Rebekah Brooks Is Either Incompetent Or A Liar

Rebekah Brooks continues to deny all knowledge of the despicable hacks into Milly Dowler and 7/7 families’ phones, leading to only two possible conclusions: either Brooks was so incompetent an editor that she had no control over and no idea of what was being done by her own newspaper, or she’s a liar, neither of which does her credit.

As the Independent revealed today that she asked the same private detective who dug up the Dowlers’ number to do other searches, I’m leaning towards the latter.

Ms Brooks, while editor of NOTW, used Steve Whittamore, a private detective who specialised in obtaining illegal information, to “convert” a mobile phone number to find its registered owner. Mr Whittamore also provided the paper with the Dowlers’ ex-directory home phone number.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, which successfully prosecuted Whittamore for breaches of the Data Protection Act in 2005, said last night it would have been illegal to obtain the mobile conversion if the details had been “blagged” from a phone company.

Ms Brooks, who said yesterday she was “shocked and appalled” at the latest hacking claims, admitted requesting the information. But she said it could be obtained by “perfectly legitimate means.”

I highly doubt that, but let’s leave the ‘means’ aside for a minute and focus on her actual request – trying to discover the private owner of a private mobile phone for no justifiable reason, on top of gaining access to a phone number that was removed from the directory books precisely to stop unwanted callers from obtaining it. Ethics, schmethics.

 

Unreasonable Doubt

Rape victims already find it horrendously difficult to report the crime that was committed against them. We have a culture that seems to go out of its way to find ways to blame the victim for what happened to her – “If she hadn’t been drunk/worn that short skirt/acted like a flirt it wouldn’t have happened.” – while telling women ‘Don’t get raped’ instead of telling men ‘Don’t rape’. They face the knowledge that they will almost certainly have to confront the person who violated them and stole so much from them in court, have their character mercilessly assaulted by a defence lawyer, and that there’s a good chance that they could be forced to relive the horror and the perpetrator for nothing as he could be acquitted. Those women who come forward display an immense level of courage.

So the news that the jurors in the trial of two NYPD officers for the rape of an intoxicated woman in her own home chose to acquit them, even though they were convinced they were guilty, because there was no DNA evidence, has just struck another blow against the effort to get more women to try to bring their attackers to justice. For one thing – it is extremely common for women who have been raped to shower immediately, to scrub and wash the horrible feeling of their rapist off of them as soon as they can. This case shows that now this could well mean the chances of their rapists being brought to justice have plummeted. And furthermore, the fact that the defendants in this case were police officers is likely to damage a lot of people’s faith in the justice system. People will ask: would they have been acquitted if they hadn’t been cops? How can you seek justice from those who are seemingly above it?

Here are snippets of what the jurors said. If their comments don’t enrage you, nothing will:

“[Kenneth Moreno] raped her,” the unidentified female juror tells DNAinfo. “There is no doubt in my mind.”But never mind that whole “beyond a reasonable doubt” business, today’s modern jury demands DNA. As juror John Finck, 57, explains, “We were strictly bound by the judge’s instruction that there must be evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict the defendants of the major charges of the case.”

That does NOT mean there needs to be DNA evidence, but as one legal expert told the Post after the verdict was announced, “CSI has made things difficult, there’s no law saying that ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ means we show you DNA. It means ‘evidence that points to a moral certainty that is beyond dispute.'” “My heart breaks for her. I think the system failed her terribly,” says Hernandez, the juror who played a crucial role in the system that acquitted the cops.

“I think the system failed her terribly.” You’ve got to love that ‘system’, a convenient way for individuals like Hernandez to avoid responsibility for their own decisions that have an enormous impact on the lives of other human beings. It pops up all the time – when people die, when injustice happens, it’s the impersonal, ambiguous monolith of The System that’s to blame, not human error, not human failure, not human ignorance. This is why miscarriages of justice on both sides of the court and in other walks of life will continue to happen, because as long as we can all comfortably blame injustice on an abstract thing that doesn’t really exist, people can avoid accountability, the buck can be passed, and no effort need be made to educate people about crucial things like the definition of ‘reasonable doubt’.

But that’s not to say there aren’t problems with juries. The key is in that first word, ‘reasonable’. As we see here in this appalling case, juries are now seeing not just any doubt in their minds, but anything that could cause doubt as enough to vote in favour of the accused. This has always been one of the major flaws of trial by jury, and why I have long believed professional jurors would vastly improve justice systems. By throwing 12 random people together who likely as not know nothing about law, are not trained to think logically or weigh evidence, the result is that you are inevitably going to get ridiculous verdicts like this, because the jury is ignorant of what reasonable doubt actually is – and thus so frightened of sending an innocent person to jail that the tiniest of discrepancies get blown up into reasons not to convict.

 

 

 

Bystander Who Filmed Cops Shooting Man To Death Has Phone Seized, Destroyed At Gunpoint

This is seriously fucked up:

Miami Beach police did their best to destroy a citizen video that shows them shooting a man to death in a hail of bullets Memorial Day.

