Wednesday, 16 April 2014

CONSPIRACY TO PERVERT THE COURSE OF JUSTICE: A JUDICIARY SYMPATHETIC TO THE POLICE

The Guardian reports that an animal rights activist is due to be sentenced for her part in a conspiracy to blackmail the commercial testing firm, Huntingdon Life Sciences. The case has attracted some controversy as the activist, Debbie Vincent, has claimed that she is a "scapegoat" targeted because detectives could not catch the "real culprits" who have terrorised the company and its suppliers. There has been criticism that the use of the blackmail conspiracy charge could be exploited to clamp down on legitimate protest (see more here, here and here). Her trial however has also shone a spotlight on how police used a particular undercover tactic to convict her. Using a pseudonym, a police officer went undercover and pretended to be a manager in a multinational firm's corporate security department. He passed himself off as a bona fide employee in meetings, emails and telephone calls.

Again as in the Stephen Lawrence case the spotlight is on undercover policing. Police are running amok in this fashion because of the failure, and even connivance of some judges, to look into Police actions during trials, particularly in relation to disclosure of prosecution material to the defence. Police take advantage of a weak and sympathetic, biased judiciary.

ARE THE METROPOLITAN POLICE MONITORING MUSLIMS?


BBC News reports that New York Police Department has disbanded a secret programme designed to eavesdrop on Muslims to identify potential terrorism threats. The Demographics Unit had dispatched plainclothes detectives to listen to conversations and build files on places frequented by Muslims. The squad had been the subject of two federal lawsuits in the past, and drew flak from civil rights groups. It is also said to have sowed Muslim mistrust for law enforcement. "This reform is a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys," the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The decision to stop the programme was reportedly made by new Police Commissioner William Bratton, and is viewed as a moving away from past intelligence gathering practices instituted after the 9/11 attacks. The unit - in operation since 2003 and later renamed the Zone Assessment Unit - logged where Muslims worked, shopped, ate and prayed. "The Demographics Unit created psychological warfare in our community," Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York told the New York Times newspaper.

If the New York Police had such a programme then almost certainly the Metropolitan Police in London also has such a programme. There was an article in The Times in London in 2010 or 2011, tucked away in one of the inside pages, that said that the Met Police had spent GBP4 million in the last year on informers. I am willing to bet that the majority of this money went into areas where there are large Muslim populations. See Paid Police Informers: New Police Welfare Service.



Digital Asian

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE THIRD GENDER?


Times of India reports that in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India created the "third gender" status for hijras or transgenders. Earlier, they were forced to write male or female against their gender. The SC asked the Centre to treat transgender as socially and economically backward. The apex court said that transgenders will be allowed admission in educational institutions and given employment on the basis that they belonged to the third gender category. The SC said absence of law recognizing hijras as third gender could not be continued as a ground to discriminate them in availing equal opportunities in education and employment. This is for the first time that the third gender has got a formal recognition. The third gender people will be considered as OBCs (Other  Backward Classes), the court said. The court said they will be given educational and employment reservation as OBCs.

Giving transgenders recognition and trying to ensure that they are not discriminated against is a step forward. There will be concern though amongst many in India who will oppose reservations in education and jobs. Reservations amounts to positive discrimination or affirmative action and many in India will oppose this for transgenders. 

Digital Asian

HATE CRIME: EXTREMISM AND GUN LAWS DON'T MIX

The recent murders at the Jewish community centre in Kansas and the earlier murders at the Wisconsin Sikh community centre show that America has some sick extremists within its own borders. Add to this the state of American gun laws and you have a potent cocktail of perverted people with their perverted ideology together with the means to carry out their threats. Gun laws have to be amended.

Digital Asian

Monday, 14 April 2014

GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN'S ABODE - IMAGES OF INDIA

Glimpse of Heaven's Abode - Images of India - DigitalAsian - IdeaIndia.Com - Copyright Cooperjal Ltd 2014 All rights reserved
Glimpse of Heaven's Abode - Mountain peaks are visible as the clouds clear and the sun shines in Pahalgam, Kashmir, India - Images of India from IdeaIndia.Com - Copyright Cooperjal Ltd 2014 All rights reserved

Digital Asian

ACCIDENTALLY-ON-PURPOSE PM: WHY SONIA CHOSE MANMOHAN FOR PM

The Indian media is filled with news about Baru's book Accidental PM about Manmohan Singh. When Manmohan was made Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi was praised at the time for not making herself PM and anointing Manmohan instead as PM. Everybody said of her that she had made a wise choice. But now it is coming to light that she has not been whole-heartedly supporting him and has been making use of him to her advantage. Rahul is clearly not ready to become PM. Why is Sonia herself not running against Modi for PM?

Digital Asian

DOCTORED MEDICINE: Pharma Drug Money Buys Happy Shareholders

BBC News reports that it is alleged that UK pharma company Glaxo paid bribes to Polish doctors to prescribe its drugs. It has long been known that drug companies give incentives to doctors the world over in order that their medicines are prescribed even to the extent of bribing doctors. Also incentives are given to write favourable research about their drugs. Perhaps America's DEA should investigate how the bribe money was sourced and whether any US financial institutions were used in the funnelling of this bribe money.


