Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The art of being wrong: Alison Saunders edition

Alison Saunders—Director of Public Prosecutions and unpleasant, incompetent fool.

After a string of collapsed rape trials caused by the police failing to properly examine the evidence, it is hardly surprising that the DPP and CPS are coming under a bit of pressure.

As such, it is only right that the DPP should pop out from under her rock, and reassure the public that the criminal justice system isn't completely fucked. Unfortunately, this is Alison Saunders that we're talking about so [for it is she—Ed], naturally, she completely screwed it up in a January 18th interview.
Britain’s most senior prosecutor has claimed that no innocent people are in prison because of failures to disclose vital evidence, despite admitting there is a “systemic issue”.
As the article points out in the very next paragraph, there was at least one innocent person in prison because of these failures.
One man had his rape conviction overturned last month after serving four years in prison. Judges said Danny Kay would not have been found guilty if previously unseen Facebook conversations were shown to jurors.
But let's be generous to Saunders and assume that she meant, since this chap has been released, there are no innocent people in prison because of these failures right at this very moment.
Critics dismissed Alison Saunders’ assurance as “impossible” as they follow the collapse of several high-profile rape cases which were undermined by phone messages and pictures uncovered by lawyers.
Well, indeed—as yesterday's Daily Mail highlighted.
A teenager suspected of rape spent three months in custody because police did not disclose text messages that proved his innocence, he has claimed.

BT engineer Connor Fitzgerald, 19, was arrested last year after a complaint was made against him.

But charges were dropped only last week when it emerged that the complainant, who is entitled to lifelong anonymity, had sent texts threatening to destroy him.
But what can Alison say in her defence?
Samson Makele's legal team said police had downloaded the entire contents of the 28-year-old's phone but failed to fully examine it.

Ms Saunders appeared to lay part of the blame on his defence team.

"The suspect must have known he took photographs, that could have been raised very early," she said.

She added: "How would anyone have known there were photographs there until the defence told us that they were there?”
How indeed, Alison. And, of course, this being such an important point, it does seem really very unlikely that the defendant wouldn't have raised this with the arresting police force. So one is led to wonder what the police force did with this information. Well, we know the answer: they did bugger all.

The trouble is that Alison has form on this issue, issuing guidelines—and publishing opinion pieces—which are aimed (as far as is practicable in a civilised country) at reversing the burden of proof in rape cases. And we are now seeing the disastrous fruits of her labour—women making false or malicious rape claims with, in the vast majority of cases, absolutely no repercussions.

One of the few legitimate roles of the state is to provide a functioning criminal justice system. It is becoming rather obvious that these unsafe rape trials are severely undermining public confidence in said justice system.

So, here is your humble Devil's recipe to rectify the problem:
  1. in every single case (such as the one below), where the accusation is malicious or obviously false, the accuser must be prosecuted for perjury and, if convicted, given the maximum appropriate sentence (but a minimum of imprisonment);
  2. the head of the CPS, Alison Saunders, must be summarily sacked (and preferably prosecuted for Misconduct in Public Office);
  3. every police officer who has failed to disclose evidence should be named, publicly sacked, and prosecuted;
  4. the lawyers who failed their clients in not insisting on full evidential disclosure should be severely, and publicly, censured;
  5. for a limited period, and where perjury has been proven, provide Legal Aid for civil cases of slander, so that the accused can take the accuser to the fucking cleaners;
  6. the current imbalance in anonymity policy in rape cases must be removed: justice must be done, and be seen to be done.
Do this urgently, so that we can restore faith in the criminal justice system.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

John Sentamu: a bit of an embarrassment to an omniscient god, frankly

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York: the kind of man who illustrates why a god might rain death and destruction upon the Earth.

The main problem with the Church of England—other than the fact that no one actually attends the services, donates money, or gives a fuck about whatever say-fairy bollocks it is wittering on about today—is that its representatives are so fucking stupid and pig-ignorant that they make the Middle Ages look like the Enlightenment. I mean, what institution could possibly preserve its reputation when chiefly represented by arch-beta Justin Welby...?

However, prat though Welby might be, he has been eclipsed this week by the barn-storming ignorance of John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York. Now, generally, if one is completely ignorant, one might avoid the press in general: unfortunately, there are none so blind to their own stupidity as the truly ignorant, as evidenced by Sentamu indulging in a Grauniad interview (via Longrider).
“Income inequality is the cause of all our trouble. Inequality leads to huge social problems,” he said.
...

Referring to a 2009 book, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Sentamu said: “You can only build a wall if the spirit level is absolutely straight. At the moment, our spirit level is going the other way, so our walls aren’t straight, and all our attitudes, our behaviours, our cultures are warped. The book says we should not concentrate too much on growth at the expense of equality. More equal societies are happier societies.”
There is absolutely no evidence for this assertion at all. This book, that purported to "prove" this kind of assertion, has been comprehensively debunked—not least by Christopher Snowdon in The Spirit Level Delusion.

