A "New Deal" for Human Rights in the Global Economy

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
--Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 25(1)

Times of great crisis also represent moments of opportunity and innovation. They can signal significant paradigm shifts. That’s the best that can be said about the worsening world economic crisis at the moment.
The old neo-liberal Washington Consensus, financial and banking deregulation, and dependence on our unbridled individual and collective consumerism, have been abject failures in providing an adequate standard of living for the vast majority of the world’s peoples. The situation requires alternative approaches to global and local economic policies.
The Human Rights Implications
The global economic crisis may well exacerbate violations of civil and political rights. Massive poverty and socio-economic dislocation, and competition over scarce resources historically served as a trigger for violent conflict, discrimination and scape-goating of racial or ethnic minorities, and government crack-downs on civil liberties as social unrest rises.
But the current crisis, and the neglect of socio-economic justice that preceded it, already have had devastating economic and social human rights effects. The problems are well-known: malnutrition and lack of access to affordable food and clean water, homelessness, lack of access to primary health care, and educational inequality. Such human rights violations are all associated with the poverty, land insecurity, and unemployment that are spreading throughout even “developed” countries. (Photo: UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, Magdalena Sepulveda.)
The accepted wisdom has been thrown open to challenge. It is time for new ideas, as well as renewed urgency in efforts to generate the political will necessary to put some “old” good ideas into practice.
Among those ideas and priorities are
sustainable development that includes human development (see, for example, the Millennium Development Goals);
►the interdependence of civil and political rights and economic, social, and cultural rights; and
►the need for mandatory and voluntary mechanisms to ensure the responsibility and accountability of private business and financial enterprises.
Sustainability and a “Green New Deal”
In a speech at the gloomy (previously opulent and celebratory) World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for what might be one such new-old approach. He advocated for a “Green New Deal” that would attempt to address the “truly existential crisis” of global climate change through international, governmental, and private sector strategies. Positive action on climate change, he hopes, would also stimulate the world economy and slow the global recession.
Domestic and Global Observance of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
Some African and European leaders reminded increasingly inward-looking representatives from the Global North that it is the poor in both North and South who will suffer the worst effects of economic and environmental crises.
If we’ve learned nothing else in recent years, we should now know that seemingly far-away poverty, political and social oppression, health crises, and environmental devastation, can be directly linked in cause or impact to the backyards and kitchen tables of the Global North. The negative effects of poverty, labor abuses, environmental toxins, and insufficient public health services have a way of crossing borders.
Attention to international co-operation in economic and social development is, therefore, not only a matter of international human rights law, it is also a moral commitment and a matter of domestic national security interest for many nations.
Similarly, government obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill international economic and social human rights cannot simply be abandoned in times of economic difficulty.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, for example, requires even the poorest states parties to take steps to fulfill their obligations “to the maximum of available resources” (Art. 2(2)). The UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) issued instructive interpretive guidelines with regard to non-discrimination and minimum core obligations for states hoping to protect rights while managing economic challenges. (See, e.g., General Comment No. 3 on “The Nature of State Obligations” and the influential Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights).
Non-discrimination: A fundamental human right under all major international treaties, the prohibition on discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, class, or other status can and should be implemented immediately even by poor states or states in economic crisis.
Any stimulus packages, therefore, should not, in intention or effect, discriminate on such prohibited bases. For example, if massive infusions will be spent on bringing physical infrastructure up to code or improving it, will the jobs created in construction and engineering include racial, ethnic, and religious minorities and women? To the extent that they have been previously excluded from those jobs, attention must be paid to targeted “special measures” such as recruitment and training.
Minimum Core Obligations: Fundamental human rights necessary for an adequate standard of living include the right to food (and water), housing, education, the supports necessary for physical and mental health, and work at a living wage and under safe conditions.
The initial reaction to the continuing call for economic and social rights in an economic crisis is to charge that they are “too expensive” or “luxuries” to be considered in a time of prosperity. Ironically, of course, very few placed priority on such rights and conditions even during times of the false prosperity and economic growth some countries previously enjoyed. Now may be the best time to pressure the global community to finally take such rights seriously.
As indicated in an earlier post (Financing Human Rights), fulfilling our legal and moral obligations does take money. Nevertheless, if there is still serious debate in the U.S. over whether the billions of dollars in bonuses paid to executives working for bailed-out financial institutions are appropriate, perhaps we can afford to seriously debate whether addressing the basic needs of billions of poor people should also be considered an economic incentive and stimulus.
International human rights law recognizes that the economic resources available to a country may be limited. However, each state can make a start by respecting, protecting, and fulfilling minimum core obligations with regard to human rights. The CESCR and leading international policymakers, development experts, and legal scholars have outlined criteria by which to elaborate such obligations and measure progress. (See, e.g., Human Rights and the Global Marketplace: Economic, Social, and Cultural Dimensions (Jeanne M. Woods & Hope Lewis, eds.).
Corporate Responsibility and Accountability
Secretary-General Ban’s “Green New Deal” speech also was directed to the private sector. Recalling former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s “UN Global Compact,” Ban called for a “Global Compact 2.0.” The reconceptualization is supposed to integrate corporate responsibility and technological innovation to address global climate change that would also ameliorate economic recession.
In another move, a press release issued by Professor John Ruggie, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, announced a new initiative on corporate law and human rights. Leading corporate law firms agreed to work with the UN to explore “whether and how national corporate law principles and practices currently foster corporate cultures respectful of human rights.”
It remains to be seen whether business actors will step up to the plate when many seem to be desperately casting about for their own survival.
“Developing” Toward What, and For Whom?
Economists and budget analysts can and do assess the positive economic impact of investing in public health and preventive health initiatives, early childhood education, environmentally sustainable housing, living wages, and safe working conditions.
The central motive of the human rights movement, however, is the belief that these rights are core human values whether or not they are always economically efficient. Still, isn’t such a truly developed society one in which we all would wish to live?

'Nuff said

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)

A simple primer on the state of the world: women do most of the good stuff and get most of the bad. No whine, just fact. They harvest food and raise children, tend to the aged and the ill. Yet according to the Global Fund for Women, two thirds of the world's uneducated children are girls, and, naturally, two thirds of the world's poorest people are female. Not coincidentally, women make up only about 16 percent of parliament members worldwide. Simple mathematics dictates that if we are interested in promoting prosperity, education and good government, the United States must focus on the welfare of women.

-- Newsweek contributing editor Anna Quindlen (left), in a column celebrating the newly sworn-in Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the President, Barack Obama (above right), as a team that can pursue a goal of the women's conference held in 1995 in Beijing: "for nations to prosper" by "pay[ing] attention to women's rights, women's welfare and women's concerns."

