Rejecting Refugees

The New York Times today reports on my most recent co-authored empirical study of the U.S. asylum system, Rejecting Refugees: Homeland Security's Administration of the One-Year Bar to Asylum, forthcoming in the William and Mary Law Review. As the title suggests, this article focuses on asylum law's one-year filing deadline, which was created by the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Scholars and practitioners have long expressed concern that refugees have been denied asylum due solely for failure to apply within a year of entry, and fear that the bar has had a significant impact on the U.S. asylum system. Our article is the first systematic empirical study of the effects of the deadline on asylum seekers and the asylum system.
We focus on decision-making by the Department of Homeland Security, which adjudicates most applications for asylum in the first instance. The findings are troubling. Most notably, it is likely that since the one-year bar came into effect, in April 1998, through June 2009, DHS rejected on the deadline more than 15,000 asylum applications (affecting more than 21,000 refugees) that would otherwise have been granted.
"Rejected" means that these asylum seekers could, if they had sufficient resources, have pursued their case further in immigration court. Because the data systems used by DHS and the immigration courts (which are part of the Department of Justice) do not regularly coordinate and track cases, we cannot tell how many of these applicants were successful in immigration court. If immigration judges decided these cases the same way as the asylum officers, many refugees were ordered deported not because they failed to establish eligibility for asylum but because they did not file their applications within a year of entry. Even those asylum seekers lucky enough to win their one-year deadline arguments in immigration court faced the expense and trauma of an appeal, not to mention the delay, during which their family members remaining in their home country might suffer serious harm. (Spouses and children are eligible to join successful asylum seekers in the United States.)
The data give rise to concerns that certain populations were more adversely affected by the deadline than others. Women were significantly more likely to file very late (three or more years after the deadline had passed) than men, perhaps because they are more likely to suffer sexual violence and therefore more reluctant to reveal what happened to them. Moreover, women claiming asylum on gendered grounds, such as domestic violence and female genital mutilation, might not become aware that they are eligible under the law until they have lived in the U.S. for several years. Asylum seekers from certain countries, such as the Gambia and Sierra Leone, were much more disadvantaged by the deadline than applicants from other countries, such as Haiti and India. Though we can't know from the data the cause of this disadvantage, it is possible that the deadline particularly impacts refugees who do not have a strong community of immigrants from their home countries who can help to guide them through the asylum process.
Our recommendation? The deadline should be repealed, as several bills introduced in Congress propose. Short of repeal, the Obama administration should amend its regulations to broaden the scope of exceptions to the deadline and expand its training of asylum officers to encourage acceptance of a broader range of evidence and engagement in proactive questioning to establish applicants' compliance with the deadline.

(cross-posted on Concurring Opinions)
(credit for photo above left)

Go On! Proving International Sex Crimes

The Forum for International Criminal and Humanitarian Law in connection with Yale University and the University of Cape Town is hosting a seminar on "Proving International Sex Crimes" in New Haven on Oct. 15-16, 2010.
Professor Morten Bergsmo (University of Oslo, Visiting Professor at Georgetown Law Center) (right) is organizing the seminar and will also serve as a moderator for IntLawGrrls' workshop two weeks later on Gender and International Criminal Law at ASIL's Tillar House.
The purpose of the Yale seminar is to

advance the discourse on international gender crimes by addressing one of its weakest links, the effective enforcement of individual criminal responsibility for such violations, in particular for those with higher responsibility.

Key questions to be explored include:

  • What are the legal requirements for such crimes for the different forms of participation in their commission?
  • Which requirements are conduct-specific and which refer to the context in which the conduct occurred?
  • How have the different legal requirements been proved in cases?
  • Where do the main difficulties lie and what are the typical excuses?
  • What is the significance of 'systematic' sexual violence, sexual violence as a 'tool or instrument of warfare', and sexual violence as 'persecution'?
  • What can be learned from the prosecution of other international crimes for the prosecution of sex crimes?
The full program is available here.
Speakers include our colleagues:
IntLawGrrl Kelly Dawn Askin (Open Society Justice Initiative)
IntLawGrrl Beth Hillman (Hastings School of Law, Visiting Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law) (left)
Elisabeth Wood (Yale University) (right)
David Cohen (U.C. Berkeley)
Hope to see you there!

On September 30

On this day in ...

... 1991, military leaders took control of Haiti, ousting the elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and sending him into exile in France. Contending that "[a]fter seven months of democratic experience, the country once again finds itself a prey to the horrors of uncertainty," Brig. Gen. Raul Cedras said in a broadcast. "Today, the armed forces find themselves obligated to assume the heavy responsibility to keep the ship of state afloat." The coup took place just days after Aristide's return from his speech before the U.N. General Assembly and a celebration among Haiti's New York-based diaspora. The junta would rule for 3 years, until the arrival of a U.N. backed multinational force, and the eventual restoration of elected governments.

(Prior September 30 posts are here, here, and here.)

Rhett Butler-Romantic Blockade Runner

Rhett Butler is the legendary character and heart throb of the Civil War novel Gone With the Wind.  During the war, dashing and handsome Butler takes up the occupation of a blockader runner captain.  Because of
the book's and character's status in American lore,  when many people today think of the men of blockade runners, they usually think of Butler first.  There has provoked a discussion around the Hampton Roads Naval Museum of the accuracy of this statement. What do you think? I provided Two You Tube clip from the 1939 Gone With the Wind.  The first is the "practical" Rhett Butler and the second is the "romantic" Rhett Butler.
Practical Butler
Romantic Butler

What Twitter Learns from All Those Tweets

Twitter generates more than 12 terabytes of data a day – that's a lot of tweets. Their head of analytics talks about the kinds of insights they look for in this mountain of information.

