And Life Goes On

The random bloggings on what gets my goat!

Archive for the category “politics”

Oppose The Extradition Review Whitewash

If you oppose the sickening whitewash produced by Sir Scott Baker’s Extradition Review Panel, please take a moment and use the form below to make your views known to the government.
Just fill in your details and add your name at the end of the text in the message box below, or delete the suggested text and use the box to write your own message. When you press Submit, your message will then be sent to the Home Office, the Home Secretary and the Deputy Prime Minister. (The Prime Minister must be contacted separately, by clicking here – opens in a new window). The Home Office are obliged to reply to UK correspondence within approx. 20 working days, which is why you must enter your details – This website will not see or store your info, but if you want the Home Office to take note of your message, you must enter your valid email and UK postcode.
Just a few reasons why our current extradition arrangements DO need to change:

  • The Extradition Act (2003) is in explicit contravention of our Article 7 Human Rights, since it applies retrospectively. Article 7 of the Human Rights Act very clearly prohibits retrospectivity. The Extradition Act means that any one of us can be extradited for an offence that was not an offence when allegedly committed, and without a shred of evidence.
  • Nine times as many UK citizens have been extradited to the USA under the Act, compared to the number of US citizens extradited to the UK. This is according to the Home Office’s own figures. The claim by the Review Panel that the UK/US extradition treaty is even-handed and not unbalanced in its operation simply does not hold water. Even Baroness Scotland herself, who was instrumental in negotiating the treaty, admitted freely in the House of Lords (scroll to Column 1063) that the treaty is unbalanced.
  • David Blunkett, who signed the extradition treaty with the USA, has admitted before the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee and in the media that he ‘gave too much away’.
  • The extradition treaty with the USA was signed under Queen’s Perogative, an arcane manoeuvre which bypasses due Parliamentary process and meant that Parliament did not see the wording of the treaty until some three months after it was signed. This renders the application of the treaty unlawful, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling.
  • The UK’s extradition treaty with the USA has been condemned by both Liberty and the American Civil Liberties Union. You can also read the Law Society’s response to the Home Office consultation here.
  • The public consultation to the Extradition Review generated a massive response opposing our current extradition arrangements, yet the Panel have chosen to ignore the overwhelming professional and public opinion that the Extradition Act is fundamentally unjust and needs to change.
Subject: Extradition Review? Whitewash!
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* To Whom It May Concern:
The Extradition Review is a whitewash and a sham. The recommendations of the Panel bear no relation to the facts, show no regard for public opinion, and are blatantly counter to the interests of justice and the British people. We demand justice and human rights for all. Introduce the Forum amendment, abolish the European Arrest Warrant and rip up the UK/US extradition treaty now.
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End Stoning in Iran

Stoning. It’s designed to cause maximum suffering. It generally takes between 20 minutes and two agonising hours to kill someone. Those sentenced to death are more likely to be poor and marginalised, particularly women. 

And as you read this, 14 people in Iran are at risk of this inhumane death. Take action: stop stoning

Diagram of a stoningHow to stone someone to death
Stoning is mandatory under Iranian law for men and women convicted of ‘adultery while married’.

The Penal Code explains in chilling detail how to carry out the punishment, from how deeply to bury the victim in the ground to the size of the stones to use: not so large as to kill too quickly, not so small as to cause too little hurt.

Find out how a stoning is carried out

How to help stop stoning
However, right now the Iranian authorities are reviewing that very document – the Penal Code – which details all the country’s criminal law. They can and should remove stoning from it.

With your pressure we can encourage them to end this barbaric practice, once and for all. Call on the Iranian authorities to stop stoning

Thank you,

Bring The ABSU 5 Who Gang-Raped Woman in Nigeria to Justice

There’s a desperate search on for a female university student in Nigeria. Some want to silence her. Others want to protect her.

On August 16, the unidentified woman was gang-raped by five male students at Abia State University — for hours, as she begged first for mercy, and then for her rapists to kill her because of the pain. And it’s all on video. member Adetomi Aladekomo has joined bloggers and activists working to bring the victim to safety and her rapists to justice by starting a petition to Abia State University (ABSU) and state officials.

Over the past two weeks, bloggers and individuals around the world have put up reward money and used video imaging software to try to identify the victim and the rapists — when the police should have been doing this all along. Unbelievably, state authorities have so far stymied efforts, preferring to deny the rape ever even happened under their watch. Local women’s groups fear that they’re even out to silence the victim, perpetuating a culture of fear and shame around rape in Nigeria, where such crimes are dramatically under-reported and under-prosecuted.