On January 31

On this day in ...
... 1946, a new Constitution proclaimed the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. States in the West "recognized the new government, although it was clear that the regime was pro-Soviet." The document created a federal system comprising 6 constituent republics -- Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia -- plus 2 autonomous provinces -- Vojvodina and Kosovo. (map credit)
... 1945, the International Air Transit Services Agreement entered into force. Typically called the Chicago Convention in recognition of the city where it'd been signed a year earlier, the Agreement establishes the rights of nation-states over their territorial airspace and their civil aircraft. It has 129 states parties, the United States among them.

News---Latschar Remains as Gettysburg Superintendent

Latschar To Remain In Current Post As Gettysburg Superintendent, Katie Lawhorn, National Park Serice, January 20, 2009

Gettysburg Superintendent John Latschar will remain in his current post, reversing his decision to retire and become president of the Gettysburg Foundation. Latschar made the decision following advice by Department of the Interior ethics officials that would have severely curtailed his ability to work with the park in his new role with the Foundation.

When initially approached to consider heading the Gettysburg Foundation,
superintendent John Latschar did what any responsible federal employee should do, said National Park Service Northeast Regional Director Dennis R. Reidenbach. He contacted National Park Service ethics officials, and he also contacted me as his supervisor.

When initially informed by the Washington office in October 2008 that there was no ethical issue in accepting the position, Latschar announced his retirement. Subsequently, Department of Interior ethics officials issued supplemental guidance because of Latschars involvement in developing agreements between the Foundation and the NPS.

"The Foundation obviously would have been honored to have John as its next president," said Foundation President Robert C. Wilburn. "But we are thrilled that he will continue to facilitate our successful partnership as superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park." A search committee to find Wilburns successor is in place; Wilburn will postpone his departure from the Foundation until a successor is named.

I had been looking forward to the challenges of moving to the private sector and working for the Gettysburg Foundation, said Superintendent John Latschar. However, I can't complain about going back to the best job in the National Park Service as Superintendent of Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS. We'll now redouble our efforts to make our wonderful partnership with the Gettysburg Foundation the best that the National Park Service has ever seen.

The Gettysburg Foundations loss is the National Park Services gain, and I am happy that John chose to remain as superintendent, said Reidenbach. The situation with the ethics guidance was unfortunate, but John Latschar and the Gettysburg Foundation have always maintained the highest ethical standards possible.

Text Source: Katie Lawhorn, GNMP

CWL: Certainly, it would have been a similar ethics violation to Obama's self-described 'bone headed' move of buying real estate from a (soone to be in prison) political fixer or like Tim Geitner's (now Secretary of the Treasury) failure to pay $34,000 in income taxes.

Empiricizing Transitional Justice

The Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley released this month "a population-based survey on attitudes about social reconciliation and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia" entitled So We Will Never Forget. Of the several surveys of the Cambodian public on accountability for the Khmer Rouge that have been completed in the past decade (including one by yours truly), this is the most scientifically planned and executed, with rigorous methodology and a wide sampling of the Cambodian population.
There's much of interest in this report for those participating in accountability efforts. First, the report underscores the need for a serious public education effort around the tribunal. Of the respondents who did not live under the Khmer Rouge regime, 81% described their knowledge of that period as poor or very poor. Given that 68% of Cambodia's population has been born since the Khmer Rouge left power, that's a very concerning statistic. Moreover, 39% of those surveyed had no knowledge of the Extraordinary Chambers and 46% had only limited knowledge. The court and non-governmental organizations have a great deal of headway to make in educating the Cambodian public about the ECCC and the Khmer Rouge era.
Second, the survey results question the appropriateness of trials as the sole accountability mechanism in Cambodia. While 86% of those surveyed believed that it was necessary to establish the truth about what happened under the Khmer Rouge regime, 45% of respondents said they didn't know which mechanisms would be appropriate to do so, and only 14% recommended trials. On the other hand, 9 out of 10 respondents believed it important to hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime, and almost 50% said that perpetrators should be put on trial. This disparity may reflect the difficulty of designing survey questions, particularly in cross-cultural contexts, that are not leading. On the other hand, it may illustrate a perceived distinction between truth and accountability, in which case it would have been useful to know which goal the respondents valued more given limited resources. Were truth the priority, a truth commission or other mechanism that can paint a broader picture of history might have been a better choice than trials.
Finally, the report queries the priorities of the international community and the Cambodian government in allocating so many resources (currently an estimated $135.4 million through the end of 2010) to the Extraordinary Chambers rather than to social reconstruction. Only 1% of those surveyed listed justice as a priority while 83% listed jobs as a priority. Interestingly, the importance of justice grew as survey respondents were focused on the ECCC. Only 76% of Cambodians said it was more important to focus on problems faced in their daily lives than to address the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, and just 53% would rather spend the money on something other than the ECCC. In any case, that's still a majority of respondents who think the funding for the Extraordinary Chambers would have been better spent elsewhere.
Despite its possible flaws, this quantitative study is of great value in assessing and directing transitional justice mechanisms in Cambodia. If transitional justice is to be responsive to the needs of local populations, rather than a top-down mandate from the international community, such studies should be undertaken as a matter of course, preferably before selecting and designing accountability mechanisms and allocating limited resources.

Cross-posted on Concurring Opinions.

Pentax K-m

Pari päivää sitten kirjoitin kuinka olin joutunut, vapaaehtoisesti tosin, kuvaamaan ihan oikeaa toimeksiantoa Pentaxin edullisimmalla järjestelmäkameralla. Tässä loppuosa käyttökokeilustani.

Ensimmäinen järjestelmäkamerani vuonna 1979 oli Pentax ME Super, jonka ostin uutena kun se oli juuri tullut markkinoille. Kuvasin Pentaxilla pari vuotta, mutta sitten siirryn Nikoniin, koska se oli tosi kuvaajien kamera. Pentaxiin liittyy osaltani siis joitakin muistoja, sillä eihän kuvaaja unohda ensimmäistä järjestelmäkameraansa. Hienoa, että Pentax on edelleen kuvioissa mukana, koska onhan se yksi perinteisiä kameramerkkejä. 

Kokeilin Pentaxin K-m kameraa, jota myydään ainoastaan yhdessä objektiivin kanssa kittinä. Pentax K-m on ensimmäiseksi digijärkkäriksi tarkoitettu 10 megapikselin kone.  Mukana tuleva objektiivi on tyypillinen kittilinssi 18 - 55 mm f/3.5 - 5.6. Bajonetti on muovia, mutta kakkula tuntuu ihan kohtalaisen laadukkaalta eikä ole ollenkaan kehnoiten tehty lajissaan.

Kamerarunko on myös ihan asiallisen tuntuinen vailla nitinöitä ja natinoita. Runko on yhdessä opiskan kanssa kevyt ja pienikokoinen yhdistelmä, jota oli vaivaton kuljetella mukana. Taskuun Pentax ei mahdu, mutta peilikamera ei varmaan kovin paljon pienempi voisi olla.

