of the tower.
A subject covered by Today yesterday was the fact that we will be ending our aid contribution to South Africa, currently worth £19 million, in 2015 after several months of discussion with them. I would have thought, if you are proud and reasonably well off, you would not not want other people’s charity bit in this instance it seems the South African government are deeply upset by our decision.
Lord Justice Thorpe was on the transmission. He is the gentlmen who liases with other countries when a child has been snatched, normal by an estranged parent, and taken aboroad. In 2005 he had three new cases, in 2010 92 and last year 253. If the other country have signed up the the Hague convention on human rights we can normally do something. Otherwise we can’t. Unfortunately half the countries in the world fall into the second category.
Three college friends of Dzhokhar Tsamaev, one American and two from Kazakhstan, were in court yesterday accused of helping him after the bombings. One lied to the police and the other two threw away items which they thought might incriminate him. Not the right thing to do but we all recognise the desire to help a chum. I hope it shows America it would have been a big mistake to treat Mr Tsamaev as an enemy combatant.
I wrote about the current violence in Iraq last Saturday. Then on 18th April 2013 I noted how the Gang’s current terrible feeling is finding expression wherever it has the ability to do so. First Korea, then Syria and now Iraq. The killing in Iraq is going on unabated with 25 deaths yesterday.
I heard yesterday that Mr Cameron has decided he does not wish to make any changes to the government’s planned newspaper regulation regime after hearing from the press about it last week. That I think has pleased Hacked Off no end. I received an email from them this morning.
The Treasury announced overnight that it has reached agreement with British oversees territories such as Bermuda, the British Virgin islands and the Cayman Islands to share bank account and tax information, not only with us but also France, Germany, Italy and Spain. In March we reached a similar agreement with Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of man.
The pressure group Uncut Legal Action are taking HMRC to court today for an allegedly illegal deal in 2010 with Goldman Sachs allowing them not to pay interest on unpaid tax. The argument is that in this particular case the tax authorities were not entitled to do it.
From the Today programme this morning I see that President Obama is starting a two day trip to Mexico and Central America today. That I feel gives a strong signal that he wishes his country to concentrate on issues in the area of the world where Americans live.
As also told on the transmission experts are getting worried about the new H7N9 strain of bird flu which started affecting humans at Easter. Since then it has spread to every part of China with 126 cases so far. A fifth have proved fatal. The World Heath Organisation have called it a serious threat to human health. Most fortunately the disease cannot yet be transmitted between humans but there are obviously concerns it could soon happen. When the world had such a pandemic in 1918 it affected 500 million people killing at least 50 million, 3% of the world population at the time. The 1918 virus revisited us in 2009 with 18,000 people dying, pretty evenly spread across the globe.
Before 7am the broadcast had a piece about an exchange between the Egyptian Information Minister and a female journalist at a public gathering. It showed him to be extremely disrespectful of her. The lady considered she had been harrassed. One of those culture stories I would say. I don’t feel the Muslim Brotherhood are such a secret organisation as the Gang so probably haven’t had the same opportunity in the past to allow their baser instincts to run unchecked. I hope therefore no sexual abuse stories lurk under the surface as we have seen in Britain. Nevertheless I expect she was making a valid point.
After listening to a Newspaper Review on the programme I understand the Daily Mail reports this morning that the Justice Secretary is carrying out an urgent review of the workings of the Court of Protection. It seems a lady was jailed last month, in an effectively secret hearing, for trying to remove her father from a care home because she feared for his life there.
Within the last few years I have had dealings withn the Court of Protection. After a postal application I received from them what I considered to be a completely perverse decision. However I do try and pick my battles carefully. I concluded there was no point in me challenging it as I did not think I would get anywhere. The emotional trauma caused would have hurt me more than anyone else.
There was a man on the broadcast saying that al-Qaeda as an organised group is probably a thing of the past , although their ideology remains. Where they do take hold of an area, such as in northern Mali recently, they are such horrible people the locals loathe them. They can’t wait to be liberated. Although turned individuals shall always be with us they will find it much harder to link up to an organised terrorsist network which can take them under their wing. We saw that lack of back up in Boston I feel. The brothers probably learnt their very basis bomb making skills over the internet.
We have been told today that an 83 year old former TV presenter and football commentator has pleaded guilty to 14 instances of indecent assault or rape between 1967 and 1985 against girls, one who was nine at the time. Then yesterday a male 81 year old long running soap star was arrested for allegedly raping a girl in 1967 when she was 15. He strenuously denies it.
