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What Does The Law Mean To You?

Although we all have an understanding of what law is, and generally why it's
appropriate that it should be in place to serve and regulate our conduct in
society, we seldom think of what law actually means in an everyday context.
What is law for the average Joe in the street? How does law impact on our lives
from day to day? Indeed, is the law a distant concept with which we find it hard
to relate? In this article we will look at some of the fundamental ways law
operates in society, in addition to the nature of the law as we know it.

For some people, they feel as though the law is there merely to protect their
interests, and that they have no need for daily interaction. However, they
assume that if the day comes where their behaviour is called into question, the
law will operate, the course of justice will be run, and the will of the people
will be fulfilled. This is perhaps a naive interpretation of the function of
law, and indeed the way it operates in our lives throughout the day. For
instance, at the top level we have the constitution, establishing parameters
within which the government can and cannot act to protect the citizens of our
nation. That has an overwhelming effect on the way in which our government and
indeed our country is run, which has a knock on effect on everything we do
throughout the day and how we do it. Even at a local level, the law interacts
with the services we are provided, the jobs we work and pretty much everything
to do with the lives we lead. A distant concept? I don't think so.

The law does not just operate in criminal spheres, nor is it confined to merely
constitutional matters and the distribution of power. Law is a significantly
more sophisticated tool in the orchestration of the day-to-day organisation of
society, through regulating not only personal conduct but also the way we act
in business situations. Take for example the everyday task of boarding a train.
The law regulates many aspects of this feat: (1) the criminal law and the
constitution permits us to board public transport. (2) The constitution permits
us to make contract with another. (3) The laws of contract permit us to form a
contract for transport with the train company, and ensure that that contract is
fulfilled. (4) The laws of contract and tort allow us to board without fear of
injury, or with remedy should the worst happen. Finally the law of ownership
and currency allows us to hand over money in consideration for this service,
which is of value to the other contracting party. In fact, the law regulates
just about everything we do, and is vital in doing so to ensure the smooth
running of community and every aspect of our lives.

The law is not some abstract notion that can and will protect us when we need
to rely on it. The law is an integral part of democratic life, and something
which regulates our conduct, and in essence allows us to act according to our
own desires within reason. Some may think the law is too restrictive in certain
areas, but it works. The law serves its function as regulating our behaviour
very well, and if it doesn't? We can change it.

The fact is, law has been an important part of society since it began, with
implied legal and social orders and boundaries that could not be crossed.
Today, it is a sophisticated network of guidelines and regulations which is
adapted to shape the way we live our lives from one day to the next. There is
no doubt that the law is important to the citizen, and plays a profound impact
on the lives of the people on a daily basis.

Washington D.C. in the House

After being told no for the last 200 years, the House of Representatives have
okayed a bill that would allow a House of Representatives position to be
created for the residents of the District of Columbia. This is a complete shock
to some, who analyze the situation and state that technically the District of
Columbia is not a state and has no right to a representative in the house.

Along with adding a member of the house for the D.C. area, Utah has been given
a fourth seat. Now the bill is passed along to the Senate to have a final
approval but with the District of Columbia not being a true state, many are
expecting the bill to be squashed. Some may not have realized but 200 years ago
it was determined that the District of Columbia would be banned from a seat in
the House since it was not a state.

Utah was declined an additional seat in the house after falling shy of the
required residents to acquire a fourth seat after the last census. However,
since they are in the process of adding additional seats and Utah is so very
close to the requirements it is expected that by the next election they should
have the required number of residents to justify the additional seat.

This is a major milestone in the House of Representatives, which has sat at 435
seats since 1960; it has been over 45 years since additional seats were added to
the house. Opponents of the new bill have all been quick to point out that while
it's wonderful that the House is looking to grow, the Constitution clearly
states that the members of the House are chosen by the people of the states,
which since the District of Columbia is not a state, causes a major snafu in
the plans of the Democratic majority House.

The House is slated to keep the 437 seats even after the 2010 census, which is
when Utah is slated to be expanding to a 4th district. While this is the first
time this measure has actually passed the House, it is not the first time it
has been discussed, nor debated. Back in 1978, it was mentioned that the
District of Columbia should be given a vote in the House of Representatives;
however, the amendment was discarded after it was unable to be ratified by a
quorum three-fourth majority of the states.

Once again, the measure was attempted in 1993; however, this attempt was
focused around moving the District of Columbia into statehood and transforming
the District into a full-fledged state of the United States. This proposal was
also rejected, so this is a major victory that has been attempted several times
previously. Whether it will pass through the Senate, and ultimately receive
legal effect, is still left to be determined.

Many have argued that the District should be allowed a seat in the House, since
the residents of the District pay taxes and fight in the wars of this country
just like residents of any other state. The debate and battle rages on, and it
will be a rather interesting experience to see if the District is able to win
their bid to a permanent seat in the House.

What is Crime?

In simple words an act or behavior that violates or breaches the rule of
political, moral or criminal laws and is liable for punishment and public
prosecution.

What are the basic reasons which make a people criminal?

The answer lies in following points like:

Increasing rate of Unemployment is the major problem of increasing crime rate.
Consider a situation when the qualified young graduate is remains unemployed
for longer period after he completed his education. His family has lot of
expectations from him and to satisfy their expectations he can go up to any
extent and cross any limit just in desire of small payment. At this stage he is
not in a position to make a correct decision between what is just and what is
unjust but he don't want to miss any of the opportunity that life is giving him
and in this feeling only he accepts those offers which can change his life and
can break their social and moral ethics and they are ready to commit crimes,
they are ready to kill a person, they are ready to accept any offer that can
prove to be a money earning source for them. And this major unemployed segment
of society is the main source for crime. No criminal is by birth a criminal but
it is the circumstances which make him do so. But this problem is mainly
associated with the developing countries. So what about developed countries? Do
they not commit crimes? No they also commit crimes. Even the crime rate is
higher in highly developed country like USA than other developed countries of
the world.

High ambitions are also the one source for crime. A person who has high
ambitions like if he wants to enjoy all the comforts of life or wants to
achieve the high status in his life he wanted to complete them at any cost may
achieve unfair means to fulfill his wish. To make his wishes come true or to
enjoy the luxuries of life he can come in the way of crime as this seems to be
an easy money earning source for them and when they do crime for the first time
then professional criminals tae advantage of it compel them to commit such acts
again and again and now if they want to come back they can not be their way
back to path of justice and honesty.

Technology Advancements are also one of the reasons for increasing of crime
rate. This is because technology advancements have broadened the mind of people
and they now can think better ways of committing crimes. Like most of the young
person want to own and make use of highly sophisticated arms. And if they are
not made available to them, they think for different ways and professional
criminal's takes advantage of this. Technology advancements have now made the
way of criminals easier than before.

Do the allow of guns to people for carry and own will reduce the rate of crime
or increase the rate of crime. A study conducted by scholar presents the fact
that if people are allowed to carry guns then it will reduce the rate of crime.

The Scope and Nature of the Criminal Law

In our private lives, the area of law we will experience the most, either
directly or indirectly would have to be the criminal law. Not necessarily
through contravening its principals, the individual citizen will more commonly
encounter its breadth in the course of their everyday lives, considering as a
factor the legal ramifications of any desired conduct or decision in the
decision making process. For most of us, we tend to live our lives within these
predetermined boundaries with no second thought or question as to the morality
of the prohibited option nor the moral authority behind it. In this article, it
is proposed to look at the nature and scope of the criminal law in our society,
and to discuss whether as an entity it is too intrusive, or whether it is
naturally a required aspect of regulating society.

It is often said academically that the citizen enjoys freedom to act as he
wishes in his life, subject to the regulatory provisions of the criminal law
and the criminal justice system. It is thought that as citizens of a particular
country, largely at freedom to choose where we live in the world, we impliedly
accept the authority of the relevant legal provisions which, for the most part,
regulate on a moral level. Of course there are exceptions, i.e. criminal laws of
a regulatory or secondary nature which do not directly bear any moral message,
such as speeding limits or parking restrictions. So, then, to what extent does
the criminal law reflect morality, and further from what source is this
morality derived?

