Monday, 11 August 2014

MH17 Tweet

As part of my ongoing cataloguing of the relationship between the Judiciary and Twitter/Twitter-related offences, I was glad to see that the following tweet "although offensive, the comments did not meet the required threshold for a criminal prosecution" Source: BBC:

Explaining the decision not to continue the case, a CPS spokesman said: “The legal guidance for such offences is that a communication sent has to be more than offensive to be contrary to the criminal law.
“Even though the content expressed in the communication is in bad taste, controversial or unpopular, and may cause offence to individuals or a specific community, this is not in itself sufficient reason to engage the criminal law.
“While there is no doubt that the comments will have been deeply upsetting to the families and simply offensive, the threshold for proceeding with a criminal charge is very high.
“The question that prosecutors have to answer in this case is not whether the message was offensive, but whether it was so grossly offensive that criminal charges could be brought.
“In this case, the comments made do not meet the required threshold for a criminal prosecution and the CPS have advised the families and the police that the proceedings against Mr [Mitchell] Chapman are to be discontinued.”
Source: - Blog

Saturday, 9 August 2014

3 1/4 seconds

Brian Eno on composing the start-up music for Windows 95
The thing from the agency said, "We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah-blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional," this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said "and it must be 3 1/4 seconds long." I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It's like making a tiny little jewel. In fact, I made 84 pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I'd finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time. - Blog

Monday, 26 May 2014

Help for disenfranchised Europeans living in the UK?

The EU election is over, but not for all of us. We have been disenfranchised forcibly, and we would like something to be done about it. People are beginning to share their stories, but please don't let this news be forgotten, particularly in light of the EU election results.

I have created a group where we are looking for answers, exploring actions that can be taken. If you would like to help in some way, please do. - Blog

Saturday, 24 May 2014

My EU vote disenfranchisement

My friends have been very good the past few weeks, putting up with my endless rattling on about the elections and the media. I'll admit I have fallen fowl to the trap of providing UKIP with an unwarranted platform, and contributing, in however small a form, to the spread of its image. No publicity is bad publicity, it seems, for the UK Independence Party. As a European citizen, this worries me. I'd had rathered the media focused more on the Greens, for example, who have both an MP and MEPs. Regardless, I was looking forward to making use of my vote.

I received a voter registration form and a separate EU registration form.

My council's website only lists one form, this states that it is the only necessary form, and their website makes no mention of any other form:

I returned the European electoral registration form and confirmed the information on my general form.

When I received my polling card only the local elections were listed, so I telephoned to confirm that I would be able to vote in the European election. I was told that this would be the case. ​ ​ ​

On May 22 I was turned away at the polls as I had a G next to my name. I was told that I was not entitled to vote in the European election. I produced my Portuguese national ID card and they called someone at the council election office, who told them that I hadn't returned my form in November. ​I am not registered to vote in Portugal.

I have registered at my consulate and in my country as being resident abroad and as voting here.

This is a particularly important election which has a direct impact on my life, and it is proportional representation, so unlike in other elections my vote actually stands a chance to mean something. Even if it did not, this would be no justification for my forced disenfranchisement.

I have no choice now but to take this up with the relevant parties, and sit by and wait for the election results on Sunday.

Edit 26/5/14: I have taken this up with Colchester election office and my returning officer. No reply as yet, but of course it is a bank holiday.

Edit 27/5/14: My reply from the Colchester Borough Council elections office:

Dear Magarida,

Thank you for your message. I was very sorry to read about the problem that you experienced on polling day.

I can only apologise if you received the wrong advice from our customer contact centre. It should have been clear to whoever you spoke with that there was a “G” marker against your name on the Register of Electors, which meant that you were only entitled to vote in the local government elections and not the European Parliamentary elections.

With regard to your observation about ensuring equal treatment for citizens of other Member States of the EU, the second form that we sent you is essentially a declaration that the voter wishes to register to vote at the European Parliamentary election in the United Kingdom and that they will not use any residual right to vote that they may have in their home country. There is also a space on the form for the constituency in the applicant’s home country where they were registered to vote in their home country and we are obliged to exchange this information with the home countries with a view to ensuring that the person cannot vote more than once at the election. Since we receive information from other Member States, as well as send it, I assume that the rights to vote are exactly the same for British citizens living in other Member States. In any event, these requirements have been set by the national government.

I do understand your frustration. However, I am not convinced that there was any advantage in placing the second form on the Council’s website. This is because a personally addressed form had already been sent to everyone who had registered as an elector and who had indicated that they were citizens of any other Member State of the European Union. A personally addressed form and explanatory letter was considered to be a much better way of communicating the requirement for citizens of other Member States to complete the second form if they wished to vote here in the European Parliamentary election. As we did not receive a second form from you, you were not registered to vote here in the European Parliamentary election.

You say that you returned that form but, as I say, we have no record of it being received. Under the circumstances, all I can do is apologise again for the difficulties that you faced and for the disappointment that you must have felt in not being able to vote on Thursday. - Blog

Friday, 17 January 2014

GDL Blog

I was asked to write an article for a magazine. As luck would have it, the article was never published so I have posted it here.

Written 12 December 2012:

I have myopia and astigmatism and I have worn glasses since the age of 11. I still remember the first day I left the house with my new glasses on: rather than feeling awkwardness at the structure resting on my nose I felt an overwhelming joy at being able to perceive the detail on the trees and their leaves, on the contours of streets and pavements, and the expressions on the faces of passers-by. This joy is re-lived, albeit more modestly, each time I come back from the opticians with a new prescription that is properly adjusted to the changes in my eyes and that once again allows me to marvel at the detail present in the things around me.

In this year gone by something else has given me a similar feeling of wonder and enjoyment, and a glow from realising that there are subtle details in the world that I could not previously perceive. This feeling was given to me when I embarked on my first year of a part-time GDL back in January 2012. Whilst it would be inaccurate for me to say that I was blind before, my “new glasses” allow me to see the world in a new way.

Many times we will buy a gadget or appliance and promptly discard the manual that comes with it. Or, similarly, we will start playing a game before reading the rulebook. We are born into a social contract which we implicitly accept (without offer, acceptance, and intention to create social relations) and with many terms that we do not fully comprehend even after prolonged study. From birth we are bound by national and supra-national codes in which we have had no say, and that through our lives may help or hinder us, which we may staunchly defend or strongly oppose or even be completely oblivious to. There are laws that require and restrict certain behaviours, that create expectations and provisions, lay out formalities, and affect not only our own undertakings, but those of every individual, corporation and nation that surrounds us.

My previous studies of economics, and also politics, are well supplemented by having working comprehension of UK and international law, as the elements of a powerful triumvirate that shape most aspects of our lives.  And, whilst the picture is ever-developing and may never be fully clear, there is still great pleasure to be had in understanding the written and unwritten rules that guide us, and their origins and potential.

I cannot go back to my mindset before I started to study law; I cannot take my new glasses off. I would have previously told you that I believe that every person should to some extent, of their own initiative if not out of social and historical obligation, equip themselves with basic principles of economics and political thought; to this list I now add, at a minimum, a concept of how law develops and exists, so that we may be more than Scarman LJ’s “simple peopleunaware of the subtleties of [law]” and better understand own world and possibilities. - Blog