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Results 1 - 25 of 122
1. Education and crime over the life cycle

By Giulio Fella and Giovanni Gallipoli


Crime is a hot issue on the policy agenda in the United States. Despite a significant fall in crime levels during the 1990s, the costs to taxpayers have soared together with the prison population. The US prison population has doubled since the early 1980s and currently stands at over 2 million inmates. According to the latest World Prison Population List (ICPS, 2013), the prison population rate in 2012 stood at 716 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants, against about 480 in the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation – the two OECD countries with the next highest rates – and against a European average of 154. The rise in the prison population is not just a phenomenon in the United States. Over the last twenty years, prison population rates have grown by over 20% in almost all countries in the European Union and by at least 40% in one half of them. The pattern appears remarkably similar in other regions, with a growth of 50% in Australia, 38% in New Zealand and about 6% worldwide.

In many countries – such as the United States and Canada – this fast-paced growth has occurred against a backdrop of stable or decreasing crime rates and is mostly due to mandatory and longer prison sentencing for non-violent offenders. But how much does prison actually cost? And who goes to jail?

The average annual cost per prison inmate in the United States was close to 30,000 dollars in 2008. Costs are even higher in countries like the United Kingdom and Canada. Punishment is an expensive business. These figures have prompted a shift of interest, among both academics and policymakers, from tougher sentencing to other forms of intervention. Prison populations overwhelmingly consist of individuals with poor education and even poorer job prospects. Over 70% of US inmates in 1997 did not have a high school degree. In an influential paper, Lochner and Moretti (2004) establish a sizable negative effect of education, in particular of high school graduation, on crime. There is also a growing body of evidence on the positive effect of education subsidies on school completion rates. In light of this evidence, and given the monetary and human costs of crime, it is crucial to quantify the relative benefits of policies promoting incarceration vis-à-vis alternatives such as boosting educational attainment, and in particular high school graduation.

When it comes to reducing crime, prevention may be more efficient than punishment. Resources devoted to running jails could profitably be employed in productive activities if the same crime reduction could be achieved through prevention.

iStock_000012526327Small

Establishing which policies are more efficient requires a framework that accounts for individuals’ responses to alternative policies and can compare their costs and benefits. In other words, one needs a model of education and crime choices that allows for realistic heterogeneity in individuals’ labor market opportunities and propensity to engage in property crime. Crucially, this analysis must be empirically relevant and account for several features of the data, in particular for the crime response to changes in enrollment rates and the enrollment response to graduation subsidies.

The findings from this type of exercise are fairly clear and robust. For the same crime reduction, subsidizing high school graduation entails large output and efficiency gains that are absent in the case of tougher sentences. By improving the education composition of the labor force, education subsidies increase the differential between labor market and illegal returns for the average worker and reduce crime rates. The increase in average productivity is also reflected in higher aggregate output. The responses in crime rate and output are large. A subsidy equivalent to about 9% of average labor earnings during each of the last two years of high school induces almost a 10% drop in the property crime rate and a significant increase in aggregate output. The associated welfare gain for the average worker is even larger, as education subsidies weaken the link between family background and lifetime outcomes. In fact, one can show that the welfare gains are twice as large as the output gains. This compares to negligible output and welfare gains in the case of increased punishment. These results survive a variety of robustness checks and alternative assumptions about individual differences in crime propensity and labor market opportunities.

To sum up, the main message is that, although interventions which improve lifetime outcomes may take time to deliver results, given enough time they appear to be a superior way to reduce crime. We hope this research will advance the debate on the relative benefits of alternative policies.

Giulio Fella is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics and Finance at Queen Mary University, United Kingdom. Giovanni Gallipoli is an Associate Professor at the Vancouver School of Economics (University of British Columbia) in Canada. They are the co-authors of the paper ‘Education and Crime over the Life Cycle‘ in the Review of Economic Studies.

Review of Economic Studies aims to encourage research in theoretical and applied economics, especially by young economists. It is widely recognised as one of the core top-five economics journal, with a reputation for publishing path-breaking papers, and is essential reading for economists.

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Image credit: Prison, © rook76, via iStock Photo.

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2. World Hepatitis Day: reason to celebrate

By Paul Sax


After years of intense basic and clinical research, hepatitis C is now curable for the vast majority of the millions of people who have it. The major barrier is access (diagnosis, getting care, and paying for it), because the scientific problem has been solved.

Not only that — but the situation will soon get even better.

For those who haven’t followed this medical miracle closely, here’s a Spark Notes version to bring you up to speed:

Pre-1989: Many blood transfusion recipients, injection drug users, and people with hemophilia have a form of chronic hepatitis, but they test negative for hepatitis A or B. Their infection is cleverly called “non-A, non-B hepatitis,” kind of a placeholder for a future discovery.

1989: A government-industry collaboration discovers the virus that causes “NANB hepatitis” (as it is sometimes further abbreviated). Good thing for that placeholder, because the new virus is called “hepatitis C”, abbreviated “HCV.” A few years later, a reasonably accurate blood test arrives, helping protect the blood supply and also giving us a much better sense of the natural history of HCV (generally slow but progressive liver disease), and finding a vast number of people infected, most of them unaware of it.

