Sunday, 29 November 2015

What is Jersey Identity?

Simon Reeve’s journey around Ireland was one of the best documentaries I have seen on Ireland, and I really found it most enjoyable to watch.

One of the interesting issues that he brought up in the Republic of Ireland was the decline of the church. In some ways this has been positive: while Jersey is just on its way to get gay marriage on the statute books, Ireland – almost the last place you would think because of the conservative Catholicism – is now legal since 6 November 2015. They had a referendum – and support was overwhelmingly in favour. It became the first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote.

Jersey has a commitment to introduce legislation allowing same-sex couples to get married in civil and religious ceremonies by the end of 2017. It is extraordinary that it lags so far behind so many other countries on this, but part of the reason for the delay was the apparent need for a consultation and ensure that religious groups had adequate safeguards.

This in fact was rather a waste of time, as the legislative framework for protection of religious groups was already in place in the UK, and it is most likely that Jersey will simply adapt existing UK legislation on the matter. Cynics will note that the delay preceded the election of 2014, and hence kept the matter largely off the election agenda.

But the debate on gay marriage in Ireland highlighted the declining power of the church to persuade ordinary Catholics to follow its party line. The Catholic Church has been severely damaged in Ireland because of the child abuse scandals, and mass attendance has been falling. Even among those who attend mass, a much more critical approach to the teaching of the Church prevails.

Reeve noticed that Catholicism certainly formed a very strong part of Irish identity, and wondered what would take its place if it was no longer there in such a dominant place. That’s an interesting question, and it made me think about Jersey.

How do we describe “Jersey identity”? What in fact is now unique about our own culture, that is not the same elsewhere. Back in the 1970s, when I was growing up, there was a strong sense that Jersey identity related to genealogy, in other words, marking yourself out as Jersey by being descended in some way from a local Jersey family.

While there is a strong family history society, I would say that side of Jersey identity has been waning for some time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A primacy of identity on belonging to a genetic heritage can easily be divisive, something which is easily apparent with the Harry Potter stories, where “true blood” refers to families untainted by marrying outside the clan, and mudbloods are effectively immigrants who have no connection at all to those families, but who have the special skills which qualify them for entry into that community. In Harry Potter, of course, it is magical skills, but it could just as easily be business skills of one kind or another.

It is notable that Jersey’s most notorious child abuser, Edward Paisnel, was largely driven by a resentment of English residents, coming to live and work in Jersey, and the way in which the almost automatic respect given to old farming families was eroded as the finance industry began to grow. As Ward Rutherford notes in his book “The Untimely Silence”, Paisnel deliberately set out to target those children he saw as part of families he regarded as interlopers, deriving him of status and power.

So what is Jersey identity? One thing is certain is that it has become very diffuse in a number of ways. Old Jersey families have married with the immigrant population, and no longer hold that prestige, and indeed are in a minority. It should be noted, of course, that this has happened for centuries, but the pace has been usually relatively slow. Post war, with the boom in tourism and finance, the population has grown, as has the pace of immigration.

But not all immigrants are alike. Some would like to impose a UK style view of Jersey with regard to governance and traditions, as that is what they are familiar with, and they don’t want to understand local systems. Others become valuable members of the local community, supporting the Parishes, and have been here many years; they regard Jersey as their home, not the UK.

Keith Beacham, the head of Visit Jersey, has faced a similar task in trying to establish the selling points of Jersey, and where Jersey's brand identity lies. It is a difficult task. Heritage is clearly something we have to offer, and I know from my English friends who have visited that the relics of German Occupation are fascinating: they have nothing like that. We also have beautiful coastline, and good coastal walks for those who want a more energetic holiday.

But there are also High Street Chains, MacDonalds, and wholesale parts of English and American imports. Walking along St Helier down the main precinct, we have Boots, BHS, Waterstones, WH Smith, and other shops which may provide welcome familiarity to some visitors, disappointment to others. I know that when I visit St Malo, the last thing I want to see are those kind of shops: I want a retail experience which seems French, even if, as I discovered when I got home, a pottery star ornament said “Made in Ireland “on the back.

I don’t think there are any easy answers. I think that increasingly, in a segmented market, Jersey will have more niche appeal, and there heritage, coastal walks, and hotels beside the beaches can play a good part. We also have some superb restaurants for the gourmet, for whom expense is not the prime consideration, and also some good local restaurants and pubs using fresh local produce, and with reasonable prices. Jersey milk and ice cream, the Jersey cow, and the Jersey Royal still are brands which have much appeal to the outsider.

Jersey identity, however, like its population, remains a mixed bag, without the obvious brand of Ireland, for instance, and the Irish accent itself, a cultural legacy, and still an identifiable marker of identity. There is no clear cut identity. Jersey is in some ways, very insular, but in others, quite cosmopolitan, and somehow we need to take the best ingredients of both for the shaping of Jersey identity for the future.

Ecological Exodus

This is from "The Pilot", 1970, and shows how even back then some people were raising awareness of how we were already misusing the environment.

Ecological Exodus

In the end, there was the Earth, and it was with form and beauty. And man dwelt upon the lands of the Earth and he said 'Let us build our dwellings in this land of' beauty.' And he built cities and covered the Earth with concrete and steel. And the meadows and the trees were gone and man said, ‘It is good'.

On the second day, man looked upon the waters of the Earth and man said, 'Let us put our waste in our waters and the dirt will be washed away.' And man did. And the waters, the rivers and the lakes, became polluted and foul in their colour and smell. And man said, 'It is good.'

On the third day, man looked upon the forests of the Earth and saw that they were beautiful. And man said, 'Let us cut the timber for our homes and grind the wood for our use'. And man did. And the lands became barren and the trees were gone. And man said. 'It is good'.

On the fourth day, man saw that the animals were in abundance and ran in the fields and played in the sun. And man said. 'Let us cage these animals for our amusement and kill them for our sport.' And man did. And there were no more animals on the face of the earth. And man said, 'It is good'.

On the fifth day, man breathed the air of the Earth. And man said, 'Let us dispose of our wastes in the air for the winds shall blow them away'. And man did. And the air became heavy with smoke and dust. The sun could not be seen and the winters became long and cold. And man said, 'It is good'.

On the sixth day, man saw himself: and seeing the many peoples, their languages, their cultures and their colours, he feared and hated. And man said. 'Let us build great machines and bombs': and the Earth was fired with the rage of great wars. And man said, 'It is good'.

On the seventh day, man rested from his labours and the Earth was still for man no longer dwelt upon the Earth. And it was good

(From the Canadian Churchman)

Saturday, 28 November 2015


Truth is two eyed, we might say:
As the captain sails across the bay;
Both eyes bright, she's all right;
One eye winks, down she sinks:
The saying told to Father Brown,
About those who would drown,
If they did not see coast lights;
And sailors needing final rites:
The ship is smashing on the rock,
And come the ravens in a flock;
I thought of this and eyes today:
How the eyes show us the way;
Truth is two eyed, a book I read,
The author, now alas, is dead,
Spoke of how religions meet,
East and West, a different beat;
Each could learn from other one:
Moon by night, by day the sun,
Leaving hatreds, leaving fear,
Truth is two eyed, vision clear;
Losing an eye, another case,
Not to see clearly over space,
Learn to live a different way;
Thankful for one eye, we pray,
Though we stumble, do not fall,
And our vision may be small;
For we can still see: a grace,
To recognise the loving face;
But when someone is very blind,
Needing other help to be kind,
Other senses come into play,
To help them along the way;
Touch, smell, taste and sound
Help them on their daily round;
And it was said of that Greek sage,
Who lived to an immortal age,
While his eyes had lost the light,
He still retained a second sight.

