Storyville, Dark Secrets of a Trillion Dollar Island: Garenne, Produced and Directed by Camilla Hall.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000t86z/storyville-dark-secrets-of-a-trillion-dollar-island-garenne

‘The Island of Jersey is a self-governing possession of the British Crown separate from the UK with its own laws, financial rules and Parliament.’

Some of its most influential figures are appointed by the Queen.

When secrets from its past surfaced in 2007 they revealed deep distrust and division between those now running the island, proud of Jersey’s reputation.

And those who saw themselves as underdogs campaigning for change.’

Whose side are you on, the have-nots or the have-yachts? That’s the set-up for this documentary. Let’s deal the money issue first. Jersey launders money. It’s an offshore City of London. A New York Times headline, 6th November 2017 for example showed. ‘After a Tax Crackdown, Apple found a new shelter for its profits. Island of Jersey.’ Leaving billions of dollars untouched by the US government.

Baker McKenzie [Apple, the richest company in the world] asked for assurances that the local political climate would remain friendly. Are there any developments suggesting that the law may change in an unfavourable way in the near future?   

New York Times headline 6th November 2017 shows how this works. Apple decided that its new offshore tax structure should use  Appleby’s office in Jersey. Jersey makes its own laws and is not subject to most European Union legislation, making it a popular tax haven.

John Christensen, Former Economic Advisor to Jersey tells the viewers.  

We can only guess the assets hidden here as half a trillion US dollars. The wealth itself is not in Jersey. There’s very little investment in Jersey. Just wealth that is booked there. But invested elsewhere. Very often in real estate in Britain or Europe or…North America.

Establishing Jersey is a tax-dodgers paradise is the easy part of the narrative. Secrecy is part of the package, but it’s called discretion. Most of Jersey’s 88 000 residents have little or no say in the way the island is governed.

John Chirstensen. One of the things I discovered was the government was captive to the finance industry. They were saying, we want this law. And it would go through parliament on the nod because…

The finance industry loved it. You weren’t going to get challenged. You always had the same people at the top. And those people were very amenable to bringing forward pieces of legislation which they themselves commissioned. [the blank cheque]

Wendy Kinnard, (former Home Affairs Minister). Any small island has to find its niche. We are very reliant on the finance industry, and all that goes with that.

Christensen: that ties in with what we call the Jersey wave. Don’t ask inconvenient questions. These places do not like to have publicity unless it’s favourable publicity.

Wendy Kinnard. My experience, anything to do with finance went to the top of the list in terms of priority. If you take the sex offenders, I began doing some work on that in 1973. I saw 27 drafts turned around in order to try and get this legislation. At the time of Operation Triangle we had no significant pieces of legislation in terms of child protection. Contrasted with financial legislation because our economy is based on financial services

Neil McMurry  (Citizen Journalist) on a boat. ‘This is my escape. I don’t drink. I don’t drug. (I sail). What about the victims and survivors and some say it’s the lucky ones that died. If I had a choice between knowing what I know now. And not knowing, if I could turn the clock back…I wish I could. I wouldn’t want to know what I know.

Graham Powell, Former Chief of Police on Jersey. Many people said don’t take an island job, they always end in tears. Unless you can afford to walk away from it. Well, I could, but didn’t.

I took advice from an old officer. He told me what the politicians expect you to do is lock up the drunks on a Saturday night. Catch a few burglars. Don’t look for trouble.

Lenny Harper, former Deputy Chief of Police, Jersey. Impeccable references from the Met. My first 6 weeks were spent getting to know people. The head of the law department told me he was convinced there was a paedophile ring operating in the island, but he couldn’t get any persecutions.  I examined cold case files. There had already been several trials involving the sexual assault of children and one name kept popping up: Haut de la Garenne children’s home.

Haut de la Garenne. Jersey State Children’s Home 1867-1986. Gurren mean rabbit warren. We had a lot of children living in the home. Not only from Jersey, but Guernsey as well. You had a lot of French immigrants that came to work on the farms. They were poor people as well. They found no accommodation for their children. So they ended up in the Home.

Kevin O’Connell, speaking 2008. Myself and some other lads had broken into a shop and we’d stole some cigarettes and chocolate and some other things. So I was sent to Haut de la Garenne. I was there between 1963-1964.

It was run by a man called Colin Tilbrook. Headmaster, during the 1960s he ran it like an army camp.

He was a very aggressive man. He didn’t speak to you. He shouted at you.

A particular case file in which there were gaps. I was given excuses why that was the case. When we looked into it, those excuses fell apart. That was the real beginning of Operation Rectangle.

The few victims I met totally impressed me with their sincerity.

Marina Cremin. I was born in Jersey to Irish parents. They were from Cork. When I was five I went to Haut de la Garenne.

Cremin: I was terrified that he’d (Tilbrook the headmaster) call me into his little office. Because I knew what he wanted. It wasn’t just myself. He used to call on other children as well. We used to say we’re going to tell somebody. And he used to say, ‘go ahead, nobody is going to believe you’.

Cremin: He would tell me what to do. He would take his belt off and make it do a flicking noise. And he would use that on me if I didn’t do what I was told. He’d always have a pillow under his arm. If you screamed out, he’d put the pillow over your face. And tell you to be quiet.

Chief Constable: Operational officers are saying there is history of abuse. We’re getting snippets of it from other enquiries.

Senator Stuart Syvret (former) Health and Social Services Minster: Jersey is a very small community. He told the chief of police if you don’t do something I’m going to whistle blow. In 2006 word reached me about abuse that was still going on and had been covered up in the past. I began making my own enquires. A failure of the Island’s government and to protect its population. This went back decades and decades. A lot of meetings I was having with survivors was deeply harrowing.

Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008.

I’m a life-long Jersey resident. And I served in Jersey’s government for 18 years. Everybody believes child abuse takes place, but not here, or in a very limited way.

Wendy Kinnard (former Home Affairs Minister). At the time of Operation Rectangle, my role was oversight of the police service. I was in a meeting with the chief and deputy chief of police and when I was briefed about how far they had got in terms of the covert operation, and now they felt other ministers had to be told, in particular, the Chief Minister. And that very soon we would have to make the whole operation public. I did say, they won’t like this one little bit and we could all lose our jobs over this.

Stuart Syvret made an announcement in relation to Child Protection. 16th July 2007: ‘We are failing badly in this area. And I’m probably going to seek to initiate a major independent review of the whole sphere of child welfare and child protection in Jersey.’

Chief Minister found that unacceptable and tabled a motion that they get rid of Syvret.

Syvret: By saying these things I was bullying staff. Pretext of having me sacked.

Chief Constable, Graham Powell: He was thrown out of office and subject to negative briefing in the media. I was horrified and made clear I wasn’t getting involved in this sordid business (of name calling).

Stuart Syvret. There’s a tremendous amount of money here. Wealth. The elite want the status-quo to remain.

Deputy Chief Constable, Lenny Harper. We knew that Stuart had been canvassing public opinion, and we felt we had to go public ourselves. We were completely open with the media and told them we would not tolerate any interference from Jersey politicians.

Syvret: A huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

Graham Powell: I wondered if the phone would ring. Within a week or two we had hundreds of victims coming forward.