The criminal law is said to operate in mind of the public good, and the benefit
of society. It could, therefore, be argued to be crossing the boundaries into
serious restrictions on liberty when it regulates personal conduct like drug
use which may not have any wider impact than on that of the person indulging
accordingly. Why should the criminal law impose restrictions on what a person
can do with his or her own body? Surely our own freewill is a good enough
justification for acting outwith the scope of the law in these types of
scenario?

Furthermore an interesting area of the criminal law is potential liability for
omissions. In this sense, the citizen can actually be punished without acting
at all in a specific way. This takes the criminal law beyond a regulatory
framework for the public good into an actual coercive force to make people
positively act in a certain way. For example, in some jurisdictions there is a
legal duty to report a road traffic accident. This means a citizen who is aware
of the occurrence of such will have committed a criminal offence where he does
not act in the prescribed manner. Again, this is surely affording a broad scope
to the criminal law, which may be seen by some as intruding on the fundamental
freedoms and values upon which most modern nations were built.

It is interesting to consider the real impact of the criminal law, and the
sheer breadth of conduct it regulates. From the objectively morally wrong to
the less obvious cases of imposition of liability, the criminal law places
severe restrictions on the general principal of absolute liberty, which is
clearly the subject of much academic and philosophical debate.

Succession Law: The Importance of Having a Will

Although we might not like to think of it, death is a certain fate for us all.
When we pass away, our families will go through a stressful and traumatic time
as they come to terms with their loss. At the same time, there is a requirement
for the administration of our estate, and this is usually bestowed upon a close
relative or friend during this already painful time. However, a lack of
foresight and planning can be catastrophic, leaving behind a tangle of assets
and liabilities and possibly a hefty inheritance tax bill, depending on
jurisdiction. On top of that, the absence of a will can mean a distribution of
assets on the basis of standard 'default' rules, rather than on the basis of
your individual preferences. In this article, we will look at some common
provisions in the absence of any will, and aim to justify the benefits of
making a comprehensive and clear will during your lifetime.

Most jurisdictions will bear some liability to tax on death. This can be a
specific problem for the administrators of estates, usually close friends, who
must ensure every known asset and liability is accounted for before making
legacies and signing off the tax bill. A major problem comes with the personal
liability attributed to the administrators, which means that should anything
'slip through the net' which is later discovered, there may be increased
liability to tax. In practical terms, this could mean a surprise bill for
several thousand which has already been distributed in legacies and for which
the administrator must personally account. Providing for these outcomes in a
will is one of the best ways of avoiding this hassle and stress, and it can
also be the best way to ensure all assets and liabilities are uncovered. By
drafting an effective will, you can be sure your loved ones don't face
financial hardship after you're gone.

In the absence of a will providing specifically for the administration of a
deceased's estate, it is up to the laws of intestacy to determine what happens
to the entirety of our worldly possessions. Unfortunately, this doesn't usually
correspond with the way we'd like things to turn out. For example, in a number
of jurisdictions there are automatic provisions for spouses and kids, meaning
you can disinherit, even with a will. There is also usually a default order of
preference of who gets what and how much they get, which doesn't necessarily
match your favourite relatives, or correspond to actual family set ups. In
fact, cohabiters might run into problems getting anything, including the house
in which they live without proper testamentary provisions in their favour.

As you can see there are a number of obvious benefits to drafting a will during
your lifetime. Sadly, many thousands of people die each year without making
these provisions, and it really is a real headache for their friends and
relatives who are left with the burden of a fair settlement. Intestacy causes
hostility and stress, which can be readily avoided by just simply making a
written will. If you haven't made a will, it is probably a good idea to make a
appointment as soon as is convenient with a legal adviser to do so, to ensure
your family are provided for as you would intend and to promote a favourable
distribution of your estate on death.

Writing A Will

One of the most important legal activities each of us faces is deciding how,
after our death, our assets will be used and who will benefit from them. Estate
planning and the writing of a will is a deeply meaningful way to make a powerful
statement with these assets. However, a great number of people die "intestate"
(without a will). When that happens the state or others decide for us where and
how the estate will be distributed. If your preferences have not been clearly
stated in a will, then it is likely that those preferences will not be carried
out. It is, therefore, vital that you have a will. It is a wonderful way of
expressing your love to the people and organizations you cherish. It is a way
to take control of your assets, and make a positive statement.

Guidelines to Consider When Writing a Will

There are four "P's" of estate planning:

People: Consider all the people who are important to you and for whom you'd
like to provide. This might include your spouse, children, relatives and
friends.

Property: Consider all property that you own including bank accounts, real
estate, stocks, bonds, life insurance, pension plans and personal property.

Plans: Ask yourself how you'd like to provide for the people in your life, and
how you can make this happen. Will the people who are important to you be
provided for in the future? Will you have enough income to manage during your
retirement years?

Planners: Who are the people who will help you with your financial goals?
Consider attorneys, accountants, bank trust officers, stock brokers and
insurance agents to help you meet your financial goals.

Tips on Naming Beneficiaries:

* Understand the limits of a will.

* Know when beneficiaries are required.

* Decide who gets what.

* Don't name your estate as a beneficiary.

* Don't name minor children as beneficiaries.

* Consider setting up a trust.

* Think about tax ramifications.

* Name contingent beneficiaries.

* Keep everything up-to-date.

* Make copies.

FAQ

Q: I don't have a will, where do I start? A: As a will is a legal document, it
is strongly recommended that you consult your solicitor.

Q: What about home-made wills? A: Home-made wills can be disastrous. You may
omit particularly important details, or inadvertently write sections in a way
that can be misinterpreted. Making a will with the help of your solicitor is
the only way you can be sure that your wishes will be followed after you die.
By drafting a will with a professional, you will save your family a lot of
extra worry.

Q: What can I include in my will? A: Wills aren't solely about passing on your
assets. You can also include specific funeral arrangements: for instance,
burial, cremation, or the use of your body for medical research. You may also
want to appoint legal guardians to care for your children if you and your
partner should die before they are 18.

Q: Who do I appoint as Executors? A: One other important consideration when
writing your will is the appointment of your Executors -- the people who deal
with your estate in the event of your death. Ideally, these should be
business-minded family or friends or professional advisers.

Glossary of Will Terms

Administrators. Those appointed to administer an estate where there is no will
or no executor.

Bequest. Same as "Legacy".

Beneficiary. A named individual or organisation who benefits from your Will.

Codicil. A document making minor changes to your Will. Must be signed and
witnessed in the same manner as your Will.

Crown. This means the Treasury, where your money will go if you have no next of
kin and did not make a will.

Estate. Everything belonging to you, and owed to you, at the time of your death.

Executors. Referred to in your Will as trustees. These are the people you
appoint to deal with all your affairs after your death.

Guardians. Those you appoint to care for your children until they reach the age
of eighteen years.

Intestacy. A person is said to die intestate if he dies without making a valid
Will.

Pecuniary. Legacy Specific sum of money given by a Will.

Probate. A procedure, required under law in most cases, to establish formally
whether you left a legally valid Will and who your executors will be.

Residuary Legacy. The residue of an estate, or a share in it.

Residue. The remains of your estate after payment of all debts, expenses, tax
and distribution of pecuniary and specific legacies

Specific Legacy. A tangible item, such as a gold watch or an engagement ring.

Testator. The person making the Will.

Copyright

Copyright is a legal fiction designed to protect the works of artists,
inventors and innovators. In essence, it is a legal bar, allowing exclusivity
for those who create works in the form of an intangible asset which can be sold
or relinquished, and which expires upon a certain period of time. With the
growth of the internet, and the creation of more and more content, the question
of copyright is becoming increasingly more relevant, and one which more and more
webmasters are considering to protect their own interests. Additionally, with
the rise of the freelancer market, the issue of copyright is becoming a heated
topic of debate for both buyers and sellers at every stage in the production
chain, and the effects of not having the relevant rights could be potentially
catastrophic. In this article, we'll look at what exactly copyright is, and how
it relates to the internet in content creation.