1990s: Remarkably, interferon therapy alone sometimes cures hepatitis C. That’s right, cures it. Unlike HIV and hepatitis B, HCV has no phase where it’s integrated into the host genome, so clearance of the virus completely occurs, provided the host and treatment factors are right. That’s the good news, but the rest, not so much: cure rates are terrible (generally <10% for genotype 1, the most common form in the United States), interferon has to be injected three times a week, and, perhaps worst of all, side effects are legion — fatigue, fever, muscle aches, anorexia, depression, irritability — and tend to worsen over the year or so of required therapy.

Late 1990s: Ribavirin — a mysterious antiviral whose mechanism of action still remains unclear — is added to interferon treatment, boosting cure rates up to 30-40% for genotype 1, 70% or higher for genotypes 2 and 3. Cause for celebration? Usually not, for several reasons: ribavirin has its own tricky side effects (hemolytic anemia, for one, and severe teratogenicity), so treatment is even more difficult than with interferon alone. Furthermore, the viral kinetics of successful treatment remain poorly defined, and hence patients are often given months of toxic therapy before it is ultimately stopped for “futility”.

Early 2000s: Attaching polyethylene glycol (PEG) to interferon greatly slows its clearance, so injections are now required only once a week. These “pegylated” forms of interferon plus ribavirin increase cure rates a bit further, as the reduced frequency of injections markedly improves adherence. (They also engender one of the best trade names ever for a drug – what marketing genius thought of Pegasys?) Side effects, alas, are no better. “I feel like I’m slowly killing myself,” says one of my patients, memorably, as he abandons treatment after 36 weeks of fatigue, snapping at his wife and co-workers, and general misery because his blood tests still show a bit of detectable virus – with no guarantee that continuing on to week 48 will cure him.

2011: The first “directly acting antivirals” (DAAs) are approved, the HCV protease inhibitors boceprevir and telaprevir. For patients completing treatment with these drugs — again, in addition to interferon and ribavirin — cure rates for genotype 1 reach 70-80%. Certainly a big improvement, yes, but a few major caveats: first, though the treatment can sometimes (but not always) be shortened to 24 weeks with these three rather than two drugs, interferon and ribavirin side effects remain extremely problematic, with some of them (in particular the cytopenias) made even worse. Second, these first-generation protease inhibitors have their own set of nasty toxicities (anemia, rashes, taste disturbance, diarrhea, pain with defecation — another memorable patient quote: “I feel like I’m shitting glass shards.”) Third, both drugs have a high pill burden and, with telaprevir, stringent food requirements, making adherence extremely challenging.

World Hepatitis Day

Given the limitations of interferon (pegylated or not), ribavirin, telaprevir and boceprevir, it’s not surprising that many clinicians and patients decide it’s best to wait for better treatments to come. In fact, the cure rates from clinical trials are huge overestimates of the proportions actually cured in clinical practice, since there is intense clinician and patient self-selection about who should launch into these tough treatments. Meanwhile, research is proceeding rapidly (competition in this field is a good thing) to find other anti-HCV drugs, and several promising early clinical trials results are presented at academic meetings.

The practical culmination of this research finally arrives in late 2013 with the approval of first simeprevir — another protease inhibitor, only given as just one pill a day and with very few side effects — and, a few weeks later, sofosbuvir. The first HCV nucleotide polymerase inhibitor, sofosbuvir is also one pill a day, is highly potent, has few side effects or drug interactions, and is so effective it can help you get a better deal on your car insurance. (That last part was made up, but for the price — $1000 a pill — sofosbuvir better be pretty good.)

Simeprevir and sofosbuvir have been studied together in the COSMOS study and the bottom line is that more than 90% of genotype 1 patients are cured with 12 weeks of therapy. Some of the patients in COSMOS received no ribavirin, and most importantly none received interferon. It’s a small study, yes, and so we can’t take that response rate as applicable to everyone – some very difficult to treat individuals have already failed “SIM-SOF,” as the combination is being called by the HCV cognoscenti. But both in the clinical trial and thus far in clinical practice, this two-pill, once-daily regimen has shockingly few side effects.

So what’s next? How can this happy state of affairs get even better? Within the next 12 months, we’ll have a combination pill that gives HCV treatment as one pill a day. Some patients will be cured in 8 rather than 12 weeks. Other options (here and here) will arrive that have the same astounding cure rates – because a greater than 90% response is the price of entry into this HCV treatment arena. It’s hoped (and expected by many) that these expanded options will bring the cost of HCV therapy down, because that’s the way markets are supposed to work.

More than 90% cured. Sure beats the 9% rate from the interferon-only days.

And that, my friends, is reason to celebrate World Hepatitis Day.

Paul Edward Sax, MD is Clinical Director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. He is the editor-in-chief of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s new peer-reviewed, open access journal, Open Forum Infectious Diseases (OFID).

Open Forum Infectious Diseases provides a global forum for the rapid publication of clinical, translational, and basic research findings in a fully open access, online journal environment. The journal reflects the broad diversity of the field of infectious diseases, and focuses on the intersection of biomedical science and clinical practice, with a particular emphasis on knowledge that holds the potential to improve patient care in populations around the world.

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Image: World Hepatitis Day logo via World Hepatitis Alliance.

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3. A revolution in trauma patient care

By Simon Howell


Major trauma impacts on the lives of young and old alike. Most of us know or are aware of somebody who has suffered serious injury. In the United Kingdom over five-thousand people die from trauma each year. It is the most common cause of death in people under forty. Many of the fifteen-thousand people who survive major trauma suffer life-changing injuries and some will never fully recover and require life-long care. Globally it is estimated that injuries are responsible for sixteen-thousand deaths per day together with a large burden of people left with permanent disability. These sombre statistics are driving a revolution in trauma care.

