Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “crime”

Mass killings by lone gunmen

Everyone and their auntie seem to have been discussing the latest mass murder in Orlando in the USA, apparently the biggest yet, and speculating about the motives of the killer.

I wasn’t going to comment on it, as it seemed that everything that could be said had been said, except that three days later it seems that two obvious questions still weren’t being asked, or at least I hadn’t heard them being asked.

Most of the questions seem to have been on the lines of: Was he a member of a terrorist group? What radicalised him? Did he hate gay people? Was he gay?

Some have asked whether he had received terrorist training because he shot so many people in such a short time. But the fact that he had been a security guard should answer that. Most security guards are trained in the use of firearms, and anyone with an automatic or semi-automatic rifle in a crowded nightclub would have no difficulty in hitting someone.

He was reported as having visited the nightclub several times before, and that, to me, raises the first question that no one seemed to be asking: Had he quarrelled with anyone there? Had he quarrelled with the management? Did he bear a grudge against someone, perhaps because of something that had happened on a previous visit?

What radicalised him?

Could it have been reading something like this?

Afghanistan 2015 onwards

Most recent strike: June 8 2016

Total strikes: 324-329
Total killed: 1,546-2,044
Civilians killed: 75-103
Children killed: 4-18
Injured: 163-169

We are told that his parents came from Afghanistan, so an obvious question to ask would be whether any of his relatives had been killed or wounded since the American invasion in 2002, as a result of American military action. But if anyone has been asking it, I haven’t seen it in any of the media reports. Either it has not occurred to the media to ask it, or else they are keeping very quiet about it.

I know that it is very politically incorrect in America right now to say that “All lives matter”. American lives matter, yes. But Afghan lives? Not so much.

Yet people do get worked up about such things even when they are not directly involved, and I’ve seen 2nd generation children of Cypriot immigrants marching to the Turkish embassy chanting “Turkish troops out of Cyprus” even though the Turkish troops went into Cyprus before many of them were born.

I’ve sometimes marched with them myself, because I think the Turkish invasion of Cyprus was a bad idea, just as I think the US invasion of Afghanistan was a bad idea.

In most countries that’s as far as it goes, an annual protest march, like the French commemorating Bastille Day, or South Africans commemorating Youth Day.

But only in America can someone who is worked up about such things just walk into a shop and buy a military semi-automatic weapon with a high rate of fire and act out his fantasies of revenge.


The answer to these questions may be no.

No, he didn’t have relatives killed in Afghanistan.

No, he hadn’t quarrelled with anyone at the nightclub.

But it’s strange that nobody seems to be asking them.



Anger and outrage

Yesterday morning we were driving around running errands and in between stops we heard snatches of an interview on the car radio. They were discussing some particularly horrible murders in which the victims had been beaten and mutilated, and they were described as “hate crimes”.

Perhaps this was one of the cases they were speaking about Police continue search for suspects in Vanderbijlpark rape, murder:

Gauteng police say they are searching for an unknown number of suspects involved in the rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman in Vanderbijlpark.

Her mutilated body was found at a nearby school last month.

While gay rights groups believe the woman was attacked because she was lesbian, police say the motive for the murder is not yet known.

I’m not sure how they can search for an “unknown” number of suspects — either you suspect someone or you don’t. But presumably if they track them down they will arrest the unknown number of people to charge with murder.

The radio interviewer was asking about whether the crime they were discussing was a “hate crime”, and the person being interviewed was talking about such crimes, and saying that there were many of them, and referred to several instances.

Then the interviewer asked whether we South Africans were angry enough, and whether we had enough outrage, clearly expecting the answer to be that we were not angry enough, and that we did not have enough outrage, and that we should have more.

SilouanAnd the incongruity of it struck me. Here they were discussing crimes that were clearly motivated by anger and outrage. “Hate crimes”, by definition, are characterised by hatred, anger and rage. The mutilation of the bodies, and the brutality of the beatings the victims had received clearly pointed to great anger — and here was the interviewer apparently calling for more. Hair of the dog that bit you!

People are tweeting their hatred of other people. and, as Tom Lehrer put it, “There are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that.”

The problem with us in South Africa is not that we don’t have enough anger and outrage, but that we have far too much.


Casing the joint

Someone from the United Kingdom found your profile page on Google with the keyword:”status update about going on holiday

That was one of the notifications I received from the web site.

I wonder whether, if I lived in the United Kingdom, my home would have received some unwelcome visitors?

I wonder if anyone who does live in the United Kingdom, and who posted such a status update somewhere, did receive such an unwelcome visit?

