The Inconvenience of a Just Legal System

The Chief Justice of Sri Lanka used to be Shirani Bandaranayake but she was impeached recently and removed from office. The International Bar Association’ s Human Rights Institute was going to send four lawyers from its Human Rights Institute to investigate the removal of the former Chief Justice, because there were concerns that the impeachment was irregular and motivated by political reasons rather than proper legal reasons. Continue reading

The Inconvenient Memory of Wounded Kee

It has always struck me that one of the worst acts of genocide (if you can measure the quality of genocide) committed by human beings on other human beings has been committed by the people of European descent in North America upon the native people. It has been a long and inglorious history has America sought to fulfill what it described as its manifest destiny by murdering those who lived on the land for the use of the land. Continue reading

Political Argumentation

In Britain, as no doubt in the rest of the world where different political parties are permitted, our politicians waste so much time smearing the reputations and policies of other political parties that they do not have time or energy to think through the logic and suitability of the political policies they themselves promulgate  and so electorates are offered a very poor and un -nourishing bill of fare at the ballot box. A classic device – watch out for it – is a politician arguing against a proposition that has not been argued by his or her opponent. The trick is this.

You listen carefully to what your opponent has said. You then restate it but being careful to distort what your opponent has said, making sure that the distortion is unsupportable, and then you argue against the distortion while pretending to argue against what has been actually said. Everyone can win an argument if you define the proposition that you are arguying against , if the point of the argument is to win it, as opposed to discover the truth or advance learning.

 

 

Human Rights Rule the Common Law

I have spent much of my life in courts and seen how the law works in criminal and (mostly) civil cases. I have watched judges make good decisions and bad decisions, and served on a jury which impressed me with the desire of every member to come to the right decision, taking great care and trouble and using all of our ordinary skills and experience of life. The law is an odd taskmaster. Continue reading

You cannot see the smoking gun behind a locked door

The nations of the world have signed up to many Conventions, which are in theory meant to have the force of law. But international law is subject to the rule of force, not the rule of law, except where the rule of law and the rule of force coincide. There is one important UN Convention that might be considered as unobjectionable and uncontroversial to which nations should willingly adhere. It is called the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques. Continue reading

Good at Boasting Bad at Emission Reduction

The government of the United Kingdom have boasted that in the past twenty years the UK has cut its emissions of greenhouse gases by 25%. The government is very good at boasting boasters are invariably liars. Continue reading

What Goes Around Comes Around

Our economic woes and the odd act of terrorism have distracted us from the fact that the weather in many places in the world is playing unusual tricks. In the United States of America, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Indiana and Iowa have suffered from record levels of rainfall. Properties that never suffered from flooding have flooded, people have been evacuated from their homes and five people so far have died as a result of the severe flooding, which has reached the state where it can properly be called a severe weather event. If the USA were not rich and well organised, many more people would have died. Continue reading

The Old School Song

There was a tradition of a school song; I do not know how frequently that tradition is honoured in schools today. The tradition is singing a school song, usually one that no other school sings, on important school occasional  My old school, George Green’s in Poplar (well it was in Poplar when I went to it, had a school song that was very hard for me to sing,  and a difficult tune, but familiarity makes even a poor tune sound better.

“Now let us all with grateful hearts and gladsome voice acclaim our home of learning and the man you gave us name and fame”

These were not words that the good people of Poplar would use in their everyday speech. You have to imagine the words being sung in a cockney accent. However much some of us tried “our home” became “our ome” The man, of course, was the ship builder, George Green, who founded the school as an act of charity in 1828.

“Fidelter, Fideliter, we’ve blazoned on our shield, and we with hope and faith and trust will hold his foughten field”

We knew enough Latin to understand that Fideliter meant faith, which was our motto, notwithstanding that the school was originally founded to cater for children of all faiths. In 1828 there were serious divisions between the established church and the dissenting church, as well as divisions between Protestants and Catholics. That was an unusual founding principle, but one that still holds true today when George Green’s serves people of all religions, not just, as was the case in 1828, Christians and a few Jews.

“St George for Merrie England, Shout, a champion staunch and true”

The song digresses into Merrie England. I was written I think in the 1930s when Merrie England was a fashionable concept by a teacher who wrote the words. However, the digression is short and re-connects to the main theme.

“Our own good knight fought ignorance, St George for Poplar too!”

Today is St George’s day, and perhaps that set me thinking about the old school song and the act of charity of a man, nearly two hundred years ago, that helped me become less ignorant than I might have otherwise been.

 

Drone Deaths and Marathon Murders

Killing people is wrong. Life is too valuable and precious to be wasted.In the United States Mr Obama has mourned the death of some innocents killed at the Boston Marathon. We wonder why anyone would choose to kill with bombs while people are innocently watching a sporting event. The deaths will be justified in the minds of the perpetrators.They will have their reasons, whether it be revenge or hatred, they will have their reasons. Three dead at Boston, many wounded and the world mourns; the world mourns at events to show sympathy for the three Americans who lost the lives and the many maimed and injured. Continue reading

Burning the Unburnable

The London School of Economics and NGO Carbon Tracker made the news when they found that fossil fuel exploration companies spent £440 billion in 2012 looking for oil, gas and coal. They postulated that if this continues for ten years (reasonably likely in my view) the oil gas and coal found could not be burnt if governments adhere to their fossil fuel emission targets (unlikely in my view). The study points out that if the level of global warming was restricted to three degrees as opposed to the present two degrees, much of the fossil fuel found would be unburnable because of the three degree global warming target.

This study does not show that investors in fossil fuel companies are being misled because they are putting their savings into businesses that will be forced to fail because of the world’s global warming targets; this study shows that investors know that governments of the world will not stick to their global warming targets. The short term chase for money takes precedence over everything on our planet, even our planet.