Read more at Technology Review India:

What Twitter Learns from All Those Tweets

No Alien Tort Liability for Corporations?

A serious, perhaps, mortal blow has been dealt to the Alien Tort Statute by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The ATS creates federal jurisdiction over

any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.
In its opinion in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., however, the Second Circuit dramatically narrowed the scope of the ATS by ruling that it did not apply to "juridical persons," meaning corporations.
Since the groundbreaking judgment in Filártiga v. Peña-Irala (2d Cir. 1980), which was brought by my dearly-missed colleague Rhonda Copelon and the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ATS has offered victims of human rights abuses the prospect of access to U.S. courts.
In Kiobel, the oil company defendants stood accused of aiding and abetting the Nigerian government's campaign of human rights abuses in the Niger Delta, Nigeria's oil-producing region. The litany of human rights violations at issue in the case included allegations of torture, arbitrary detention, and crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, these allegations can no longer be heard in U.S.courts. The Second Circuit ruled on September 17th that corporations cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute because they are “juridical” entities rather than natural persons. Should this ruling be adopted throughout the U.S. court system, it would gut the scope of the ATS, making it very likely that corporations participating in human rights abuses will escape any accountability for their conduct.
The Niger Delta is home to 31 million people. (map credit) Since oil exploration began some 50 years ago, the region has suffered an Exxon Valdez-sized oil spill every year. As you can imagine, these spills have devastated the local population. In 2009 Amnesty International reported that the oil industry in the Niger Delta of Nigeria
has brought impoverishment, conflict, human rights abuses and despair to the majority of the people in the oil-producing areas.
Local populations have failed to benefit from the wealth generated by oil production, even as they suffer its environmental consequences. Before being despoiled by oil pollution, the Niger Delta was one of the most important wetlands in the world. BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (see previous Intlawgrrl posts here, here and here) focused public attention, albeit briefly, on the ongoing environmental devastation in the Niger Delta. (You can hear an interview I did with WBEZ Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview Program on this topic here.)
Just last year, Shell Oil settled an ATS case alleging the company’s complicity in the hanging deaths of nine Ogoni activists, including the world-renown poet Ken Siro Wiwa. Cases alleging similar human rights abuses in oil production have been brought against Talisman Energy for its activities in the Sudan, Unocal for its activities in Burma, and Chevron for its activities in Ecuador. (News on that last suit here.)
Second Circuit Judge José A. Cabranes interpreted international law precedents extremely narrowly in order to concluded that, throughout history,
the principle of individual liability for violations of international law has been limited to natural persons—not ‘juridical' persons such as corporations.
This despite the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly applies to "every individual and every organ of society." Over the objections of Judge Pierre N. Leval, Judge Cabranes, joined by Judge Dennis Jacobs concluded that that U.S. courts lacked jurisdiction over ATS claims brought against corporate entities.
Given that oil production often takes place in countries without robust judicial systems, this cramped ruling virtually assures that victims will have no avenue of redress.
The United States consumes a quarter of the world’s oil—10% of which comes from Nigeria. That makes the United States the largest purchaser of oil produced in the Niger Delta. Our participation as end-consumers makes us unwitting collaborators to abuse in Nigeria and around the world. We surely have an interest in giving victims of these human rights abuses a forum in which to seek justice.

Nikonin langaton salama, näin sitä käytetään

Aina silloin tällöin, aika usein oikeastaan ja viimeksi eilen, törmään valokuvauksen harrastajiin, jotka kyselevät minulta langattomasta salamasta. Yksi yleinen kysymys on perustavaa laatua: miten sitä Nikonin langatonta salamaa oikein käytetään?

Vastaus yllä olevaan kysymykseen löytyy tietenkin Nikonin käyttöohjeesta, mutta ohjetta ei joko lueta tai sitten ohje ei ole selkeä.

Tässä Nikonin langattoman salaman lyhyt oppimäärä.

Langaton salama tässä tapauksessa tarkoittaa Nikonin infrapunaohjauksella toimivaa järjestelmää, jossa ilman johtoja ( lankoja ) voidaan kamerasta käsin ohjailla yhtä tai useampaa erillistä salamalaitteita, jotka ovat yhteensopivia tämän järjestelmän kanssa. Tällaisia salamoita ovat esim. Nikon SB-900 tai vasta esitelty uutuus SB-700. On myös tarvikesalamoita, jotka toimivat.

Nikonin langaton salama toimii D90 rungon ja sitä parempien runkojen kanssa ilman lisävälineitä. Vähintään yksi erillinen salama toki tarvitaan, mutta ei muita lisävälineitä. Mainitun D90 rungon alapuolella mallistossa olevilla rungoilla voidaan myös käyttää langatonta salamaa, mutta silloin tarvitaan vähintään kaksi erillistä salamaa. Toinen on kamerassa kiinni ohjaavana salamana ja toinen kamerasta erillään ohjattavana.

Ohjaus kamerarungon omalla salamalla

Nikon D90 ja sitä paremmilla rungoilla ( poislukien D3-sarja ) erillissalaman ohjaus voidaan tehdä kamerarungon omalla salamalla, joka asetetaan ohjaustilaan kameran valikosta. Yhdysrakenteisen salaman asetukset löytyvät "mukautetut asetukset"-valikosta, joka on myös kynäsymbolilla merkitty. Nikon D700 rungossa valikon kohta on e3.