Ergonomia on aivan kelvollinen ja minun sormilleni sekä vivut että hanikat osuivat sopivasti paria pikku seikkaa lukuunottamatta. Peukalolla painettavaksi tarkoitettu tarkennuksen lukitusnappi ei oikein osu millekään sormelle ja niin ikään peukalolla pyöritettävä valitsinkiekko on hieman liian lähellä etsintä. Kiekkoa pyörittävä peukalo tulee miltei silmään ja jos kuvaajalla on silmälasit, niin peukku osuu laseihin.

Säätökiekkoja on vain yksi, jolla valitaan niin aukko kuin aikakin. Tällainen järjestely ei suosi sujuvaa valotuksen käsikäyttöä, joten kuvatessa on parempi käyttää joko puoli- tai täysautomaattia. Minä kuvasin miltei kaikki kuvat aukon esivalintaa käyttäen. Valotus toimii luotettavasti, mutta hämääntyy hieman joissakin vastavalotilanteissa. En tosin ole vielä tavannut sellaista kameraa, jossa olisi käyttäjää viisaampi valotusmittari. Opettelemalla oman kameransa tavat pääsee haluamiinsa valotuksiin.

Valikot ovat ihan kotimaisella kielellä ja selkeät käytellä. Takaseinän näyttö on hyvä enkä huomannut käytössä hankaluuksia kirkkaassakaan valossa. Auringonpaisteessa ei sattuneesta syytä tarvinnut edes kokeilla. 

Kuvanlaatu on on mielestäni hyvä eikä varmasti käytännössä eroa juurikaan muista saman hintaluokan laitteista ainakaan huonoon suntaan. Nykyisin edullisissakin kameroissa on ihan hyvä kuva teknisessä mielessä. Kuvasin ainoastaan raakana ja kuvissa on ihan mukavasti sävyjä ja lievästi ylivalottuneen kuvankin voi pelastaa. Pentax oli mukana myös resoluutiovertailussani ja suoriutui hintaansa nähden mielestäni aivan hyvin. Vertailun seuraavaksi kalleimman kamerarungon hinnalla saisi n. viisi Pentaxia objektiiveineen.

Korkeilla herkkyyksillä kohinaa tulee tietenkin mukaan kuvaan, mutta mielestäni ISO 1600 on vielä käyttökelpoinen. Käyttökelpoisen määritelmä riippuu tietenkin lopulta kuvaajasta. Joillekin kelpaa kohisevakin kuva, mutta joillekin pitää olla aivan kohinatonta. 
ISO-arvoa voi muuttaa 1/3 aukon välein, joka on hyvä asia. Joissakin edullisissa kameroissa herkkyyttä muutetaan täyden aukon välein, joka on aivan liian karkeaa. Pentaxissa on myös erittäin helposti säädettävä auto-iso, jonka käytössä ollessa kamera säätää ISO-arvoa kuvaajan asettamissa rajoissa.

Objektiivin suorituskyky on hyvä kittisarjassa ja riittää aivan mainiosti perusnäppäilyyn. Laajakulma-asennossa kuvan reunat ja nurkat eivät yllä piirrossa samalle tasolle kuin keskusta, jossa piirto on erinomainen. Pidemmillä polttoväleillä kontrasti voisi olla parempikin täydellä aukolla, mutta tämän kanssakin pärjäilee peruskuvaaja aivan hyvin. Pentaxilla on omia laadukaampia putkia tarjolla, jos tarvetta tulee ja kolmannen osapuolen objektiivejakin on hyvin tyrkyllä.

Tarkennus toimi riittävän vikkelästi ja tarkasti kameran luonteen ja kohderyhmän huomoiden. Rungossa oleva kuvanvakaaja tekee työnsä aivan mallikkaasti ja helpottaa käsivaralta kuvaamista. Vakaaja on erittäin hyödyllinen varsinkin kittiobjektiivin kanssa, jonka valovoima ei talven pimeinä päivinä tahdo riittää.

Salamakin löytyy prismakotelon päältä. Tällainen pieni tuikku voi olla joskus hyödyllinen esim. täytevalona, mutta erillinen salama kääntyvällä välähdyspäällä on tietenkin monipuolisempi.

Virtalähteenä on neljä AA-paristoa tai -akkua. Kokeilukamerassa oli 2500 mAh akut, joilla kuvasin helposti yhden päivän turistikuvat, joka tarkoittaa joitakin satoja kuvia. Vara-akut kannattaa toki aina pitää mukana olipa kamera mikä tahansa. Kameran mukana tulee paristot ja akut latureineen pitää hankkia erikseen. Tämä on mielestäni pieni miinus, mutta saapahan sitten toisaalta valita mieleisensä.

Pentax K-m on mielestäni hyvä kamera ensimmäiseksi järjestelmäkameraksi, eikä suorituskyky lopu aivan heti vaikka kuvaamisesta innostuisi enemmänkin. Pentaxin käyttö on sujuvaa, kuvan laatu hyvä ja hinta edullinen. Mitä muuta voi pyytää? Kamera objektiiveineen maksaa alle 400 euroa.

Yllä joitakin Pentaxilla kuvaamiani turistikuvia. 

Viikonvaihteessa Nikon D3x

Viikonlopun kunniaksi julkaisen tänä viikonloppuna mielipiteeni Nikonin D3x-mallista, jonka moni koko vehjettä koskaan edes nähneenä on jo ehtinyt tuomita liian kalliina ja myöhään syntyneenä. 

On January 30

On this day in ...

... 1929 (80 years ago today), Dr. Lucille Teasdale-Corti (right) was born in Montreal. After completing her medical training in Canada and France, she and her husband, also a physician, spent their lives working to improve health care in Uganda. The couple practiced surgery, established a nursing school, trained surgical residents, and treated victims and combatants harmed in the country's civil war. Teasdale-Corti contracted AIDS while performing an operation in 1982, and she died from that disease in 1996. (photo credit)

... 2003, a U.S. judge sentenced Briton Richard Reid to life-plus-110-years in prison. Dubbed the "shoe bomber" "after he tried to blow up a transatlantic flight from Paris to Miami," Reid is serving his post-conviction incarceration at the U.S. "Supermax" prison in Colorado (left). Meanwhile, nearly every non-U.S. citizen held at the U.S. naval station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on suspicion of terrorism has yet to stand trial. (photo credit)

Anti-Regulatory Climate Change Litigation

Much of the news on climate change since Inauguration has been of moves to increase federal regulatory efforts. However, a lawsuit filed today by Indek Energy serves as a reminder that litigation remains a powerful regulatory tool. As reported by the New York Times, Indeck Energy filed a challenge in New York county court to the legitimacy of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an effort by Northeastern states to establish a cap-and-trade schema. The suit claims that New York lacks the authority to join without legislative approval, and that the scheme requires Congressional approval.
Whether or not the lawsuit succeeds, it becomes part of the state-corporate regulatory dynamic regarding climate change. As I have explored in depth in recent articles, climate change litigation either focuses on the appropriate extent of government regulation or directly targets major emitters. I have argued that new federal Congressional or Executive action should not preclude such litigation because it serves as an important lever in the overall regulatory scheme. Although this suit pushes against regulation, other claims pressure the government to regulate in ways that it would not otherwise have done or encourage major emitters to take needed steps.

