04 December 2011

Blogger Breakdown

The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007 - 2036

I'm trying to post this
"@stef said, "it's about time the readership of that report was expanded a little..."

Unfortunately, the MOD have decided against this by password protecting the link given.

However, http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.com/articles/strat_trends_23jan07.pdf gives a link from which I've just downloaded a copy.

Just thought I'd go through the tick box exercise of seeing what's come to pass and what's still awaiting us."
comment to
'The Middle Class Proletariat' aka 'We're all potential terrorists now'
For some reason blogger is playing up with the result that the comment isn't being accepted.

For the avoidance of doubt, the following MOD link, http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/94A1F45E-A830-49DB-B319-DF68C28D561D/0/strat_trends_17mar07.pdf, which used to be freely accessible to those who paid for it, now requires a password.

Here is a working link, http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.com/articles/strat_trends_23jan07.pdf to the report that used to be freely available to those who paid for it.

As to why I'm making efforts to post this article,

1 Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2 The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary."

23 November 2011

Am Bobby Charlton

Still reading and re-reading the Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire, a book that I find both fascinating and difficult.

Freire criticises what he calls banking education where pupils are treated as empty vessels to be filled up with facts: in the UK this is called teaching to the test. Despite claims to the contrary, since schools are judged by test results, that is the only teaching technique that is done. There are of course many different ways of teaching to the test but at heart, teaching to the test is what happens.

Freire explains that the banking method of education should be replaced with a problem-posing method of teaching; he goes on to explain that this pedagogy cannot work unless the relationship between pupils and teacher changes. Freire says,
"The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with students, who in their turn while being taught also teach."

This is difficult to imagine but it is possible to see examples of this pedagogy. The most easily accessible example is the Hollywood film, School of Rock: read Pedagogy of the Oppressed and see the film.

The other example comes from Kes. Only fleetingly ... but it's there,

powered by Splicd.com

Again, read the book and you'll see what I mean.

Lastly, it's curious that both of these examples of Freire's method are unwitting examples: I strongly suspect that neither authors of the films had ever heard of Freire. Yet the basis of some of the most dramatic scenes in the films - the empowerment of the individual - is at the heart of Freire's work.

10 October 2011

The Administrations of McGuire

The Guardian reported in a story titled, "Nurofen contamination: man charged"
"Christopher McGuire charged after antipyschotic and antiepileptic drugs found in five packs of painkiller."
The story goes on to say that,
"A spokesman for the Met said unemployed McGuire had been charged with one count of contamination of goods, contrary to the Public Order Act 1986, and two of administering a noxious substance, which is contrary to the Offences Against The Person Act."
The first charge is very likely to be section 38 Public Order Act 1986 the "Contamination of or interference with goods with intention of causing public alarm or anxiety, etc." This offence carries a maximum prison sentence of either ten years if convicted on indictment (s38(4)(a)), or six-months if convicted summarily (s38(4)(b)).

If that was the only charge, he could get away with six-months by indicating that he would plead guilty at his mode of trial hearing (s17A Magistrates' Court Act 1980).

But the article explained that there were other two other charges of administering obnoxious substances; the charges are likely to be ss23 and 24 Offences Against the Persons Act 1861.
"23. Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously administer to or cause to be administered to or taken by any other person any poison or other destructive or noxious thing, so as thereby to endanger the life of such person, or so as thereby to inflict upon such person any grievous bodily harm, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable ... to be kept in penal servitude for any term not exceeding ten years ...."
"24. Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously administer to or cause to be administered to or taken by any other person any poison or other destructive or noxious thing, with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy such person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable ... to be kept in penal servitude ...."
Question is ... did McGuire administer the noxious substance? Did he bring the substance, directly or indirectly, into contact with the victims' body (Gillard (1988) 87 Cr App 189)?

Assuming that nobody has ingested one of these pills, it looks to me that whether or not McGuire will get up to ten-years or up to six-months, will depend upon whether or not someone took a pill out of the blister pack.

(Or more accurately whether or not the prosecutor can prove that they did).

Update 4th December 2011.

The Mail online explains in, "Nurofen addict 'swapped tablets in shop with his own anti-psychotic medication'" that,
"A Nurofen addict was so desperate for the pills he swapped them for his own anti-psychotic medication in chemist's shops, a court heard.

Christopher McGuire, 30, opened packets of the headache tablets and replaced them with his prescription before slipping out the store, it is claimed.

Two other customers Peter Latham and Paul Connor mistakenly took tablets from the sabotaged packets, Southwark Crown Court heard."