Yllä olevassa kuvassa on vasemmalta oikealle valikon polku. Viimeisessä valikon ruudussa näkyy, että kameran oma salama on asetettu olemaan välähtämättä, ryhmä A on käsisäädöllä 1/5 teholla ja ryhmä B 1/32 teholla. Alinna olevassa kanavavalinnassa on neljä vaihtehtoa, jolloin esim. neljä kuvaajaa voi työskennellä samassa tilassa välkyttelemättä toistensa salamoita.

Ohjattava, eli orjasalama, asetetaan "remote"-tilaan. Yllä olevassa kuvassa on Nikon SB-900 salaman virtakytkin käännettynä remote-asentoon. Virtakytkimen keskellä olevaa nappia pitää painaa, jotta kytkin kääntyy remote- ja master-asentoihin.

Toinen tärkeä asia ohjattavassa salamassa on ryhmän valinta, joka voi olla A, B tai C. Kamerarungon yhdysrakenteisella salamalla voi ohjata kolmea ryhmää, joista yksi on rungon oma salama. Näin ohjattaville salamoille voi antaa ryhmäksi joko A tai B. Rungosta käsin voi sitten säätää kumpaakin ryhmää. Yhdessä ryhmässä voi olla useita salamoita ja ryhmän säätö vaikuttaa kaikkiin saman ryhmän salamoihin.

Yllä olevassa kuvassa Nikon SB-900 salama kuuluu ryhmään B ja on kanavalla 1. Ohjattava salama pitää tietenkin olla samalla kanavalla kuin ohjaava salama.

Ryhmä valitaan SB-900 salamassa painamalla nappia GR-kirjaimien alapuolella, jonka jälkeen valintakiekkoa pyörittämällä valitaan haluttu ryhmä ja OK-napilla kuitataan valinta. Kanavan valinta käy samalla tavalla, mutta ensin painetaan Ch-nappia, jonka jälkeen pyöritetään kiekkoa ja sitten kuitataan OK-napilla.

Ohjaus erillisellä salamalla

Kaikissa Nikonin digirungoissa voidaan käyttää langatonta salamajärjestelmää, kun ohjaavana laitteena käytetään rungon salamakenkään kiinnitettyä erillistä salamaa. Nikon D90 ja sitä parempien runkojen kanssa näin saadaan pidempi kantama ohjaussignaalille ja muiden runkojen kanssa tämä tai SU-800 lähetin  on ainoa mahdollisuus.

Jos ohjaavana laitteena käytetään Nikon SB-900 salamaa, niin käyttöön saadaan neljä ohjattavaa salamaryhmää, joista yksi on ohjaava salama. Ohjaavan salaman lisäksi voi siis käytössä olla kolme ( A, B tai C ) erikseen säädettävää salamaa tai salamaryhmää.

Ohjaava salama asetetaan "master"-tilaan, josta esimerkkinä yllä SB-900 salaman virtakytkin. Yllä olevassa kuvassa ohjaava mastersalama on asetettu olemään välähtämättä, ryhmä A on asetettu käsisäädölle 1/32 teholle, ryhmä B käsisäädölle 1/4 teholle ja ryhmä C TTL-automaattivalotukselle ilman valotuskorjailua. Oikeassa ylänurkassa näkyy valittuna kanava 1.

Kun jotain ryhmää halutaan säätää, niin SEL-kirjainten alapuolella olevaa nappia painamalla voidaan valita haluttu ryhmä. Säädettävän ryhmän kohdalla MODE-nappia painelemalla valitaan tämän ryhmän toiminta käsisäädön ja automaattitoimintojen välillä.

Käsisäädöllä olevan ryhmän tehoa säädetään painamalla ensin M-kirjaimen alapuolella olevaa nappia ja sitten säätökiekkoa pyöritetään niin, että haluttu teho tulee näkyviin. OK-napilla kuitataan lopuksi.

Automaatilla olevan ryhmän valotuskorjausta säädetään +/- merkin alapuolella olevaa nappia painamalla, jonka jälkeen säätökeikkoa pyöritetään niin kauan, että haluttu korjaus näkyy. Lopuksi kuitataan OK-napilla.

Ohjattavat orjasalamat asetetaan samalla tavalla kuin käytettäessä ohjaavana salamana kamerarungon yhdysrakenteista salamaa.

Nopean valotusajan salama

Toinen usein kuulemani kysymys koskee nopeita suljinaikoja salaman kanssa. Miten ne nopeat, virallista salamatäsmäysaikaa lyhyemmät valotusajat saa käyttöön? Nopean valotusajan salamatäsmäys on käytettävissä vain Nikonin D90 ja sitä paremmilla rungoilla.

Nikon käyttää nopeasta salamatäsmäyksestä lyhennettä FP, ja tämän saa käyttöön samasta valikosta kuin langattoman salaman ohjauksenkin. Nikon D700 rungossa valikon kohta on e1, josta valitaan "automaattinen FP". Yllä valikon polku vasemmalta oikealle.

Nyt salamat välähtävät kaikilla valotusajoilla, mutta niin kuin kaikessa, tässäkin on kääntöpuolensa. Lyhyillä valotusajoilla salaman välähdys on oikeastaan hyvin nopea sarja lyhyitä välähdyksiä, joista muodostuu yksi koko sulkimen aukioloajan kestävä pitkä välähdys. Tuollainen toiminta kuluttaa energiaa enemmän kuin tavallinen välähdys ja siksi salaman teho laskee.