Those are really difficult cases in my view. Such a long time ago, but if genuine ladies have not been able to obtain closure from those past experiences then they should be supported. Justice, even at this late stage, should be available to them. If the men are guilty then so be it. However there is no way I would wish to be on a jury hearing such a case. I suspect my decision would be very much a stab in the dark, probably based on prejudice more than anything else.
As an example of how careful you should be in my view Mrs Christine Hamilton was on Newsnight yesterday telling us how she had been vexaciously accused of jointly arranging rape with her husband and others on a 29 year old lady in 2001. The newspapers were immediately tipped off about the Hamiltons so there were photographers outside the police station when they left after being questioned. The lady was entitled to anonymity. She sold that however, with her story, to the News of the World for £50,000. Two weeks later the police realised they had been sold a pup. She had never met the Hamiltons. Two years afterwards the lady was jailed for three years for perverting the course of justice. In that case her motive was obviously to gain money. Another posibility might have that she was psychologically damaged, and genuinely believed something had happened to her which hadn’t. If there had only been one man and one woman involved it would have been one person’s word against another’s.
There was an article in last Saturday’s FT quoting a British official as saying we would like to see the moderate Syrian opposition, led by someone like Salem Idriss, better armed. At the momemt weapons are getting through to bad rebels but not the good ones.
Michael Ashcroft has a piece in the paper, well written in my view. He has got into private polling recently and writes that for his current snapshot of voter intentions the Conservatives probably have a lot more persuading to do to be re-elected in 2015.
A short piece in the edition refers to the hacking of the Associated Press Twitter account last week which planted the suggestion that the White House had been subject to a terrorist bomb attack. For a few minutes it caused the S&P 500 share index to drop 0.9% before recovering. Twitter says it will be introducing new security measures.
In the Magazine accompanying the paper is a bit of an off the wall piece by Gillian Tett. The proposition by some American statisticians is that human beings have an inherent ability to fall out with each other, to the extent of terrorism and war, so much so that it is possible to track the history of it onto graphs spread over hundreds of years, and therefore make predictions. It seems a bit far fetched to me, and I don’t think churchmen would approve, but it is an interesting idea. Perhaps you could explain it in terms of the genetic make up of a population. Over time chance will produce individuals whose only interest is in cotrolling others, by whatever means: their concentration of numbers come and go in constant waves.
This morning it came through that the North Koreans have sentenced the American citizen, a devout Christian, to 15 years hard labour. Channel 4 News this evening said he was arrested whilst supervising a tourist party and that his crime is thought to have been the taking of photographs of malnourished children.
There was a pretty depressing editorial in yesterday’s FT about how developing African counties are losing their rightful tax revenues, from the harvesting of their natural resources, to dishonest multi-national companies. As always a cultural thing with clever accounting games being used to divert profits off to low tax jurisdictions. However you do wonder how highly paid well polished people doing that sort of thing can justify such actions to themselves. Zambia’s current annual growth rate is 6% per annum yet 60% of it’s citizens live in poverty, more in numbers than in 1991.
Richard McGregor in today’s FT suggests Mr Obama might just as well give up on the Republicans. He is getting nowhere with them. His only option really is to talk directly to the American people and get a groundswell of opinion going that way.
3rd May 2013
There are obviously behind the scene discussions taking place about Syria. I hope Russia by now fully realises what a difficult situation it is for all world leaders. They must all as a group be sure footed, but you do have to take risks sometimes to save lives. I do not think it is neccessary to talk about red lines in order to do the right thing. It can be used as a device to put pressure on others perhaps but it should not prevent you yourself from reaching your own cool, calm judgement. I saw Philip Hammond speak on Newsnight last night from Washington where he is meeting Chuck Hagel. It reminded me very much of the time he announced increased security for the summer Olympics on 15th December 2011, and spoke on that evening’s BBC TV News, as I describe in chapter 5 of my book. I am not getting my hopes up too much but that may be a good omen.
That chapter also relates how I believe I could have been killed walking back along the lane from the polling station on the day of the 2010 General Election. The Gang have a pathological hatred in my view of anything to do with democracy; ordinary people showing they have ultimate control over how their society is run. An example of that, in my view, is the news this morning that the State prosecutor, investigating the murder of Benazir Bhutto when she was campaigning for the general election in early 2008, has been shot dead by men on motorbikes this morning as he was driving to court. The next general election is on 11th May. The message is clear in my view for all those influnced by the Gang in Pakistan (and that is an extremely large number of people). Please don’t forget we are the ones who have ultimate power over your lives.
Today had a piece on Pakistan this morning as well. Because of past troubles it’s power infrastructure has got into the most terrible state. That effects every citizen in the land, possibly very day. Apparently it will be two to three years before they even start to get on top of the problem.
