Saturday, January 18, 2003
This just in:
Football World stunned at Bowyer punishment
Switzerland 8th January 2003 :
UEFA today stunned the football world by handing out a severe penalty to England international Lee Bowyer after finding him guilty of stamping on an opponent during an UEFA cup match. Bowyer has been banned from European competition for six games and made to sign for West Ham United.
The combination of the six game ban and enforced transfer to West Ham means effectively Bowyer has been banned from European football for a minimum of FIFTEEN years.
Bowyer himself is said to be philosophical after finally been caught on CCTV stamping on a grounded opponent but does admit he is at least partly to blame as he should have phoned a team mate to come and pick him up and destroyed his boots and socks like he normally does when he finds himself in these situations ....
Bowyer's contract entitles him to a £1m bonus payment should West Ham escape relegation, the contract is also believed to include payments should he find Lord Lucan (£750k), prove the existence of extra-terrestial life (£500k) or explain why the fcuk they paid several million pound for Titi Camera (£250k).
Meanwhile official West Ham sources would make no comment on rumours that West Ham are to change their away strip to a white sheet with a white hood to make Bowyer feel more at home.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
"In the demonisation of Mugabe.... the British government managed to turn a bilateral and racist dispute between itself and Zimbabwe's white farmers on the one hand, and the Mugabe government and land-hungry black Zimbabweans on the other, into an international issue. "
The Guardian helpfully points out that "Ibbo Mandaza is editor-in-chief of the Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror Newspapers of Zimbabwe".
A quick google search reveals plans by Libya to invest in the paper, published by "Ibbo Mandaza, a former top civil servant and Zanu PF sympathiser" (per the Zimbabwe Independent).
This casts some doubt on the independence of his evidence, and the judgement of the Guardian in printing an article by him, particularly as the Daily Mirror has only been established in the last few months, a time when other papers have had troubles such as bombs in their offices.
On the other hand, the web also reveals that Mandaza himself has been arrested and charged in early 1999 under "the Law and Order Maintenance Act, with publishing a false report likely to "cause fear, alarm, or despondency among the public", and Oxfam described him in 2000 as an "opposition intellectual" (though the point of his opposition listed is that he backed a different model of land reform to the use of the "veterans" to seize farms, so the differences may be relatively minor).
However, there does seem to have been a switch in his perceived position between these earlier points and 2002, as indicated by this extract from a letter to the Zimbabwe Independent:
"Like the Sadc leaders and many other so-called Pan-Africanists who endorsed President Mugabe's re-election as "legitimate", " free and fair" Ankomah demonstrated a lack of understanding of what is happening through his misplaced solidarity messages and denunciations of fellow journalists.
He said the people's condemnation of Mugabe's re-election was much ado about nothing because elections were rigged in South Africa in 1994, the US, Nigeria and elsewhere. He also said he didn't see anything wrong with the media laws in Zimbabwe because there are worse laws in Britain.
Moreover he said Zimbabweans need not cry loud because more people died in South Africa during the 1994 pre-election period.
Needless to say, this logic was bought by none other than the Ankomah-think-alikes who include Tafataona Mahoso, Vimbai Chivaura, Ibbo Mandaza, and Rino Zhuwarara who are conspicuous beneficiaries of Mugabe's patronage politics.
It is not news to hear these people hailing Mugabe's fraud because they are part of the minority which is scared of a new dispensation under which competence, qualifications, credibility and business ethics will be upheld.
Like Ankomah, their reasoning seems to be that if thousands of people died in South Africa then we shouldn't mourn the less than 200 killed by Mugabe's shock troops in the farmlands and elsewhere because it was a revolution.
This logic is essentially built on falsehood and bears within it elements of its own decay. It ignores the fact that in Zimbabwe we have a supposedly-democratic leader, an anti-apartheid zealot who deliberately let loose his dogs of war to secure his re-election."
