Tuesday, May 30, 2006

European Court of Justice ruling

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision today to annul the agreement between the EU commission and the US government on the transfer of passenger personal data is good news. The ECJ found that the agreement, which allowed airlines to hand over passenger data to the US government, was outside European Community law.

The ruling (which can be found here and is commented on this Times article) is good news as it highlights the importance of restricting government access to personal information.

However, because the decision is only based on the agreement being ultra vires, i.e. outside EC Law, it doesn't really protect European airplane passengers in the long run. The ECJ is really only saying that the Commission cannot make an agreement on behalf of all European states. The US could, therefore, pressure individual European countries into data transfer agreements.

The Council may also be able to pass a new data protection Directive without the consent of the European Parliament (I'm not certain, as I haven't studied EU Law yet).

Interestingly, the UK Conservative Party has criticized the ECJ's decision. Although criticism of an EU institution is the default position of the Tory party, shouldn't they applaud a decision that limits the scope of EC Law?


I've now had my Criminal Law exam. It went pretty well and I'm relieved. Now I have to prepare for the Contract Law exam on Thursday.

This morning, before I went to the exam, I read Luke 5; 17-26, which is the story of the paralyzed man lowered down to Jesus from the roof of the house. What I noticed was this: Jesus, on seeing their faith, said: "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." Jesus first forgave the persons sins and but then also healed the mans paralysis. It struck me that the forgiveness of sins was much greater than the healing.

I have been praying for help in my exams, but Jesus has something much better to offer: forgiveness of sins and a new heart made of flesh!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Criminal Law exam.

My Criminal Law exam is tomorrow.

I'm quite nervous, which is strange because I've had so many exams in my life and I haven't really let it affect me negatively before. (Well, that's not quite true, I also felt very nervous when I took 'studereksammen').

Right now I really regret doing an exam based course like law! Tomorrows exam is 100% of the final grade for Criminal Law.

What was I thinking? Why doesn't reality ever get through to my brain when I need to make important decisions? I am so lost!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Essay + Saturday exam.

Got my Property Law essay back today. The mark was 64%, which in the UK system is an upper second mark. The grading system in the UK is like this:

70-100% = First Class.
60-69% = Upper Second Class.
50-59% = Lower Second Class.
40-49% = Third Class.

The Tutor wrote 'Good - clear and well argued' and gave some suggestions for improvement. I should be satisfied, but I am little disappointed.

Concerning the Saturday exam:

The Law school has been very helpful and have agreed that I can sit the exam on a Tuesday. The Lecturer, Dr. Meredith, has to set a whole new exam paper just for me, which I really appreciate. Now I just hope I can do well in it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Conspiracy to Corrupt Public Morals.

As mentioned in the 'Answer to Jan' post below, the word 'moral' and the concept of 'morality' is often used in public debate without proper consideration to its meaning.

Revising for my Criminal Law exam I've come over across another quite serious example of this. In the criminal case of Shaw v. DPP [1962] AC 220, the House of Lords upheld Shaw's conviction of the previously unknown crime of 'Conspiracy to Corrupt Public Morals'. Shaw had published a prostitute guidebook.

Later in Knuller v DPP [1973] AC 435, the House of Lord upheld another such conviction against a publisher of magazine which included advertisements soliciting homosexual acts. Their argument was that such advertisement were 'destructive to the very fabric of society.'

I am not convinced that the Law Lords knew they were talking about. Prostitution and Homosexuality may brake down society, I don't know, but is such behaviour immoral? It can only be described as immoral if there is a clearly defined set of maxims that everyone subscribes to and to which everyone must adhere.

These judgments are, in my opinion, very dangerous. Not just because they were effectively retrospective, but because they were based on a subjective and undefined standard for behaviour.

Answer to Jan

This is an attempt to answer your comment to my post 'Parent and Church' of May 10.

The word moral and the concept of morality is unfortunately often used without much consideration of what it means. For example, the Republican Congressman who called high taxes immoral or Christians who talk about the 'moral fabric of society'.

I define morality as having a set of rules, values or maxims and following them. Being moral, in this definition, is adhering to what you consider to be right and staying away from what you consider to be wrong.

Christians often talk about morality in context of Gods law, which makes sense if you subscribe to that law.

Jesus' teachings are therefore very much concerned with morality. However, I don't understand Jesus as primarily being concerned with following a set of rules. Jesus constantly talked about Gods kingdom and emphased loving God and loving your neighbour. The love of God is the foundation of Gods law and therefore moral, but loving God its not mainly about adhering to rules.

When non-believers seek church experience for their children they are not seeking the love of God, but rather standards and adherence to rules, together with a some vague idea of 'spirituality'.

Christianity, I believe, has come so far away from Jesus, that we have become a movement that is primarily seen as believing in rules, i.e. in being moral.

Does that makes sense?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ducks and Gods love.

I've just had a bad weekend full of depressive and negatives thoughts concerning the state of my life.

