Monday, October 29, 2007

NFL Live

I went to my first NFL game Sunday at Wembley stadium between the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. There had been a lot of interest in the game, being the first regular season game to be played in Europe, and I had been lucky to get a ticket.

Numerous discussions, mostly depressing and full of stereotypes, had appeared on the internet in the days leading up to the game, on the merits and demerits of American Football versus Association Football.(1) I was not, however, put off from going.

This was, after all, a chance to see if American football was the exception to the rule I had held as self evident: that spectator sports are better 'live and in-person' than on TV. After watching the Dolphins-Giants live I'm still not sure. Yes, the experience of watching the game was better than on TV, even from a seat like mine in the upper deck, but the numerous breaks and interruptions, which stretched the game over 3 hours, were very annoying. I had also found these interruptions annoying watching American football at home in front of the TV, but not as much as when I had been at the stadium for 4 hours, was cold, and just wanted to go home!

My enjoyment of the game would have increased if I had been a supporter of either of the teams. I couldn't make up my mind of who to cheer for, until the Dolphins cheerleaders came on to the field. I find professional cheerleaders demeaning. First, because they distract from the game, and secondly, I find the promotion of them as sex symbols demeaning to both sexes.(2) I therefore committed myself to supporting the Giants, as they do not have cheerleaders! (3)

As to the new Wembley stadium, well... let's just say I wasn't impressed. Maybe I'll write a blog entry to explain what I think is wrong with it (and all modern stadia), but that will have to wait till I have more time.

1) Association Football is of course the official name of Football/Soccer, to distinguish it from other types of football such as Rugby Union Football, Rugby League Football, Australian Rules Football Football, Gaelic Football and ... yes... American Football. The word 'Soccer' derives from word 'Association' and originated, as the game did, in England.

2) The cheerleaders did, however, impress me with their dancing skills and fitness levels!

3) The five other NFL teams, beside the Giants, that don't have Cheerleaders are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. Respect!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Defining Terrorism

Here's a brilliant quote from Martin Scheinin, the UN Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. The quote is from the Rapporteur's report to the Commission on Human Rights in 2006, where Scheinin argues for a comprehensive definition of the term 'terrorism.'
"Arising from the need for precision, and to avoid use of the fight against terrorism as an excuse to unnecessarily extend the reach of criminal law, it is essential that offences created under counter-terrorist legislation, along with any associated powers of investigation or prosecution, be limited to countering terrorism. Crimes not having the quality of terrorism..., regardless of how serious, should not be the subject of counter-terrorist legislation. Nor should conduct that does not bear the quality of terrorism be the subject of counter-terrorism measures, even if undertaken by a person also suspected of terrorist crimes.
Scheinin's argument stands in contrast to those who argue against a comprehensive definition, such as Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British Ambassador the the UN, who in a speech in 2001 made this somewhat naive (perhaps mischievous) statement:
"Increasingly, question are being raised about the problem of the definition of a terrorist. Let us be wise and focused about this: terrorism is terrorism... What looks, smells and kills like terrorism is terrorism."
Considering the way anti-terror legislation has been used in Britain to extent the scope of criminal law and the general misuse of the term terrorism for political gain, it is vital that terrorism should be clearly defined. Scheinin, drawing on international conventions relating to terrorism and Security Council resolution 1566 (2004), argues for following cumulative definition of terrorism, as acts:
(a)...causing death or serious bodily injury, or the taking of hostages; and

(b)... committed for the purpose of provoking a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidating a population, or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act; and

(c) Such acts constituting offences within the scope of and as defined in the international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The End?

This blog is probably nearing the end of its lifetime. I'm not quite ready to give it up quite yet, but posting will be rare in the months to come.

There are two reasons for this:
1) Lack of time. I've now started my LLM course and will not have much time or energy for blogging.
2) I'm too depressed to blog.

I've enjoyed writing this blog, but I really don't know if it served any useful purpose!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Nature of Policing.

The moment I heard that the British police had shot a suspected terrorist dead on the Underground on July 21 2005, I instinctively knew they had killed an innocent man. In my reasoning the likelihood of the police actually catching a terrorist in the act is somewhere on the unlikely side of improbable. However, in the world of armed policing such fantasies are considered reality.

The misinformation (lies is probably a better word) that followed in the next few days, such as the claims that De Menezies was wearing a winter coat, jumped over the ticket barrier and had an empty expression on his face (apparently a sign of terrorist intent), showed the police's disregard for truth and evidence.

While the police officers who shot De Menezes seven times in the head got away with it, the Metropolitan Police itself still faces a charge of failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Jean Charles de Menezes under sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

In defending this charge the police produced a composite picture of De Menezes and Osman Hussain, the suspect they now claim to have been searching for. This picture, which in my opinion only shows how different De Menezes and Hussain look, turns out to have been manipulated by the police.

Seems to me the police just can help themselves when it comes to killing, lying and manipulating.