On January 1

On this day in ...

... 1997, the 1994 International Tropical Timber Agreement entered into force as to "[e]ighteen producer countries and eighteen consumer countries." The agreement, which superseded a 1983 treaty, aimed at "conservation, management and sustainable development of the world's tropical forests, as well as technical cooperation activities and the promotion of market transparency and tropical timber trade." The 1994 pact in turn is being replaced by a 2006 agreement of the same name; the monitored body is the Japan-based International Tropical Timber Organization (logo above right).

... 1949 (60 years ago today), the British Nationality Act 1948 came into effect. It created the designation "Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies," which enabled certain citizens of Commonwealth countries to hold citizenship in their own countries and in the Commonwealth of Nations, the entity whose flag is at left.

A Happy New Year ... of reading

All of us at IntLawGrrls look forward to your visits this New Year!

(credit for 1941 Works Progress Administration poster)

CWL---Saving the Gettysburg Cyclorama

Saving the Gettysburg Cyclorama, Gettysburg Foundation, DVD, 60 minutes, 2009. $21.95.

You may have seen it before, but never like it is today. In its nearly 125-year history, the 16,000-square-foot, four ton, 125 year old Gettysburg cyclorama- panorama painting has lost about 40% of its canvas. It's moved around the country half a dozen times. It has been burned. It has been cut up. It has painted over. It has been stored under roofs with only three walls.

The Gettysburg Cyclorama has been restored to its original 377 feet long and 43 high is being hyperbolic shape and is now on display at the Gettysburg Military Park's $125 million visitor center, theatre and museum building.

If you saw it in the old visitors center, you saw a flat canvas in a circle. Now, two years and over $11 millions later, the cyclorama painting has two surface cleaning, the wax and glue backing removed, the old patches over tears removed, and the cracks in the paint restored. It now hangs with a slight bow in the canvas, a convex curve that brings center line of sight almost 18 inches closer to the viewer, who does not now stand at the bottom of the painting and looks up but stands on and elevated platform and looks directly at the center of the painting.

This dvd not only pays attention to the preservation procedures but also to the painting's history and the history of panoramic art that was so popular in the mid-19th century. From Pilippoteaux's first visit to the battlefield, his commissioning of photographs to be taken from a tower erected at the Angle, and finally to his team of painters execution of the work, the dvd is a brief but thorough presentation of art, popular culture and preservation science.

Top Image: Newsday

Hyvää uutta vuotta 2009!

Toivotan kaikille lukijoilleni mitä parhainta uutta vuotta!

Muistakaa osallistua arvontaan, joka on tuossa alapuolella.

Iraq on the couch

Iraq on the SOFA, is more like it.
SOFA, of course, is the acronym for Status of Forces Agreement, the generic term for a pact concluded between a country wishing to send its troops to a foreign land and a country that’s willing to receive foreign troops.
Governments in the United States and Iraq are about to implement a pact designed to define relations between the 2 countries for the next 3 years. Media have referred to the pact as a SOFA, and the text available here does include the expected provisions; for example, one setting forth which country has primary jurisdiction over which persons in the event a criminal case arises. (Private contractors are destined to lose immunity from Iraqi jurisdiction.) This pact is more than an ordinary SOFA, however, as its full name belies:
Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organizations of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq.
Indeed, it is Article 24, “Withdrawal of the United States Forces from Iraq,” that provokes perhaps the widest interest. Article 24 specifies that U.S. forces -- which invaded Iraq, leading a “coalition of the willing,” in March 2003 – “shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.” Withdrawal from parts of the country is to occur much sooner:
All United States combat forces shall withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages, and localities no later than the time at which Iraqi Security Forces assume full responsibility for security in an Iraqi province, provided that such withdrawal is completed no later than June 30, 2009.
On November 17, the 2 states’ executive officers subscribed to this speedy timetable, along with the rest of the pact. There is a proviso, however; each state’s government must secure domestic approval.
In the United States, criticism has been muted (though not entirely absent; Tom Hayden colorfully called the pact Frankenstein in Mesopotamia). The Administration of President George W. Bush managed to quell debate by resort to a “sole executive agreement” – a pact that the President concludes with another country and without having to secure the approval of Congress. (Our colleague Frederic L. Kirgis has posted a most helpful international-agreements primer here.) But that decision in itself drew criticism. Indeed, law professors Oona Hathaway (right) and Bruce Ackerman have argued here and here that the Constitution requires Congress’ input for this kind of pact – either the OK of both Houses or the advice and consent of 2/3 of the Senate. Hathaway reiterated her objections at the Northern California International Law Scholars’ roundtable earlier this month. Pointing in particular to the pact's abrogation of contractor immunity, she maintained that if U.S. officials had negotiated the pact with the knowledge that they would have to “sell it to Congress,” the result would have been better. In her view, the lack of any need to get an OK at home “made them weaker, not stronger.”
In Iraq, debate was both more widespread and more heated. Last month “tens of thousands” of Iraqi protesters marched to the Baghdad square where, years earlier, another crowd famously toppled statue of Saddam Hussein. There, “to denounce” the pact, they “dragged down … an effigy of President Bush.” “A fistfight broke out in Iraq's parliament,” NPR reported. Soon, however, Iraq legislators approved the pact, by a vote of 149 to 35, with 14 members abstaining and another 77 absent for the vote. Iraq completed its internal adoption process on December 4, when the 3-member Presidential Council approved the pact.
Along with a similar resolution pertaining to British and other non-U.S. troops, the pact thus takes effect tomorrow, New Year’s Day.
The U.N. mandate authorizing foreign troop presence expires, like this year, at midnight.

(With thanks to California-Davis law student Veronica Capron, whose research interest in this pact piqued my own)

On December 31

On this day in ...

... 1963 (45 years ago today), a 10-year-old entity (left) formed by British initiative, the Central African Federation, officially dissolved into 3 units. What had been Northern Rhodesia become independent Malawi; Nyasaland, Zambia. The remaining territory, "Southern Rhodesia[,] refused to hand political control over to its African majority"; it would not become independent Zimbabwe until 1980.

... 1930, Odetta Holmes was born in Birmingham, Alabama. At age 10, not long after she and her family had moved to Los Angeles, the girl's talent for singing was discovered. At age 19 she performed in the chorus of Finian's Rainbow, and while supporting herself through housecleaning, she pursued a career as an entertainer. Eventually Odetta would be known as the mother of folk music and a queen of the blues. She also was active in the U.S. civil rights movement, marching with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Selma, Alabama, and singing at the 1963 March on Washington (above right) where King gave his renowned "I Have a Dream" speech (prior posts here and here). Odetta passed away at the beginning of this month, a few weeks shy of her 78th birthday. In the video clip below, Odetta delivers a powerful rendition of an old prison work song, Water Boy.