Here we receive warnings from security companies about current practices of the criminal community (I think that is the correct way to refer to such persons nowadays). First they case the joint, then they leave different colours of plastic bottles or wrappers outside as a signal to those who do the actual break-in.

So when you post your status updates, be careful what you say. Someone may be watching, and you never know who.

Look for the deals for your holiday but don’t tell the burglars. | Squashed Bills:

You may be excited and all happy that you are going abroad or booking a holiday in the United Kingdom but don’t announce on Facebook and Twitter. We are amazed at the amount of people who tell people that they are going on holiday and put status updates on.

Burglars may only need to look and see that you have told people that you are going away.

A survey by a leading insurance company Co-Operative Travel looked at messages such as “packing my cases “and “just landed “found that they were able to track down the location of the person within 60 seconds by doing checks on publically available databases.

And the notification above shows that they not only may look, they actually do.

More police on patrol during World Cup – in Hull!

The World Cup starts today, and the squawking of hadedas has been augmented by vuvuzelas as people get in the mood for the opening match this afternoon.

Some nervous souls have been concerned that with all the police being busy with crowd and traffic control there might not be enough to keep tabs on ordinary criminals far from the football grounds. But at least the good citizens of Hull need have no fears, 6000 miles away from the opening match.

BBC News – More police on patrol in Hull during World Cup:

Police are planning an increased presence in Hull during the World Cup as officers try to reduce crime and violence, the force has said.

Humberside Police said it wanted to provide ‘a reassuring presence’ during the tournament.

Extra officers will be on patrol around the city’s pubs and bars during every England game.

A campaign for fans to alternate between alcoholic and soft drinks was also started by the force.

And remember that Hull is north of London, the venue for the 2012 Olympic Games. I hope the British “Daily Mail” is reminding its readers of that.

The price of progress

I bought a new laptop computer the other day, since my old one got nicked.

It was quite interesting the way it got nicked, too. The burglar alarm went off at 2:45 on a Saturday morning. I got up and found the laptop mouse and power cable lying on the floor in the hallway, the burglar bars in the dining room window broken (with a vicegrip). The dogs, who were sleeping in the front, only barked when the alarm went off.

The thieves clearly knew exactly what they wanted. They came over the neighbour’s fence, which they had cut in two places, and right across their yard, and came from the back. They operated like a smash and grab — broke the burglar bars, ran in, grabbed the computer, and scarpered before anyone could catch them. It was obviously very carefully planned.

Well, I wish them luck with it.

I doubt it’s much use without the battery charger. I was thinking of replacing it anyway. It took 25 minutes to boot and 7 minutes to shut down. Automatic updates meant that new versions of programs got bigger and bigger and consumed more and more resources until it spent more time swapping to disk than actually processing anything. Sometimes I would just press and hold the power button to switch it off and wait for the 25 minute boot rather than wait for the hard disk to stop thrashing around. As they used to say, Windows 99 will be released when Windows 98 has finished loading. Only this was far worse. It was Windows XP, and the machine had a 40 Gig hard drive (nearly full) and 256 Mb of RAM. No one sold extra memory for it any more. I was thinking of buying one of those netbook thingies, but the price doubled after Christmas. The nice thing about the netbooks was that they had Widnows XP.

But when it came to a replacement the bigger ones didn’t cost all that much more, and the ones with Windows 7 were actually cheaper than the ones with Vista. And there is some progress — Windows 7 loads in about a minute, and shuts down in about half that. Trouble is it will take me about 3 weeks to begin actually using it.

First thing is to find where it has hidden stuff — like file extensions. Creating a short cut to a program when there are four identically named files, and you don’t know which is the executable is somewhat frustrating. There is, of course, no manual with the thing. Eventually found how to see the extensions, made a shortcut to the program, and found, ooops, it won’t run under the 64-bit version of Windows. Fortunately, they give you a couple of discs with the 32-bit version which you can install. That took most of South Africa’s innings against India in the first ODI of the cricket tour.

So, having got the programs I use most onto the new computer (by a roundeabout method — it’s optical drive doesn’t like CDs created by its predecessor, so I have to take them to the desktop computer, and copy them from there), then it keeps telling me that one of the programs isn’t recognised by Windows. I have to reduce the warning level in the warner to zero before it will shut up. But that means there’s no protection against malicious software — but I don’t want a warning every time I use a program I’ve been using every day for the last 20 years.

Setting up a new computer must be one of those major stress-inducing life events like moving house, or getting divorced or something. It’s far more stressful than the break-in and having the old one nicked.

