Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Why newspapers are dying and magazines aren’t

Why newspapers are dying and magazines aren’t: hint: it has nothing to do with glossy pages.

The old misconception between print and online: portrays it as a choice between yesterday’s news today, which you have to pay for, or today’s news as it happens. If that were why newspaper circulation has been dropping substantially: it would have happened with the introduction of 24-hour news television and radio. In fact, it would have happened with the introduction of the nightly news. The fact of the matter is that what people most like online is substantially different from the short articles which newspapers generally publish.

I sometimes like to comment on other people’s articles. What amazes me is that the most popular comments are generally not short or sweet comments. The popular type of comments: are those which we at SACNS call concise comments. If you have ever read an Oxford dictionary: you will notice that the concise Oxford dictionary is massive. Concise relates to fully encompassing a matter in as efficient a manner as possible. While newspapers have been dying out, their friend the magazine has been flourishing. I’m not talking about lads magazines, or the mass produced picture books that some think are entertaining. These are dying out. What I am talking about is the long form magazine. What I am talking about is concise reporting, the type of reporting you might read in the National Geographic magazine.

A look at which Internet blogs are the most popular will once again draw up a surprise. It is generally long form blogs and concise blogs which get the most viewership. These are services which make articles of at least 1000 words if not tens or hundreds of thousands of words their mainstay.

If I look at which of my articles are the most popular, factoring out the celebrity influence and niche markets: it is generally the long form or longer form article.

It might seem counterintuitive at first: that the most popular comments on any article tend to be long comments, and to take a while to read. The most popular online articles also tend to take a good amount of time to read.

The same strange trend goes for emails also. Emails which are short and sweet and use very simple language: are the least likely to be opened. Emails which are lengthy and utilise proper and good English: are surprisingly more likely to be opened. To a degree it does make sense. I am far more likely to share an article online that uses an advanced and interesting word that even I have to look up, than one which uses one step up on SMS language.

Which news websites, and news articles are the most popular? Surely websites such as Wired with their very long articles. Surely articles such as those that can be found in: the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, the British Guardian. The articles these services produce are lengthy, detailed and often require scrolling down through long reams of text. Newsletters have also once again become popular. The type of newsletter which is popular is not short and sweet. It is the type of newsletter that is worth the effort and the nuisance of having another email in your inbox each day. The newsletters I subscribe to tend to be long form newsletters. They tend to require scrolling and much reading. The type of newsletter I have unsubscribed from and banished from my inbox: is the type which is short and sweet and uses simple language. I take no interest in that sort of email. It is not worth my efforts in opening it.

Imagine if newspapers instead of having a headline and five pages on that headline, did what many newspapers are attempting to do with online: had five small headlines on the front page, each with an article of only 100 words. Imagine if that newspaper only had one headline, with a big image: and only 100 words on the headline topic. Would you still buy the newspaper for the headline? After all old wisdom says that newspaper headlines sell the newspaper. I certainly would not buy a newspaper for the headline if the newspaper only had 100 words on the headline topic. 100 words are not enough to be worth the price of 5 Rand or 10 Rand to me. Certainly, there are newspapers such as the Johannesburg Star: which while each article is quite short, have such a broad basis: that in a sense the entire newspaper is one article, possibly worth reading cover to cover.

The question arises as to why people still listen to news radio when news television has come out. Why for instance might I listen to a podcast of 60 minutes of radio news out of America, where I can watch television news for 60 minutes instead? News radio flourishes for the same reason that long form articles have continue to exist despite a decline in news media. If I listen to news radio, for instance RFI, I gain a lot more detail and perspective on an issue. For the same reason that someone might read an entire book on an important event, and pay 100 Rand for it, or even 1000 or more Rand for it: people like to listen to radio specifically because it gives you more detail than other mediums.

If Twitter were killing newspapers: then the advertisements newspapers put on the streets, with headlines even shorter than twitter tweets: would have killed newspapers long ago. Open your average newspaper, there might be 50 stories in it. Open your average newspaper, there is a wide variety of news. Open your average magazine, are there perhaps 20 articles folded between the covers?

Why is it that short form film: that music video television channels are dying out or changing to other formats? Is it because the same music videos can be found on YouTube? Why then do television channels which show series and movies not also die out as quickly? Is it not perhaps because music videos are short and sweet? You might not go to most movies, at the cinema, but you probably watched long movies such as Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and so forth. The short and sweet movies could not hold your interest enough to keep you there.

People often speak about the meat and bones of something. Information-wise it consists of a thorough telling of what in fact has occurred. Many newspapers have become lazy over the years. Their articles are short and sweet. They have ceased to point out spelling mistakes. They pay their journalists next to nothing and think that an uneducated, illiterate journalist is the equivalent of a master of the English language. They have based their news on a foolish and idiotic audience, aiming at the lowest common denominator rather than taking a stand and in fact investigating what has actually occurred in the world.

Some say that news media has taken a different role in the world of blogs and citizen journalism: that of verifying fact and disputing fiction. However, many blogs and citizen journalists have that very integrity that media often lacks. I’m not speaking of the social media idiots many people have come to know. I am speaking instead of human beings with integrity, the same integrity that many successful news organisations used to hold to.

Even though I mostly disagree with their viewpoint: I love to read the British Guardian online. They are more likely to tell me the sort of details that really matter.

As many newspapers are introducing pay walls, many are doing so to their own destruction. If all I am getting is a summary, I might as well find a summary for free. If all I am paying for is someone who will give me the exact same view as I hold: I am unlikely to pay for that. Certainly, these type of articles might get a lot of shares. They get these shares to prove a point, but if they add nothing new to my worldview than I might as well not pay for them. In the world of Twitter I can gain the view of a celebrity or world government that interests me simply by subscribing to them on social media. If media is to play any role at what our future is to be: it can no longer simply be repeating the words of others. Partisan media and media which is merely a mouthpiece for another, might as well cease to exist, as the source can easily be accessed independently. If I am to buy a newspaper or buy access to an article, it needs to have meat and bones. It needs to provide me with a sustaining meal that I cannot find elsewhere. This is why magazines continue to flourish. This is why short form newspapers continue to die.

There used to be a mantra that if a site took more than eight seconds to load it would be seen as unworthy of reading. It was a mantra that people have a short attention span. Unfortunately, the same people who are easily distracted by butterflies and bees, are only distracted for a moment or so, and can easily find distraction elsewhere. They are unlikely to even remember a small distraction, and go on with their lives having forgot that they even clicked on a link or loaded the website in question that took less than eight seconds to load and remained in their memory for even less time. The problem with things that only temporarily take up but a moment of a person’s time, is that often there is no sustenance in these. I will probably not go to a restaurant and sit down only to eat a very small, unappetising meal all alone. If you want your website to get a lot of viewers in the short term, or your newspaper likewise: go ahead, be sensationalist, and take up people’s time for just a moment. They will forget you existed tomorrow, and will not thank you for it! If however you are a media organisation that desires to respect your readers and to give them the full picture that they desire, consider instead gaining a long-term audience by writing longer and more concise articles. This article has already hit almost 2000 words, if you did not stop reading it upon discovering that then you’re not the sort of person who only reads short works. You’re the sort of person who probably still buys magazines every now and again. You are the audience who will still pay to read news, but not simply news summaries. If newspapers want to survive the next hundred years, whether behind pay walls or physically: they need to relearn the art of the concise article and of providing meat and bones to the audience. They also need to relearn the importance of being not a mouthpiece, or a mere bulletin board for the important. People will not pay to simply read one view on a matter when they can gain the full perspective from several sources for free. If newspapers want to survive they need to start adhering again to audi alteram partem: they need to give the full picture in a concise and effective manner, which informs and entertains their readers in a respectful exercise of telling of the truth and of informed and intelligent opinion. This is far more the sort of work which an individual is likely to pay to consume. Think of the most famous books and plays in history. Think of War and Peace. Think of the Lord of the Rings. Think of the Odyssey and Iliad. Think of just how difficult it is to read Shakespeare or Pride and Prejudice!

When you’re done thinking of these things, realise that the long form is here to stay. Concise news is a return to history, a history where news was worth paying for! A history, that can sustain newspapers which are dying not because of the Internet but because they are not worth paying for anymore or any longer. Unless their articles once again were to become longer, of course.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Has immigration reform in the Republic of South Africa been motivated by hatred of foreigners?