CWL--- One Northern County's Civil War: Tremendous Resource, Tremendous Story

Our Honored Dead: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the American Civil War, Arthur B. Fox, Mechling Bookbindery, photographs, maps, notes, index, bibliography, 486 pages,2008, $39.95.

In Pennsylvania, the cities of Pittsburgh, and Allegheny City and the rest of Allegheny County raised over 200 companies of infantry, cavalry and artillery during the Civil War. Arthur Fox has set forth a clear, complete and very well referenced description Allegheny County's soldiers. With tables of the 1860 and 1870 census, a composite of troop calls, quotas and numbers of Allegheny County and Pennsylvania troops, Fox has find the important numbers for local regional and state researchers as well as social historians. By providing 27 maps that show the cities, boroughs and townships and the major battles at which Allegheny County troops fought, Fox has provided a much needed resource for those not immersed in the military history of the Civil War. Indeed the 71 photographic portraits and drawings embedded in the text insure that the non-Civil War expert will be comfortable with Fox's book.

Readers coming for the first time to mid-19th century history will be pleased to find an entertaining and informative discussion of the county's canals, railroads, newspapers, politics, fire fighting and law enforcement efforts, taverns, horse racing, industries (including the ironworks and the arsenal) and many other things, that form the socio-political environment of the county's' soldiers. Even artists and the 1864 Sanitary Fair are covered in Fox's description of the county.

Fox's treatment of the military companies consists of: dates of enlistment, a biographical description of field officers, the county organization of the regiment, the Allegheny county companies and their captains, the organization of the regiment and its military service, its losses, and its published regimental histories. The book is extensively (35 pages) indexed by subject, personal names, and geographic locations. The bibliography is over 20 pages. Each chapter has its own notes which number 30 to 50. There are 10 appendices regarding; statistics, medal of honor winners, African-American soldiers, generals, Roman Catholic nuns, the payroll of the Allegheny Arsenal which exploded on September 17, 1862, steamships built on the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio River docks in Allegheny, Civil War monuments, and a case study of the veterans of one company, and a list of repositories of Civil War documents.

Because of the wealth of information on Allegheny County, on Pennsylvania, and as a fine model of historic research and writing Our Honored Dead: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the American Civil War should be added to the collections all Pennsylvania public, academic, and historical society libraries.

Arthur B. Fox is professor of geography and also teaches courses in regional history and popular culture. His 2002 book, Pittsburgh During the American Civil War, 1860-1865 is a standard among Civil War era Northern urban studies. He was a contributing editor to the African-American Historic Sites Survey of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Osallistu arvontaan!!!

Vuoden vaihde lähenee ja uusi vuosi odottaa. Sen kunniaksi järjestän blogini historian ensimmäisen arvonnan, jossa on mahtava palkinto. 

Jos haluat osallistua, niin käy katsomassa tämä pieni galleria ja valitse gallerian paras kuva. Tarkoituksena on valita esteettisesti paras kuva, siis sellainen, joka näyttää parhaalta omasta mielestäsi. Käytän tämän kyselyn tuloksia tulevassa jutussani, jonka julkaisen, kun olen ensin käynyt läpi kaikki tuhannet vastaukset lukijoiltani. On siis tärkeää blogini sisällön kannalta, että osallistut.

Kun olet katsonut gallerian, niin täytä lomake täällä ja lähetä se. Kaikki osallistujat ovat mukana arvonnassa, jossa mahtavana palkintona on 4 gigan San Disk Extreme 3 muistikortti joko SDHC tai CF mallisena. Palkinnon sponsoroin ihan itse.

Lomakkeen voi tietenkin täyttää katsomatta galleriaa ollenkaan, mutta toivon silti, että katsot oikeasti gallerian ennen kuin täytät osallistumislomakkeen.

Lomakkeessa kysytään nimi ja sähköpostiosoite, johon lähetän arvonnan voittajalle ilmoituksen. Voittaja julkaistaan myös blogissani arvonnan jälkeen. Postitan palkinnon voittajalle sen jälkeen, kun voittaja ilmoittaa minulle postiosoitteennsa. Arvonnan jälkeen hävitän sähköpostiosoitteet ja nimet enkä tee tai kerää niistä tilastoa, lukijarekisteriä enkä muutakaan. Ainoa syy kysyä noita tietoja on se, että voin suorittaa arvonnan. Jos haluat valita kuvan, mutta et halua osallistua arvontaan, niin jätä nimi ja sähköpostiosoite pois lomakkeesta.

Osallistua voi 6.1.2009 asti.

... and counting ...

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) It is hard these days to know where to count:
► Headlines report that the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 350 children, women, and men since Israeli air strikes began on Monday.
► In a state we've discussed as a 3d front in the U.S. campaign against terrorism, a Taliban attack left "[m]ore than 30 people ... killed and more than two dozen wounded" in Pakistan Sunday, as voters waited to cast ballots in a legislative election in Sharibandi, in the northwest of the country. As might be expected from an attack on a school, some of these victims also were children.
► At a Catholic church in eastern Congo near the Sudan border, 189 persons, mostly children and women, were massacred the day after Christmas, in an attack that U.N. officials have blamed on the Lords Resistance Army.
► South of the U.S. border, 6,836 children, women, and men have died since Mexico's declaration in 2007 of a war on drugs in the country. The Los Angeles Times notes,
That's more than the U.S. fatalities in the Iraq war.

Despite this tragic competition, "...and counting..." will keep to its original task: as best as possible, keeping count of the civilian and servicemember casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are, of course, the 2 theaters of combat in this U.S. troops are directly engaged. The 1st is 1 from which President-Elect Barack Obama repeatedly has pledged to disengage by means of U.S. troop withdrawal. This may occur, however, as military commitments in the 2d increase, as stories like this one indicate. It's a prospect that this IntLawGrrl hopes is undertaken with the height of caution.
With those thoughts in mind, here is the count in the 6 weeks since our last post:
Iraq Body Count reports that between 90,147 and 98,412 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the conflict in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, representing an increase of between 1,200 and 1,327 deaths in the last 6 weeks. According to the U.S. Defense Department, 4,219 American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq. Total coalition fatalities: 4,535 persons. That's 26 servicemember deaths in the last 6 weeks, all but 2 of them Americans.
As for the conflict in Afghanistan, military casualties in Afghanistan stand at 630 Americans and 412 other coalition servicemembers. That's an increase of 4 and 31, respectively, in the last 6 weeks, and a total servicemember casualty count 1,042. As for civilians and nonmilitary personnel, numbers are harder to come by. The New York Times reports:
A day after a suicide bomber killed at least 16 people, including 13 schoolchildren, in a region bordering Pakistan, a new rash of bombings shook different areas of Afghanistan on Monday, killing two civilians north of Kabul and two more in Kandahar Province.