Peter Hannaford speaking in 2008. You were subject to constant abuse. It was begun with the rape of older kids. Encouraged by the staff. It was constant, every night. You were scared to go to bed, because you didn’t know if you were going to be the one to get hit or if it’d be someone else.

Carl Denning, speaking in 2008. There was an occasion in the sickbay when I was made to fondle another boy. If you didn’t, you were threatened you wouldn’t come out of there alive.

Jean Neil. Grouville Home for Girls. Speaking in 2017. I was told that anything that happened in the home, you don’t tell anybody else. Because nobody would ever believe you. And if you do let it slip out, the punishment is you will have your tongue cut out. Some of the girls got pregnant. They’d get the baby taken away from them. And my question is, and always has been, where was the authorities and what where they doing?

5th December 2007. Syvret, As senior senator I gave my (Christmas) speech

Voice of Sir Philip Bailhache, Baliff of Jersey1995-2009. Cuts him off.

We have a dysfunctional democracy. The real power sits with Crown appointees.

The Queen appoints: Attorney General (Crown Prosecution), Baliff (Chief Judge and Speaker of Parliament) and Lieutenant Governor.

Speaker controls debates in Parliament. Who can speak. Who can’t speak. What questions can be asked.

Deputy There were also statements from people at the home that children had been dragged from their beds and were never seen again.  

Statements saying staff had chased one child along the corridor that had then leapt out the window. And that child was never seen again.

Then we had a solicitor who approached us who had a client that said he saw a dead body.

I heard a story about dead bodies and rapes and beatings. And I made a disclosure to the police as you’d expect somebody in my position to do.

Chief Constable: We felt we had to search. And ridiculous as it may seem now, we felt that we could do it discretely.

19th February 2008.

Deputy Constable: we put Eddie, the cadaver dog into the ground. He reacted very positively in an area of the home.  Anthropologists should dig at that spot. The next morning I was at home when I got the phone call, a human bone had been found. Forensic anthropologist described as a human skull.

James Perchard, Former Jersey Senator. My family has farmed here for generations. Perhaps even the 12th Century. I honestly knew nothing of the ill-treatment of children. It didn’t get to me.

Neil McMurray, Citizen Journalist. There’s a presumption that anyone living in Jersey is a millionaire. Well, that’s not true. There’s the haves and the have-yachts. There’s a lot of poverty in Jersey. The governments predominantly conservative run by the rich for the rich. So some noise can be made in our Parliament by the socialists. But they’ve got no power. We thought, brilliant. We’ve got a politician that represents us. Stuart. A lot of survivors came forward because of him.

Voice of Sir Philip Bailhache, Baliff of Jersey, unjustified denigration of Jersey is the real scandal.

Group of survivors met outside the home and challenged his statement. Confirmed abuse took place for years.

Sir Philip Bailhache apologised for what he said nine years later, saying his words were ill-chosen.

Neil McMurray I was being fobbed off. Lied to and it was sickening what Sir Philip Bailhache did.  I started blogging. Mainly to ministers the media. Basically, they weren’t replying to me. It was called voice for children.

Sack Walker, reinstate Sylvert.

Brian Flynn former Sun journalist. As an outsider it seemed to me a lot of people didn’t trust the government who were in control and anybody that rocked the boat, anybody that caused problems, wasn’t welcome. If you weren’t among the cabal running the island, you were voiceless. This wasn’t a story that needed to be sensationalised. They were sensational enough and needed to be investigated.

Carrie Modral. Jersey Care Leavers’ Association. Care leavers are adults who lived in children’s homes if not all, or most of their lives. The abuse had been rattling around for years. As individuals they had been shut down. But as a collective group, this was the perfect opportunity to escalate.

Kinnard. There were two camps in how we should deal with Operation Rectangle. Stuart Syvret was very keen that everything should be made public (transparency). And you’d the chief minister and many of the council of ministers who felt it was important to keep the lid on this [important to who and for what reasons?]

The reputation of Jersey should be preserved at all costs. And any negative publicity would likely have a detrimental effect on our economy.

Chief Constable: I was having my ear bent by senior politicians. It wasn’t about who were these people and how can we get their collars felt. That wasn’t the tone of conversation. It was look at all those horrible things newspapers are saying about us. How can we put a stop to all this?

More than 160 people came forward to claim they were abused. Two bodies found.

O’Connell. There was a member of staff that would come for me in the middle of the night, bang my head as we walked along the corridor. He’d take me to the cellar, put me in the bath and sexually abuse me. He’d leave me there after he’d satisfied himself.

Brian Flynn, former Sun journalist. One of the things that came up time after time was Jimmy Saville had visited the Island. Visited the home. Before he was unmasked. What was striking was the vehemence which he denied going to Haut La Garrene.

Cremin: I told the police about Jimmy Saville in 2007. But he denied ever having been at the Home. I said my sister is in a photograph with him.

Christensen (economist) this is the worst kind of public relations disaster. As they say on Jersey, they don’t want to look under that stone. But when the headlines say this is the centre of child abuse, no banks, no accounting firms want to be associated with a place that has a long history of child abuse that has been largely ignored.

It was a byword for cruelty in the 1960s when I was growing up. We were threatened with if you don’t behave we’re sending you to La Garrene.

In 2007 The UK press particularly damning of Jersey and the cover-up.

David Rose, Mail on Sunday. A friend of mine phoned me and said have you heard about these children murdered in a children’s home? Well, there’s a guy in Oxford called Tom Higham who you should talk to, because he’s got some very interesting information. It was later afternoon, and he said come round now, and I did. I went round to his lab. We’ve been trying to tell the police in Jersey this for weeks, but they just won’t listen. They’ve been coming out with all this stuff in the media, and we’ve had enough. It’s time the public learned the truth.

I got Lenny to admit there were people that had reservations.

18th May 2008. Then I did the story that Sunday.

I’d already written a few articles questioning these very heavy moral panic type investigations. Especially in children’s homes and schools. And when the Jersey story started I was immediately very sceptical, thinking really?

eg Bryan Ely, 67, in Dartmoor, alleged to have attacked children.

I should tell you, I’m a Jimmy Saville sceptic too. What I do know is that some to those that claimed to be abused were lying to claim compensation. And I say that without any hesitation. They just made it up.

Headline: It’s official. There was no child abuse in Jersey.

Prof. Tom Higham, Oxford University. We were sent this sample in March 2008. It too probably 40 seconds to realise what I had in my hand. Lenny Harper said it’s the piece of a child’s skull. It’s no such thing. It’s a piece of coconut shell.  

DC. Lenny Harper. Collagen is only found in mammals. There was no trail of testing. The package wasn’t booked in or logged. No control over it, whatsoever. But what we didn’t realise at that stage was that it would be used as a stick to beat us with.

Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008. I think the biggest turning point was the revelation on the Mail on Sunday by David Rose. It was both welcome news and a shock. Then the trust in the police leadership came into question. (Harper and Graham Powell).

What I saw was a fast-moving investigation that involved leads that Harper wasn’t afraid to follow. In real time. It’s easy to say he got them wrong. But he was trying to disseminate the information in a way that signalled to those abused that this time stones weren’t being left unturned.