Has immigration reform in the Republic of South Africa been motivated by hatred of foreigners?

Are the new visa requirements being placed upon foreigners intent upon entry into South Africa: a government attempt to accommodate xenophobia, or a reasonable attempt to secure our borders?

A few years ago the hunting industry were up in arms, releasing a bugle call through their accomplice, the media, in a desperate attempt to stave off South Africa’s still standing new firearms regulations. The industry claimed that the economy would lose at least a billion from its important GDP (gross domestic product) figures. The regulations went ahead nonetheless. South Africa very seldom bases its policy upon the interests of the various business or society lobbies.

With major international movies and television series being shot significantly, or largely, or exclusively in the Republic of South Africa, the entertainment industry, especially in the Western Cape, has seen a major boon. Like Costa Rica or Canada: South Africa had set itself apart as a cheap and easy place to film a major production, especially those set elsewhere. International actors could be quickly flown in and paid in full for the scenes they shot. Unlike Canada, where a good portion of actors have to be local, international companies seem to prefer to avoid the South African distinctive accent. For these filmings to continue we are told: these international companies should be able to continue fully importing their labour force, and merely using South Africa as staging ground. Perhaps then South Africans could have hundreds of thousands of jobs, feeding and serving these foreign actors. After all, international productions still do need lowly paid extras in nonspeaking roles and uncredited stagehands to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Just as was the case when the hunting industry made a call to arms: it is highly unlikely that the government will listen to the concerns of the film industry. The government has their own researchers and their own economists. It is rare for the government to rely on outsiders to make their decisions. Granted, South Africa is a participatory democracy. The government certainly must take account of the views of industry and civil society, but it is generally the case that the government goes with its own research. It is unlikely that any amount of campaigning will cause the government to about turn, even if hundreds of thousands of lowly paid jobs are lost.

America and Britain, similarly, have very strict visa restrictions. South Africa, previously known for the weakness or liberal status of its immigration laws has been ideal for international film corporations, who like to ship actors in at the last minute in accordance with a tight and dynamic schedule.

South Africa faces very few external threats that its intelligence organisations have not been able to snuff out quietly and effectively. What it also faces is status as a nation sometimes called the America of Africa. Immigrants from across the theatres of war which have overcome large parts of the continent, in hope to find sanctuary and safe harbour in a nation once only known as a harbour for ships: have been swift to latch onto low-paying jobs. They have always been quick as well to apply for government benefits that many South Africans did not know existed. Among the results has perhaps been the deep xenophobia that a plurality of South Africans have been diagnosed with. Most black South Africans according to recent surveys: have a deeply negative view of non-South-African Africans. This is especially so among those who struggle to eke out an un-lavish existence in rural areas and shantytowns. These people directly compete with refugees, and migrants seeking the betterment of their lives, from a place South Africans call ‘Africa’ or ‘Up North’.

Most of the temporary immigrants who come to South Africa to film are not from Africa but from Europe and America. Some critics have pointed out that simply applying stricter visa regulations to immigrants from Africa: would prevent the movie industry experiencing massive losses.

There is very little xenophobia among South Africans for people from anywhere but Africa. The same regulations in their laxity which have allowed the film industry to blossom: have also been a godsend for destitute refugees fleeing to South Africa.

As I have stated many times: GDP is a false indicator. Lumping all parts of a population together, and counting the wins of a small part as though they were the wins of all the population: is an artificial measure. Likewise: jobs which are lost are sometimes somehow replaced with better jobs.

It is easier for us who do not compete with foreigners for low-paying entry-level jobs: to condemn the xenophobia of those who do, and it is those who are best off in the economy who have the least proportional demographic of xenophobic individuals. We might well compete with foreigners on an international level. However, competition relates to something where one person bests another. That is to say that the person who is better at a thing or can do it cheaper succeeds over another who is less of an asset to those who consume the services of these individuals, while the less efficient, less cost saving or less effective competitor fails. The South African government did not step in to save the textile industry, when it allowed cheap imports from China and similar massive job losses were incurred. The government did not step in to save the hunting industry and the sports weaponry industry when it introduced new gun regulations.

South Africa is struck by a unique dilemma: to compete with other destinations for the filming of international media productions: these productions must hire foreign staff who are brought in through easy visas. Competition will always exist for South Africa. South Africans cannot do the jobs of these foreigners to the satisfaction of the foreign film companies. These visa restrictions make it harder for these productions to hire foreigners. As a result of which the industry believes it will fail. The industry does not believe that South Africans could do the same job as these foreigners do. It is therefore begging the government to allow foreigners to take jobs in South Africa: because it does not believe that if South Africans had to be relied upon as the labour pool for these organisations: that the industry could compete with other international destinations.

The industry has a very free-market approach as opposed to the protectionism that a visa affords. Ultimately a visa is almost always a protectionist measure. A government does not desire its own citizens to have to compete with the best in the world. As a result such a country becomes less competitive on the global scale and less attractive to business.

It is highly likely that the government is seeking to combat things such as human trafficking, drug smuggling, and many other criminal enterprises. It is equally likely that the government desires at least some of the roles of productions filmed in South Africa to be removed from foreigners who are brought in and that the desire of those in power is for these jobs to be placed in South African laps.

The argument of industry is ultimately this: international productions would not want to film in South Africa if they were forced to use South African actors. The visa regulations are likely largely in response to the massive rise in xenophobic attacks across South Africa. When lives are at stake in the mind of the government, a couple of job losses usually take a secondary position of importance. Whether the easy influx of foreigners and deeply liberal immigration laws of South Africa are the reason for the xenophobic attacks, or whether an alleged culture of violence and a deficit in the devotion of resources to security forces and to those engaged in policing are to blame: the new visa requirements no doubt will be welcomed most gleefully among the poorer parts of South Africa who have seen jobs they once made a living out of being taken by desperate foreigners who would do their job for far less.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Discovering Truth without losing trust. A guide to conducting a sensitive interview.

Who will this article be of use to?

This article might be of some use to individuals engaging in fact finding, to journalists desiring to gain the truth out of an interviewee, to lawyers who are interviewing their own client or a potential witness, to people who desire to know how to interview or interrogate another individual in order to find the truth in a manner that is not rude or too cumbersome.

How to read this article to gain what is most useful to you? This article is written from the perspective of a lawyer interviewing their client or a potential witness, the second part relates to signs of falsehood or problems, while the first part of this article consists of advice on how to conduct an interview so as to enable the second part to be of use. Parts of this article are geared more towards the law, but can be easily adapted in substance or spirit to use in other professions. What is essential in the first part is how to take positive steps to avoid preventing the second part from being nullified by a lack of good interviewing in the first part. If you are not physically interviewing a person then the procedural steps to assist such would be of little use. In that case skip to the second part of this article below.

Why did I write this article?

I wrote this article to assist people who desire to effectively, courteously and efficiently enquire of the truth from another individual. It is designed to assist the person to gain specific clarity as well as some indication as to the real world value of what has been communicated to them verbally and nonverbally.

An introduction.

One of the first things they teach you at law school is not to confuse the law with your own moral standards. Saying that something is terrible or immoral does not get you marks in legal essays. I shall start with how you should not interview a client.

The origin of the modern lawyer in South Africa is not what you might think. In Great Britain matters were settled by duels to the death. At some stage champions were permitted. People were hired to fight duels for other people. Gradually the fighting became words. The words became arguments. The arguments became opening and closing statements mixed amongst the interviewing of relevant witnesses. A lawyer is a practical thing: they are an expert in fighting with the words. Their advice on whether or not an argument might result in victory or defeat is essential to a client. Like a good translator a good lawyer tells the truth and then advises a client on their best and other options based on the truth. The service you go to a lawyer for is remarkably different from the service you go to a barman or a psychologist for. It is also remarkably different from the service you go to a friend for and the service you go to a priest or pastor for. Lawyers used to be paid by the word: now lawyers tend to be paid by the hour or by the activity they engage in or by their results. When writing an essay for a lecturer an ordinary person might waffle. The art of interviewing a client consists of getting exactly what is needed from the client and nothing less than that while not wasting the client's time. While the interview of a client to gain instructions should by no means put off the client, it should certainly gain the facts as they actually are in order to assist the client and not hinder them. There is a fine line which legal practitioners must walk: between a good bedside manner which is appealing to a client and good for business, and the necessity of gaining information which will be of use to a client. Both of these aspects are essential and are not disparate but can be made to become complimentary. I often found that a client appeared to me, to be saying one thing until I properly interviewed them, and it is only upon this proper interview that the truth in such a case sometimes emerges. Clients also might not realise that they are protected by both legal privilege and confidentiality: it often takes proper interviewing skills to discover the real situation on the ground, which the opponent would certainly bring up in court, but which can be dealt with properly if the legal practitioner is properly informed.