Copyright is an artificial concept that gives the creator of a work, or the
person he sells the right to, the legal right to use or modify in whole or in
part, and to call their own. It has a different meaning in most jurisdictions,
however the basic principle is the same: the creator owns the original
copyright to the work in question, and has the freedom to pass this on at will,
usually in consideration for money. Where a creator is working on commission,
copyright is designed to act as a lien in his favour, meaning that if he
creates and passes on but does not receive payment, he can withhold copyright
and sue for breach where applicable. Of course, he would also have remedies
under the ordinary law of contract, but the grasp of copyright is a very
powerful tool, which can even be used against the third party buyer from the
original commissioner.

Copyright is designed as a tool to cover what is known as intellectual
property. Committing intellectual thoughts and ideas to paper, or making them
tangible is usually sufficient to give rise to the copyright protection, which
usually lasts for a number of decades in preventing others from steeling ideas.
This is primarily designed to encourage forward thinking and art, and can be a
vital tool in protecting the financial interests of those responsible for some
of the world's most vital progressions. Consider the inventors of the seatbelt,
Volvo. Volvo could have used their copyright to prevent other manufacturers from
installing seat belts, and this would have been sufficient to protect any other
manufacturer from doing so. Of course they waived their rights for the safety
of the general public, which is also a possible consideration for the creator
of something new and innovative.

Copyright is an exhaustible right, and it usually expires on a given date,
after which all works enter the public domain. This means that those who create
new products have sufficient time to capitalise on their idea before the world
at large can join in. Unfortunately for many musicians, this means their
artistic works can no longer make them money specifically, and can be used
royalty free; a fact that has caused much uproar and unrest in recent years.

Copyright is a dynamic area of the law, and is particularly relevant to the
internet. As more and more content of more and more varieties is created
online, there comes a need to find protection in copyright law to prevent
unscrupulous parties from using content without authorisation. In combating
this, a number of international legal organisations have been established with
a view to tackling copyright violation, and helping those without legal support
to fight cases for the protection of their work. It is undoubtedly an area of
law that is on the ascendancy, as lawyers worldwide strive to find a cohesive
structure to online intellectual property law, and the protections online
authors should be afforded for creating their works. At least within national
boundaries, it is highly possible to rely on copyright laws to protect and
govern material.

Women's Rights

In previous years, generations ago women were considered property of the
husband or father to whom they belonged. Now as we have progressed into the
21st century women have stepped up to the plate and are an integral part of
society and politics, on an entirely equal footing with men. In the past, women
were considered as belonging to their husbands or fathers, now they are the
CEO's of major corporations. Women today are a very important part of society,
with women in jobs such as judges, Senators, Congress, and even Governors -- a
feat that would have been highly surprising even twenty years ago.

These positions were not possible previously, with widespread social reform
needed to bring about this change. In previous years, women were only allowed
to work on the family farm, or be a teacher, rather than being afforded
experience in practical situations. Women were expected to be married by the
end of their teenage years, and were overlooked in conversations as being
unable to contribute anything valid. When elections were first started, women
were not allowed to vote, they were barely allowed the right to run their own
homes.

As society has progressed, we have seen women moving from the back of the line,
to the front of the public eye, occupying more and more positions of authority
and respect. More women now than ever are working outside the home, and proving
their own worth without a man to hold them up. Many women are even choosing to
not get married, as well as not have children, although experts are suggesting
this will have implications for future generations.

With the push towards women's rights, there has also been pushes towards
expanding the rights for the lesbian community. More women are stepping forward
to fight for the rights that they are owed and due, alongside those already
afforded to the male homosexual community. Women have been taxpayers for as
long as men have, at the same rates, and there are daily battles and struggles
to overcome the problems and oppression that women are faced with, especially
within the homosexual community to level this unfairness.

Even in today's society and the move away from sexism there is still a notable
difference in the amount of money a man earns compared to the amount of money a
woman earns for the same job. This is regardless of experience, training, and
education, as many employers still feel women lack the competence to work
within a competitive environment. There are always major differences in the way
issues are handled and there seems to be new differences appearing each and
every day.

How society adapts is the important part, we are on the brink of the first
woman in history winning a democratic party bid for the Presidency and this
makes a wonderful time for women. We are in the days, weeks, months and years
following the Clinton presidency, and since then, Hillary Rodham Clinton has
set an exception example for women by stepping out from behind her husband's
shadow and making a name for herself in the political arena. With her impact on
the forthcoming Presidential elections still unknown, it will be interesting to
see the effect this has on women's rights both domestically and across the
world.

Women are fighting and struggling each and every day to prove their worth, but
with each day that passes a small victory for women's rights, we are proving
each and every day that we are a force to be dealt with. Many people are
eagerly awaiting the day when men and women are truly treated as equals. It
might be 2 days from now or perhaps 20 years from now, but it is a work in
progress and will be accomplished. By working together with the community as a
whole, and avoiding a destructively defensive view point, women can promote
their interests, as can men, to create a truly equitable environment.

The INS, Role, and Responsibilities

In the days following the 9/11 attacks there have been many changes in the
organization and how the government handles the flow of people coming into the
country. The INS was first started as the organization that was responsible for
handing the people who were applying for citizenship and residency. INS stands
for Immigration and Naturalization Service, the organization charged with
respecting the safety of the USA.

The INS is now responsible for many tasks that it never had before, including
inspecting travelers who are entering and exiting the United States gates
through more than 300 points of entry nationwide. Whether you are coming or
going from the United States, you are likely to be passing through an INS
worker who is responsible for helping make sure anyone who is wanted by the law
is not able to gain entry to the country. Although largely a precaution, it is
thought that this will be most helpful in preventing possible threats to
national security.

Other tasks of the INS include handling the residence status of all who apply
for residence and citizenship. They also handle and seek to regulate the status
of all permanent and temporary immigration requests. The INS. also handles
tourists, and students, as well as those coming for conventions, special
classes, visiting family and all other business.

The INS has also been given the tasks of controlling all of the borders into
the United States, especially the borders between Mexico and the United States
and Canada and the United States. This is an extremely large task since the
United States shares such large land borders with two other countries. This
allows for an almost daily flow of people trying to enter the country illegally.

INS workers are also responsible for handling and removing all people who have
no legal rights to be in this country. They are responsible for removing the
parties in accordance with the laws, and by following all of the standards that
are set in place for obtaining temporary status, or returning the person to the
country where they came from.

In a report the INS released in 2001, there was 31,971 employees on staff. This
resulted in a rate of 24,233 of these employees being classified as enforcement
personal were used to enforce the laws, rulings and policies of this country.
The INS today is a function of the Justice Department and serves mostly as an
investigative unit, unlike many other departments, which serve as law
enforcement units instead.

In recent years, the borders have had more illegal entry than previously, which
has resulted in larger amounts of staff being added to help secure the borders
and protect our country. Without being able to know who is entering our
country, we are unable to truly protect our citizens and other people. Border
patrol agents is the one largest area where the INS has seen growth in jobs
available. Due to the increase of jobs in the border patrol, we are able to see
much fewer illegal entries into the country.

As we progress into a country that is, more accommodating of people from
various cultures it will be quite interesting to see how the INS is changed to
adapt and become more friendly to the needs of all people, even those entering
the country.

The Fairness of Limited Liability

Limited liability is one of the most successful commercial creations of all
time, almost singularly responsible for the growth and expansion of capitalism.
Encouraging risk and promoting successful enterprise through both small and
large businesses alike, limited liability has been the driving force behind
economic success in the Western world and is one of the most celebrated legal
creations of all time. But what is it about limited liability that makes it so
successful? Indeed, is the structure of limited liability fair as regards
creditors, who ultimately bear the brunt of this mechanism?

Limited liability in general means a sacrifice of privacy in return for the
benefit of limited personal liability. In layman's terms, this means that the
company promoter is not personally liable for any of the company's debts, thus
encouraging risk and promoting enterprise. For most small businesses, it is a
lifeline, and without it the economy would level out and stifle with fewer new
start-ups each year. At the back end, however, these businesses leave behind a
trail of debts that ultimately result in financial loss for lenders and those
that operate on credit terms. This raises the general question of whether
limited liability as a creation is fair for the creditors it so apparently
prejudices?