Then this morning as my wife was driving me to the train station in Bracknell she almost hit a duck with three little ducklings as they were trying to cross a very busy road. The sight of this little duck stuck in traffic with her little ducklings was just too much. How cruel the world is! I just wanted to cry. Of course I couldn't, I'm a grown man traveling on a public train!

The image of that duck will not, however, leave my mind. I keep thinking that maybe God feels the same watching his children live in this world, full of compassion and wanting to step in to help and protect them.

I also keep thinking of Jesus words in Matthew 6 25-34, that we should not worry about what we will eat, drink or clothes to wear. God takes care of all the birds, how much more will he not take care of us. So instead of these things we should strive for kingdom of God and his righteousness.
"So do not worry about the tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 6:34 NRSV).
ps. My wife sent an SMS saying that apparently the duck made it over the road, as it was gone when she drove back the same route.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Parents and Church

I've posted this comment on a blog entitled 'The Oregon Adventist Pastor'. The comment is a response to this article in the Washington Post.

My Comment:
Although I don't consider non-believers in church to be a problem, I do find the reasons that parents seek religious influence for their children as problematic.

The Post quotes one parent as wanting religion to provide a "moral foundation and spiritual guidance" for his child. This corresponds very well with the impression I get from parents seeking a church or church-school experience for their children.

Church and religion (including Christianity) is seem as primarily concerned with morality. This perception of church is unfortunately perpetuated by most Christian communities.

Perhaps this is Adventism's biggest challenge, to focus on the teaching of Jesus, not the teaching of morality.

Am I right?


Revising for exams is something I've never been able to do. Not when I did my 'Studentereksamen' (equivalent to 'A-Levels'), not when I did my first degree, not when I did tax exams and I and just can't get around to doing it now.

Its not that I haven't been studious during the year, I just totally procrastinate around revision time and do anything but study. Of course this mental problem is reflected in my grades, which at bests can be described as mediocre.

I don't know what's going on. Am I just lazy? Careless? Or is it repressed anxiety of failure that is inhibiting me?

Of useless things I been doing today to avoid studying is reading in my Law Dictionary, which is full of interesting Latin phrases and words.

A good phrase for today: 'nullum crimen sine lege' - no crime without a law.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

FC Copenhagen

FC Copenhagen won the Danish football league on Sunday. This is FC's fourth title in six years and I'm really quite pleased.

I have previously on this blog expressed my distress at allowing the fortunes of FC to dictate my mood. I don't think its good or healthy to be emotionally dependent of the fortunes of a sports team. The reality is that I have always cared more about FC's results than my own personal achievements and FC's championship is more important to me than passing my end of year exams. The reason for this priority is quite simple.

Football, unlike ones personal life, gives a sense of importance and fellowship. Being a supporter entails having an identity and a shared experience with other supporters. This is experienced particularly strong when traveling to another city to support your club.

Work (or institutions like the church) does not give this sense of importance and fellowship.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Local Elections

I've voted yesterday for the first time in the UK (EU citizen are allowed to vote in local council and EU Parliament elections).

I voted Liberal Democrat, but with a heavy heart. I really wanted to vote Labour.

Local elections should, in my opinion, be decided on local administrative issues and not national politics, but I just couldn't get myself to vote for a party that is undermining civil liberties. Civil liberties are also important local polical issues for two reasons: Asbo's and CCTV.

Anti-Social Behavour Orders (Asbo's) are civil orders restricting the freedom of individuals considered to be behaving badly. Asbo's can be ordered on the basis of second hand evidence and a breach which is a criminal offence.(1) Asbo's are applied for by either a local council, the police or a registered social landlord. The application and use of Asbo's varies considerably in the UK, with some local councils applying for hundreds and others hardly any.

Surveillance cameras or CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) are everywhere in the UK. Wherever you go in UK towns and cities you constantly being watched. Most of the cameras are installed by local councils or local shopping associations and are often run by private security firms. It really is an Orwellian experience to live in the UK. For more on surveillance cameras see urbaneye.net (which has some interesting reports, two comparing video surveillance in Denmark and Norway)

Charles Kennedy stated at last years Liberal Democrat Coference that the dividing line in politics is not longer Left vs. Right, but rather between Authoritarian and Libertarian. I agree completely with that statement and I voted Liberal Democrat becaue Labour has, in my opinion, aligned itself with the Conservatives in the Authoritarian camp

1. See Kennedy, Helana. Just Law (London, Vintage Press, 2004) p. 218.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sabbath Exam

I've been informed today that my Constitutional law exam is scheduled for Saturday the 10th of June. This is a problem because I'm a Seventh-day Adventist and therefore keept saturday as a workfree Sabbath.

At this point I don't know if I can get the exam moved. If I can't, I might just have to take a fail in the exam and then retake it in September (that is if the September exam is not also scheduled for Saturday).

If neither of these options are posible, them my career in law will be over.

Maybe, this is the guidance I've been asking God for. I should never have begun to study law simply to have something to do and to have an income (in the form of a grant).