Change & United States' global health policy

Nothing more than too-much-to-do accounts for our not yet mentioning changes to the United States' foreign policy on family planning this past week.
Included in a a flurry of executive action, about which we've posted here and here and here, was President Barack Obama's restoration of U.S. funding for global organizations whose health-care activities include counseling about, advocacy for, or performance of abortions. U.S. Agency for International Development funds had been halted as soon as George W. Bush assumed the Presidency in 2001 -- having previously been reinstated by new President Bill Clinton in 1993, after having 1st been cut off by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
As might be expected, anti-abortion groups are not happy; contrarily, as the Washington Post reported:
Obama's decision was praised by family planning groups, women's health advocates and others for allowing the U.S. Agency for International Development to once again provide millions of dollars to programs offering medical services, birth control, HIV prevention and other care.
Also undone, the so-called "global gag rule." We print Obama's rescission order, styled as a memo to new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in full:
SUBJECT: Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning
The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151b(f)(1)), prohibits nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive Federal funds from using those funds "to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning, or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." The August 1984 announcement by President Reagan of what has become known as the "Mexico City Policy" directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand this limitation and withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available. The Mexico City Policy was in effect from 1985 until 1993, when it was rescinded by President Clinton. President George W. Bush reinstated the policy in 2001, implementing it through conditions in USAID grant awards, and subsequently extended the policy to "voluntary population planning" assistance provided by the Department of State.
These excessively broad conditions on grants and assistance awards are unwarranted. Moreover, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning programs in foreign nations. Accordingly, I hereby revoke the Presidential memorandum of January 22, 2001, for the Administrator of USAID (Restoration of the Mexico City Policy), the Presidential memorandum of March 28, 2001, for the Administrator of USAID (Restoration of the Mexico City Policy), and the Presidential memorandum of August 29, 2003, for the Secretary of State (Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning). In addition, I direct the Secretary of State and the Administrator of USAID to take the following actions with respect to conditions in voluntary population planning assistance and USAID grants that were imposed pursuant to either the 2001 or 2003 memoranda and that are not required by the Foreign Assistance Act or any other law: (1) immediately waive such conditions in any current grants, and (2) notify current grantees, as soon as possible, that these conditions have been waived. I further direct that the Department of State and USAID immediately cease imposing these conditions in any future grants.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
The Secretary of State is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
THE WHITE HOUSE, January 23, 2009.

On January 29

... 1959 (50 year ago today), Disney released Sleeping Beauty, a full-length animated version of a very old fairy tale. It featured 2 very different women: Aurora, a careless wool-spinning princess, and the aptly named Maleficent (right), a snubbed sorceress who shapeshifts into a frightening dragon in a final effort to exact revenge. Subsequently released in theaters in more than 2 dozen countries -- most recently Russia, just 2 months ago -- the film remains a fantasy favorite a half-century later.

... 1982, Britain's House of Lords refused Canadian Indians permission to take their case, which sought greater entrenchment of their rights in Canada's new constitution.

Maailman suurin tämäkin... ehkä

Valokuvaajalegenda Helmut Newtonin kuolemasta tuli vajaa viikko sitten viisi vuotta. Newton on aina kuulunut suosikkikuvaajiini. Hänen rosoinen dokumentaarinen tyylinsä tehoaa minuun ja kuvissa on usein vahva tarina, joka vetoaa katsojan mielikuvitukseen.

Vuonna 1999 Newton julkaisi Sumo-nimisen kirjan, jonka nimi viittaa kirjan kokoon. Opus painaa n. 30 kiloa ja sivun koko on n. 50 x 70 cm eli aukeama on n. 70 x 100 cm. Ei mitään kevyttä selailtavaa. Kirjoja painettiin 10 000 numeroitua kappaletta, jotka Newton signeerasi omakätisesti. 

Minulla on tapana tilaisuuden tullen ostella suosikkikuvaajieni valokuvakirjoja. Ostin oman Sumoni heti ilmestymisvuonna. Kun olin nänhyt kirjan livenä minun oli ihan pakko saada se. Newton väitti, että Sumo on viime vuosisadan suurin painettu kirja. En tiedä onko se totta, mutta kokoa löytyy ihan riittävästi joka tapauksessa. Kirjan mukana tuli metallinen teline, jossa kirjaa voi pitää esillä.

Sumoa on tänäkin päivänä saatavana sekä käytettynä että uutenakin. Newtonin kuolema nosti hintoja ja nykyään kirjasta saa pulittaa jopa moninkertaisen summan alkuperäiseen hintaan verrattuna. Sumo on komea teos ja painojälki on upeaa. Newtonin kuvat toimivat mahtavasti isoina jopa aukeaman kuvina. 

Varsinkaan nykyisillä hinnoilla Sumo ei ole jokaisen ulottuvilla ja jäisi minultakin ostamatta. Onneksi kirjaa voi ihastella ainakin Berliinissä Helmut Newton Foundationin näyttelytilassa, joka on muutenkin pakollinen kohde Saksan pääkaupungissa vierailevalle valokuvauksen ystävälle.

Laitoin kuviin Pentaxin mittakaavaksi.

Pentax K-m tositestissä

Eilen minulla oli kalenterissa ihan vapaata ohjelmaa, eikä yhtään kuvausta sovittuna. Olin päättänyt kuvata Pentaxilla vielä joitakin kuvia ennen kameran palautusta. Kun aamulla lähdin liikkeelle, niin jätin varsinaisen työkalureppuni kotiin. Lähes kaikki kuvaukseni ovat etukäteen sovittuja, enkä juuri koskaan saa viime hetken toimeksiantoja, joten pidin ihan selvänä, että voin tehdä ihan mitä huvittaa.

Huuhailen jossakin Itä-Helsingin suunnalla ja tähtäilen Pentaxilla, kun puhelin soi. Soittaja on eräs asiakas, joka on unohtanut kutsua kuvaajan paikalle henkilöhaastattelua varten. Soittaja kysyy, että voinko lähteä saman tien kuvauspaikalle. Vastaan, että minulla ei ole ihan oikea työkalusarja mukana, mutta jos kyseessä on lähes paniikki, niin kyllä minä menen kuvaamaan.

Minulla oli siis mukana ainoastaan Pentax K-m kamera ja sen mukana tullut kittilinssi. Ei valoja, eikä mitään muutakaan ylimääräistä. Nythän tulisi testattua, että onko se kuvaajasta vai kamerasta kiinni. Haastattelun ohella minun piti kuvata repparityylillä muutamia tilannekuvia, joita olin kuvannut jo aikaisemmin ja tyylin piti olla sama. 