Adetomi, who grew up in Nigeria until she was seventeen, knows that international outcry around the gang rape at ABSU will be decisive in protecting the victim and bringing justice. With the whole world watching, the victim may have the courage to come forward and press charges — and other women who’ve been raped may come forward, too, when they previously would not have.

In fact, it was because of members and international outcry earlier this year that a woman who had created a petition from inside a Cape Town safe house was able to come out and seek justice for her partner, who had been gang-raped and killed to ‘cure’ her of being a lesbian.

I just signed the petition “Bring The ABSU 5 Who Gang-Raped Woman in Nigeria to Justice” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

Our goal is to reach 100,000 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:


Please copy, paste, share, tweet and retweet this – #freegary NEEDS YOU!

Do you have a blog? Do you support the fight against injustice and wish to help us prevent a Miscarriage of Justice against a UK Family?

Then if you are on wordpress you can ‘reblog’ this with two clicks. If you are not on WordPress you can copy and paste it and then share it with all your friends.

#FREEGARY NEEDS YOU! We need you to help us during the upcoming Presidential visit to the UK.

Let me explain – during the Presidents visit – theres a very high possibility that the #OBAMA hashtag will trend here in the UK and we want to get as many #Freegary tweets into the #Obama stream as possible.

In order to do that we need to spread the word and time is getting short. This is a great opportunity to end Gary’s mental suffering and the agony his family have endured, and continue to endure, under the threat of Gary’s extradition to the United States where he faces up to 70 years in a US Max Security prison.

Nick clegg himself said “If he boards the plane to the U.S., it is almost certain he will never set foot on British soil again, doomed to pass out the rest of his days in shackles on a foreign shore. This is nothing short of a disgrace” ….(August 2009)

Gary will not come home- we need to ensure he never gets on that plane!

So, we need you to blog this and get the word out – and for those of us on twitter – we need you to tweet and retweet all of the #Freegary #Obama tweets which will be appearing in the ‘Freegary’ stream during President Obama’s visit.

David Cameron – “It should still mean something to be a British citizen – with the full protection of the British Parliament, rather than a British Government trying to send you off to a foreign court” ….(July 2009)

Once you have blogged this on your own blog site – send a link – and we will retweet it amongst the growing army of #Freegary supporters on Twitter and on Facebook.

You can start by retweeting this blog – using the buttons available – please share it far and wide.

#Freegary is NOT Anti-American -it is Anti-American policy and believes that the 10 years Gary and his family have waited is 10 years TOO long! Please join us – and help us to Keep Gary Home! You can get all of the information and background to Garys case from the Freegary website –

You can also send tweets of support to Garys Mother on twitter.

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A Hung Parliament?

Britain officially has a hung Parliament – the first since 1974 – with the Conservatives the largest party.

Because there are 650 seats in the next Parliament, the winning post for a single party to have an overall majority in the House of Commons is 326 seats.

None of the parties achieved this, so we have a hung parliament for only the ninth time since 1832.

In most of the previous cases, another General Election was been called shortly afterwards.

A party is not required to have an overall majority in the Commons in order to form a government. 

The largest party (although it does not have to be the largest) could form what is known as a minority government.

Of course, this makes it vulnerable to the remaining parties combining and defeating it on votes about legislation.

But there are many reasons why this might not happen. 

The other parties may disagree with one another or they may be wary of defeating the government because this may trigger another General Election which will cost them resources and even seats.

There are many examples of minority governments around the world that work perfectly well, such as New Zealand.

There are also many local authorities in this country where minority-run councils still manage to run effective local services.

Alternatively, in a hung parliament two or more parties may have an informal agreement whereby, in exchange for concessions over policy, one of the parties to the agreement forms the government knowing that the other parties will support it in any votes in the House of Commons. In essence this was the so-called ‘Lib-Lab’ pact of the mid-1970s.

When coalitions do break up that does not necessarily lead to another General Election. One of the parties involved could opt to carry on as a minority government. It might seek out alternative coalition partners, assuming that the arithmetic allows other majority coalitions (a combination of parties that have an overall majority) to form.

Anticipating that a hung parliament could result after the 2010 General Election, a set of guidelines was written that outline the constitutional position. As the incumbent Prime Minister, Gordon Brown is not required to resign immediately his party loses its overall majority.

Ultimately the politicians have to sort it out and it is the job of the MPs to decide among themselves who is going to be the governing party and who is going to get their business though. 

