Recent Escalation

17 Nov

This is largely an emotional post following recent events in Israel… I encourage to explore the facts  in depth (and let go of any possible bias that you may be presented with).

Raising your children to hate and view certain other citizens as “enemies” to be destroyed will bring a society inevitably connected to violence and conflict. Common sense may lead us to an opinion when differentiating between a leader declaring war and firing (more) rockets into a sovereign nation on the basis of “revenge” for the killing of a terrorist leader and a leader who promises to retaliate in order to “protect innocent citizens”.

I must say even the Russian news is presenting a more objective picture than the western media at the moment. “We” only wake up when Israel retaliates – despite the fact ordinary people have been prevented from living a normal life due to thousands of rockers being fired into Southern Israel since 2008. When Egypt attempted to negotiate a cease-fire recently, Israel put down their weapons whilst Hamas continued firing and then tried to lie to the international community that it was the opposite!

Operation pillar of defense is MORE than justified!

Whilst Israel makes greatest efforts to avoid civilian casualties (dropping leaflets warning people not to go near military/terrorist bases and more..) Hamas cares little where it’s continuous rockets are directed at and builds some of it’s bases under schools and hospitals as an attempted shield. If their rockets were more successful and Israeli’s defense less so (including the Iron Dome), Israeli casualties would be much higher. It is clear the blame lies with the violence of Hamas terrorists.

We need to stop blaming Israel when history has shown us that every attempt at peace has been forcefully declined by Israel’s enemies and realise that, like any other nation, they have a right to defend their people.

also read this:

http://www.idfblog.com/2012/11/15/how-does-the-idf-minimize-harm-to-palestinian-civilians

Courtroom advocacy in decline?

13 Nov

Previously, solicitors could only represent their clients in a magistrates court, whereas a barrister would represent the client in higher courts.  Now, solicitors can apply for different advocacy/representation rights and represent their own clients, and collect both fees. Barristers can now also apply for “direct access” to clients, but this is rare and relevant in only certain sectors.

I doubt the role of barristers is being challenged, however many claim that the junior bar is being deprived of work and ultimately the quality of advocacy will decrease as work is not passed on to those specifically trained and experienced in the profession.

The most significant question however is whether the blurring of the different roles has contributed to miscarriages of justice.  The Bar would argue it has. The Law Society itself has agreed their advocacy training is “not fit for purpose”. Apparent lack of familiarity with rules and courtroom procedure or advocacy generally may give an unfair advantage to the prosecution (or the defence if we’re talking about in-house CPS advocates).

With cuts in legal aid contributing to the decline of the “legal aid equality myth”, the justice system really doesn’t need any more obstacles.

Get rid of the “middlemen” (we can apply that to either profession actually) and reduce costs or encourage each to stick to their traditionally defined roles to ensure the quality of advocacy and therefore justice is preserved?

Illegal to be fat?

9 Nov

Although I had just discovered this interesting piece of information today, the obesity law in Japan has been in place since the 1st April 2008!

The “fat tax” encourages companies to reduce the size of their employees waistlines – 33.5 inches is the limit for men and 35.4 inches for women… (despite the heigh differences..)

This is to avoid the dreaded “metabo” which includes health risks from stomach fat, high blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the national healthcare costs associated with them!

That is certainly an interesting way of reducing government costs and is especially ironic as Japan is the thinnest developed country in the world with an obesity rate incomparable to that of the USA.

Companies will be fined if they do not reduce the number of “obese” employees, which will be noted through bi-annual check ups. Embarassed employees can chose “clothed” check-ups and deduct 1.5cm from their results and be forced to pariticipate in counselling sessions and “health-courses” if they fail to meet the requirements. Humiliating an already generally healthy nation into a healthy lifestyle?

“Goodbye, metabolic. Let’s get our checkups together. Go! Go! Go!” – a chant used to encourage employees…

Do we have the “right to be fat” – or should the state be allowed to impose requirements to reduce healthcare costs for the taxpayer?