Indeed, the change seems to have happened in 2000, if this summary of his switch is to be believed:
"Ibbo Mandaza, who, over the past year, switched sides from liberal/radical academic and policy pursuits generally hostile to Mugabe's government, to a tough left-nationalist discourse strongly supportive of ZANU(PF)'s revolutionary legacy."
The change may be linked to decisions in 2001, for example, preventing publication of information about his property holdings:
"The Editor in Chief of The Zimbabwe Mirror Dr Ibbo Mandaza has obtained a High Court provisional which bars The Daily News from further publishing material relating to his private property, according to reports in The Herald and The Zimbabwe Mirror.
On Friday 6 July 2001, The Daily News printed a front-page pictorial story in which properties belonging to Dr Ibbo Mandaza were shown.
The paper went on to say that Mandaza had refused to comment on how he acquired such upmarket properties.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was to later attack The Daily News for infringing on the privacy of Mandaza and warned that such actions would not be tolerated in the future."
In spite of the support of the government, the overturned the decision. Those aerial photos are available online.
There's also been suggestions of the impact of links to the government on subsequent harassment of his journalists: "Zimbabwean sources speculated that Mirror editor Ibbo Mandaza may have used his connections with government officials to get the charges dropped."
It's harsh to judge another's actions under a dictatorship, particularly when they partly agree with the aims of the dictatorship. But the web does suggest that in 1999, having previously left the civil service, Mandaza was publishing things as an "opposition intellectual" that saw him arrested and charged. In 2000, when the land seizures had begun, one of his main issues with the government was on the detail of land reform, and he was described as having "switched sides from [being] generally hostile to Mugabe's government to a …discourse strongly supportive of ZANU(PF)'s revolutionary legacy”. In 2001 the government was supporting his attempts to stop other papers publishing information about him, and charges against reporters for his paper were dropped, with some speculating this was due to links to the regime. And in 2002, there have been regular descriptions of him as closely linked to the regime, and he’s managed to get funding from Libya (which is buying up chunks of Zimbabwe in return for continued oil deliveries) to launch a new newspaper..
Now, these reports may be inaccurate. Mandaza may be right, and there really are no issues internal Zimbabwe of any great concern. The government may have been properly trying to protect a citizens privacy and to fairly enforce harshly written press laws.
But a lot of people writing in Zimbabwe seem to say things about him that suggest he’s far too closely linked to the regime, and has changed his stance far too sharply, for his position to be a fairly judged, intellectually consistent stance that merits being published, unanswered and unqualified, on the Guardian’s opinion pages.
Monday, January 13, 2003
The clear-up rate for burglary in 2001 was 12% nationally. There's reason to think the Met figures were below 10%.
I think we can safely assume that only 10% of burglaries would be "deemed solvable". After all, that's the percentage solved now. Sure, some crimes with obvious leads don't get solved, but the clear-up rate is boosted by confessions to crimes that the police hadn't originally had any leads to (but linked to after other arrests).
The Met press release doesn't give any evidence about the success of the pilot scheme, and the Home Office don't seem to offer up any data. But it seems implausible to me that a policy that effectively says "we won't investigate careful burglars" is likely to prove effective.
What's more, the government and the police have tried to make more of the impact of burglary on the victims. But what will be the psychological impact of beign informed the state doesn't give a damn on an OAP who's lost their medals, or television, or mementos of a dead child or spouse? And how can the government maintain their stance on the use of force in self-defence if the state has officially abrogated its role in crime prevention in 90% of cases of one of the most common types of crime? And let us not forget that this doesn't just cover burglary, but also serious cases of assault in the street and other brutal crimes of violence.
Additionally, who can believe that there will not be a visible two tier service, with the rich and famous far more likely to receive a through investigation than the average citizen: after all, if the theft of an Oscar, or an assault on a politician's child were not investigated because of a lack of leads, there would be massive adverse publicity. Conversely, a mugged pensioner will be just another local news story. The double standards, though not explicit in the proposal, are manifest, and can only reduce public confidence in a police force that solves less than 16% of recorded crime.