Limited liability has given life to companies across the world, by providing
the reassurances necessary to entrepreneurs to take the risk, safe in the
knowledge that personally speaking they should come out unscathed. From this,
more companies have grown and flourished, which has led to more jobs and better
state welfare for virtually all capitalist economies. The strength of this
function has gone a long way towards building the great superpowers, and is
seriously underestimated as a legal construct.

Limited liability leaves a gap in the pockets of those companies that lend
money or offer their customers credit terms during the course of their
business. As a consequence of the promoter's ability to walk away with his
hands clean, many businesses find the squeeze of bad debts too severe, and end
up having to take on credit of their own to meet the shortcomings. In theory,
limited liability leaves creditors in a weak situation, with relatively limited
powers to regain the full amount of any monies due.

In reality, limited liability doesn't operate in that way. Of course, many
businesses go under every year as their owners walk free of encumbrance, but
generally speaking the economic world does not work between insolvent
companies. However, the flexibility allowed by limited liability has meant debt
in a sense has become effective currency, and has helped businesses to survive
during tough times, and to seek the financial help necessary without the
appropriate risk.

Limited liability might be seen as slightly unfair at the razor's edge, but it
works all round to ensure that everyone has access to credit and the benefits
of limitation of damages when it is necessary. Ultimately, it promotes a more
competitive, lower-risk environment within which business can flourish and
economies can grow and multiply, providing jobs and economic strength to
nations embracing its basic form. As legal fictions go, the limited company has
undoubtedly prove itself to be one of the most popular ever created, and its
growth looks set to continue as it is developed and refined across the world.

The European Convention on Human Rights: The Wider Implications

The European Convention on Human Rights has seen vast changes to the legal
framework of countries across Europe. By imposing fundamental freedoms and
liberties in an indefeasible form, it has created a host of legal problems and
issues for courts to tackle in an attempt to improve human rights. Distinct
from the US, which already retains fundamental freedoms through its definitive
constitution, much of Europe in particular the UK doesn't have the same
codified provisions for its citizens. This has now been revolutionised by the
ratification of the European Convention (ECHR), which sets out certain primary
standards that must be attained in relation to each individual citizen. In this
article, we will look at the advantages of the ECHR, and the wide-ranging impact
it has had on the various constitutions around Europe.

The European Convention on Human Rights was established as an international
treaty to afford a uniform standard of human rights treatment across Europe.
Covering basic freedoms like the right to life through to trickier issues such
as the right to liberty and the right to marry, ECHR has had an astonishing
impact on Europe both legally and politically. In passing legislation, European
governments have to as a matter of law legislate in accordance with the
provisions contained within the ECHR. This means parliaments of signatory
countries are being bound by their predecessors to legislate in a particular
way, which has ruled out a number of would-be pledges and meant the reversal of
certain national laws.

One area where this has caused problems is in abortion. The perpetual morality
debate aside, abortion has been held to contravene the right to life provision
in certain European countries. Although there is still great scope for
challenge, this could potentially cause problems in the coming years as more
and more cases of this nature are brought before the European court. Another
major problem area is that of same sex marriages. The universal right to marry
means that any provision stopping same sex marriage anywhere in Europe could
potentially be struck down as illegal, requiring nations to actively realign
their current provisions to avoid any discrimination. For this reason, the UK,
amongst others, have taken proactive measures to permit same-sex marriages to
avoid the embarrassment of a public ruling against them. This obviously raises
problems of national power and freedom: nations are now utterly bound by the
principles of European 'liberty', whether they like it or not.

Thankfully this social and legal upheaval is working towards a more
liberty-orientated Europe. It is certainly taking time, and given the fact that
the ECHR is over half a century old, its impacts are becoming more and more
apparent as time wears on and as courts are presented with modern challenges
located within the context of the original ECHR provisions. Additionally, the
European Convention on Human Rights is being regularly updated and amended to
provide a steadfast constitution for the citizen whilst retaining the
flexibility to adapt to contemporary situations. Although the ECHR and the
provisions contained within it have met stiff opposition throughout their
lifetime, most would now agree that the level of individual certainty provided
by these fundamental freedoms is making for a better quality of life and
reducing the scope for discrimination and prejudice across Europe.

Taxation Law for the Sole Trader

They say the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes. For the
sole trader, this is definitely the case, and at times it can seem like an
overbearing pressure. Thankfully, for the sole trader there are many ways in
which you can minimise liability to income tax and leave more in your bank
account at the end of the month. In this article, we will look at some of the
key features of tax management from the perspective of the sole trader, and
some of the ways in which the sole trader can minimise the legal consequences
of his operation.

As a sole trader, you are usually accountable for your profits in terms of
income tax. This can be particularly problematic, given that the structure of
income tax in most jurisdictions is a fairly heavy burden on the citizen,
particularly those with higher incomes. The first thing that should be
considered is incorporation. As a corporate entity, you will be required to
handle more paperwork, but ultimately it will save you money. Corporation tax
on profits is lower than income tax in the majority of situations, and dividend
income carries less taxable weight than other income, for example wages and
salaries. The first thing to do, as a sole trader within the top income tax
bracket, is to incorporate, which could potentially save thousands every year.

The sole trader must be aware of the fact that there are certain items that
cannot be discounted from income. In fact, certain everyday items must be
declared and must give rise to tax. For example, say a self-employed solicitor
is given a bottle of fine wine by a particular client every year as thanks for
his service. This wine, although not initially apparent, will usually require
declaration for tax, on the basis that it is an ongoing gift or benefit arising
from employment. It is therefore important to watch what is included and what is
ignored from your tax return. If you are at all unsure, it is better to include
an item and pay tax, rather than running the risk of neglecting to mention its
existence. Alternatively, it may be a good idea to consult a specialist on the
particular laws of your jurisdiction, and to determine whether or not it would
be possible to avoid liability.

Another important thing to remember is that there may be certain personal
capital gains liability for disposal of a primarily business asset. As a sole
trader, this means you will be liable to account for the disposal of the asset
and any capital gains at market value, which can be a costly business. Again,
it is probably advisable to consult a tax lawyer or tax adviser to minimise
liability on disposal and to manage your tax liability more effectively.

Tax law is a particularly intricate area of the law, and one that is in
perpetual change. This means the small business owner is required to keep one
eye on tax developments to avoid being caught out, which means there is less
room for focus on the core areas of business and making money. Alternatively,
the advice of a tax specialist can be invaluable in minimising overall
liability and ultimately saving money from your tax bill every year.

Taxation Law for Small Businesses

Taxation law is a complex and in-depth area of concern for the small business
owner. With potential pecuniary and criminal consequences, it is of paramount
importance to ensure as a business owner, you are familiar with the tax
consequences in your jurisdictions, and the ways in which you can minimise your
liability. Whilst one of the most legally important things to understand as a
small business owner, taxation law also provides an excellent opportunity for
saving money and increasing profitability within a small business environment.
In this article, we will look at some of the main and most common tax
implications of running a small business, and some of the most effective ways
of ensuring you pay less tax through your small business operation.

Tax regimes vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and the implications of
running a small business also vary, both in terms of the legal and financial
requirements. Having said that, there are a number of common elements that
transcend jurisdiction and appear in numerous guises across various systems
that can be of use to the small business owner. One of the first things to
consider as a small business owner is to establish a limited liability company.
The primary reason for this is that limited liability companies usually provide
a more relaxed tax regime as compared to income tax liability. A sole
proprietor operating out-with the parameters of a corporate entity is liable to
account for profits as income, which can lead to a greater tax liability and
potential individual state contributions. As a corporate entity, the owner can
pay himself via share dividends, which carry a lower tax liability and thus
minimising his overall liability to tax. This is significantly better than
paying oneself a wage, which bears the tax liability from both ends, i.e. the
company is liable to taxation as is the employee.

Another essential for the small business owner is what is known as capital
allowance. By means of capital allowance, business owners can offset the
acquisition cost of assets on a graduated scale in accordance with the specific
principles of the regime in question. This is in effect a deductible expense,
which ultimately minimises yearly tax liability. There is a particular benefit
in that many regimes allow an accelerated relief for business assets. This can
be exploited to an extent by acquiring assets through the business, for example
a car, which can also be used for personal purposes. Rather than buying a car
from personal income, buying it through the company allows you to offset the
amount of the expense quickly against your business profits, which ultimately
reduce your liability to tax.