First, police pointed their guns at the man who shot the video, according to a Miami Herald interview with the videographer.

Then they ordered the man and his girlfriend out the car and threw them down to the ground, yelling “you want to be fucking paparazzi?”

Then they snatched the cell phone from his hand and slammed it to the ground before stomping on it. Then they placed the smashed phone in the videographer’s back pocket as he was laying down on the ground.

Unfortunately for these fascists masquerading as public protectors, the man had removed the SIM card, so his video survived the destruction of his phone. And their actions alone, let alone whatever that video contains, suggest there needs to be an investigation into why and how the man they shot to death was killed.

It’s getting to the point where you’d do well to question the actions of any cop who’s touchy about being filmed by a member of the public they’re supposed to serve. After all, as is the common refrain of authority figures, if you’ve got nothing to hide, you should have nothing to worry about, no?

 

Nadine Dorries: If Only Child Sex Victims Had Said No, They Might Not Have Been Molested

While wingnuttia’s never gotten a real foothold in Britain, it raises its ugly head often enough to remind us it exists. Nadine Dorries proves she’s just as stupid, and just as cruel as her counterparts across the pond by actually suggesting child abuse victims could have prevented their own molestation:

All is not well on Planet Dorries. Two weeks after the Mid Bedfordshire MP introduced a sexist private member’s bill which would teach only girls the virtue of sexual abstinence and “how to say no”, Nadine has helped to advance the myth that child sexual abuse is linked to the behaviour of children.

On Channel 5′s Vanessa show on Monday she opined:

“If a stronger ‘just say no’ message was given to children in school then there might be an impact on sex abuse … if we imbued this message in school we’d probably have less sex abuse.”

We see victim-blaming sadly far too often when it comes to sexual crimes, but blaming child victims of sexual assault has got to be an all time low. This makes my gorge rise, it’s so loathsome. Do I really need to point out that adults are EASILY, EASILY able to overpower and/or emotionally manipulate kids into being abused? That there is a reason society feels a particularly intense revulsion towards those who commit child rape?

And as a survivor of abuse myself (I guess I didn’t say no loudly enough!) I not-so-cordially invite Nadine Dorries to go fuck herself. To hear this from one of my elected representatives makes incredibly angry, revolted and not a little depressed.

Maddie Fatigue

Actually, to be more accurate, it’s more ‘McCann fatigue’. Heartless this may sound, but I am truly sick of the sight of both Kate and Gerry McCann. Today came news that no less a person than the Prime Minister is personally intervening and ordering the police to reopen the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance.

The intervention came after Kate and Gerry McCann made an impassioned appeal for the PM to help them revive the search for their daughter.

The girl vanished in Portugal in 2007 shortly before her fourth birthday.

The Metropolitan Police are to now “bring their expertise” to the search for Madeleine after a personal request from the Prime Minister.

“There has been a huge amount of public interest in this case since it began, Madeleine McCann has been missing for a long time, there is the international dimension,” Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said.

“The Prime Minister has been clear that he wants to do everything he can to support the family.”

The part highlighted in bold is apparently what makes the case ‘exceptional’ enough to merit the country’s leader personally lending a powerful hand. One can only imagine what the family of Ben Needham, who vanished without trace in 1991 must feel, as he too has been missing for a very long time, went missing overseas, and at the time there was considerable public interest in his disappearance too. Yet they received no response whatsoever from the Prime Minister then or now, as this BBC article shows.

100000 children go missing in the UK every year. Yet only a fraction ever receive attention from the media, and certainly none have had the Prime Minister intervening to try and ensure they are safely found. Why is Madeleine McCann different? Why, instead of throwing so much effort into helping one couple, does David Cameron not try and do something which will improve the chances of children who disappear in the future of being discovered alive? This is what annoys me so much about this case. We have seen several cases where the parents of children who have gone missing or been murdered who have led campaigns to try and stop it happening to other children. Look at Sara Payne, who after her daughter Sarah was brutally murdered, went on to fight for ‘Sarah’s Law': a law that would inform parents about any paedophiles that were living in their neighbourhood.

The McCanns have done no such thing. To the contrary, they have literally used their daughter’s disappearance to their own benefit – using money donated by generous, kind hearted people to help find their daughter to pay their mortgage instead,  cashing in further by writing a book (what can Kate McCann possibly have to tell us that she hasn’t told us several hundred times over the past four years?) I no longer have the slightest sliver of sympathy for them. I do however, feel desperately sorry for poor little Madeleine, who is probably long since dead, who had the deep misfortune of having parents so self-absorbed they were quite happy to leave her and her siblings alone in a flat in a foreign country while they went out and had a good time.

The tragedy of the Madeleine McCann case is that it reaffirms what many of us have long believed in regards to missing children: help, attention and concern will only come if the child in question is lucky enough to be cute, white and from an upper-middle class family.