mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)
There are different ways to achieve political ends. Violence is a time-tested method to disrupt and divide peaceful societies anywhere and everywhere in the world. The scale of the tragedy may differ from place to place, but the intent and outcome are always the same. It matters not who the perpetrators are or what they claim to be fighting for. Throughout history, groups of people are prepared to use force to sow seeds of distrust. They want us to cower in fear. They want us to blame the other. They want us to target refugees. They want us to question everything. We must not succumb, now more than ever. Dozens of innocent civilians have been murdered. We know them, for they belong to our human family. Political boundaries and cultural distinctions are irrelevant at times like this. Toute notre solidarité avec le peuple de Paris et Beirut en ce moment de douleur. May the souls of the victims rest in peace, and may their families and friends find strength to overcome this calamity.
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)

"In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules by a vote of 5-4 that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty.

In 1976, with 66 percent of Americans still supporting capital punishment, the Supreme Court acknowledged progress made in jury guidelines and reinstated the death penalty under a “model of guided discretion.” In 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who had murdered an elderly couple because they would not lend him their car, was the first person to be executed since the end of the ban. Defiantly facing a firing squad in Utah, Gilmore’s last words to his executioners before they shot him through the heart were, “Let’s do it.”"
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)
"ONE DAY IN EARLY FEBRUARY 2002, a 12-year-old girl named Anika, the daughter of a senior engineer at Larsen and Toubro in Surat, got word she would be giving a dance performance at her school’s annual day on 1 March. It was to be her first dance in costume, and Anika insisted that her grandparents, who lived in Ahmedabad, should come to Surat to see her on stage. Her grandfather assured Anika he would certainly be there to see her perform.

Two days before Anika’s performance, on 27 February, 58 people—many of them women and children—were killed on a train passing through Godhra, 160 kilometres east of Ahmedabad. The train was carrying members of the VHP and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, who were returning from Ayodhya after celebrating the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the Babri Masjid, and initial reports suggested that a mob of Muslims in Godhra had executed a pre-planned attack on the coach.

As word began to spread from Godhra—and pictures and video from the scene hit the airwaves—fury mounted, led by the activists of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS, baying for revenge. By the evening, the VHP called for a statewide bandh the next day, which was endorsed by the ruling BJP.

That same night, Ehsan Jafri, a 72-year-old former MP for Ahmedabad, called his granddaughter Anika in Surat with some disappointing news. Ensconced in his home in Gulburg Society, a mostly Muslim upper-middle class neighbourhood in Ahmedabad, Jafri, a veteran Congress politician, already sensed it would be risky to attempt a journey to Surat the next day. On the phone, he told Anika he wouldn’t be able to come. “But it’s just a shutdown, and he should make it,” she protested to her mother.

At around noon on 28 February, Anika called her grandfather again. “Have you not started?” she asked him. “Beta, the situation is not good here,” Jafri answered. “There are mobs everywhere.” He told her he needed to put the phone down, since he had a lot of calls to make.

A huge mob had already gathered around Gulburg Society, armed with petrol bombs, cycle chains and swords, shouting slogans like “Take revenge and slaughter the Muslims.” Many of Jafri’s neighbours, as well as Muslims from neighbouring slums, had come to his house seeking safety, expecting that his status as a former member of Parliament would afford them protection. “He must have made over a hundred phone calls for help,” Jafri’s wife, Zakia, told me. He called the Gujarat director-general of police, the Ahmedabad police commissioner, the state chief secretary and dozens of others, pleading for their intercession. A witness who survived the carnage later told a court that Jafri even called Narendra Modi: “When I asked him what Modi said, [Jafri] said there was no question of help, instead he got abuses.” Word of Jafri’s frantic calls for help even reached Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani in Delhi: a BJP insider close to Modi, who was with Advani on 28 February, told me that the BJP leader had even called Modi’s office himself to ask about Jafri.

By 2:30 pm, the mobs had broken through the gates of the housing society, and a flood of men converged on Jafri’s home. Women were raped and then burned alive; men were made to shout “Jai Shri Ram”, and then cut to pieces; children were not spared. According to records later submitted in court, Jafri was stripped and paraded naked before the attackers cut off his fingers and legs and dragged his body into a burning pyre. The official police report indicates that 59 people were murdered in Gulburg Society, though independent inquiries put the number at 69 or 70. Jafri’s wife, Zakia, and a few others who had locked themselves in an upstairs room survived.