Automaattisalamalla kuvatessa tehon laskun huomaa niin, että salama pitää ehkä olla lähellä kohdetta, jotta valon määrä riittää. Käsisäätöisellä salamalla tehon laskun huomaa siitä, että nopeilla valotusajoilla salman teho pitää säätää suuremmalle kuin vastaavalta valaisuetäisyydeltä virallisella salamatäsmäysajalla kuvattaessa.

Yllä esimerkkikuvapari, jonka vasen kuva on kuvattu aukolla f/5.6, ajalla 1/250 s. ja salaman 1/128 teholla. Oikea kuva on kuvattu samalla f/5.6 aukolla, mutta valotusaika on ollut 1/2000 s. ja salaman teho 1/4. Olen siis joutunut nostamaan salaman tehoa kokonaiset viisi aukkoa, koska käytin nopean valotusajan salamatäsmäystä.

Valon väri näyttää niin ikään olevan kuvissa erilainen. Miljööhenkilökuvissa sekä ulkona, joissa nopean valotusajan salamatäsmäys on ehkä omimmillaan salaman valon värivirhe ei ole kovin kriittistä. Studiossa tuotekuvissa asia on aivan toinen, mutta jos joku studiossa tuotekuvia pikkusalamoilla kuvaakin, niin nopean valotusjan täsmäystä hän siellä tuskin tarvitsee.

Yllä esimerkkikuvaparin oikeanpuoleinen kuva värikorjattuna vastaamaan suunnilleen vasenta kuvaa.

Nikonin langaton salama toimii hyvin ja luotettavasti useimmissa kuvaustilanteissa kunhan ohjaavalla salamalla on näköyhteys ohjattavan salaman sensorille. Kokeilimme kesällä järjestelmän kantamaa ja yllätyimme.

Nämä ohjeet ovat tietenkin vain välttämätön tekninen osa salamoiden käytössä. Kokonaan toinen juttu on sitten salamoilla valaisu, jolla kuva ja sen tunnelma tehdään.


Pekka kommentoi, että langaton toimii myös D80 rungon omalla salamalla. Tekstini käsittelee Nikonin tämän hetken mallistoa, mutta en ole sitä selvästi tuonut esille. En tunne Nikonin malleja kovin hyvin lähimenneisyydestä, koska palasin Nikonin käyttäjäksi uudelleen vuoden 2009 keväällä. Sitä edellinen Nikonini oli D1x.

On September 29

On this day in ...
... 1954, the European Organization for Nuclear Research began operations. Dissolved was the provisional council on nuclear research in the region, which had been established a couple years earlier; nonetheless, the French acronym by which that first effort had been known, CERN, remains the shorthand term for this organization to this day. The organization now has 20 member states. Its laboratory, which "sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva," is a center for physics research; a number of its scientists have earned Nobel Prizes in the field.

(Prior September 29 posts are here, here, and here.)

Nikkor AF-S DX 55 - 300 mm f/4.5 - 5.6 ED VR kokeilussa

Nikon esitteli hiljattain uuden version edullisesta telezoomista pikkukennoisille kameroille. Vanhaan 55 - 200 milliseen verrattuna polttoväliä on tullut lisää 100 mm pitkään päähän, jonka lisäksi muovibajonetti on vaihtunut metalliseen.

Objektiivin rakenne on muovinen, mutta siitä huolimatta hyvän tuntuinen. Ainakaan uudessa objektiivissa ei ole isoja välyksiä edes pisimmilleen venytettynä ja metallibajonetti luo vakuuttavaa tunnelmaa. Vastavalosuoja sisältyy Nikonin tapaan hintaan myös tällaisessa edullisessa objektiivissa. Kakkula oli paljon paremman tuntuinen mekaanisesti kuin oli odottanut.

Toiminta kuvatessa vastaa odotuksia. Tarkennuksen käsikäyttö edellyttää katkaisijan kääntämistä, mutta se ei liene ongelma suurimmalle osalle käyttäjistä. Käsitarkennusrengas on ohut rinkula objektiivin etupäässä, mutta minun ei tarvinnut turvautua siihen, koska objektiivi tarkensi moitteettomasti automaatilla. Zoomausrengas kääntyy pehmeästi, eikä liikkeessä ole pykäliä tai tahmeita kohtia.

Optinen suorituskyky on niin loistava, että pitää oikein ihmetellä. Kokeiluni perusteella varsinaista heikkoa kohtaa ei löytynyt. Terävyys laskee hieman, kun lähestytään pisintä polttoväliä, mutta pysyy hyvällä tasolla loppuun asti. Kokonaisuus on oikein hyvä ja tasapainoinen.

Vääristymät ja aberraatiot ovat melko hyvin hallinnassa ja sen laatuisia, että ne on helppo halutessaan korjata kuvauksen jälkeen.

Tarkennusnopeus on hyvä, mutta hitaampi kuin Nikonin ammattikäyttöön tarkoitetuissa objektiiveissa. Käytännössä tarkennus toimii hyvin ja luotettavasti, jopa liikkuvaa kohdetta kuvatessa.

Kuvanvakaaja vaikuttaa tehokkaalta, mutta mikään vakaaja ei tee ihmeitä. Suljinajan venyessä pitkäksi kannattaa kuvausote pitää tulevana, niin kuvaustulos paranee olipa käytössä vakaaja tai ei.