That news comes fast upon other headlines that give little comfort:
Violence against Afghan children rising, U.N. says
UN chief in Afghanistan: Protect civilians
Now there's a thought.

On December 30

On this day in ...
... 1891, the United States' 1st electric car, dubbed the Electrobat, appeared. The 1st version was heavy and slow, but later models, like that at left, were lighter and able to go as fast as 20 mph. As all know, electric cars soon gave way to those powered by gas engines. Given the financial, environmental, and geopolitical problems associated with oil extraction, perhaps this story is about to come full circle.
... 1919, Lincoln's Inn (coat of arms at right), 1 of London's 4 ancient lawyers' societies known as the Inns of Court, admitted its 1st woman bar student.

New On The CWL Bookshelf---The Biography of A Writer: Lincoln

Lincoln: A Biography Of A Writer, Fred Kaplan, Harper Publishing, 406pp., annotated bibliography, notes, index, $27.95.

CWL thoroughly enjoys biographies of writers when the biography is written by an historian. Stephen Oates on William Faulkner! David Reynolds on Walt Whitman! William Manchester on H. L. Mencken! And now Fred Kaplan on Lincoln! Though a professor of English, Kaplan has written on Mark Twain, Gore Vidal, Charles Dickens, Henry James and Thomas Carlyle and has treated sources even-handedly, paid attention to the main currents of the writers' eras and has no allegiance to a particular theoretical, psychological or social school of criticism.

What were the elements that shaped Lincoln's imaginative and mental disciplines? How did Lincoln develop his literary style? Lincoln's childhood contained a search for all the books he could lay his hands on. The King James Bible, Shakespeare, Bunyan, Burns, and Byron were among the classics he read as well as a fair sample of popular sentimental and political literature of the times.

Recently much has been made of Obama's study and use of Lincoln's life and works. In both Obama's autobiographies and in the Time magazine interview of 2003, he treats Lincoln was an icon, model, and teacher. From the photograph to the left, it appears that Obama's next excursion into his Lincoln studies will be Fred Kaplan's Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer. CWL is starting on his copy of the biography, which arrived on December 25th.

Top Image Source: Very Well Said

Bottom Image Source: Daylife, Photo Segment from a larger AP Photo by Charles Dharapak. Caption: President-elect Barack Obama, carrying the book "Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer" by Fred Kaplan, leaves the home of friend Penny Pritzker after having dinner in Chicago, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008.

Off Topic Novel---A Novel of Detection Set at West Point, 1830

The Pale Blue Eye, Louis Bayard, $24.95 hardcover, $14.95 softcover, 432pp., Harper Collins, 2006.

At West Point Academy in the autumn 1830 a cadet commits suicide by hanging. While being stored in an icehouse the dead man's heart is removed. West Point neighbor and retired NYC policeman, Augustus Landor is asked by academy adminstrators to discreetly investigate. At risk is the academy's fledgling reputation. Landor enlists the aid of cadet E. A. Poe. Yes, that E. A. Poe who was indeed a West Point cadet at that time. The New Yorker and the Virginia are certainly a different Holmes-Watson pair of investigators.

Landor has his sorrows; both his wife and his daughter died soon after relocating from New York City to the Hudson River Valley. Superintendent Thayer has his priorities. Poe has his metaphors and insider inforamtion on the student body. The trio find themselves confronting a second murder and mutiliation. Clues, codes, and cults are examined and psychological suspense ensues. This reader suspended his disbelief in due time but also found a few outlandish developments that made him wince. But, Bayard's delightfully executed period prose and details were thoroughly enjoyable and returned this reader to his required disbelief. The meticulously described historical setting, the young Poe's literary inspirations, and Lander's veiled confessions provided incentive to bear with the slightly preposterous intrustions from the 1980s, such as the possiblity of a Satanic cult. These intrusions are rare and the plot does not hinge upon them.

Overall, The Pale Blue Eye is enjoyable because the plot hangs together, and the characters of Landor, Poe and Thayer are well described and compelling. The details of Benny Haven's Tavern and West Point's dining and residence halls appear accurate. The main detraction is a cinematically overwrought climax which fortunately is not the conclusion of the novel. Poe is not only a poet but a detective and uncovers the policeman's secrets at the very end.

News---Antietam's Cornfield Yields Grave of New York Soldier

Union Soldier's Remains Found at Antietam, Linda Wheeler, Washington Post, December 28, 2008.

The soldier was just a teenager. Somewhere in New York state, he had signed up to fight for the Union. The band was playing on the day he marched away from home, headed South to to kill those rebels. Everyone said it would be a short war. He'd be home in no time. All of that ended on Sept. 17, 1862 at Antietam when he and his comrades were crossing a farmer's field. A bullet or piece of shrapnel found him. He sagged to the ground and was dead. His buddies moved on; they had to. The fighting was intense. By the end of the day, the battle considered the bloodiest of the war would end with 23,000 casualties.

The next day, under a flag of truce, a Union burial detail began its grim work. Sometime in the next week, the New Yorker was put in a shallow grave near where he fell, but away from the the farmer's plow. He was buried near a limestone outcropping that rippled just above the surface. This was temporary. Either his family or the government would move him to a cemetery and give him a proper burial. No one ever came for him. His grave was overlooked when the Union dead were gathered and moved to the new Antietam National Cemetery, dedicated exactly five years after the battle.

For 146 seasons, crops were planted all around him and even over him if a farmer could make the tight turn at the rocky place, but nothing disturbed his sleep. He could have been there forever, never found and never known except for a ground hog who happened to build a tunnel at that spot. The tunnel was deep, angling down under the limestone. At some point, the tunnel became clogged with debris and the ground hog vigorously kicked it out of the way, flinging it all the way to the surface. It included pieces of tea-colored bone. A visitor who was walking the battlefield in mid-October,strayed off the Corn Field Trail and saw some bones on the ground that he later left at the visitors' center. He didn't give his name, saying only he had found something in a field off the trail, next to an animal hole.

