Tuesday, November 16, 2010

British voters to be asked to provide signatures at polling stations as Government moves to crack down on electoral fraud

Long overdue. The abuses multiplied under Labour party rule. This would be just a dream in many American States as Democrats hang on tenaciously to the opportunity for corruption

Voters will have to give their date of birth, supply a signature and national insurance number at polling stations by the time of the next election in a clamp down on widespread electoral fraud.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, will set out tough new measures for voter identification in a keynote speech today. He will warn that the political system has fallen ‘dangerously out of step’ with life in Britain and that politics remains ‘closed, remote, elite’.

Mr Clegg will announce a new bill on constitutional reform to sort out the chaotic electoral register. He will say: ‘People must have confidence in the system, and know that it is secure against fraud. So we are committed to tackling fraud by speeding up the move to individual – as opposed to household – registration.’

New security measures will be in place by 2014, in time for the next general election. The previous government had planned to delay tougher rules until after polling day.

The move is expected to clean up the electoral fraud witnessed in areas such as Tower Hamlets, where thousands of bogus voters appeared on the roll weeks before the general election. Labour supporters were accused of packing the electoral roll with relatives living overseas or inventing phantom voters.

Mr Clegg will warn that the government would still have to deal with the millions of people who are not on the electoral register. Around 3.5 million have slipped off the roll – more than the populations of Greater Manchester and Birmingham put together.

In the annual Political Studies Association/Hansard Society lecture in London, Mr Clegg will say:‘The Coalition Government is clear: these missing millions must be given back their voice. There is no magic wand solution; but, equally, there is no excuse for inaction.’

From next year local authorities will compare other databases to the electoral register to identify missing voters. Mr Clegg will say: ‘We've already launched the process, and local authorities are bidding now to run schemes to test what works best. 'The Coalition Government is clear: these missing millions must be given back their voice. There is no magic wand solution; but, equally, there is no excuse for inaction.’ 'Council officers will be able help these people to get on the register. And, if it works, it could be rolled out across the rest of the country.’

The problem of slipping off the register is worst among the young, black and ethnic minority communities and in poorer areas.

Mr Clegg will signal that voting would never be compulsory the way it is in countries such as Australia, saying registration would always be down to individual choice.

More frequent boundary reviews will also be unveiled to end the ‘outdated, haphazard arrangements we inherited from Labour’.

An attempt by Labour to scupper the coalition government’s plans for a boundary shake up was narrowly defeated yesterday by just 14 votes. The government overturned Labour’s attempts to delay the planned redrawing of constituencies, which is tied to a referendum on changing the voting system in the knife-edge vote in House of Lords.

Labour’s ex Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, had argued that because the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill protected the constituency boundaries of the Western Isles and Orkney and the Shetlands, it was ‘hybrid’ and had to be referred to a panel of parliamentary clerks.

If the clerks had ruled that the Bill was hybrid – which means it applies to a specific group differently than to the general public – the timetable for the referendum on the Alternative Vote system would have been thrown into chaos.

Ministers are intent on holding the referendum next May, despite warnings from the Electoral Commission that the timetable is already slipping.


Bonanza for lawyers coming to an end in Britain

Ministers pledged yesterday to take an axe to the compensation culture and slash lawyers’ multi-million-pound earnings. State legal aid will no longer pay for claims against hospitals and doctors or schools and colleges, over immigration or welfare benefit disputes or for divorce lawyers, said Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.

Unprecedented reforms to the £2.1billion-a-year legal aid system will mean that more than half a million court cases annually will no longer be funded by taxpayers. The guiding principle will be that it is available only for civil cases when ‘life or liberty’ is at stake. This will include allegations of domestic violence, child abduction or forced marriage.

Much of the price of reining in legal aid spending will fall on the legal profession, which will see fees to solicitors and barristers cut by more than £400million a year over the next decade.

The Justice Secretary told MPs: ‘Legal aid has expanded so much that it is now one of the most expensive in the world, costing the public purse more than £2billion a year. 'It is now available for a very wide range of issues, including some which do not require any legal expertise to resolve. It cannot be right that the taxpayer is footing the bill for cases which would never have even reached the courtroom door were it not for the fact that somebody else was paying.’

The reform plans were published in a consultation paper which recommends an end to legal aid in most family and divorce cases, medical negligence, education, employment, immigration, welfare benefits and some housing disputes.

It also promises a major shake-up of the controversial ‘no-win no-fee’ system which fuels many compensation culture claims. If the proposals go ahead, lawyers in no-win, no-fee cases will be prevented from claiming success fees from the losing side. These can be as high as the damages the loser must pay.

They will no longer be able to make the loser pay high insurance charges. The reforms say they should be paid from the winnings of their clients, taking a maximum of 25 per cent of the damages. To help meet their costs, judges would raise damages orders by 10 per cent.