Nikkor DX 55 - 300 mm on hyvä telezoomi pikkukennoisella kuvaavalle. Piirto ja kontrasti ovat erinomaiset, eikä mekaaninen rakenne ole muovisuudesta huolimatta halvan tuntuinen. Valovoima on hieman niukka, mutta se toisaalta mahdollistaa pienet ulkomitat ja vähäisen painon.

En ole kuvannut edeltävällä 55 - 200 millisellä, jolla on hyvä maine. Moni pohtii varmaan, että kannattaako vaihtaa vanha uuteen? Jos 300 mm tuntuu aivan välttämättömältä, niin sitten kannattaa, mutta muuten todennäköisesti ei.

Edullisen tai pienikokoisen telezoomin tarvitsijalle Nikkor DX 55 - 300 mm f/4.5 - 5.6 on hyvä valinta.

Kudos to Colette Rausch

Happy to report that our colleague, Colette Rausch (left), has just been named Director of the Rule of Law Center of Innovation at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
I had the pleasure of working with Colette early in her 8-year career at the Institute -- I was among the hundreds of experts on the Model Codes for Post-Conflict Criminal Justice project for which she was a principal coordinator. Undertaken by the Institute of Peace undertook in tandem with the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway, the project involved meetings across the globe. The aim, as posted, was to draft a Model Criminal Code, Model Code of Criminal Procedure, Model Detention Act, and a Model Police Powers Act. They're intended to be made available for use in postconflict and peacekeeping settings. Consequently Colette, along with Vivienne O'Connor, has coedited Model Codes vol. I, published in 2007, and Model Codes vol. II, published in 2008. Additional volumes are contemplated.
These are just 2 of the many and varied publications that Colette's produced; another is her book Combating Serious Crimes in Post-Conflict Societies (2006).
Focusing on criminal justice and police reform, Colette also has worked at the Institute on projects to foster discussion between civil society and security forces in countries like Nepal, Iraq, Haiti, and Afghanistan.
Before joining the Institute she was, inter alia: Director of the Department of Human Rights and Rule of Law at the Kosovo mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; resident legal adviser for the U.S. Department of Justice in Hungary and Bosnia; and an attorney in offices of the state attorney general, federal prosecutor, and federal public defender in Nevada.
Colette earned her B.A. degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, and her J.D. degree from Santa Clara University School of Law in California.

Heartfelt congratulations!

On September 28

On this day in ...
... 1995 (15 years ago today), a 400-page agreement to give control over a significant portion of the West Bank to Palestinians was signed by the leaders of Israeli and the Palestine Liberation Organization at a ceremony in the White House, as U.S. President Bill Clinton, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and King Hussein of Jordan looked on. The signing leaders, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, then shook hands. Rabin would be assassinated in just 6 weeks; Arafat would die from natural causes 9 years later. As discussed in the press briefing at right by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and envoy George Mitchell, a new round of talks between current leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority was launched earlier this month.

(Prior September 28 posts are here, here, and here.)

Guest Blogger: Rebecca Richman Cohen

It's IntLawGrrls' great pleasure to welcome Rebecca Richman Cohen (left) as today's guest blogger.
After receiving her B.A. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from Brown University, Rebecca enrolled at Harvard Law School. (photo credit) While a law student, she served as a legal intern on a defense team in the Special Court for Sierra Leone case involving the rebel Armed Forces Revolutionary Council.
As Rebecca recounts in her guest post below, her experiences in Freetown led her to make War Don Don, a documentary about the Special Court trial of Revolutionary United Front member Issa Sesay. The 86-minute film has won a number of awards, including one at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival. Screened recently at the 4th International Humanitarian Law Dialogs in Chautauqua, New York, War Don Don will be broadcast this Wednesday, September 29, at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on HBO2, with a repeat airing at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, September 30.
Rebecca's also been as an adjunct member of the faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design in Provindence, where she taught Human Rights, Mass Atrocity, and Documentary Film, and at the Human Rights Institute at American University, where she taught Criminal Justice Stories in Film.
Heartfelt welcome!

Look On! War Don Don

(My thanks to IntLawGrrls for the opportunity to contribute this Look On! guest post about my film, War Don Don)