Empathy can be useful, but too much empathy can prevent the truth from coming out and leave the client disenchanted and without a solution to their problem.

When I worked in the family law and divorce unit at the University of the Witwatersrand Law Clinic, I would always try to bring tissues with me for the client. I would also be certain to treat my client with human dignity. This is the useful type of empathy.

There is a different type of empathy that lawyers sometimes display. They might listen to the client go on and on about a story saying that something is 'terrible': all the while not understanding at all what the client's actual problem is.

An effective lawyer should ask incisive questions, questions which discover the truth of what the client intends to convey. You could well listen to your client speaking for half an hour about the problem while charging them all the while for the time: as they remain no closer to solving their problem. Make no mistake I advocate therapy and assistance for a client should they require it: but a lawyer is not a psychologist. Yes, have empathy. Yes, do not judge a client harshly. However, what a client goes to a lawyer for is not a shoulder to cry upon: it is a champion to fight a battle or a wise guide to assist them on the path forward.

Questioning a client and clarifying what they are saying while narrowing down on what their actual legal problem is and whether you can assist them with it can save both your time and their time. If you do not get the full story from the client it could be very embarrassing on the witness stand for both you and your client who might subsequently face perjury charges. The job of a lawyer is to find the truth and then advise their client as best as they can based upon this finding of truth. Have empathy, but make sure that you ask direct questions of your client which have direct answers. If your only words to your client are 'go on' or 'that is terrible' then your client could get the same service for free from their local barman. A client comes to a lawyer for legal advice that is what they expect. There are many things which you would tell your doctor which you would not tell any other individual. If your doctor asks you personal questions you are liable to give honest answers because these questions are necessary for them to assist you. Yes, a doctor with a good bedside manner is a good thing: yet that bedside manner should not get in the way of them healing you. This is the same fine line that lawyers must walk.

Lawyers are creatures of instruction.

Lawyers are creatures of instruction. If I sit across from a client and hear their story and write up their instructions about what the predicament is, there is a reason why they came to me. A person goes to a lawyer for advice and assistance. What type of advice am I to give them?

Some people might look at their client and tell them that they would be stupid to follow a certain path. Such a practitioner might well inform clients that they are making a major mistake and to follow their advice, shouting the client down like an angry father.

A better approach might be to inform the client of all the practical options including their nonlegal options such as mediation or dropping the matter entirely. The practitioner might then inform the client of the consequences which might come about from each of the actions and the legal principles which might govern their path forward. It would be advisable to inform a client both of the legal and the practical consequences of whatever path forward they choose. The difference between the first and the second approach is that in the first approach it is the lawyer who is instructing the client. In the second scenario the client is instructing the lawyer in an informed manner. It is the job of a lawyer to guide a client, not to parent a client. Clients have parents just as they have barmen, psychologists, and other professionals who are best able to assist the client in that manner. The lawyer is merely a guide, it is the client who determines their own path forward. A lawyer can always recuse himself from a client at an early stage if they believe it would be inadvisable to take the case further. The advantage of advising a client of the different options is that it covers a lawyer in the event that the client subsequently decides to litigate against them. If a lawyer believes the client is making the wrong decision they can inform them of this quietly and respectfully by informing them of the consequences of the decision and the likely outcomes: both verbally and in writing. In that event then the client if they go ahead with an ill-advised course, cannot say that the lawyer did not inform them of the consequences of their actions. There is a vast difference between informing a client of the consequences of their actions and making decisions for a client in contrast to the will of the client. The lawyer is a creature of instruction. A lawyer is a servant of the client. Yes, a lawyer is also an officer of the court and is bound by the ethics of the profession. The case is the client's case not the lawyer's case.

Thou shalt not deceive the court.

It is not entirely rare in South Africa that a client might bring a problem to a lawyer for the enforcement of something unlawful. A lawyer is an officer of the court. A lawyer may not deceive the court. If there is no legal solution to a client's problem the best approach is to inform the client of this, and why this is the case. Sometimes then a nonlegal solution might emerge to assist the client. If the client is in an illegal relationship it might be possible for the client to leave that relationship. Mediation might assist a problem where the law cannot enforce something.

However, assisting a client in deceiving the court is not only risky and unethical and patently illegal: it also prevents other lawful solutions to a problem from being pursued. The appropriate dispute resolution mantra has caught much ground in South Africa lately. Where there is a potent solution to a problem that does not waste the time of the court: a client should be made aware of this.
Lawyers have been punished by the courts for the action of taking matters which should have been mediated before a judge.


You're an officer of the courts before anything else.

Every now and then a client emerges, who believes that threatening a legal practitioner will get what they desire. Lawyers are protected by international law precisely because so many lawyers are executed or injured by untoward parties. If a client is unsatisfied with your advice then in that event the best approach is simply to be polite to them and cordial, and to advise them as any other clients might be advised. If they choose to leave as you are unwilling to compromise your integrity, politely allow them to do so. In addition it might be best to write the client a written version of your advice in case they subsequently become ill-advisedly determined to litigate against you.

There are also clients who might consider your good legal advice to not assist them in their cause, who might inform you that you have not assisted them afterwards: where there's nothing that you as a lawyer can do to assist them. The best approach is to be polite to the client, to wish them well on their way and to cover yourself in the event of litigation, by giving the client a written form of your opinion if necessary.

I stated that the first part of this work would focus on what not to do with the client. While I certainly stated what you should do with the client also: the purpose was to display the type of behaviours which would be inadvisable to engage in.

The second part of this work is about truth finding. It is essential in interviewing your own clients and witnesses that you discover what the truth actually is. A good understanding of the real world is a good start in discovering this. How far can a person see at night with perfect vision when an event occurred 100 feet away? What is the likely response of a person to another individual pulling a gun on them? How is a person likely to act after a trauma has occurred? How likely is an event to have occurred? These are all points upon which additional questioning might be necessary. If something does not feel right to you: it is often that your subconscious mind has discovered a hole in testimony. Discovering whether or not something might be a falsehood: does not mean for certain that it is a falsehood. For instance: pigs fly, they do: in the cargo holds of aeroplanes. What is essential is that if something comes up which might be a cue to your discovering a relevant deception: that an additional effort is placed on a particular point in order to wring out the truth of the matter. It is always advisable to ask enough questions and to clarify enough in order to gain a good mental picture of the events which might have taken place. It is also essential to ask what did not happen, and other such questions which a truthful person might easily be able to answer. Remember to trust your gut instinct: the gut instinct is often the working of experience and your picking up upon subconscious cues that something is not right.

Micro-expressions. There are only between 20 and 30 expressions which the human face is capable of making. You may observe images of these expressions from various studies. There are less than 10 simple expressions such as anger or contempt, and the combination of these universal expressions: such as surprised and angry or surprised and scared or surprised and happy: make up a mere 20 to 30 expressions. While most human beings have a good control of their own expression of emotion: these expressions nonetheless often appear for split seconds when a person is deceiving another as to their emotions. With practice an individual can catch micro-expressions. If a person should be feeling contempt for you but they are feeling anger at you: if a person should be feeling love for you but they are feeling contempt for you: or for another individual: this might go across their face for a moment at a time: and it certainly is an important cue to question the individual more on the aspect that they are speaking upon.

Consistency of a story. There's nothing more consistent than a madman's delusion. If he says that everyone is out to get him and you say: why don't we ask them if they are out to get you: he shall say that people in a conspiracy will generally not admit to the conspiracy. I read this logic problem years ago in the works of Chesterton. Looking for an internal consistency in a thing can certainly be helpful but it can also be distracting. If something is internally consistent it does not mean that it is true. However, there is a different type of consistency: whether something survives becoming big. For instance: why would these individuals have a conspiracy against the madman: that is to say how did this come about and to what purpose. Things such as motive and opportunity and the means to perform an action might certainly discount a false but consistent story. The desire of liars to tell consistent stories certainly assists in another matter further on, and getting a liar to tell the story in such a way that inconsistencies emerge certainly can be advantageous. It is the big consistency of a statement: whether it holds up in the real world that determines whether it is simply a false model of the world or the real thing that is being described.