"It was a jaw bone with four teeth attached and one loose plus some other fragments," said Ed Wenschhof Jr., Antietam's chief of Natural Resources Management and Resources Protection. "We get a lot of these bones brought in here, almost all of them are animal." He needed to check it out. Several photographs were emailed to the National Park Service's regional archaeologist, Stephen Potter, in Washington. Potter said he knew right away the jaw, and what turned out to be skull fragments, belonged to a human. And he knew they were very old bones.

"When I realized what I had -- an unmarked, unknown burial of a Civil War soldier, not a victim of modern mayhem -- it grabbed me in the gut," he said. "I was totally focused. I forgot everything else. I immediately started planning what we would do next." He said he estimated the soldier's age at 19 to 21, based on an impacted wisdom tooth in the jaw bone, the lack of wear on the teeth and an open suture in the cranium. That suture closes only when an individual ceases to grow. He called Wenschhof. Potter wanted to see the the bones but his first impulse was to collect whatever else was out there in the field. It was going to be difficult to find the spot. The field covered acres of land, but they had to move quickly because relic hunters might hear about the discovery and disturb the grave.

Wenschhof and a team of park rangers crisscrossed the field that was adjacent to the infamous Corn Field, where brutal hand-to-hand fighting had taken place during the battle. There were burrows everywhere, and they had to be careful not to step in to them. Finally, one of the team found bone fragments and several pieces of leather outside a ground hog hole. It had to be the right place. The soldier had been found. Potter had sent the photographs to Douglas Owsley, a well-known forensic anthropologist with the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution. He agreed with Potter's assessment but felt the soldier was somewhere between 18 and 21 and most likely was a teenager.

"He said the kid never saw his 20th birthday," Potter recalled. Within a few weeks, Potter and a crew were at Antietam, also known as Sharpsburg, scraping away the top layer of brown earth and then delving into the reddish layer of clay. They were working under a blue and white tent erected to shield themselves from the rain and wind and to protect whatever they found. Two animal holes were within the the rectangle sketched on the earth, probably boundaries of the grave. The resident of the burrow had been captured a few days earlier and delivered to a new neighborhood beyond the field.

The excavation work was slow. There weren't any large bones in the grave shaft. "Ground hogs can do a lot of damage," Potter said. "Context means everything. if the bones are moved or damaged or if the ground hog gnawed on them, and ground hogs do gnaw on bones -- they need their daily calcium supplement -- things can be hard to figure out." In this case, the ground hog had destroyed most of the soldier's bones.

What they did find was a number of jacket or coat buttons that connected the soldier to a New York regiment. The ones from the cuffs had the state emblem and some of the larger ones from the front had the emblem and the Latin word, "Excelsior," meaning upward. The other buttons found were general government issue, indicating the soldier was not a green recruit but a veteran who had been around long enough to have replaced lost buttons. They also found a belt buckle with "U.S." engraved on it, and some bits of leather later identified as coming from boots or shoes.

Potter told the crew, "We now know three things: our soldier was a young guy, probably a teenager, but he was a veteran and not a new recruit and he was part of a New York regiment." The crew, having plotted the exact position on paper of every bit of metal and bone and leather taken from the grave site, filled the 18-inch-deep excavation and tried to make it look like just another part of the farmer's field. The next step is for Owsley to examine all the bones and items found in the grave to see if he can tease any more information from them. He won't be able to do that for several months.

John Howard, Antietam battlefield superintendent, had been following the progress of the search closely. He had come out to watch the crews excavating the grave. Later he said it was unlikely the solider would ever be identified because so little was known about him and, on the day of the battle, there were many New York regiments involved. One of the rangers who works for Howard, Brian S. Baracz, has studied the battle for 10 years. He said there had been 68 infantry regiments, 12 artillery and seven cavalry units from New York at Antietam. Close to the area where the soldier was found, two dozen New York infantry regiments had crossed through. Using just those 24 units and narrowing the list of possible soldiers to those of the right age who were listed as "missing," he said the number would range between 25 and 50.

Howard said if they ever got "really lucky and identified the soldier, we'd make a real effort to track down the next of kin. We'd ask them what they wanted us to do. We could ship the remains or give him a proper burial here at Antietam." If there is no identification, he expects the soldier will be buried in the New York section of the national cemetery, which is near his office. "Just like any other American soldier, we will give him a proper burial," he said. "This is where he fought. This is where he died. This is now his home."

Text, Top and Middle Images Source: Washington Post, December 26, 2008

Bottom Image Source: Through the Cornfield, Keith Rocco. Keith Rocco is among the very best artists working in the field of American Civil War and Napoleonic Era painting. He as two published collections of his work, On Campaign: The Civil War Art of Keith Rocco, and The Soldier's View: The Civil War Art of Keith Rocco

Off Topic---News: Bowels of the Ship and Bowels of the Sailors

Mystery Naval Explosion May Have Stinky Solution, The Telegraph, Sarah Knapton, December 26, 2008.

The mysterious explosion which sank a 17th century Royal warship may have been caused by the lavatory habits of its crew, a historian believes. HMS London sank in 1685 after exploding without warning in the Thames Estuary near Chatham Docks in a blast which killed 300 people and was recorded by diarist Samuel Pepys. Naval historians have long argued about the cause, suggesting a build-up of chemicals could have ignited the ship's supply of gunpowder. But now one researcher believes the blast may have been triggered by the noxious accumulation of methane from the scores of sailors who relieved themselves in the bowels of the ship.

The theory suggests that rotting faeces in the bilges led to a build up of gas which was ignited by a candle below deck. Richard Ender, an engineer and naval historian, came across the solution while researching an incident on the 17th century warship Lennox. Records show that a lieutenant accidentally fell into the bottom of the hold and when crew members climbed down to rescue him "they were rendered in a manner dead by the stench". Mr Ender said: "They were unconscious. Of course, it is not the smell that makes you unconscious, it's the methane.

"When you have that concentration of methane, all it would take is someone being send down here with a lantern to set it off. The powder room is in the hold as well." But Charles Trollope, an authority on naval ordnance from the period, believes the explosion was caused by the sloppy practice of reusing old materials for storing gunpowder.

Text Source: Telegraph.UK

Image Source: Brian Levy

Sulanto unplugged

Kuvasin oheisen ylemmän kuvan MikroPC-lehden kansikuvaksi vuonna 1993. Tai oikeammin yläkuva on yksi versio, joka miellytti minua. Kuten alakuvasta huomaat, niin kanteen päätyi kuva, jossa oli enemmän rekvisiittaa eikä softausta. Silloinen päätoimittaja Kari Tyllilä piti softattua liian epäselvänä ja koska päätoimittajan sana on laki, niin mitäpä kuvaaja siihen. Tulin kyllä ihan mainiosti toimeen Tyllilän kanssa ja olemme edelleen väleissä, että ei tuosta mitään hampaan koloon jäänyt. Voi olla, että Tyllilän valinta kanteen oli parempikin.

