All the trash thats unfit to print

Standard old-stock journalist attire.

You may have noticed that I’m not a big fan of the old-stock media. They’re ok for information on local news, but any time a story requires any sort of general or specialist knowledge they tend to get it spectacularly wrong.

Take this comically clueless story that appeared in last Monday’s Daily Express:  End of ISIS? Putin ‘sending 150,000 soldiers to Syria to WIPE OUT evil Islamic State.

The Russian leader is reportedly mounting an enormous military mission to take control of the terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa.

The city is the self-declared capital of in Syria and is patrolled by as many as 5,000 jihadi members.

Putin is set to mobilise 150,000 reservists who he conscripted into the military earlier this week.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Russia drafts about 300,000 young men each year in two intakes in spring and autumn. Their training lasts for a one year period after which their term of service ends unless they sign on for additional service as contract (professional) soldiers.   Furthermore, it is against the law for conscript soldiers to serve outside Russia’s borders and while Putin may have no qualms about breaking the law even he won’t go so far as to send 150,000 untrained teenagers to Syria. If you relied upon this “news” paper to find out what is going on in the Middle East you’d come away woefully misinformed.
Or take this article that appeared last year in the supposedly “serious” Daily Telegraph:  Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs

Islamic law is to be effectively enshrined in the British legal system for the first time under guidelines for solicitors on drawing up “Sharia compliant” wills.

Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.

The documents, which would be recognised by Britain’s courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock – and even those who have been adopted – from being counted as legitimate heirs.

Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognise only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes.

These four sentences are complete rubbish from start to finish.  If you read this article and believed (as many people did) you actually finished it stupider than you began.   The fact is, that legal systems based on the English common law have a unique doctrine called testamentary freedom.  Traditionally this meant that you could draw up a will that would allow you to leave your estate to anyone you wished, and you were not required to leave any to close kin such as a spouse or children (although this unfettered discretion has had restrictions placed on it in recent years in many common law jurisdictions). This contrasts with other legal systems including Civil law systems as found in continental Europe (and Louisiana!) and of course Sharia law, both of which have a doctrine of Forced Heirship which requires portions of the deceased’s estate to be left to certain family members.  You can see a brief synopsis of French inheritance law here.  Sharia law operates according to similar principles although the details will be different.

This is your brain after reading the Telegraph

The point is, in a common law jurisdiction there has never been any bar to a person drafting a will based on the principles of Sharia law, Napoleonic law or Klingon law.   Testamentary freedom means just that – you can divide your estate as you like. Even Muslims have this right.  All the Law Society practice directive did was to provide advice on the drafting of Sharia compliant wills to solicitors whose clients requested it.  This wasn’t about “enshrining Sharia law” in the legal system, it was to help solicitors provide better service to clients and to allow them to avoid making mistakes that could result in complaints or claims in negligence against them.

Do your brain a favour and avoid the old-stock media as much as you can.

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