Friday, 27 November 2015

General Review – Part 2 by A.C. Saunders

The final part of A.C. Saunders “History of Jersey in the 17th Century”. I have kept the spellings of quoted text as it stands in Saunders. Saunders quotes from documents as they stand and does not render them into contemporary English, and the spelling is variable and probably largely phonetic.

General Review – Part 2 by A.C. Saunders

It must have been a very anxious place to live in in those days, isolated as it was from the mainland, with very little and irregular communication. On the 8th July, 1693, Lord Nottingham writing to the Governor of Jersey, suggested that it was good for their majesty's service that there should be a very frequent correspondence between Jersey and the mainland so that the Government might know what was going on. The Governor was directed to send the yacht to Southampton at least once in five or six weeks with a report as to the state of the Island. It appears strange that this order should he necessary, seeing that we were at war with France and at any time the Island might be invaded.

Robert Slowley, master of a Privateer was captured and taken to St. Malo, and on the 13th February, 1694, he was able to report that the French were preparing to attack the Channel Islands. They had brought a great number of bombs and mortars from Brest for that purpose. The British fleet was ordered to cruise about the Islands, and the Governor was ordered to give, out of store, a convenient number of small arms and ammunition to the Captains of the several parishes taking care that the arms are duly accounted for, and he was directed to provide Elizabeth Castle with an engine to make salt water fresh, and also a quantity of sea coal.

The people were in a state of great excitement. Rumour followed rumour, and it was reported that the French were fitting out a squadron of ships, and Privateers, and had an army in readiness, only waiting for the necessary galleys to carry them across, and that there were sixty men of war at Brest waiting to support the invaders. The Government sent down additional troops, and ordered barracks to be built, and directed that no Lt. Governor should leave the Island without permission.

But nothing came of the rumours and on the 21st October 1697, the proclamation of peace with France was sent to the Bailiff and brats who were directed to make it known to the inhabitants.

The soldiers stationed in the Island had so abused their powers, that the Privy Council decided that any misbehaving themselves should be tried by a Court Martial consisting of the Governor, Bailiff and four Commissioned officers. A set of regulations were made for their guidance.

Article 1 directed that all officers and soldiers were directed to attend Divine Service, and behave themselves reverently and decently. Anyone using blasphemous language shall have his tongue bored with a hot iron. Article 13 directed, that complaints of non payment of wages, and those who shall assemble together to take " Council among themselves for demanding their pay " the inferior officers shall suffer death as ring leaders of such mutinous and seditious meetings, and the others court-martialled. Article 19 directed, that death should be the penalty of those who molested the persons, or stole the goods, of the Islanders.

Those quartered on the inhabitants, had to be paid for at the rate of twenty-eight pence per week, for board and lodging for each soldier, sergeants being at the higher rate of three shillings and six pence.

During all the century, Jersey was making progress. A new Court House had been built, and schools established. A new prison built at Charing Cross, and the cage for prisoners in the Royal Square was ordered to be abolished. Harbour accommodation was being provided, and scholarships given at Oxford, for promising youths from the Channel Islands.

The Islanders had their quaint customs and laws, and the country people knew a great deal of fairies and witchcraft. During this century women were burned in Jersey for their unchristian like activities.

It was a wonderful little Island, with her feudal propensities. With the poor very poor, and the Seigneurs going out on state occasions, in their coaches drawn by six horses. It was a period when the strong man held sway over his fellows, and owing to the ignorance of the many, rich and poor, a man who had been educated and had seen something of the world, and had sufficient courage to assert himself became a leader in the land of his birth.

These men stood out above their fellows, and it is therefore interesting to note how Jersey, during the whole of the seventeenth century, was under the domination of some dozen men who by force of character, and position, managed to rule their fellows.

Possibly the social history of Jersey was no worse than that of the mainland, but many a good man in Jersey, in the past, has had to follow in a narrow groove because of the difficulties of obtaining a larger sphere for his energy. Those who had sufficient courage to face unknown dangers abroad, had a better chance, and in our colonies, and along the shores of the United States, we often find names of men whose ancestors must originally have come from Jersey. Jerseymen were good sailors and did not lack courage.

Away from the Island, generally speaking, they made their mark, but even when they realised the advantages they were deriving from their adventures, their thoughts always turned to the Island where they had been born in the hopes that before they died, they would be able to return.

And thus we find that Jersey did her part during the seventeenth century. Times were troublesome, and things were tolerated then, which would not be allowed now. People in power, knew not how long their influence would last, and therefore, in order to retain this power they had very little sentiment in dealing with their opponents.

The Civil War had allowed many a worthless demagogue to collect a following, and many a better man had to give way, but Jerseyman have the knowledge that their Castle was the last to uphold the Royal Cause, and in their Square Charles II was proclaimed King long before his subjects called him to the Throne of England.

And thus I have come to the end of my story about Jersey in the seventeenth century-a most important century of our national history, dealing as it does with the beginning of Government by the people, and a fight against those ancient privileges, which had gradually surrounded those who considered that Might was Right irrespective of the rights of their fellow citizens. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Sark and the Sharks

Sark has problems, but there are ones not addressed in the letter written by Frank Walker et alia.

There is no doubt that there are divisions in Sark between the more established families, and those who have come in, mainly I suspect, as a result of the Barclay brothers boost to the economy.

The decision to close the Barclay brother’s hotels appears to have nothing to do with failing tourism, but seems to be more of a political decision. The problems with the economy partly stem from that, and the extra population which has grown as a result of them pumping money into the economy. In the past eight years, as the "New Yorker" notes, they have bought up almost a quarter of the land on Sark, and a number of its businesses.

The hotels are not the only time they have used economic forces for political ends. For it is not the first time they closed businesses on the Island – they also did so immediately after the 2008 elections on universal suffrage – after they Reforms they asked for – failed to produce any wins for their own slate of chosen candidates.

When it became apparent that only about five candidates they had supported had been elected, as the Daily Express reported, the Barclay brothers announced that they were shutting down their businesses on Sark — hotels, shops, estate agents and building firms - leaving about 100 people, or a sixth of the population, out of work.

Not one of the other hotels, guest houses or self-catering accommodation is reported as having closed – the letter only and notably only reports on the Barclay brothers hotels which were closed because they decided to close them. Was that political? It came shortly after they had lost a court case about the new constitution. Coincidence? Did the letter writers notice the pattern of events was like that of 2008?

In 2014, when the decision was taken that the hotels should close in 2015 supposedly because of a poor season, Sark's Tourism Committee chairwoman Sandra Williams told Channel Television: "Although this is unfortunate... Sark is still very much open for business." She said: "We are perplexed about the decision to close their hotels when this season has been so successful." And Conseiller Andy Cook, chairman of Sark Shipping Committee which runs the regular passenger services to the island, said passenger number had risen from 48,655 in 2013 to 50,521 in 2014. These facts seem to have been overlooked by the letter writers.

Avenue Stores & Newsagents is one of three general stores on the island and has closed. Is this a sign of declining tourism, as most of the media report, or could it be that the Barclay brothers, who are the landlords of the newsagent, might have decided to pull the plug to put extra pressure on Sark residents?

Everyone now gets to vote, and it’s an Island wide vote. The system is representation like the Island wide Senatorial elections in Jersey. Sark First want an electoral system which will give them more power. Their spokesman says: “"If you get 51% of the vote at the moment you get 100% of the seats, this is not fair to the other 49%”.

But the same could be said of Jersey's First Past the Post system, or even the multi-member Island wide Senatorial elections, or the multi-member constituencies for Deputies. Not one of the signatories seems to address the issue of voting mechanisms in their own homeland. That's surprising as Pierre Horsfall, Frank Walker and Terry Le Sueur were elected Senators on a virtually identical system.