To this day, Modi maintains that he had no knowledge of the events at Gulburg Society until he was briefed by police officers later that evening. But Sanjiv Bhatt, who was then the state deputy commissioner (Intelligence), says that Modi is lying. (Modi and his administration have vigorously contested Bhatt’s account, as well as the testimony given by several other police and government officials.) Bhatt insists that Modi, who also served as home minister, was in regular contact with the senior police and intelligence leadership throughout the day, and well-informed of events on the ground. Bhatt told me that he spoke with Modi over the phone several times before 2 pm, and reported that a mob had circled Gulburg, and that he met Modi at his office in the afternoon to report that the situation demanded immediate intervention.

“His response was very strange,” Bhatt told me. “He listened and then said, ‘Sanjiv, try to find out if in the past Jafri has been in the habit of opening fire.’”

“Outside the chief minister’s office, in the corridor, I bumped into the former chief minister Amarsinh Choudhary and former home minister Naresh Rawal,” Bhatt continued, referring to two Congress leaders. “Naresh Rawal was my minister earlier, so we talked. They told me Gulburg Ehsanbhai has been giving frantic calls, and they came to meet Modi. I said I had briefed the CM, but you also go and tell him,” Bhatt told me.

“I then got a call on my cellphone from my informer on the site at Gulburg,” Bhatt continued, “telling me that Jafri had opened fire. I was surprised. And when I reached my office, a short report was lying on the table saying Jafri opened fire in self-defence. That was when I realised that this man [Modi] knows things even before I came to know of things.”"
You can read the whole article here. Admittedly, it's two years-old and rather long (to put it mildly), but I can't recommend it enough, especially to those bemused by the comprehensive electoral victory of a man associated with the worst inter-religious violence in India in recent times.
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)

Steal a crate of water? Six months in prison. Incite violence which nobody acts upon using Facebook? Four years. What will they hand these bad boys if and when they're caught, charged and convicted for their crimes?
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
A few days ago I wrote about Nicholas Robinson, a twenty-three year-old electrical engineering student from south London who was sentenced to six months in prison because he stole a crate of water worth £3.50 from a Lidl store in Brixton. He had no previous convictions but the magistrate handed him the maximum penalty for his part in the "chaos". However it is worth noting that following the parliamentary expenses scandal in which hundreds of MPs were named and shamed by the Telegraph, none of the parliamentarians that have been convicted so far, received more than a sixteen month prison sentence. Indeed two of the criminals that were sentenced for twelve months made false accounting claims of £11200 and £6000 each. It seems patently unfair that an individual with no criminal record and whose only role in the riots was to pick up a crate of water, received half the sentence of a parliamentarian who had hoodwinked the British taxpayer for a much larger amount and over the course of several years. Perhaps you disagree with me. Either way, it's worth thinking about.
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)

Unlike a criminal case, the American courts will only have to prove on a balance of probabilities that the former Secretary of Defense authorised the "enhanced interrogation techniques" against the two plaintiffs. As disappointing the facts of the case are in terms of the poor light it paints the United States, I hope the plaintiffs win their case against Mr Rumsfeld. I hated the bastard when he was in government and he deserves to pay in some way for the crimes he perpetrated while in office. A precedent needs to be set to encourage others to follow suit. You can read more about the case here.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
A week ago if I heard police sirens in the distance I might've wondered momentarily about what was happening, but I probably wouldn't have checked to see if anybody had tweeted about it. How things have changed. In the past hour I've heard three sets of police sirens in the distance and each time I've checked on twitter to see if anybody else has written about them as well. Nothing yet and hope it stays that way. Nighty night peeps!
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
From the Guardian live blog:
    A student has today been jailed for six months for looting a £3.50 case of water from Lidl in Brixton, which seems to support the analysis provided by the Guardian datablog that magistrates appear to be taking a hard line with those convicted of riot-related offences.

    Nicholas Robinson, 23, was walking back from his girlfriend's house in Brixton in the early hours of Monday morning when he saw the store on Acre Lane being looted.

    Camberwell magistrates court heard the electrical engineering student took the opportunity to go in and help himself to a case of water because he was "thirsty".

    But when the police came in, at around 2.40am, he discarded the bottles and attempted to flee the scene. He was caught and arrested by officers at the scene.

    PA reports that there were gasps from the public gallery as district judge Alan Baldwin handed down the maximum penalty he could to Robinson, who has no previous convictions, for his part in the "chaos".

    The judge said: "The burglary of commercial premises in circumstances such as this, where substantial and serious public disorder is or has taken place is commonly known as looting."