Mallin poseeraus on suoraan Rodinin ajattelijapatsaasta, kuten valistunut lukija heti huomaankin. Muistan, että valokuvamallin hankkimisessa oli jotakin pientä säätöä, koska tuossa piti poseerata ihan munasillaan. Eihän tuossa mitään ( munia ) näy, mutta kuitenkin. En muista kuka mallina lopuksi oli, mutta hänellä oli kokemusta alalla enemmänkin, ainakin omien sanojensa mukaan. Näin muistelen.

Tuo mallin silmillä oleva verme oli ihan kuvausta varten kyhätty tulevaisuuden teknorekvisiitta. Ajattelija siinä pohtii tulevaisuuden näkymiä.

Valaistus oli yksinkertainen. Taustana oli iso lievästi laikukas harmaa kangas, joka ulottui lattialle asti. Valaisin taustan kahdella studiosalaman välähdyspäällä, joissa molemmissa oli sininen värikalvo. Tausta on sen verran kaukana, että sininen valo ei heijastu malliin. Mallia valaisee yksi hunajakennolla varustettu välähdyspää. 

Tuo softattu versio on kuvatessa tehty, sillä tuohon aikaan Photoshop oli versiossa 2 eikä sen käyttö vielä ollut joka kuvaajan arkea. Softaus on tehty tuplavalotuksella, joka mahdollistaa kuvassa näkyvän osittaisen softauksen. Kuvasin pimeässä studiossa kamera jalustalla, jotta voin pitää kameran suljinta auki filmin valottumatta. Sulkimen auki ollessa väläytin päävalon, jonka jälkeen laitoin objektiivin eteen softarin, sitten väläytin taustavalon ja laitoin sulkimen kiinni. Mallin piti pysyä paikallaan, mutta varsinkin tuossa asennossa se on helppoa ja valotusaikakin oli alle sekunti.

Tarkennuksen aikana salaman ohjausvalo oli tietenkin päällä. Salamavalot mittasin huolella Minoltan mittarilla ja Polaroidilla varmistin, että lopputulos tulisi olemaan sitä mitä halusinkin. Kuvasin tietysti filmille ja kamera oli Mamiya RZ. Objektiivi oli todennäköisesti 140 mm makro, mutta voi olla, että se oli joku muukin. Filmi oli Fujin RDP eli 100 asan diafilmi ja dian koko tuolla kameralla oli 6 x 7 cm.

Että näin sitä jotakin efektejä sai tehtyä ilman sähköistä vahvistustakin. 

Scholars state detention changes

Seems everyone has notions these days about how to close the detention camp for terrorist suspects that the Bush Administration opened on January 11, 2002. Some are included in a report by a coalition of more than 20 organizations, entitled Liberty and Security: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress. IntLawGrrls’ own Fiona de Londras, in an excellent post, recently offered hers. I’ve my own, too, and will post them in due course. They begin with a pre-eminent concern, on which I posted more than a year ago. In closing Guantánamo as he has promised to do, the new President also must close “Guantánamo” – the abusive policies of detention, interrogation, and rendition now given that metaphoric label even if in point of fact they occur far away from the 45 square miles that comprise the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay. (12/08 photo of Camp Justice, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by Diane Marie Amann)
Today’s post is intended to point readers to the Scholars’ Statement of Principles for the New President on U.S. Detention Policy: An Agenda for Change. Drafted by our colleague Catherine Powell, also author of a human rights Blueprint on which we’ve posted, and signed by more than 2 dozen other scholars, among them yours truly, IntLawGrrl Jenny Martinez, and our colleagues Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Sarah H. Cleveland, Deborah Pearlstein, Hope Metcalf, Martha Minow, Judith Resnik, Margaret L. Satterthwaite, and Ruti Teitel. The Statement begins with an explication of how “the existing detention system,” -- “viewed as unprincipled, unreliable, and illegitimate” -- “undermines our national security.” It then sets forth 4 principles on which any new policy ought to be based:
► Observe the rule of law
► Liberty is the norm
► Individualized process
► Transparency
Then follows a host of recommendations for the new administration. As one would expect, it calls on the President to “Close Guantánamo” – to close it in the broader sense. Detainees who can be released are to be released; those should be prosecuted are to be transferred to the United States for prosecution before “established U.S. courts,” and not the military commissions. The Statement urges the Administration to attend to U.S. detention at other sites, “primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.” It calls for an end to extraordinary rendition, and it admits no tolerance for abuse during detention or interrogation.
In short, the Statement's a document essential to thorough consideration of what to do to undo post-9/11 detention policies.

On December 29

On this day in ...
... 1998 (10 years ago today), an uneasy truce continued to hold in Kosovo, amid warnings that fighting between Serbian forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army could resume if international ceasefire monitors withdrew.
... 1815, Sawtche, a Khoikhoi woman born around 1789 in what is now South Africa, died in Paris, France. As a slave she'd also had the name Saartjie Baartman. Because the posterior part of her body seemed unusually large, she had became an "object of curiosity among white colonizers," who bestowed upon her the ignominious nickname "Hottentot Venus." She was taken to Europe in 1810. "After having been immodestly 'studied' by naturalists from the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle," recounts the caption to this French caricature, she died "in the most severe misery." At her death she was 25 years old, and had turned to prostitution when "scientific" interest in her waned. In 2002 her remains were returned to Cape Town; in the words of this article:
... Sarah Baartman is home, and has finally had her dignity restored by being buried where she belongs -- far away from where her race and gender were so cruelly exploited.

IntLawGrrls' guest/alumna Judith Weingarten's Zenobia blog post on Sawtche may be found here. The above poster is from Venus, a play about this woman, by Suzan-Lori Parks (right).

Off Topic---World War II Espionage

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal, Ben McIntyre, Harmony Books, 365pp, 23 b/w photographs, appendices, notes, index, bibliography, $25.95 hardcover, $14.95 softcover, 2007.

