Well, yes, sorta, maybe

The “right to keep and bear arms” was included as the second amendment to the US constitution in 1791 (Report, 17 February). Surely it would be logical to restrict that right to the types of guns available at the time: muskets and flintlock pistols? Semi-automatic guns have no place in private hands.
Elaine Yeo
Enfield, Middlesex

The logical restriction would be to what you can make at home. On the very simple grounds that you’ll never really be able to regulate that anyway.

It’s amazing what you can make with a hobby CNC machine these days. There’s even that high school student who made a nuclear bomb (sans payload, to be sure).

There’s sharing information and then there’s sharing information

Ken Livingstone, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were part of a group of at least 15 senior Labour figures who shared information with Eastern bloc agents, it is claimed.

Jan Sarkocy, a former Czechoslovak spy, described the MPs as “great sources” to himself or his colleagues in the KGB.

The new claims come after he said on Friday that the Labour leader had shared information with the Communist Czechoslovak regime.

My own opinion – based upon no evidence other than just this is what I think they would have done – is that they were over the line. That line between “Here’s a newspaper article” and into “I desire that the system be smashed, here’s some good info.”

But it does depend upon where you draw the line. A generous drawing of it, a too generous one, would have me myself as an agent of the Americans, Brits, Russians and N Koreans all at the same time. That there were some really taking Moscow Gold is known fact. That all were not so. Most I would think would fall under the Tony Benn exception. Regarded by the Soviets as too dippy to be reliable.

Lie detectors don’t work

Lie detectors have been used to send 160 sex offenders back to prison, Ministry of Justice figures have revealed.

Probation officers have sent paedophiles and convicted sex offenders back behind bars after flagging up concerns about their behaviour or the answers they gave to the polygraph tests.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) started using lie detectors on convicted sex offenders in August 2014 and around 50 people are tested on the machines every month.

Officials have the power to send sex offenders back to prison if the results of the cross examination on the lie detectors trigger concerns for public safety.

Bit of a problem that, isn’t it?

Psychologically they can:

“The machine says you’re lying”

“Yes, sob, sob”

But other than that they don’t. Not the basis upon which we should be jugging people.

Seems entirely reasonable

Almost two thirds of Muslim women who marry in the UK are not legally wed because their Sharia ceremonies are not registered in law. The percentage is rising, with estimates suggesting there are as many as 100,000 people in unregistered marriages among the 2.7 million Muslims in the UK.

Civil registration — as with all other marriages in Britain — would provide couples, particularly women, with the protections and rights of family laws, ensuring that they face fewer “discriminatory practices,” a recent report commissioned by the government has concluded.

All marriages in England (at least) which are legal marriages are civil registered. Sure, often enough it’s the priest, vicar or rabbi doing the paperwork but that’s what is happening.

So, why not?

Note that this isn’t to try and have special rules for Muslims. This is to afford them the same rules as everyone else.

About that modern slavery

Nearly 200 migrant workers who were ‘rescued’ by anti-slavery police yesterday were back at work on the farm today.

It comes after at least 100 of the workers descended on Camborne Police Station, Cornwall, last night to protest their boss’ arrest at RH Scrimshaw and Sons at Bosahan Farm.

The huge crowd of workers gathered in anger stating they were not victims of slavery and worked in good conditions — and could earn up to £250 a day.

They were part of a group of around 200 people found when police swooped on the site yesterday morning.

Right

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that the three arrested men were aged 68, 49 and 41 – and one was not 61 as earlier released.

Now, about those 100,000 Vietnamese tarts in the nail bars…..

Does he keep the anonymity if found guilty?

The alleged fantasist who sparked the Westminster paedophile investigation has been charged with child sex offences.

The man, who can only be identified as Nick, was arrested last year and has already appeared in court, charged with multiple offences relating to allegations of making and possessing hundreds of indecent images of children. He has also been charged with voyeurism.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which allegedly took place between 2015 and 2016, and is expected to stand trial later this year.

Isn’t it something of a breach of civil liberty for someone anonymous to be convicted? You know, justice must be seen to be done? One of the points being that no one can just get railroaded, we’ve got to know who is being punished for what?

But this isn’t the way we do it

John Worboys will be asked if he objects to wearing an electronic tag when he is eventually released from prison.

Worboys, 60, dubbed the ‘black cab rapist’, was due to be freed at the end of last month after being granted parole.

The Telegraph has learnt that the original conditions for Worboys’ release allowed him to live in London and without an electronic tag.