I learn from today’s FT that Moocs stands for Massive Open Online Courses. Can you believe it! The essence is they are free for anyone to use via the internet and originated in the USA last year. Over here the Open University with others, and the British Museum, will be starting up our own version during the summer.
Although terms are yet to be sorted out the paper also reports that Turkey will be commissioning a Japanese and French consortium to build a nuclear power station at a cost of around $20 billion. For such a potentially dangerous fuel that of course illustrates a considerable amount of mutual trust.
I see on the same page that New York, like London, will be getting it’s own cycling sceme. 500 bikes at docking stations will be provided with a sponsor yet been decided.
A doctor writes in the edition about how often health scares have nothing to do with poor medical practice. A scared populous is like a runaway horse. Hell or high water will not calm it down. He remembers that the peak of the MMR scare was a full three years after publication of the erroneous data. It all blew up apparently when the press made a big thing of Tony Blair being reluctant to tell us whether his young son had had the vaccine. Knowing the Gang I expect that meant he had not. Then the doctor also points out that in the Swansea area the South wales Evening Post has run a notably agressive anti-MMR campaign. He doesn’t say how the newspaper have justified their stance.
A good article there, in my view, by Philip Stephens after a visit to Seoul. He identifies the destabilising tensions between Japan and China as being important even without taking into account any silly things that might be done by North Korea. America is now much more focused on the region and hopes it will be able to keep everyone reasonably friendly. That may or may not be possible.
Today this morning, early on, gave air time to the ongoing sea bird contamination problem. It seems the pollutant is a common sticky commercial substance, used for example in making chewing gum and inner tubes, which ships regualarly carry from port to port. The problem was first seen in February, it has happen twice since and now 2900 birds have been affected. The rogue ships are cleaning their tanks in the English Channel shipping lanes in such a way that the birds caught up in the slick are then washed up on the South Coast. The answer it seems is to bring in regulation that empty tanks after disposal of such cargoes can only be washed out in port. No doubt we will get on top of that in due course. Then the Gang will move onto something else.
Shortly after that I heard that a group of international broadcasters, including the BBC, have said that media around the world is facing it’s greatest challenges since the Cold War. It is all about the jamming of information the Gang, in my view, do not want people to hear. It happens particularly in Iran, China, Russia, Sri Lanka and Nigeria. The BBC have to be quite inventive to get round it but that is always a short term fix. Their pursuers soon catch up with them. The desire for unbiased information though is incredible. In 2012 the BBC TV Persian service had 6.8 million viewers. This year it is 12 million.
There was also a web author from Russia speaking in that segment. She says her country is an unsafe place for journalists, especially if their subject is corruption and the power of the state. 10-20 die there each year. Globally 600 journalists have perished in the last ten years. 121 were killed last year, double the level for 2010 and 2011. 36 lost their lives in Syria in the most recent period.
Following my note on Tuesday about the April Jones murder hearing I see that the man found guilty of murdering two soldiers just outside the Massereene army barracks in 2009 has been acquitted after a retrial. There was the accused’s DNA on matches used to torch the murder vehicle afterwards and an associated mobile phone. On the face of it quite damming evidence. However the judge realised that the accused might have touched the items innocently, such as if someone wanted to frame him. He also took into account that the character of the individual did not seem to fit in with the determined Real IRA terrorist he would otherwise have had to have been. All in all he was not sure, beyond reasonable doubt, that the man had committed the deed.
I shall assume that the man is innocent. That means I have to reconcile my diary note of 20th January 2012, in the chapter 10 appendix of my book, where it seems plain a retaliatory bombing took place in Londonderry the night before, just after the man was first found guilty of the attack. The answer I believe is simple. The people who carried out the Londonderry attack did not realise the man was uninvolved at Massereen. The Gang had not told them.
4th May 2013
President Obama’s strategy for Syria is now I feel pretty clear. Just like all that time ago when he was working out what he wanted to do it Afghanistan, as I go through at the start of chapter 11 of my book, he is going to play it long. He wants to build up as stong an international consensus as he can. He will talk for as long as it takes until he gets that. He already has the evidence of chemical weapons attacks in Syria as cover for his future action. He will not make the mistake however of being even slightly unsure what that was all about. His intelligence forces, in that respect, must do what they are paid for. Once he is the best position he can be, he will move forward.
Whilst he does that of course the pressure will be on. The Gang will do whatever they can to stop it happening. Their Syrian proxies might start acting like cornered dogs, lashing out wherever they can. It might be necessary to contain them. I suspect it is in that context that Isreali planes appear to have destroyed a weapons store probably early yesterday morning from Lebanese air space, not flying into Syria. Perhaps a Syrian incursion would have upset the Russians too much. If so they obviously don’t mind what happens over Lebanon. News reports this morning indicate the targeted warehouse was not used by the Syrian government. I wrote on 22nd April 2013 that the regime had moved it’s troops from the region. I suspect the hoard contained chemical weapons.