Edullisten vajaakennoisten järjestelmäkameroiden huono puoli on etsin, josta on todella vaikea nähdä mihin kamera on tarkentanut. Kittiobjektiivien huono puoli on surkea valovoima.
Juuri nuo seikat tekivät kuvaamisestani vaikeampaa kuin normaalilla kalustollani, mutta muuten Pentax toimi hienosti. Kameran kuvausnopeus oli riittävä ja tarkennus toimi varsin luotettavasti. Kuvasin tietenkin täydellä aukolla ja yritin käyttää laajakulmaa niin paljon kuin mahdollista, koska valovoima on siten hieman parempi. Käytin ISO 800 - 1000 herkkyyttä, jolla suljinajat olivat 1/30 - 1/60 s. välillä. 

Kolmas tällaisessa kuvaamisessa häiritsevä asia Pentaxissa oli liian pitkä viive kuvan ottamisen ja kuvan katselun välillä, kun kuvasin raakana. Kuvia ei myöskään voi selata suurennettuna, joka hidastaa lopputuloksen tarkastelua.

Sain kuvaamistani ruuduista kasattua varsin tyydyttävän sarjan kuvia asiakkaalle ja kuvien tekninen laatu on hyvä. Pentax K-m ei ole tällaiseen kuvaamiseen tarkoitettu, sillä se on aloittelijan järjestelmäkamera. Vapaa-ajan kuvaamisessa ei noilla mainitsemillani huonoilla puolilla ole juurikaan merkitystä. Toisella valovoimaisemmalla objektiivilla varustettuna olisin suoriutunut tuosta kuvauksesta paljon helpommalla.

Valitettavasti ei voi julkaista tässä kuvia tuolta kuvauskeikalta, mutta yllä muutama muu Pentaxilla kuvattu kuva. Pentax K-m ei ole vielä osaltani loppunkäsitelty, joten tähän palataan vielä.

News---GNMP Peace Memorial Tagged; Too Cold To Clean

Peace Light Probe Ongoing, Scot Andrew Pitzer, Gettysburg Times, Monday, January 26, 2009.

National Park Service investigators are teaming with area police departments to apprehend the vandals that defaced the popular Peace Light Memorial. Gettysburg Police Chief Joe Dougherty confirmed that his agency is working on a lead, but he was unable to release details, since the investigation is ongoing. “We’re working with other police departments to find links and other helpful information,” said Gettysburg National Military Park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.

The destruction was discovered Jan. 8. Vandals spray painted profanities and obscene images onto the towering monument, located along Mummasburg Road on the Gettysburg Battlefield. “This isn’t just casual graffiti. This is mindless and ignorant,” Park Service Ranger Vic Gavin told WGAL. “It probably took these morons five minutes and five dollars worth of paint, and it’ll take us thousands of dollars to clean it up and restore it.”

The language and symbols are so offensive, that the park covered the graffiti with plywood boards. “Word of this heinous act quickly spread across the veterans community,” Gerry Hawk, Executive Director of the AMVETS Dept. of Pa., wrote in a letter to the editor. “To me, the defacement of the Peace Light further demonstrates a sense of apathy among many Americans when it comes to honoring those who have served.”

Repairs to the Peace Light take precedence over other monuments, given the memorial’s popularity. “It’s definitely at a high-profile location,” said Lawhon. “We have so many monuments to take care of with normal maintenance and preservation, but this moves to the top.” Initially, park officials feared that they didn’t have the equipment to remove the graffiti. Lawhon indicated otherwise Thursday. “I think it’s a matter of power washing. We have that equipment,” she said. “We’ve taken paint and oil off monuments before.” The equipment, however, is uneffective in cold weather, so repairs will have to wait. There is no cost estimate for the repairs. “It’ll definitely be at a cost to the National Park Service,” said Lawhon.

Hawk called upon veterans organizations to subsidize the repairs, possibly through fundraising. “The Park Service estimates that repair costs will be high, but it is our duty to ensure that the Peace Light shines on as a symbol of our national unity, especially in a time of national instability and war,” Hawk said. The $60,000 monument was dedicated July 3, 1938, on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, representing unity between the the North and South. Dark-colored granite from Maine, a Union state, was used to construct the base of the monument, while the lighter colored shaft is made of Alabama limestone. Alabama was part of the Confederacy. A fire glows eternally atop the monument, symbolizing peace in the United States. The gas-fueled flame has burned continuously for 24 hours a day, aside from the energy crisis in the 1970s, and another period when it was electrified.

Text Source
: Gettysburg Times, January 26, 2009

Image Source: Gettysburg Daily
Caption: Top: The north and east sides of the monument. If you want to see the images and words that we have blurred, click on this image. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:45 PM on Thursday, January 8, 2009.
Bottom: Another view of the east side of the monument. If you want to see the images and words that we have hidden, click on this image. This view was taken facing west at approximately 4:45 PM on Thursday, January 8, 2009.

Governing Women

A new UN Publication called Governing Women is out and looks very interesting:
Though the proportion of women in national assemblies still barely scrapes 16% on average, the striking outliers-Rwanda with 49% of its assembly female, Argentina with 35%, Liberia and Chile with new women presidents this year-have raised expectations that there is an upward trend in women's representation from which we may expect big changes in the quality of governance. But getting into public office is just the first step in the challenge of creating governance and accountability systems that respond to women's needs and protect the rights. Using case studies from around the world, the essays in this volume, edited by Anne Marie Goetz, consider the conditions for effective connections between women in civil society and women in politics, for the evolution of political party platforms responsive to women's interests, for local government arrangements that enable women to engage effectively, and for accountability mechanisms that answer to women. The book's argument is that good governance from a gender perspective requires more than women in politics. It requires fundamental incentive changes to orient public action and policy to support gender equality.
Interestingly, the case studies all come from the global south, except for the chapter on Women and Political Engagement ni East-Central Europe. Of concern to all those interested in good governance as well as women's involvement in it and its possibilities for securing greater protection of human rights.

On January 28

... 1909 (100 years ago today), at Havana (left), U.S. officials who'd been governing Cuba withdrew upon the noon-hour inauguration of a new President of the "restored Cuban Republic." Evacuation by April 1 was planned for all the U.S. troops that'd been on the island since the Spanish-American War, the New York Times reported -- "save for a permanent force at the American naval station at Guantanamo." As loyal readers know, we IntLawGrrls have posted frequently on current affairs at that naval base. (credit for 1909 map)

... 1947, Jeanne Shaheen (right), who was sworn in this month as U.S. Senator for New Hampshire, and who'd served as that state's Governor from 1997 to 2003, was born in Saint Charles, Missouri. A Democrat, she's is the 1st woman ever to have held both of these offices.

When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

President Obama's inauguration is a week behind us today, but this clip, which captures the reactions of several eloquent centenarians to his swearing-in, is still worth watching to remind us of the enormity of the step we've taken as a nation.