Ministers said the cost of legal aid to each taxpayer in the country is £38 a year. This figure compares with an equivalent £3 a year for taxpayers in France and £5 in Germany. Legal aid was first offered in 1949 to provide lawyers in court for the poor.

A major expansion of the system went ahead in the early 1970s. The effect has been that the bill to the taxpayer has gone up sevenfold over the past 25 years, and for 20 years governments have been trying to scale it back.

The reform plans would mean that anyone trying, for example, to sue a hospital would have to pay for their own lawyers or find a lawyer willing to do a no-win, no-fee deal, or, known in legal jargon as a conditional fee agreement. Such cases were, Mr Clarke said, ‘not generally speaking of sufficient priority to justify funding at the taxpayer’s expense’.

Civil payments will continue to be paid for asylum cases, mental health cases, for debt and housing disputes where somebody is in danger of being made homeless, and in ‘public’ family law cases in which children are being taken into state care.

In divorce and family break-up, someone who alleges a partner has been violent can ask a judge to throw him – almost always a male partner – out of their home. Such cases will continue to be covered.

The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, said the legal aid proposals would prevent ordinary people getting ‘access to justice’. Instead, the solicitors’ professional body called for a new tax on alcohol to cover the cost of legal aid. The idea would mean that anyone buying a drink in a pub or a bottle of wine in a supermarket would be contributing to the earnings of lawyers.


Lies and misrepresentations in Australia's most Leftist major newspaper

There's nothing like hatred of Israel to bring out the dishonest reporting

Last weekend, the Good Weekend magazine from the Age published a six page spread entitled ‘Project: Gaza’ by Paul McGeough. The article focused on six activists involved in the Free Gaza Movement, how they came to be involved and their involvement with the flotillas, in particular, the fleet that was involved in clashes with the IDF in late May.

Journalist Paul McGeough was on one of the ships involved in the flotilla, and has spent a large amount of his time since then obsessively covering the events that happened on Mavi Marmara. McGeough and a photographer were ostensibly placed by their employer on the flotilla to observe its mission from an objective viewpoint. They were not supposed to be there as supporters of its aims but rather to report the events as they occurred. Well, that was what was supposed to be the case.

Moreover, although he was on the flotilla, McGeough was not on the Mavi Marmara, the ship where the violence occurred. Yet, he has constantly painted a one-sided picture that could only come from one with partisan views closely aligned to those of the flotilla organisers and indeed, to many impartial observers, he has served as an apologist for the actions of those on the Mavi Marmara who were involved in the violence that took place on board. Despite a substantial body of evidence in the form of photographs, videos and oral and written statements that have contradicted most of his claims, McGeough has ploughed on relentlessly with his one-sided narrative.

McGeough’s past form can be found here, here, here and here.

It came as quite a surprise to me at least, that despite the considerably high volume of material already produced and regurgitated on the subject by McGeough, that the Age would devote another six pages dedicated to the dramatic lies that some of passengers of questionable integrity passed on to McGeough. What is more of a surprise is that his publishers, Fairfax, believe that their “papers endeavour to be balanced, and to put both sides of the question”. That quote comes from a transcript of yesterday’s Fairfax AGM. The speaker was its chairman, Mr. Roger Corbett.

Despite Corbett’s extraordinary claim, the contrary view to that which has been repeated ad nauseum by McGeough, has barely seen the light of day in his publications.

Balanced? You must be joking, Mr. Corbett but we would accept a six page lift out on the subject of terrorism and incitement to violence against Israel and its citizens any time.

To understand the one sided nature of the reporting from the Age, one needs to understand the great lengths that McGeough goes to in order to downplay the role of the violent elements from the IHH. His article made sly references to the “sleek and black” Zodiacs with their “bullet-shaped hulls” followed by the declaration: “As the helicopters moved in, activists on the upper deck rushed to the top level of the ship. By sunrise, nine activists were dead and 50 injured.”

In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, he yada yada’d over the best part. (* Video of the cache of weapons including knives, slingshots, rocks, smoke bombs, metal rods, improvised sharp metal objects, sticks and clubs, 5kg hammers and firebombs, * Close up video of “peace activists” attacking the metal batons, *Video taken by the IDF showing passengers of the Mavi Marmara violently attacking IDF officers trying to board the ship, *Video of the radio exchange between the soldiers on their way to the bridge and the IDF ship. The soldiers are reporting their encounter with live fire and serious violence., *Video of Israeli Navy officer describing the violent mob aboard the Mavi Marmara, *Video of the Mavi Marmara passengers attacking the IDF before the soldiers boarded the ship, *Video of the flotilla rioters as they prepared rods, slingshots, broken bottles and metal objects to attack IDF soldiers, *Video of Israeli naval officers addressing the ship )

All of the evidence that exists is in complete contradiction to McGeough’s claims, particularly given the weight of visual evidence showing the IHH preparing for a violent confrontation taken directly from interviews with passengers aboard the ship (see more here, here and here). Perhaps McGeough also missed that!