In the 2008 election, ninety per cent of Sark’s voters turned out for the election. They rejected seven of nine candidates that the Barclay's Sark News had endorsed as the island’s “safe pairs of hands,” and elected nine of twelve candidates that the News had blacklisted.

There is certainly a problem - general elections were due to be held in Sark on 10 December 2014. However, only 16 candidates stood for the 16 seats in the Chief Pleas, meaning that all were elected unopposed without a public vote being required. But it has to be asked: why did Sark First field no candidates? Perhaps their support is not as great as their talent for media publicity?

This situation is not a problem specific to Sark – Jersey also has that problem, something the letter writers failed to note, where candidates get in unopposed. In fact, Jersey has many small electoral districts where this happens often, for both Deputy and Constable's elections. 

To ask a Royal Commission to step in, where the QC comes from a country where First Past the Post is the accepted method of election, is to stretch credulity. Why on earth would they recommend something other than what they knew, just as Cecil Clothier tried to do with his recommendations?

To say, as Sam Mezec has, that it is not democratic – something also mentioned in the Sark letter – is to overlook the substantial reforms from when it was just Sark Tenants – a special and limited category – who had a vote.

It would also mean that the UK is not a democracy, Jersey is not a democracy, but the EU Parliament (hardly a model for good government, and dominated by powerful voting blocks) is a democracy - because it has Proportional Representation. Just to have a vote does not make a democracy, but Sark conforms to accepted voting parameters that other democracies have accepted.

The Barclay brothers did well to change the old Feudal system, but it would be a mistake to see it as an act of pure altruism – in my opinion, and that of other commentators, they basically have wanted to take over the running of Sark as their own pocket fiefdom. Remember that as the New Yorker reported, "David Barclay wrote to Michael Beaumont, offering to buy his title for two million pounds and to relinquish all the privileges associated with it to Chief Pleas"

And are the letter writers acting out of altruism? Whose interests are the signatories to the letter supporting? Is it the people of Sark, or the Barclay brothers? Or are Guernsey and Jersey after a power sharing arrangement where Sark is demoted to a vassal state, rather like Alderney?

On the radio, one or two of the letter writers have voiced points raised in a serious and concerned tone of voice. Sounding convincing  is, however, one of the dark arts that politicians learn when speaking in public, as long as they know when the microphone is turned on. It is something they share in common with advertisers and double-glazing salesmen.

But as it turns out, as Peter Roffey observes, they have not met with Chief Pleas, the government of Sark, at all, to discuss the contents of the letter, much of which, in any case, are rather sweeping generalisations hiding complex changes in Sark's economy.

The population has been falling, and the survey by Sark Electricity shows there are now 492 residents, down from 542 last year. But part of that is certainly due to the Barclay's decision to close hotels. In Sark, the unemployed who have come to the Island in more recent years tend to emigrate. In Jersey, they claim Income Support.

Peter Roffey, writing in the Guernsey Press, has a number of solid points to make against the writers of the letter, especially the former politicians of Jersey, and I reprint it below.

Peter Roffey's Comments on Sark

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the call from 22 individual Channel Islanders for a Royal Commission-type inquiry into the future of Sark.

Even taking into account the no doubt well-meaning intentions of these self-appointed guardians of Sark’s fortunes, I can only come to one conclusion.

That they’ve got a lot of barefaced cheek.

What on earth gives their calls any legitimacy at all? As far as I can tell, not one of them is a Sark resident. They say they have the right to speak out because they are Channel Islanders and ‘we are all in this together’. What bunkum.

The ‘Channel Islands’ is a geographical term, not a political one, and each island is independent, with its own elected political administration. The only exception is the fiscal and partial political union between Alderney and Guernsey, which was instigated to help the northern isle recover from the ravages of the Second World War.

That was entered into freely by both parties and could be terminated on the same basis.

If just living in the same archipelago gives us the right to call for inquiries into the way the other islands are being run, then why stop at Sark? Personally, I’ve got a few questions about the way the States of Jersey are running their island. Should I get a few kindred spirits together and call for an external inquiry? To be fair, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, so perhaps a few nosy parkers from Jersey could lobby HMG to set up an inquiry into the way Guernsey is governed and its economic prospects?

Of course, to be consistent with the actions of ‘the magnificent 22’ such calls will need to be made public without any prior consultation with the democratically elected governments concerned. Rather, the people’s representatives in the respective jurisdictions should learn about these unofficial attempts to subvert their legitimacy by reading about them in the newspaper.

One of the 22, Rupert Dorey, tried to justify the fact that this self-appointed quango of the righteous had wholly failed to engage with Chief Pleas before calling for outside intervention in Sark’s affairs. In fact he made a virtue of it. ‘Of course we were careful not to engage with anybody in Sark before going public in case it was seen as taking sides.’

Unbelievable. Since when has talking to the legitimate, democratically elected, government of a territory been taking sides?

I accept that there are some in Sark, just like in Guernsey, who have no time for their government or its policies. As an outsider I am certainly not going to opine on how well or otherwise Sark is being run. What I do know, though, is that every two years the Sarkees have the opportunity to change their politicians through the ballot box if they are unhappy with the way their island is being run. It wasn’t always thus but it is now, and the people of Sark have taken to full democracy like a duck to water, with turn-outs which make Guernsey’s electoral participation look very lame indeed.

Chief Pleas might be a super government or an awful government or somewhere in-between, but it is the government chosen by the people being governed in fair and free elections. For them to learn through the media that a bunch of self-appointed arbiters of Sark’s best interests is calling for outside investigations into the way their community is run is outrageous.

Sark is being plagued by some internal ructions that have resulted in rather sad personal tensions and blighted the island’s economy. This needs to be worked through. But it’s shameful that when the island has been (rightly) pushed into democratic reform, outsiders should then try to undermine its autonomy and the legitimacy of its government.

Just think about it. How would we feel if a bunch of bigwigs from Jersey suddenly popped up out of the blue and called for an external review of the way Guernsey is being run?

The answer would be a short one and would involve going forth and multiplying. What’s different? In the circumstances I think the reaction of Chief Pleas has been very restrained and polite.

The reality is that Sark does have difficulties and tensions.

It is clearly for that community alone to work through those problems, however long or difficult that process may be.

I only hope this latest ill-advised intervention hasn’t done anything to make that even harder to achieve.

Referenced News Stories

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The End of Safe Harbour: Check Your Data

Safe Harbor was a self-certifying arrangement whereby a company in the US (for example) would be able to provide protection for data stored there by EU users under the EU Data Protection Law. Hence the name - "safe harbor".

The Safe Harbor principles were agreed to on the basis that, even though U.S. law would not change, the private companies who signed up to the Safe Harbor list would adhere to the rules set out by the EU.

These rules included, but were not exclusive to, the EU enabling access for private organisations in the US to an individual's data upon request, and assurances that data security was effective enough to guarantee data protection. It was neat because it was self-certifying and did not therefore rely on lawyers to draw up contracts. However, there was mounting criticism of laxity even before the EU ruling.

The current situation is that what might be termed “Safe Harbour 2.0” is in progress at the time of the ruling. It is clear that this ruling will act as a bargaining point for stricter regulation of data transfer.

While the current situation has been prompted by a particular Court ruling, it has become clear from the revelations by Edward Snowden that breaches of Safe Harbour by the USA have been going on for some time on a regular basis.