In the summer of 2006 I sat behind bulletproof glass in Freetown, in the observer gallery of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an international war crimes "hybrid tribunal," created jointly by the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone. At the time I was working not as a filmmaker, but as a law student and legal intern for a defense team. I was assigned to work on the case of Alex Tamba Brima, among three members of the rebel Armed Forces Revolutionary Council charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes stemming from the 1990s civil war in that West African country.
Yet I found myself drawn to observe the trial of the leader of a different warring faction.
From my seat in the gallery of the trial involving members of the Revolutionary United Front, I first observed Issa Sesay, a former rebel leader accused of crimes against humanity and a key player in the peace negotiations – and I was fascinated by the range of roles that one man could assume amidst the intensity of such a brutal conflict. I also came to know lawyers on both the prosecution (including prosecuted by Stephen J. Rapp, who since has become the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues) and the defense. They were some of the brightest and most passionate advocates I have ever met.
I became convinced that the story of Sesay's trial needed to reach a larger audience. Combining my legal experience in criminal defense with my background as a filmmaker, I realized that a documentary film could communicate the complexities of Sesay's rise and fall from power – and its implications for a country still reeling from the horrors of civil war.
The result is War Don Don, an 86-minute film that has won awards at festivals and that, as detailed in the post above, will air this this week on HBO2. War Don Don tells the story of Sesay (depicted in the poster above right), whom prosecutors said is a war criminal, guilty of heinous crimes against humanity, and whom defenders said was a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played a crucial role in bringing peace to Sierra Leone. (poster credit) The film puts international justice on trial, and finds that in some cases the past is not just painful, it is also opaque.
During the process of editing, we frequently made reference to Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950); that is, to the ideas that
► Film (and trials) can put multiple narratives in tension;
► Truth can be unsettled;
► Perception influences memory; and
► Historical fact may be hard to prove, particularly in a trial.
On that note, we were also inspired by Andrew Jarecki's film Capturing the Friedmans (2003), which reminded that the idea that truth can be elusive, that people can play many different roles in the same story, and that no human being can be entirely defined by the horrible things that he or she may have done.
I knew we were done editing when different people took away different things from the film, when the film acted like a Rorschach test of sorts. Different audiences will come to their own conclusions – one of the greatest joys of documentary filmmaking is the debate that arises from having to sort through the tensions within and between conflicting stories.
I hope audiences enjoy having some of their assumptions tested and coming to examine their own reactions to controversial issues.

On September 27

On this day in ...
... 2002, East Timor (flag at left), as English speakers call the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, became the 191st member state of the United Nations. It was admitted by unanimous vote of the U.N. General Assembly, whose President noted that it "had been the first independent State to emerge in the twenty-first century." (In 2006, Montenegro became the 192d, and most recent, U.N. member state.) Composed of about 1.1 million people, East Timor is among the world's poorest countries.

(Prior September 27 posts are here, here, and here.)

"Blacks in Blue Jackets" pamphlet available for download.

This past Friday (24 September), the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial debuted its first publication at the 2010 Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission's annual signature conference, "Race, Slavery and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory." The conference, hosted by Norfolk State University, seemed a fitting place to hand out information on the role of African Americans in the Union Navy. Acclaimed author James McPherson gave an interesting and informative speech on the role of Black sailors in the Union Navy.

The pamphlet, titled "Blacks in Blue Jackets: African Americans in the Civil War," is a brief but concise picture into the crucial role played by Black sailors in the Union Navy. From the blockade fleet to the inland waters of the Mississippi, African Americans touched every naval theater of conflict.

If you would like copies of the brochure or further information on this topic, please email Matthew T. Eng at

Designing Search: Best Practices

Back in July, Tyler Tate and H. Stefan Olafsson authored a great collection of best practices for designing search functionality: how a search box should be presented, how results should be formatted, and more. (Be sure to check out the section about faceted navigation.)

They reference Marcia Bates' landmark "berrypicking" article from 1989 about search and information retrieval – definitely worth reading if you are interested in search interfaces and interactions.

Read more:

The Scent of Search Johnny Holland – It's all about interaction » Blog Archive

Brooking no apology

Show me a land known by multiple names, and I'll show you a dispute over territory.
And so it is with the East China Sea islands called Diaoyutai in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese. (map credit)

'The Senkaku islands are Japan's own territory,'

reports yesterday quoted Japan's Naoto Kan (right), Prime Minister of the country since June.
At about the same time, this statement from Jiang Yu (below left) (credit), spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry:

She reiterated that the Diaoyu Islands have been integral part of China's territory since ancient times.

The current dispute over this ancient standoff stems from a collision earlier this month in the waters near the islands. After a Japanese Coast Guard vessel and a Chinese trawler collided, the former seized the latter and detained the 14 fishing folk aboard. Sanctions that China was considering were reported to range from export and tourist curtailment to military exercises. Yesterday Japan released the trawler's captain, a decision that a prosecutor told the Tokyo newspaper Asahi Shimbun was related to "'the effects on the people of Japan and the future of Japan-China relations.'"
China still wants an apology.
Japan still says no.
What's at stake here?
Internal politics seem at play; for example, factions in Japan complain that it's backing down too much to China.
Power politics between the once-dominant Japan and the now-resurgent China surely matter.
No surprise that energy resources also figure in the mix. It's reported that the islands are located "near natural gas fields, and that "China and Japan have yet to implement an agreement signed in 2008 to jointly develop the fields."

On September 26

On this day in ...
... 1946, Andrea Dworkin (left) was born in Camden, New Jersey. Some time after earning a bachelor's degree in literature in 1968 from Bennington College, she moved to Europe and "married a Dutch political radical." (photo credit) The couple divorced within 3 years; Dworkin later told The New York Times:

'I was a battered wife, and pornography entered into it. Both of us read it, and it helped give me the wrong idea of what a woman was supposed to be for a man.'

Dworkin became a "feminist writer and antipornography campaigner," cowriting with Catharine A. MacKinnon an antipornography ordinance that would be invalidated on 1st Amendment grounds. Among Dworkin's books were Woman Hating (1974), Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981), Intercourse (1987), and Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant (2002). Dworkin died in her sleep, at age 58, in 2005.

(Prior September 26 posts are here, here, and here.)