 

Gun Control

9 Oct

Following the Aurora shootings and the shooting at the Sikh temple in wisconsin, the case for gun control has become increasingly relevant.

All forms of violent crime in America have fallen. All except gun-related violence that is. The gun-homicide rate per capita in the U.S. is 30 times that of Britain and Australia. I have this crazy idea that perhaps the relative ease of access to firearms may be a contributing factor…

The biggest argument against gun control is the Second Amendment:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”

Restricting the sale or purchase of guns arguably infringes the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms”. Yet how can this be a right when possession often correlates with another individual’s loss of life – the biggest infringement of an individual’s right that there is.

Also, it’s the second AMENDMENT – you’re allowed to change your outdated constitution – especially as most you aren’t actually part of a “well regulated militia”, now, are you?

As for the self-defence claim, you are more likely to get shot if you have a gun in your home..

Wal-Mart recently sold ammunition to a minor. The fact that a supermarket sells ammo and firearms sounds absolutely crazy to me yet Wal-Mart is in fact the largest seller of firearms in the USA. All of this points to the inevitable issue of ACCESS.

Why not ban knives and cars also? Whilst they have the ability to cause damage and even kill, guns were created for the sole purpose of killing.

I believe that the licensing and regulation measures such as background checks and waiting periods are, whilst a positive stepping stone, ineffective and a total ban is necessary.

Not only common sense but evidence has shown that states with stricter gun control laws have a lower gun-related death rate.

The attitude of  “the world is still corrupt” despite any legislation that you may pass is entirely inappropriate. Although it may be true, why not do as much as possible to prevent tragedies from occurring?

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people”. …. Really? As Eddie Izzard puts it: “The gun helps..”

A sad comparison:     Hours before Newtown, a deranged man in China walked into an elementary school building and began to indiscriminately attack everyone in his vicinity. Before his rampage ended, twenty-two children had been hit. But while it sounds like Newtown, there were two crucial differences that share a common root. First, the man used a knife. Second, because the man used a knife, none of the twenty-two children were killed.

How this is a debate which the ‘pro-gun’ stance in America is winning is entirely beyond me.

especially 0:33

(having said all of this – my opinion in relation to guns and police is largely different.. I wonder how many of you agree with me?)

Rachel Corrie

31 Aug

I know I’m going to offend a lot of people by writing this but here is my opinion.

Rachel Corrie was a 23 year old pro-Palestinian activist and a member of the International Solidarity Movement. On the 16th March 2003 she was crushed by a D-19 bulldozer in the Gaza strip. A few days ago, an Israeli civil court in Haifa rejected the civil lawsuit brought against the Israeli military by her parents who demanded a symbolic $1 in damages.

Over the past few days, many have been filled with anger towards the Israeli military and justice system, claiming the courts, in accordance with government wishes, are granting illegal immunity to the IDF.

Such shameful examples show this is not the case. When soldiers conduct themselves in an inappropriate and inhumane manner, they should and will be punished.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/idf-soldier-convicted-of-manslaughter-of-british-activist-1.162287

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11462635

The fact that Rachel Corrie, an innocent civilian, was killed, is a tragedy. However, she should not have been there in the first place. She was ordered by the US government to stay away from the area, which was forbidden to civilians and had been engaged in conflict but a few hours before her arrival. She had entered a closed military zone at her own risk. On top of this, she was positioned in a trench while protesting behind a mound of debris. It is therefore, not so surprising that the bulldozer did not see her. The army conducted a full investigation into the matter. How are we expected to place the blame on the driver?

Furthermore, the ISM are a group that have protected Hamas and Fatah terrorists whilst blocking Israeli army efforts to stop the transfer of weapons between the border. This is not a peaceful or honest group. It opposes even a two-state solution by claiming the state of Israel should not exist.

Why are people not protesting at the actions of the terrorists the ISM are defending. Their victims, be they Jewish, Palestinian, Ethiopian, Thai or any other religion or nationality that has suffered as a result of the terrorism of Hamas and Fatah, had done nothing to expect danger or death.