DC Harper. Rose had this history of being very anti-child abuse.  Cites Lord Jenner’s report, for example, and a witness that admits to lying about a care home boss.

We’ve took over 150 tons of material which is all being itemised. We’ve recovered 65 children’s teeth.

Wendy Kinnard: there was criticism that Harper held up to the media a coin that was a Jersey coin and not an English coin. This again was damaging the reputation of the island. Then I got phone calls from the senior minister saying get rid of Lenny Harper. Take him off the tv screens. He should be removed from even Operation Rectangle. He became the folk demon by those that wanted the child abuse enquiry to go away.

Before I resigned

I’d a difficult time. I did feel very bullied on occasions. Receiving emails from the Chief Minister saying there are calls for your resignation. I felt that I was being put in a position that I was being removed, in the same way Senator Syvret was removed. So I resigned.

I was advised that I should sign over my powers (of oversight to the police and operation Rectangle) to my assistant minister Andrew Lewis. I just felt that I was being absolutely side-lined. Andrew Lewis felt the same way that I did about Chief Constable Powell. That he was doing a good job.

News report. The officer in charge may never know that children here were murdered. Even though they found the partial remains of at least five children. Experts have difficulty dating the teeth and bones aged between four and eleven

The removal of Lenny had to happen. His investigation was out of control.

The detective, who led the enquiry, retires next week (news report). Case unsolved.

31st July 2008. DC Harper. In many ways the community is no different from anywhere else. What has happened doesn’t make Jersey unique or evil. And what has happened, I think the people has responded magnificently.

News report the teeth and bones found here aren’t pieces of evidence. They’re pieces of children. Pieces of vulnerable lives of children whose stories will now never be told.

Chief Constable. Lenny left and David Warcup, his successor and my successor was appointed. Then we had the appointment of Gradwell, who was going to be senior investigating officer. I could see the wolves circling. As long as Wendy Kinnard was there…she fell. I thought you’re on your own now. So as things when they developed didn’t come as a surprise.

David Warcup, Acting Chief of Police. We’ll use every effort to bring this enquiry to a proper conclusion.

Andrew Lewis, Home Affairs Manager (after Kinnard’s resignation).

I was under considerable pressure and from the Chief Minister of the day, Frank Walker. With remarks being thrown around the table from the Council of Minister consistently. ‘You’ve got to get rid of that bloke. You’ve got to sack him’.

Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008. I had no doubt at all Graham Powell had to go. I would have liked him to come out of this with great credit. And he could have done, had he not let Lenny run riot with media briefings.

A legal review found the suspension was flawed and unfair but no part of an attempt to block the investigation.

Graham Powell’s handling of Operation Rectangle was later criticised in a report by another police force.

12th November 2008. David Warcup, Acting Chief of Police The forensic recoveries do not indicate there has been murder of children or other people at La Garrene. Nor do we believe that bodies have been buried, destroyed or hidden.

Mick Gradwell, Senior Investigating Officer. There are no reported people missing. There are no credible allegations of murder. There is no suspect for murder. And there is no specific time period for murder. 170 pieces of bone, which were mainly animal, were found in the area. Three fragments that are possibly human. The biggest piece is 25mm long. 65 teeth found in the floorboards. One elsewhere. These teeth have the appearance of being shed naturally. The officer is about five-foot five tall. It’s not a dungeon and it’s not a cellar.

James Perchard, Former Jersey Senator. There were specialist PR people brought in to help protect Jersey’s image. I suspect that’s what happens when such terrible, terrible news has been made public.

Headlines rebound and reboot. Media: Main witness had a history of psychotic fantasy and alcoholism. 2) Detectives took lavish meals in London restaurant.

Carrie Modral. The media tried to sensationalise what was going on. Then trash what they sensationalised. It wasn’t just one day. It spanned over a couple of weeks. As if this was all premeditated. I was angry with the care leavers, because they thought, right, we’ll never get justice. Everything we were working towards seemed to be sabotaged.

DC Lenny. Graham was suspended. I was side-lined. That was when Neil and Rico came in.

Rico Sorda, Citizen Journalist. It was clear to anyone that Graham Powell was shafted. By the establishment of Jersey, because he had the audacity to let Lenny investigate

The editorials prior to that had praised Lenny and Graham but afterwards Jersey Evening Post headlines ran along the lines of Celebrity Lifestyle of Lenny Harper and his officers. Meals in top-class.

We went up there and filmed them. What difference does it make if you call them cellars or vaults? We measured them –Bob Hill measured them-and they were six-foot deep. There’s certainly enough room down there for a child abuser to do what he wanted.

Neil: Evidence not audited when it left Jersey. How does a piece of skull become a piece of coconut? It came back a different texture, size and colour.

Forensic Anthropologist Report. Since I initially examined the fragment, it had dried out considerably and changed in colour, texture and weight.

Could it have been switched? Nobody answered that question. It was ignored.

Carrie Modral, we called a meeting and invited Mick Gradwell along. He said you better drop your case. None of you are going to get what you want.

We were so angry with his response. We had to ask him to leave. And it wasn’t about a piece of coconut. It was about children being systematically abused. Time after time after time and ignored.

Dannie Jarman (resident) Blanche Pierre Children’s Home. I didn’t want to go through with it in the first place. Then I managed to build up the courage to speak out and come out what had happened. There was evidence there to prove what happened, did happen. A lot of it was never brought up in court.

Houseparents subjected children to physical and sexual abuse.

Neil: I tried asking many questions of our politicians and they ignored me and ignore me. I had to go out and doorstep them. 

Wendy Kinnard. I remained concerned for the victims that were obviously hurting. 11 or 12 cases dropped. On the other hand the attorney general was concerned he didn’t want to take forward prosecutions he wasn’t sure he was going to win.  

Attorney General of Jersey 2000-2009, Sir William Bailhache, revealed there will be no further action against the couple arrested in June as part of the enquiry (Blanche Pierre Children’s Home).

Sir Philip Bailhache Bailiff of Jersey 1995-2009. My brother became Attorney General after me, one remove. And for some that was evidence of corruption. Two brothers in Crown Office and that was ipso facto corrupt.

The reason for this mistrust rested with the police and children’s services and not with his office.

Some pretty middle of the road people convicted of offences, but no one of any stature was ever taken to court. Colin Tilbrook, the pillow man, his step daughter came out and said he raped her when she was ten. He’s dead now. Jimmy Saville dead. Wilfred Krichefski, died in 1974 was a former senator. Jeff Le Marchand. This wasn’t one bad apple.

Operation Rectangle identified 192 victims and 121 living suspects. 30 suspects were already dead.

Eight people were tried in the Jersey courts, with seven successful prosecutions.

 Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008. Sylvert was daily denouncing the service we were providing. That pressure was incredible. To have this constant criticism, at that time.

Sylvet. At a press conference he told me to go and top myself. And at a press conference some months ago he told me to go away and slit my wrists. Now I imagine anyone expressing those views their position as health minister would be untenable.

I said something I shouldn’t have, but under massive provocation. Perhaps I should have punched him. I paid the price politically. I resigned a few months later and didn’t see re-election.