Update 27th May 2012

The Telegraph, under a headline, "Nurofen addict cost drug company £2.4m" from 25th May 2012 explains that,

"Yesterday, McGuire, a penniless drifter from Glasgow, appeared in court after admitting causing a public nuisance."

Details of the crime of public nuisance can be found in, Rimmington, R v [2005] UKHL 63(21 July 2005).

As for my reading of the case, it isn't clear to me that McGuire's actions "cause[ed] common injury to a section of the public" and so didn't have all the elements necessary for the offence. If that is the case, should he have entered a guilty plea?

The Pursuit Of Justice Is Not The Pursuit Of Truth

I have a number of law blogs (blawgs) in my google feed, one of which is James Medhurst's Employment Law Blog. One of his posts (unfortunately) titled, Employment Law And Magic Realism, has the following quote within it,
"What [Courts] find is deemed to be the truth but this is a convenient legal fiction and it must be remembered that it is not always actually the truth. Parties will be more satisfied with the system if this is more widely acknowledged. We must not allow [Court] decisions to construct our reality."
But constructing reality from court cases is exactly what we do.

Consider that person A commits a crime and person B gets convicted for that crime. It may well be that person A and person B are the same person; in that case the right person gets convicted, but just because person B gets convicted doesn't mean that he did it, it doesn't mean that he suddenly becomes person A.

Of these two people, one is fact the other is fiction: person A is real whereas person B is a fiction. Person A can become person B, a person who commits a crime can become a person convicted of that crime; but person B cannot become person A, a person convicted of the crime, if he didn't commit the crime, cannot become the person who committed the crime because he was convicted.

But don't take my word for it, here's a quote from Lord Neuberger speaking extra judicially,

"...it was Lord Wilberforce who famously observed that the traditional function of a common law judge was not to seek the truth. As he put it,"
"In a contest purely between one litigant and another . . . the task of the court is to do, and be seen to be doing, justice between the parties . . .. There is no higher or additional duty to ascertain some independent truth. It often happens, from the imperfection of evidence, or the withholding of it, sometimes by the party in whose favour it would tell if presented, that an adjudication has to be made which is not, and is known not to be, the whole truth of the matter: yet if the decision has been in accordance with the available evidence and with the law, justice will have been fairly done."
So when you hear that a person has been convicted of crime it is not a certainty that they did it, just a mere probability. As for a value for that probability, we should be finding that out in the near future.

16 September 2011

Al-Qaeda: The Terror Organisation That Never Was

I've just read "Ricin! The Inside Story of the Terror Plot That Never Was" by former juror Lawrence Archer. The book is well worth reading; it explains, from the perspective of a member of a jury, how people were put on trial for plotting to kill people using ricin: except, there wasn't any ricin, nor any plot.

It explains, in part, how preliminary tests of apparatus seized during a police raid tested positive for protein - which could have been ricin - but two days later, an ELISA assay (for ELISA read very sensitive) showed that no ricin was present. Yet for months everyone was mislead to believe that ricin was present in apparatus seized by the police.
"Gould's evidence that no ricin had been positively identified showed that the ricin-plot hare had been set running by a false positive test result and a decision taken by a non-scientist employee at Porton Down. What's more, no one had sought to calm public fears by correcting the wrong information which had been given to police until three months later, despite the raft of alarming and inaccurate press stories the false reports of a ricin find had generated."
Other threads in the book describe what life is like for an illegal immigrant: petty thieving, poor housing, fear of authorities, exploited by employers. The illegal immigrants in this story were from Algeria, a western friendly dictatorship, that seems not to be a part of the Arab Spring. A place where the security forces are feared, where torture is conducted and who send spies to London, not to spy on the UK gov, but to spy on the illegal immigrants so that they can find reasons to attack their families back in Algeria. Against this background everyone has false documents and everyone goes under a number of different names.

The other thought that came to mind as I read the book was that, if it's possible to be so mislead by the fear of the ricin plot when none exists, couldn't the same be said of Al-Qaeda itself?

Salvador Dali was fascinated by Vermeer's painting, The Lacemaker: he copied the painting and discussed it in lectures. His fascination was for the tip of the lacemaker's needle in the painting since, the needle is visually suggested but not actually depicted. Like the Lacemaker's needle, everything suggests that Al-Qaeda is there but do we really know that it even exists?

Update 3rd October 2011. It appears from the wikileaks 'cablegate' that I'm not the only one who has these sorts of difficulties. A cable titled, "Ergenekon: it all depends on where you sit" where ambassadorial ace, Sandra Oudkirk writes,
""Ergenekon" remains an all-encompassing term after nearly a year of indictments, investigations, arrests, and search warrants. There seem to be as many perceptions of the reality of Ergenekon as there are agendas..."
Transpose Ergenekon with Al-Qaeda and the statements make as much sense.