People were pretty equal under Communism: so tell me, Archbishop, were people frolicking and dancing in the sunlit fields of the USSR, Communist China, and Cambodia? No. I mean, lots of people were in fields under those regimes: there were plenty of people above, enslaved in a subsistence lifestyle on collective farms; the others were mainly below ground, in mass graves.

Leaving aside the evils of Communism for a second, part of the problem is that, in surveys, most people don't really care about inequality: well, they might say that they do, but they don't care enough to actually do anything about it.

Which is a bit of a problem for the dear Archbishop's next nugget.
People who are willing to pay more tax towards health, education and social care should be able to do so through voluntary, hypothecated payments, John Sentamu told the Guardian.
...

Sentamu also pointed to a 2017 British Social Attitudes survey, which found 48% of respondents favoured higher taxes to pay for more spending on health, education and social benefits. Only 4% said they wanted taxes to be cut, and 44% said tax rates should stay the same.

“If citizens are willing to pay more, there needs to be a mechanism to do so. I call it top-up,” said Sentamu.

People were worried that higher taxes would be absorbed into general government spending. “The government should say it would guarantee that these tax increases will go towards health, education and social care. There’s no reason why it can’t be done.”
Here's the thing, Johnnie-boy: there already is a mechanism for doing this. You simply write a cheque to HMRC, and post it to: The Treasury, 1 Horseguard's Road, London. And yes: you can specify what you wish your donation to be spent on.

And via Tim Worstall, the government's Debt Management Office even publish a report on how many people actually donate every year. Despite the many thousands of people clamouring for more tax—and assuring us sceptics that they themselves would just luuuurve to hand over more to the state—the numbers are not very impressive.

It's almost as though Revealed Preference was a real thing, eh...?

On other topics, it is implied that Sentamu also praises Oxfam's recent click-bait wealth report.
An Oxfam report showed that 42 individuals in the world hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the global population. Nearly three-quarters of people in the UK want the government to urgently address the income gap, a survey for the charity found.
It's a pity, then, that this report contains such basic—or mendacious—definitions as to render it wrong at best (and both wrong and deeply dishonest at worst). After all, Oxfam is the fake charity that declared, in a 2010 blog post, that:
"... Venezuela certainly seems to be getting something right on inequality."
Yes, indeed. Venezuela is, indeed, far more equal than it used to be (although it's not ideal if you are a pet rabbit—although eating nothing but rabbit carries its own problems)—and for the same reasons as in Communist Russia, China's Great Leap Forward, etc. See above.

Sentamu is doing pretty badly here; but wait—he has some medical wisdom to dispense!
A resurgence in cases of scarlet fever, which recently hit a 50-year high, illustrated growing inequality and malnutrition. The disease, which was a common cause of death in children in Victorian times, “had been wiped out and is now re-emerging in poor communities. Hello, what is going on here?”
Well, let's ask the NHS, shall we?—by referencing their summary of the relevant report:
The researchers conclude: “England is experiencing an unprecedented rise in scarlet fever with the highest incidence for nearly 50 years. Reasons for this escalation are unclear and identifying these remains a public health priority.”
...

Therefore, though this is a definite rise in cases we don't currently know the reasons.
The reason that scarlet fever was "a common cause of death in children in Victorian times"—although far less common than a very great number of other things—is quite simple: the Victorians did not have antibiotics.

Now look: I have to assume that John Sentamu believes in a sky-fairy (although this is not actually a given with religious officers these days—especially in the Church of England) so I am not expecting great powers of reasoning from him. However, I think that he has really excelled himself here: the blinkered worldview, philosophical and economic ineptitude, rank stupidity, and screaming ignorance displayed in this interview are almost supernatural—perhaps, indeed, he has been possessed by a three-day-old cowpat.

Your humble Devil is sure that we must all be in hell—because having to endure the witterings of this fucking fool are, truly, torturous.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Trump tax

So, Trump and the Republicans enacted the "most drastic changes to US tax code in 30 years". Inevitably, some Leftard protesters made themselves look completely loopy through the use of ludicrous hyperbole.
As the vote occurred, activists in the press gallery shouted “Kill the bill, don’t kill us”.
Idiots.

Anyway, so what has actually happened? Well, it's a big and complicated law but one of the main features is the reduction of Federal Corporation Tax—from around 35% to 21%. So, some companies have already started offering pay awards to their workers a a result.

Further, Apple is now repatriating a massive amount of their overseas cash, leading to the largest tax bill payment ever—a cool $38 billion. In reporting this, The Grauniad makes a very bold assertion... [Emphasis mine—DK]
The company, which has faced international criticism for its tax evasion policies, also said it would spend $30bn in the US over the next five years, creating 20,000 new jobs.
Tax evasion? Apple is deliberately and illegally evading paying tax?

As Sir Humphrey might say, that's a very brave assertion.

Anyway, so far, I think that we can chalk up these tax reforms as a win for Trump.

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off,...