On Art! Long-toothed Giraffe

(On Art! is an occasional item on artifacts of transnational culture)

Our colleague Edward Gordon has alerted us to Digital Giraffe, at age 16 among the oldest monthly webzines in continuous existence.
Creator of the site is digital painter artist Corinne Whitaker (right), Ed's sister. As evinced by subheads like "Paintings" and "Blobs" (featuring pics of her work, like Insectual (© 2010), below left), not to mention "Long Live the Crankies!," Giraffe features an eclectic mix of art and other news.
A couple of Giraffe's links will interest even the less arty among IntLawGrrls' readers:
► "Y Not," a running digest of news about women(whose XX chromosomes = not Y); and
► "Global Visitors," with links to a global newspaper site and a world clock.

'Nuff said

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

Teresa Lewis Is Dead. Outcome Is Right, More Or Less.

-- headline of a biting Faculty Lounge commentary, by Drexel Law Associate Dean Dan Filler, on Thursday's execution of a woman with a 72 IQ on the ground that she was the "mastermind" of a double murder. Yesterday, Washington Post writer Maria Glod published an eyewitness account of Lewis' death by lethal injection at a prison in Virginia. (photo credit)

On September 25

On this day in ...
... 1943, Jacqueline de Guillenschmidt (left) was born into a French diplomatic family in China, in the capital city her family would have called Pékin. Following education at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris, in the mid-1960s she began a career in law and government service. She practiced before the Paris bar from 1972 to 1982, then served for a time as a juge d'instruction and an administrative magistrate. Following further stints in various government ministries, she was sworn in on March 10, 2004, as a member of the Conseil constitutionnel, France's highest constitutional body. Guillenschmidt is 1 of 2 women among the Conseil's 11 members; Claire Bazy-Malaurie was sworn in just 18 days ago.

(Prior September 25 posts are here, here, and here.)

Opinion---Ghost Hunting, Ancestor Worship and the Search for a Usable Past in The Lost Cause

The Ghost of Bobby Lee, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic Magazine, April 13, 2010.

CWL: This essay may help answer the question "Will be able to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War without being either politically correct or politically incorrect?"

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Ken Burns' Civil War documentary makes note of the fact that General Lee was opposed to slavery. I basically took that as true, until--in all honesty--some of my commenters informed me that it, in fact, was not. One of the saddest, and yet telling, aspects of the War, for me personally, is that on the two occasions when Confederate troops headed North, they kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery. Ditto for black soldiers who were captured and "lucky" enough not to be killed. Anyway, if you have a moment check out this lecture a reader was kind enough to send to me. At about the 55:00 mark, Elizabeth Brown Pryor talks about Lee's relationship to slavery, and more interestingly, how the myth that he was somehow anti-slavery came to be.

It was sad to hear frankly. If the war actually weren't about slavery, I think all our lives would be a lot easier. But as I thought on it, my sadness was stupid. What undergirds all of this alleged honoring of the Confederacy, is a kind of ancestor-worship that isn't. The Lost Cause is necromancy--it summons the dead and enslaves them to the need of their vainglorious, self-styled descendants. Its greatest crime is how it denies, even in death, the humanity of the very people it claims to venerate. This isn't about "honoring" the past--it's about an inability to cope with the present.

The God of History binds the Confederacy in its own chains. From the declaration of secession in Texas... this free government *all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights* [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states....

To Virginia...

The people of Virginia in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under said Constitition were derived from the people of the United States and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slave-holding States.

To Mississippi...

....Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin...

To South Carolina...

...A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

To the Vice-President of the Confederacy itself...

The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew." Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth...

This is about a lancing shame, about that gaping wound in the soul that comes when confronted with the appalling deeds of our forebears. Lost Causers worship their ancestors, in the manner of the abandoned child who brags that his dead-beat father is actually an astronaut, away on a mission of cosmic importance.

I know how this goes. For us, it's coping with the fact that people who looked like you sold you into slavery. It's understanding that you come from a place that was on the wrong side of the Gatling gun. It's feeling not simply like one of history's losers, but that you had no right to win. The work of the mature intellect is to reconcile oneself to the past without a retreat into fantasy--in either direction. Claiming to be the descendant of kings and queens is just as bad as claiming to be thankful for the slave trade.

It's weak to manipulate the dead in order to reconcile our present, to force men to play our Gods. Robert E. Lee was a man, and a product of a time and place that turned people into, quite literally, the most valuable resource in this country. I hate to keep taking it back to David Blight but...

By 1860 there were approximately 4,000,000 slaves in the United States, the second largest slave society--slave population--in the world. The only one larger was Russian serfdom. Brazil was close. But in 1860 American slaves, as a financial asset, were worth approximately three and a half billion dollars--that's just as property. Three and a half billion dollars was the net worth, roughly, of slaves in 1860. In today's dollars that would be approximately seventy-five billion dollars. In 1860 slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America's manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together. Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy. The only thing worth more than the slaves in the American economy of the 1850s was the land itself, and no one can really put a dollar value on all of the land of North America.

These were the kind of forces at work in his world, and I'm not convinced we have the intrinsic right to expect someone like Lee to oppose them. Likewise, I may think that it was sinister for people who "looked like me" to sell me into slavery, but that presumes an expectation of racial unity which almost certainly didn't exist at the time. Again, it summons the dead to do the work that I would shy away from.

I think this boils down to the problem of nationalism, and where we find our heroes. It isn't like Southerners are devoid of people who were courageous in all aspects. There's the great Virginian patriot George Henry Robert Thomas, who goes from slave-master in waiting, to leading black troops in brilliant military campaigns in Tennessee, and in his last days defends the rights of freedman. There's Elizabeth Van Lew, who emancipated all her slaves before the War, and used them as part of a Union spy network in Richmond, the Confederate capitol.

