Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Second Carrboro, NC Community Forum On Policing

Yes, folks. After six months of waiting, it is finally here. The Second Carrboro, NC Community Forum on Policing, being hosted by the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and Chief of Police, Walter Horton, this coming Monday, at the Carrboro Town Hall, beginning at 7.00pm.

I will, at that forum, be proposing that Carrboro adopt the concept of 'citizen design of policing.' Ok. By the stages. What is citizen design of policing?

Very simple. It arises from the belief that, even if your own community is an oasis of calm, there are communities in this country where there is deep distrust between police and those they are policing. The notion is that the distrust might end if it is citizens who design policing methods, not police on their own.

How does this work. Again, very simple. People forget that police are employees of the agency funding them. You demand of the elected officials of that funding agency that they start to take the lead in designing policing policy, not leaving it to the police themselves. And you make the design process open and transparent and totally accessible to concerned citizens, so that aggrieved citizens have the opportunity, not merely to complain, but to design away those aspects of policing they do not like.

Will it work. Who knows? What I do know is that it won't even get a chance if you don't turn up.

Why Carrboro? Not because it is a hotbed of tension. Precisely because it is not - even if there are some difficulties. Better to implement and test the process in a small, friendly community, so that it can then be available for those larger communities more at risk.

But once again, we can't design that template if you don't turn up. As some of you may know, I have been trying to lay the groundwork these past several months, by advocating, blogging, explaining and meeting with Carrboro Aldermen and other concerned groups. I have now followed up with an e-mail dealing with the logistical nitty-gritty of next Monday. Tucked away in that e-mail, you will also find useful links to all that groundwork, explaining, advocacy, etc., for more background information:

"Dear Carrboro Board of Aldermen and Chief Horton,

I do not think I need to re-canvass here what is citizen design of policing, and why I think it is urgent that we move towards such a concept with our policing in Carrboro, not just for Carrboro, but as a part of our nation, where there is considerable tension between the police and community, even if that tension does not exist in our community. You can remind yourself of a summary of my thinking with this link:

I have discussed, both in meeting and on blogs, how I think this concept might look in its beginning stages:

The purpose of this e-mail is to get down to the nitty-gritty of the second Carrboro community forum on policing next Monday itself. And I think I am not alone in believing that the meeting next Monday should be the beginning of a process. Not a stand-alone event.

I am one person. Owed no particular favors. I have some thoughts. So do other people. But I would hope that the meeting is not too taken up merely with reporting by the Board and the Police Chief. I think folks want interactive involvement.

I would like to suggest the outlines of a working, citizen-oriented agenda. We have brief reports from the Police Chief and the Board on what they have been doing since the first Carrboro community forum on policing. You then invite groups which have been taking an interest to report, also briefly. I know that the local NAACP and Orange County Justice United have certainly been holding meetings. Perhaps get a sense of who else might want to report when those present confirm the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. After that, open the floor. And let those present drive the meeting.

I certainly will wish to have citizen design of policing on the agenda. I have a motion I wish to propose, and will be open to answering questions on the concept and how I see it working.

The final point is that I think it would be useful to have an item at the end of the agenda where the meeting determines what happens next. Once again, my sense is that people want an ongoing process. I think it would be useful if the meeting was given a chance to set a time period for what happens next, when another such meeting should be held, and so on. How we might want future meetings and process to be different. If there is anything specific we might want on the agenda, so that folks have a chance to prepare. And if there are any side issues people might want to be researching or undertaking.

I am happy either for you to propose something like this, or I can propose it from the floor at the start of the meeting.

The motion I will be proposing is s follows:

"This meeting of concerned Carrboro citizens believes that, henceforth, policing policy in Carrboro should be designed by the elected officials of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, in conjunction with the Carrboro Police Department, and that such design should take place in an open and transparent manner, involving those concerned Carrboro citizens who wish to participate."

It may well be that some folks will want some idea of how I think citizen design might work in its first steps. I refer to that in the second link above. I also set out some thoughts about what I personally might want citizen design to address early on, in this link:

There is one last link which includes some thinking about citizen design, just to round out the information (!):

I look forward to the meeting next /monday, and the beginning of a process which I hope may serve as a successful template for other, more troubled communities in our nation.

All the best,

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Maggie's Hammer: The Galley

Yup. It finally arrived. The first galley of the book. Next up: the beginning of the pre-launch promotion campaign. Meanwhile, you can pre-order your copy on Amazon ...

Friday, June 12, 2015

Article In National UK Newspaper

I'm sat here. On break. Stunned. In tears. One of the UK journalists who helped to break the Jimmy Savile story in 2013, and for which he co-won a London Press Club award, has just e-mailed me to ask if he could write the story of my book for a national UK newspaper.

This has been a very, very long time coming. I'm not in tears for me. I'm in tears for Hugh Simmonds' grown-up children, who now may finally learn the truth. I'm shocked. I'm humbled. I'm grateful. And I'm terrified. I've not been in touch with those children for twenty-some years. Their mothers, quite rightly, shielded them from me.