As a final thought I could not have written what I have unless unnamed American sources had told their media contacts what Israeli planes had been up to. And for those journalists to then pass the information onto their viewers and readers.
A local BBC webpage reported yesterday that the NHS have temporarily stopped using a private hospital in Guildford which itself has suspended all child surgery operations. The Care and Quality Commission visited the centre last December and January and found that it failed to pass eight out of nine regulatory standards.
After all ballot papers have been counted, out of 2361 councillors elected Ukip have gained 139 to take their total number to 147 with 23% of the vote. That compares with Conservatives at 25%, Labour 29% and Liberal Democrats 14%. The BNP lost their three seats. I am pleased to see that non affiliated groups have increased their overal numbers from 17 to 22. The outcome creates pressure on the Conservatives particularly, to meet the Ukip challenge. Let the destabilisation begin.
The two big points I take out of the outcome are firstly that an overall majority by one party at the next General Election seems pretty unlikely. That I hope will encourage non extreme views by all four groupings as we trundle along to 2015. Then, one of my hobby horses as I harp on about in chapter 11 of my book, it is plain the public are disengaged from the political process. In my ward I had a choice of three party representatives. I received no election communication from any of them. I did not want to vote for any of them. Being me I did my duty and voted for the least worse. Wherever I had put my cross however would not have made any difference in my village. A pretty stupid system in my view. I know we only have ourselves to blame after the outcome of the proportional alternative vote referendum in 2011 but in that exercise only 19.3 million people voted out of our population at the time, as given by the World Bank, of 62.6 million. That is 30.8% of us of which 9.9% say yes to AV and 20.9% said no. I do feel something needs to be done. Politicians are very good nowadays at saying we are their priority. I am grateful. But they cannot follow our wishes accurately unless they know how we think. We tell them that by voting. The BBC estimates that the turnout on Thursday was 31%, down from 41% in 2009. Not even thinking about those who cannot be bothered to register you cannot have a conversataion with an electorate when less than one in three wish to tell you how they feel. I have said before I can see nothing wrong at all with giving people incentives to communicate with you. That has got nothing to do with undue influence or corruption. Call it nudge theory if you like. And it is plain common sense.
Little red book time. When I drive to my house from the north it is along the lane I sometimes walk down as referred to in my note from yesterday. This afternon coming back from the supermarket, as I turned in, there was a very slow moving car in front of me. Being in my position that immediately put me on my guard. I went into alert mode and just before we got to the bend mentioned in my book passage I saw a white van appear in my rear view mirror about 200 yards behind. I had plenty of time to think about it and after the bend I pulled into a narrow lay by. He passed safely. I have little doubt, if I hadn’t done that, he would have driven up my backside as the three of us stopped at the T-junction a little further on. It was a signed van. If an accident had occured my insurance claim would have been against the business not the individual who was driving.
On Thursday afternoon I was driving my 16 year old son in my car in our local town. The traffic coming the other way was unusually heavy so it was in a continuous line. On a straight stretch of road we heard one car drive into the stationery one in front of it, in that line. It made quite a bang. As we drove past I could see the bonnet of the following car was pretty badly buckled. The driver was a most respectable looking lady on her own in her mid twenties. I suspect she did it out of fear. If my son had found out that his Dad had been subject to exactly the same type of accident two days later I believe it would have been a massive knock to his confidence. The message is clear in my view. Do not resist us. We are far bigger than you.
A minister in the new Italian coalition government has resigned a day after being sworn in. A BBC reporter says the set up is inherently unstable if only because politicians of different persuasions are not used to working with each other. It doesn’t seem they know what the word compromise means. The suggestion is that if Silvio Berlusconi doesn’t get what he wants for his People of Freedom Party he could call all his MPs out and a new election will be required.
A gay MP, named by the Press Association, was arrested by police this morning after allegations had been made by two unnamed men in their 20’s that he sexually assaulted them between July 2009 and March 2013. The news came through about 8pm. Sexual accusations are something I have written about a bit this week partly I think because it is a subject on my mind. There now seem to be a large number of well known figers in the news over the subject. It is a matter for the evidence of course but I personally feel it highly unlikely they are all guilty. That is something not only my diary knows about.