There's "The Boat-Thief" Robert Smalls, a slave who stole Confederate transport steamer, filled with armaments, and sailed it to Union lines. There's Andre Callioux, a manumitted slave turned Union soldier, martyred at Port Hudson in a kamikaze-like charge on the Confederate works. And a century later, there's Martin Luther King, arguably the modern founding father of this America. He was a product of The South, and his moral judgement didn't end at the Mason-Dixon line.

Finally, there's the question of how we claim ancestors, a question that is more philosophical than biological. Africa, and African-America, means something to me because I claim it as such--but I claim much more. I claim Fitzgerald, whatever he thought of me, because I see myself in Gatsby. I claim Steinbeck because, whether he likes it or not, I am an Okie. I claim Blake because "London" feels like the hood to me.

And I claim them right alongside Lucille Clifton, James Baldwin and Ralph Wiley, who had it so right when he parried Saul Bellow. The dead, and the work they leave---the good and bad--is the work of humanity and thus says something of us all. And in that manner, I must be humble and claim some of Lee, Jackson, and Forrest. What might I have been in another skin, in another country, in another time?

Text and Image Source: Atlantic Magazine

News---Gettysburg's Dead Monument Curve

Fast Traffic Causes Monument Damage, Scot Andrew Pitzerr, Gettysburg Times, September 22 2010.

Careless driving has resulted in monument damage at Gettysburg National Military Park, leading Superintendent Bob Kirby to announce that memorial relocation is being considered. Kirby also reported that new signage and traffic control devices, such as bumper strips, are planned along battlefield roadways, to deter further collisions between vehicles and monuments. “It’s a sad and continuing saga,” Kirby said regarding the distracted driving. “There are people out there texting while driving, and not focused on the road.” “We may be moving monuments out of the trajectory of vehicles,” added Kirby.

The Pennsylvania 74th Monument along West Howard Avenue, just northwest of Gettysburg, is under consideration to be relocated farther from the roadway, near its current position. According to the Park Service, the monument — which sits about 10 feet back from the road — has been struck repeatedly over the past five years by wayward drivers. Motorists damaged the monument again this past summer. “We are looking at some additional traffic control devices along Howard Avenue to keep visitors from hitting the 74th Pennsylvania Monument,” Kirby said Sept. 16, during an NPS meeting.

The monument sits near a bend in the roadway, dubbed “Dead Monuments Curve” by park guides and historians. One new sign was recently installed along the road, warning motorists about the curve. “It’s still slightly off its base from the last hit,” noted GNMP spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.

Park officials explained that they would not relocate the 74th Pennsylvania Monument far from its current location, as its placement denotes an historically-accurate position of troops during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The monument would be set back farther from the road. Many local motorists use West Howard Avenue as a shortcut from Carlisle to Mummasburg road, and surpass it posted speed limit of 25 mph. Tourists using the road for the first time are often unfamiliar with its sharp curve, where the Pennsylvania 74th Monument is positioned.

Kirby informed the park’s advisory commission Sept. 16 that the NPS is considering placing rumble strips atop West Howard Avenue, to slow down traffic entering the curve. The curve is home to about a half-dozen monuments, including the 74th Pa. Memorial. Lawhon noted that the “only other monument the park is considering taking these protective measures” for — such as relocation — is the Battery K, 5th US Artillery monument on Hunt Avenue, west of the Baltimore Pike.

Caption Under Image: The National Park Service in Gettysburg is considering new traffic control devices along Howard Avenue, where motorists have repeatedly collided with the Pa. 74th Monument. Additional directional signs, such as the one pictured here, and rumble strips are under consideration, as well as relocation of the memorial. (Darryl Wheeler/Gettysburg Times )

Image and Text Source: Gettysburg Times, September 22, 1010.

Olympus ei lopeta 4/3 objektiivejaan

Olympuksen 4/3 järjestelmän objektiiveista on liikkunut kaikenlaisia huhuja viime päivinä liittyen erääseen haastatteluun saitilla.

Miguel Angel Garcian sanomaa on ilmeisesti tulkittu hieman vapaasti, sillä Olympus tähdentää, että se ei ole lopettamassa 4/3 objektiivien tuotantoa tai niiden kehitystä. Vaikka juuri nyt ei olekaan uusia 4/3 objektiiveja tulossa, niin tulevaisuudessa niitä voidaan silti esitellä ja tuottaa. Tällä hetkellä Olympus keskittyy täydentämään Micro 4/3 objektiivisarjaa, mutta 4/3 järjestelmää ei hylätä.

Tuo on Olympuksen virallisesta tiedotteesta, joten sitä pitää uskoa.

Minulta on kyselty ehdinkö käydä sillä ja sillä osastolla Photokinassa ja vastaus on, että en ehtinyt. Olin messuilla vain yhden päivän ja minun oli pakko jotenkin rajata osallistumistani. Photokina on saksalaiseen tyyliin valtava monen ison hallin kokoinen tapahtuma, jossa pitäsisi viettää monta päivää nähdäkseen kaiken.

Photokinassa käyntini tuloksia voidaan toivottavasti nauttia välillisesti pitkään tulevaisuuteen ja toivon, että voin entistä paremmin raportoida ja kokeilla uutuustuotteita. Muuta valokuvaukseen liittyvää unohtamatta, tietenkään.
Tässä muutama turistikuva Kölnistä.
Bloggers Team