A Parole Board judged him no longer a risk to the public at a hearing in December despite complaints that he drugged and sexually assaulted more than 100 women while working as a London taxi driver.

Victims have now protested to the Parole Board about the terms of his release. They are demanding he is tagged and is banned from London where most of his victims live.

It’s the Queen’s justice, not mob justice, or good reason.

Given the democracy bit it’s absolutely fine to shout about how the law should be changed. But not to insist that a specific individual be subject to punishment not sentenced to by a court, nor that a specific individual must be punished without the law.

What a lovely anti-corruption drive this is

Several high-profile politicians who were close to Grace Mugabe, the former first lady, and opponents of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new president, have already been detained, prompting concerns that graft investigations might be used as a political tool.

“The big worry is that there is really no comprehensive anti-corruption drive but rather … some kind of witch-hunt by a victorious faction within the Zanu-PF … This is nothing to do with ending corruption, but a lot to do with vengeance,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Human Rights Watch’s southern Africa director.

And vengeance against those who have plundered a country is bad because?

Why only current rape cases?

All current rape and serious sexual assault cases in England and Wales are to be reviewed “as a matter of urgency” to ensure evidence has been disclosed.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders warned the review could see “a number of cases” dropped.

It comes after the collapse of several rape trials because evidence had not been shared with defence lawyers.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said there had been a failure to share digital evidence in each of the cases.

On that basic principle of 10 guilty go free rather than one innocent get jugged, shouldn’t we be devoting some resources to those serving sentences?

Rather missing the point about the idea of civil society itself

These bastions of masculine entertainment can pose a danger to open democracy. It is the gentlemen’s clubs of London where politicians, bankers and hedge-fund managers meet to do deals and form secret alliances. Because membership lists are not disclosed to the public it is impossible to tell when a minister proposes a policy that favours the interests of members of his club. Neither is the public privy to the terms of the sacred oaths they may have sworn. And in a court of law shouldn’t the ordinary litigant know whether a judge is a member of the same club as the opposing party? There are a myriad of potential conflicts of interest rooted in the secret membership of gentlemen’s clubs.

In the City and among our professions, where senior offices are dominated by privately educated bankers, hedge fund managers, lawyers and accountants, such clandestine meetings and associations create perceptions of injustice.

So what can be done? In Britain it is legal to form a private members’ club whose membership is based on restrictive characteristics. There are women-only and ethnic-minority clubs which do not admit men or those of a different ethnicity. The government’s own guidance on the Equality Act says that while it is unlawful for a private club to discriminate against, harass or victimise an existing or potential member it is lawful to restrict membership to people who share a particular characteristic. This is not true for political parties, which cannot block membership on the basis of race or sex.

What is required is the compulsory publication of a register of members so that the public can be confident that the business of government and justice is not being done in the secret smoke-filled dining rooms of gentlemen’s clubs. A more transparent approach might also open up some of these gentlemen’s clubs to more adult attitudes towards women.

Sigh.

Which club blackballed Robert Verkaik then?

Let us assume that everything he says is correct, entirely right. Now let us go on to think a little more. One of the great distinctions of English (a little more English than British, but only just perhaps) was that anyone could set up a club to do anything they liked without having to ask anyone. We recall the exceptions to this (Tolpuddle Martyrs perhaps, I think that was something to do with secret oaths in law?) and all too rarely remember the joys of it. The Friendly Societies, Boy Scouts, brass bands, Morris dancers, layaway plans for the bus and beer trip to the seaside and so on. All those things which do actually make up civil society. This is not company law where privileges extend to hte form of organisation, this is just the existence of an organisation itself. The English/British attitude was one of benign neglect over who may do what.

In contrast to, say, France, where I believe it is true that no Frenchman could set up a club or organisation of more than 25 members without permission from Paris – a rule which stuck until well into the 1950s. Not sure whether the details there are apocryphal but the basic point is true.

Or, as we might put it in the vernacular. Fuck off matey. For we’re English and therefore free, one of the defining points of which is that we consenting adults get to do what we want to do, with who we want to do it and when, without asking permission from some knobhead like you. Nor even informing you – it’s our life, not yours to manage for us, geddit?

Possibly some sour grapes from George Soros?

Facebook and Google have become “obstacles to innovation” and are a “menace” to society whose “days are numbered”, said billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.

“Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment,” said the Hungarian-American businessman, according to a transcript of his speech.

“This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.”