Published in Britain as Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman, Lover, Betrayer, Hero, Spy, Ben McIntyre's story of a nearly-always-successful safe cracking burglar conning the Nazi's to sending him to England, returning to the Nazis and then the Nazi's returning him to England is remarkable on several levels. McIntyre captures the personalities of Chapman, his accomplices, his Nazi handlers, his British handlers and his lovers. There are neither stereotypes of Nazi or English bureaucrats nor females who fall in love with Chapman in the story. What could be a convoluted story of treason and double cross is well ordered and well explained.

Captured by the English police on the Island of Jersey, Eddie Chapman is in jail when the Nazi's capture the island. Offering himself as a recruit, Chapman leaves a friend in the jail as a hostage. Receiving training in wireless communication, explosives and weapons, Chapman at times teaches his instructors a few clever tricks of the trade. By 1941, he parachuted into England with a wireless radio, a pistol, a suicide pill, and cash with an assignment to blow up a aircraft factory. Within twenty four hours he as found the police and turns himself in with the offer to work for the British against the Nazis.

Chapman and a British officer communicate regularly with the Nazis. The destruction of the airplane factory occurs with the help of a magician and his crew. By way of Portugal, Chapman returns to occupied France with information cooked especially for the Nazis. While receiving training in Norway and having enough money to by a yacht,
Chapman falls in love for third time, and takes pictures of suitable targets for Britain. He returns to Britain again with a wireless radio and cash; this time the mission is to discover the gadget that the British have invented which allows them to sink Nazi subs that are hiding in deep waters. Chapman is supplied more cooked intelligence for the Nazis and even outwits them into revealing what they know about British wireless communication.

Amazingly, Chapman surived the war, finds the girl he left on Jersey, and supports his first wife and daughter; he eludes the Norway girl who was the only person in Europe to whom he revealed his double cross. Living the life of a Nazi collaborator, she was actually a member of the Norwegian resistance movement. With money in the bank he returns to burglary, this time aboard and not in England.

McIntyre's story reveals the workings of the Abwehr and MI5, the difficulty of hiding from the Germans the truth of Ultra device, the devastation of London's suburbs by the V-1 and V-2 rockets. These rockets missed their targets in central London in part because of Chapman's misinformation about the rockets that fell short and fell long.

Edullinen digijärkkäri

Huomasin Top Shotin nettisivulla tarjouksen Olympuksen E-420 mallista. Minulla ei ole mitään kytkentöjä mainittuun kamerakauppaan, mutta mielestäni hinta on edullinen, joten mainitsen sen tässä. Siis Olympus E-420 ja 17 - 45 mm objektiivi yhteensä alle 300 euroa. 

Ei voi sanoa, että olisi järjestelmäkamera kallis tuolla hinnalla. Olympuksen systeemissä on omat heikkoutensa, mutta myös paljon hyviä puolia. Kyllä Olympuksen järkkärit kuvanlaadussa päihittävät kaikki pokkarit sun muut kiinteäobjektiiviset digit. Jos järjestelmäkamera on ollut hankintalistalla eikä merkillä ole väliä, niin tässä yksi vaihtoehto, halvalla.

Teknisiä ongelmia

Minulla on ollut kokeilussa Sinar Hy6 keskikoon digikamera, mutta sen kanssa kuvaamisessa on ollut pieni ongelma, joten joudun valitettavasti lykkäämään käyttökokemusteni julkaisua. Laitteesta tulee arvio tänne, mutta siihen menee vielä ainakin viikko. 

Guest Blogger: Lisa Laplante

It's IntLawGrrls' great pleasure today to welcome guest blogger Lisa Laplante (right).
A Visiting Assistant Professor at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lisa's worked in human rights for more than a decade, with institutions such as Human Rights Watch, the International Institute of Human Right in Costa Rica, and the Center for International Justice and Law. She also won a Furman Fellowship at Human Rights First.
Lisa's field experience began as a researcher with the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, about whose work she writes in her guest post below. It discusses her article entitled "The Law of Remedies and the Clean Hands Doctrine: Exclusionary Reparation Policies in Peru's Political Transition," recently published by the American University International Law Review. As indicated by her many publications on the subject, Lisa's work in Peru continued for several years; for example, as legal advisor for victims groups litigating before the Inter-American human rights system and as co-founder and deputy director of Praxis Institute for Social Justice.
Lisa holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar, a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a B.A. from Brown University with a concentration in Public Policy and Education.

Heartfelt welcome!

Reparations for "terrorists"?

(In this guest post, Lisa Laplante discusses her recent article examining whether the award of reparations victims of human rights violations turns on the status of those victims.)

Should victims of human rights violations with alleged or certain ties to groups that use terrorism receive reparations? This complex and sensitive dilemma has begun to arise in countries implementing reparation programs pursuant to the recommendations of their truth and reconciliations commissions.
Reparations law has special relevance to the transitional justice paradigm, as countries seek to respond to widespread human rights abuses — situations in which the line between victim and perpetrator often blurs. New case studies reveal the serious challenges of implementing administrative plans of reparations that first require that recipients be qualified. While some issues are purely technical and logistical, others — those that hold potential to generate new forms of harm and even new rights violations — beg further discussion and clarification. Certainly, as the recognition of the right to reparation grows, so do the legal issues pertaining to its practical application. In the realm of international human rights law, new cases offer opportunities to continue defining the parameters of this right, as noted in an ever-growing jurisprudence with respect to remedies law. Such is the case with equity's Clean Hands Doctrine, which dictates that an injured party's wrongdoing may limit his or her claim to reparations. When applied in cases in which victims of human rights violations seek relief, however, this doctrine conflicts directly with the well-established legal principle of nondiscrimination.
Should a person's innocence or guilt factor into whether he or she deserves to be repaired?
In answering this question, it is important to ask some others:
► What actions, allegiances and beliefs constitute a basis for exclusion, as well as what the standard is for determining wrongdoing-such as a firm criminal conviction or mere allegations?
► What if a person suffered torture, rape, unjust imprisonment and perhaps even was disappeared or killed, but was alleged to have connections to "subversive" and "terrorist" organizations, sometimes called "illegally armed groups"?
► Who determines whether such a person qualifies as a victim with a right to reparations?
There is only limited and inconsistent jurisprudence on the Clean Hands Doctrine in international law. In this article I argue that, in relation to human rights law, the Clean Hands Doctrine does not and should not apply. The very nature and purpose of human rights protections and guarantees protect against as much state abuse and domination as against state negligence. Thus, a state’s failure to observe international norms should result in the victim received a remedy for harm suffered regardless of the status of the victim. A contrary standard would read that, but for the wrongful conduct of the person, he or she would not be subject to state control, and thus would not have suffered harm. In other words, a person who committed a wrong would lose the protections enjoyed by “non-delinquents.” This would create a two-class tier of rights holders.
Given that the overarching purpose of human rights protection is to curb state abuse, one could argue that carving out exceptions where human rights violations have no consequences presents a worrisome precedent. Arguably, this approach has been assumed by the organs of the inter-American system, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (below left). Although neither of these international human rights bodies has ruled directly on the issue, decisions issued by each suggest that neither body considers the character or status of the victim as a factor relevant to the determination of reparations. In effect, this reading supports the general rejection of the Clean Hands Doctrine in relation to reparations for human rights violations.
Nonetheless, states that have confronted politically divisive transitions from repressive regimes and internal armed conflict have not necessarily assumed this general rejection of the Clean Hands Doctrine.
For example, a transitional justice project was launched in 2001 by Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (above right). (photo credit) Formed in the wake of twenty years of internal armed conflict between the state and illegally armed groups, the Commission presented its Final Report in 2003, and included recommendations for a Plan Integral de Reparaciones (Integral Plan of Reparations), which adopts a partial rejection of the Clean Hands Doctrine. Yet, as the Peruvian government now attempts to implement this Plan, it confronts the controversial and divisive issues related to how it can, and must, approach victims of state abuse who allegedly have, or had, ties to illegally armed groups. Due to political pressure, the national legal norms codifying the Plan include exclusionary clauses that reflect a full adoption of the Clean Hands Doctrine.
Peru's policy has generated much tension with respect to the implementation of the law. The situation grew more contentious when the inter-American system ordered reparations for survivors/victims of a massacre that occurred in 1992, during a state lockdown of a prison in which persons were held on suspicion of terrorist activity (many had not been convicted). This case, Miguel Castro Castro Prison v. Peru (2006), threatened to unravel the implementation of domestic reparations.
Local rejections of equitable reparations present serious political challenges for emerging democracies as they attempt to build the rule of law and respect for human rights.