Sylvert. One morning three cars with six policeman drew up outside my house. They arrested me for breaking the data protection law. This was them branding the fist. As they’d made an example of Graham Powell. They wanted to terrify everyone. And make them keep their mouths shut. And their heads down and not rock the boat. My god if these people can do that to a police chief and a senior senator. Then what chance have we got?

Stuart Syvret’s jail terms were as a result of repeatedly failing to comply with court orders to stop publically accusing individuals of serious crimes online.

Two three months periods so far. I fully expect to be jailed again.

Wendy Kinnard. I think the role of the blogs was incredibly significant. Neil’s and Rico Sorda’s blogs. And I don’t think that without them we would have got the care enquiry.

A public enquiry into Jersey care homes was finally scheduled to start in 2014, six years after it was promised.

Carrie Modral, Jersey Care Leavers’Association.  It really was a rollercoster. To have this enquiry up and running. A collective effort of keeping it alive. And that was the main thing. After each government, it died. Keep it in the media, to get where we got. At the beginning it was just La Garrene, but we had to get it to include all, including foster homes.

eg Blanche Pierre Children’s Home. La Preference Children’s home. Heathfield Children’s Home.

4 objectives, i) apology to all those that had suffered as children. (ii) to gain a sense of identity, through records so people knew where exactly they came from. Where they went to. (iii) redress some form of compensation (iv) enquiry into how all these things were allowed to happen.

Marina Cremin visits graveyard. Peter Hannaford (dead) he was in Haut de la Garenne, terribly sexually abused. Nearly every night he was abused. He was such a heavy drinker. It’s just so sad.

Many of the children in the home, committed suicide, or died of drugs or alcohol.  

Carrie Modral, You’ve got victims and survivors. Victims are those that can’t let go. Whether it was ten or fifty years ago, they’re still living it and it’s a living nightmare for them. They’ve got drink addiction, they’ve got drug addiction. They can’t work. They’ve got emotional problems.

Survivors, like myself, who try and get on with their life. And try and not let what happened to you as a child dictate how you live as an adult. You try and rise above it.

Kevin O’Connell. I was too frightened to tell anybody. I spoke about it to my brother. He experience exactly what I went through. And it was just too much. It ended up he hung himself. I firmly believe that was because of the abuse, the sexual abuse. He was only 40.

Carrie Modral. They are not going to get their day in court. But they are going to get their story hear. I believe that is so important. And it had a right for it to be made public as well.

22nd July 2014, Start of the Public Enquiry.

Neil; One adult told how he was raped as an eight-year-old child and his anus bled for days. The care assistant packed it with toilet roll, but they had to take him to hospital.

Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008, did I have a duty to protect Jersey’s reputation? Of course I did. But my prime duty, motivation, was to get at the truth. To protect the children and prosecute the criminals. We had nothing to hide and we wanted everone in Jersey and further afield to know we had nothing to hide.

3rd July 2017, Public Enquiry: Conclusion. Voice of Frances Oldham QC, Enquiry Panel Chair.  We find that there is no doubt that a significant number of children under the care of the state suffered instances of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional neglect. We find it deplorable that the state of Jersey has failed to understand its role as corporate parent. There were no external inspections of children’s homes. Or children’s services. For approxiamately 20 years. No difficult questions asked. This is unacceptable. On the 9th May 2008, Jersey’s Bailiff Philip Ballache made the liberation speech. We cannot accept that he made and I quote, ‘an unformatted juxtaposition of words’. We find the Senator Sylvert highlighted relevant issues about child abuse that needed to be addressed to insure the protection and safety of children in Jersey. We note the suspension of Graham Howe, for alleged past failings. All policing decisions were made conscientiously and properly. We have concluded that there has been no political appetite in Jersey to address social issues regarding the welfare of children.  

Children may still be at risk in Jersey. And children in the care system are not receiving he kind or quality of support they need.

Senator Ian Gorst, Chief Minister.

Too often, children were not believed. Unpalatable truths were swept under the carpet. Because it was the easiest thing to do. I am deeply sorry. We did not do, what we should have done. People cared more for the status-quo, for a quiet life, than for children.

The Panel said Frank Walker and the majority of politicians accepted the Attorney General’s advice not to interfere with the investigation.

It concluded that the removal of Graham Powell and Stuart Syvret was not motivated by a wish to cover up abuse

Neil: it’s still ongoing, because nothing has really changed. If you look at the two camps, those that lost their homes, lost their livelihood for speaking out. Yet those that tried to protect the reputation of Jersey have all done pretty well for themselves. They’ve been decorated by the Queen. What about the people who risked their lives? What about the survivors? Don’t they deserve some kind of recognition?

Storyville, Whirlybird-Live Above LA, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, director Mark Yoka.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000sc9j/storyville-whirlybird-live-above-la

Bob and Marika Tur captured the police chase on the Los Angeles freeways and the arrest of O.J. Simpson as he parked up his Bronco. Streamed live, it was watched by over 80 million- largely-America viewers. They were at the peak of their power. They witnessed the highs and lows of the eighties and nineties in The City of Angels.   

It had started off with Bob being just another stringers using police scanners and chasing police cars on the freeway to arrive at the crime scene. Being first was everything. Marika started out as being his front for the footage. She became his wife and junior partner. Every job was their last, and they needed to keep the foot down to make a living.  

Even when they had two children, a girl and a boy, the obsessive and consuming nature of their work meant that the children were drafted into their high-speed chases. Bob admitted to big dreams. He’d squirreled away $50 000 and went to look at helicopters. He didn’t have a license, but he learned and got credit for $500 000.

Up in the air, they could be first to accidents and murders and carnages such as a plane disintegrating and coming down on housing. Forest fires brought in the bucks. Floods were good too. Any kind of apocalypse could be monetised in the continuous news cycle.

Bob employed another pilot, Laurence Welk III. He had the right stuff. Business was on the up and up. Marika’s mum ran the office that sold the footage they created to media outlets.

Bob was hovering above the 1992 riots, after being filmed beating Rodney King police officers were cleared of assaulting him.. Shops were looted and set on fire.  Traffic was stopped and a man in a truck dragged out and his head kicked like a football. No police were seen, but Bob was. His footage resulted in convictions. He was sent hate mail and a bullet through the post. His children remembered him sleeping with a gun under his pillow, and telling them not to touch it.

But it was difficult to imagine Bob sleeping much. He said he went 90 straight days without a day off. He was an adrenalin junkie. The edge, the excitement, kept him going after bigger and better stories, but his life was imploding. He verbally abused his wife continually. They divorced in  2003.

Another narrative playing in Bob’s head was that he’d turn out like his old man that had beaten him as a child. His father had died at thirty-five with a heart attack. Bob also had a heart attack in his thirties. He admitted to hating his old man, but also of having turned into him. He, finally, took time off and attended The Burning Man festival. That was the place he first met trans-women.

Bob transitioned himself with an operation in Thailand in 2013. Bob became Zoey. He was no longer the big man. She hoped for a quieter life…outside the twenty-four-hour-news-cycle.      

Storyville, Welcome to Chechnya: The Gay Purge, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, director David France.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000kjnt/storyville-welcome-to-chechnya-the-gay-purge

Here we have Claud Cockburn’s maxim as a rule of thumb, ‘Never believe anything until it has been officially denied’.