In addition to skewing democracy, social media companies “deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes” and “deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide”. The latter, he said, “can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents”.

“The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies. It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called ‘the freedom of mind’. There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will have difficulty in regaining it. This may have far-reaching political consequences.”

George Soros has funded – magnificently in my view – a great deal more than his share of media outlets and open society reporting.

People seem to enjoy getting their news and open society stuff from commercially minded companies instead.

Oh Well.

So much for democracy

Scotland’s new social security system will include an unprecedented degree of independent scrutiny – with the express intention of future-proofing the powers against the kinds of austerity measures that have devastated vulnerable groups in the rest of the UK.

Scotland’s social security minister, Jeane Freeman, announced on Sunday that there will be a Scottish Commission on Social Security, an independent body that will scrutinise any proposed changes to the new system – and give its view of their compliance with human rights protocols – before Holyrood can vote on them.

So if the people vote in a party with different ideas they’ll still not be able to change the system then?

This is probably correct about some things – that US Bill of Rights seems reasonable enough. But social security payments?

So now we introduce Pavel Morozov into British life

Children are being used to spot speeding motorists and go on night-time patrols.

The ‘Mini Police’ project for those aged nine to 11 was started by Durham Constabulary and is now being taken up across the country. It gives uniforms to pupils in ‘economically deprived areas’ and invites them to special events.

The idea, according to official documents, is that ‘vulnerable children’ will be given a ‘positive experience of policing’ and ‘get involved in the local community’.

But they can also ‘support subtle educational interventions to tackle Serious Organised Crime’ and ‘gun and gang crime’.

Units of the Mini Police often go out on ‘community speed watch’ duty, monitoring passing motorists on busy roads.

Well, yes

The notable collapse of a series of rape trials could endanger future convictions of genuine rapists because of reduced public trust in the justice system, the former head of the judiciary has warned.

Lord Judge, who was lord chief justice in England and Wales from 2008 to 2013, said juries may start doubting the quality of evidence presented to them in court after several high-profile rape cases collapsed owing to blunders by police and the CPS.

So, stop fucking up the trials then.

And do note that this is the point of juries. Exactly and precisely to note when the average bod in the street thinks that the legal system is wrong, unbalanced, taken over by the fanatics. That fanaticism being that all penetrative sex without written consent is rape, that those who believe in transubstantiation instead of consubstantiation (or the reverse) should be burnt at the stake or people should be hung for stealing goods to the value of 5 shillings and a penny.

Juries going “Nah, fuck off mate” isn’t an error, it’s the point.

Sorta a statue of limitations type thingie

Former prostitutes are set to sue the Government over criminal records checks which stop them volunteering with Brownie groups.

A group of women will argue that policies which leave convictions for soliciting on their records are discriminatory and intrude into their private lives.

The women, most of whom are anonymous, say their convictions become known many years after they stopped working as prostitutes and have prevented them from taking up volunteering and job opportunities.

One anonymous claimant said: “It doesn’t matter what it is – trying to help out at my kids’ school or the local brownies’ coffee morning, trying to be a governor or a councillor, applying to education or training or employment – even volunteering in so many fields – with children, with the elderly, in care, with vulnerable people, with youth work, with social work – all need a DBS and then you get treated like some sort of pariah or sex offender.

It’s not limitations, that’s about how long after something you can potentially be prosecuted for it. Rather, spent convictions. But the idea/both ideas seem useful in an actual and real society. “Long time ago, it’s over, done.”

All too many people just don’t think that way though, which is why we’ve not got it in these records checks.

Not really up to you to decide matey

One US Federal Bureau of Investigation official who has become so frustrated with Apple’s iPhone security, he has described its products as the work of an “evil genius”.

The technology giant, which has sold billions of products, has made it increasingly difficult to break into iPhones, claiming it keeps customers safer from hackers. But government officials say these measures are getting in the way of justice by blocking potential evidence from suspected criminals.

“At what point is it just trying to one-up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?” said FBI forensic expert Stephen Flatley during the International Conference on Cyber Security in Manhattan this week.

Describing Apple as “jerks”, Mr Flatley revealed that Apple recently made its iPhones even harder to access. It has recently added a trick that makes password cracking software much slower, making it more difficult for law enforcement to break into phones, he said.

Partly because if the people want secure phones then the people should have secure phones. And partly because (Har, Har, sarcasm alert!) not every law enforcement organisation in the world is as unpolitical and protective of civil rights as the FBI.