Before embarking on any tax reducing strategies, it is important to ensure you
are acquainted with the specific laws of your jurisdiction to avoid running
into trouble with the authorities. In some of Europe, for example, there is a
requirement to declare any specific tax minimising strategies to the government
to allow for rectification of loopholes. It is important to ensure you are
acquainted with the specific laws to avoid potential criminal liability as a
consequence of ignorance. By familiarising yourself with the laws in your
jurisdiction, you can avoid the potential pitfalls and create a tax planning
strategy that provides the most cost effective solution for you and your small
business.




Supreme Court Abortion Decision

After much deliberation and discussion, the Supreme Court has returned a
critical strike to the core of women's rights in the abortion arena. The court
in a 5-4 decision banned a medical procedure known as a partial-birth abortion
or Dilation and Extraction. This abortion procedure was performed after the
20th week of pregnancy. While the pro-rights crowd is naturally upset over the
ban, they are horrified over the fact that there are no exceptions to the ban
that would enable a doctor to save the life of a woman if it was medically
necessary to perform the procedure.

Doctors can face up to 2 years in prison if they are convicted of performing
the procedures, which will greatly limit the numbers of doctors performing the
procedures and likely increase the number of states placing bans of the entire
abortion procedure as well. The decision came from a split Supreme Court, with
two of the justices being hand picked by Bush himself. This is a cause of great
concern, suggesting that the Supreme Court has turned into a very conservative
place, despite the lack of support for Bush and many of his ideas and practices
on a broader level. The Supreme Court's involvement in politics is usually
noted, but given the gravity of this decision it is clear where certain
allegiances lie.

Is the Supreme Court really following the wishes of the majority, do they
really have the legal right to determine that a medical decision can or cannot
be performed? The anti-abortion camps in the GOP are happy following the
decision and are busily looking for more ways to put a damper on the rights of
women in regards to abortions. How will this decision be regarded when it comes
election time, and the Presidential elections come around? What about the
midterm elections next time they are scheduled?

Many people are left to wonder if the Supreme Court decision is truly a legal
decision, or nothing more than a very carefully selected group of ultra
conservative judge's who are following Bush's wishes and desires in regards to
the case. The case was sitting before a panel of judge's who seem to thrive off
of the acceptance of Bush, and Bush was noted as being encouraged by the ruling
and declaring it as a victory for his administration.

The court defended its decision by saying that it was doing nothing more than
drawing a line between abortion and infanticide. There is a difference between
killing a child, or an infant, and an abortion. One of the most notable
differences is that a child or infant is not considered an infant until the
first breath of air is taken into the lungs. An abortion does not allow the
infant to take that first breath of air, therefore, removing the term infant
from their being.

While it is noble that the Supreme Court is looking and seeking to protect all
forms of life, they should also concern themselves with the lives of the
mothers who carry babies, who should not be allowed to continue to term for
medical reasons.

There are numerous women each year who become pregnant who are unable
physically to carry a child to term, and must abort the child, or risk their
own life. What has the Supreme Court done in order to protect those mothers, or
improve their quality of life?

Straight Marriages -- Gay Unions

The debate of gay marriages has been a very hot political topic for many years
and with being such a hot topic it is almost astounding the number of places
that have come out publicly either for or against the topic. While there are
few states who allow the idea of a gay or same-sex marriage there are those
more liberal affording almost equal rights. Massachusetts is the only state
currently in the United States that allows same-sex marriages. The state of
Rhode Island is generous enough to recognize as legal marriage any same-sex
marriage that is performed in Massachusetts, which is a major victory for many
same-sex supporters.

The elections of recent years have seen this as a very hot topic button, and
with the White House, stressing that marriage involves a man and a woman only,
not same-sexes many states have been very reluctant to allow the same-sex
marriages. However, a few states have come forward and allowed same-sex civil
unions, which are very similar to a marriage.

These states are California, Hawaii, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey, and
Vermont. The District of Columbia also recognizes same-sex unions and soon the
Governor of New Hampshire has stated publicly that he will sign a bill giving
the ok to same-sex unions. This is a major victory for those who are supporting
the movement.

While many states have not given the green light on the same-sex issue, there
are states who are sitting around discussing the issues. Many couples who are
fighting for their rights have argued that there is no difference in the way
they run their households compared to their heterosexual counterparts. They
have also stated that while they may be with a partner who is the same sex as
them, they do still love their partner and should have the right to get married.

This has always been a hot topic, and likely will continue to be a hot topic
for many years to come. With the issues raging within the states and at the
national level it will likely be a very long time before the gay and lesbian
rights groups are able to truly declare a victory for their cause.
Nevertheless, there is some solace to be taken in the small victories as they
occur, and another Governor of a state being willing to allow a civil union is
at least a step in the direction towards a victory.

The fact remains that often the views of the individual states tend to reflect
the views of the President. With a President in office who is a staunch
opponent to the concept of same-sex marriage as well as civil unions it is
unlikely to allow much room for many victories until a more accommodating, or
rather liberal, President is in the White House.

Once the bill passes all of the channels, it can go into effect as early as
next year for the New Hampshire residence who have long been awaiting this
victory. With each state that gives this right to its residents, it opens the
doors to more states to start becoming more tolerant of all their inhabitants.
Finally, this is paving the way for America to join the bulk of Europe in
recognizing the legal inequalities between straight and gay couples nationwide.

Stem Cell Research- Good or Bad?

This is a very 'hot button' issue that keeps arising in the face of politicians
everywhere in the country. What if anything should the government involve itself
in for the issues of stem cell research? How far should the government press
into the fields of medical science research? Should the government interfere at
all, or stand back and come up with laws to handle the consequences of such
research?

It comes into question, how many ordinary Americans really know and understand
what stem cell research is, how it can effect our lives, and what does it have
the ability to do in the future? With topics such as abortion being very hot
and causing pressures on all sides, it only seems natural that stem cell
research should cause just as much controversy. Many supporters argue that the
research gathered will be able to save millions of lives, while those opposing
the research all argue that they are killing thousands of innocent children in
the process.

This brings the question, where do the embryos come from? The majority of the
embryos used in the research come from couples that have donated them,
following a treatment for infertility; there are often 10 or more embryos left
over after such procedures, which can be put to use in the laboratory
environment. The options for those embryos are limited; they can be preserved,
adopted to a needy couple, destroyed, or donated to medical research.

The embryos are only a few mere days past conception when they are frozen, and
are unable to sustain life in any form on their own. From a legal standpoint,
they are not living humans, and are not an infant since legally an embryo 
becomes an infant once the first breath of air is taken. This leaves the 
questions of who has the right to determine what can happen to them.

The embryos are the building blocks of people, yet, they have no rights
themselves. Whom do they belong to? Who is responsible for ensuring they are
taken care of? Many consider the embryos being used in research as the same
category as murder. Is it actually murder when the child is never born, and is
only conceived in a test tube? Who should really make the decision about how
these embryos should be handled?

The embryos themselves are rich in stem cells, which scientists have said can
help cure some of the worst diseases and conditions in the world. This makes
the concept very tempting, but is this dabbling in aspects of science that
shouldn't be used? Should humans really be trying to recreate whole body parts
and organs from the stem cells in order to help a few, but at the expense of a
few other lives?

The current administration has tried to place a ban on this research and block
the use of the embryos. This has upset many supporters who feel this research
is vital to the survival of the human race, while those who digress the ideas
are upset that is has not been banned fully yet. Where is the better side to
stand? Should we allow the government to meddle into the scientific aspects of
medicine, or should we continue the research to save thousands, or millions of
lives?

Sex Offender Laws

With the high rise in the number of sex offenders who are also repeated
offenders the federal government decided to impose laws requiring all convicted
sexual offenders to register with the states in which they live. Although this
measure is controversial, government officials are claiming that it is an
increasingly effective method of avoiding re-offending in some of the most
serious criminals. Is this an invasion of privacy that the states and
politicians have imposed upon someone who has served their sentence, or is this
a legitimate measure of control for some of society's most dangerous offenders?