On December 28

On this day in ...

... 1973 (35 years ago today), U.S. President Richard M. Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act. It lists 2 categories of protected species, "threatened" and "endangered," and empowered 2 agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service (logo at right) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA), to implement protections. "In July of 2008, there were a total of 1,238 threatened or endangered animals protected under the act; and a total of 747 threatened or endangered plants protected under the act."

... 1522, a daughter, Margaret, was born out of wedlock to Charles V, then the Holy Roman Emperor, and Johanna Maria von der Gheest, a servant of a Flemish nobleman. Raised by aunts who were governors of the Netherlands, Margaret (left) -- known as Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Parma, Regent of the Netherlands -- governed the Netherlands in the name of her brother until her resignation in 1567. The Roman Catholic regent's rule was marked by erratic treatment of heretics.

Information Technology and Human Rights

The Purposes of the United Nations are:…To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion….
--Article 1(3), Charter of the United Nations

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
--Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

One thing is clear. The “solutions” to the current global economic crisis (and the longstanding poverty crisis that affects most of the world) will not originate exclusively from the top down, nor will they flow solely from Global North to Global South. (Photo Credit, above left: African Recovery.)
Local, indigenous, transnational, traditional, and contemporary forms of knowledge--all must be deployed to address the global mess we find ourselves in. Concerns about the environment, jobs and living wages, food and water distribution, and an end to discrimination and violence will not be solved by self-appointed experts without the wisdom of farmers, social scientists, health care workers, midwives, historians, entrepreneurs, economists, and traditional storytellers.
Appropriate and sustainable technology (including information technology) will be a crucial tool in this massive problem-solving exchange The need for a transnational approach to global problems is not a new concept. It was even enshrined in the 1945 Charter of the United Nations and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (See also a 1993 UN University report on The Impact of Technology on Human Rights: Global Case-Studies.)
Many NGOs have, of course, used the internet successfully to raise awareness cross-culturally about everything from violence against women to “globalization from below.” Increasingly, governments, foundations, universities, and even multinational businesses are also said to be using information technology in furtherance of human rights or other social justice goals. Some efforts involve developing or transferring new media technologies to places where they were not previously available. Others involve the use of technology to share traditional knowledge or otherwise enhance cross-cultural dialogue through open software and low-cost hardware platforms.
Such interdisciplinary initiatives are being explored under various umbrellas: “social entrepreneurship,” human rights and business, economic development, as well as in trade and intellectual property debates.

Recent efforts include the following:
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), which describes itself as
a global network of civil society organisations whose mission is to empower and support organisations, social movements and individuals in and through the use of information and communication technologies.
APC also publishes an annual report titled Global Information Society Watch
The Feminist Technology Exchange: A workshop on women and technology organized by the Women’s Network Support Program of the APC prior to the 2008 Association of Women’s Human Rights in Development meeting in South Africa;
One Laptop Per Child: a non-profit aimed at providing low-cost laptops to poor children.

It remains to be seen how the various information technology initiatives will result in sustained progressive change, given the range of actors involved and their disparate interests. There are dangers as well as opportunities in any such new venture. (For a discussion of the harmful effects of top-down globalization on local traditions and knowledge, see interview with Vandana Shiva, an Indian physicist, environmentalist, and activist.)

Human rights concerns about the rapid growth and pervasive use of information technology include internet privacy, government monitoring or censorship, industry or governmental capture, exploitation or theft of traditional knowledge, and inequitable access for marginalized groups such as minorities, women and girls (UNESCO press release linked here), and people with disabilities (see previous posts here and here).

But a human rights approach that centers the benefits of creativity, ownership, and control among the people most affected and the special measures necessary to counteract discrimination in educational and training access are indispensable criteria for measuring future success. That success will also be measured by the increasing presence and respect for voices from the Global South in solving the problems that affect all of us. (Photo credit above right, UNESCO.)

A poem for Rita Maran on her 80th birthday

(It's the 80th birthday of Dr. Rita Maran (center at right), the University of California, Berkeley, lecturer who aptly described herself in a June 2008 manual, Human Rights for the University Classroom, as "lecturer, author, activist in International Human Rights." Active in the United Nations Association-USA, author of Torture: The Role of Ideology in the French-Algerian War (1989), and a founding member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Advocates, she's a friend and mentor to many. So here's a birthday party poem for Rita, by Naomi Roht-Arriaza, and also from Connie, Michelle, Diane, and all Rita's IntLawGrrls friends).