“A company in Europe may run afoul of these rules if it uses a U.S. service provider that it sends data to, such as for email marketing. Or it might run afoul of these rules if it sends data to a U.S. subsidiary,” explains Daniel Castro of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

The collapse of Safe Harbor does not mean the end of legal transfer of data. The EU commission itself says that other mechanisms can be used, and EU Model clauses are one such mechanism which they themselves suggest. In the meantime, there is a period of grace until 31 January 2015.

But in the meantime, business users in Jersey should question where their Cloud data is held, and how it is protected. This covers everything from online accounts packages like Quickbooks Online and Xero, to email systems using Hotmail and Gmail. etc.

Basecamp has this to note:  If you live in the European Union and store personal data in your Basecamp account, or you use your Basecamp account to do business with EU residents who may provide personal data, then the ruling on Safe Harbor may affect you.... We are currently in a grace period from enforcement groups through the end of January 2016.

I've not been able to find anything about Quickbooks Online, which is worrying.

It appears that Xero, perhaps because of its origin in New Zealand,  has not just relied on Safe Harbour but has also been using EU Model clauses as a backup in case there were problems with Safe Harbour, and these satisfy the requirements of data transfer from the EU to the US. It is highly likely that they knew the weakness of Safe Harbour and decided to reduce their risks accordingly.

A Xero Community Manager has stated:

"Like many SaaS companies, we use top-tier, third party data hosting providers' servers to host our online and mobile services. Our providers Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Rackspace are located in the US. For our European and other non-US customers, it means that personal information is transferred to those hosting providers’ servers in the US.  To confirm, we have in place EU Model Clauses with each of these hosting providers, which continue to be recognized by the EU as a means of satisfying the requirements relating to the transfer of data from the EU to the US."

However, these model clauses will be placed under additional scrutiny and may have to be tightened. The particular reason is that the USA’s National Security Agency may well “ride roughshod” over them just as it did with Safe Harbour. But for the moment, they remain an alternative safeguard, and Xero clearly complies with those.

It is worth noting that for many other countries outside the USA, there were no “Safe Harbor” arrangements, and “model clauses” and “binding corporate rules” were always necessary to do business. The UK Data Protection guidelines state:

“Adequate safeguards may be put in place in a number of ways including using Model Contract Clauses, Binding Corporate Rules or Binding Corporate Rules for Processors (BCRs) or other contractual arrangements. Where “adequate safeguards” are established, the rights of data subjects continue to be protected even after their data has been transferred outside the EEA.”

“The European Commission has approved four sets of standard contractual clauses (known as model clauses) as providing an adequate level of protection. If you use these model clauses in their entirety in your contract, you will not have to make your own assessment of adequacy.”

“Another option is to adopt binding codes of corporate conduct, known as binding corporate rules or binding corporate rules for processors (BCR). This option only applies to multinational organisations transferring information outside the EEA but within their group of entities and subsidiaries." 

"These rules create rights for individuals, which can be exercised before the courts or data protection authorities, and obligations for the company. In all cases, the rules are legally binding on the companies in the multinational group and will usually be made so by unilateral declarations, intra-group agreements or the corporate governance of the group. To use BCR to transfer personal data freely within your group, they must be approved by all the relevant European data protection authorities who will co-operate with each other in assessing the standard of your rules.”

There is no need for immediate concern, but if your business uses cloud based storage of data, including personal data on individuals , the you need to consider where your data is held and what protective measures have been put in place.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Means Tested Christmas Bonus: A Necessary Provision

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.” (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Geoff Southern has lodged a proposition to retain the Christmas bonus for pensioners – but on a means tested basis. That, of course, should have been the way it was retained in the first place, but was not. Deputy Southern needs to think more carefully before putting propositions before the States. Fortunately, at the 11th hour, there is still an opportunity to correct this.

Looking back at the debate which rejected a blanket Christmas bonus, it will be interesting to see how States members now justify rejecting, because a number made statements rejecting it on the grounds that it was given to all, even those who didn’t need it.

Senator Alan Maclean, in particular, rejected the original proposition saying that it was universal and “That is what we need, targeted benefits, getting to those that really need them. “

This was in line with his manifesto promises, which said support for the elderly needed to be targetted:

“Inflation and especially the rising costs of food and fuel are impacting on retired people living on fixed incomes. We must ensure that help is available and targeted in a fair and dignified manner to those in genuine need.”

Meanwhile, Susie Pinel, the Social Security Minister, criticised the original proposition as follows. She said that “Deputy Southern talks about supporting the most vulnerable in our society and protecting the poorest households. This part of his amendment does not achieve the same. The impact is to keep the Christmas bonus for rich and poor alike”

But she went on to say: “I absolutely appreciate that there is a strong sympathy and emotional attachment to the Christmas bonus but I do not believe that the States Assembly would support the introduction of a non-means-tested Christmas bonus today. However, I do understand that there might be support for introducing a means-tested Christmas bonus, perhaps as part of the overall income support scheme, but to be clear, that is not what we are being asked to vote on today.”

And Constable Len Norman, who also rejected the original proposition, noted this: “Surely the people that Senator Cameron was talking about, they need to be helped but use the money that I am getting and people like me are getting and target them, not just spread all this money around to anybody because they have reached a certain age.”

The Constable of St Peter, John Refault noted this:

“I met them for the first time when becoming a Procureur du Bien Public and doing welfare. These people were coming in who were desperate for money in any way just to be able to eat and have some form of heating. I know that we used to go around at Christmas time with what hampers we could make up to their houses and found them coming to the door in the overcoats and relying on a tin or a packet to have as Christmas dinner. It is those people that I feel very strongly for today."

"It is that 20 to 25 per cent of our population who have come to expect that little bonus that just helps them perhaps to buy a little bit of coal to go on the fire at Christmas, to have something slightly better to eat than something out of a baked bean can or a packet. They probably have not even got a microwave in which to heat it". 

"The 75 per cent, Len Norman and myself and many of us in here, we do not need it. We do not want it, we do not need and we should not have it. There has to be another way in which we can be dealing with this.”

These are all people who rejected the proposal on the grounds that it was not targetted.

Now it has been changed to restrict it to the most vulnerable, those who are so accurately depicted in John Refault’s speech, will they vote against keeping in under those terms? Or is all the talk of giving help in a fair and dignified manner just so much smoke and mirrors?

Why is it important for those in need at Christmas, rather than to be used in some other way, as will be probably be argued? Those who don't understand that just don't understand human beings at all. They are economic calculators, devoid of feeling. They should try taking the message home from "A Christmas Carol". It is a time when want is keenly felt.

To lose the money in welfare mechanisms which supposedly will benefit the poor better is missing the point. We don't know how much that might help those in need; we do know that a bonus will bring them something palpably sold that will definitely improve their lives. That it may not be so much spread across the year is also to miss the point. Do States members spread their own Christmas expenses across 12 months? Of course not.

Perhaps they should go out into the streets and flats, and speak to a few pensioners in need, and ask them what they really want, rather than just pontificating from on high in a rather patronising manner. Why is Christmas more important. If they honestly don't know that, they should not be in charge of other people's welfare.

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

Monday, 23 November 2015

Leading Channel Islanders Unite to Save Struggling Jersey

Leading Channel Islanders Unite to Save Struggling Jersey

An alliance of prominent Channel Islanders are lobbying the UK to step in and help solve “serious“ problems facing the embattled Island of Jersey

They call for a Royal Commission style inquiry to be set up into the future of Jersey. Royal Commissions are public inquiries authorised by the Queen that investigate major issues of concern or contention.

The letter says that “the inconvenient truth” would seem to be that without some form of effective intervention from outside, people and investors in Jersey are unlikely to reach a sound and effective set of solutions to the problems they face.