Falsehood is generated in a different part of the brain than truth is. It also requires more mental energy than simply telling the truth. For some reason human beings do not like lying. A person is more likely to equivocate or avoid a question than lie. Often a liar might therefore take the approach of attacking the person who is attempting to discover the truth. They might also attempt to implicate someone else or else otherwise throw an unprepared or naive person off their track and onto a false track created for their own purposes. This approach is similar to the approach used by military forces to avoid tracking parties sent to discover their position: a false trail is set out quite clearly, so clearly an uninformed person might follow it into an ambush. Picking up the real trail sometimes requires more skill, experience and additional effort. A liar might also tell the truth in such a way that they know they will not be believed. This false sign of falsehood is intentional and there to mislead. When a person does lie it often causes emotions of guilt, sadness, powerlessness, shame, or other such negative responses within the liar. Lie detector tests are designed to detect fear via the autonomous systems of the human body. Not every liar experiences negative emotions as a result of their lie. Some liars might feel contempt, display superiority, or otherwise enjoy telling a lie. There are two approaches to lying which are generally adopted by liars: one which sees it as a last resort, as something necessary in order to avoid some evil or gain some good when honesty would not gain such a result. Such a person might feel weak in their lying. They might consider themselves to have been forced to resort to force. Such a person would be experiencing negative emotions. In contrast a liar might enjoy lying, they might take great glee out of misleading and manipulating other individuals. Such a liar might in fact unintentionally show positive emotions that should not be present or lack of negative emotions where these should be present.

While this is only a small model of the world and I am told it would not be comprehensive for psychological purposes: it is useful to turn emotions into mathematical models. Happiness objectively speaking should refer to a gain while sadness should refer to a loss. Fear should refer to the possibility of a loss or a lost opportunity while anger could well be a response to either loss or fear of loss: when an individual believes another is responsible for this situation. Frustration in contrast might refer to a situation similar to anger but where the other individual is not considered guilty but simply an obstacle. When an individual tells a story and their emotions do not match with what objectively should be there: this might be a sign that additional interrogation of a witness or additional instruction taking from a client is required. These sorts of emotions not only appear in speech and body language but additionally they also appear on the face of an individual by their micro-expressions in many cases.

If you watch movies on television you might notice that characters are separated by physical obstacles when they are at odds. A character who is weak might be portrayed as shorter. This type of visualisation plays upon basic human animal psychology. People have a desire subconsciously to separate themselves from their enemies and to associate themselves with those whom they like. This probably comes all the way from primitive man who had to avoid his predators and competitors, and gain advantage from his allies, and sought to bring himself closer to his prey items. A person who is lying might attempt to distance himself from the truth finder at points where they lie. They might attempt to avert their gaze, or place a physical object between them and the truth finder, or separate them from their self via the gestures of their hands. Expressions might also appear on the face of a liar at this point. A high-pitched voice has been known to be associated with the loss of control, while a voice which goes below its ordinary pitch suggests that an individual is attempting to keep control of their self. Again looking at basic psychology of human beings and animals: a liar is the enemy of the truth finder as far as the liar is concerned. They might very well be lying for the sake of the truth finder. However, their voice might betray this evolutionary response in as much as the placing of an object or averting of eye contact can be a cue as to falsehood in some instances. Direct eye contact suggests a lack of a barrier between two individuals. Language also picks up on this basic psychology. If someone is an enemy of yours you might refer to a task you did together as a task done by 'enemy and I' rather than as a task done by 'we' or 'us.'

Parts of speech are also vital in detecting a lie.
A truth teller is more likely to refer to himself or herself in a sentence. A truth teller is more likely to use the word 'I' or the word 'me.' The liar is more likely to refer to others than themselves. A truth teller might say that they locked the door. A liar however is more likely to distance themselves from their own actions. The liar might say the door appeared locked or the door was locked. The liar therefore is not in their false story which makes the liar feel more comfortable about telling the lie. If an individual equivocates or is vague it might be a sign that the equivocation itself or the vagueness itself is truthful but that there is more to the story which they desire to hide from the truth finder. If an individual attempts to divert attention such as via an intentional approach of answering a question via another question or by attempting to alter the topic or through avoidance or attack this might be an indication of deception. A liar not only attempts to distance themselves from the false story they are informing you of, they are also more likely to express negative emotions in the telling of their story in order to mask their own negative response to their own act of lying whether consciously or subconsciously, this can be discovered through the use of negative adjectives in the description of how an individual was feeling in a moment.

The tense in which a story is told can also be an indicator of deception. The part of the brain which relates to memory when accessed: usually comes to be expressed in the past tense. The part of the brain which relates to deception: however operates in the present tense. A person who is engaging in falsehood might tell a story all in the past tense until such points where they are telling a falsehood. A person also might accidentally through their use of the past tense reveal their belief that a missing person is in fact dead. Watching carefully and at all relevant times for the tense in which an individual person explain something in can often reveal a point which requires more interrogation or better instructions in, in order to avoid embarrassment at trial. A liar is also more likely to use simpler sentence structure: the lie itself takes up a certain degree of mental acuity which is then not available for the use of more complex sentences. For instance a liar is more likely to use basic action words such as 'walk' or 'go' or 'run' and less likely to use words such as traverse, or sentences such as 'I missed the bus and thus had to proceed on foot.' A truth teller is more likely to inform you of what did not happen. Words such as 'but' or 'however' which relate to what did not occur are far more likely to be used by a truth teller. For instance: 'I took Fourth Street rather than Fifth Street because there was a traffic jam on Fifth Street!' It is more difficult to lie about what did not happen than to lie about what did happen. The lie by its very definition is a false small model of the world. The lie might be very consistent within itself by the ingenuity of the lie teller. A lie or falsehood however is small by its very definition because it is a model of the world rather than a retelling of actual events within the real world. It is because of the vast brainpower demanded to create such a small model of the world with consistency: that liars sometimes contradict themselves and use simpler language and simpler stories. The mere consistency of the lie can sometimes reveal it to a focused truth finder. The liar needs to remember their lie and therefore requires a degree of consistency and simplicity in their story. A lie therefore often involves a scarcity of important detail. A truth teller might relay a full inventory of their senses. They might refer to the smell of something and the taste of something, the colour of something, the size of something and so forth. The liar has to be careful in how much detail they give. Practised liars might intentionally give detail in order to appear not to be working off a false model of the world. The false truth in such a case can often be brought to contradict itself through intelligent and thoughtful interrogation or gathering of instructions. As most people do not have perfect memories, their lies are often something which can be dug out and discovered.

Human beings often lie throughout the day. A lawyer is bound by their ethics to be a truth teller. A witness on the stand is likewise is bound to tell the truth. It is not a favour to a client to allow them to get away with the lie to you only to find that your opponent on the stand has succeeded in causing your client to visibly perjure themselves. It is essential that a lawyer discovers what the actual truth is. A proper but respectful interview of a client as to the facts is therefore essential. Awareness of signs of falsehood, and proper interviewing skills are an important part of the lawyer's profession. It is better to be prepared for bad news and to be able to better control the narrative, than to be caught surprised in cross-examination.

I find it essential to know the type of subject which emerges in a specific type of case. There are certain types of questions which you are required to know the answers to: to proceed with a specific type of case. Euphemism can at times be essential, but it can also create false impressions in the mind of the practitioner. Bedside manner is essential, but if it prevents proper fact-finding: it is not a service to the client but a hindrance to their cause.

These are just some of the techniques I use to come to the truth of a situation. The first part referred largely to the type of interview approach and bedside manner which is or is not acceptable if you desire to properly gain instructions which will be useful moving forward. The second type referred to fact-finding and discovering the truth, it is better that a client to be embarrassed in front of you than in front of the entire world on the witness stand. A non-judgemental but intelligent and honest attitude when you have discovered a falsehood the client has revealed to you could go a long way in preventing the breakdown of a relationship between you and your client.

In the information technology business in most cases what a client desires and what the client is delivered is not congruent. In law the same could also happen if a client is not properly interviewed. Clarification is essential, and discovering facts relevant to the case which need to be dealt with in a different way than other facts: is essential. It is better that your client admit to some weakness to you than have it discovered on the witness stand and your client be exposed to an opponent and possible jail time.