At some point in time, it became acceptable for the government to track former
criminals; in requiring them to register as an offender, they are essentially
tracking the criminal. They do nothing more than monitor closely their
whereabouts, actions, friends, lifestyle, etc. How this came to be is quite
scary, while it has occurred for a crime that fits the punishment, after all
our children should be protected. It also comes with a price. Many people see
this as an intense invasion of privacy and human rights, and in Europe under
the banner of the European Convention on Human Rights, such procedures would
almost certainly not be allowed.

Since beginning this and requiring that all sexual offenders register with
their respective states, it opens the door for criminals of other crimes to be
required to register. Once that occurs, it allows the governments to start
requiring slowly that everyone be registered for one reason or another. Is this
something that the people are willing to let happen? Should the government have
full knowledge and control over where you go, who your friends are and where
you work?

Many feel that the laws for the sexual offenders are not stiff enough; they
call for stricter punishments and heavier penalties for these most despicable
of criminals. This comes from the side of people that wish to seek nothing more
than revenge. At the same time, if someone commits a crime whom is sent for
mental help, instead of jail they are not required to register. Their offenses
are recorded differently, and their punishment is much easier.

This can cause serious problems in terms of people not being registered that
really should be registered as an offender. The main goal of the program is to
protect the interest of the children; after all, they are the main resource
worth protecting in society. Nevertheless, how far is too far? Some have
suggested implanting the offenders with a microchip that would enable law
enforcement agencies to track the offenders' movements continuously. Is this
something that the American public is willing to accept?

With this being talked about, what are the chances of this occurring for other
crimes as well? What is the point of releasing someone from the judicial system
if they are so dangerous that they must be continuously tracked? As a woman, or
a child how safe do you feel knowing that there are people surrounding you whom
have been convicted of serious crimes against others? What about as a man, does
this change your opinion? The requirement for registration causes social
problems and victimization for those offenders, arguably justifiably, who have
shown themselves to be dangerous. This has the knock on effect of altering the
course of justice, given that these people will have served the appropriate
sentence for their crime, and hopefully have progressed through the systems of
rehabilitation in place.

How do you think it should be handled? There are some people who truly believe
that the registrations processes should be removed, that once their time is
served the offenders should be allowed to disappear back into the woodwork and
free to live their lives without being under the public scrutiny. These are the
people who are looking to have yet another law changed, that could have some
very devastating effects on society, particularly for our children in the
coming generations.

Positivist Legal Theory

The question of the character of law is primarily a simple one, although it
presents a diversity of argumentation to make it an academic favourite and a
thought-provoking topic of debate. Positivism is the term describing the school
of legal thought that follows that law is an authoritative, binding, regulatory
construct. It holds at its core the idea that law is enacted as an
authoritative statement of how society must behave. It rejects the concept of
any connection with morality, and suggests that there is no room for subjective
consideration of the law -- the law is, with no room for negotiation. Positivism
has been criticised, particularly in Germany, as a means of affording tyranny
and extremism to enter mainstream politics. It is said that the general concept
of accepting and enforcing the law by virtue of its status allows unjust laws
enforcing prejudice and discrimination respect by virtue of their enactment,
placing an indefeasible trust in the legislature. As compared to other legal
theories, positivism has gathered a great deal of respect and support across
the world, making it one of the most prominent considerations of the nature of
law.

Positivism places strength on the rules as they are laid down, on the premise
that the process of the legislature is the time for challenge and
interpretation. Although this may generally be the case, it does throw up some
problems in relation to the practical consequences of certain enactments, which
reflect better with experience the level of effectiveness. Another feature of
the positivist movement is that rather than be guided by moral considerations,
the law can be used in certain circumstances to determine what is right and
what is wrong, on the basis of its status as in accordance with or against the
law. Again this causes problems that have formed the basis of much academic
argumentation in the area.

One of the main criticisms of positivism as a theory came in light of the
linguistic considerations of HLA Hart, a leading international legal
philosopher. He stated that the positive law is far from fixed in nature, for
the simple reason that language is not fixed. For example, the famous scenario
offered for this point is a sign in a local park stating 'no vehicles allowed'.
This is by no means a fixed and definitive statement of the law, because
'vehicles' can be taken to mean a broad range of things. For the most part it
will be fairly obvious what falls within the scope -- no cars, vans, trucks or
trains would be permitted. But what about skateboards? Bicycles? Are these
covered within the definition of vehicles? There is no way of knowing from the
text exactly what is intended by the law, so to positivism in this strict sense
is flawed. Rather, a more sophisticated approach is required, which allows the
law to be read in the light of pragmatic and policy considerations. This makes
positivism more palatable as a concept, and strengthens its validity at the
heart of legal philosophy.

Positivism is only one in a series of mainstream legal theories which satisfy
the rational and logical requirements of academics and practitioners alike. Its
intellectual sophistication sets it apart from the more basic natural law
theory, although it is by no means an utterly definitive set of beliefs. All in
all, this is an area of study that is rapidly developing, producing new and more
complex arguments with every empirical text.

Online Campaigns

Where in the world can a person check their mail, pay bills, check bank
balances, book a vacation, and show support for their favorite political
candidate all in the same place? Simple -- online of course. Candidates and
politicians are looking to cash in on the most impact for their time and what
better way to become a part of that powerful trend than welcoming cyber space
into their lives? Who knew that a craze that started a few short years ago with
social websites such as MySpace.com would turn into a tool to be used so heavily
in campaigns?

Barack Obama has enjoyed adding 100,000 friends to his MySpace page, and other
campaigns are even adding other MySpace pages as well as joining into the
Second Life craze that has struck recently, with many people looking to expand
the internet as one of their major sources of advertisement. Each candidate has
their own website of course, with a great amount of information on their
individual views, their position on the issues, and what they wish to see
happen in the country. Never before has the democratic process reached so close
to home, now pulling in a new generation of voters to guide the future of the
country.

Is this a good idea? Should candidates really be losing that personal and
physical touch? However, this is actually one of the most prevalent ways to get
information out recently, with websites popping up everywhere where political
opinions can be viewed, and with sites such as digg.com becoming popular it
enables sites with good content that is full of information people find
fascinating or helpful to rise to the top, and help spread the word to the
masses.

Seems almost like a grass roots type campaign. Yet it does not involve any
physical interaction from the candidates. This is the ultimate tool that can be
used to spread the word quickly about progress and updates in their campaign
without ever leaving their house or office and interacting with those they so
desperately need votes from. This seems to be a bit of a strange position to be
taking, but with the internet reaching so wide and far, it is a tool that many
politicians are utilizing, and to great practical effect.

Many are even recruiting volunteers to manage their spaces in Second Life as
well as MySpace so that their time is better spent and their ability to reach
even more people is extended further. Seems almost strange that volunteers are
now able to help on campaigns that they never would have been able to work on
before, but thanks to the internet, they are able to show support for their
favorite candidate in a way never before seen.

How much further can this really go, with the possibility of the internet
growing into an even larger portion of the campaign, it is very much possible
to keep track of all the happenings and events in almost every political
campaign and race without ever leaving the comfort of your home. Whether this
engages the ordinary citizen on a more direct level will remain to be seen, and
the outcome this will have on the voter demographic at the next election will
surely be profound. Now if only the election voting could be handled online,
securely it would truly be a virtual world.

No Child Left Behind

What exactly does No Child Left Behind really mean? Does that mean that a
school bus driver agrees not to leave my child at school, or does it have a
deeper meaning for parents to look into? What it really means, is that schools
are forced to link the money they receive from the federal government in direct
connection to how well students perform academically. Looking at the sheer facts
of life, schools must have money in order to educate students.

Yet with the need for money in the schools rising steadily there needed to be a
solution to ensure that students were, being taught the skills they needed in
order to be successful adults who are capable of securing a job. Many students
have graduated from high school in the last several years without the ability
to complete many basic tasks such as reading, writing, and elementary level
arithmetic.

After experiencing this phenomenon for several years, President Bush stepped up
to the plate and proposed tying the results of students to the financial
assistance that schools received as an incentive for schools to perform better.
A grade was also assigned to schools each year based upon the standardized test
scores that would tell parents, educators and the country as a whole how well
the schools in a district were performing.