Following the bomb scare at Gatwick Airport on Wednesday I heard on the news about a drugs haul there. Looking into it I see that on Thursday two men were arrested for trying to bring in £200,000 worth of cocaine on a flight from Jamaica. On 20th April liquid cocaine worth £100,000 was discovered in rum bottles in a passenger’s luggage flying in from the same departure point. Then on 14th January £8 million worth of liquid cocaine was found hidden in tins of carrot juice on a cargo flight from Jamaica. In April 2012 a lady was charged with bringing £500,000 worth of cocaine into Gatwick from Jamaica hidden in cosmetics and other items in her luggage. It would seem all those seizures will have been intelligence led. My guess is the Gang are being forced to use such a high risk route as their preferred sea and estuary landfalls are now much more difficult for them to use.
The government have announced that their implementation of press regulation is to be delayed. I am no longer sure if the Queen’s Speech is relevant, as I mentioned on 25th April 2013, as the Privy Council work outside Parlaiment. In any event it seems the Government’s plan was to move ahead on 15th May. However that has now been scuppered by the press proposing to put their own ideas to the Privy Council. The Council would not be prepared to decide between two competing suggestions as it would pull the Queen into politics. The two options then it would appear, for a delay I think of about five weeks, are to put forward an agreed proposal to the Privy Council or for the Government to go for statutory regulation. With reference to my note of 19th March 2013 Steve Hewlett was saying on Today this morning that the press want to have one member on the Appointments Committee and representation on the Recognition Panel. They also want to have a higher threshold for a valid complaint.
Later in the day Israeli sources indicated to journalists that their planes attacked a convoy transporting Russian manufactured surface to air missiles on their way to Hizbollah in Lebanon.
5th May 2013
The Gang are nothing if not strategic. When I wrote about destabilisation of our politicians yesterday I little thought something would be put in place so quickly. Reports this morning say there is a sense of profound shock in Westminster about the sexual allegations made against the Conservative Deputy Speaker Nigel Williams. His colleagues find it difficult to believe he could do such things. It is time, in my opinion, for MPs to coalesce together not fall apart. You can show steadfast support for someone without reaching judgement on what other people may say about them. And for those who will be reading our tabloid press over the next days and weeks I hope they will remember that in this country we believe an accused person should be considered innocent until he is proven otherwise.
When Nigel Farage was interviewed on Friday morning on Today he compared the future possible effect of Ukip’s council election success on the Conservative Party, to that of formation of the SDP on Labour in 1981. The supposition he put forward was that the SDP were the trigger for the reformist Tony Blair becoming Labour leader and Prime Minister. I recall that the four founding members of the SDP were often referred to as the gang of four. There I suspect may lie a tale.
One way of thinking about the world I feel is that it is composed of gangs. Good gangs and bad gangs. That is certainly I suggest how the Gang preceived the SDP all those years ago. They saw that little gang off in seven years. However I would be quite willing to accept, as Mr Farage might be suggesting, that overall it led to a larger good gang in the form of a forward looking Labour Party.
The present situation in my view is really pretty silly. We are being held back by a bad gang. They are not large in numbers so how is it they are having such a disproportional effect. The answer surely is clear. Because most people don’t know they are there. Many of us who can get round to it show how unhappy we are when we go to the voting station. But such people do not understand why they feel that way. I believe it could help them a lot if they did. Not ony to see the symptons of where we are currently going wrong but also to understand the cause. Once you know that you can start thinking what you want to do about it. And there I feel the answer is also plain. It is to create lots of good gangs so we can fight back against the bad ones. We will not have the motive to do that unless we know what it is all about. Mr Hogan-Howe had it absolutely right in my view when he spoke in February 2012, six months after the 2011 summer riots. He said those in London gangs should reailse the Metropolitian Police are the biggest gang in town. And they will not tolerate the activities of their misguided underlings.
I am only guessing of course but I wonder if Russia’s reaction to Israel’s air strike in the early hours of Friday morning was reasonably measured. Perhaps that has given America and Israel the confidence to get at the cause, or source, of the attacked shipment. Early this morning Israeli jets bombed the Jamraya Facility on the outskirts of Damascus, as they did in January. It is rumoured that it is involved in chemical weapons research. Perhaps the Americans, with Israeli help, are finally saying to the Gang they are a bit bigger than they are, they have better motive than them, and will not put up with their evil activities in Syria any longer.
On his reurn from Washington no doubt Philip Hammond had a debriefing session with David Cameron. He has been speaking to journalists over the weekend and says he thinks it would be a good idea for the Tories to publish a draft EU membership referendum bill before the next election.
This evening Syria has said Israeli bombers attacked not only Jamraya but a paragliding airport at al-Dimas and a site in Maysaloun. Egypt is unhappy about the action as is the Arab League.