Parts of speech such as 'his' or 'her' or their can also cause a lot of problems.

Whenever an individual is speaking about an issue it is important to determine what objects are involved, what people are involved, and what part each person and each object plays specifically and separately from all other objects and people involved. While parts of speech such as 'he' and 'she' do in fact assist in detecting falsehood, it can be very necessary to ask a client to clarify. For instance: a client might say that a person known as 'he,' shot another individual. One might assume that he is a specific individual, it is advisable however to clarify who that individual is and how they relate to the events and to the client in question. If the client has personal animosity towards the person in question and a reason to lie on the stand: it could well destroy your case against that individual.

If something a client says does not make sense make sure to ask more about it.

If a person's story is not consistent this is often because they are attempting to hide something or brush over it: the thing they are attempting to hide may or may not be as bad as you think it is, but it is essential to discover what this thing is as it might have a bearing on the moving forward of the case.

When interviewing a client it is of great importance to not only get their full contact details and to verify these details with the client, but to get alternative contact details for the client, and the details of an individual they trust who can get hold of them if they are not available. It is also essential to gather the right information for pleadings, to satisfy statute, to satisfy the rules of court, and to satisfy the government statistics office. I find it especially useful to ask yourself the question: does what my client is saying make sense? If it does not make sense to you, you cannot expect to make sense to the court.

While paying due accord to the value of bedside manner in interviewing a client or a witness, it is important to make sure that the information gleaned is not only accurate but reliable and useful in further pursuing the matter with the client.

Lawyers might often simply make a summary of what they believe the client was saying to them. In some ways this is useful, but only if the summary is made in addition to extensive word for word notes. Systems such as Teeline shorthand notation, good typing skills, and the use of good interviewing skills can allow the making of a good record of exactly what the client actually said which can then be reviewed and investigated to ensure the client is served to the best of your abilities. A summary accompanying this would only be an asset adding to it, but the original instructions which the client actually gave might contain vital information that a summary missed altogether to the detriment of the client's case.

At all times a lawyer must realise that they are the servant and the tool of their clients: there is not a place for their own ego but only a place for their own integrity in dealing with a client. Staying objective on a matter rests upon this principle.

I hope that this article has been useful to you. It could be useful both to a practitioner of the law and to anyone hoping to discover the truth. An interview with a client needs to be a combination of truth finding and good manners and good courtesy and etiquette.

Thank you very much for reading this article. I hope it assists as a reference work for you in your pursuit of better interviewing clients and witnesses and engaging in fact-finding. These techniques are methods I've used both in law and in journalism. In law they are all the more important: the consequences of making a mistake can end your career for ever.

About the author and disclaimer.

At present I am not a practising attorney, nor am I a practising advocate. In accordance with South African definitions of what the lawyer is: I am a lawyer. A lawyer is everything from a paralegal to a judge, it refers to anyone who engages in providing legal services within the law. My time at the Witwatersrand University Law Clinic was as a student counsellor under the supervision of an admitted attorney. This entailed interviewing clients, writing documents and pleadings, and relaying advice to clients and so forth but while under the watchful eye of an admitted attorney. My experience of interviewing clients at present is mainly gained from journalism and from my time at the University of the Witwatersrand Law Clinic over a period of about a year and additionally of three weeks as part of compulsory practical coursework subsequent to my graduation, as a compulsory part of the Leadership and Development programme of the Law Society which replaces a year of articles with six months of coursework and exams. I took this position at the University of the Witwatersrand Law Clinic essentially twice: one day per week for about a year as part of a compulsory subject in my final year at Wits and subsequent to this I took the same position at the Witwatersrand University Law Clinic for a much shorter second time as part of a course requirement when I was completing the statutory postgraduate six-month practical legal training course at the Law Society. I hope to write the board exams in a month or two. Nothing I've stated is legal advice, nor is it advice on the ethics of the profession. It is simply the way in which I believe an interview should best be completed. Nothing I have said is to compare myself to other lawyers or individuals practising any type of legal service. I do not state that I'm better or worse than any other legal practitioner, I am merely relaying methods which I believe might well be effective in the correct circumstances. I do not guarantee that these methods are effective or the best course of action. I do not accept liability for harm incurred in following the above methods. This article should not be considered to encompass all aspects of an interview and is merely meant to add to your own extensive interviewing knowledge. External verification methods are still an important aspect of verification of witness statements.





Thursday, 26 June 2014

Crowdsource services at your peril.

We have emerged from a world of the Venetian masked ball, to our current world where some people wear masks with their own face upon the mask. Simply because some people act in a trustworthy manner online and appear to have their own face upon the mask, does not mean that the same characters who previously used anonymity do not use the anonymity of a false identity to engage in the same activities.


AirBnB, and other applications are crowdsourcing all things from accommodation to lift clubs. To many this is a new era in social media, founded upon trust, transparency and open honesty.

The core of this entire movement however comes down to one word: that word is trust. People apparently use their real identities and thus are accountable.

Unfortunately in many cases there still exists a world of trolls, sociopaths, false profiles, criminals masquerading and other such things online. If credit card details are not safe, then systems using banking details to verify a person are not safe. If identity numbers or social security codes are not safe, nor are systems which use these to identify a person. As it is most systems use aspects such as a person's Facebook account to verify a person. It is very easy to set up a fake Facebook, and just as easy to populate it with false friends. In fact, studies show just that: a massive portion of Facebook accounts are set up by cybercriminals and untoward characters. Another important detail is that many people use weak passwords. Often genuine social media accounts are compromised and then used for nefarious activities.

We have emerged from a world of the Venetian masked ball, to our current world where some people wear masks with their own face upon the mask. Simply because some people act in a trustworthy manner online and appear to have their own face upon the mask, does not mean that the same characters who previously used anonymity do not use the anonymity of a false identity to engage in the same activities.

It is the same people who are honest and used anonymity as a protection who have come out of the woodwork and have decided to utilise their own birth names. The criminals, trolls and other undesirables have not determined to follow the same path necessarily. I certainly am not engaging in activities such as air B&B. The Internet remains a wild wild West: crime only continues to increase online. Such a movement comes down to one word: and that sole word is trust. Trustworthiness is an entirely different matter.

If companies hire individuals to write good reviews of their products online, and bad reviews of their opposing forces: why would criminals not do likewise? Due to a false sense of security individuals are opening up their homes and motorvehicles to complete strangers. Even relatively honest people steal towels from hotel bathrooms, or run off with scented shampoos: this is why hotels only offer tiny shampoo bottles. Gated communities create a similar false sense of security, which is why crime statistics show these to be high crime areas, criminals simply buy a house within the community or rent it and suddenly have access to unknowing victims. Holidaymakers have a similar false sense of security and are thus favourite targets for criminals.

Just as classifieds are used to post fake job openings to facilitate rape and murder, these other movements are inviting to criminal psyches.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Justin Bieber supports KKK in video obtained by The Sun.

One Less Lonely Girl... has had a remix, by its creator Justin Bieber, in which he changes the lyrics to 'One Less Lonely N@$$!#', and in which video he also suggests he would like to join the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group.

The Canadian born singer is often labelled a punk, and is thought to often emulate the gangster culture often associated with so-called 'African American' rap music artists in his adoptive nation, the United States.

The ungrateful brat's mentor is a black man, and his former girlfriend is of mixed white and Latin American race. Justin Bieber has also been involved in alleged reckless driving, drinking, drug use, and multiple assaults on people in his proximity.

The punk singer just recently apologised for another racist video in which he used the same word and where he graphically fantasized about a black person running for their life away from a chain saw, something he found hilarious. His black fans and friends have come out strongly in support of Justin Bieber, perhaps showing just how little the Civil Rights Movement has come to mean to many in his adopted country, The United States. A cookery show host was recently dismissed for using a similar word decades ago, it is unlikely anything whatsoever will happen to Justin Bieber, who seems quite impervious to the rules governing ordinary men.

Source: The Sun 'Watch Bieber’s sick Ku Klux Klan N-word vid ' by RICHARD WHITE, Chief Showbiz Reporter at 12:47PM BST 05 Jun 2014

Why I myself would really and truly not want to work at Google at any future point.