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-03-07/news/29432349_1_hamas-militants-gaza-into-southern-israel-alaa-abu-dheim

http://frontpagemag.com/2010/anav-silverman/a-blind-eye-for-hamas-victims-2/

http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/c.hsJPK0PIJpH/b.3831671/

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/rocket-barrage-hits-southern-israeli-town-idf-kills-terrorist-involved-in-attack-along-egypt-border-1.439888

None of this means her death was anything less than a tragedy, yet it is clear that it was an unfortunate accident.

Although the global media, with popular and well-know publications such as The Guardian and respected organisations such as Amnesty International, continue to criticise the Israeli Justice system and claim Rachel Corrie’s death was “intentional murder” by the Israeli army, why are we accepting this so easily?

MoD: Go fur-free!

14 Jul

So I went on PETA’s ‘Spare the Bears’ march today – and I’ll tell you why…Image

It takes the entire hide of a Canadian black bear to make just one cap for the Queen’s Guard. They are killed inhumanely, many are shot and die slowly from blood loss, gangrene and others may escape, suffering for days on end until they die of an infection, blood loss or starvation.

PETA has suggested numerous alternatives such as Stella McCartney’s plastic fibre design which passed the MoD’s ridiculous tests and is water repellent and fitted with air vents and also cheaper!! Yet the MoD has consistently for the past 20 years or so made excuses like “it lacks life”. Really?? Using such an excuse in this age when there are so many faux etc.. alternatives is a bit pathetic.

The fact is – these caps have no military value whatsoever, they serve no purpose other than a ceremonial one. Most tourists are horrified when they find out the caps are made from real bearskin. They have not been worn ‘in battle’ for hundreds of years. How can killing and maiming a species that will soon face the threat of extinction if this continues, be justified?

“I understand and appreciate the importance of uniforms, but continuing to use real fur in the 21st century is inexcusable, regardless of ‘tradition’,” said Ricky Gervais.

Tradition is no excuse for the continuance of such unnecessary cruelty.

Slutwalk

4 Jul

The slutwalk protests began last year on the 3rd March following an officer in Toronto’s comments about Rape – in his exact words “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

Since then, the protests have spread to cities all over the globe, including my own in London.

The core message at heart of these protests was “yes means yes and no means no” regardless of how women dress. Over 80% of rape victims do not report the assault to the police and to hear comments that partially shift responsibility of rape onto the victim is even more damaging. Most of these women feel that they will be blamed because of their dress or alcohol intake…

The message should be DON’T RAPE – rather than DON’T GET RAPED – which is what many were casually suggesting. For example, in 1999, Italy’s highest court ruled that a woman who wore jeans couldn’t be raped as it is impossible to remove a pair of pants “without the collaboration of the person wearing them.” To know that that is the attitude within the legal system that is supposed to be protecting us is horrifying.

There has been some criticism to the protests however, which focused on the way they were aiming to deliver this message. “Slut” has always been a term used as an insult, so attempting to “reclaim” it seems pointless. Society’s bi-polar attitude towards women’s sexuality “slut” if they are sexually active and “frigid” for not accepting advances – is not addressed.

Some feminists decided not to participate in the protest as they don’t want to be seen as accepting the term. They did not want their sexuality to be defined in male terms. As a result, the campaign offered to change its name – welcoming a choice of 4 options: Slutwalk, End the Shame, Yes Means Yes and Shame Stop. In the end the name remained but the fact that some of the organisers wanted to change it highlighted how divided different branches of feminism were on the protests.

The point of the protest – to change the attitude towards rape and allow women to have the freedom to dress however they wish without allowing to be a factor in blaming them as if they are “asking for it” – is a positive one. What a woman wear should not be relevant to the guilt of her attacker. Critics who accuse the protests of “celebrating sluttiness” are missing the focal point of the movement.

The name and nature of the protests shouldn’t be criticised, they were effective in attracting attention in order to deliver the key message: blame the rapist not the victim – whatever they were wearing.