Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Yip - It really was an Inside Job

I'm usually a year late when it comes to movies. Friends look at me kinda funny when I ask 'Hey did you see that movie _________?' (fill in a blockbuster).
"Rory that was out last year."
When I do go to the movies and catch something when it's brand spanking new - it's usually a bomb (I can't believe my wife and I paid money to sit through 'Skyline' or 'Gabriel)'. The last good movie I saw at the cinema was 300 which must have been a couple of years ago now.

I'm even further behind with documentaries. As luck would have it however I caught up with the 2010 documentary 'Inside Job' tonight. And by God I'm glad I did. Narrated by Matt Damon (presumably because he believes in the message the documentary carries), it points the finger at those responsible for the crash of both the American and the world's economy. It shows how utterly irresponsible Wall Street financiers were in their behaviour and more. The worst part for me is the ludicrous bonuses some of the top executives have walked away with for performances which can only be defined as 'catastrophic' and no, it's not company money they are picking up - it's the money you pay in taxes which went to them as bail outs. Billions of dollars in bonuses to be precise. Really, if you haven't seen this incredibly revealing documentary and are interested in why there's only downwardly mobile people in society today, then you must.

There's a bit of a controversial figure who pops his talking head into the frame to make some very telling observations, Dominic Strauss-Kahn. He states that as head of the IMF he saw the crash coming, as did many in Europe, that the correct intervention could have avoided or mitigated it - and as he put it "The world's economic system collapsed, the richest maintained their security and as ever, the poorest in society picked up the bill." Such critical words (and many more) from someone with so much power and influence make him ripe for removing from his position with maybe a sex....oh yeah I missed that too. Been done.

In all honesty, I have no opinion one way or another on the merits of the allegations against Strauss-Kahn, I read today that they have been dropped. If the Chambermaid was indeed a victim then my heart goes out to her and I would have hoped he got the book thrown at him. It does strike me as odd however that the last person to take on Wall Street, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, suffered a similar fate resulting in removal from position and that's before we get to those who just take on the 'establishment' - Scott Ritter et al. I say this because Obama had the opportunity to name and shame those responsible for the mess the American economy is in, he has the chance to make genuine reforms to ensure such a thing never happens again - disappointingly he's backed off. In fact he doesn't appear to me as an outsider to be laying the blame for the crisis on anyone in particular, just generalisations about previous administrations and bankers. I think this may well be why one commentator, Robert Gnaizda, who was formerly with the Greenlining Institute, a housing advocacy group - says toward the end of the documentary "It's a Wall Street Government".

After watching this documentary - I don't want to believe it, but I do. The evidence is all there.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Confronting the Mindless

I watched as a word gathered in clusters on twitter before spreading like riot inspired wildfire - 'Mindless'.
"Those Mindless Bastards"
"Mindless Morons"
"A bunch of mindless thieves"

Using the word 'mindless' to describe the behaviour of rioters and looters serves several purposes, the major one being - it excuses the user of the word from any attempt at understanding events. If it's mindless then there's no reason or logic it can be confronted with, nothing can be done to identify it emerging in the future, so we may as well just lock the 'mindless' up and throw away the key. There's no need to address the cultural, socio-economic or political issues - it's mindless. There are many in Britain who will describe the rioting and looting as mindless because to do otherwise would necessitate them confronting issues they are not comfortable with or which threaten to destabilise their own personal philosophy and view of reality. Nowhere will this become more evident over the forthcoming weeks than with certain politicians - who will undoubtedly litter their sentences with the word 'mindless' given any opportunity.

Let me make it clear that I am not condoning the riots and looting of the last few days - the sight of a young woman leaping from the upstairs of a blazing home, the depressing destruction of so many properties should fill everyone with revulsion - but once so filled do we then write it off as 'mindless', or do we square up to our responsibility where the future is concerned and address the underlying issues, the causes?

No behaviour is truly mindless - the reason, the motive, behind any behaviour, may not be instantly apparent to you or I, but rest assured they exist in the mind of the one carrying out the so called 'mindless' actions. We shouldn't project our own failure to understand their actions onto them.  To do so as I have said, is to shed any responsibility you may have in correcting it. There are those in society who are acutely aware the rioting and looting is not mindless but will continue to describe it as such so long as it serves their political purposes.

We have a choice then - to dismiss the last few days as 'mindless' activity or we can do the responsible thing and try to understand it and offer the hope of preventing it in the future.

Like so many others watching London burn - my heart sank. I felt sorry for those affected and sorry in particular for ordinary people caught up in it, the family owned businesses being looted without hesitation and little discrimination other than discrimination based on the value of their pickings. It struck me then, that the economic policy which promised  'Wealth will trickle down' had failed. All that has trickled down is greed. It's one of the first things we should address if we genuinely want to understand 'Why?' and remove the meaninglessness of the word mindless.


Have some respect for an old West Indian Negro...

I love Darcus Howe. I used to watch and listen to him when he fronted Channel 4's 'Devil's Advocate'. A very wise man. In keeping with the BBC interview conducted with Jody Mcintyre - once again the interviewer adopts a 'we want to speak to you but we don't want to hear what you have to say' approach. I'm glad Darcus referred to her as an idiot. Her attempt to portray him as a former rioter was simply grotesque. I note also that she failed to get his name right - 'Marcus Dowe' she calls him several times...terrific journalism from the BBC (Not).

