Organised crime offenders ‘twice size of the army’, says NCA

What this article tries to do, unsuccessfully, is to present a united  criminal front, as if those who subscribe to child pornography, for example, are actually linked to other types of criminality. It’s an old story that doesn’t have any credibility for the rational thinker. Indeed, if there is a link between those accused of sexual offences and the criminal classes, it is that the majority of the latter are most likely to be part of the lynch mob that would massacre the the former – whether they be guilty or innocent.

Carlos Ghosn – a dubious report by the FT

Some people who are commenting conveniently forget that he has not been tried yet and should therefore benefit from the presumption of innocence. It is not up to this newspaper nor to its readers to judge Carlos Ghosn or any other person charged with any offence. The nature of the offence does not change this principle. Secondly, whatever he might or might not have done does not justify his treatment by the Japanese authorities. The latest incarceration had no legal justification except to encourage him to confess. That hardly shows that there is a cast iron case against him. Thirdly, one wonders how the FT obtained this information. Without wishing to deny the FT the right to publish but this looks like an exercise in hardening public opinion against Carlos Ghosn and against Lebanon which can only help the prosecution. “According to people familiar with the investigation” is supposed to mean what exactly, FT, when you also state that “Nissan and Tokyo prosecutors declined to comment.”? Was the defence team asked to comment?

Companies House and Money Laundering Regulations

This FT Article highlights the absolute hypocrisy of the UK authorities when it comes to applying the anti-money laundering gospel that they preach. In order to keep the costs of company formation down they have simply not applied the rules that are applied elsewhere in the world. For example, I would suggest that if one cannot afford the cost of a visit to a notary to validate ID’s etcetera, then one should not be allowed to start a limited liability company which grants a favoured status to the company in terms of indebtedness. 

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Racism

“The phrase “anti-Muslim hatred” would be clearer, legally speaking, than “Islamophobia”. But it is resisted by some who seem determined to conflate beliefs, which are a choice, with race, which is biological.”

I am slightly bemused by the above comment taken from the quoted FT article. The first thing that comes to mind is that beliefs are not really a choice for many people. If you are born into a Sikh family, for example, then the probability that you will maintain some form of Sikh belief, culture or tradition is extremely high. That applies to so many people of different backgrounds. Of course, you can choose to separate yourself from your tradition or culture just as you can choose to separate yourself from the appearance of belonging to a race. I have a Pakistani acquaintance, for example, who, when dressed in a suit and speaking English is not distinguishable as a Pakistani. There are British racists, of course, who pretend that they are able to spot a Pakistani just as there are American racists that I have known who say they can distinguish whether an American is black or white by their telephone manner. My initial reaction is always “I don’t believe you but who cares anyway”.

Many people refer to a behaviour called “anti-Semitism” that is extremely confusing. Semitism is a racial or linguistic characteristic which encompasses many non-Jewish people (Goyim if you wish). So, an expression which would be more appropriate might be “Judeophobia”. There have been many attempts, possibly successful, to conflate anti-Semitism with Judeophobia. They cannot be equivalent in all logic but we can see why the problem exists. If one is Judeophobic does one have an irrational hatred of Judaism, the people who believe in the hundreds of different versions of Judaism or simply the people who self-identify as Jewish. What we intuitively know is that most acts of anti-Semitism have nothing to do with the analysis of actual religious belief. We also know that there is little difference in the physical characteristics of the Semitic peoples. The stupidity is that traditionally the hatred in Europe was of the Yiddish culture not really of the Jewish peoples or religion.

Now if we refer back to the article and its discussion of the conflation of beliefs and race, we can see exactly the same problem. I had a Sri-Lankan friend with whom I played cricket many years ago who was beaten up by white youths at Southend who called him a Paki Muslim. The fact that he was not a Pakistani and was a practising Christian did not cross their mind. He looked like a Pakistani and that was good enough for them

The idea that people are opposed to Islam as a religion is preposterous because most of those people would not understand the differences between what the old testament says in the three Abrahamic religions. Certainly, if we take a literal view, all three are proponents of multiple forms of barbarism against non-believers, usury, so-called idolatry, and various other practices that are currently acceptable. I do not pretend to know the details of these religions either. What I do know is that racism knows no boundaries. You can call it whatever you like but, at the end of the day, racists are people who believe they can define a person’s contribution to humanity by their non-adherence, by choice, circumstance or birth, to a preconceived idea of community. An irrational hatred of otherness.

Carlos Ghosn Act III?