'Nuff said.

On January 27

On this day in ...

... 1914 (95 years ago today), "Lacking any military support," Haiti's civilian President, Port-au-Prince lawyer and Senator Michel Oreste, resigned and went into exile aboard a German ship. At once Marines from Germany, France, and the United States landed in Haiti's capital city. A Haitian military leader was installed as President, but his reign also would be short-lived. (map credit)

... 1904 (105 years ago today), in Paris, France, a son was born to an expatriate couple who in a little over a decade would go on to become icons in the Irish revolutionary movement: Irish-born Major John MacBride, whom the British would execute for his role in the 1916 Easter Rising, and his wife Maud Gonne, described as "an English-born Irish revolutionary, feminist and actress, best remembered for her turbulent relationship with William Butler Yeats." (Had this IntLawGrrl not chosen a certain 16th C. Irishwoman as her transnational foremother, the nod well might've gone to Gonne, ally of IntLawGrrl Fiona de Londras' foremother Countess Markievicz, and the subject of a superb biography by Dr. Margaret Ward.) The couple divorced; their son, Seán Mac Bride, went on to a distinguished global career. Among his achievements: Ireland's Minister of External Affairs and President of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers from 1949 to 1950, a position from which he spearheaded adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights; a cofounder of Amnesty International; Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists; a drafter of the Constitution of the Organization of African Unity; and co-recipient of the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize. Following his death in 1988, he was buried in Dublin cemetery near his wife and son -- and his mother. (credit for mid-20th C. photo of Maud Gonne and Seán MacBride)

Guantánamo Update

On January 22, 2009 -- exactly 7 years and 11 days after the first detainee was brought to Guantánamo -- President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order which requires the closure of the Guantánamo Detention Center within one year. The Order also:
► Calls for the participation of the heads of several agencies to cooperate in reviewing every detainee's case on an individual basis to determine whether the detainee can be released, transferred, or prosecuted pursuant to an Article III court.
► Allows for the determination of an "other disposition"; that is:
With respect to any individuals currently detained at Guantánamo whose
disposition is not achieved [by release, transfer or prosecution], the Review shall select lawful means, consistent with the national security and foreign policy intersts of the United States and the interests of justice, for the disposition of such individuals.

► Specifically calls for "humane standards of confinement" under applicable law, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, for the individuals detained at Guantánamo.
In anticipation of the Executive Order, on January 21, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stayed the habeas proceedings in the case of three Guantánamo detainees who are before him. Walton did so at the request of the Government, which had stated that it needed time to figure out how to proceed.
Other district court judges with detainee habeas proceedings, however, are moving forward.
On the same day the Executive Order was issued, Judge John D. Bates invited the new administration to revise the government's position regarding the appropriate defintion of "enemy combatant" to be used in the habeas proceedings and, in another case, ordered the government to state whether it had audio or video recordings, or transcripts of statements made by the detainee, or contemporaneous notes taken during interrogations. (At left, images from the interrogation of Omar Khadr.)
Similarly, Judge Gladys Kessler gave both petitioner and the government a January 29th deadline for their submissions on the definition of "enemy combatant." In another habeas case, Kessler ordered discovery to proceed with certain disclosures from the government due on February 6.

(More on effects of the President's order below.)


Last week's Executive Order to close the Guantánamo detention camp by this time next year -- about which IntLawGrrl Kristine A. Huskey's posted above -- has touched off a flurry of debate in government and the media. Particularly noted is a resurgence of a phenomenon here labeled RTF, for "returned to the fight."
There've been occasional allegations over the years that a smattering of the 500 or so men freed from Guantánamo subsequently "returned to the fight." It was scarcely a surprise that such allegations intensified just as President Barack Obama made good on his campaign promise and set in motion closure of the camp.
Page 1 of Friday's New York Times thus told of an RTF-er now said to be an al Qaeda deputy in Yemen. The story appeared about a week after release of at of a pre-inauguration Pentagon report classifying fully 11% of all men and boys freed from GTMO as RTF.
But as CNN reported this weekend, "security experts" are "skeptical." (Video of a segment of the Rachel Maddow show, in which Seton Hall Law Professor Mark Denbeaux debunks the Pentagon's numbers, is here.) And though the head of the Pentagon -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the only holdover from the prior Cabinet -- did not dispute the numbers, CNN reported that he saw no cause for alarm:
'It's not as big a number if you're talking about 700 or a thousand or however many have been through Guantanamo.'
But these responses overlook a more fundamental problem at play in all RTF reports.
As my New York Times' Room for Debate blog post details, resort to the RTF catchphrase requires acceptance not only that a former detainee's now in the fight, but also that he was a fighter before his capture. All agree that was not the case with all GTMO detainees. (image credit)
Here's hoping that the new administration follows through on its commitment to undertaking a careful and concrete case-by-case analysis, rather than casting easy yet overbroad aspersions on a diverse detainee population.

(To GTMOre news, check out
Karen J. Greenberg's Washington Post op-ed on how, in the early days of detention, Pentagon civilians thwarted uniformed military lawyers' efforts to operate within the bounds of legal due process.)

On January 26

On this day in ...

... 2004, "in a ceremony at the foreign ministry in Kabul in front of ministers, ambassadors and military officers," Hamid Karzai signed the new Constitution of Afghanistan, to which a loya jirga, an assembly of regional representatives, ad agreed earlier in the month. Karzai then headed the transitional government in post-Taliban Afghanistan. He would be elected President in October 2004. (credit for photo of Karzai, far right, with former king Zahir Shah)

... 1973, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, often called the Montreal Convention in recognition of the city where it was signed in 1971, entered into force. Today this antiterrorism convention has 187 states parties, including the United States.

California Greenhouse Gas Waiver

The New York Times reports that Obama is poised to grant California's waiver under the Clean Air Act that will allow it to regulate motor vehicle emissions more stringently than the federal government does. This action will have a major impact because at least thirteen other states plan to follow California's standards if the waiver is granted. The Obama campaign had said that they would take this action, and this announcement will be part of a number of environmental actions planned for Monday. As I have analyzed in depth in a forthcoming article, the California waiver dispute provides an interesting example of the battles over the scale of climate regulation and the diagonal regulatory role that climate change litigation can play.

Canon 5D mk2

Canon 5D oli todellinen yllätys aikanaan, kun tämä täyden kennon edullinen digikamera julkistettiin. Viitonen oli tuotannossa ennätyksellisen pitkään digikameroiden lyhyessä historiassa, peräti n. kolme vuotta. Canonilla ei ollut mitään tarvetta tuoda uutta päivitettyä mallia markkinoille ennen kuin kilpailijat alkoivat tehdä samankaltaisia tuotteita.

Viime syksynä Photokinassa julkistettiin uusi Canon 5D mk2, jossa merkittävin uutuus oli 21 megapikselin kenno ja videokuvausmahdollisuus. 