He certainly missed the photographs published in the Turkish media taken by IHH operatives in order to embarrass Israel of injured Israeli soldiers, and the removal of a knife and blood by Reuters of these pictures. He missed the actual video of a soldier being stabbed. He missed the footage of the soldier being thrown overboard. All of this has been airbrushed totally out of existence by McGeough.

And of course, there was no mention by McGeough that the IHH is a militant Islamist movement with a record of supporting terror, or that several of the flotilla passengers were active terror operatives with links to al-Qaeda, Hamas and other organisations or that the IHH has been banned elsewhere in the world, such as in Germany for having links to Hamas. Perhaps it is because neither McGeough nor the Age believe that these matters are relevant to the story? In the meantime, McGeough obviously saw some bogus footage of “what appears to be Israeli commandos shooting an activist near point blank range” because all other interpretations of the said footage seem to make it clear, even to non-military experts such as myself, that the gun was a paintball gun. But then again, McGeough also talked about supposed CCTV footage of assassins entering Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s hotel room in Dubai in January, another lie which was later exposed.

To add to McGeough’s tour de force of balanced journalism, he interviewed six people who he believed were the “movers & shakers” of the Free Gaza Movement. Two of the women stated that they became involved in this line of activism after the death of Mohammed al-Dura in 2000. McGeough adds his own commentary in parenthesis: “The 12 year-old-boy died at Netzarim Junction, Gaza, in his father’s arms after being shot by the Israel Defence Forces”.

Right, Mr. McGeough, you’ve researched your subject well except for that some simple fact checking would reveal this story to be not quite accurate (at this stage I would submit that accuracy is no longer relevant in the context of the picture being painted).

At the beginning of the Second Intifada, it was alleged that the IDF was responsible for killing the young child. The images, taken from footage by Charles Enderlin from France 2 Television Network and his Palestinian cameraman, Talal Abu-Rahma, were dispatched worldwide, spurring international outrage directed at the IDF. Over time, various stories came out about the veracity of the reports, including claims that given all of the evidence and the positioning of al-Dura in relation to the IDF soldiers, the fatal shot could not have come from the IDF (see more).

Abu-Rahma’s footage was around 55 seconds but there was another 27 minutes of footage that was never publically released and was only viewed in a French Court after France2 was order to produce the original tapes. Those who were at the hearing and have seen the footage state that none of the frames support the claim that the Israelis were even involved in the particular incident. This is all due to the courageous work of Phillipe Karsenty, who has been dragged through the courts in order to bring this case to a close. Please read this recent interview with Danny Seaman, the former director of the Israeli Government Press Office for more on the al-Dura case.

More HERE (See the original for links)

Australia: Crooks forced to pay victims for crimes

A surprisingly good idea from a Leftist government. They are about to get tossed out on their ears in the forthcoming election so are probably scrabbling for a few conservative votes

New South Wales criminals will be forced to pay into a compensation fund to cover everything from the trauma suffered by victims to damaged property. Making criminals pay and other changes will add up to $20 million to the beleaguered Victims Compensation Fund, which is bleeding money while more than 13,000 victims wait for aid.

A levy of $64 or $148, depending on the severity of the offence, currently applies to offenders facing jail terms. Under NSW Government reforms to occur by the end of the year, it will be extended to a further 65,000 offences. Criminals will pay the levy regardless of how serious their offence is or what they are sentenced to.

Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said it was right that the state's criminals literally paid for their crimes. "It's only fair that people who engage in criminal behaviour contribute to a fund that helps victims rebuild their lives," he said. "The change now means, for example, that a person charged with low-range drink driving will now have to pay the levy if convicted."

Summary offences will attract a $64 levy and indictable offences $148. Criminals convicted of multiple offences will pay for each crime.

Victims of violent crimes can claim up to $50,000 as compensation for injury or trauma, with the family of murder, rape and domestic violence victims can claim the full amount.

The fund has only $60 million but in the 2008-09 financial year it paid $62.9 million to 8212 victims; 13,328 victims were left waiting. Offenders paid just $3.63 million into the fund but the new levy system and changes to unexplained wealth laws are expected to boost the fund by up to $20 million a year.

The unexplained wealth laws introduced earlier this year will see 50 per cent of money confiscated from those involved in criminal activity placed in the fund.

Criminals will also have to cover the damage they cause, with $1500 payments for "any expense incurred" as a result of an injury. Previously the payments, made to those who fall below the threshold for the $50,000 compensation scheme, had been restricted to items such as broken glasses and medical or dental bills.

The levy will help pay for the expanded Victim Assistance Scheme, which begins today. Many claims will now be able to be made online. The only exemptions will be people who have offences dealt with by penalty notice.

South Australia and the Northern Territory currently charge $60 for the most serious offences.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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