Digital Asian

Sunday, 13 April 2014

VIP SHOW-OFF - IMAGES OF INDIA

VIP Show-off - India Photo Library - IdeaIndia.Com - DigitalAsian - Copyright Cooperjal Ltd 2014 All rights reserved
A VIP showing off with the size of his red light on his car :) - Images of India - IdeaIndia.Com - DigitalAsian - Copyright Cooperjal Ltd 2014 All rights reserved

HEALTHY COMPANIES, UNHEALTHY CITIZENS


Japanese pharma company Takeda has been ordered to pay $6bn in damages for hiding cancer risks associated with a bestselling diabetes medicine, Actos. The punishment met with "stunned silence" when it was announced in a packed federal courtroom in the US, according to the plaintiffs' lawyer, Lanier. Takeda's US partner, Eli Lilly, which marketed and sold the Actos in America, was fined $3bn. Both companies say they will contest the ruling.

This weekend's Financial Times has done a very good article on drug companies and how they put profits before public health. Probably America and Britain kill more of their own people through governments putting corporate health before public health than they do in wars abroad.


Digital Asian

HARDLINERS DICTATE TERMS


America has refused to issue a US visa to Iran's nomination for UN ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi, who was involved in seizure of the US embassy in Iran in 1979. This decision, therefore, bars Aboutalebi from taking up his role in the UN. Hardliners in both the USA and Iran are causing more problems than they are solving. Former US President Jimmy Carter, who would have good reason to object to Aboutalebi's nomination as Iran's UN ambassador, has said that America should not have refused to issue him a visa to enter the US adding that the actions were taken by Iranian students at the time who may have since matured. Historical events still cause problems for America and most US Presidents cave in to pressure from hardliners. This is about finding a way forward not Aboutalebi.

Digital Asian

Saturday, 12 April 2014

INDIANS TO BE PENALISED UNDER NEW UK TAX LAW?

BBC News reports that those who hide their money overseas to avoid paying tax face bigger fines and could be jailed more easily under government plans to fight tax evasion. To prosecute currently, HMRC must show that a person holding income offshore has intended to evade tax. But under the new law, officials would only have to show money was taxable and undeclared. Chancellor George Osborne said the changes would mean there was "no safe haven" for those evading tax. 

This proposed new law could affect those, for example, taxpayers of Indian origin who invest money in India and don't declare it. This new law will not just affect those keeping money in the well known tax havens but also those who invest money in their countries of origin also. This new law will probably have a bigger impact on those British taxpayers of foreign origin.

IT BEGGARS BELIEF - Image of India

Lady Begging in Srinagar Kashmir - Images of India - DigitalAsian - Copyright Cooperjal Ltd 2014 All rights reserved
I took this photo of a lady begging in Srinagar Kashmir and got to thinking that this was the one and only time that I had seen a beggar in Kashmir. Whereas in Mumbai beggars are a very common sight and even London has more beggars on the streets than Kashmir does. Why is this?

Digital Asian

Thursday, 3 April 2014

CAN POLICE EVIDENCE BE TRUSTED ANY MORE: You need to trust Judges first

With news of the Police cover-up over the Hillsborough disaster and earlier scandals surrounding the murders of Stephen Lawrence and Daniel Morgan, phone hacking to name a few, can Police evidence at trials be trusted any more? How do you go about changing such widespread corruption in an institution such as the Police? From my experience as a criminal defence advocate in London, my view is that judges should share some of the blame. In any trial, first and foremost, you have to be able to trust the judge in being independent and impartial. In many criminal trials the judges are not independent or impartial. Things have got to the state they are in due to lack of judicial oversight of Police in criminal trials.

Digital Asian

AMERICAN LAW APPLIES TO THE WORLD: Good News for the City of London?


Times of India reports that the US Justice Department has indicted a sitting Rajya Sabha MP from Andhra Pradesh in a bribery and corruption case that took place in India, banking on the fact that US financial institutions were used in the transactions. Six other foreign nationals, including a Ukrainian billionaire and an Indian-American businessman, were also indicted in the same case. According to a federal indictment, beginning in 2006, Rajya Sabha MP KVP Ramachandra Rao, an acolyte of the former Andhra chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, and five other defendants, allegedly conspired to pay at least $18.5 million to Indian officials in bribes to secure licences to mine minerals in Andhra Pradesh. The mining project was expected to generate more than $500 million annually from the sale of titanium products, including sales to an unnamed "Company A," headquartered in Chicago. 

