Crime

Is Tommy Robinson in the minority with a #2 rank book on Amazon?

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There is no moral equivalence to be drawn here with this latest attack outside Finsbury mosque in London. Innocent people were mown down by a van driven by someone filled with rage and hate. Social media is already screaming “bigot, racist, terrorist, anti-Muslim, radical” but there is a much bigger point not being addressed. The social boiling point is being reached much more rapidly than the media will admit.  Tommy Robinson was accused across social media for inspiring anti-Muslim rhetoric and fueling this person to commit the crime. His tweets matched his long standing convictions and predictions. Perhaps everyone who has bought Tommy’s book “Enemy of the State”  (ranked #2 book on Amazon UK, #131 in Canada and #2375 in America & now $350 on paperback) could be a risk of commiting such acts if that is the generalization. Of course it is nonsense. By the measure of the sales success perhaps his views maybe more mainstream than the negative ‘extreme’ moniker that is often hurled at him.

Could it be argued that a growing number of people are growing sick and tired of random jihadi attacks and see this book as a guide on how the government isn’t  handling the problem? That was not a intended to be a fact checking laced comment rather pointing out that many people potentially share his supposed ‘patriotic’ view as demonstrated by the commerciality of his writing. This is no longer a pure jihadi problem but one that is now likely to become tit-for-tat terrorism which carries far more negative connotations.

Think beyond the all too common propensity to push prejudices by lashing out on social media with little thought to trying to understand the full arguments of alternative views. Do we take a book review from apologists as fact when most of those have probably never read his book cover to cover? I am reading it because I want to form my own judgement rather than rely on others’ bias. He has strong views but no better way than self vetting. I’ve read Mein Kampf in what must be the most appalling book ever written – grammatically and content-wise. For one whose family escaped the deaths camps of Poland, trying to understand the ravings of Hitler brought added perspective to the horror although some might conclude reading it is an endorsement. It is not.

Innocents are dead or injured in this attack on Fisnbury Park Mosque. If indeed Tommy has a minority view, most people wouldn’t buy his book. Are all the people that buy it racist? Even if one thinks they are then even more reason to say that the government’s current pandering to political correctness won’t solve these hate fueled events whether radical jihadis or right (left?) wing nutters. Do violent video games incite massacres? Are all ‘Brexiters’ a carbon copy of the man who murdered Labour politician Jo Cox days before the referendum?  Do we need to bring in Islamophobic legislation like Canada (Bill M-103) to shut down people expressing concern? No, No and No. Current policy approaches are having the opposite effect as this attack proves.

At the time of the Manchester bombing I warned that vigilantism would be an ugly side effect of endless political correctness. Coincidentally Robinson suggested similar views about the rise of vigilantes after that post in a vlog. Wasting a lot of time on what  motivated the driver to commit such a terrible crime is not necessary. It is obvious. It is a revenge attack. This is highly likely to be a person screaming out for something to be done about a problem he obviously doesn’t think is being handled properly by elected officials. He probably viewed himself as a vigilante even if that title might be an overreach in this instance.  This in no way defends his despicable actions. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter was often used by IRA sympathisers. Still it doesn’t in anyway condone killing or maiming innocents, no matter what ideology, faith, race or background they come from. It is plain awful. The majority of people would agree with that view.

Revenge attacks and reprisals only exacerbate a rapidly deteriorating relationship. However trying to say the perpetrator proves that not all such attacks are driven by radical Islam doesn’t address the core of the problem. The majority of good people (note a deliberate statement not to go down the identity politics line) want an end to innocent deaths at the hands of extremists but if free speech and the ability to tackle radicalism (wherever it lies) aren’t openly addressed these events will sadly continue. It should be totally in the interests of the majority of ‘good’ Muslims (I detest that phraseology) to want to stop radicals from collectivising their faith with what they perceive is the wrong interpretation. Common sense would say they are the most important link in the chain to weed out those who want to kill in the name of Allah. They need to be front and centre of the debate.

What the UK government (and other governments) have created is a monster of their own making. Candles, flowers, lit monuments, avatars, expressions of sympathy and ‘love conquers hate’ posts dodge the need to have a serious debate on the problem. Now we have seen first hand a real openly targeted revenge attack in the UK, people need less sanctimonious posturing on social media and focus their energies on truly understanding what is at stake. That is to ditch the liberal hand-wringing and have an open debate on the problem. Robinson’s book isn’t selling in the volumes it is by chance. Politicians should pay attention to this trend. It is not about arguing about whether he is right or wrong but noting the simmering underbelly of a growing number of people fed up with inaction. This is the end of the beginning not the beginning of the end.