A pact is less formal than a coalition government. Normally, coalition governments include politicians from all the parties involved in the coalition as ministers and members of the Cabinet. The negotiations leading to coalition formation are normally about which ministerial and Cabinet posts each party is to be awarded. 

Many countries, particularly those that use some form of proportional representation to elect their parliament, are governed by such coalitions. Sometimes, coalitions break up because the partners disagree over vital policy issues but they are actually more stable than most people probably imagine. 

As the incumbent Prime Minister, Gordon Brown is not required to resign immediately his party loses its overall majority. 

In February 1974, then-Prime Minister Edward Heath spent some time discussing a possible agreement with Jeremy Thorpe’s Liberal Party having lost his majority. 

When no support came Heath resigned, leading the way for Harold Wilson to form a minority government. Another election followed in October the same year. 

Mr Brown might try to negotiate with other parties, depending on the electoral arithmetic. 

It is most likely that discussions would take place with the Liberal Democrats. This might lead to a pact or even a coalition although the latter is extremely rare outside of wartime conditions.  

It might also lead to no agreement at all in which case Mr Brown has two options: continue to govern alone as a minority government or offer his resignation to the Queen and suggest to her that David Cameron be asked to form a new government.

If the former option is taken the first real challenge to his government comes with the Queen’s Speech, the statement of the government’s legislative plans for the new Parliament. If the government was defeated on this measure then Mr Brown would be expected to resign and the Queen would be advised on which party leader to invite to form a new government.

The second option will have already been discussed extensively between the political parties before it happens. If David Cameron’s name is offered to the Queen then he will already have indicated that either he is prepared to govern as a minority or has identified another party or parties to join him in either a pact or a coalition.

Utah Miscarriage Bill

In Utah, a woman allegedly asked a man to beat her up in order to bring on a miscarriage, this so appalled the Utah Senate so much so that they decided to push through a Bill that states that a woman will not be charged if she has a legal abortion but that she can be charged with murder if she “miscarries recklessly”!

This means in theory that you could be charged with murder if you fall down the stairs, drink while pregnant  or do not wear a seatbelt and are involved in a car crash and go on to lose your baby. Punishment can mean up to life in prison for an “intentional knowing, or reckless act” that leads to a miscarriage or abortion without a doctor’s supervision. All a D.A. would have to prove is that the woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she did not intend to lose her pregnancy.

So, if every miscarriage is a potential murder, will Utah then launch a criminal investigation every time a woman miscarries? Will there be a register that women will go on to report said miscarriages?

I myself had a miscarriage before my first daughter was born, I went through some serious psychological turmoil afterwards asking myself if there was anything that I could have done differently, was it my fault? So, under this Law, I would then have had to answer to a criminal investigation to determine whether I did anything that may have caused the miscarriage.

Some Senate Democrats have tried to have the wording on the Act amended to remove the word “reckless” from the list of criminal acts leading to miscarriage, by criminalising reckless acts, this leaves open the possibility that women face the possibility of prosecution if they suffer at the hands of domestic violence and return to their abusers, only to be beaten and lose their child.

How in this day and age is this possible?

Are Girls Ready for Babies at 14?

The author, Hilary Mantel has claimed that girls are ready to have babies when they are 14 years old. Mantel argues that “society ran on a male timetable that women should have babies at an older age”, she goes on to say, “There is this breed of women for whom society’s timetable is completely wrong”.

“I was perfectly capable of setting up and running a home when I was 14, and if say, it had been ordered differently, I might have thought ‘Now is the time to have a couple of children and when I am thirthy I will go back and I’ll get my PhD’, but society isn’t ordered with that kind of flexibility, we were being educated well into our twenties, an age when part of us wanted to become mothers, probably little bits of all of us. Sone were more driven than others”

The Government has a 10 year campaign to lower teenage pregnancy rates in Britain as there is growing concern that Britain still has the highest rates in western Europe.

Yes, girls of 14 can be very mature, but they may not be psychologically mature enough to be a mother, the real issue is whether they they are with a man or have a family who is supporting of her, surely? A child needs a stable family home.

Teenage pregnancies have increased for the first time in seven years, especially those under 16. Nearly three-quarters of the 8,196 girls under 16 getting pregnant were 15 year olds.

Mantel said that women should be able to choose whether to have children when they are teenagers or pursue a career and have children later in life.

So, what do we think? Should we have our children earlier rather than later?

