Thursday, March 31, 2016

Declining Crime Rate, Prison Closures and Happy Population: How The Netherlands got it right and Others got it wrong

The Netherlands will close five of its prisons over the next few years because the cost of maintaining them is too high. The reason why the prisons aren’t cost-efficient, however, is something of a national blessing: thanks to the country’s steadily declining crime rate, thousands of prison cells are going unused.

The news was first reported by the Telegraaf (link in Dutch), which obtained government documents disclosing the plan to close five jails. The documents also showed 1,900 prison employees would lose their jobs.

The reason for the closings is two-fold, reports Dutch News: according to Ard van der Steur, the Dutch minister of security and justice, judges are granting shorter sentences, meaning criminals spend less time in jail. But there has also been a decline in more serious crimes. In recent years, the Netherland’s crime rate has declined about 0.9% on average every year, according to Dutch News.

The Netherlands has been facing this good-to-have problem for years now: the country closed eight jails because of the falling prison population in 2009, and shut down another 19 in 2014. And other countries started paying attention: in 2015, Norway transferred more than 1,000 of their inmates to a jail in the Netherlands because it was seeing the opposite trend—there was not enough room for all its criminals in its jails.

The Netherlands isn’t the first country to close jails because it doesn’t have enough criminals. Sweden’s prison numbers fell by about 1% per year from 2004 to 2011. Then between 2011 and 2012, they declined by 6%. In 2013, the country announced it would close four prisons and one other correctional facility due to the unusual trend. One explanation for the decrease in prison numbers, according to the Guardian, was the Swedish supreme court’s 2011 decision to give less harsh sentences for drug offenses, which could have led to inmates spending less time behind bars before going back into society.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Cameroon: A Case of Social Engineering by the Establishment in France---An Excerpt of the book "Flash of the Sun"

