Archive for January 7th, 2014

Motorists face 60mph speed limit on motorways

Interestingly, not to save lives from driving and reduce claims for road traffic accidents – but from pollution.  The plan is to reduce the speed limit to 60mph on some roads. The Telegraph 

Remembering 1914

With Lord Kitchener appearing on a £2 coin – an example of rather poor taste in the view of many – the remembrance of The Great War will bring much comment and analysis.

Neil Schofield writes: 

“Part of the point of commemorating the hundredth anniversary of a war is the certainty that nobody who served in it will still be alive.  It is the point at which, definitively, that war has passed from direct into reported experience; history that can be turned into mythology, without the inconvenience of spontaneous testimony from those who were there, and might have something different to offer on the subject….”

Witness protection – why Nigella Lawson is not a victim of the criminal justice system

Felicity Gerry writing in Legal Week makes some robust and good points about the Grillo sisters case.

Nigella Lawson is a victim of domestic violence, but she is not a victim of the criminal justice system.

Much has been said about the treatment of Ms Lawson as a witness in the fraud trial of her former personal assistants, Francesco and Elisabetta Grillo; an experience she has described as “deeply disturbing”. There have even been calls for greater protection of witnesses as a result.

This comes at a time when former chief prosecutor Sir Keir Starmer QC has announced that he will lead areview into the treatment of victims in the criminal justice system.

No review of the treatment of witnesses will stop them from being accused of lying or being inaccurate when that is the defence case; that is the purpose of a trial. To put this into perspective, if you were accused of stealing from your employer, then you would naturally expect your accuser to be questioned robustly.

At last, a law to stop almost anyone from doing almost anything

George Monbiot in The Guardian writes: “Protesters, buskers, preachers, the young: all could end up with ‘ipnas’. Of course, if you’re rich, you have nothing to fear”
Back later…

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It may give The Twitterati some transient pleasure to mock one of the finest gentlemen to have ever graced the House of Commons benches by referring to him as a ‘Crime Scene in Progress’  – I talk of no other than Lord Chancellor Grayling, a man of vision who made his long walk to freedom  from obscurity to hold one of the highest offices of state in the land: Lord Chancellor –  the first non-lawyer to serve as Lord Chancellor since the Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672-3.  It did not end well for The Earl of Shaftesbury, it has to be said – although charges of High Treason were dropped and Shaftesbury fled to Amsterdam,  fell ill, and soon died.  But, be that as it may.

And as for those of you with a predilection for trawling through Wikipedia for amusing nonsense on Chris Grayling and other fellow Conservative MPs to find this sort of thing…..shame on you!

Between 2001 and 2009,[8] Grayling claimed expenses for his flat in Pimlico, close to the Houses of Parliament, despite having a constituency home no further than 17 miles away[9] and owning two buy to let properties in Wimbledon.[10] Grayling says he uses the flat when “working very late” because he needs to “work very erratic and late hours most days when the House of Commons is sitting.”[11]

During the Parliamentary expenses scandalThe Daily Telegraph reported that Grayling refitted and redecorated the flat in 2005 costing over £5,000.[9] Grayling said that both the water and electrical systems failed “leaving the place needing a major overhaul”.[10]

Grayling’s expenses issue was seen as embarrassing for the Conservative Party as he had previously criticised Labour ministers for being implicated in sleaze scandals.[12]

There is more to heaven and earth Horatio than was dreamt of in Wikipedia…. and on that note, I bid you good day. Although I am partial to the Australian greeting…”Gooday mate, how’s it hanging?” when unable to avoid socialists in the house.

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Israel’s Entry To US Visa Waiver Programme Under Threat

Recent reports from the Arab American Institute have claimed that the bill which would have seen Israel become part of the Visa Waiver Programme has been abandoned. The non-profit organisation has alleged that the bill, also known as the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, is ‘dead in the water’.

Despite strong opposition by the Arab American Institute, the bill was supported by many pro-Israel groups, such as AIPAC. If enacted, the bill would have allowed Israelis to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme, thus making it easier for Israelis to travel to the country. Supporters of the bill also claimed that it would boost Israeli tourism in the US and, therefore, have a beneficial effect on the country.

However, since the bill was proposed in March 2013 it has faced strong criticism. Whilst the bill would have ensured that all Israelis could travel under the Visa Waiver Programme, subject to the general exceptions and limitations of the programme itself, some critics alleged that the bill allowed Israelis to ‘maintain discriminatory practices against the US.’

The Arab American Institute alleged that the wording of the bill would have allowed Israelis to refuse entry to some Americans, which would result in American Arabs, Muslims or pro-Palestinian activists being turned away at the border.

Yousef Munayyer of the Palestine Center also opposed the bill and highlighted the cases of Nour Joudah and Sandra Tamari. Mr Munayyer argues that the fact that both Palestinian-American women were denied entry to Israel in 2012 is indicative of the discriminatory practices which would be allowed under the new bill.

Whilst acceptance into the Visa Waiver Programme would undoubtedly make it easier for Israelis wanting to travel to the United States, it appears that the current bill will not be enacted and Israelis will, therefore, still be required to obtain a visa before entering the country.

However, much of the criticism levelled at the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act is concerned with the wording of the bill and the implication it has on discriminatory practices in Israel, rather than the acceptance of Israel into the Visa Waiver Programme itself.

It’s possible, therefore, that a new bill will be put forward in early 2014. Providing a new bill could overcome the criticism levelled at the current US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, it’s possible that Israel could become part of the Visa Waiver Programme and Israeli citizens could find it far easier to enter the US. However, unless legislators ensure that the wording of the bill does not allow for the discrimination of American citizens, it is likely that Israel will not be able to participate in the Visa Waiver Programme due to the on-going criticism and opposition from a variety of groups.

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