Maybe it is because I am African, but to me when I burn the midnight oil... when I work, that is what I want to be doing. I would rather have that money spent on my future, my career development, or tools to better assist me to do my job.


I love to read business articles on the LinkedIn network. I really enjoy to read about all the sort of things executives do to improve how their business works and to advance their own career. What I find strange is the obsession certain groups of people have with Google, as though they were some kind of perfect employer, rather than one with a few gimmicks that distract from the sort of benefits an individual might better enjoy in the long run.

I certainly would not want to work at Google, and not simply because I am in law and journalism. My reason is simple enough: all of these 'great things' Google employees get to access are in their very essence like a politician's promise.

Free food? I would rather make more money. I could then eat better gourmet food elsewhere.

Sleep at work? No thanks, I would rather take a nap at home.

If you truly desire to use money on resources to aim at my motivation: You can put that extra bit on my pay cheque thank you, or better yet on the time it takes to give extensive feedback on my performance review. That way I can do my job even better and grow as a human person.


Such an approach of respecting employees as adults truly improves their actual position in the world. Bean bags at a work place do not.

We could even spend it on better technology and training to make me even better at my job.

Maybe it is because I am African, but to me when I burn the midnight oil... when I work, that is what I want to be doing. I would rather have that money spent on my future, my career development, or tools to better assist me to do my job.

All of these sorts of ideas about playful perks at work, seem to confuse work and play. If I am at work I want to be at work. Sure... have a nice coffee machine, but I would rather be doing something important and gaining something important than be catered to as though I were in kindergarten.

Research discovers: The perfect way to hold a hamburger, and not spill a single drop of sauce!



The Japanese are picky eaters. They eat strange and exotic foods such as raw fish, with unheard of methods of cutlery utilization. They are also the source of four months of research into how to eat the ultimate American food: The Hamburger, without resorting to American television's table manners.

Firstly take a look at your burger. What I usually do prior cutting it with knife and fork is push down on the bun to make it more like a sandwich. The Japanese say nothing of it, but I do think it will help stabilise the meal a bit. I pushed down on my burger as always, but instead of cutting it and eating via cutlery, I attempted to follow the method that follows. I am pleased to say my attempt was met only with success.

Onto the Japanese recipe:

Put your pinkie and thumb of each hand, on both sides below the meat sandwich / meat in a bun. You will note that in doing so you have created a stable platform for the foodstuff to rest upon. To prevent an avalanche on the top part of the meal, place all three remaining fingers of each hand like a bear trap over the top of the burger. All sides have adequate pressure, and now you are good for the eating. Place the food in your mouth while maintaining your human bear trap. Bite down and continue to eat. You will be amazed to have not spilt at all (one hopes).

I attempted this great method today, and I am glad to state that not a drop of sauce left the burger once I had it in this clasp. A horrible meal to eat, harking back to the days when mankind ate raw meat, has thus been converted into a civilised meal... thanks to research by people who eat raw meat.

You might thank me later. Try this method. It really does create great joy.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Ukrainian protesters armed with Molotov cocktails gunned down by soldiers in Ukraine's South East.

Both sides agree that at least 3 people have lost their lives. Both agree that all of these victims of the unrest, were pro-Russian in their outlook.

The Ukrainian government calls these people attackers, claiming they attempted to storm a military base. The pro-Russian citizen journalists however say that the crowd had merely approached the base and asked the soldiers to defect, rallying towards the base without firearms, but with words, and ordinary protest behaviour in hopes of convincing the soldiers to abandon their posts. This type of peaceful approaching of bases makes sense, as many soldiers stationed in the South and East are from those areas under government rules, and are likely sympathetic or empathetic to protest demands. Some Western Reports put the crowd at 300, and reports have about 5 dozen arrests, none of which match a dialogue of a separatist attack.

Russia's RT news service says that local media report that some of the pro-Russian crowd had been armed with Molotov cocktails, the same sort of weapon that the current leaders in Kiev got into power through.

13 people were also Injured, according to Kiev's Interior Ministry. It would appear they mean to say all 13 are pro-Russian activists. While uncertain that as many as 13 people were injured, the pro-Russian citizen journalists have also claimed that the injuries that happened were on the pro-Russian side.



Putting this together, if the Pro-Russians had stormed the base in an attack, surely some Ukrainian soldiers would have been hurt, especially if as the Ukrainian new leaders would have us think: the Pro-Russians were Russian special forces, among the best in the world. Instead, what both sides seem to agree about is that the Pro-Russians did approach the base, and only pro-Russians were killed and injured.



This story is similar to one Yesterday, where the Ukrainian New Leaders' Defence Ministry claimed that 6 Armoured Personnel Carriers or APCs had been captured, seized by force by the Pro-Russians, who they were sent to quell as 'terrorists', for doing just as the Maiden Protesters had in Kiev and taking over government buildings. The pro-Russian citizen journalists in comparison have claimed the soldiers manning the APCs, had laid down their weapons, handing their vehicles peacefully over to protesters. Reports later that day have women and children being photographed around the vehicles. It seems highly unlikely that the Pro-Russians could have surprised and forced out 6 APC units without any casualties or reports of a fire fight, if this were a capturing by force.



Also, the Pro-Russians in the East and South East hardly said much of a word that anyone might have noticed before the Maiden riots in Kiev ousted the democratically elected President of Ukraine, and saw him put on the new leader's wanted list as a criminal. Likewise, protesters in the east are called 'terrorists', and the West seems to support use of force against them: a far cry from its position in almost every other recent conflict. Is it not possible, as Christian Science Monitor found, that there is very little support for Separatism among the people in the East and South East, and even among the Pro-Russians. Is it not possible, that this is merely what they see as the safest way to protest against an unelected government, which has attempted to ban the language all business is done in: Russian (The new leaders' President vetoed a bill that the new leaders' parliament voted for: banning Russian). Is it not possible that these pro-Russian ethnic and national Ukrainians, are merely worried about the events in Kiev, and are thus ordinary voices of dissent, voices which are being silenced by force of death?









Thursday, 27 March 2014

At least ten tigers killed, dismembered, for entertainment at private parties for Chinese rich, officials.

Nouvel Observateur reports the sad news. The news of yet another massacre.



A video has emerged, of a prisoner in a cramped cage, undergoing electroshock, and then being butchered. This tiger in the clandestine photography, is far from unique.

It is as though the world has jumped back to the age when the Roman emperor lit Christians on fire to light up his parties for the rich and famous. Chinese officials and the rich attend private events, to watch tigers massacred, mutilated, and then to buy the bodily remains such as bones, making sure the tiger was alive before they saw the medicine beast killed for their pleasure.

It is part entertainment, part a way to show off status and monetary position. The tigers are abused and killed, and the rich whether for superstition or for a show of grandeur, attend, and then are sure to buy the animal fetishes as medicine, though China Daily says in simplified Han Chinese, that the inspection itself is akin to a procedural formality for smugglers, the fetishes were already assigned to buyers well in advance.

The butchery parties are set up at plantations, in the woods or even in houses, China Daily reports in Chinese.

The combination of entertainment and superstition, particularly were hard hitting for French journalists. The slaughter of the animals alone was hardly the end of it.

'At least a dozen tigers were killed in a southern city of China, at private parties bringing together local officials and wealthy businessmen, the Chinese press reported, at the end of March.

'The beasts were then skinned and their fur, meat and their bones sold at exorbitant prices, specifies the newspaper "Nanfang", controlled by the Communist Party of Guangdong Province

'According to the newspaper, the beasts were killed in front of a public official and community leaders, proud to display their wealth.

'"The tigers were probably anesthetized during transport. But buyers ensured they were alive before their being put to death," said an anonymous source quoted by the newspaper.

'Despite official bans, there is a persistent demand in China for tiger products (bones, claws, whiskers, penis ..) [...]

'This fuels the poaching of this feline that has always been associated with high status in Chinese history and mythology.'

(Le Nouvel Observateur | 'CHINE. Des tigres tués et dépecés en guise de divertissement' at 27-03-2014 16h05 by staff and AFP)


The Nangfan communist paper continues the story:

'One of the suspects jumped from a building to his death while trying to flee. The police retrieved a number of weapons used to capture the tigers, tiger goods to be sold on the black market, and the tiger’s carcass, Yangcheng Daily reports on Tuesday.