Excerpt of Flash of the Sun

“Jean-Paul dreamed of Rachel’s death even before it happened. He told me about it that morning and half an hour later, I received a phone call that she was dead, shot by a Cameroonian soldier, from a bullet that was supposed to have ricocheted off the reinforced steel plate of a car that was driving past, a car owned by a popular businessman in Douala that the establishment here loathes for his political sympathies with the UPC.”
“It happens!” Clement offered, not knowing what else to say or do.
“She died just when they got her to the Bangoua hospital; but before she died, she had words for me, which her young aunt duly conveyed. She wanted me to forgive her killers; she wanted me to leave Cameroon with our kids; and she wants me to marry again, to a French woman,” Jean-Pierre said with a sinking voice.
Clement nodded, but did not utter a word.
“But how can I run away from what we are doing here?”
“You are not the government of France; you are not fighting with the French Army or their Cameroonian palls.”
“How can I pretend there is nothing I can do to help Rachel’s people; how can I absolve myself of the guilt?”
“Is that why you are staying behind?”
“Yes, Clement. I want to mitigate things. I want to create the grounds for a future reconciliation. I want to shame the Fascists who are giving France a bad name here in Cameroon and other parts of Francophone Africa.”
“So you moved to Banganté.”
“Yes, I moved here because I know that the French army and the local Cameroonian army are about to launch a major offensive against the UPC Maquis and the populations supporting them in this region.”
“And Max Briand is expected to lead the offensive in the Bamilekéland?”
“You got it. Your friend René Roccard is not doing a good enough job, the Fascists claim. You see; they used his quest to avenge his brother’s death to their advantage, but the realities of the war appear to be sobering him up.”
“An offensive!” Clement muttered, held up his empty glass and regarded it ponderingly.
“Mind joining me for a refill?”
“Wouldn’t mind at all.”
“Show me your glass,” Jean-Pierre said and poured him some more wine.
Jean-Pierre filled up his glass too, took a sip, savored it for a moment, let it roll down his throat, and then got up abruptly. “Why don’t we make ourselves comfortable in the sitting room.”
Bien sûr”
They had hardly settled down when Jean-Pierre said suddenly:
“I was fifteen when My father took me and my brothers to the Kruger National Park and we watched a lion taking over a pride. The male lion chased its rival away after winning the fight, imposed himself on the pride, spared the young male lions but killed all the cubs the defeated rival seeded. My father explained to me the significance of that action, which to me was savage in every sense of the word. The intruding lion kills the cubs in order to begin his new family with the females in a process that ensures his reproductive success.”
It is amazing. I saw it too in the Serengeti. By killing the nursing lioness’s cubs, the new alpha male forces her to come back into heat, make herself available to him and at least give him the opportunity to reproduce with her, after which she goes on to nurture his cubs who would have a greater chance of surviving to adulthood before another male lion challenges him in a bid to take over the pride he is leading.”
“Jungle law all right, but great in ensuring the survival of the male lion’s genes; don’t you think?”
“You are right, Jean-Pierre. Not fair for the female lion in the moral sense of things. But since lionesses take two years to raise their cubs before coming back into heat; and since they have a reproductive lifespan of at least ten years, compared to five years for male lions, the loss of a given litter of cubs that is followed soon after by the birth of new cubs isn’t as painful as it seems.”
“As a matter of fact, Shaka learned a lot from that practice and put it to effective use in founding the Zulu kingdom. You see, when the Zulus defeated their enemies, they made sure they killed only the elderly and the males of fighting age of these defeated villages or clans. Then they absorbed the women   and young males. The women became the wives of Zulu men and bore Zulu children, while the teenage males got integrated into the Zulu war machine and the Zulu culture, thereby becoming useful soldiers in the expansion and consolidation of the Zulu kingdom.”
“So basically, the young males ended up serving the killers of their fathers.”
“Exactly! Just like the young lion accepts and serves the strong lion who takes over a pride. But that is not all, my friend. What about those who were lucky enough to escape the Zulu carnage?”
“What about the escapees?” Clement asked with dimmed eyes.
Jean-Pierre laughed and shook his head. “You wouldn’t believe it! As a matter of fact, many of the escapees learned the Zulu tactics of warfare and control, and then went on to use the strategy of subjugation on the more distant clans they came across that were not familiar with the new order that Shaka and his Zulu warriors were imposing in the South African veldt.  Mzilikazi, one of Shaka’s rogue generals, put that lesson into effective use with the band of followers he escaped with, fearing for his life after he disobeyed Shaka.  The fellow ended up founding the Matabele nation in southern Rhodesia from the clans and tribes he defeated along his trail; and today, hardly a quarter of the people of the Matabele nation are Ndebele by blood.”
“Are you suggesting that humans tend to practice the ways of their stronger enemies?”
“Not exactly,” Jean-Pierre said with a sigh, “People need to understand the ways of their adversaries, that’s all. That way, they avoid being fooled repeatedly.”
“Now, I understand.”
“The right-wingers are like the lion that has taken over a pride, which in our case in point is Cameroon.  Ahidjo and his gang are like the young lions that have been allowed to live. Or let’s say, they are like the young males of defeated clans and villages that the Zulu warriors let live, who got trained to become useful soldiers serving the interest of the Zulu kingdom. That is what the right-wingers who are in power in my country are grooming these puppets they have brought to power in Cameroon to become. They are grooming them to serve France’s interest and not to cater for the progress and development of Cameroon. De Gaulle and his administration are helping their chosen political rulers in Cameroon to consolidate power even though you and I know that Ahidjo and his pusillanimous ministers lack the support of the Cameroonian people. France’s lackeys lack the mental fortitude, the knowledge, the skills and the abilities as organizers to take Cameroon to the future. The same applies to the other Francophone African leaders my country allowed to become the heads-of-state of their countries. The point I am trying to make here is that the marionettes we are putting in place here will become the biggest facilitators to this young country’s downward spiral into abyss.”