WaPo writer channels Kathy Griffin

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What on earth inspires people to write such things after the shooting at a Congressional baseball practice in Virginia? How does someone who tweets such vile and thoughtless texts ever pass the editorial sniff test of a newspaper like WaPo where Malcolm Harris is an occasional writer? Will we see an apology via a televised press conference where Harris will claim it was comedy and that now his life is ruined?

I note that WaPo is using “Democracy dies in darkness” on its banner – perhaps it should be “journalistic integrity dies in daylight”.

Her Majesty knows best Mayor Khan

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Isn’t it funny how the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been gazumped by the Queen. Her Majesty has served her country for over 65 years and ruled over 14 Prime Ministers. Let’s just say her understanding of politics, geopolitics, terrorism and the importance of long term relationships has never got in the way of short term pettiness. The Queen values the American relationship knowing it was their partnership that helped Great Britain defeat the Axis powers in WW2. She never forgets the important times when the relationship has truly mattered. Her extension of an invite to President Trump to Buckingham Palace is all about preserving shared values. Khan wants to cancel Trump’s visit because he is offended by his tweets with regards to his softness on terrorism in his city. Is Trump wrong?

Instead of the Mayor facing Trump tete-a-tete and justifying his stance he seeks to do what many leaders in the West do – sulk and seek to alienate the relationship because of their weakness. What Trump has said about Khan has validity. The President isn’t conventional and he doesn’t necessarily deliver in the most courteous manner but where is the counter argument? Piers Morgan was spot on. Instead of Khan blaming Theresa May for Met Police funding cuts, he humiliated the Mayor querying isn’t his biggest responsibility to ensure the safety of Londoners by monitoring the 400 suspects living in his constituency?

Let’s be clear, if the UK was at war for whatever reason you can be guaranteed the majority of the British want America on their side. The Queen knows this and I’m sure Her Majesty can bring Trump to mutually beneficial discussions rather than exchange pleasantries over tea. All this nonsense about banning Trump and distancing the UK from the US shows the typical “conditional” attitudes our society seems increasingly willing to tolerate. Khan is in that camp.

Let’s be clear. Trump’s America first isn’t all about pure isolationism. A large part is about making sure other nations don’t ride their overwhelming generosity on things like NATO, UN or the Paris Climate Accord. Many presidents to date have happily allowed the country to be gouged on the international stage but now the budget and deficits don’t support endless freebies for other nation states.

Perhaps Mayor Khan should learn from the current monarch about true values rather than  grizzle about his hurt pride. She maybe in her 90s but she is still sharp as a tack.

Narconomics – illegal drugs and correlation to financial markets

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BBC published an interesting report suggesting the recent purity of drugs like cocaine was causing higher incidences (+150% on 2013) of overdoses causing problems for A&E wards. A while back I read all 300 odd pages of UNODC’s narcotics report and concluded that narcotics markets are good economic indicators. The inverse correlation of  price and purity is profound. As economic conditions worsen, prices decline and purity goes up. The value proposition is in full effect. Moreover the substitution effect of traditional narcotics has to cope with synthetic drugs like ice, crystal meth, krokodil and oxi which give 5x the bang for 1/5th the price with 100x the side effects.

I am working hard with an American listed company to get a drug – which stops drug addiction – approved and sold in Australia where the ice epidemic is out of control.  Exciting stuff.

Hunger strike to protest conditions or his own political party?

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Much publicity surrounds the hunger strike by Palestinian inmates over conditions in Israeli prisons. The movement is being led by Marwan Hasib Ibrahim Barghouti, a Palestinian political figure convicted and imprisoned on 5 counts of murder. What many press reports fail to note is that this is more about attacking Fatah than Israel, although the latter brings welcome global condemnation. Barghouti is often thought of a successor to Abbas. His move is an attempt to send a message to the Fatah leadership and to Abbas, who excluded his representatives from a recently held Central Committee meeting which didn’t give him the position of deputy chair to the Palestinian Authority. He is influential even from jail.

What The Guardian and other papers failed to qualify is the prisoners demands go to wanting more TV channels and access to “mobile” phones. Banning the use of mobile phones in prison is a no brainer. Mobile phones are often smuggled into prisons but their ban makes complete sense and interference technology is often required as a safety precaution. Prisoner phone calls are monitored for obvious reasons. Access to education is a sticking point due to the rescinding of such rights for convicted terrorists in 2011. All other inmates are entitled to government sponsored education. Palestinian prisoners are after the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members which was a benefit that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) cancelled due to budget cuts.