06 September 2011

Homeless People Ensure High Property Prices Campaign Dealt A Blow

The Telegraph newspaper reports that its campaign to maintain property prices at the expenses of homeless people has been dealt a blow. Under the headline, "Squatters could be good for us all, says judge in empty homes ruling" the newspaper explains,
"Squatters are not criminals and could be good for society, a judge has ruled in ordering a London council to make public a list of empty homes in its area."
The newspaper doesn't give us any of their analysis of Henderson J's words, instead, it goes on to report,
"With police backing, Camden Council argued that disclosing the list risked unleashing a wave of criminal damage, arson, drug-related crime and organised “stripping” of vacant properties.

But Judge Fiona Henderson emphasised that squatters were not law-breakers and said official concerns were outweighed by the “public interest in putting empty properties back into use”.

The tribunal ruling means Camden Council must now comply with a Freedom of Information Act request by Yiannis Voyias of the Advisory Service for Squatters for a list of empty council-managed and private homes in the borough."

One would hope that this ruling would go some way to stopping the Telegraphs campaign of trying to criminalize the homeless who seek the remedy of adverse possession.

Note, the newspaper article is about Voyias v IC & London Borough of Camden (Freedom of Information Act 2000) [2011] UKFTT EA_2011_0007 (GRC).

Update 27th September 2011

Another smack in the face for boy blunder Grant Shapps' campaign to ensure that homeless people remain homeless even though empty properties abound. This time the put down comes from 160 leading legal figures explains the Guardian under the title, "Squatting law is being misrepresented to aid ministers' reforms, claim lawyers".
"Solicitors, barristers and legal professors have accused the government of misrepresenting the law and misleading the public to push through reforms on squatting.

The 160 lawyers, who represent tenants and landlords across England and Wales, say the housing minister, Grant Shapps, and justice minster, Crispin Blunt, are "obscuring" the law and accuse them of "sensationalist misrepresentation" during recent debates on squatting legislation.

The letter, published in the Guardian, says that ministers' obfuscation and media misreporting have created "fear for homeowners, confusion for the police and ill-informed debate among both the public and politicians on reforming the law. [In] failing to challenge inaccurate reporting, ministers have furthered the myths being peddled around squatting"."

The article and the letter are worth reading in full. Put simply, you're being lied to. No one from government is correcting these lies.

By no one from government, that'd be Grant Shapps,

the man who has the look of someone who'd be willing to make people homeless just to maintain the excessive house prices for his constituents.

Quoting from the letter linked to above, we have
"By making misleading statements and failing to challenge inaccurate reporting, ministers have furthered the myths being peddled around squatting.
We want it to be clear that it is already a criminal offence for a squatter to occupy someone's home, or a home that a person intends to occupy, under the Criminal Law Act 1977. A homeowner will be a displaced residential occupier, or if they are intending to move into the property, a protected intended occupier. In either case, it is a criminal offence for a squatter to remain in the property as soon as they have been told of the displaced occupier or a protected occupier. The police can arrest any trespasser who does not leave. The displaced or protected occupier can use force to enter the property and reasonable force to remove the trespassers."
If Grant Shapps didn't know the above, he's not fit for purpose and should resign.
Update 5th October 2011. The truth doesn't seem to be setting me free, it's just bringing me despair and a feeling of imprisonment. Another squatting story has been written up, this time in the Independent (It isn't, Are You?), "Plea to ministers on squatting law". To be fair to Amy, our intrepid reporter, she does a reasonable job: it's just the commentators under the piece that are troubling. They keep peddling the lie that has been scotched by the letter in the Guardian which I reported above on the 27th September 2011 with regard to squatting family homes. It's despairing to think that people only get their news from one source, I just hope the contributors are shills.

03 September 2011

'S truth Bruce

Currently reading Albion Dreaming by Andy Roberts. Fascinating stuff, the book is a 'popular history of LSD in Britain' and is well worth the investment of time to read it. At p162, the background of one of the Free Festival Organisers, Bill Ubi Dwyer, is being described. Dwyer used to sell LSD at a club in Sydney called the Cellar, the book explains,
The police sent undercover officers to the Cellar but this did not seem to bother Dwyer. ...he was buying LSD directly from the police, who largely controlled the Sydney LSD trade at that time.20

Following Andy Roberts' reference takes us to a Parliamentary speech by R L S Jones, which gives many other examples of police corruption. I found the following particularly amusing,
"The other day a solicitor told me that some time ago one of his clients was busted at Terrey Hills for amphetamine possession. He was taken to the police station and the police officer behind the counter was the one who had sold him the amphetamines, so his case never came to court."