USA


Shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the limits of free speech

9 January 2011 by

Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic US congresswoman, is in a critical condition after being shot at a public meeting in Tucson, Arizona. Six other people died in the shooting, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old child. Eighteen others suffered gunshot wounds.

Little is known as yet about the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, save that he had a troubled past and may have mental health problems. It is also possible that there was a second person involved.

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US ten years behind Britain on gay soldiers

20 December 2010 by

Updated | Following the US Senate’s vote to repeal the ban on gay soldiers serving in the US military, it is interesting to compare the situation in the British Army, where gay soldiers have been allowed to serve since 2000.

The UK government was in fact forced to change its policy following a series of court rulings, as the US government might have been if the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy had made it to the Supreme Court, which was looking inevitable before the Senate vote.

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Don’t ask don’t tell gay soldier ban to be repealed in US

19 December 2010 by

The long-standing ban on homosexuals serving in the United States military has been struck down by the US Senate. Now the repeal needs to be confirmed by President Obama, who is a long-standing opponent of the ban.

The Senate voted 65 to 31 to approve a repeal of the Clinton-era policy which sought to diminish the ban by not asking soldiers about their sexual orientation, but also requiring them to keep it a secret during their service. It was argued that this policy ultimately led to discrimination which was found to be unconstitutional.

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Should justice be televised?

6 December 2010 by

The head of Sky News has argued in a new Guardian article that justice must be televised as allowing TV cameras in court would help restore public faith in criminal proceedings.

Sky news has been campaigning for TV cameras to be allowed in court for the past year. John Ryley argues that the upcoming prosecutions of 5 men accused of abusing the parliamentary expenses system should be televised as the judge in the case has said the matter is “of intense public interest”. Televising proceedings would help restore the loss of confidence in parliament and politics and ensure that judges who are seen are “out of touch” and “liberal” need not escape the spotlight.

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Fruit of the poisoned tree: evidence obtained under torture in the UK

7 October 2010 by

 

Ghailani

Updated | A judge in New York has barred prosecutors of a suspected-terrorist from using the testimony of a man whose evidence may be tainted by CIA torture. What would happen if a similar scenario arose in the UK?

The New York Times reports that those prosecuting Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani in the first civilian trial of a man held at Guantanamo Bay have suffered a setback: “just as the trial was to begin on Wednesday, Judge Kaplan ruled that he would not allow [a man who was to testify that Ghailani sold weapons to him]  to testify. … the government had acknowledged that it had identified and located the witness through interrogation of Mr. Ghailani when he was earlier held in a secret overseas jail run by the Central Intelligence Agency. His lawyers have said he was tortured there.” The judge said:

 

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Terror advice decision causes uproar in United States, but could it happen here?

22 June 2010 by

Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, United States Supreme Court – Read judgment

The US Supreme Court has ruled that it does not violate the US Constitution for the government to block speech and other forms of advocacy supporting a foreign organization that has been officially labeled as terrorist, even if the aim is to support such a group’s peaceful or humanitarian actions.

The judgment does not, of course, have any direct effect on the UK. But UK anti-terrorism legislation already provides the police with broad powers to prosecute those who support terrorist groups. The UK Government is likely to be keeping a close eye on the United States in order to guide future policy, in terms of what is and what is not beyond the pale in restriction freedom of expression.

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