A key aspect of the changes in trauma management in the United Kingdom and around the world is the organisation of networks to provide trauma care. People who have been seriously hurt, for example in a road traffic accident, may have suffered a head injury, injuries to the heart and lungs, abdominal trauma, broken limbs, and serious loss of skin and muscle. The care of these injuries may require specialist surgery including neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, general (abdominal and pelvic) surgery, orthopaedic surgery, and plastic surgery. These must be supported by high quality anaesthetic, intensive care, radiological services and laboratory services. Few hospitals are able to provide all of the services in one location. It therefore makes sense for the most seriously injured patients to be transported not to the nearest hospital but to the hospital best equipped to provide the care that they need. Many trauma services around the world now operate on this principle and from 2010 these arrangements have been established in England. Hospitals are designated to one of three tiers: major trauma centres, trauma units, and local emergency hospitals. The most seriously injured patients are triaged to bypass trauma units and local emergency hospitals and are transported directly to major trauma centres. While this is a new system and some major trauma centres in England have only “gone live” in the past two years, it has already had an impact on trauma outcomes, with monitoring by the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) indicating a 19% improvement in survival after major trauma in England.

Young attractive female doctor looking x-ray photos

Not only have there been advances in the organisation of trauma services, but there have also been advances in the immediate clinical management of trauma. In many cases it is appropriate to undertake “early definitive surgery/early total care” – that is, definitive repair of long bone fractures within twenty-four hours of injury. However, patients who have suffered major trauma often have severe physiological and biochemical derangements by the time they arrive at hospital. The concepts of damage control surgery and damage control resuscitation have emerged for the management of these patients. In this approach resuscitation and surgery are directed towards stopping haemorrhage, performing essential life-saving surgery, and stabilising and correcting the patient’s physiological state. This may require periods of surgery followed by intervals for the administration of blood and clotting factors and time for physiological recovery before further surgery is undertaken. The decision as to whether to undertake early definitive care or to institute a damage control strategy can be complex and is made by senior clinicians working together to formulate an overview of the state of the patient.

Modern radiology and clinical imaging has helped to revolutionise modern trauma management. There is increasing evidence to suggest that early CT scanning may improve outcome in the most unstable patients by identifying life-threatening injuries and directing treatment. When a source of bleeding is identified it may be treated surgically, but in many cases interventional radiology with the placement of glue or metal coils into blood vessels to stop the bleeding offers an alternative and less invasive solution.

The evolution of the trauma team is at the core of modern trauma management. Advances in resuscitation, surgery, and imaging have undoubtedly moved trauma care forward. However, the care of the unstable, seriously injured patient is a major challenge. Transporting someone who is suffering serious bleeding to and from the CT scanner requires excellent teamwork; parallel working so that several tasks are carried out at the same time requires coordination and leadership; making the decision between damage control and definitive surgery requires effective joint decision-making. The emergence of modern trauma care has been matched by the development of the modern trauma team and of specialists dedicated to the care of seriously injured patients. It is to this, above all, that the increasing numbers of survivors from serious trauma owe their lives.

Dr Simon Howell is on the Board of the British Journal of Anaesthesia (BJA) and is the Editor of this year’s Postgraduate Educational Issue: Advances in Trauma Care. This issue contains a series of reviews that give an overview of the revolution in trauma care. The reviews expand on a number of presentations that were given at a two-day meeting on trauma care organised by the Royal College of Anaesthetists in the Spring of 2014. They visit aspects of the trauma patient’s journey from the moment of injury to care in the field, on to triage, and arrival in a trauma centre finally to resuscitation and surgical care.

Founded in 1923, one year after the first anaesthetic journal was published by the International Anaesthesia Research Society, the British Journal of Anaesthesia remains the oldest and largest independent journal of anaesthesia. It became the Journal of The College of Anaesthetists in 1990. The College was granted a Royal Charter in 1992. Since April 2013, the BJA has also been the official Journal of the College of Anaesthetists of Ireland and members of both colleges now have online and print access. Although there are links between BJA and both colleges, the Journal retains editorial independence.

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Image credit: Female doctor looking at x-ray photo, © s-dmit, via iStock Photo.

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4. Re-thinking the role of the regional oral history organization

By Jason Steinhauer

Jason Steinhauer. Photo by Amanda Reynolds

Jason Steinhauer. Photo by Amanda Reynolds

What is the role of a regional oral history organization?

The Board of Officers of Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR) recently wrestled with this question over the course of a year-long strategic planning process. Our organization had reached an inflection point. New technologies, shifting member expectations and changing demographics compelled us to re-think our direction. What could we offer new and existing members that local or national organizations did not —and how would we offer it?

Our strategic planning committee set out to answer these questions, and to chart a course for 2014 and beyond. Four board members served on the committee: Kate Scott of the Senate Historical Office; LuAnn Jones of the National Park Service; Anne Rush of the University of Maryland; and myself, of the Library of Congress, acting as director. OHMAR dates back to 1976 and has been a vibrant organization for nearly 40 years. Therefore, our goal was not to re-invent but rather to re-focus. To start, we identified OHMAR’s core values. We determined them to be:

  • Openness
  • Passion
  • Community
  • Education
  • Expertise


Whatever our new direction, we would stay true to these ideals.