The deterrent effect of capital punishment

From The West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser. Friday 20th July, 1849

EFFECT OF EXECUTION – A correspondent informs us that JOHN VANSTONE and WILLIAM LEE, were executed at Bodmin on the 1st of September, 1802, for burglary; the daughter of one of them saw her father executed and immediately afterwards went into the town and stole a loaf of bread.

The Times – UK ‘more violent than South Africa’

We South Africans have got used to foreign journalists like PETER HITCHENS rubbishing South Africa in their columns, but now one of the papers he writes for has had to admit that violent crime in Britain is worse than in South Africa.

The Times – UK ‘more violent than South Africa’:

The United Kingdom has overtaken South Africa as the world’s most violent country.

# UK violent crime “worse than SA” – Daily Mail

# Britain’s crime wave is nothing to be smug about (editorial)

The UK has been left with some soul searching to do after findings that Britons experienced more incidents of violent crime per 100,000 citizens than South Africa, which is often depicted as the world capital of violent crime.

Commenting on a report in UK tabloid the Daily Mail, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, Dr Johan Burger, said: “Maybe now those who have been pointing fingers at us will get their own house in order.”

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that the UK has a higher rate of violent crime than any other country, “beating” the likes of the US and South Africa.

Hat tip to Contact Online Weblog: UK ‘more violent than South Africa’.

Of course the problems that people like Hitchens writes about are here. We had a lot of electricity blackouts in January 2008, as he writes. But they have not continued. A long-term solution needs to be found, and people are whinging because they will have to pay for it (just as they do in Britain).

There was xenophobic violence between February and June 2008 — 2008 seems to have been a bad year — in which more than 60 people died — about the same number as in the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. And though the violence has dropped off, there is still racism and xenophobia. But the Brits elected two MEPs from the xenophobic BNP to the European parliament this year, so South Africa doesn’t have a monopoly on xenophobia either.

And yes, we have corrupt politicians, and we had the Travelgate scandal, but that was small beer compared with what has recently been revealed about British MPs fiddling their expense claims.

Hotmail hacked?

A couple of days ago I got an e-mail purporting to come from an acquaintance.

It read:

How are you doing?hope all is well with you and family,I am sorry I didn’t inform you about my traveling to England for a Seminar..

I need a favor from you because I misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money,and other valuable things were kept I will like you to assist me with a soft loan urgently with the sum of $2,500 US Dollars to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.

I will appreciate whatever you can afford and i’ll pay you back as soon as I return,Kindly let me know if you can be of help? so that I can send you the Details to use when sending the money through western union.

The style gave the game away, of course. It was written in the same style as most scam mail, and I could not imagine the real author writing like that.

What concerns me, however, is that it apparently came from the real address of the person concerned, and that the scammer was confident of being able to read any replies addressed to the real address.

My experience with Hotmail has been that it is very unreliable compared with, say, Gmail. Mail sent to my Hotmail account at usually bounces, and I can no longer even get in to read it, so Hotmail is pretty useless.

But if it can be cracked like this it’s even worse than I thought.

So if you have a Hotmail account, be careful, and if you receive e-mails from friends with Hotmail accounts, be extra careful, especially if they ask you for money.

Gun culture – Child killed at creche

The gun culture kills again — is a cell phone worth a child’s life?

The Times – Child killed at creche:

Police spokesman Captain John Maluleke said yesterday’s killing was triggered when a 15-year-old boy was robbed of his cellphone by an 21-year-old man at the Steytler Square park in Westdene, off Park Lane North and Fourth Avenue, while walking home.

“The schoolboy ran home and called his father, who was armed with a gun, and they drove around the area looking for his assailant. After spotting the robber, the father chased him and a shot was fired, accidentally hitting the child at the Sunbeam Creche.

“The 47-year-old father [of the robbery victim] has been charged with murder. The robber was caught by police and will be charged with robbery,” Maluleke said. Both men are expected to appear in court tomorrow.


Up at 4:10 am, woken by sound of gunfire. There were about four shots, and the dogs didn’t bark, then about a minute or two later, four more shots, very close together, as if from an automatic weapon. Then the dogs barked. After a few minutes a police helicopter was circling overhead. It’s still circling as I write.

Heard something similar on 5 Dec 1996, when it sounded like a minor war. Turned out to be an attempted heist of a security van at the freeway interchange about 2 km away. This is much closer. Back then there was automatic gunfire for more than a minute, and when daylight came there were empty cartridge cases all over the road verge. This time there were not more than 10 shots altogether.

Update: it’s now 4:45, and the helicopter seems to have gone.

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