These include:

1) An inability to reform the composition of the States of Jersey, over many years, despite an Electoral Commission chaired by a former Bailiff and current Senator. The States have simply sabotaged all efforts at reform, and the only solution is an external one: a panel chaired by a genuinely independent person of experience and standing who would be appointed by the UK government.

2) A Royal Commission should also look at and identify and put in place long term solutions to many of the economic and fiscal issues afflicting Jersey, and in particular, the falling revenue and fiscal black hole since the introduction of zero-ten. The economy is weakening, housing prises continue to rise, and Jersey has become a community in which increasing numbers of its sons and daughters no longer see as their future home. 

3) An internal system of Ministers and Scrutiny panels which is failing as Ministers refuse to co-operate in giving information to scrutiny, leading to a culture in which concealment takes precedent over transparency and open government.

4) A Care Inquiry which - despite being promised full support by the Chief Minister - is hampered by the Health department Minister refusing to supply requested information, and using taxpayers money to fund lawyers to defend their action.

Letter ends.

This letter was not written, unlike the recent letter to Sark, but could well have been. The issues stated are as pertinent. The astute reader may notice I've used many of the phrases used to express concern with Sark in the other letter which was written.

It does strike me as extraordinary that the signatories to the letter about Sark can see nothing wrong with the situation in Jersey and want to intervene in another sovereign democracy. And didn’t Senator Gorst suggest a Royal Commission might be the only way forward for Jersey's electoral reform? He has since taken up a Trappist Vow of Silence on the matter.

In the post war election change, a Royal Commission suggested changes, and the Islanders voted on it, and the States honoured that vote. The last ten years have seen a total failure of the States to reform themselves, causing concerns about democracy which don’t seem to have been noticed by those signatories.

Then, of course, at least two signatories were former Chief Ministers, and beneficiaries of the limited changes which did take place, and effectively responsible for keeping them limited.

Privileges and Procedures are, I understand, working on yet another set of suggested reforms to the structure of the States., which, if I were a betting man, would make me rich against if I could get a turf accountant to get me odds against.

Scrutiny, in the meantime, is treated with contempt by the Treasury Minister, who blames them for delays which he has himself caused. Can there be any better argument for a Royal Commission than the contempt the Council of Ministers has for both Scrutiny and the general public?

And in the meantime, Alan Maclean also says the Island should work together on marketing. As long as it is not the Channel Island Air Registry, of course, as he refused to engage with Guernsey (who were there first) unless considerable concessions were made to Jersey.

Fine soundbites of ideals are plentiful but action is negligible. The disconnect between speech and act could seldom be greater than we see whenever the Treasury Minister speaks. Wittgenstein's notion of a "speech-act" could scarcely be better refuted.

And yet the "great and the good" decide to write about Sark's problems. For those of us brought up on Bible lessons, the words of Jesus seem particularly pertinent: "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?"

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Beauty of Islam

Dr. Jamali Sarfraz has a full page interview on Islam in Jersey in the Jersey Evening Post. "Extremists are not part of my beautiful religion". And Bailiwick Express also reports on him.

“Although we are a small community here in Jersey we stand side by side along with the wider Jersey community and we show our solidarity and support for the people of Paris, and our prayers and thoughts are with them,” he said. “I condemn these horrific, tragic and abhorrent attacks. “These terrorists – they call themselves ‘Islamic State’ or Muslims, but there is nothing Islamic about their actions at all.”

I am not a Muslim, and some of the verses in the Koran seem to condone or recommend violence. That is something that Gavin Ashenden never ceases to comment on. But he conveniently forgets verses in his own Bible, such as these from Psalm 137:

O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
How blessed will be the one who repays you
With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.

A blessing on someone who kills babies? I think Gavin Ashenden would protest that we have to look at what is important, and while those verses tell us about the hatred inculcated in the Jewish people when they were taken into exile in Babylon, they are not to be taken as a guide for life. They do not form part of the “big picture” of Christianity, or even Judaism. We have to read verses in context.

So why on earth can’t he manage to do that with Islam?

There are issues I have with Islam – how those who leave the faith get treated, how women are segregated in worship, but there are issues I have with Christianity about similar matters. Christianity is in the West, usually better at the treatment of what can be called “apostasy”, but that has taken hundreds of years, and there are still Christian fundamentalists groups who cut off the apostate from ties of family.

Christians still have immense trouble with gays and transgender people, even on Jersey – Dr Ashenden can be taken as a prime example as someone who regards being gay as a curable disorder. Christians often treat women as second class within the faith community, as the recent wrangling over Women Bishops shows. Again, Dr Ashenden does not accept that women priests are genuine.

On a personal note, I have had to look at my own prejudices over the years, including prejudices I had in the past against Islam and women priests. I'm sure I still have many. But a degree of introspection can be helpful. One of the things that I learnt from Annie Parmeter, from her work in counselling, was how she said that our own prejudices can become fixed patterns, that when prompted, almost without thinking, we come out with them; in a way they control us. Seeing the same, almost predictable reactions about any good news regarding Islam, I can't help but think she was right, and at times like that, I miss her wise counsel most.

But let us return to the interview.

One of the things that struck me most with the interview with Dr Sarfraz was the phrase “my beautiful religion”. I had never thought of Islam in that way – the idea of “beauty”.

So I decided for today, to select some quotations which I think demonstrate the beauty of Islam.

At its best, I think Islam, like Christianity, speaks to the human condition. It is a mirror, reflecting who we are, showing us who we are, but also who we could be.

If you have no failings of your own that you perceive, you must be a rare individual. And if you have failings, like me, it is good to be reminded of truths that point us gently, like signposts, towards better directions to travel. We may not all travel in the same way, but we all need directions.

The Beauty of Islam

‎"We as Muslims are meant to heal others, not to hurt as some others who call themselves Muslims do. Islam is a hospital for the sick at heart and those with a troubled mind. And the chief doctor is the Beloved of Allah, our Master Muhammad al-Moustafa, the Holy Qur'an is the pharmacy, and the words and actions of the Prophet are prescriptions of remedies, assured to cure." - Imam Birgivi

The strong person is not the good wrestler. Rather, the strong person is the one who controls himself when he is angry.
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 73, #135)”

“I challenge anyone to understand Islam, its spirit, and not to love it. It is a beautiful religion of brotherhood and devotion.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Smiling in your brother’s face is an act of charity.
So is enjoining good and forbidding evil,
giving directions to the lost traveller,
aiding the blind and
removing obstacles from the path.

(Graded authentic by Ibn Hajar and al-Albani: Hidaayat-ur-Ruwaah, 2/293)”

Declare your jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see -egoism, arrogance, conceit, selfishness, greed, lust, intolerance, anger, lying, cheating, gossiping and slandering. If you can master and destroy them, then you will be read to fight the enemy you can see.”
― أبو حامد الغزالي

A seeker went to ask a sage for guidance on the Sufi way.
The sage counselled,
"if you have never trodden the path of love, go away and fall in love;
then come back and see us."
Jami (Essential Sufism)

The poet Hafiz wrote
"The sun never says to the earth,
'You owe me.'
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights up the whole sky."

"I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God".