For months, the committee discussed how OHMAR could better serve members with these values in mind. We also polled membership and consulted with past organization presidents about what they valued in OHMAR and what they wanted in the future. What emerged was a plan with several key considerations for how any regional organization can serve its membership:

  • Build community. Through digital technology, formal and informal events, and low-cost membership, regional organizations can foster meaningful professional networks, offer support, and create opportunities for intimate interaction on an ongoing basis.
  • Provide targeted resources. Local knowledge can allow regional organizations like OHMAR to provide targeted educational, professional, and monetary resources. For example, oral historians working for the federal government in and around Washington, D.C., have unique challenges to which OHMAR can provide specific tools, tips, and advice.
  • Leverage expertise. Our region boasts tremendous expertise courtesy of oral historians such as Don Ritchie, Linda Shopes, Roger Horowitz, and more. These experts can help educate new members, especially those from fields such as journalism, the arts, public history, and advocacy on best practices.
  • Offer meaningful opportunities. By forming new committees, we can offer members meaningful ways to get involved and gain leadership experience.


We presented our findings in the form of a new Strategic Plan at our April 2014 annual meeting. The intimate two-day event was attended by more than 60 oral historians and reaffirmed the value of regional conferences. In fact, feedback stated that for some, ours was the best conference they had ever attended. On the afternoon of the second day, our members ratified OHMAR’s Strategic Plan for 2015-2020. Accordingly, next year, we will focus on improving our internal operations, updating our bylaws, and overhauling our website, member management system, and e-newsletter. In the following years, we will also introduce several new initiatives, including a Martha Ross Memorial Prize for students, named for our beloved founder.

We will be discussing our strategic plan and the role of regional oral history organizations in a panel at the Oral History Association’s upcoming 2014 annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. We hope you’ll join us and share your ideas.

Jason Steinhauer serves on the Board of Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR). He directed the organization’s strategic planning process from 2013-2014. You can follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonSteinhauer and OHMAR at @OHMidAtlantic.

The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview, like them on Facebook, add them to your circles on Google Plus, follow them on Tumblr, listen to them on Soundcloud, or follow their latest OUPblog posts via email or RSS to preview, learn, connect, discover, and study oral history.

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5. What is the role of governments in climate change adaptation?

By Kai A. Konrad and Marcel Thum


Adaptation to climate change is currently high on the agenda of EU bureaucrats exploring the regulatory scope of the topic. Climate change may potentially bring about changes in the frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves, flooding or thunder storms, which in turn may require adaptation to changes in our living conditions. Adaptation to these conditions cannot stop climate change, but it can reduce the cost of climate change. Building dikes protects the landscape from an increase in sea level. New vaccines protect the population from diseases that may spread due to the change in the climate. Leading politicians, the media and prominent interest groups call for more efforts in adaptation.

But who should be in charge? Do governments have to play a leading role in adaptation? Will firms and households make the right choices? Or do governments have to intervene to correct insufficient or false adaptation choices? If intervention is necessary, will the policy have to be decided on a local level or on a national or even supranational (EU) level? In a recent article we review the main arguments for government intervention in climate change adaptation. Overall, we find that the role of the state in adaptation policy is limited.

In many cases, adaptation decisions can be left to private individuals or firms. This is true if private sector decision-makers both bear the cost and enjoy the benefits of their own decisions. Superior insulation of buildings is a good example. It shields the occupants of a building from extreme temperatures during cold winters and hot summers. The occupants – and only the occupants – benefit from the improved insulation. They also bear the costs of the new insulation. If the benefit exceeds the cost, they will invest in the superior insulation. If it does not pay off, they will refrain from the adaptation measure (and they should do so from an efficiency point of view). There is no need for government intervention in the form of building regulation or rehabilitation programmes.

In some other cases, adaptation affects an entire community as in the case of dikes. A single household will hardly be able – nor have the incentive – to build a dike of the appropriate size. But the local municipality can and should be able to so. All inhabitants of the municipality can share the costs and appropriate the benefit from flood protection. The decision on the dike could be made on the state level if not at the municipal level. The local population will probably have a long-standing experience and superior knowledge about the flood events and its potential damages. The subsidiarity principle, which is a major principle of policy task assignment in the European Union, suggests that the decisions should be made on the most decentralized level for which there are no major externalities between the decision-makers. In the case of the dike, the appropriate level for the adaptation measure would be the municipality. Again there is no need for intervention from upper-level governments.

floods

So what role is left for the upper echelons of government in climate change adaptation? Firstly, the government has to help in improving our knowledge. Information about climate change and information about technical adaptation measures are typical public goods: the cost of generating the information has to be incurred once, whereas the information can be used at no additional cost. Without government intervention, too little information would be generated. Therefore, financing basic research in this area is one of the fundamental tasks for a central government.

Secondly, the government has to provide the regulatory framework for insurance markets. The economic consequences of natural disasters can be cushioned through insurance markets. However, the incentives to buy insurance are insufficient for several reasons. For instance, whenever a major disaster threatens the economic existence of a larger group of citizens, the government is under social pressure and will typically provide help to all those in need. By anticipating government support in case of a disaster, there is little or no incentive to buy insurance in the market. Why should they pay the premium for private insurance, or invest in self-insurance or self-protection measures if they enjoy a similar amount of free protection from the government? If the government wants to avoid being pressured for disaster relief, it has to make disaster insurance mandatory. And to induce citizens to the appropriate amount of self-protection, insurance premiums have to be differentiated according to local disaster risks.