This is both good and bad. The fact that most people in India consider politicians to be less than honest, most people will be pleased to see a politician being pursued for corruption. But on the other hand many people will not like the fact that a foreign country can do something like this - it will make many feel uneasy. There must be so many cases of corruption around the world where American financial institutions have been used by the culprits. America will have its hands full if they all were indicted as this Indian politician has been. Won't such people then try to avoid using American financial institutions and use others instead. Such action by the US may in the long run benefit Britain's financial institutions and the City of London financial centre.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

BUSINESSES HEADING OUT OF AUSTRALIA

BBC News reports that BP is to close one of its oil refineries in Australia due to competition from Asia, Boeing is to reduce its workforce in Australia and Philip Morris is to stop cigarette production in Australia. This year there have been a few media reports about large companies stopping production or quitting Australia. It seems Australia may be out of favour with large multi-nationals. It seems large corporations go where the regulations, labour and taxes are the least expensive. Countries are struggling to balance a business friendly environment on the one hand and their need for strong laws surrounding consumer regulation, labour welfare and taxes on the other. It is the corporate lobby that is prevailing. 


Digital Asian

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

POLICE TRIAL DISCLOSURE: JUDGES AT FAULT

The Guardian reports that Metropolitan police officers covered up warnings from government scientists that key evidence in a major terrorist trial was seriously flawed and riddled with errors. Lawyers seeking to quash the conviction of one of several plotters behind the 21/7 attempted bombings on London's transport system argued that the Met did not disclose real concerns about a crucial expert witness in the original trial.  Stephen Kamlish QC, representing Manfo Asiedu, said police had been warned that Dr Stuart Black's evidence, which was about to be put in front of the jury in the 2007 trial of the 21/7 bombers, was seriously flawed. The court was also told that three scientists at the government's Forensic Explosives Laboratory were so concerned about Black's evidence that they drafted a report warning of a possibility of a miscarriage of justice. Those concerns, the court was told, were relayed to investigating officers in the Met. In an email on 17 November 2006 sent on to 11 police colleagues, a counter-terrorism officer, DS Jolly, wrote: "In essence some of Stuart's [Dr Black's] work … has been proved to be unsound." The three judges, Sir Brian Leveson, Mr Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Foskett, delayed giving a ruling on whether to allow Asiedu to launch his appeal. Prosecutors have now agreed to hand over more internal government documents to Asiedu's lawyers. Leveson told the hearing that it appeared to be  "very important case" involving allegations of a conspiracy between police and a scientist or scientists to pervert the course of justice. He told the court : "I am concerned to ensure that we deal with all the issues that can be legitimately raised" adding that he was keen to ensure that the case did not drag on.

In my experience as a criminal defence advocate in London, this sort of behaviour by the police is not at all uncommon. Even in far less serious offences Police fail to disclose material that exonerates the defendant and pervert the course of justice in this way. In one case where during my cross-examination of a prosecution eye-witness, the witness revealed that he had attended an ID parade and it turned out that my client, the defendant, was present on that ID parade and was not picked out by the witness. Evidence of this ID parade had not be disclosed to us as it should have been according to the law. In aborting the trial part-way through, the judge said to the jury, about the police failure to disclose this material: "These things happen. It's no-one's fault". After a while you get tired of judges protecting the Police in this way. In my view, the police officer in that case should be given a slap on the wrist for trying it on and the judge should be sacked without his pension. I have also come across one or two judges also conspiring with the Police during trial to cover up failures to disclose material that would help the defence. The appellate judges should not just look into police conduct but also look into the conduct of the trial judge and how that judge dealt with any requests for disclosure by the defence. Police do not comply with the rules laid down for disclosure and trial judges are not helpful in this regard.. The time has now come some steps to be taken to deal with the police and disclosure during trials. You really need some real independent oversight of disclosure. The current system is not working.


Digital Asian

IS SCOTLAND TAKING THE RIGHT ROAD?

The Guardian reports that an Independent Scotland would change its traffic rules so that people will drive on the right as they do in continental Europe. In England and Wales you drive on the left hand side of the road. Seeking to capitalise on the arguments this week about "bullying" England and keeping the pound, the Scottish nationalists will unveil a scheme to scrap the current English road signage system. M for motorway will be replaced with a new S – for Scotland and the A trunk roads will become N roads – for Nationalist in honour of the new country. Blue will be the predominant backing colour. About 58,000 signs will have to be replaced – scrapping the famous road sign font known as "Transport" with a new Celtic-tinged typeface, Proclaimer. And it could be that they may take the opportunity to renumber all of Scotland's roads, beginning at 1.

Whether taking the high road or the low road, is Scotland taking the right road or is it better to stick with leftist England?

Digital Asian

Monday, 31 March 2014

INDIA'S PEOPLE STILL DIVIDED OVER ITS HISTORY

The latest edition of India Today has an interview with Jaswant Singh, former BJP minister, now an independent candidate in India's General Election. His views that Jinnah along with Nehru, Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi allowed India's Partition to happen does not endear him within the BJP. His non-selection by the BJP for his home seat of Barmer in Rajasthan, he says, is something to do with oil in the area. His interview is interesting reading.

Also in India today is the story of the mass grave found in Ajnala, Punjab of the remains of nearly 300 Indian soldiers massacred by the British in 1857.

India's colonial legacy still divides the people today. Like in most other countries where there has been a Western colonial history divisions still persist like in Iraq.