Monday, 18 November 2013

The Accidental Terrorist

So, it's all over bar the shouting in the David Miranda judicial review, heard in front of Lord Justice Laws (whose name I don't think I will ever stop finding amusing.  Once when I was meant to be revising for the GDL I spent longer than I care to admit searching to see if I could find a case that had been heard by (the then) Mr. Justice Laws and Mr. Justice Judge. I succeeded. What does that say about me?), Mr. Justice Ouseley and Mr. Justice Openshaw.

Carl Gardiner did a tremendous job on Twitter and subsequently on his blog live-tweeting and analysing both days' proceedings in court.  As former Court of Appeal judge Sir Henry Brooke noted

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Consumption of Alcohol Is Not Permitted On This Bus

... except by prior written permission.

How the heck does that letter go?

Dear Mr. Bus Driver,

I suffer from a medical condition (being Irish/Scottish/Polish/Russian) that means I can't make a long-distance journey by bus or train without getting mildly swallied. Please can I bring a six-pack of Heineken for the journey? I note there is a toilet on the bus, so I  can guarantee I won't need to ask for a pish-stop along the way.

Yours drunkenly,

A. Passenger

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Unlawful Questioning of David Miranda

A judgment was handed down on Wednesday that raises further questions about the legality of some aspects of David Miranda's detention at Heathrow in August.  I have been mulling the contents of the David Miranda judicial review hearing, and should have a blog post on it soon, but in the interim I want to look at the potential bearing that this judgment, Elosta v Commissioner of the Met, has on the facts of Miranda's case as we (I) know them.

Essentially, it affirms the right of someone being detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to consult a solicitor before being interviewed, face-to-face and in private.  None of these are particularly controversial (and the Met Commissioner conceded and apologized for the fact that Mr. Elosta was not given privacy to talk to his solicitor over the phone), but this is Schedule 7 we are talking about here, and this is also the Met.  It was the Met's position that someone being detained under Schedule 7 at a place other than a police station did not have the right to consult a solicitor, and if they did they were only to do so under conditions dictated by the police.  To be fair to them, this is what a straight reading of the legislation could imply, but one that was sensibly rejected by Mr. Justice Bean.

Looking again at the details of the Miranda detention, and reading it along with the judgment in Elosta, it seems to me that much of the questioning of Miranda was probably unlawful.

Friday, 8 November 2013

No, a Chinese man did not 'successfully sue his wife for having ugly children'

 Yesterday, Matt Schiavenza, a writer for The Atlantic tweeted a link to a story of a Chinese man who had successfully sued his wife for having had plastic surgery and later given birth to an 'ugly baby'.  This was a story that had appeared in my Facebook feed before, and at the time I smelt a Kentucky Fried Rat.

5 minutes of googling at the time produced a Reddit thread that cast doubt on the authenticity of the story, pointing to the original source being a 2004 online story on the website of the Pakistani English-language newspaper, The Daily Times.  I pointed this out on Twitter, and it was taken up by James Griffiths, who writes for That's Beijing, who decided to look further into the matter.

A Fungi To Be With

For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, the story of a whale found dead in Washington state with a relatively large amount of human trash in its stomach (1-2% of the total contents of its stomach and no indication that it contributed to the animal's death) has been flying around the world in the past few days.

Perhaps it will prove to be one of those events that, while meaningless in themselves, may prove to heighten environmental awareness and prompt a change in attitudes and actions; but it probably won't.  What it has done, though, is make people sad by looking at pictures of a dead whale over lunch, as they throw their plastic sandwich wrapper and crisp packet in the bin.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Past Is A Foreign Country;

They do things differently there.

So wrote L.P. Hartley in the opening lines of The Go-Between.

But when we see photos of the past in colour, it helps bridge the gap that separates us from the world before 1960.

I love old photographs nearly as much as flags and maps, and have seen some collections of coloured (colourized?) black-and-white photos before, but another popped up earlier today on Facebook, and some of the images are amazing.

Check out some of these beautiful photographs put together by 22 Words:

Washington D.C., 1921

Monday, 4 November 2013

Journalism is apparently terrorism: Met Police

Since writing my last post a few days ago about the David Miranda case, further details have come out about the contents of the 'Port Circular' that was sent to Heathrow requesting Miranda's detention while in transit on his way back to Brazil.

From Saturday's Guardian:

We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material, the release of which would endanger people's lives. Additionally the disclosure or threat of disclosure is designed to influence a government, and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism and as such we request that the subject is examined under schedule 7.

Why Virginia could spell trouble for Hillary and the Dems

On the face of it, close confidant of the Clintons and Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe's likely victory in tomorrow's election should be good news for his former bosses and the party he represents.  But a big McAuliffe win could well prove to be a double-edged sword, particularly for Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions.

Both of the Clintons have campaigned for the old friend in the Dominion, with Hillary making her first political appearance and speech since her retirement as Secretary of State at a McAuliffe event.  But McAuliffe winning comfortably against Republican candidate and arch-conservative Ken Cuccinelli could paradoxically spell bad news for Hillary.

UKBA: Catch 22?

An interesting conundrum cropped up at Southwark Crown Court this morning.

The Defendant, an Algerian national (there was no mention that he had been in the UK unlawfully when the offence was committed), was convicted of a crime.  A matter concerning his appeal of this conviction was due to be heard this morning, but there was a bit of a problem in that the Appellant was not present in Court. (Things were not helped by the fact that neither were any legal representatives on his behalf).

The interesting point is that the reason the Appellant was not present was because since his conviction he left the UK, and has been refused permission to return to the UK to attend his appeal hearing. The reason: the conviction that he seeks to appeal.

That's one Joseph Heller would have been proud of.