If a school performs badly, parents and students are given the option to
transfer to another school that received a better grade; this directly affects
the amount of money each school is capable of receiving. This puts a great
pressure on schools to perform better. Schools are forced to start taking note,
and answering questions in regard to why students are not performing on an
acceptable academic level when the report cards come out. Each school has the
ability to improve their grades and scores simply by teaching students the
information needed.

Many parents are upset by the program; they feel their children are being
pushed too hard in classes. Many other parents are very happy with the program;
they feel that the schools are just now being forced to be accountable for the
education that students are receiving. As the future draws more into the
technological era, it becomes clear, that technology is king. In order for
students to be able to secure jobs, they must have basic skills and be able to
handle the pressures of life.

Students must leave school fully prepared to take on a job, make a name for
themselves, and improve their lives. Many students upon graduating from school
were forced previously to go onto welfare and take jobs only in low paying jobs
that were unable to turn into careers. Many students now are able to go onto
decent paying jobs that show the possibility to grow into careers, thus
avoiding the welfare trap that many recent graduates were forced into.

How the schools perform in the next few years will really determine how well
our outlook is for the job market. With more jobs moving overseas to cheaper
labor, it is very important that students leave school with the knowledge and
ability to help keep jobs here for the future generations, for it is only with
a graduate-led economy we can remain competitive on an international level.

Natural Law vs. Positivism

The philosophy of law is a complex and in depth study, which requires an
intimate knowledge of the legal process in general as well as a philosophical
mind. For centuries, the scope and nature of law has been debated and argued
from various view points, and intense intellectual discussion has arisen from
the fundamental question of 'what is law'. In response, several major schools
of thought have been born, of which the natural law scholars and positivists
are two of the most notable. These two camps hold strictly contrasting views
over the role and function of law in certain circumstances, and have provided
in themselves platforms for criticism and debated which continue to be relevant
today.

Although the classifications of natural law and positivism are frequently used,
it is important to remember that they cover a very wide range of academic
opinion. Even within each camp, there are those veering towards more liberal or
more conservative understandings, and there is also naturally a grey area.
Having said that, academics and philosophers can be enveloped by one of the
categories on the basis of certain fundamental principles within their writings
and opinions.

Natural law has always been linked to ultra-human considerations, that is to
say a spiritual or moral influence determinant of their understandings of the
way law operates. One of the founding principles is that an immoral law can be
no law at all, on the basis that a government needs moral authority to be able
to legislate. For this reason, natural law theories have been used to justify
anarchy and disorder at ground level. This had lead to widespread criticism of
the natural law principles, which have had to be refined and developed to fit
with modern thinking. On the flip side, natural law has been used as a
definitive method of serving 'justice' to war criminals and former-dictators
after their reign.

Some of the strongest criticisms of natural law have come from the positivist
camp. Positivism holds at its centre the belief that law is not affected by
morality, but in essence is the source of moral considerations. Because
morality is a subjective concept, positivism suggests that the law is the
source of morality, and that no extra-legal considerations should be taken in
to account. Positivism has been criticised for allowing extremism and unjust
actions through law. It has also been suggested that positivism in its
strictest sense is flawed because it ignores the depth and breadth of language
in legal enactment, which means the positive law can be read in different
lights based on differing meanings of the same word. Despite this, positivism
has been seen as one of the fundamental legal theories in the development of
modern legal philosophy over the last few decades, and is winning widespread
favour through a contemporary academic revival.

Natural law and positivism have been the subject of an ongoing academic debate
into the nature of law and its role within society. Both respective legal
schools have criticised and built on one and others theories and principles to
create a more sophisticated philosophical understanding of the legal construct.
Although the debate is set to continue with a new generation of promising legal
theorists, both natural law and positivism have gained widespread respect for
their consistency and close analyses of the structure of law.

Natural Law Theory

In attempting to garner an understanding of the nature of law, early legal
philosophers and academics formulated what has come to be known as the natural
law theory, and has become a literal cornerstone of the development of modern
legal thinking. Although somewhat limited in modern jurisprudential thinking,
natural law has had a tremendous impact on our understanding of what law means
in society as a baseline from which to build more complex theories. In this
article, we will look at some of the major propositions underpinning the
concept of natural law, and the corresponding strengths and weaknesses of this
fundamental interpretation of the legal function.

Natural law starts with the basic premise that the law is driven by morality,
and consequently is affected by it. With a history extending back to Aristotle
and other early philosophers, the natural law theory has traditionally linked
the law with religion and an innate sense of justice, rather than the more
pragmatic approaches of some other theories. Although this might sound rather
basic, the principals have been developed and refined through academic debate
for centuries ultimately leading to a far more sophisticated theory of the
nature of law. The idea that all law is subject to an unwritten code of
morality is fundamental to natural law. This also throws up some potential
problems in terms of civil regulation. Certain natural law theorists suggest
that for a law to be binding on the citizen, it must conform to this sense of
natural justice. However, there is clearly no definitive objective concept of
morality, which casts doubt over this principle. Additionally, the prospect
that a law may be disregarded in favour of some higher sense of morality
doesn't conform in reality, considering the potential implications of
consistently disregarding law on the grounds of the subjective concept of
justice.

Furthermore on this primitive understanding of natural law, the citizen in
contravention to the laws of his state, could attempt to excuse his actions
through a justification of 'immoral' laws. This would also create a state of
disorder, given the natural variation of personal opinions, which would
ultimately render society unworkable. For this reason, the natural law scheme
has failed to garner modern academic acceptance, of course with a few
exceptions.

Natural law has been proposed as a consideration in trying war criminals, on
the basis of the retrospectivity principle, i.e. no man can be tried for a
crime that was not a crime when he committed it. Many war criminals are merely
cogs in the machine of a legal regime, which ultimately permits their actions,
however unjustifiable morally. Natural law theories give a basis for challenge
on these grounds, whilst avoiding the awkward question of direct legal
contravention, which ultimately works to serve justice. In this sense, it is
perhaps useful as a canon of interpretation and in determining just and
equitable outcomes in 'difficult' cases. However, as a wider legal concept,
natural law and the proposed intersection between law and morality seems too
awkward to reconcile with considered academic legal understandings. Having said
that, natural law has provided an excellent starting position for further
advanced argumentation, and has provided a platform for critique that has been
essential to the development of the more sophisticated ideas held in regard in
this modern day.

Minimising Tax Liability On Death

When we die, most of us leave behind a fairly substantial and intricate web of
assets and liabilities, including money, our home and our other possessions. In
most jurisdictions, there arises a liability to tax on death that must be borne
from the totality of the estate, and this can lead to a significant reduction
of inheritance for our loved ones. Having said that, there are a number of ways
in which liability to tax on death can be vastly reduced whilst still ensuring
sufficient legacies and provisions mortis causa. In this article, we will look
at some of the most salient ways in which one can seek to minimise his estate's
liability to tax on death, and ways in which careful planning can help increase
the legacies we leave behind.

Tax liability on death usually arises through bad inheritance planning, and a
lack of legal consideration. Of course to a certain extent it is unavoidable,
but with some care and consideration it is possible to reduce liability
overall. There's absolutely no point in making legacies in a will which won't
be fulfilled until after death and which haven't been properly considered in
light of the relevant legal provisions. If you haven't done so already, it is
extremely advisable to consult an attorney on minimising liability on death,
and on effective estate planning to avoid these potential problems and to
ensure your family are left with more in their pockets.

If you intend to leave legacies to family members of a specific quantity or
nature, it may be wise to do so at least a decade before you die, which will
ultimately divert any potential legal challenges upon death which would give
rise to tax liability. Obviously there is seldom any way to tell precisely when
you are going to die, but making legacies at least a decade beforehand avoids
any liability that might be attached on death. In effect, donating during your
lifetime well before you die means you can still provide for your family and
friend without having to pay the corresponding tax bill.