Thirdly, fostering growth helps coping with the consequences of climate change and facilitates adaptation. Poor societies and population groups with low levels of education have the highest exposure to climate change, whereas richer societies have the means to cope with the implications of climate change. Hence, economic growth – properly measured – and education should not be dismissed easily as they act as powerful self-insurance devices against the uncertain future challenges of climate change.

Kai A. Konrad is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance. Marcel Thum is Professor of Economics at TU Dresden and Director of ifo Dresden. They are the authors of the paper ‘The Role of Economic Policy in Climate Change Adaptation’ published in CESifo Economic Studies.

CESifo Economic Studies publishes provocative, high-quality papers in economics, with a particular focus on policy issues. Papers by leading academics are written for a wide and global audience, including those in government, business, and academia. The journal combines theory and empirical research in a style accessible to economists across all specialisations.

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Image credit: Flooding, July 2007, by Mat Fascoine. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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6. Why are women still paid less than men?

By Forrest Briscoe and Andrew von Nordenflycht


The recent firing of Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor of the New York Times, after less than three years on the job focused the news cycle on gender inequity, with discussions of glass cliffs (women get shorter leashes even when they get the top jobs) and reports showing the persistence of glass ceilings and pay disparities (e.g. Abramson was paid less than her male predecessor). In the United States, women now represent a substantial majority of those earning advanced degrees. Yet as we look higher and higher up the ladders of career attainment, we see smaller and smaller percentages of women – as well as the persistence of pay gaps for women, even in senior positions. In other words, even as women break through one glass ceiling, they encounter another on the next rung.

Take law firms. Women make up almost half of US law school graduates (up from 5% in 1950). But they represent only 20% of US law firm partners and an even smaller share (16%) of the more elite class of equity partners. And the higher one looks within the partnership stratosphere, the less diverse it gets. Furthermore, the leaders of the profession, as well as clients of law firms, express frustration with the slow pace of progress in generating more gender and ethnic equality at the top of the profession. These efforts can be aided by improving our understanding of the work and career processes within law firms and, by extension, partnerships in other professional fields, such as accounting, consulting, and investment banking.

So how exactly do partners rise to different levels within the partnership hierarchy, and how do those processes challenge female partners? To date, researchers have analyzed the challenge of becoming a partner, but we know curiously little about how professional careers unfold after that. Although partners at large law firms may all be one-percenters, they are certainly not equal, with distinctions made between equity and non-equity partners, and recent surveys showing some “super-partners” earn up to 25 times more than their peers.

To get at these questions, we studied how partners gain power within a partnership, as measured by their “book of business” – the fees paid to the firm by clients with whom the partner holds the primary relationship. The more client revenue that a partner is responsible for, the more that partner will hold influence in their firm, command respect, and generate career mobility options in the wider profession. To understand power in a partnership, then, is to understand how partners come to obtain books of business.

What we found was intriguing. In short, although women may be disadvantaged in a primary “path to power” in the partnership, they may have opportunities along a second pathway of growing importance.

The primary pathway involves “inheriting” clients from an established power partner. To build a book of business, one needs to either pursue that strategy, or the alternative of “making rain” by bringing new clients to the firm. A newly minted partner thus needs to decide which path to invest in—or how much to invest in each path. Do you spend time working for clients of power partners nearing retirement—or pounding the pavement (or the cocktail circuit) seeking new clients of your own? Of course, each path has its risks. Investing in the inheritance path can backfire, for example, if a retiring benefactor bequeaths a client to a rival partner. And the rainmaking strategy can backfire if nibbles of new-client business don’t eventually turn into a large revenue stream for the firm. Since both investments require time and energy, what’s the optimal career strategy?

iStock_000020274536Small

Deepening the puzzle, both paths are also likely to pose particular challenges to female attorneys, as they depend on forming social relationships with either the senior power partners or with decision makers at potential new client firms. Much research shows the existence of “homophily” in interpersonal relationships, or the tendency for people to be drawn to and feel greater affinity for people who are like themselves in terms of race and gender. So where senior partners and/or client decision makers are largely male, female junior partners may be at a disadvantage in forming the bonds of affinity or trust that help win the client business.

Analysis of the internal records of law firms shows, unsurprisingly, that female partners have smaller books of business than their male peers. More interestingly, though, we are finding that the rate of return on investments in the two paths to power differs between men and women. In fact, the inheritance strategy appears to be a particularly poor investment for women. For women, larger investments in the inheritance path are associated with lower future books of business. Why? We speculate this could be because of “selective affinity.” That is, when it comes time for the power partners to pass on their clients, they may unconsciously favor partners who are more demographically similar to them.

Yet, when it comes to the rainmaking strategy, the opposite may be true. For female partners, investments in the rainmaking path appear to pay handsomely. In fact even better than for male partners. Why could that be? Perhaps female partners recruit new clients in different ways than male partners, or perhaps “selective affinity” can actually favor female partners in the open marketplace (rather than the closed ecosystem of the firm’s internal networks).

What does it all mean? First off, for partnerships, there may be considerable value in studying the inheritance and rainmaking processes going on in their own organizations. Virtually all firms now have the relevant internal data waiting to be analyzed. Second, our findings are important for managing diversity in partnerships. For example, the results suggest there could be a “double payoff” to supporting rainmaking efforts for newly-made female partners – double in the sense of the firm’s overall revenue generation as well as diversity goals.