If words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart, but if they come from the tongue, they will not pass beyond the ears.
Al-Suhrawardi (Essential Sufism)

Justice, mercy, wisdom, righteousness and common good are the basics of Islam. Whatever gets out of justice to injustice is not from Islam. Whatever gets out of mercy to violence is not from Islam. Whatever deviates from common good to harm is not from Islam, and whatever dissents from wisdom to imprudence is not from Islam.
-- Imam Ibnul-Qayyem

"True knowledge can only be acquired through humility. The path towards this knowledge is like a person's wanting to drink from a stream, he has to lower himself to be able to drink. Water seeks the lowest level, thus we have to imitate water" (Sidi Hamza al qadri al boutshish)

The heart, in its journey to Allah, Majestic is He, is like that of a bird; Love is its head, and fear and hope are its two wings. When the head and two wings are sound, the bird flies gracefully; if the head is severed, the bird dies; if the bird loses one of its wings, it then becomes a target for every hunter or predator.
- Ibn al-Qayyim

No mirror ever became iron again; No bread ever became wheat; No ripened grape ever became sour fruit. Mature yourself and be secure from a change for the worse. Become the light — Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

The World is three days: As for yesterday, it has vanished, along with all that was in it. As for tomorrow, you may never see it. As for today, it is yours, so work in it. - Hasan al-Basri

Saturday, 21 November 2015


The news is that the foghorn may be decommissioned at Corbiere by Ports of Jersey (having only just taken over a lease on the lighthouse from the States), and many foghorns have across the British Isles. They are no longer used because on-board navigation and radar systems are deemed to have made them redundant.

But in 2011 a writer posted this - not everyone has on-board navigation, and small boats with paddles don't.

"We paddled around La Corbiere, Jersey, in heavy swell and fog, its regular 4 beat ('C' for La Corbiere in morse), powerful enough to set our boats resonating and apparently flatten the water. Very reassuring, it will be a shame if this goes. Even if you can see the rocks close to, the fog horn helped us home in for the last mile."

This poem looks at the foghorn, and sharp eyed readers will notice it is also influenced in part by the movie "The Ghost and Mrs Muir".


I hear the ship, out there in the sea:
The loneliest sound comes to me;
Too close, by the sound, to shore,
Lured by mermaids of sailor’s lore;
Like a child lost, crying in the dark,
Lost in the mist, with no landmark,
To guide the captain, cursing blind,
Wondering why he is so maligned;
Fog in the channel, the sailor’s bane,
More treacherous than beating rain,
And a northeaster, strong and cold,
Where a mariner can at last be bold;
Slow in the fog, ware the hidden reef,
Upon which a ship can come to grief;
The foghorn sounds a warning note:
Warning of rocks not quite remote,
Saving the crews of many a ship,
From rocks that tear away and rip;
That was long ago, and now they say,
The foghorn is old, has had its day;
A voice across the water will be still,
And no more that romantic thrill,
As landlubbers hear across the bay,
That mist is creeping in this way;
All day and night it used to sound,
Reminding us of those who drowned;
Alas! Our foghorn will be no more,
Gone with the sailing ships of yore;
The lighthouse silent, none to save,
From the deeps, the watery grave;
Heavy swell and fog, no regular beat:
No more a foghorn’s notes to greet

Friday, 20 November 2015

General Review – Part 1 by A.C. Saunders

17th century map of Jersey

Some more from A.C. Saunders “History of Jersey in the 17th Century”. I have kept the spellings of quoted text as it stands in Saunders. Saunders quotes from documents as they stand and does not render them into contemporary English, and the spelling is variable and probably largely phonetic. It's interesting to notice how different this is from Balleine's almost triumphalist History which followed later.

General Review – Part 1 by A.C. Saunders

In the foregoing chapters I have endeavoured to give some account of Jersey and Jerseymen of the seventeenth century, and how prominent a place it held in the history of that period. Here we have a small island thirteen miles by six, surrounded by dangerous rocks, within twenty miles of the French coast, at the entrance to the English Channel, often threatened with enemy attacks, and yet, during those troublous times, remaining loyal to the English flag. An Island with a population of some 20,000 people, the greater percentage of whom could speak no English, and yet here, three years after the execution of King Charles, the Royal Standard was flying bravely from all the forts and castles in the Island.

We find that all the history of this wonderful period depended upon the activities of few men and of one great man in particular, Sir George Carteret. It was his dominant personality which made Jersey stand out so prominently in the World's history of that period. Times were very troublous, brother fighting against brother, each satisfied that the cause he fought for was the true cause, and with the excess of zeal died all sense of charity towards ones opponent. It was a bitter fight, and might became right, and all opposition was ruthlessly oppressed.

The people of Jersey had for many generations been more or less kept in a state of bondage by those in authority above them. Governors looked after themselves and made use of their power to acquire for their own use what they could lay hand upon. The Seigneurs were careful that their rights were guarded and their dues collected to the utmost farthing ; and the Rectors fully realised the powers they had as the ecclesiastical head of each parish.

The slightest error was punishable by heavy fines and penalties. Even to-day we find when an Act is passed in the States penalties are authorised quite out of keeping with the offence. Wages were so small that those of the lower class could hardly provide sufficient food for them-selves and families. They seemed to have lost all their desire to rise above their normal position, and when from time to time they were roused against some flagrant injustice, they soon settled down again to their ordinary mode of living.

It was difficult for a poor man to leave the Island, and even those in better circumstances had to explain their reasons for leaving home. We find cases of people hiring a small fishing boat to make for the mainland and sailing from Bouley or St. Catherine's Bay on what must have been a voyage of misery and discovery, and we can imagine the well-to-do farmer, speaking his Jersey patois, arriving in London in a state of wonder after a long, dangerous and tiresome journey. He, probably a great man in his home parish, must have felt like the country Squire who was asked by King James why he had left his country village where he was a little king, to be a nobody in the great city of London.

And yet we find during this period certain prominent men crossing the water over and over again. Some, like Sir Philip de Carteret, asked protection on the voyage and that a King's ship might be allowed him to protect him on the journey, but others had to make the best way they could and face the dangers of storm, pirates and other enemies, in small and often open boats.

Such voyages must have been a time of great anxiety to their families and neighbours, and, once across the water, the absence from home often lasted for many months. We sometimes, from Bath or other watering place, read letters from some native taking the waters for his gout and giving some details of the people about him.

But they were all glad to be home again, among the people they knew, where there was no necessity to ruffle it with other people but were recognized as belonging to the position they held. We can see them surrounded by the admiring members of their families, telling the story of their adventures, telling them what they had seen on the other side, showing them the new clothes they had bought so as to be in the fashion, and distributing the several presents they had brought for their friends.

They were glad to be home again and see again the orchards, and narrow roads of their native Isle, and live again in their own houses with the big living room, with the huge fireplace, with the pan held from a hook in the rafters, simmering over a wood fire, and possibly with the old Granny, with bonnet on her head and swathed in many clothes, sitting in a corner, saying little, but no doubt thinking of the good old days of her youth.

Dumaresq in his very interesting manuscript written towards the end of the seventeenth century gives us a very good idea of Jersey as it was in those days.

He says that there were then about 3,069 houses and hovels in the Island but that the people were lazy and occupied themselves more with knitting than with the cultivation of the land which was full of orchards. There were about forty decked vessels belonging to Jersey, quite sufficient to meet the trade of the Island, and in 1685 the trade to Newfoundland had so fallen off that only five vessels ventured so far from the Island.

They used to sail way in the -spring and return late in the autumn, but the French had almost driven the Jerseymen out of the fishing trade, and, as the land was not cultivated in Jersey, there was not sufficient food to feed the people, so that the necessary goods had to be imported to the amount of nearly three thousand pounds each year.

People were poor, rents unpaid, and as Dumaresq says, there was much work for lawyers, thus tending towards the ruin of the Island.

There was a market each Saturday when the farmers and knitters brought in their wares and sold them to merchants, and each Monday there was a market at St. Aubin's where goods brought in to the Island by ships were disposed of.

There was plenty of fish around the Island and these were brought into town by carts and sold on Saturdays. Conger were plentiful and at very low tides a favourite occupation was to go and seek for ormers. There was always a plentiful supply of wrack, especially about St. Ouen, with the result that in this neighbourhood the land was made very suitable for the growing of corn.