Another good way to minimise tax liability is to get rid of assets during your
lifetime by way of gifts to friends and family. One of the most effective ways
to do this is to transfer your house to your children during your lifetime, or
to move the house into a trust for which you are a beneficiary. This means you
remain functionally the owner, but legally, the asset doesn't feature in your
estate on death and therefore doesn't attract tax liability. Again, it is of
great importance to ensure that the transfer is made well before death to avoid
potential challenges and potential inclusion in the estate which would lead to
inheritance tax liability.

Death is a particularly important phase in our lives, particularly in legal
terms. The change between owning our own property and distributing ownerless
property provides a range of challenges, and the controversial tax implications
can cause serious problems. Without careful planning and an expert hand, it can
be easy to amass a significant tax bill for your loved ones to bear. However,
with the right direction, it can be easy to use the relevant mechanisms to
minimise the potential liability to tax on your estate upon death.

Gun Control Under Debate

After the recent massacre at Virginia Tech, once again the mammoth issue of gun
control has been brought up at full force. Many are highly upset that even after
gun control laws have been enacted that the killer in the massacre was approved
for a gun and purchased it in less than 30 minutes. Many have speculated that
had there been much harsher guidelines in place, that the sale would not have
been completed, and it could have potentially saved all of the lives that were
tragically lost in the disaster.

The death toll from the massacre has risen to over 30 killed and more than 20
wounded. This is aside from the emotional damage that has been caused to the
hundreds who are left grieving in the wake, and those who experienced first
hand the trauma of the event. How can such events really be avoided? Is it
possible to avoid such tragedy with firmer gun laws?

What about the programs that offer rewards in the form of video game systems,
computers and even cash in exchange for turning guns into the police? Are these
programs effective? In order to truly control guns, there has to be consensus
around the country where everyone agrees that it is time for a change and the
change occurs quickly, and without opposition. Gun laws are clearly too lax,
and our country needs to take action to avoid scenes like those in Virginia
from reoccurring.

The chances of something such as this happening are almost impossible. Neither
side of the political arena can agree with the other side about what
appropriate gun control is, and with many residents of the United States being
avid hunters whom use riffles and shotguns on an almost daily basis, it makes
it very difficult to control all of the actions and movements that occur.

Consider that many weapons used in crimes are illegally obtained; it makes it
very difficult to determine how effective the stiffer gun laws would really be.
With a new Presidential Primary due to start in the near future, it will seem as
if there will be much heavy debate over how to control the flow of guns into the
hands of those who are dangerous, or potentially dangerous.

Facts remain, that while the election is likely to focus on this issue, there
is still the issue of preserving the Constitutional right to "bear arms" as
long as it is done legally, and those who already have the weapons currently
can potentially be just as dangerous as those looking to purchase the guns in
the future. We are left with the task of trying to avoid the tragedy as much as
possible.

Colorado stepped up to the plate with a swift action enacting much stiffer gun
laws after the Columbine school massacre in which two teenage boys entered
their school donning trench coats and heavy weapons leaving a wake of blood and
fallen students in the path. Colorado decided to avoid future incidents and
enact the tougher laws. It is suspected that Virginia will follow in this path.
The fate of the country rests in the hands of those elected to the public
offices to help determine exactly how far gun control should go, and how the
changes should occur.

Executive Compensation to the People

There is a bill in the progress before the House of Representatives that is
trying to put the issue of the pay and compensation package that executives of
publicly traded companies receive in front of stockholders. This bill is
actually expected to pass through the house successfully; however, it is
unclear how well the Senate will receive it. Is this bill the right direction
for a modern America, or do we need to consider more intimately the economic
implications of such a decision?

The White House has already formally registered its opposition to such a plan,
however the backers are unconcerned. Many feel that the compensation plans of
the major officers of the publicly traded companies should be tied to the
performance of the company and the officers themselves, and not to the figures
that the officers wish to receive.

This bill if passed could place an enormous amount of power into the hands of
stockholders who are upset with the way several companies have behaved lately,
with declining profits and horrible business practices while the officers of
the companies have picked up large compensation packages that include their
salary, benefits, and stock options. Each officer can end up with hundreds if
not thousands in profits even while the company is performing badly, which
stockholders believe is an inequitable outcome.

Many have wondered if the officers in charge of these companies would tighten
the belts on spending if their own pay was tied to their performance rather
than their wishes, and with numerous companies falling short of profits with
huge pay packages going out, and raises occurring almost yearly many investors
have started complaining loudly.

While current President Bush has urged the officers of the companies to step up
and take responsibility. He has also said that it is not an issue that the
government should become involved in. How far should the government extend into
a private business? How many people would really feel comfortable with the idea
of having the government determine what their pay could be? Most Americans can
agree that they would not like the idea of the government interfering with
their job and pays.

At the same time, while most Americans do not wish to have the government
intruding into their jobs and careers, many still want some measures put into
place to hold the executives accountable who are responsible for multi-million
and multi-billion companies that employ hundreds to thousands of people.

Many have argued that the concept is nothing new; it is similar to ideas that
are currently in place in countries such as Sweden, Australia and even in
Britain. With examples such as those to follow, it makes people wonder if this
actually does have the chance to pass through the House of Representatives and
the Senate once the voting time has arrived.

With time as the key factor, there is scheduled to be a vote on the issue in
the House of Representatives in the very near future, which is very much
expected to pass without much opposition. It is the next step in the Senate
that is where it starts getting sticky with people unsure of the results once
the voting in the Senate starts. However, with increasing support from the
people, many of whom work for companies affected by this issue, there is scope
for a mass political influence, which will certainly make the outcome
interesting.

The UK Constitution: Does it Exist?

The UK is one of the few developed countries in the world without a written
constitution. Despite this, its economy is prospering as it strengthens its
position as one of the richest nations in the world. On top of that, it is
pivotally located within the European federal framework in spite of its
comparatively small geographic land mass and population. This raises an obvious
question as to the mechanisms of governance: if there isn't a constitution, how
has the UK survived in this form, and how can it continue to prosper in a
modern era without any distinct definitively specified legal order?

The United Kingdom is unlike most other nations in the world in that it has not
suffered any major constitutional change since the Middle Ages. Since that time,
it has been predominantly governed by a monarch in conjunction with his or her
parliament. That said, it has proven to be of continuing success throughout the
ages without the strict written form that many countries have adopted. From this
has sprung an unprecedented flexibility, and the UK has effectively developed
its own (non-binding) constitutional conventions to keep the country running
smoothly. Additionally, the bi-cameral (or dual chamber) parliament plus the
necessary monarchical ratification serves to provide a comprehensive set of
checks and balances which would otherwise be provided through a written
constitution.

The statement that the UK is lacking a constitution is misleading. Of course
there is no written document, but the UK has a rich and diverse legal tapestry
that works fluidly and has so for centuries. This fluidity has allowed for
adaptation when necessary, and has allowed the UK to flourish and develop where
others didn't have the chance. Behind the scenes is an equally strict and
wrought-iron code of conduct, which can partially be derived from codes of
practices, Acts of Parliament and other 'bits and pieces'. Although there may
not be a constitution present in the sense of a single definitive document, the
UK most certainly operates on the foundation of a constitution that keeps the
country running smoothly on a daily basis.

A major aspect of the UK constitution is the thorough legislative process
required for legal enactment. Any bill must firstly be proposed to the House of
Commons, an elected body of representatives empowered with the power of
legislative initiative. The first chamber proposes legislation and debates the
provisions in depth, before agreeing on a final draft to pass to the second
chamber, known as the House of Lords. The House of Lords are largely
un-elected, with 'membership' passed down from generation to generation, or new
members proposed by the House of Commons. They then have the right of veto, and
an ability to refer back to the first chamber their proposed changes to any
bills. This ensures no rushed legislation passes, and in theory should cover
all eventualities. After passing both Houses, it is referred to the monarch,
who has a personal responsibility to ensure any legislation is in accordance
with the will of the people, and is morally justified. Although the monarch
hasn't used her power of veto since the 17th century, it is still an important
constitutional safeguard in the UK.

The UK constitution might not seem obvious initially, but there is most
certainly an intricate web of governance and practice lying underneath its
blank exterior. It has been described as the most successful constitution in
the world, and this is bolstered by its perpetual success and lack of problems
since its early evolution.





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