Director David France’s documentary shows clearly that gay lives don’t matter in Chechnya, or in Russia, generally. Imagine George Michael had went missing at the height of his pomp and Margaret Thatcher (Section 28 legislation) came on the telly and told you, he wasn’t missing. And there was no such thing as gay people in Britain, and if there was ‘They are devils, subhuman.’ They should be taken to their families to be killed.

This is the rhetoric not of Thatcher, but of Ramzan Kadyrov, a Vladamir Putin appointed strongman, leader of the Chechnya Republic telling the public how it is in relation to Chechan’s George Michael and gay community. Imagine, instead of George Floyd being choked to death by policeman while other cops watched him die, you had police trophy footage of men and women beaten to death at the side of the road and raped to show they are dealing with the gay plague, the lesbian problem. Transsexual doesn’t register. Kadyrov labelled men that love men and women that love women, subhuman, not human and that’s the way they are treated, a problem that needs to be solved or eradicated.

Anna Politkovskya,  Chechnya: A Dirty War  1999-2002  gives us context. Vladimir Putin’s ‘anti-terrorist campaign’ destroyed the Chechnya capital, Grozny in a way we’ve become familiar with television pictures and reports of the indiscriminate Russian bombing of Syria and Ukraine and the targeting of, for example, hospitals. Terrorists are those on the ground. Chechnyans were labelled by Putin a ‘nation of criminals’.   In February 2001, Politkovskya was detained and threatened with rape by senior Russian officers when investigating a Russian torture centre. Perhaps she was naïve to think there was just one. Refugees talked of the indiscriminate murder of children, pregnant women, old men.  Putin won the war in Chechnya as he’s winning the war in Syria and the Ukraine. Anna Politkovskya had made enemies in high places. On 7th October 2006 she was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment block in central Moscow. Three Chechens were arrested, but acquitted and re-arrested.

  Truth does not need to be subversive, but it does need to be true.  France shows how it works in Chechnya. After a police raid around 2017, a gay man’s phone was taken from him and examined. We usually use words like forensic her—forensically examined—for links to other crimes to do with drugs or other offences so the authorities can label them criminal. Terrorist is a popular word choice. What the officers found was gay messages and images. Gay men, or women, were taken to Argun Prison in Grozny and tortured, with many beaten to death, reminiscent of Lubyanka and Stalin’s reign of fear. Victims were forced to give names of other gay men or women that the police could roll up, torture and kill, to get other names. This reign of fear France labels a Gay Purge, which is denied by authorities in Grozny and Moscow, using the logic that such people don’t exist and even if they did, there’s no official notification of it or them.    While at the same time, Ramzan Kadyrov promises to ‘cleanse the blood’ of Muslims and eliminate those people that don’t exist.

France’s film follows Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transsexual (LGBT) activists in Moscow, such as Olga Baravov, who have helped Chechnyan LGBT victims escape. We follow, for example, Akmad aged 30, (not his real name). Identities are protected by digital remastering because of a risk of reprisals at home in Chechnya. The rescue of ‘Anya’, aged 21, takes the viewer from Moscow to Grozny and had elements of a thriller. ‘Anya’s’ uncle told her he’d out her as a lesbian unless she slept with him and she had to be smuggled out. LGBT activists helped provide an underground ‘railway’ and safe houses. They try and relocate victims of torture and state violence. Asylum seekers of whatever sexuality are not popular (America, as you’d expect, is not on their list). Canada figures strongly. 151 victims processed by LGBT activists in Moscow, 44 men in women seeking asylum when filming took place.

‘Anya’ disappeared from her safe house. Olga Baranov and her child had herself to seek asylum in Canada after been outed by the Russian authorities. Moscow was not safe with its anti-gay rhetoric and threat of reprisals.    

Maxim Lapunov, his real name, returned from asylum and challenged the authorities in Chechnya and accused them of state torture, placing a deposition in the Russian Municipal Courthouse. His digital mask protecting his identity was dissolved. The case was, of course, flung out. For Putin acolytes, gays don’t exist in Russia or Chechnya, and even if they did, they law does not exist to protect the likes of them. Lapunov claimed he’d take his case to the European Courts of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  Watch this space, if he’s not disappeared or dies mysteriously, he might just do that, but I doubt it.

George Orwell recognised ‘to be corrupted by totalitarianism’— for example, the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse—you ‘do not have to live in a totalitarian country’, the un-United States of America. We’re all corrupted now.  Putin the strong man goes from strength to strength. Ramzan Kadyrov does not have the final word. He does what he’s told. The gay purge hurts no one—that counts—and nobody is counting.

First they came for the gays

and I did not speak out-

because I was not gay

[adapted from Pastor Martin Nemoller (1892-1984).

The Rise and Fall of a Porn Superstar, Storyville, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, Director Tomer Heymann


https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000frcl/storyville-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-porn-superstar

I missed the first few minutes of this. I expected to see (not that I watch porn) blonde hair and silicon breasts and a solid arse so big it would have shamed a Kardashian and housed half of dancing Africa with bongo drums. Instead I got this guy, who called himself Jonathan Agassi and he was in Berlin. He dressed down to go out in a pair of tight-fitting swimming trunks. He went to a Berlin nightclub to collect an award for the being the best new gay porn star. He won the category, best porn actor, United States.

Fucker, you better believe it. He didn’t live in the United States.  The best, or so he thought. This is the rise part, before the world goes back to being less than a Cabaret tune. ‘Come to the Cabaret my friend, Come to the Cabaret’. Another song set in Cabaret (Berlin of the 1930s Weimar Republic) sets the tone: ‘Money, makes the world go around, the world go around, the world go around. Money makes the world go around…’ It still does. When Agassi is the queen of the porn industry and doing what he’s told, money pours in. The next big thing is always standing behind you.

I found Agassi’s relationship with his mum weird. She’s in Israel. He’s in Berlin. They Skype. He looks for reassurance he’s still beautiful. She gives it.  Then he goes back to visit her in Tel Aviv. There were some uncomfortable moments such as Agassi dressing in fishnets and high-heel shoes and his brother telling him this wasn’t Berlin, but Tel Aviv. In other words, don’t go out like that ya sissy. But he’d went to school there. Threatened suicide, when he was at school and ready to jump from a high window, his classmates shouted, ‘Jump’. I guess Israelites are too busy gobbling up the land of their poor Palestinian neighbours to be overly politically correct.   

We meet Agassi’s dad back in Berlin. Things have turned more difficult. Agassi’s bum is still for sale but the price is dropping out of the market. Worse, his dad is the worst kind of arsehole. Agassi remains fixated on his dad calling him ‘a homo’ when he was twelve. We all know the cure for that from right-wing (let’s call them) Americans who imagine a good shag with a good girl will cure them of that kind of malarkey. That was certainly my da’s view, when his best mate, Jimmy Mac, told him his son was gay.

‘No, Jimmy, yeh, cannae have that,’ were my da’s immortal words.

Agassi’s da went further. When he was twelve he set him up with this then female partner. You know, the good-shag cure, which in other societies would be looked on as paedophilia and procurement, but not here. Not in Berlin.