“Perhaps we should give Ahidjo some time to prove himself.”
“You don’t get it, Clement.”
“He could turn things around and actually save this new country.”
“You don’t get it. He is not in control. He is a puppet who is being controlled by Jacques Foccart and his representatives here. He owes his stay in power to the people who put him there; he has no clue of how a country works, and he has no sense of direction when it comes to Cameroon’s development. He fits the stereotype of the child-like innocence of the African; he is the archetype of the false idea peddled around by racists that nothing good can come out of Africa and Africans.”
“I guess you know what you are talking about when it comes to Cameroon.”
“There is more to their game plan, my brother. The right-wingers will replace the current political, administrative and business classes that support the UPC with people that would do their bidding, people who would end up serving their interests. They would do so over time. In fact, it is already an ongoing process. They have started with the political class that opposed France.  Cameroon’s political class and the intelligentsia that overwhelming supported the UPC will be killed, hounded into exile, imprisoned or cowed into submission. The patriotic business class would be next. And after that, the administrative class with progressive values would be phased out. But whom are we going to replace these genuinely dynamic and creative minds of Cameroon with, in our negative artificial demographic selection? Tell me, Clement.”
Clement shrugged. “You tell me.”
“The right-wingers intend to replace them with the castrated. Take the case of the political class. Instead of using the UPC that the majority of both the literate and uneducated Cameroonians support, instead of using the UPC that has the vast majority of Cameroun’s intellectuals like Soppo Priso, Dr. Felix Moumié, Economist Osende Afana etc., we decided to hand power to a sixth grader Ahmadou Ahidjo and his retinue of half-educated men. We did so under the conviction that they would toe the line and implement our game plan for this land. The thing is, our puppets believe that they are involved in the process of Cameroon’s salvation. Ahidjo believes the lie his masters told him that Bamileké leaders want to get back the Adamawa, that the UPC is a Communist party. The fellow is also convinced that his supposed communist opponents plan to implement a policy of sharing women, meaning that he would have to share his beautiful wife with other men.”
“You are kidding me; or aren’t you?”
“That is what many of our puppets think.”
“I know, Clement. Unfortunately, it is our reality in the local Cameroonian ruling political class. Which explains why most of Cameroon’s French-speaking intellectuals reside out of the country.”
“Where do you get your information from.”
“Do you doubt me.”
“Then this is my answer. Vichy France inherited from Nazi Germany, their master, the penchant for keeping records of everything. People who served the Vichy regime came to dominate the bureaucracy of the French empire after the war, and they still hold sway in the bureaucracy of France today.”
“You mean the information came from the records kept by the French Trusteeship administration in French Cameroun and from France?”
“Yes, Clement. Hmm, my friend, my country shall transform Cameroon into a brain-drained nation of underperformers, one where there would be an abnormally high proportion of lazy, passive, weak, nerveless and untrustworthy citizens.  You see; if these right-wingers are not stopped before the process becomes irreversible, if they allow Cameroon to go downhill to the point where the underperformers exceed the critical mass, Cameroon’s progress and development would become unacceptably slow, if not impossible to carry out. Don’t you see now why I think these right-wingers ought to be stopped? If we don’t thwart their game plan now, Cameroon shall become a failed state, albeit one that would be completely beneficial to France—I mean with its raw materials, exclusive market, and with it losing its best brains to France and God-knows where else, its best brains who see no future staying at home.”
“I have been to a few other African countries. Cameroon isn’t that bad. In fact, I think it is promising. The people are resourceful.”
“I see you are hopeful, Clement! You are hopeful for Cameroon even if there is no fundamental change of the system. Of course, the Cameroonian people are resourceful; Of course, the land is resource-rich; Of course, the world wants to do business with Cameroon. But you fail to get the picture, my brother. History created a peculiar dynamism in this land that cannot be underrated, a dynamism the German colonial administration was quick to understand and exploit, making German Kamerun the most promising colony in Africa. We and the British exploited the land’s resources when we took over from the Germans after the First World War, but we underinvested in the resourcefulness of the people. In fact, we have been killing it slowly over the past fifty years. And those who are fighting back against Cameroon’s strangulation are its civic-nationalists represented today by the UPC. When I say the UPC, I mean the party, its offshoots and those who share its ideas and ideals. UPC administrators, businessmen, and politicians still harbor the traditional Cameroonian resourcefulness and values that this land needs. But by purging the forward-looking Cameroonians from the economic, political and administrative life of this land; by replacing them with those infested by the negative values of corruption, hypocrisy, deceit, unpatriotism, unfettered consumerism and an inferiority complex vis-à-vis the white man; France is deliberately destroying the fabrics of a viable Cameroon. It takes three generations to completely accomplish that. And we are about to start with the second generation. If this system survives another generation, the majority of Cameroon’s youths would become disconnected from their resourcefulness and the other positive values that make the people exemplary as we have always known them to be,” Jean-Pierre said and burst into tears.
“It is going to be okay!” Clement muttered, too stunned to move in his seat.
“Everywhere I go in this country; I see a lot of creativity all around me. But what are my people doing? They are gearing this country and its people towards conformity rather than creativity. They are suppressing the dynamic and innovative spirit that I see the Cameroonian people bustling with. And strangely enough, the conformity is based on defeat, despondency, and survival; as if there isn’t enough for everybody here; as if for a Cameroonian to thrive, he must deprive his neighbor of something the neighbor values.”
“I understand what you mean. Tell me, my friend; how much support does the UPC get from the Soviet Union.”
“Not any I can think of. The connection between the UPC and the Soviet Union is tenuous at best.”
“That is not the impression the powers that be in Washington have about this issue. Everybody thinks the UPC is communist.”