Looters - They should all be locked up.

They are ripping out and destroying the heart of communities the length of Britain. Their actions, motivated by greed and self gratification, are causing the destruction of long standing family businesses, they've left people homeless and High Streets looking like ghost towns. People who thought they had a job to go to will turn up this morning in London to find their place of employment closed due to the current situation. The cost to the public purse to repair the damage they have caused will be huge. Their criminal activities are serving only to make the poor poorer and push a generation without hope deeper into despair.

They appear to be getting away with it and some would argue they are being rewarded for their outrageous criminal behaviour as the law and politicians stand watching impotently - as whatever can be looted is grabbed.

Bankers - Looters in suits, not masks.


Monday, 8 August 2011

London's Burning - Where are the Met?

The scenes in London are heartbreaking. However, it's pretty pointless trying to draw conclusions at this early stage - if the Brits are good at anything it's setting up inquiries, committees and making reports and doubtless we will see a plethora of them in coming months. The violence is wrong, the looting is wrong, the destruction is wrong but when people are pushed too far they react irrationally - and at first glance that's precisely what appears to have happened. Alienate people and by default they behave in ways alien to accepted norms. A disenchanted youth with no hope or investment in the future will grab whatever immediate gratification they can get.

Lots of political point scoring will be made in the coming days - arguably the rioters are sending a message to the Government, the politicians will send a message to the rioters, the Prime Minister will undoubtedly send a message to the nation when he finally arrives back in the country from his 'hols'. One message already stands out although quite what it means is unclear. London's burning and 1,700 Police Officers have been deployed to tackle the worst social disturbances in London's history - yet the Metropolitan Police managed to put 5,000 Officers on the streets for the recent royal wedding.

What message are they sending and to who?

A Police Force Out of Control

There have been many abuses of Police power and authority throughout history. As a society we tend to tolerate them when an investigation finds in favour of the abused with recommendations ensuring it never happens again.

Unfortunately for the Metropolitan Police force, the abuses are happening faster than relevant inquiries can placate the public with a popular placebo.

The Tottenham riots (which should now be more accurately referred to as the 'London riots' as they extend to parts of Enfield, Walthamstow and Wood Green) are viewed by the media as having taken root in the shooting of Mark Duggan on Thursday. Initially Police statements referred to a gun being found at the scene. A shot it seems had been fired at Police and a bullet was found lodged in the radio of a Police Officer. Now unofficial Police sources are scurrying away from that statement citing the bullet in the radio as being 'one of their own' - It would appear then that Mark Duggan fired no shot - though this of course is not definitive.

Mark Duggan is no longer thought to have shot at Police.

It reminds me of an earlier Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, standing triumphantly before live TV cameras and announcing a suspected terrorist had just had his head filled with seven bullets on a tube train in London. By next day, he too was rowing backwards when the victim was revealed to be no more than an innocent, unarmed man, John Charles de Menezes who was heading off to work. The seven bullets in Mr Menezes head were fired over a period of thirty seconds at point blank range whilst he sat on his seat on a tube train - no officer was convicted of any criminality - their only culpability it seems was to be guilty of over enthusiasm in trying to get a good job done.

Since then there has been no shortage of controversy delivered to the in-tray of the incumbent Commissioner by the rank and file and associates. The death of another innocent man, Ian Tomlinson, after an aggressive push from a Police officer during the G7 protests, a coroner happily producing Police friendly autopsies on victims of Police aggression, officers colluding illegally with the media, and what for me is a prime example of a Police force out of control - The physical removal (for removal read 'dragging') of Cerebral Palsy sufferer Jody Mcintyre from his wheelchair during the student protests in 2010.  That shocking and shameful action was further compounded by the media mouthpiece of the British Government, the BBC, implying Mr Mcintyre had it coming to him for 'rolling towards officers' and doing so armed with political beliefs. The whole sorry episode and the unbelievably ignorant interview conducted by Ben Brown at the Beeb can be found HERE

Given that the Tottenham riots of 1985 were pre-empted by 'over enthusiastic' Police action leading to the death of Cynthia Jarrett - and we were promised it would never happen again; does it appear we've moved any further forward? If anything the indiscipline is growing. Some would argue that Britain is the European nation most at risk of becoming a Police state containing as it does more CCTV cameras per head of population than any nation in the world, a DNA Database held by Police of persons whether innocent or not ('Who knows you may commit a crime in the future' seems to be the justification), and an Independent Police Complaints Commission which quite frankly is anything but independent.

As stated earlier - the population are ordinarily placated by reassurances that action will be taken to ensure such wrongdoing by Police Officers will never be repeated. It is heartening then, that when the cesspool of corruption and vice the Met and the Murdochs were wading in was revealed, Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson had no hesitation in resigning. The job, for the moment, has been entrusted to Clarissa Dick.  The same Clarissa Dick who was the senior officer in charge of the operation which led to an innocent Mr Menezes receiving a head full of bullets.

Methinks the Met have learned nothing. It's a Police force out of control.