The roads were very narrow and Poingdestre says they were divided into three classes :-" Le Chemin du Roy, the King's Highwaye which is to be of ye breadth of twelve foot besides foure foot on eech side by ye hedges, in all sixteene foot : Le Chemin de huiet pieds, of eight foot in the midle and foure foot on both sides in all twelve foot : and lastly Le Chemin de quatre pieds or foure foot waye, like ye Actus of Civilians, being onely for footmen and carriages on horseback and not for carts."

The mud walls on each side of the roads were planted with white and black thorn and with willows, and the Jurats were very particular in seeing that these hedges did not interfere with the use of the roads, for the Visite des Chemins was a very solemn function. On the Saturday prior to the visitation, the Jurats notified that a visit would be made the following week, without designating the district, and, on the following day, the announcement was made in each Parish Church. Then the Constable was warned that his parish was to be visited, and he was directed to meet the Jurats at a certain place. He was to be accompanied by twelve persons who, having been duly sworn, promised to take the Jurats to all public ways in which the parish is known to be badly kept.

The Jurats and the King's officers on horseback, and the Viscount, carrying his staff of office, an el] long, with one end on the pummel of his saddle and the other upwards, start on their journey, the Constable and his men following on foot. When the Viscount's staff encounters any hedge or bough overlapping the road it is found branchage and the owner is fined, but if the irregularity is below the Viscount's staff then the Road Surveyor is fined.

Then in Poingdestre's time there was the Militia consisting of three "Colonyes in twenty seven Companyes of foot, good freemen well armed and well diciplin'd and a troop of horse. These be the certain Trained Bands obliged to be in readiness on all occasions. But there are above one Thousand besides of fusty fellows, able to serve but unable to provide themselves with arms and musician who might be added to these."

We have seen that when Sir Thomas Morgan was Governor the troops were obliged to provide themselves with a scarlet jacket. By an act of the States, 6th March, 1687, it was directed that all horsemen are to clothe themselves in " Casaques Rouge," as well as the Militia, and they are ordered to provide themselves with the same before the next parade and that those who did not so appear will have these provided and if they object to payment, the Constables are authorized to seize their goods to meet the necessary expense.

We find that the States were very anxious about the poverty in the Island and at their meeting of the 2nd April, 1685, they were of opinion that it was caused principally by the bad prices obtained from the sale of stockings, and cider, and they therefore directed that from the 1st May following, each parish should raise a voluntary subscription. In the case of those in comfortable circumstances, who refused to pay their fair proportion, the Constables were authorized to seize and sell sufficient goods belonging to the unwilling givers so as to provide the necessary quota.

Labour was cheap, and we hear of one La Cloche hiring one Raulin Godel, with the consent of his parents, for three years to help him in his mill and other work. In return La Cloche agreed to provide him with food, clothes and boots and give him one ecu a year, and the father and mother had to give security for his good behaviour.

Then we have a Swedish vessel of about two hundred tons with thirteen guns leaving St. Aubin's roads on a voyage to the West Indies. Before leaving, the master had engaged about one hundred young men, and women, to go with him for periods of three or seven years, on the under-standing that each should have four suits of clothing each year and one hundred livres at the end of four years.

Among those so engaged we find the names of Jacques Perchard, Hugh Besnard, Pierre Dolbel, Pierre Le Commune, Daniel Falle, Noel Pallot, Phyllis Hubert, Clement Any and Phyllis Jean. It would be very interesting to know what became of these enterprising Jersey people, who in their anxiety to find an opportunity to adventure on new fields, were willing to entrust their persons to the custody of a Foreign master.

It was a very cruel age and justice was often tempered by the moods of those in authority. We read in Evelyn's Diary that he had watched a man, who had been accused of robbery, being tortured in prison. As the man refused to confess, the torture was increased until the man lost consciousness, after having refused to confess a crime of which probably he was innocent. We know that Evelyn was one of the most enlightened men of his time, and we get some idea of the trend of mind of those in power in the land. A man who had good friends found many excuses, but those who had none, found speedy justice.

Philip de le Cour of Jersey stole a goose and a sheep but escaped to London, where by the aid of his friends he was enabled to appeal for pardon before the Privy Council. Their Lordships directed, that as he had a poor family to maintain, and had suffered much already, the Bailiff and the Jurats were to grant hint a free pardon, and he returned home a free man.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Soldiers and Suicide Bombers

My quote from last night was from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series:

"The Earth is beautiful, and bright, and kindly, but that is not all. The Earth is also terrible, and dark, and cruel. The rabbit shrieks dying in the green meadows. The mountains clench their great hands full of hidden fire. There are sharks in the sea, and there is cruelty in men's eyes."

"And where men worship these things and abase themselves before them, there evil breeds; there places are made in the world where darkness gathers, places given over wholly to the Ones whom we call Nameless, the ancient and holy Powers of the Earth before the Light, the powers of the dark, of ruin, of madness."

There is something in that quote which I think speaks of the atrocities committed in Paris by the Islamic State, something which speaks of the madness to which people become debased in such a way that they can go on a rampage of destruction, and then destroy themselves as well.

Normally, human beings are quite good at what Simon-Baron Cohen calls a “theory of mind”. That is to say, they can put themselves inside other people’s heads, and even if they don’t agree with them, manage to understand something of what drives that person to behave and believe the way they do.

The BBC reported on a Muslim man who was at one of the restaurants targeted, and who grabbed two young girls and pulled them down out of harms way when the shooting began. He was interviewed, and there was clear incomprehension as he asked who could do such a thing, and said they were monsters. Notice that it was a Muslim who found this incomprehensible.

That's worth noting, as the Vicar of Gouray, Gavin Ashenden, is again portraying Islam as the villain of the piece, citing verses from the Koran to support the use of violence - and conveniently neglecting to mention the verses supporting violence in his own Bible. For someone supporting a religion of peace, it is surprising how much he wants to foster fear and distrust.

So how can we understand the mentality of the suicide bomber? In his article, “The Psychology of the Suicide Bomber”, Irum Sarfaraz notes that:

“It is easy to put a religious label on these individuals but religion has little to do with it or their motives for taking their own lives. If religion has any role in the entire chemistry, it is only to have been used as the perfect blackmailing element to distort the image of right from wrong in the psyche of the bomber.”

And he notes that the social psychologist Albert Bandura suggests that “suicide bombers are not abnormal individuals or psychopaths who lack morality not are they hungry to spill the blood of innocent people indiscriminately. Rather on the contrary they are very normal people who under certain circumstances and inducements are capable of selectively extricating their moral code to engage in extreme inhumane conduct.”

Bandura writes, “Just as soldiers can go to battle to fight and kill for their country, terrorists can engage in violence to promote a cause. To be sure, soldiers must be trained to overcome their inhibitions to kill others, but this behavior modification is not seen as immoral by most societies' indeed, it is rewarded with medals, venerated in public ceremonies and idealized as heroic sacrifices when soldiers are killed in actions. Similarly, terrorists can frame their violent deeds as moral acts in the service of their people, country or God”

Sarfaraz comments that

“In exploring the moral mental stand of suicide bombers one would find it to be very similar to that of soldiers. Just like the act of killing by soldiers is morally acceptable, similarly the killing by suicide bombers, themselves and others, is also acceptable. Similarly just as dead soldiers are revered by their counterparts, dead suicide bombers are revered by the other people of his tribe as well.”

So the same mechanisms by which soldiers can repress inhibitions to kill are at work with the suicide bombers. It is a training in what Bandura calls “moral disengagement”.