Kuvasin n. viikon ajan mk2-mallilla ja uusi kamera on edeltäjäänsä parempi monessa suhteessa, mutta siltikin mielestäni suhteellisen maltillinen uudistus. Käytössä uusi valikkorakenne on vanhaa parempi ja helpottaa valintojen tekoa. Takaosan uusi iso näyttö on erinomainen ja siitä on mahdollista tarkistaa kuvan terävyys entistä paremmin. Etsimessä näkyy ISO-arvo kaiken aikaa, joka on niin ikään hyvä asia. Muitakin pikkuparannuksia on tehty, kuten akun varaustilan kunnollinen näyttö.

Vaikka Canonilla korostetaan, että kuvaajia kuunnellaan tuoteparannuksia tehtäessä, niin aina eivät pienetkään parannukset päädy tuotantoon. Uudessa 5D:ssä on edelleen kuvaustilan valintakiekko vailla lukitusta, vaikka sen lisääminen tuskin olisi ollut iso asia. Kiekko kääntyilee toiminnan tuiskeessa aika helposti asiattomaan asentoon. 

Automaattitarkennuksen perusteellista päivitystä oli moni minun lisäkseni toivonut, mutta tarkennukselle on tehty ainoastaan hienosäätöä. Tarkennus tuntuu aavistuksen paremmalta kuin vanhassa mallissa, mutta ero ei ole dramaattinen. Muutama uuden kameran ostanut kolleegani on myös sanonut, että tarkennus toimii vanhaa luotettavammin. Luotettavuus ei kuitenkaan ole samalla tasolla esim. Nikonin paremmissa malleissa käyttämän 51 pisteen tarkennuksen kanssa. 

Paremmalla tarkennuksella varustettuna 5D mk2 olisikin kyllä jo miltei liian hyvä kamera hintaansa nähden ja saman ovat ilmeisesti todenneet myös Canonin markkinoinnin ihmiset. Jotakin pitää jättää seuraavaan malliin.

Tarkennuksen voi kalibroida jokaiselle objektiiville erikseen, jos niin haluaa. Tämä on merkittävä parannus, sillä ainakin minun molemmat edellisen sukupolven 5D:t kaipaisivat tätä.

Kuvanlaatu on erinomainen ja aivan tasoissa esim. uuden Nikon D3x:n kanssa, kuten resoluutiovertailustani voi todeta. Terävyys, herkkyys ja dynamiikka ovat mainiot. Käyttökelpoista jälkeä tulee jopa ISO 6400 asetuksella, jossa kohinaa näkyy tasaisilla pinnoilla, mutta terävyys ja sävyala ovat hämmästyttävän hyvät. 

Videokuvaus on tullut jäädäkseen myös järjestelmäkameroihin, mutta esim. Nikonin uudessa D3x-mallissa videota ei ole. Syy tuohon on isojen tapahtumien, kuten olympialaisten televisio-oikeudet. Tuollaisiin tapahtumiin ei välttämättä ole asiaa videokameran kanssa.

Canonilla voi kuvata videoita ja hyvällä laadulla. Mikään lomakuvaajan tähtää ja ammu videokamera Canon ei ole, sillä tarkennus videota kuvatessa on hieman hankalaa. Järjestelmällisessä videotuotannossa varsinkin jalustalta kuvattuna videokuva on erittäin näyttävän näköistä. Pieni syväterävyys mahdollistaa ihan oikean elokuvan näköisen kuvausjäljen.

Canon 5D mk2 on ehdottomasti hintansa arvoinen päivitys vanhoille 5D-kuvaajille ja hyvä hankinta suhteellisen edullisia pikseleitä kaipaavalle. Parempaa kuvanlaatua ei tällä hetkellä ole missään kinodigissä. Kovemman hinnan maksamalla saa lisää nopeutta ja käyttömukavuutta.

Muutama kommenttini Canonista on on myös täällä.

Yllä oleva Bemarin kuva on kuvattu 5D mk2 kameralla ja 200 mm f/2 L IS USM objektiivilla ja alempi kuva on kuvattu 24 - 105 mm f/4 L IS USMobjektiivilla, joka on mitä parhain yleiskakkula ja sopii hyvin pariksi uuden viitosen kanssa.

'Nuff said

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)

What we need now are guiding principles that set priorities for water. Water is a public trust that belongs to the Earth and all species. It is a basic human right. Yes, there is a commercial dimension to water. But the only possible path to a water secure future is based on the twin foundations of conservation and justice. All water use, public and private, must now serve these goals.

-- Maude Barlow (left), board chair for the D.C.-based nongovernmental organization Food & Water Watch, senior advisor on water to U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, and author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water (2007), in a recent San Francisco Chronicle op-ed about the right to water, an issue on which IntLawGrrls also have posted.

On January 25

On this day in ...
... 1919 (90 years ago today), meeting in plenary session, delegates of the Paris Peace Conference gave quick, unanimous approval of plan to set up a League of Nations. Coming in the wake of the devastation of World War II, the concept of an international organization designed to channel states' warlike impulses into processes of pacific dispute settlement was much praised: among those writing favorable commentaries that month were, in the New York Times, Charles Warren (op-ed here), who'd served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney General and would go on to become a Harvard law professor noted for his works of legal history, and, in The Atlantic, noted British author H.G. Wells (essay here). (credit for photo of hall in which conference took place)
... 2006, in what were " the first Palestinian legislative elections in a decade," the Islamist party Hamas "won a large share of votes," thus "depriving the more secular Fatah party of its longstanding monopoly on power," the New York Times reported. This last several weeks Hamas and Israel have been in armed struggle in Gaza -- a struggle on which IntLawGrrls have posted here, here, and here. (map credit)

News---GNMP's William Patterson Farmhouse Being Restored

Crews Restore Historic Log House In Gettysburg, Erin James, Evening Sun, January 10, 2009.

Jeff Miller takes a look at the mess of a structure in front of him and laughs. The 210-year-old William Patterson House - what's left of it - is held together by rocks and mud, a combination called chinking. The rest of the house sits in piles scattered around Miller. Then he composes himself to explain his amusement at the sight. "After about 180 years, you really have to think it's time for new stuff," he said. He's not kidding.
Gettysburg National Military Park crews are working to restore the house, which is located on the Gettysburg battlefield and dates back to 1798. To do that, they are literally disassembling the structure and then rebuilding it. Miller, a carpenter, was overseeing the project Thursday while workers removed rotted logs, tagged them and piled them on the property just a few feet from the shoulder of Taneytown Road. About 40 percent of the logs are rotted and will be replaced with new wood.

