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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Knife and violent crime rise in 2011 highlights blame 'game'

IT CAN'T be a coincidence knife and other violent crime is now rising as economies and poor past financial management in international trading cities such as the City (London) and across the UK + world continue to wreak havoc all around.

And, for the safety of the general public, today's news that a new law will be introduced to lock up knife-carriers seems most appropriate - see article in The Guardian - Knife crime teenagers to be jailed.

(For reference, this post is based on publication of some knife crime statistics showing more people are now facing blade attacks, apparently, an increase from 13,994 to 14,980 - and violent crime is up 10% to 1.15 million - although I can't see when these figures are compared to or a verifiable source for them on the web except this newspaper story in The Sun.)

Observing politicians and the rest of us as economic contagion spreads and some related societal breakdown and misery become evident, it is clear the issue is most serious.

Who (and what) is to blame for the contagion misery continuing to work its way out of the economic system? Opinions are most serious - they influence political and societal thinking - and who has done poor jobs, helped to make it happen?

Those with security jobs are charged with protecting us - but more people are likely to be injured or die at present - so they and their masters (or mistresses) want to point out "it's not our fault, it's the economy", so 'don't sack me from my job'.

Those looking after economic matters - from City business adviser types and senior bankers right down to the one-man businesses, and even those running household budgets - are thinking "it's not my fault, it's all sorts of other things" so 'don't sack me from my job'.

At a most simple level, people need to stop running scared, stop arguing and stop being in self-preservation mode. Calm down, support each other, eke out peaceful effective solutions... for the greater good. If only that would happen.

If not, more people will die or get injured from knife crime or other violence - and then all those arguing are likely to be at fault for wasting time shouting and not mapping out solutions. I get the feeling no-one knows what the important things are to do... (Tory MPs Theresa May and Kenneth Clarke take note). Maybe I'm wrong - what do you think?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anti-capitalists help anti-knife crime campaign

I FIND the Occupy protests a little surreal. After years highlighting the fact (through this blog) that defeating knife crime - and other violent crime - also requires corporate and societal greed to dissipate, it is almost bemusing to see ordinary people + anti-capitalists coming together to protest along the same lines.

"You are turning the world into a 'den of thieves' "
 - Jesus Christ speaks out

Can such protests help give back aspiration and hope to young people and those dispossessed by the current economic mess? I don't really know - but it feels like a start. Anything that contributes to driving knife crime and violence out of society deserves support.

Here are the demands of the Occupy protesters in London - Guardian article: Occupy London protest issues demands forCity of London clean-up. And in Wall Street, here are the broadly described demands... more and better jobs, more equal income distribution, less profit (or no profit) for banks, lower compensation for bankers, and more strictures on banks on negotiating consumer services such as mortgages and debit cards, cut influence of corporations - financial firms in particular - especially in politics, and they want a more populist set of government priorities: bailouts for student debtors and mortgage holders, not just for banks.

In response, an anonymous poster to this blog sent me a link to an explanatory 'lesson in economics' video rebutting such demands:

PS: I was just thinking that the protesters are perhaps scared of the negative impact of capitalism... I know I am (no home, no money, no clothes, no food etc) - and not a little fed up, of course, with 'those people and businesses at the top of the tree' continuing to line their nests and hoovering money out of everyone below them like a huge cocaine snorting pipe (come to think of it, their addiction to money is pretty much like drug abuse). That said, it seems many of us ordinary people also exhibit signs of this addiction... at least at times.

So the protest at St Paul's Cathedral, London, is not, perhaps, about "occupying" the City... it's about seeking sanctuary from the awful consequences of failed capitalism - and also making a stand against the misery it has been creating. Fear and anger are great motivators to protest - and the Christian Church, as God and Christ's representative on earth - has a duty to help those who are afraid, are the powerless, are the dispossessed, are the poor...

Having said that, we can be reminded of 'capitalist' insight given once by Winston Churchill... "There never will be enough of everything while the world goes on. The more that is given, the more there will be needed. That is why life is so interesting." That said, there is much abundance in life - and it's not all about money and possessions. Think we just need to work out how everyone can enjoy 'abundance'.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Murder rates across the world, country by country

A pioneering international crime study has been published revealing data about murders in countries across the world - and alarmingly, economic downturns have been shown to increase murder rates, with figures tending to lag behind the economy as it recovers (or worsens...  so more murders in the UK and USA maybe on their way!)

Crime statistics are usually difficult to compare across borders - but murders tend to always be reported so the figures in the study can be considered accurate.

Compiled by UNODC (the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), the report reveals there were c.468,000 homicidal deaths on planet Earth last year.

More than a third of murders (36%) were in Africa and just under a third were on the American contintents (31%); in these global regions, the murder rate was 15-16 killings per 100k people, more than double the average of 6.9 killings per 100k for the rest of the world.

Illustrative map of murder rates on planet Earth

Murders in most countries have reduced in number since 1995, but in the Caribbean and Central America, murder numbers have increased.

Interestingly, the UK is a developed nation and can be considered relatively safer than others, enjoying one of the lowest murder rates for individual countries. I can't help speculating how our anti-gun culture helps here, especially when one considers US murder rates are tending to be double the UK's.

Two trends seem to be apparent:

1. A link exists between development and crime. Countries with low scores on the UN Development Programme’s human-development index reveal high murder rates and vice versa.

2. Exceptions to the above show another trend. Organised crime, drug trafficking, violent gang culture and the prevalence of firearms are also correlated with higher murder rates, even in relatively developed countries.

This distressing phenomenon just noted above is proven in Honduras and El Salvador. It would be wise probably not to travel to this pair of countries; they suffer the highest and second-highest global murder rates (82 killings per 100k and 66 killings per 100k resp.).

To download more detail on this report, visit the 'Homicides Study' on the website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.