As Michelle Maiese notes, in an article on “Suicide Bombers”

“Casualties are then seen as the regrettable but inevitable consequence of fighting for one's just cause. It is not that they are bloodthirsty or that they enjoy killing civilians, but rather that they believe these missions are the only way to fight for their cause. Although the realization that terrorists view themselves as soldiers engaged in a just war does not legitimize their cause or methods, it does provide some insight into their psychology and motivation. It suggests that their psychology is similar to that displayed by combatants in other conflicts.”

Suicide bombing itself seems to be a fairly modern practice. Meytal Grimland, Alan Apter, and Ad Kerkho in their study on “The Phenomenon of Suicide Bombing” note that:

“While terrorism is not a new phenomenon and has always carried a high risk for its perpetrators, what is new is the desire of certain individuals to kill others while killing themselves”

They comment that: “The most striking epidemiological feature of suicide bombing is its almost epidemic-like increase over the last two decades, and especially, the last 5 years”

And the military nature of their training comes up again. They note that “the typical Palestinian suicide terrorist is religious, normal, polite, and serious. They are motivated mainly by the effectiveness of suicide bombing as a military strategy, nationalistic pride, need to revenge national and personal humiliation, and hatred of Israel and America”

It is notable that recruiters in fact, will not select candidates they deem to have suicidal tendencies. They look for people who have a good degree of mental stability that helps them to endure pressure to recruit.

Islam itself is opposed to the idea of suicide: “Studies of Muslim countries report even lower rates of suicide than for Israeli Jews, except for a substantial increase recently among Israeli Arabs. The Shi’ite survival code (Taqiyya) adheres strongly to the preservation of life, even allowing followers to pose as Sunni to save themselves (Merari, 1998). Along with the low suicide rate in Arabic Islamic countries, Abdel-Khalek (2004) cites research indicating higher means than Western samples on measures of psychological disorder, such as depression, which usually serve as predictors of suicide”

This is because the belief system of Islam is like tha of Christianity, is opposed to suicide, regarding suicide as fundamentally wrong – “a true Muslim believes that he is the servant of Allah, the creator and the provider who determines the life span of his creatures; a Muslim is not free to end his life when ever he wants, and by killing oneself or another is doomed to great punishment.”

But there is an idea of a warrior-martyr in Islam. The concept of the shahid or Martyr is, by Islamic definition, a warrior killed by the enemy in battle in the name of Allah. This again fits with the psychological profile of the suicide bomber as following a military code of practice.

That this is a trained behaviour emerges when we look at how people become suicide bombers. They undergo a period of what might be called indoctrination, although it should be noted that the same methodology also could be applied to military training of many kinds:

“Indoctrination may be long or short term. The main tool in long-term indoctrination is education – by schools, the media, parents, and friends. The purpose of this process is to convince the person of the importance of the cause and of the righteousness of the means necessary for its implementation.”
And that indoctrination or training is powerful.

“Merari (2002) views the psychological process of preparation as a ‘production line,’ where you enter at one end and come out as a complete suicide bomber at the other. The line is dotted with ‘crossroads’ or social contracts that are, in effect, points of no return, because breaking them will heap shame and dishonor on the person and his family. In this manner, beyond the personal commitment to the cause, the terrorist develops a social commitment to stick to the mission to the end despite hesitations and second thoughts.”

Even in normal military training, there is this element of indoctrination. As a former US soldier writes:

"Basic training prepares you to follow orders because when the shit hits the fan on the battle field you have to act without thinking in order to keep yourself and your fellow soldiers alive!."

Imagine that process to be even more intense, and you find the military precision of the suicide bomber. They are trained to kill and then kill themselves. The suicide bombers not only see themselves as soldiers, they have been trained as soldiers to kill, and to destroy themselves rather than be taken prisoner. 

It is here that we can begin to understand how people turn into monsters.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Changing Signs: What will it cost?

Ever get the feeling Sir Humphrey Appleby rewrites answers for Freedom of Information requests!


The DRAFT STATES OF JERSEY (TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS No. 8) (MISCELLANEOUS TRANSFERS) (JERSEY) REGULATIONS 201 proposes that the following Ministries will change responsibilities and names:

1 Economic Development becomes Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture

2 Education, Sport and Culture becomes Education;

3 Planning and Environment becomes Environment

4 Transport and Technical Services becomes Infrastructure.

Please can I have details of what associated changes in naming will be required – such as letterheads, business cards, logo, website, emails, staff badges, vehicles, signage, and also the cost involved in these changes of names for each of these four Ministries detailed separately.


Departments were aware of the intended changes and have been preparing accordingly, and as a general principle it is intended that consumables such as business cards will be rebranded as existing stocks require replenishment, equipment, signage, staff badges etc. will be replaced at the end of their serviceable life.

My comments:

What does "servicable life" mean?

A correspondent of mine comments:

Serviceable should mean untill they fall down, but in CCspeak in means until someone decides that it needs changing which will be priority since signage badged with department name which will be deemed ‘unservicable’ as now fundamentally incorrect. TTS and P&E in particular have felt the need to badge a lot of their signage. I feel a spate of Ministerial decisions coming on! Another £1m frittered away.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Sheltering from the Storm

Sheltering from the Storm

“Decision(s): The Minister approved the installation of seven bus shelters at the following bus stop locations: Red Houses Shops S, Clos Orange N, The Limes, Rose Farm E, La Hougue Avenue S, Hameau de la Mer W and Airport Garages N.”

“Reason(s) for Decision: To provide bus shelters at suitable locations to improve facilities for bus users, in accordance with the States of Jersey Strategic Plan and the Sustainable Transport Policy.”

Eddie Noel is continuing with his predecessors policy - Mike Jackson - who initiated the policy  and Kevin Lewis who continued it - of getting more bus shelters available, and while this may not make headline news in the JEP, I think it is of vital importance for a sustainable transport system. 
The reason for this is that when the weather is fine, more people tend to use the bus, when it is bad, they take to their cars. 

As a report in the Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2012 noted:

“Adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, wind, or extreme temperatures may cause people to shift transportation modes or avoid traveling at all. The issue is important to transit agencies. If weather was shown to have a significant impact on ridership, agencies could take steps to mitigate the effects of weather, such as installing more shelters at transit stations, in order to maximize passenger comfort and ridership.”

The study looked at statistics in Pierce County, Washington as a sample case study, but also noted that the results are generally applicable elsewhere. 

In particicular, regarding buses, it commented that:

“Rain was the only variable that was significant in all four seasons. One inch (2.5 cm) of rain resulted in decreases in ridership of 1,777 (5.05%) for winter, 3,650 (9.73%) for spring, 2,726 (7.36%) for summer, and 2,304 (5.97%) for autumn. These results are logical, as rainy weather makes waiting for a bus in the rain unpleasant if no shelter is provided. When it rains, many people likely switch to automobiles for transportation if that mode provides a more comfortable experience.”

So one significant fact is that more shelters can help. As the report notes: “One way to improve the comfort of waiting passengers is by placing shelters at stops, which provide weather protection and a place to sit”

The addition of 7 extra bus stops in Jersey will certainly help retain passengers in bad weather, and is to be commended.

And more are on the way. Deputy Eddie Noel was kind enough to give me the details, saving the cost of a Freedom of Information request. He noted:

“We have 48 bus shelters of "our own" (TTS) in situ (of which 41 have been installed since 2010).  A further four await installation, the contractor is making good progress and it looks like they'll all be finished this side of Christmas. That will take us to 52 TTS shelters “

“In addition there are another 20 waiting shelters owned/administered by other parties e.g. Parishes”

“That makes 72 in total as at the end of 2015.”

And he also informs me by email that more are to come during 2016.