    Robinson, of Borough, south London, had pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge of burglary.

    He claimed it was an "opportunistic" crime, and he only went in when he saw the store unsecure and wanted a drink.

    Robinson will have to spend three months in prison before being released on licence.
On the other hand an eighteen year-old IT student reportedly walked free from Highbury Magistrates’ Court after admitting stealing Burberry T-shirts. David Attoh from Hackney in East London said outside court that the judge had handed him a £100 fine but supposedly waived it after hearing he had spent two days in custody. This lack of consistency in dispensing justice for similar crimes does not paint the rule of law in the best light.

My tweets

Aug. 9th, 2011 12:16 pm
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Read more... )
mcgillianaire: (Default)

As I type this at least four neighbourhoods have faced fires today, to go with the fire in Brixton last night and the fires in Tottenham on Friday night. Is this the city that's going to host the Olympics this time next year?

My tweets

Aug. 8th, 2011 12:16 pm
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Read more... )
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)

A week ago, the odds of David Cameron becoming the next cabinet member to leave ranged between 100/1 at Ladbrokes to 150/1 at Stan James. Ladbrokes slashed them to 20/1 last night after Sir Paul Stephenson's resignation and even further to 12/1 a couple hours ago. Now following his deputy John Yates's resignation the odds stand at just 8/1. They say a week's a long time in politics! Looks like an hour has become the new week.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
A Nigerian-American man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport last Wednesday because he was allegedly attempting to travel with a boarding pass that was "issued in another person's name and for a flight that had departed a day earlier." Worryingly for you and me, this was apparently not the first time he had travelled this way with his most recent such trip earlier in the week. But on Wednesday he forgot to take a shower.

There's some fascinating additional stuff in a blog post by Gulliver on The Economist. It includes an explanation given by security guru Bruce Schneier in 2008 about how a terrorist might exploit loopholes in airport security:
    "To slip through the only check against the no-fly list, the terrorist uses a stolen credit card to buy a ticket under a fake name. "Then you print a fake boarding pass with your real name on it and go to the airport. You give your real ID, and the fake boarding pass with your real name on it, to security. They’re checking the documents against each other. They’re not checking your name against the no-fly list—that was done on the airline's computers. Once you're through security, you rip up the fake boarding pass, and use the real boarding pass that has the name from the stolen credit card. Then you board the plane, because they’re not checking your name against your ID at boarding."
Fills you with confidence, innit?
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
16 DEC - The rights and wrongs of hacktivism (Economist)
16 DEC - Art imitating life: Funky new ad puts a spin on personal hygiene and politics (The Express Tribune, Pakistan)
14 DEC - Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange: Michael Moore (Huffington Post)
10 DEC - Ron Paul’s Passionate Defense Of Julian Assange And WikiLeaks On House Floor (MEDIAite)
09 DEC - Pakistani media publish fake WikiLeaks cables attacking India (Guardian)

16 DEC - Top judge complains about 'sex with corpses' rules (Daily Telegraph)
16 DEC - Court backs tourist ban for Dutch cannabis coffee shops (BBC News)
15 DEC - Tweeting in court: why reporters must be given guidelines (Guardian)
14 DEC - Qatar: A centre for 'quality' international dispute resolution? (Guardian)

14 DEC - Let’s get London’s riots into the right perspective: Simon Jenkins (London Evening Standard)
14 DEC - An attack on the royal carriage by angry protesters. Sound familiar? (Guardian)

14 DEC - 'We the people' deserve something better than a high-class villain's charter (Guardian)
13 DEC - Toby Ord: Why I'm giving £1 million to charity (BBC News)
06 DEC - Medieval Britons were richer than modern poor people, study finds (Guardian)
03 DEC - Woman dials 999 to report snowman theft in Kent (BBC News)
03 DEC - Christmas with a German accent – the PR ploy taking Britain's towns by storm (Guardian)

03 DEC - India's third richest man gives £1.27bn to children's education charity (Guardian)
19 OCT - Indian man of 100 goes back to university for PhD (BBC News)

12 DEC - German man castrates teenage daughter's 57-year-old boyfriend (Daily Telegraph)

18 DEC - Liverpool fans outraged after Paul Konchesky's mum launches Facebook blast (Daily Mail)
16 DEC - India enter Formula One limelight (
09 DEC - The top 10 worst misses in football history: your votes are in (Guardian: Sports Blog)
17 SEP - Blackburn's Sam Allardyce 'more suited to Inter or Real Madrid' (Guardian)


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