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For the past couple of months, I have been receiving messages and calls from concerned relatives and friends back home in Malaysia wanting to know whether I have been affected by the recent bushfires. Thankfully, like most Gold Coasters, I wasn’t physically confronted by the crisis,  but of course we have all been touched by the devastating news of loss and destruction suffered by so many around us. It is awful to think the fires have claimed lives, destroyed homes, impacted at least a billion animals, and laid to waste more than 25 million acres of land.
Don’t you sometimes miss the good, old-fashioned Moral High Ground? As a post-war baby, the world I was born into seemed a brave and righteous one. Our fathers had just fought and died to free us all from fascism and oppression. The world had paid a terrible price, but it was all worth it.  In the end we won, and the Bad Guys lost.
Last week, a Queensland mother became the first person to be charged under the State’s new, expanded definition of murder laws, after allegedly leaving her two infant children to die in the blistering heat of her car, after falling asleep one Saturday afternoon.
School’s out! So hold onto your hats, folks, it's on again. As thousands of school-leavers descend upon Surfers Paradise for the annual ritual of revelry that has become known as Schoolies Week, thousands more parents hold their collective breath in dread and anticipation. The institutional shackles have been broken and cast aside, leaving only the unbridled celebratory passion of youth.
About ten years before the birth of Christ the great Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso, in his collection of epistolary poems known as The Heroides, coined the Latin phrase Exitus acta probat, which translates roughly to the often-quoted mantra ‘The end justifies the means’. It is a sentiment celebrated by the Italian Renaissance writer Niccolo Machiavelli in the 1500’s and enthusiastically embraced by a long list of authoritarian dictators throughout history. Thankfully, it has no place in the criminal justice system of any modern western democracy.
Over the next 24 months or so, the State government looks set to roll out various amendments to our traffic laws which will have a significant effect on penalties meted out to drink drivers on our roads. On 12 September this year, the Queensland Parliament assented to the Transport Legislation (Road Safety and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2019, which introduces substantial changes to a swathe of traffic regulation legislation. Amongst the more notable changes are provisions regarding the mandatory use of interlock devices for those convicted of any drink driving offence.
In February 1692, in a secluded village in the isolated British American colony of Massachusetts, 9-year-old Betty Parris and her 11-year-old cousin Abigail Williams, began to behave very strangely indeed. It seems they had recently taken to screaming, ranting and raving, throwing objects hither and thither, making weird noises, and generally behaving in a way the local reverend described as “beyond the power of epileptic fits or natural disease to effect.” When other young females in the same village started to exhibit similarly disturbing symptoms, the good folk of Salem quickly concluded there was witchcraft at work in their town, and decided it was time to take action.
Last week, Australian man Jock Palfreeman was released from a Bulgarian prison after being incarcerated for 8 years and 11 months for the murder of a local law student in 2007. Palfreeman has consistently protested his innocence, his legal team unsuccessfully arguing at his trial that the fatal incident occurred after he ran to the assistance of a local man being attacked by more than 12 men, and that he subsequently acted in self-defence when the group turned on him. However, since being released on parole, he has remained in custody at a Busmantsi Detention Centre, awaiting authorisation to return to Australia. Now Bulgarian Prosecutors are reportedly seeking to have his parole revoked, meaning his ordeal may not be over.
Four men made headlines recently for chasing down a knife-wielding man in a crowded Sydney street and, armed only with milk crates and chairs, tackling him to the ground, disarming him and detaining him until police arrived.  The male firefighters who leapt out of their firetruck in the busy traffic and joined the chase, wielding their axes, also received high-ranking accolades for their heroism.  The NSW Police Commissioner described them as the “highest order of heroes”.  
We've all heard the news of protesters demonstrating in the streets of Hong Kong, decrying the proposed amendments to that city's extradition laws with China. We've seen the television news footage of university students, right here in Australia, pushing and shoving each other over whether Hong Kong citizens should be tried in the Communist mainland. But what's it all about? Doesn't Hong Kong belong to China? Well, yes and no.
China has yet again cemented its reputation as the great 21st-century innovator by coming up with a novel new way of convincing its citizens to honour their legal and community responsibilities. In the interests of encouraging wayward debtors to pay their dues, Chinese Authorities have devised a none-too-subtle system of naming and shaming them by projecting their names and faces onto movie screens across the country, including recently during the previews to the worldwide smash hit movie Avengers: Endgame.
Once upon a time, if you did the crime you did the time. If not, you walked. Nowadays, it can be somewhat more complicated. The practice of criminal law in Australia is increasingly embracing the time-honoured US model of down-and-dirty, pragmatic plea-bargaining deals between prosecution and defence, aimed at achieving a compromise acceptable to both parties. And in recent years Australian courts have tacitly encouraged that process by routinely offering discounted penalties to those who arrive at an early decision to plead guilty on mutually-agreed facts.

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