Is Jon Venables a Monster?

Jon Venables was returned to prison last week after breaching the terms of his licence conditions.

Venables and Robert Thompson, both 10 at the time, abducted and murdered James, two, in February 1993.

James was taken from a shopping centre in Liverpool and found on a railway line having been beaten with bricks and an iron bar. Venables and Thompson, who were truanting from school, walked James around the streets of Liverpool for more than two miles, stopping occasionally to kick and punch him. They told adults who intervened that he was their brother.

Venables who was released under a new identity at the age of 18 and given a new identity when released after the sheer savagery of their crime that had the nation divided as to whether or not both Jon Venables and his co-defendant Robert Thompson should be tried as children or adults. The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is 10, the doli incapax rule conclusively presumes that a child less than ten years old cannot be held legally responsible for their actions, and so cannot be convicted for committing a criminal offence. They were tried in an adult court rather than a children’s court, was this right? Did they have the capability at 10 to realise what they were doing?

They were convicted following a trial at Preston crown court and ordered to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, the usual sentence for life imprisonment when the offender is a juvenile

Thompson and Venables grew up in circumstances which had both striking similarities and profound differences. Both boys had parents who had separated; each had difficulties with attendance, learning and behaviour at school. They bunked off, they shoplifted, they were violent; all these pieces in a pattern that made up a pair of empty, broken young lives.

A narrative emerged of two childhoods influenced not merely by the flaws of parents or the absence of a father, but by the environment in which these boys lived, a world of social and economic deprivation, of trashy television and cultural poverty, inadequate social services, failed schooling and general confusion. It was a place that left a moral vacuum for two children who would go on to kill and leave the unanswered question: why did they do it?

After the trial, Mr Justice Morland laid the moral responsibility squarely with the parents. He said a public debate about the parenting and family background of Thompson and Venables was required. “In my judgement,” he averred, “the home background, upbringing, family circumstances, parental behaviour and relationships were needed in the public domain so that informed and worthwhile debate can take place for the public good in the case of grave crimes by young children.”

Thompson was a member of what can only be described as a terribly dysfunctional family. The fifth of seven children, he proved as difficult to his mother as the rest of her progeny. Ann Thompson had been deserted by her husband five years before the killing of Jamie Bulger, and in the week after he left the family home burned down in an accidental fire. Left on her own, Thompson sought consolation in drink and was often to be found in the bar in Higson’s Top House rather than looking after the children in her chaotic home.

While it was their sons up there in the specially-raised dock, the parents of Thompson and Venables could have been left in no doubt that they too were on trial – that the blame for this terrible murder was placed at the door of their shambolic households.

But can such guilt be so neatly apportioned? There are many families where the parents are struggling to cope, where the children have behavioural problems. Parents are invariably ordinary people with problems of their own. They should instill values and principles in a child but they cannot be there all the time – as Denise Bulger (now Fergus) learned at a terrible cost.

The Venables and Thompson families were at very different places on the spectrum of “dysfunctional” families: if the chain of causality between parental failings and juvenile homicide were so straightforwardly simple how many families should be regarded as pathological – potential producers of more child childkillers?

The parents themselves are not murderers, but whatever blame attaches to them has been abundantly punished. Thompson and Venables moved away from Liverpool after their sons’ convictions eight years ago. They took on new identities, tried to create new lives. Yet these are haunted by the fear of being found and blamed all over again. For they themselves will always feel guilty.

Last night, James’s mother Denise Fergus, 42, said through a spokesman she believed the public should be told what Venables had done to trigger his recall to prison.

“Denise has always said she did not believe that it was safe to parole Venables and Thompson at 18, before they had ever spent a day in an adult prison,” the spokesman said.

“She believes this breach of parole shows that she was right … But she believes that she and the public have a right to know what Venables has done and what is to be done with him now he is an adult offender.”

The Ministry of Justice refused to say what Venables had done to breach his licence. It also refused to confirm or deny whether it involved an act of violence against a person or any other criminal act.

The conditions placed on the killers after their release included that they did not contact each other, and that they stayed away from the Liverpool area.

Michael Wolkind QC said he thought there was a “significant chance” the breach had been serious.

He said: “Licence is a means of controlling people once they are released. Now this has been publicised, I think there must be a possibility of his new identity being exposed in prison and the inference must be it was a serious breach.

“To go to all the trouble of building him a new identity and a new life, there must be a significant chance it was serious.”

So, was Denise Fergus right, were these two boys anable to be rehabilitated?

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