Later, Agassi and Da meet again. His son is out of his face on drugs most of the time. He’s filmed sleeping on top of a parked car. And admits he hadn’t slept for two days. Worse, his wanger is playing up, gone off solidarity and on strike, he can no longer ejaculate on cue. The money shot is no longer the money shot. Things are slipping.

Da talks about his mum as if he loved her. Maybe he did. But he tells the big lie. Mummy was depressed because she wanted a girl and instead had a boy, Agassi. That set her into depression, perhaps post-natal, perhaps something else. Nudge. Nudge. Wink. Wink. Your mum hated you and it’s your fault for being born.

Mummy soon put Agassi right. She was stuck in New York, penniless and young, with two kids and daddy was out spending what little money that had and whoring. That’s when I got on mummy’s side. Now I kinda liked her. She was spunky.

Agassi dresses mummy up in designer clobber and claims she looks beautiful. The answer here on this side is no, she doesn’t. She looks like an ordinary wee woman. Since we’re on the male gaze, I don’t think Agassi looks anything special either.

He ends up working in a supermarket. The kind of guy you pass every day. Gives lectures to kids about the dangers of drugs. When I watched Louise Theroux’s programme about escorts £200-an-hour seemed to be the going rate. Agassi around $4000 an hour. Must be hard, working on the checkout, minimum wage, made to eat shit. Lack of money does that to you. Porn, like anything else, is an overcrowded market. It eats the young. Hates the old. I’m sure there’s some kind of metaphor waiting to pop up.

Storyville, Terror in the Jungle, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, Director Shan Nicholson, Executive Producer Jennifer Davisson and Leonardo DiCaprio.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000d27r/storyville-jonestown-terror-in-the-jungle-episode-1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000d28j/storyville-jonestown-terror-in-the-jungle-episode-2

Most news stories start their pitch with the headline and in an inverted triangular shape begins to tell the rest of the story in terms of cause and effect. I’ll modify this a little here. Jim Jones was born in rural Indiana at the height of the Depression 1931. Phyllis Zimmerman who lived nearby remembered him as a strange kid. While other kids rode their bikes and played baseball, Jones liked to gather the other kids and hold ceremonies for roadkill. There were five churches nearby and Jones attended them all taking a bit of each from the holy rollers filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in voices to the hell-and-damnation crowd that believed everyone outside their church was doomed to eternal hellfire – which they richly deserved. While other kids played American soldiers when playing rat-a-tat war games, few if any wanted to play German or Nips. Jones preference was for being a German, he was fascinated with the way in which Hitler was able to manipulate the masses. That was the kind of power he craved.

If you were making notes for a novel and you’d ran with this scenario you could pretty much spit out a 100 000 word first draft in three months. One of the problems you’d face would be what kind of job would you give Jones? My first thought would be truck driver, perhaps with a bit of preaching on the side. Salesman would also be good. At a push I’d have went with schoolteacher in a run-down school, or janitor. Dogs and cats would go missing. He’d be a weirdo that tortured animals, but never got caught. He’s graduate to torturing and killing prostitutes and hitchhikers. Serial killer.

  The headline would not have been.  18 November 1978, 918 men, women and around 300 children lost their lives at Jonestown, established by the People’s Temple in northern Guyana victims of Fla-Vor-Ad (cheaper type of Kool Aid) laced with cyanide.  

They’d travelled to the capital, Georgetown, by plane in twos and threes to avoid detection by American authorities who they suspected were monitoring airports and then on by boat to the interior which took around twelve hours. Jonestown and The People’s Temple was surrounded by jungle, the nearest village was around twelve miles away.  

For fiction writers the question wouldn’t have been why did they kill themselves and their children? Or why did others do the killing work for Jim Jones. The history of genocide in China, Europe and Africa and Middle East follows much the same pattern. Milgram’s experiment on obedience and the Stanford Prison experiment pretty much shapes the story of how a cohort would react and here it is played out in real life.

Witnesses that escaped the cult of Jim Jones, including two of Jim Jones’s adopted sons, Jim Jones (Junior) and Stephan Jones, part of the so-called Rainbow family, made up of different ethnic groups offer insider accounts. Jim Jones liked his followers to call him ‘Father’. And his wife, to be called ‘Mother’. They tell us how it worked. I couldn’t help thinking of David Koresh, also a self-appointed Messiah, who preached the apocalypse. Didn’t allow his followers to have sex, but the Messiah slept with young girls. Took drugs. Endlessly lectured about the end of times. Appointed a Praetorian Guard to enforce discipline and punish those that tried to escape. All property was forfeit and given to the self-appointed Messiah. All labour was communal and given freely.

We also have outsider’s accounts from newspapermen who broke the story of Jim Jones cult in California to authors such as Jeff Guiann The Road to Jamestown. And reports from the FBI.

If it was a work of fiction Jim Jones might have been a politician with local success. He had the well-manicured look of a white man on the make and had the right blend of deceit, ruthlessness and narcissism to make it to the very top. All of these things would be labelled as charisma. Jim Jones had charisma.  A man that also stages his own death by gunshot wounds and miraculous resurrection wouldn’t quake at telling us a few hard truths and how he was going to fix it.

When Jim Jones found out the net was closing in and there was no fixing it, he decided his followers were going down with him. He’s already tested his Praetorian guard telling them he’d poisoned them to see how they’d react. They reacted the way he expected. They gave him their continued loyalty after he said he’d faked it. In the end there was no faking it. Those that didn’t want to die were helped along to meet their maker. The apocalypse did come for 1000 poor souls. To call Jim Jones a madman is to assume it won’t happen again. It has and it will. I was interested to hear one of his followers that had the strength to escape with her son validate what I said, say exactly that. We live in dangerous times. If I was writing fiction I’d say much the same thing. When fact and fiction cross X marks the problem. Modern cults aren’t restricted to churches they’ve moved mainstream.

Storyville, Facing Franco’s Crimes, The Silence of Others, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, Directors and Producers Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000bynq/storyville-facing-francos-crimes-the-silence-of-others

What is justice?

Here’s a narrative of a statue of Christ in Spain, Italy, Germany, England or sunny California in which the hands get lopped off, a bomb, a bullet or vandalism.   St Teresa of Avila, who founded an order of Carmelites nuns in her native Spain, declared Christ has no hands but ours. That was the message.

Here’s another story. Sculptures by Francesco Cedenilla, human figure set high in the mountains of El Torno in Extremadura to represent the hundreds of thousands ‘disappeared’ under the Franco regime, statues shot up by right-wing supporters of neo-fascism. Cedenilla declared that the bullet holes completed his work.

History is written by the victors.

General Franco army and militias with the support of fellow fascist dictators Hitler and Mussolini seized control of Spain during the Civil War 1936-1939. 500 000 or more Spanish citizens fled across the border, mainly into France. The war didn’t end in Spain nor did it end in 1939, Franco unlike his fellow fascist dictators did not give up power, but held onto it until his death in 1975. Under his regime 187 concentration camps were still open for business and hundreds of thousands tortured and disappeared. Tens of thousands babies stolen from their mothers at birth and given up for adoption without consent.  