Forrest Briscoe is an Associate Professor of Management in the Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on careers, networks, and management processes in professional organizations, as well as on the factors that promote and inhibit changes within organizational fields. Andrew von Nordenflycht is an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. His research focuses on the challenges of managing professional services firms, the patterns of professional careers, and the impact of different organizational forms on the performance, creativity, and ethics of professionals. Andrew is the author of the paper ‘Does the emergence of publicly traded professional service firms undermine the theory of the professional partnership? A cross-industry historical analysis’ published in the Journal of Professions and Organization.

The Journal of Professions and Organization (JPO) aims to be the premier outlet for research on organizational issues concerning professionals, including their work, management and their broader social and economic role.
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7. The downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17

By Sascha-Dominik Bachmann


The downing of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 sent shockwaves around the world. The airliner was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over Eastern Ukraine by an surface to air missile, killing all people on board, 283 passengers including 80 children, and 15 crew members. The victims were nationals of at least 10 different states, with the Netherlands losing 192 of its citizens.

With new information being released hourly strong evidence seems to indicate that the airliner was downed by a sophisticated military surface to air missile system, the SA-17 BUK missile system. This self-propelled air defence system was introduced in 1980 to the Armed Forces of the then Soviet Union and which is still in service with the Armed forces of both Russia and Ukraine. There is growing suspicion that the airliner was shot down by pro-Russian separatist forces operating in the area, with one report by AP having identified the presence of a rebel BUK unit in close proximity of the crash site. The United States and its intelligence services were quick in identifying the pro-Russian separatists as having been responsible for launching the missile. This view is supported further by the existence of incriminating communications between the rebels and their Russian handlers immediately after the aircraft hit the ground and also a now deleted announcement on social media by the self declared Rebel Commander, Igor Strelkov. This evidence points to the possibility that MH17 was mistaken for an Ukrainian military plane and therefore targeted. Given that two Ukrainian military aircraft were shot down over Eastern Ukraine in only two days preceding 17 July 2014 a not unlikely possibility.

It will be crucial to establish the extent of Russia’s involvement in the atrocity. While there seems to be evidence that the rebels may have taken possession of BUK units of the Ukrainian, it seems unlikely that they would have been able to operate these systems without assistance from Russian military experts and even radar assets.

Makeshift memorial at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in the Ukraine on 18 July 2014 killing all 298 people on board. Photo by Roman Boed. CC BY 2.0 via romanboed Flickr.

Makeshift memorial at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in the Ukraine on 18 July 2014 killing all 298 people on board. Photo by Roman Boed. CC BY 2.0 via romanboed Flickr.

Russia was quick to shift the blame on Ukraine itself, asking why civil aircraft hadn’t been barred completely from overflying the region, directly blaming Ukraine’s aviation authorities during the emergency meeting on the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 18 July 2014. Russia even went so far to blame Ukraine indirectly of shooting down MH17 by comparing the incident with the accidental shooting down of a Russian civilian airliner en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk in 2001. Despite Russia’s call for an independent investigation of the incident, Moscow’s rebels reportedly blocked actively international observers from OSCE to access the site.

While any civilian airliner crash is a catastrophe, and in cases of terrorist involvement an international crime, the shooting down of passenger jets by a state are particularly shocking as they always affect non combatants and resemble acts which are always outside the parameters of the legality of any military action (such as distinction, necessity, and proportionality). Any such act would lead to global condemnation and would hurt the perpetrator state’s international reputation. Consequently, there have only been few such incidents over the last 60 years.

What could be the possible consequences? The rebels are still formally Ukrainian citizens and as such subject to Ukraine’s criminal judicial system, according to the active personality principle. Such a prosecution could extent to the Russian co-rebels as Ukraine could exercise its jurisdiction as the state where the crime was committed, under the territoriality principle. In addition prosecutions could be initiated by the states whose citizens were murdered, under the passive personality principle of international criminal law. With Netherlands as the nation with the highest numbers of victims having a particularly strong interest in swift criminal justice, memories of the Pan Am 103 bombing come to mind, where Libyan terrorists murdered 270 humans when an airliner exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland. Following international pressure, Libya agreed to surrender key suspects to a Scottish Court sitting in the Netherlands.

The establishment of an international(-ised) criminal forum for the prosecution of the perpetrators would require Russia’s cooperation, something which seems to be unlikely given Putin’s increasing defiance of the international community’s call for justice. A prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague under its Statute, the Rome Statute, is unlikely to happen as neither Russian nor Ukraine have ratified the Statute. An UNSC referral to the ICC — if one accepts that the murder of 298 civilians would amount to a crime which qualifies as a crime against humanity or even a war crime under Article 5 of the ICC Statute — would fail given that Russia and its new strategic partner China are Veto powers on the Council and would veto any resolution for a referral.

Other responses could be the imposing of unilateral and international sanctions and embargos against Moscow and high profile individuals. Related to such economic countermeasures is the possibility to hold Russia as a state responsible for its complicity in the shooting down of MH17; the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would be the forum where such a case against Russia could be brought by a state affected by the tragedy. An example for such an interstate case arising from a breach of international law can be found in the ICJ case Aerial Incident of 3 July 1988 (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America), arising from the unlawful shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by the United States in 1988. The case ended with an out of Court settlement by the US in 1996. Again, it seems quite unlikely that Russia will accept any ruling by the ICJ on the matter and even less likely would be any compliance with an damages order by the court.