We've gathered here to celebrate
Your years of living well
To toast and dance, twist and gyrate
To say we think you're swell

You've worked out how to have it all
You're quite a fine role model
Your engines never seem to stall
We toast you by the bottle

The secret to long life, you've said
Is never to be bored
Keep new thoughts running through your head
And a goal you're working toward

A published author, Ph.D.
On torture in Algeria
On human rights we all agree
Your writings are superia

You don't stop there as monthly
You assemble us for dinner
To strike a blow 'gainst rights abuse
But we don't get any thinner

Your UNA work's quite a task
Fighting the latest menace
Yet with all you do there, we all ask
How'd she find time for tennis?

You've seen a lot, been everywhere
From Bosnia to Jakarta
Done missions that could raise the hair
But they've only made you smarta

At Int'l Law Grrls we agree
In the field you're a pioneer
A lifetime commitment is the key
A toast from the blogosphere!

Raakaa peliä

Raw-kuvien hyvänä puolena on monipuolinen muokkausmahdollisuus kuvauksen jälkeen. Kuvan voi kehittää parhaaksi katsomallaan ohjelmalla päästäkseen parhaaseen lopputulokseen. Sama ohjelma ei ole välttämättä paras kaikkien kameroiden kuville eikä edes saman kameran eri olosuhteissa otetuille kuville.

On kuitenkin miltei mahdoton urakka selvittää millä ohjelmalla saa mistäkin kuvasta kaikki irti. Tuon selvittääkseen kuvaajan pitäisi aina uutta kuvaa kehittäessään kokeilla kaikkia ohjelmia. Hieman kärjistetysti sanottuna, siis.

Toinen kehitysohjelman tärkeä ominaisuus on käytettävyys. Paljon kuvia käsittelevä arvostaa sujuvaa työnkulkua, mutta satunnainen käyttäjä voi tyytyä välttäväänkin käyttöliittymään. Ainakin, jos ohjelma on edullinen. Kullekin käyttäjälle hyvä ohjelma on siis jonkilainen kompromissi kuvan laadun ja käytettävyyden väliltä. 

Olen sen verran laiska, että minulla tuo käytettävyys menee absoluuttisen laadun edelle, mutta toki ei kuitenkaan hinnalla millä hyvänsä. Laadun pitää siis olla riittävän hyvä, mutta käytettävyys pitää olla erittäin hyvä. Jos joskus haluankin, vaikka jostain vanhasta kuvastani paremman version, niin voinhan sitten käyttää normaalista ohjemastani poikkeavaa vaihtoehtoa.

Erästä kameraa kokeillessani imuroin Raw Developer-ohjelmasta kokeiluversion. Päätin tehdä minivertailun Raw Developerin ja Lightroomin välillä. Tämä vertailu on hyvin pelkistetty, mutta ainakin minun mielestäni mielenkiintoinen. Käytin kolmella eri kameralla kuvaamiani kuvia ja tuloksia voi katsella täällä.

Work On! Comparative law workshop

(Work On! is an occasional item about workshops, roundtables, and other fora for scholarship-presentation-without-publication) Papers on comparative law are being sought for presentation at the annual Comparative Law Works in Progress Workshop, to be held February 6 and 7, 2009, at Princeton University (logo below left) in New Jersey.
Organized by our colleagues Mathias Reimann, Jacqueline Ross, and Kim Lane Scheppele, the workshop presents an opportunity for comparative law scholars to engage in sustained and substantive discussion, by up to 20 comparative law scholars, of up to 6 scholarly projects. Cosponsors are the American Society of Comparative Law, University of Michigan Law School, University of Illinois College of Law, and Princeton’s Program in Law and Public Affairs.
Deadline for electronic submissions, to be sent to Professor Scheppele at kimlane@princeton.edu: next Wednesday, December 31, 2008. Details respecting requirements for submission and the workshop itself may be found by clicking on "Programs" here.

On December 27

On this day in ...

... 1703 (305 years ago today), in Lisbon, England and Portugal signed a commercial treaty that guaranteed that Portugal would accept English textiles and that port, Portugal's signature wine, could enter England at tariffs lower than those imposed on wines from France. Named after the British negotiator, this Methuen Treaty "played a major part in the development of the port wine industry."

... 2004, Viktor Yushchenko (below right), the opposition leader, was declared the winner of Presidential elections in Ukraine -- elections necessitated by the annulment of balloting the previous month that was declared fraudulent. Though heralded as the "Orange Revolution," Yushchenko's election has not brough prosperity to Ukraine, where "[e]conomic growth has slowed and prices have risen." (photo credit)

Boxing Days Future

Today is Boxing Day, a holiday traditionally celebrated in Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom by giving cash or durable goods to "those less fortunate." It seems, then, an appropriate day to reflect on the effects of the current financial crisis on American foreign assistance spending. As we tighten our belts in response to the economic meltdown and in fear of an ongoing credit crunch, limiting aid to the developing world might seem a sensible step. However, Laurie Garrett, a Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, explains:

[I]n so doing Congress risks not only reversing all that has been achieved with U.S. tax dollars since 1990, but endangering the lives of millions of people. Furthermore, any backpedaling in U.S. support risks undermining disease surveillance and response capabilities, thereby directly threatening American security.

As we reel from news of Ponzi schemes and corporate implosions that impact the uber-rich to the working class here in the United States, it is all too easy to forget that the cost of a severe recession will be amplified in the developing world. In the words of Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank:

While people in the developed world are focused on the financial crisis, many forget that a human crisis is rapidly unfolding in developing countries. It is pushing poor people to the brink of survival.

High food prices will push an estimated 44 million of the world's poorest people into malnutrition this year. Despite economic hardships in the United States, this is no time to turn our back on those who will suffer the most from the financial crisis. The Obama administration should do its utmost to ensure a strong commitment to foreign assistance, as further detailed by groups such as the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. Here's hoping that's what we'll see on Boxing Days future.

On December 26

On this day in ...
... 1928 (80 years ago today) , the Fleer Corp. 1st tested a "new gum, composed of natural ingredients," at a small candy store in Philadelphia. Dubble Bubble is a favored pink confection to this day.
... 1938 (70 years ago today), as World War II continued to rage, the 8th Conference of American States ended in Peru. The conference produced the Lima Declaration, in which Pan American countries set forth as principles

[t]hat the peoples of America have achieved spiritual unity through the similarity of their republican institutions, their unshakable will for peace, their profound sentiment of humanity and tolerance, and through their absolute adherence to the principles of international law, of the equal sovereignty of states and of individual liberty without religious or racial prejudices;
and then declared

[t]hat faithful to the above-mentioned principles and to their absolute sovereignty, they reaffirm their decision to maintain them and to defend against all foreign intervention or activity that may threaten them; ....

Bloggers Team