The Pact of Forgetting was an attempt to put the past behind them and move on. It was ratified in the Spanish Parliament in 1977 and a general amnesty entailed. We see similar and more recent cases in, for example, South Africa, Northern Ireland and Rwanda.

Robert Harris’s Fatherland plays with this narrative. Hitler, like Franco has won the war and the Nazi leader is going to meet the American President John F Kennedy. This may seem farfetched but Franco, of course, did meet with Nixon, the Pope and most other right-wing world leaders. But in this narrative a lowly officer in the Kripo, the German criminal police, investigates the killing of Nazi officials who took part in the Wannsee Conference in 1942.  That was where the Final Solution was ratified. Hitler did not attend. Six million Jews and millions of other nationalities were killed. The world knows nothing of this and by bumping off those that attended the conference and cleaning up the concentration camps Hitler’s crimes can be righted by the disappearance of the witnesses to history.  

Franco’s victims had no voice and certainly no Nuremberg show trial. Maria Martin was a child during the Civil War. One of seven living in a little village in Castalia La Mancha. Her mother was taken from the fields, her head shaven and murdered by locals that accused her of being a ‘red’, ‘disappeared’, her body found naked. They killed 27 men and three women, including her mother. She recalled how afterwards older children threw stones at her. Later when she started leaving flowers at the side of the road where her mother’s nude body was found, villagers made signals that they’d slit her throat too. Official letters were returned telling her she’d be next if she didn’t stop pestering them with request to return her mum’s body for a proper funeral so she could be laid to rest.  

Or the case of ‘Chato’, whose torturer, ‘Billy the Kid,’ lived a few streets from him. Chato tells us how his friend was shot in the head by the police in 1968. He was taken to prison and some days beatings took place for 13 hours, his legs, his genitals, his feet. ‘Billy the Kid’ retired on a state pension to run marathons in Spain and New York.

Carlos Slepoy (now deceased) over a six year period, documents how victims attempts to bring those that had tortured them, stole their babies or killed their father and mothers were stymied by the Spanish state at the highest levels. How elderly victims had to take out an international lawsuit and take their case to Argentina to be heard. The Silence of Others, with some success, dares to challenge the status quo using the case of the Chilean dictator, General Pinochet, as a precedent.  For justice to prevail crimes against humanity must be heard. Bashar al-Assad, and other world leaders should be worried should such a legal precedent become universal. There’s a certain irony in Argentina were a military junta ruled for so many years is selling itself as the new Nuremberg. Truth is no stranger to justice unless, like St Teresa’s statue of Christ the Redeemer, our mouth stays shut, our voice goes unheard.        

Storyville: One Child Nation, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, director Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang.


https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000bh0j/storyville-one-child-nation

I’ve been pondering the difference between affect and effect. The former is a verb. The latter is a noun and verb. The etymology of affect suggests it has its roots in ‘a little like love’.

The effect of China’s implementation of a one-child policy for couples, men and women, in the early 1980s was nothing like love. It was a top-down, Communist Party, misogynistic policy, based on pseudo-economics, demographics and projections of population growth. This was best summed up by a midwife who conducted tens of thousands of abortions and admitted drowning babies in buckets because she had no other choice. We’d starve and resort to cannibalism, she argued. The Great Famine of 1959-1961 instigated by Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward was in living memory so this propaganda drive was an idea that gained consensus.

The reversal of a one-child policy, around six years ago, was also an economic decision. China’s one child policy had the desired effect. It was no longer the most populous nation on earth. Under President Xi Jinping the Great Leap Forward has reached its conclusion. China is where America was before the first world war, a rival power trying to establish hegemonic influence.

But a simple rule of thumb and way to boost a countries GDP is to have more children. The more children the greater GDP. India is an example of this effect. Children also offset another ratio, the proportion of working population measured against the non-working population. In leaping forward, China has come to mirror the West in that it has a growing aging population and less workers to pay for their retirement. China also faces an additional demographic burden in that there are many more men than women. In our country, as I imagine in China, around sixty percent of the lowest paid jobs are done by women. Women’s work is not well-paid. But the misogynistic assumption that we need more women to care for our elderly holds a universal appeal. China’s implementation of a two-child policy is based on simple economics, or so they’d have us believe. The propaganda machine that churned out memes about the virtues of having one child has volte-faced and advocates two or more children as the perfect number. We live in an Orwellian world in more ways than one.

Nanfu Wang, a Chinese American, with her chid in tow, goes back to her homeland to document the one-child policy. She notes the irony that in China and America (Christian fundamentalist rights challenge of Roe v Wade) neither nation allows women to control their own bodies.

Wang returns to the rural village where she was born during China’s one-child policy. Her name tells you something about the villager’s aspirations. It’s a boy’s name. The one-child policy was modified to allow for two children to be born in some rural areas, but only if a five year gap appeared between births. Village elders had some discretionary power.  For those that failed to follow this policy, village elders were instructed to knock the down the house of the pregnant woman and fine them. Here Wang interviews the village elder who was responsible for these actions at that time. Like many in the village, a repeating motif, was that he was doing what he was told. He was powerless. The village elder’s equally elderly wife was however not affected by the same inertia and fatalism. She warned Wang that her mother, who still lived in their village, would pay, if her husband experiences any difficulties.

Pregnant women who nevertheless continued with their pregnancy, one woman, for example, hid in the pigsty, were hunted down and strapped to a stretcher and taken to the midwife.

The midwife Wang interviewed told her she would perform an abortion every ten minutes. And she’d performed thousands of such procedures. Foetuses at eight and nine months were left to die. Those born and breathing, drowned in a bucket. Mothers routinely sterilised.  

A Chinese photographer showed Wang his study of the corpses of aborted foetuses and other neonates lying in the trash.

One consequence of the one-child policy, especially in rural villages was the abandonment of female babies after they’d been born. Wang interviewed her Auntie and Uncle who’d left their daughter in the marketplace hoping someone else would take her and bring her up. They admitted their daughter had been ate by mosquitoes and died. Nobody wanted a female child. The marketplace was a graveyard for other female babies left by their parents.

The market place became just that when opportunities later came to sell children to wealthy foreigners in the United States, Europe and Canada. One American couple admitted adopting three Chinese babies. The prices they paid ranged from $10 000 to $25 000 or more. Female babies were no longer left to die in the market place, but swept up, with the finders paid a fee by State run orphanages from $50 to $200 per baby.

In a warped sense, this could be considered win-win, but with not enough babies and demand from abroad booming the next step was kidnapping infants. Village elders would, for example, visit the poorest members of their community, issue them with a fine and take a daughter for payment, until it was paid. The child would be classified as an orphan. Police officers would sign a form agreeing that the child had been found outside the orphanage, abandoned and the child would be sold to the highest bidder. In many ways it mirrors the scandal of Chinese prisons selling prisoner’s kidney, but is even sicker.

The effect of China’s one-child policy worked too well. The affect is devastation of lives and an increase in corruption from top down to bottom up. One Child Nation is the story of a holocaust.