One alternative could be a true US solution for the accountability gap of Russia’s complicity in the disaster. If the US Congress was to qualify the rebel groups as terrorist organizations then this would make Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, and as such subject to US federal jurisdiction in a terrorism civil litigation case brought under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA-18 USC Sections 2331-2338) as an amendment to the Alien Torts Statute (ATS/ATCA – 28 USC Section 1350). The so-called “State Sponsors of Terrorism” exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA Exception-28 USC Section 1605(a)(7)), which allows lawsuit against so-called state sponsors of terrorism. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) Exception of 1996 limits the defense of state immunity in cases of state sponsored terrorism and can be seen as a direct judicial response to the growing threat of acts of international state sponsored terrorism directed against the United States and her citizens abroad, as exemplified in the case of Flatow v. Islamic Republic of Iran (76 F. Supp. 2d 28 (D.D.C. 1999)). Utilising US law to bring a civil litigation case against Russia as a designated state sponsor of international terrorism would certainly set a strong signal and message to Putin; it remains to be seen whether the US call for stronger unified sanctions against Russia will translate into such unilateral action.

Time will tell if the downing of MH17 will turn out to be a Lusitania moment (the sinking of the British passenger ship Lusitania with significant loss of US lives by a German U-boat led to the entry of the US in World War I) for Russia’s relations with the West, which might pave the way to a new ‘Cold War’ along new conflict lines with different allies and alliances. What has become clear already today is Russia’s potential new role as state sponsor of terrorism.

Sascha-Dominik Bachmann is an Associate Professor in International Law (Bournemouth University); State Exam in Law (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich), Assessor Jur, LL.M (Stellenbosch), LL.D (Johannesburg); Sascha-Dominik is a Lieutenant Colonel in the German Army Reserves and had multiple deployments in peacekeeping missions in operational and advisory roles as part of NATO/KFOR from 2002 to 2006. During that time he was also an exchange officer to the 23rd US Marine Regiment. He wants to thank Noach Bachmann for his input. This blog post draws from Sascha’s article “Targeted Killings: Contemporary Challenges, Risks and Opportunities” in the Journal of Conflict Security Law and available to read for free for a limited time. Read his previous blog posts.

The Journal of Conflict & Security Law is a refereed journal aimed at academics, government officials, military lawyers and lawyers working in the area, as well as individuals interested in the areas of arms control law, the law of armed conflict and collective security law. The journal aims to further understanding of each of the specific areas covered, but also aims to promote the study of the interfaces and relations between them.

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8. When simple is no longer simple

By Lawla Law


Cognitive impairment is a common problem in older adults, and one which increases in prevalence with age with or without the presence of pathology. Persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have difficulties in daily functioning, especially in complex everyday tasks that rely heavily on memory and reasoning. This imposes a potential impact on the safety and quality of life of the person with MCI as well as increasing the burden on the care-giver and overall society. Individuals with MCI are at high risk of progressing to Alzheimer’s diseases (AD) and other dementias, with a reported conversion rate of up to 60-100% in 5-10 years. These signify the need to identify effective interventions to delay or even revert the disease progression in populations with MCI.

At present, there is no proven or established treatment for MCI although the beneficial effects of physical activity/exercise in improving the cognitive functions of older adults with cognitive impairment or dementia have long been recognized. Exercise regulates different growth factors which facilitate neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory effects on the brain. Studies also found that exercise promotes cerebral blood flow and improves learning. However, recent reviews reported that evidence from the effects of physical activity/exercise on cognition in older adults is still insufficient.

Brain Aging

Surprisingly, studies have found that although numerous new neurons can be generated in the adult brain, about half of the newly generated cells in the brain die during the first 1-4 weeks. Nevertheless, research also found that spatial learning or exposure to an enriched environment can rescue the newly generated immature cells and promote their long-term survival and functional connection with other neurons in the adult brain

It has been proposed that exercise in the context of a cognitively challenge environment induces more new neurons and benefits the brain rather than the exercise alone. A combination of mental and physical training may have additive effects on the adult brain, which may further promote cognitive functions.

Daily functional tasks are innately cognitive-demanding and involve components of stretching, strengthening, balance, and endurance as seen in traditional exercise programs. Particularly, visual spatial functional tasks, such as locating a key or finding the way through a familiar or new environment, demand complex cognitive processes and play an important part in everyday living.

In our recent study, a structured functional tasks exercise program, using placing/collection tasks as a means of intervention, was developed to compare its effects on cognitions with a cognitive training program in a population with mild cognitive impairment.

Patients with subjective memory complaint or suspected cognitive impairment were referred by the Department of Medicine and Geriatrics of a public hospital in Hong Kong. Older adults (age 60+) with mild cognitive decline living in the community were eligible for the study if they met the inclusion criteria for MCI. A total of 83 participants were randomized to either a functional task exercise (FcTSim) group (n = 43) or an active cognitive training (AC) group (n = 40) for 10 weeks.

We found that the FcTSim group had significantly higher improvements in general cognitive functions, memory, executive function, functional status, and everyday problem solving ability, compared with the AC group, at post-intervention. In addition, the improvements were sustained during the 6-month follow-up.

