The Pistorius trial.

The trial of Oscar Pistorius has drawn monumental attention from across the globe, the sense of entertainment that has surrounded the event has been irresistible to people. Perhaps the lure of an international sports star being in the dock has been that attraction, but the transmission of the case live from the court room has undoubtedly intensified proceedings. It has been easy to forget that it is dealing with the lives of real people, that have been subject to an intense media-frenzy. Though the coverage of the case has naturally been vast and wide ranging, it raises questions about the privacy of the parties involved, and whether they have been protected. The images of Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June, staring Pistorius directly in the eyes as he apologized for shooting dead her daughter, were somewhat chilling in the sense that it felt much like watch a drama programme on the television.

This being said, the case was bound to draw the attention it has, whether it was televised or not. The audience has been fascinated with tiny details that might suggest whether he did it or not. The case seemed to be relatively even until bullish prosecuting barrister Gerrie Nel called Pistorius to the witness stand. Despite his obvious grief at certain points, the discrepancies Nel has appeared to have uncovered in the athlete’s account has put a serious dent in credibility. If South African cases were decided by a jury, I think there would have been a good chance of Pistorius being found not guilty. His remorseful nature might have appealed to a group of his peers who would have no doubt looked up to him as a sports star at some point, but a judge is in a far better position to deliver an unbiased decision. As the trial begins an adjournment until May 5th, there is still no clear consensus for which side the judge will come down on.  The frustrating matter of fact is that the truth could well never be known.

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A step closer

The developing situation in Eastern Ukraine is far more worrying that the annexation of Crimea. Since my last post towards the end of February, the Crimean peninsula has officially become part of Russia again. Despite the denial of the international community in recognising this, people in the region voted overwhelmingly to detach themselves from the Ukraine in favour of following Mr Putin. The West was quick to dispel the vote as illegal, but the question of the vote breaking international law seems to have gone unanswered. Up until this point, I found it hard not to side with Putin over the hypocrisy that Western leaders were showing once again. Interventions in Syria and earlier in Iraq and Afghanistan have proved somewhat embarrassing and imperialistic for the West, but the latest developments in Ukraine have caused me to question my stance. The pro-Russian thugs that have taken over state buildings in Eastern cities have been issued with an ultimatum by the Ukrainian government. Meanwhile, Putin has warned ministers in Kiev that they face civil war should they decide to use force rid the activists from government buildings in Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv. If Putin was looking for a pretext to invade Eastern Ukraine, in his eyes he now certainly has it.

Venezuela: The Game Changed Last Night

Caracas Chronicles

San Cristobal ayer San Cristobal on Tuesday night

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and  storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting. People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street. And that’s just what came out…

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Protests in Ukraine

It is still too early to tell what the eventual outcome of the protests in Ukraine will be. Despite demonstrations becoming increasingly protracted, President Viktor Yanukovych remains in support of his decision to withdraw from a planned agreement that would see the Ukraine become part of the European Union. It is clear that the people are against his decision. Being integrated into the EU would see numerous economic benefits along with looser movement in and out of the country; free trade with Europe open up unprecedented opportunities, but the President has turned this down in favour of keeping closer links with Russia. Admittedly Russia is the largest market for Ukrainian exports, but the EU market is undeniably crucial for the growth of Ukraine both economically and politically amongst the international community. President Yanukovych’s pro-Russia stance is well documented, but the Ukrainian people see the need for closer ties to Western Europe and achieving this would be a significant step in their development; staying away from the EU under pressure from Moscow is a frankly regressive direction that is reminiscent of Cold War politics.