'According to Zhanjiang Police, the 15 suspects are mainly from Baisha County, Leizhou; while the 16th suspect, who jumped to his death was from Shentang County. In total, 10 tigers were killed.

'In recent years, tiger meat and tiger baijiu have become quite popular in Leizhou, and can fetch a hefty price. Although unconfirmed, it is suspected that the tigers were smuggled into China from Vietnam. Typically, smugglers find buyers for the meat or bones before they smuggle the tigers from Vietnam. Occasionally, they make the trip to Vietnam and then quickly flee after the sale is complete. Tigers are slaughtered in a variety of places to avoid being caught by the police: in the woods, banana fields, or houses.'

(The Nangfan | 'POLICE BUST TIGER SMUGGLING RING IN WESTERN GUANGDONG' at 03/20/2014 1:00 pm by staff)

See also: SACNS version of this same article: At least ten tigers killed, dismembered, for entertainment at private parties for Chinese rich, officials.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Oscar Pistorius will not be acquitted, that isn't his team's strategy anyway.

Oscar Pistorius shot at a door either knowing or having the duty to know that someone might be hit and killed by his bullets. Whether it is a robber or Reeva behind the door is irrelevant: the Error in Objecto rule, where someone intends to murder A, but accidentally murders B, still results in a murder conviction. Furthermore, aberratio ictus or missing blow theory cannot negate guilt if the wrong target is hit with intention to murder another target: but this sister of Error in Objecto, would not apply here, as it is not a case of the wrong target being hit due to bad aim. Likewise, private defence, what Americans call 'self defense', in South African law rests not on perceptions of danger but on objectively viewed imminent danger to the person's self. Whatever Oscar thought: Reeva was no threat to him, it thus cannot be said to be private defence. Such is the view of long established and long enforced case law. The law can change, but that is what the law is as it stands.

Before we get onto the other factors, we must remember that in South African law: if you can foresee that it is a real possibility that something (an unlawful death) will result from an action, and nonetheless/recklessly proceed with behaviour risking that possibility (dolus eventualis), it is murder not culpable homicide. If the facts show you did not foresee that possibility but a reasonable person would have, then your actions are culpable homicide. A further aspect lies in that those heart strung jury arguments in the west do not stop a murder charge: they emerge in mitigation, even complete mitigation of all jail. It is not in dispute that Oscar shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp. It is not disputed that she was no objective threat to Oscar Pistorius. The only way he could be completely acquitted is based on temporary insanity in the form of 'provocation'.

So what are Oscar's team aiming at?

Either culpable homicide (what Americans call manslaughter), and maybe a year or three in jail if he is lucky.

Or Putative Private Defence (my bet would be on this).

Or provocation (from the French word for cause).

Culpable homicide:

- The law requires a warning shot prior shooting.
- A reasonable person would not have shot through a door without checking if it was Reeva.
- Shorter sentence, not murder but a competent verdict of murder.

Putative Private Defence:

- An established part of our law: applicable when a person believes they are acting in private defence but are not.
- This goes both for proportion of response and for factors which appeared true to the accused, but were objectively false.
- The accused is convicted of murder, but gets mitigated sentencing and possibly even no jail time.

Provocation:
- One must give medical evidence that whatever caused the actions was based on uncontrollable sane automation. This is to be done via medical evidence: since the Eadie case we use medical evidence to prove temporary insanity. A neuropsychologist might be the appropriate expert witness.
- Classic Provocation is no longer a part of our law since the Eadie murder conviction, as the Supreme Court of Appeal set forth at that time:

'[57] I agree with Ronald Louw that there is no distinction between sane automatism and non-pathological incapacity due to emotional stress and provocation. Decisions of this Court make that clear. I am, however, not persuaded that the second leg of the test expounded in Laubscher’s case should fall away. It appears logical that when it has been shown that an accused has the ability to appreciate the difference between right and wrong, in order to escape liability, he would have to successfully raise involuntariness as a defence. However, the result is the same if an accused's verified defence is that his psyche had disintegrated to such an extent that he was unable to exercise control over his movements and that he acted as an automaton - his acts would then have been unconscious and involuntary. In the present contest, the two are flip sides of the same coin. The judgments of this Court referred to earlier, as the highlighted parts of relevant dicta show, see it as such.

'[59] Whilst it may be difficult to visualise a situation where one retains the ability to distinguish between right and wrong yet lose the ability to control one’s actions it appears notionally possible.

'[60] The view espoused by Snyman and others, and reflected in some of the decisions of our courts, that the defence of non-pathological criminal incapacity is distinct from a defence of automatism, followed by an explanation that the former defence is based on a loss of control, due to an inability to restrain oneself, or an inability to resist temptation, or an inability to resist one’s emotions, does violence to the fundamentals of any self-respecting system of law. This approach suggests that someone who gives in to temptation may be excused from criminal liability, because he may have been so overcome by the temptation that he lost self-control - a variation on the theme: “the devil made me do it”. It is for this reason that it was suggested earlier that the use by Joubert JA in Laubscher's case, supra, of the word "weerstandskrag" was unfortunate. So too was the use of the word "drang" in Campher's case at 956 B, referred to in paragraph [32] of this judgment. These words suggest a resistance to urges or temptation. No self-respecting system of law can excuse persons from criminal liability on the basis that they succumbed to temptation. Against the fundamental principles restated by JM Burchell (quoted in paragraph [58] of this judgment) it is with respect, absurd to postulate that succumbing to temptation may excuse one from criminal liability. One has free choice to succumb to or resist temptation. If one succumbs one must face the responsibility for the consequences.

'[61] The time has come to face up to the fact that in some instances our courts, in dealing with accused persons with whom they have sympathy, either because of the circumstances in which an offence has been committed, or because the deceased or victim of a violent attack was a particularly vile human being, have resorted to reasoning that is not consistent with the approach of the decisions of this Court. Mitigating factors should rightly be taken into account during sentencing. When an accused acts in an aggressive goal-directed and focused manner, spurred on by anger or some other emotion, whilst still able to appreciate the difference between right and wrong and while still able to direct and control his actions, it stretches credulity when he then claims, after assaulting or killing someone, that at some stage during the directed and planned manouevre he lost his ability to control his actions. Reduced to its essence it amounts to this: the accused is claiming that his uncontrolled act just happens to coincide with the demise of the person who prior to that act was the object of his anger, jealousy or hatred. As demonstrated courts have accepted such version of events from accused persons.'

(S v Eadie (196/2001) [2002] ZASCA 24 (27 March 2002))

So, if Oscar's team can prove temporary insanity due to extreme fear: then he is in that scenario, acquitted and off the hook: for the murder itself: the problem is proving medical sane automation/ temporary insantiy. However that is not his likely intent. His likely intent is mitigation. Or change of law.

This article does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, approach a competent legal practitioner with knowledge of your facts.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Fairland and Northcliff: safest parts of Gauteng Province.


ABOVE: A police vehicle parked at the community policing forum event. The photographer notes the reflective marking.

Police, speaking via a high ranking official, a Brigadier, from Johannesburg, confirmed to a community policing forum Tuesday, held for residents of Fairland, Johannesburg, that the Fairland policing district, and Northcliff, remain the safest areas of Gauteng Province. Police and counsellors answered extensive questions from community members on a variety of safety and security matters. Police, via a high ranking official confirmed that hundreds of police officers yearly are caught by the applicable branch for corruption, and stated that the South African Police Service currently have about 200 000 members. Police also confirmed that there is no gang activity in Fairland whatsoever. A SACNS journalist was present during the meeting between police and the community.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

E-tolls violate the right not to be subjected to slavery...


[Written form article continues below embedded audio summary.]

Fast credit: Shocking? Or everyday business?


'Wonga offers £400 loan to 13-year-old boy which would take 98 years to pay back'

Food for thought: A headline in the British newspaper Metro on 23/11/2013

A contentious thing:


The newly arrived e-tolling system, which has been imposed upon the Gauteng freeways has been challenged on many grounds. Some say that it violates the right to free movement. Others questioned to what extent the government is permitted to privatise public resources. There certainly is the public international law ideal that the state holds resources in trust for the population: that it is say as a trustee rather than an owner. As a trustee the state therefore must act in the best interests of the population and not in the best interests only of a small minority of special interests. This concept is why tender fraud is such a big issue. None of these arguments are one which I am going to be making today.

