“Most jury trials are contests between the rich and poor.”

Sometimes a critical analysis is simply unveiled to one. The quote in the title  is from the New Yorker (restricted online viewing); the speaker is Clarence Darrow, a famed defence attorney of the late 19th and early 20th century. I read that about an hour after I encountered this:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is pulling together a crack team of investigators, former spies and media advisers to fight back against charges he sexually assaulted a hotel chambermaid.

The former IMF chief’s advisers will have their work cut out for them, and they may have to use different approaches to handling his legal problems in the United States while trying to bolster his reputation in his native France and beyond.

This may be why the range of damage-control specialists being assembled is so diverse. People consulted or hired so far include ex-CIA spies, experienced New York criminal investigators and some of the best-connected public relations specialists in the French-speaking world.

Changes to UK pension scheme

Reader N writes:

USS proposes to move new entrants to the profession from a final salary scheme to a career average (CARE) scheme. Even the Unions says that CARE per se is not a problem. However, CARE is almost certain to disproportionately dis-benefit women employees.

Many women have children in their twenties and thirties, with associated periods of maternity leave, which slows their promotions and hence their salary increases. They might hope to catch up with their male counter-parts by the end of their career (optimistic, I grant, but nevertheless possible), but it is fairly certain that even a woman/ mother who catches up will have a lower career average salary than a man/ father. Hence the move to the CARE scheme is likely to disadvantage women compared to men.

This raises several questions: Has anyone modelled/ investigated/ quantified the differential effects of CARE on men and women? Why are female academics not more outraged about the move to CARE? And is it even legal for the employer to implement a scheme that will systematically disadvantage women compared to their male counterparts?

Seems like a damn good point.

UK Forced Childbearing advocates adopt US tactics


A sleepy sidestreet near the centre of Maidstone may seem an unlikely frontline in the conflict that has bubbled away, usually with relative calm, since Britain legalised abortion in 1967.

But on a recent weekday afternoon in Kent’s county town, a group of a dozen anti-abortion protesters, led by a veteran of the movement in the US, began their latest “prayer vigil” directly across the road from a Marie Stopes clinic.


But this is a much less fundamentalist country than the US, and abortion doesn’t have the same history.  Still, I was rather surprised*  by the next thing I read:


Over the course of two hours, members of the group intercepted young women approaching the clinic from either end of the street to hand them literature and engage in conversation, while the protesters themselves became the target of shouts of “disgusting” and “shame” from angry passersby.


Hopefully this is indicative of the reception this tactic will have here.
For more, go here.  Thanks, Mr Jender!


*Not surprised by the sentiment.  Surprised by the British people shouting it out on the street.