Whatever Ghosn may or may not have done, there can be no justification for not releasing him on bail. He has already proven that he is no flight risk. Indeed, his proposed press conference even confirms it. We can debate whether the Japanese judicial system is better or worse than others, but if we concentrate on this specifc case, it seems that the authorities are wishing to silence him and make it as difficult as possible for him to defend himself. Moreover, I am extremely concerned about the lack of concern shown by other governments for Carlos Ghosn’s welfare. If this can happen to him it could happen to many others. Consider this: he is wealthy and well known throughout the world. What of the other cases of which we have no knowledge? Some may think that he is just another of the international elite and therefore of no consequence to them or their entourage, but the fact that he is who he is  makes this situation a threat to any unknown person travelling to Japan on business and a very damaging precedent.

Brexit shambles should lead to constitutional change

 A good article but perhaps Philip Stephens could have commented on the constitutional anachronisms that led us to this impasse. Mrs May might be the worst Prime Minister we have ever had, but we should question why she has been able to favour party over country for so long without appropriate controls being placed upon the executive. An upper chamber emasculated by its democratic deficit and a lack of an effective head of state are two areas we need to look at, in my opinion. Tradition is a wonderful thing but does not necessarily provide the best way of managing a country that no longer “rules the waves”. Once Brexit is resolved what is to stop this sort of nightmare happening again? That is the question that citizens of this country need to ask.

UK to lose £1tn of financial assets to Europe due to Brexit … via @financialtimes

What Brexit is doing at the very least is fostering competition in other EU capitals. It is not just a question of losing £1tn of assets or 7000 high level jobs. That little loss for the City is a huge gain for smaller centres. All of the arguments about financial services staying in the City because of its “financial ecosystem” are being drained away – not just by the uncertainty as Lord Digby Jones insists – by the actual act of self-destruction which is Brexit. As an example, Spanish restaurant/hospitality workers will quite happily go to Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt or Paris where they will earn more and be treated with greater respect. The argument that they wanted to learn English evaporates because they will specifically be hired because of their language skills including ability to speak English.

UK warned against invoking Vienna Convention on Brexit

What is it about some Brexiteers that makes them think that those who disagree with them – particularly filthy foreigners – are incapable of reading or even listening to the news? The Attorney General, who is a very likeable human being, stands up in the House of Commons and talks about reneging on an agreement which has yet to be ratified thinking that somehow other people will not notice! Regardless of the Vienna Convention this is not the way to negotiate anything, particularly when the only thing agreed with the EU is the Withdrawal Agreement and the rest is still to be negotiated and when the government’s strategy is to rush around the world signing up trade deals.
In their descent into splendid isolation it seems that these people are prepared for the UK to be branded a rogue state that doesn’t pay its bills, practices predatory tax policies worthy of a banana republic, reneges on intenational agreements, cannot be trusted to respect the decisions of its own parliament and cannot be deemed to represent the views of its own parliament.
A very public exercise of self-destruction symptomatic of the whole Brexit mythology that the UK can have its cake and eat it. And a  system that is no longer capable of self-regulation that is in desperate need of constitutional change.

“A second Brexit referendum is now essential”

Comment on an article by Martin Wolf in the FT 26/02/19

A serious look at the “facts” of employment statistics from the House of Commons briefing paper 15/02/19 shows that  4.84m are “self-employed”, 1.55m part-time and 0.84m on zero hours contracts. These figures highlight the issues of low earnings, precarity and underemployment. Most importantly “Real Average Pay” is still lower than 2008! So that answers the question about why we are running a deficit despite full employment –  millions of workers are not paying enough tax or none at all and many are actually reliant upon benefits.  There is also a link between employment ant Universal Credit which should be obvious – people required to seek work to obtain allowances even if it might make little economic sense for them. What is particularly interesting in the Brexit context is to map those claiming Job Seekers Allowance or Required to Work under Universal Credit onto Leave voting regions to see that there is some correlation. In other words, when these people voted to leave, were they really voting to leave or merely expressing discontent with their lot? To come back to Martin Wolf’s article, now that these people know that leaving the EU will not improve their lot, and, in many cases would damage it, how would they vote in a new referendum?

Tory additions to the Independent Group bring a boost and a hitch

With the advent of the Independent Group, we have to accept and, hopefully, get used to consensus politics. It is absolutely symptomatic of the UK’s political problems that the media are already trying to establish that there are differences of opinion amongst the members of the Independent Group.

Consensus politics means exactly that!  That is one of the reasons why the new group is made up of Remainers – they actually think politics in a more European manner by looking at what they can agree on rather than what they might disagree on.

It is this disavowment of the adversarial style with which our leaders have traditionally been brought up on that is so attractive. I can hear the worn out expressions already like “Strong and Stable”, “Wet and Weak” and “Left versus Right”. That is exactly what must change and these courageous people are the vanguard.

Pretending that, in order to succeed, they must all agree on everything is only playing into the hands of journalists who have an ulterior motive in underlining discord. Let us hope that there are more MPs courageous enough to join them.