A system of credit and debt:


The argument I am here today to make also is not based on reckless credit in accordance with the statutes of South Africa. However, the purpose for the statutes illuminates a constitutional right, and what is more a human right. There is a long history of persons becoming indebted beyond their means to escape their debts. This was in fact one of the means by which slaves were gained by large landholders in certain areas of the world. A person was made to become so legally indebted to another that they are forced to work for the remainder of their life always in debt to the other individual and always forced to work for that individual. In contract law classes, South African law students study a case where a doctor agreed that a vast majority of his salary would go to paying off a debt. The court found that the contract was against public policy and therefore unenforceable as it turned the doctor into essentially what the court called a slave. The e-tolling system has according to SANRAL: been seemingly exempted from the National Credit Act provisions which prevent the issuing of reckless credit.

In order to issue credit, a credit provider must ensure that the person to whom they issue credit, is capable of paying back the credit in their circumstances. The National Credit Act also allows for debt counselling for debtors who cannot possibly afford to pay back their debt. SANRAL seems insistent that this does not apply to e-tolling.

E-tolling is essentially a system of credit. Whenever an individual rides on an e-tolled road, that individual is essentially taking out a loan from SANRAL. It is like swiping a credit card. However, if a person is unable to pay off their credit card the credit card is cancelled. A person who takes out credit from SANRAL can essentially take out unlimited credit whether or not they are able to pay off their debt. A person who earns 1000 Rands a month: could accrue a debt of 10 million Rand. This person would not be afforded debt counselling according to SANRAL. This person would simply have to pay off their debt. It is expensive to file for insolvency, and some return needs to be shown for creditors. Stating that insolvency is a way out of such a debt, also is not stating an absolute solution in such a case. Could such an applicant for insolvency show even one cent to the Rand return for creditors? Would it even be possible for them to file for insolvency? Furthermore, causing a person to become insolvent deeply changes their status, their ability to do business, and their means and resources on which to live.

Micro-lending and Marikana Tragedy:


An aspect of Marikana and the tragic shooting which took place there which is not often brought up is that of micro-lending. Many of the miners who went on strike had taken out small loans. Their salaries were garnished, in order to allow the creditors to reclaim their money. The miners thus could not afford to live and support their families. The unrest was almost inevitable as a result of credit having been granted when it ought not to have been. The absolute desperation of the miners who charged the police at Marikana: should surely hint at the predicament of the indebted miners. Their determination to strike in desperation to bring something home to live on and to support their families: surely shows the effects upon the economy of such strange granting of credit where it ought not to have been granted.

Who are the Debtors?:


Many South Africans are illiterate. Many South Africans do not have basic mathematical education or literacy. Many South Africans are deeply poor. Many South Africans barely get by. These sort of things need to be taken into account by ordinary businesses doing business. Extending a person an unlimited line of credit and expecting them to pay it back without any chance of doing so: no doubt strikes one as immoral. Immorality is not enough. It has to be legally reprehensible. Thus one has to ask in accordance with the Bill of Rights: is the extension of unlimited credit with no cut-off points and no contingencies unconstitutional. I would say that it could well violate the right not to be enslaved. I would say that it could well violate the right to life in as much as it affects a person’s ability to earn a livelihood. I would say that such unfettered granting of unlimited credit could well violate the right to dignity of the human person.

Perhaps I am wrong. However I do believe there is a strong argument that the granting of unlimited and unfettered credit to persons regardless of their creditworthiness or their circumstances and ability to pay back that credit: violates the rights of the debtors.

Disclaimer:


Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. This argument is provided for entertainment purposes purely, and in order to strike up debate. For proper legal advice please contact the legal practitioner with understanding of your specific circumstances for proper legal advice.



Article written by Marc Evan Aupiais, a LLB Law Graudate, for the SACNS News Service and Aupiais Wire.

Monday, 20 January 2014

E-tolls violate the right not to be subjected to slavery...


[Written form article continues below embedded audio summary.]

Fast credit: Shocking? Or everyday business?


'Wonga offers £400 loan to 13-year-old boy which would take 98 years to pay back'

Food for thought: A headline in the British newspaper Metro on 23/11/2013

A contentious thing:


The newly arrived e-tolling system, which has been imposed upon the Gauteng freeways has been challenged on many grounds. Some say that it violates the right to free movement. Others questioned to what extent the government is permitted to privatise public resources. There certainly is the public international law ideal that the state holds resources in trust for the population: that it is say as a trustee rather than an owner. As a trustee the state therefore must act in the best interests of the population and not in the best interests only of a small minority of special interests. This concept is why tender fraud is such a big issue. None of these arguments are one which I am going to be making today.

A system of credit and debt:


The argument I am here today to make also is not based on reckless credit in accordance with the statutes of South Africa. However, the purpose for the statutes illuminates a constitutional right, and what is more a human right. There is a long history of persons becoming indebted beyond their means to escape their debts. This was in fact one of the means by which slaves were gained by large landholders in certain areas of the world. A person was made to become so legally indebted to another that they are forced to work for the remainder of their life always in debt to the other individual and always forced to work for that individual. In contract law classes, South African law students study a case where a doctor agreed that a vast majority of his salary would go to paying off a debt. The court found that the contract was against public policy and therefore unenforceable as it turned the doctor into essentially what the court called a slave. The e-tolling system has according to SANRAL: been seemingly exempted from the National Credit Act provisions which prevent the issuing of reckless credit.

In order to issue credit, a credit provider must ensure that the person to whom they issue credit, is capable of paying back the credit in their circumstances. The National Credit Act also allows for debt counselling for debtors who cannot possibly afford to pay back their debt. SANRAL seems insistent that this does not apply to e-tolling.

E-tolling is essentially a system of credit. Whenever an individual rides on an e-tolled road, that individual is essentially taking out a loan from SANRAL. It is like swiping a credit card. However, if a person is unable to pay off their credit card the credit card is cancelled. A person who takes out credit from SANRAL can essentially take out unlimited credit whether or not they are able to pay off their debt. A person who earns 1000 Rands a month: could accrue a debt of 10 million Rand. This person would not be afforded debt counselling according to SANRAL. This person would simply have to pay off their debt. It is expensive to file for insolvency, and some return needs to be shown for creditors. Stating that insolvency is a way out of such a debt, also is not stating an absolute solution in such a case. Could such an applicant for insolvency show even one cent to the Rand return for creditors? Would it even be possible for them to file for insolvency? Furthermore, causing a person to become insolvent deeply changes their status, their ability to do business, and their means and resources on which to live.

Micro-lending and Marikana Tragedy:


An aspect of Marikana and the tragic shooting which took place there which is not often brought up is that of micro-lending. Many of the miners who went on strike had taken out small loans. Their salaries were garnished, in order to allow the creditors to reclaim their money. The miners thus could not afford to live and support their families. The unrest was almost inevitable as a result of credit having been granted when it ought not to have been. The absolute desperation of the miners who charged the police at Marikana: should surely hint at the predicament of the indebted miners. Their determination to strike in desperation to bring something home to live on and to support their families: surely shows the effects upon the economy of such strange granting of credit where it ought not to have been granted.

Who are the Debtors?:


Many South Africans are illiterate. Many South Africans do not have basic mathematical education or literacy. Many South Africans are deeply poor. Many South Africans barely get by. These sort of things need to be taken into account by ordinary businesses doing business. Extending a person an unlimited line of credit and expecting them to pay it back without any chance of doing so: no doubt strikes one as immoral. Immorality is not enough. It has to be legally reprehensible. Thus one has to ask in accordance with the Bill of Rights: is the extension of unlimited credit with no cut-off points and no contingencies unconstitutional. I would say that it could well violate the right not to be enslaved. I would say that it could well violate the right to life in as much as it affects a person’s ability to earn a livelihood. I would say that such unfettered granting of unlimited credit could well violate the right to dignity of the human person.

Perhaps I am wrong. However I do believe there is a strong argument that the granting of unlimited and unfettered credit to persons regardless of their creditworthiness or their circumstances and ability to pay back that credit: violates the rights of the debtors.

Disclaimer:


Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. This argument is provided for entertainment purposes purely, and in order to strike up debate. For proper legal advice please contact the legal practitioner with understanding of your specific circumstances for proper legal advice.



Article written by Marc Evan Aupiais, a LLB Law Graudate, for the SACNS News Service and Aupiais Wire.

Marc Evan Aupiais

Marc Evan Aupiais

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