Storyville: Inside Lehman Brothers, BB4, BBC IPlayer, Director Jennifer Deschamps.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0009tpx/storyville-inside-lehman-brothers-the-whistleblowers

Lehman Brothers was one of the first dominoes to fall in the 2008 crash which brought down the world’s financial systems. Debts for Lehman Brothers were around $630 billion. Take a little time to think about that. It’s like the idea of infinity. Your mind shies away from how much money that is. Physicists like to simplify things. If your typical hospital, such as the one in Glasgow or Edinburgh cost £100 million, how many hospitals could you build? Boris Johnson proposes 26 new hospital, but he wasn’t very good at sums, someone quietly mentioned that he really meant six, which doesn’t have the same oomph, but he did throw in 20 000 new police officers in a great big tax giveaway before the next election.  Think of the Laurel and Hardy of British politics, Cameron and Osborne, forever telling us there was no money, while quietly shifting money from the poor to the rich. The United Kingdom and London, in particular, the money-laundering capital of the world.  Lehman Brothers isn’t the rogue bank, the cautionary tale that taught us a valuable lesson. As the billions of pounds and dollars levelled in fines show, all the banks were at it. Lehman brothers were offered up to the gods of finance because they were small enough to go under.

Winners and losers. Richard S. Fuld Jr, who was essentially Lehman Brothers, in all but corporate name and whose pitiful salary in 2007 was around $22 million and after appearing before a Congressional Committee and declaring it was a bull market and it ‘wasn’t me’. A common cry from uncommonly wealthy men.  Fuld walks away with $406 million in bonuses and is exonerated.

The sheriff’s department in finance, The Security and Exchange Commission, (SEC) which is meant to step in when financial irregularities occur, in theory, self regulates. What that means in practice is a representative from Morgan Stanley, for example, investigates Lehmann Brothers. Whistle blower at executive level, Matthew Lee, for example, informed the SEC that Lehmann Brothers were running a carousel in which they took around $50 billion off the audited books in America and sent them to Lehmann Brothers in London, then brought the money back, after the audit had taken place, to hide the subprime losses they were making. Trading followed a very basic principle if it wasn’t illegal, do it. If it was illegal still do it, as long as you make money, but don’t get caught. Lee had handed the SEC a smoking gun in a file called ‘Repo 105’.

After six months the SEC hadn’t got back to Matthew Lee but he had been fired by Lehman Brothers.

Self-regulation of the SEC was, in essence, like sending Harvey Weinstein to investigate Jeffrey Epstein.   

In 2018, the moron’s moron, Vietnam dodger, multiple bankrupt and other well-known sex pest, who also happens to be President of the United States, repealed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was set up after the financial crash 2008. Like the Glass-Steagall legislation it was seen as being overly bureaucratic, making the United States less competitive than its counterparts. In other words, let’s fill our boots again and don’t worry about consequences because little people don’t count.

Not only are banks and regulatory bodies for sale, as we’ve seen the position of President of the United States is too. Gearing up for the next election, Mark Zuckerberg, who did so much to get Trump elected has changed Facebook policy to allow politicians to publish alternative truth, ‘deceptive, false, or misleading content’.

Donald Trump was of course elected to ‘drain the swamp’. In 2017 there’s another bull market and bonuses once again reach 2007 level, running around $30 billion for traders. Algorithmic trading follow the crowd meaning a Lehman type crash will happen faster with greater fallout.

When we’re talking about money, put a face to it. There’s not all them here, not all of them are buffoons, but all of them are millionaires, some of them billionaires. Can another Lehman Brother’s crash happen?  Absolutely.

Storyville, Under the Wire, BBCiPlayer

marie colvini.jpg

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0002k62/storyville-under-the-wire

Unhappy is the land that needs heroes Bertolt Brecht.

A Private War directed by Matthew Heinemann and staring Rosamund Pike as the heroic shambles that was Marie Colvin is in cinemas now. I see no need to see it. It’s all here in Under the Wire. Based on a book by Paul Conroy and his experience in the massacres at Homs. Here we are at the last stand.

13th  February 2012, war-correspondent Marie Colvin and photographer Paul Conroy entered war-ravaged Syria. Homs.

Taste and see.

No sense of victory.

Through the lens of an eye

We witness a baby die

Her rage is pure

That’s no me

And not you

Common sense advises us not to pry

Humanity hunts and dies here

In a world of fear

Homs an exit strategy and obscenity

Little trace and little trade

Clinics bombed and shot

Barbed wire in every cot

Put stuff on a chair

It’s no longer there

On a bloody easy bed

Whoosh, barrel bombs and gas

World splintered and gone mad

Tourniquet on a leg

Three feet and so many dead

A reporter for The Sunday Times

Reports victims of war crimes

Assad you war criminal and crook

Where no words can cross the void

Vanity, vanity, vanity, of the house of Assad

May god judge you –soon

We pray every day

A black eye patch will appear

To tell hell how it was when you were here

Your legacy will be not judged by history

But the best you put to rest

A Dangerous Dynasty: The House of Assad, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, director Nick Green.

Storyville, Jailed in America, BBC 4, BBCiPlayer, 10pm director and narrator Roger Ross Williams.

jailed in america.jpg

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bn6tr3/storyville-jailed-in-america

Roger Ross Williams recalled the time he first attended school in his home town of Easton, Pennsylvania and a white kid called him ‘nigger’. The white kid’s mum chastised him and told him not to do that or he would come and burn their house down. Here we are in Trump’s America, before the moron’s moron got to play at being presidential. Here we are in Trump’s America where $265 billion of Federal funds is annually allocated to jail 1 in 3 black men. As profits grown year on year, costs are cut. The quantity and quality of food, for example, for the richest nation on earth, would shame any third-world country – and it’s getting worse. A prison system that jails 2.2 million of its citizens, more incarcerations than every other nation combined. A prison system that is predicated on a simple model of taking money from the poor, incarcerating them and giving the tax dollars to the rich. Jim Crow didn’t go away, he just grew up in a different way.

Here is Ross William’s personal account of what happens to black men that don’t make it, like his old school friend, Tommy Alvin that committed suicide, leaving a daughter behind. We learn he had mental health problems, as do an estimated 67% of prisoners. Alvin was kept in a bubble, a type of transparent cage in a penitentiary for those on suicide watch. He was given a paper suit to wear.

Nothing I saw in this programme surprised me, apart from what seems to me the naïve belief of those like Adam Foss, an activist that attempts to re-educate the 31 000 public prosecutors about the real cost of jailing black people that if they knew the facts their attitude would change. It reminded me of stories of if the king only knew how us peasants suffered he’d be sure to act. If Hitler only knew how us poor Germans suffered he’d be sure to act. If Trump, the moron’s moron only knew…he’d be delighted. Not that he’d ever watch a documentary like this.

Karl Marx’s theory of surplus value shows exactly how important ‘worthless’ prison labour is to the economy. We did have one governor explaining to us ignorant viewers how it works, because in the real world prisoners don’t pay for their food, they don’t pay for their healthcare and they don’t pay rent. Slave owners on plantations used the same argument, it led to civil war. Here we are met with generalised indifference.

Marx, who knew a thing or two about propaganda, has a message from the past, for successful filmmakers like Ross Williams:

The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point is to change it. [italics my own].

Here we are preaching to the converted.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Amen, to the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) who foresaw this mockery of natural justice.