But when the structure is re-assembled sometime this spring or summer, it will look almost exactly as it did, Miller said. The work began last summer and will likely take a year to complete because of the challenges associated with restoring such an old structure. "This is one of the most extensive restorations we've done in 10 years," Miller said. Historians believe the structure was used as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg and the surrounding property was a pasture at the time of the battle. In 1863, William Patterson owned property on the west side of Taneytown Road, which included an orchard and woods. The farmstead was mostly located behind the Union lines, and the westernmost field extended to Cemetery Ridge and was incorporated into the battle lines of the U.S. Second Corps. The remaining fields, in the rear of the battle line, were used as staging areas, headquarters sites, hospital sites and avenues of approach. According to park officials, the building retains a high level of integrity to the historic period it was built in, and there is a high percentage of original material remaining.

The two-story log building was built on a stone foundation and was altered in both the pre- and post-Civil War period. The National Park Service removed non-historic additions to the house in 1982. A modern sprinkler system was also installed in the structure sometime in the last 20 years, Miller said. One of the ongoing restoration project's biggest components was the replacement of the building's foundation, which has already been completed.

Once all the logs have been removed from the building, the lumber will be inspected and treated. Any rotted logs will be replaced with new lumber that will look nearly exact - down to the ax marks - like the original. Miller estimated about 40 percent of the structure's logs are rotted. But it could be more, he said. "We'll know better when we get them in the shop," he said.

Text and Image Source: The Evening Sun, January 10, 2009

Captions: Top---The last of the logs are lifted off of the second floor of the William Patterson House – the oldest building on the Gettysburg battlefield – along Taneytown Road in Gettysburg on Thursday morning. The National Park Service is working to rehabilitate the house, which dates to 1798. Middle--Parts of the home undergo restoration. Bottom--Scaffolding surrounds the William Patterson House on the Gettysburg battlefield.

Off Topic---Novel Review by Ron Maxwell: Victory by Longbow

Victory by Longbow: A famous battle, seen through the eyes of an English archer, A review by Ron Maxwell of Agincourt, Bernard Cornwell, Harper Publishing, 451 pages, $27.99.

For every English boy, there is an instant when it's two o'clock on an October afternoon in 1415. The decisive English victory at Agincourt, with the annihilation of the numerically superior French army and the massacre of most of the Frenchmen who had surrendered, was noted by contemporary observers as an epochal event, and rightly so. Even in the context of the punishing Hundred Years War, Agincourt stood out for its brutality, its heroism, its impossible result. It was the sort of event that could only be understood and explained in metaphysical terms. God must have had a hand in its outcome. So they wrote at the time.

With the military leadership of the French lying in heaps of bloody and dismembered corpses -- and with the few titled survivors held for ransom in England -- it would take another generation for France to regroup and to reassert its sovereignty and destiny in the person of Joan of Arc. Fourteen years would pass before the French would avenge the humiliation of Agincourt at Patay, a battle in which France's mounted knights, tutored by past mistakes and wary of the English longbow, flanked the English army's archers instead of charging them head-on, as they had at Agincourt.

With his novel "Agincourt," Bernard Cornwell leads us into this world with the hypnotic skill of an old seer seated about an ancient campfire. Of course Shakespeare, with "Henry V," has already taken us on this journey, as seen through the eyes of England's young king. Mr. Cornwell selects for his protagonist a man as lowly as the king is exalted, as powerless as the king is omnipotent. By the end of this gripping novel we understand that it was the common soldier -- personified by a man named Nick Hook in Mr. Cornwell's telling -- who embodied the English character and in large measure determined the outcome of its military adventures. Revealing as well is the fact that Hook is exceptionally skilled at a particular kind of warfare -- shooting arrows with a longbow.

Anyone who has ever held a bow and arrow will savor Mr. Cornwell's affectionate descriptions of designing, crafting, maintaining, transporting and fighting with this weapon. He emphasizes that it was the English archer who often made the critical difference in 15th-century battle. He was trained from youth to develop the muscles of his arms, chest and back in order to acquire the reserves of strength to repeatedly draw a bowstring that most strong men could barely pull half-way -- and trained as well in the art of guiding the arrow's flight to his prey.

King Henry is still central to the historical event, and he is prominent in Mr. Cornwell's novel. Disguised as an anonymous knight, he wanders through the English positions on the night before the great battle. We've been here before, but we're standing on slightly different ground, listening to somewhat different voices. Far from competing with Shakespeare, these scenes offer a quiet and unobtrusive homage to theatrical moments already seared into our collective consciousness.

The battle at Agincourt established an English presence in France that would outlast all of its combatants and contemporaries. Mr. Cornwell gives us some perspective for the large historical event by starting his novel more than a year earlier, in the English countryside, where we first meet Hook as well as his nemesis, a leering man of the cloth prone to quoting biblical Scriptures that don't exist but that sound as if they might. A turn of fate accompanied by the voice of a saint compels Hook to enlist as a mercenary in the employ of Burgundy, where he finds himself part of a company of English archers defending a French town then under siege during a civil war among French fiefdoms.

To his credit, Mr. Cornwell provides just enough "history" so that we're never in doubt of who's fighting whom or who's on who's side. Whose side God is on (and how can we be sure?) is a more difficult matter for these characters to divine. "Hook often wandered the cathedral [at Soissons]," Mr. Cornwell writes, "staring at the painted walls or at the rich altars decorated with silver, gold, enamel, and finely embroidered silks and linens. He had never been inside a cathedral before and the size of it, the shadows far away in the high roof, the silence of the stones, all gave him an uneasy feeling that there must be something more to life than a bow, an arrow, and the muscles to use them. He did not know what that something was."

A few months later Hook, by now something of a veteran, finds himself in the mighty fleet of 1,500 vessels carrying King Henry and his invading army to Harfleur, where they begin a siege of the walled city. In the space of a year, Hook has gone from the besieged to the besieger, from the defender to the attacker. Between the two encounters Mr. Cornwell paints a vivid, harrowing portrait of the ordeal of medieval warfare, with trebuchets, catapults, primitive cannon, vats of boiling oil and crossbow bolts -- even the claustrophobic hell of an underground clash as two tunneling armies collide under the walls of Harfleur.

Until recently, most adolescent boys growing up in the Western world have had the dream of being a knight in shining armor, part of a world involving chivalry, damsels in distress, brightly caparisoned destriers, turreted and crenellated castle walls, tapestries, tournaments, broad swords. These elements are present in Mr. Cornwell's story, but only as a thin outer layer that gets peeled away with every turn of the page. Here the medieval world transitioning to the Renaissance is much closer to Hobbes's vision of humanity: "continual fear, danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

Mr. Cornwell does not over-adorn the splendor, opulence and high art of Europe at the beginning of the 15th century. But neither does he obscure its darker side: numbing cold, clawing hunger, savage hand-to-hand fighting, the burning of heretics, the arbitrariness of justice and the arrogance of power. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Mr. Maxwell has written a cinematic trilogy on Joan of Arc titled "The Virgin Warrior." He wrote and directed the motion pictures "Gettysburg" and "Gods & Generals." His Web site can be found at www.ronmaxwell.com.

Text and Image Source: Wall Street Journal January 22, 2009.
Bloggers Team