“Do you think the Ahidjo government is going to fix things?”
Jean-Pierre chuckled. “The current moves by the system we have put in place for Ahidjo to manage serves as a palliative, not as a solution to Cameroon’s problems in the country’s chaotic march towards doom.”
“I may need to write that down.”
“The natives of this land have a cryptic and witty side that we tend to ignore. They have a saying that ‘If you make or turn yourself into a banana, monkeys would eat you up in no time.’”
“I will write that down too. Give me a moment,” Clement said, fished for a paper and pen in the room, and then returned with it to the sitting room.
“Do you want me to repeat them?” Jean-Pierre asked.
Clement nodded.
The Frenchman did and watched his American counterpart in silence as he wrote them down.
“Good. I was about to add that the world of the people you look up to is a world of interest. Clement, the values they talk about and flash around in the media and in public speaking are for local consumption and for literary definition only. National interest or the interest of the influential class is the technical definition of French foreign policy, of capitalism and of the big powers of this world.”
“I won’t write that one down,” Clement joked.
“Believe me, the West defeated Hitler, but Fascism won,” the Frenchman said suddenly and heaved his shoulder, shaking his head knowingly like someone with a deep secret that he found amusing to share.
“What do you mean?” Clement asked barely above a mumble.
“We learned so many of the methods that Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy employed to control their populations and the nations they conquered. And when I say the West, I mean France, Britain, The USA, Japan, Germany and all the countries that oppose the Soviet Union. In fact, even the Soviet Union too adopted some of Hitler’s methods. Let me tell you something, Clement; our western democracies are quickly evolving into plutocracies.”
“Can you expatiate on that?”
“I will, I will. First, let me take a breath,” Jean-Pierre said with a nod, exhaled  deeply, and then continued, “You see; our populations have no clue that when the victories Allied powers, including the Soviet Union, dismantled the fabrics of the states Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy created, they took not only valuable industrial and technological assets home with them,  but also thousands of Nazi Germany’s and Fascist Italy’s military and industrial leaders  whom we put to work in our home countries in the development of technologies and means of control. From the Nazis, our governments also learned the power of the media and the results that come from weaving big lies that the people are given piecemeal until they become unconscious of the fact that their way of thinking, their decision-making process, is the result of the information they got fed with over the years, tailored information that suits the agenda of the few who are in real control of our systems. The masses never get to figure out that they are being taken for a ride or that they are being made to serve the purpose of the controllers of the state.”
“You are making an interesting point here.”
“Tell me, Clement! You are a journalist. What are you going to write about the killing of my wife? Nothing!  She was an African, the wife of a communist. Of course, it is not news worthy.”
“I will tell her story,” Clement said in a constricted voice
“You said you will!” Jean-Pierre laughed, throwing his hands in the air, “Clement said he will.  How are you going to do that when you and I know that your bosses will not allow you to do such a thing? Stories like that do not fit well into their narrative of the pacification of Cameroon, of the Western Allies’s fight against Soviet-backed communists in Africa. Tell me, my friend; how many of the articles you wrote while you were here, and which you sent back home ever got published? Or what percentage of your heart-wrenching accounts of the carnage in French Cameroun made it to print in the US media? Huh?  Tell me, Clement! Which ones?  Time magazine, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Philadelphia Inquirer etc. etc. I understand the modus operandi, Clement. My country and your country want our people to believe that France is fighting communism here in Cameroon. So forget about the whole military posturing and chest thumping, my friend. You are a tool in the hands of a master you can’t even fathom.”
“I am not. I also write fiction and nonfiction. I am writing a book on the Cameroonian story.”
“How many Americans, in your opinion, know where Cameroon is? How many of your trend-driven compatriots will bother to understand the plight of a people in the remote continent of Africa, a people their government is telling them their French allies are cleansing of the specter of communism?”
“My story will get across, I promise.”
“I understand your good heart, my friend. My concern is the mass media. In totalitarian states like China and the Soviet Union, the state directly controls them, but in our western nations, our bosses, our share-holders, and our secret societies control them. Uh-huh, Clement! The mass media in all the societies are accountable to the governments in power. So, you see, even our media too is still controlled by our governments, though indirectly. So like the citizens of totalitarian states, our citizens too are compelled to hear what their governments want them to hear; they get the information the way our governments want them to get it; and they get bombarded this targeted information at a frequency that our governments deem reasonable to turn them into processed zombies that will serve the ultimate purpose our governments have in mind.”
“This is the reality of our world today. The rich and powerful do whatever they want to do, while the poor and weak folks of this world can do only what they can.”
Clement sat forward and dropped his head in his hands, an agonized look on his face. “I am not one of them,” he stuttered, “I hope you can see that. My book will tell it all. Watch—” he left unfinished and stared at Jean-Pierre with quizzical eyes as the sound of artillery shells shattered the tranquility of the Banganté evening.
“It is okay. Our armies start shelling at regular intervals from 17:00 hours every day. It is directed at the outskirts of Banganté. They do the same thing with the other population centers here in the Bamilekéland with the stated objective of deterring the partisans from approaching the towns and camps.”
“Yes, camps!” Jean-Pierre reiterated, dimming his eyes at Clement. “Mon Dieu, you are not aware of that development. I am glad you came, Clement,” he added with a short laugh.
“What do you mean?
“I will take you around so that you can see the carnage going on here. We shall do that tomorrow. First, I need to take you to Ken’s. I wonder what your American pal would do to me if he finds out that I made you spend an entire night here in Banganté without him knowing about it.”