The universe sure works in strange ways ...

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Israeli Intelligence Review of My Book

Great news on the book front. My Israeli Intelligence source, who is something of a controversial figure himself in the world of politics, intelligence and publishing, and with whom I have been playing all manner of games these past 22 years, has signed off this morning on the following quote to be placed on the outside cover of the book:

"In the Eighties, Margaret Thatcher ... attempted dramatic
ally to rebuild British industry by rapidly expanding [UK] arms sales. In this regard, the [British] Conservative Party sold arms to Iraq, with help from Israel. And the Labour Party, with Robert Maxwell, sold arms to Iran. [Hugh Simmonds] was one of a team who laundered the political kickbacks from such sales."

Bearing in mind one of the primary contentions of my book is that political kickbacks associated with UK arms sales continue to this day, built upon the foundations laid in the Eighties, it is my hope that such a quote might draw some attention to the book, and encourage a couple of MP's to start asking serious questions in the House of Commons.

This will be my focus with the book this coming summer, the book itself being sent to the printers at the end of June, with formal launch due at the end of August. Hmm. Fingers crossed. I mean, it's only taken 27 years to get this far ...

Saturday, June 06, 2015

David Cameron -vs- Maggie's Hammer

So. The British newspapers this morning are reporting an extraordinary speech by David Cameron, in which he rails against global corruption, and the link between foreign aid, defense build-up and bribery.

I'm not sure whether to launch an all-out attack, or invite Our Dave to write the Foreword to my book, in which I set out a reasonably compelling case alleging the involvement of his (our) British Conservative Party in receiving hundreds of millions of pounds of kickbacks from UK arms sales, and the steps his own government have taken to link UK foreign aid to arms purchases from the UK.

Blimey. Where to start? I know. At the beginning.

In 2006, after Dave became the new Leader of the Conservative Party, I wrote to Dave (a wee bit tongue-in-cheek), inviting him to expose bribes corruption in the Tory Party.

I did so in connection with the first, self-published version of my book, chronicling the painstaking process of determining how my mate Hugh Simmonds, CBE had met his death as a consequence of laundering kickbacks from UK international arms sales to the British Conservative Party - among others.

At the Conservative Party Conference that same year (2006), Dave launched his first personal weblog, called Webcameron. I posted my open letter on his blog. And to his credit, he left it there the entire time of its existence. Got 80 views. Whoop-di-doo. Point is, Dave is aware of me and my allegations.

Dave then becomes Prime Minister of a LibCon Coalition Government in 2010. Promptly announces that he will be making a huge effort to increase UK arms sales, to spearhead a drive for more exports generally. Further announces that he will be complying with the UN request for governments to spend 0.7% of their GNP on foreign aid. And rounds out his announcements by making clear that the 'security' of recipients will be a primary criterion in determining eligibility for UK foreign aid. With the unspoken stipulation that the UK government will regard a recipient as 'secure' if it is buying UK arms to stay 'secure.'

Indeed, throughout the term of the LibCon Government, there was a close connection between UK foreign aid and arms sales. The vetting process for both was run by the same department in the Ministry for International Development, and was overseen by a very senior Conservative politician (Alan Duncan), who had his own controversial past connections with iffy arms deals.

Were there continuing arms bribes under the LibCon Government? I can't say. I'm a one-man investigating band. One man and his dog, without the dog. I can only extrapolate forward from what I was told about the Conservative governments in the Eighties and Nineties, and the Labour administrations of the Nineties and Noughts.

Arms sales continued through all governments, into and including the LibCon Government. The same criteria applied. And there were worrying signs that the same apparatus for bribery was in place. For more detail, you're going to have to read the book. Something of a summary of concerns can be found in this post.

The years passed. And eventually, Trineday, a charming little publishing house out of Oregon, agreed to publish a commercial version of the book. Which will be in print at the end of June. And formally launched in August of this year.

Then, lo and behold, along comes Dave with his speech yesterday. What gives?

On the one hand, there is further worrying evidence that Dave is all set to put the arms sales/arms bribes machine back into top gear. On the other hand, maybe Dave, flush from his second election victory, feels he can now take on the toxic influence of arms bribery in Whitehall and Westminster, and genuinely bring an end to arms political corruption in the UK?

Former British Prime Minister, Sir John Major, tried to do the same in the Nineties, and fell victim to the alliance of the defense industry, civil servants, the intelligence services and the City of London, along with support from right-wing newspapers and rebellious, former Thatcher-supporting Tory MP backbenchers.

So. I am where I began. Can't tell whether Dave is being disingenuous, in order to divert attention from nefarious, continuing naughty no-no's. Or he genuinely wants to break with the corrupting influences within the British establishment and body politic.

What I do know is that it is fascinating that the universe has compelled him to make his speech so in conjunction with my own efforts. Thank you, universe. And maybe I'll drop him a line when the book comes out ...