The Israeli Prison Services facilities, interrogation rooms, and the IDF provisional detention centers are visited by the ICRC and other bodies. They meet all international guidelines. There are 7,000 Palestinian inmates. By way of reference there are 18,000 prisoners in Israeli jails, excluding 15,000 Israeli military personnel incarcerated for being AWOL (70%) or charged with disciplinary violations (25%).

While Israeli prison conditions may not be the pinnacle of luxury, compared to countries that fail international guidelines (e.g. Thailand where more than 260,000 inmates are incarcerated in 148 prisons with an original capacity of less than 120,000) where is the international outrage over that? Thai prisoners are regularly shackled, beaten and stuffed into overcrowded cells. In Venezuela this year a mass grave with 15 bodies – several of them beheaded – was discovered inside the General Penitentiary in Guárico. Corruption, weak security details, aging infrastructure, overcrowding, poorly trained and insufficient guards allow armed gangs to exercise effective control over inmate populations. The government still hasn’t properly investigated years of ‘missing’ prisoners that have been recorded as ‘escaped’. The 15 bodies were discovered by workers who were updating the prison’s infrastructure.

Get out of jail free in Victoria

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You have to wonder whether the Victorian judicial system has been channeling Oscar Wilde’s “every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future”? How they can give Akon Mawien, an 18-yo with supposed links to the Apex Gang and one who pleaded guilty to armed robbery, aggravated burglary and theft to the value of $200,000 a 12-month suspended sentence is beyond me? Judge Liz Gaynor agreed his crimes were appalling but believed Mawien showed good prospects of rehabilitation but thought putting him in an adult prison might lead him to be broken. Judge Gaynor even added “This is a young man of exemplary background (given his mentoring role as a language assistant in the Mother of God school and activity with a local cricket club).”

So provided he is a good boy for 12 months, our court system is happy for such an individual to remain a ‘role model.’ Does Her Honour believe that somehow giving a confessed criminal a suspended sentence somehow sends a message to gang members to see sense and give up their felenous ways? If anything what a wonderful way to show that crime does indeed pay by way of leniency. Do parents at the Mother of God school want their children mixing with someone like this?

Will he serve 100s of hours of menial community service? Will he be required to wear a tag? Will he required to or assist in the return of the $200,000 he helped steal? It would appear that the court may well turn a blind eye.

This smacks of an apologist judicial system. I am sure some others would have had the book thrown at them. Then again when a migrant tried unsuccessfully to set fire to a petrol station the Victorian Police chose to do nothing because he failed, no one was hurt and they couldn’t spare the time.

What world do we live in where the perpetrators are turned into the victims and we end up blaming our shortcomings in society for their failure to assimilate? That is right we punish ourselves and muzzle common sense figuring its easier to jail good citizens for speaking the truth than make examples of people who knowingly break the very laws set to protect society. Madness. If Mawien stole a candy bar I could understand but this is the sentence for armed robbery, aggravated burglary and theft? If he reforms perhaps we should award him an Order of Australia. 2018 Australian of the Year?

Trump’s tax returns – the biggest danger

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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow claims to have President Trump’s tax returns. Apart from the legality of such leaks, the question remains whether he’s done anything illegal. If he’s used every legal loophole to his advantage to AVOID taxes then good on him. If he’s abused the sysyem and EVADED taxes then that is a problem and the law should be applied appropriately. The question is what level of detail has Maddow got? A couple of pages of his ‘1040’ or his entire filings? I would imagine his tax filings are complex enough littered with tax loss carry forwards, write-offs, deductions and so on.

The risk is binary.

If he is only shown to have avoided tax then it will be a non issue and the Democrats will bury themselves deeper in the politics of envy. Voters didn’t care much for the original leak during the election campaign.

If Trump is charged with tax fraud and impeached be careful what you wish for. The amount of market chatter I hear from the same pundits who said he had no chance of winning the White House are the ones believing his tax cuts aren’t yet priced in.  That was priced in a while back but such are global markets clinging to any hope things don’t fall apart that deposing the one person that is fueling it will cause massive risk on.

For all of the hero status Maddow expects to garner she may end up doing the greatest disservice. That doesn’t condone illegal activity rather exposing what happens when the inevitable Chinese whisper problems rear up because we’re all US tax code experts.