Although the functional tasks involved in the FcTSim program are simple placing/collection tasks that most people may do in their everyday life, complex cognitive interplays are required to enable us to see, reach and place the objects to the target positions. Indeed, these goal-directed actions require integration of information (e.g. object identity and spatial orientation) and simultaneous manipulation of the integrated information that demands intensive loads on the attentional and executive resources to achieve the ongoing tasks. It is a matter of fact that misplacing objects are commonly reported in MCI and AD.

Importantly, we need to appreciate that simple daily tasks can be cognitively challenging to persons with cognitive impairment. It is important to firstly educate the participant as well as the carer about the rationale and the goals of practicing the exercise in order to initiate and motivate their participation. Significant family members or caregivers play a vital role in the lives of persons with cognitive impairment, influencing their level of activities and functional interaction in their everyday environment. Once the participants start and experience the challenges in performing the functional tasks exercise, both the participants and the carer can better understand and accept the difficulties a person with cognitive impairment can possibly encounter in his/her everyday life.

Furthermore, we need to aware that the task demands will decrease once the task becomes more automatic through practice. The novelty of the practicing task has to be maintained in order ensure a task demand that allows successful performance and maintain an advantage for the intervention. Novelty can be maintained in an existing task by adding unfamiliar features, and therefore performance of the task will remain challenging and not become subject to automation.

Dr. Lawla Law is a practicing Occupational Therapist for more than 24 years, with extensive experience in acute and community settings in Hong Kong and Tasmania, Australia. She is currently the Head of Occupational Therapy at the Jurong Community Hospital of Jurong Health Services in Singapore and will take up a position as Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at the University of Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia in August 2014. Her research interests are in Geriatric Rehabilitations with a special emphasis on assessments and innovative interventions for cognitive impairment. Dr. Law is an author of the paper ‘Effects of functional tasks exercise on older adults with cognitive impairment at risk of Alzheimer’s disease: a randomised controlled trial’, published in the journal Age and Ageing.

Age and Ageing is an international journal publishing refereed original articles and commissioned reviews on geriatric medicine and gerontology. Its range includes research on ageing and clinical, epidemiological, and psychological aspects of later life.

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Image credit: Brain aging. By wildpixel, via iStockphoto.

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9. Animals could help reveal why humans fall for illusions

By Laura Kelley and Jennifer Kelley


Visual illusions, such as the rabbit-duck (shown below) and café wall are fascinating because they remind us of the discrepancy between perception and reality. But our knowledge of such illusions has been largely limited to studying humans.

That is now changing. There is mounting evidence that other animals can fall prey to the same illusions. Understanding whether these illusions arise in different brains could help us understand how evolution shapes visual perception.

For neuroscientists and psychologists, illusions not only reveal how visual scenes are interpreted and mentally reconstructed, they also highlight constraints in our perception. They can take hundreds of different forms and can affect our perception of size, motion, colour, brightness, 3D form and much more.

Artists, architects and designers have used illusions for centuries to distort our perception. Some of the most common types of illusory percepts are those that affect the impression of size, length, or distance. For example, Ancient Greek architects designed columns for buildings so that they tapered and narrowed towards the top, creating the impression of a taller building when viewed from the ground. This type of illusion is called forced perspective, commonly used in ornamental gardens and stage design to make scenes appear larger or smaller.

As visual processing needs to be both rapid and generally accurate, the brain constantly uses shortcuts and makes assumptions about the world that can, in some cases, be misleading. For example, the brain uses assumptions and the visual information surrounding an object (such as light level and presence of shadows) to adjust the perception of colour accordingly.

Known as colour constancy, this perceptual process can be illustrated by the illusion of the coloured tiles. Both squares with asterisks are of the same colour, but the square on top of the cube in direct light appears brown whereas the square on the side in shadow appears orange, because the brain adjusts colour perception based on light conditions.

These illusions are the result of visual processes shaped by evolution. Using that process may have been once beneficial (or still is), but it also allows our brains to be tricked. If it happens to humans, then it might happen to other animals too. And, if animals are tricked by the same illusions, then perhaps revealing why a different evolutionary path leads to the same visual process might help us understand why evolution favours this development.

Duck-Rabbit_illusion

The idea that animal colouration might appear illusory was raised more than 100 years ago by American artist and naturalist Abbott Thayer and his son Gerald. Thayer was aware of the “optical tricks” used by artists and he argued that animal colouration could similarly create special effects, allowing animals with gaudy colouration to apparently become invisible.

In a recent review of animal illusions (and other sensory forms of manipulation), we found evidence in support of Thayer’s original ideas. Although the evidence is only recently emerging, it seems, like humans, animals can perceive and create a range of visual illusions.

Animals use visual signals (such as their colour patterns) for many purposes, including finding a mate and avoiding being eaten. Illusions can play a role in many of these scenarios.

Great bowerbirds could be the ultimate illusory artists. For example, their males construct forced perspective illusions to make them more attractive to mates. Similar to Greek architects, this illusion may affect the female’s perception of size.

Animals may also change their perceived size by changing their social surroundings. Female fiddler crabs prefer to mate with large-clawed males. When a male has two smaller clawed males on either side of him he is more attractive to a female (because he looks relatively larger) than if he was surrounded by two larger clawed males.

This effect is known as the Ebbinghaus illusion, and suggests that males may easily manipulate their perceived attractiveness by surrounding themselves with less attractive rivals. However, there is not yet any evidence that male fiddler crabs actively move to court near smaller males.

We still know very little about how non-human animals process visual information so the perceptual effects of many illusions remains untested. There is variation among species in terms of how illusions are perceived, highlighting that every species occupies its own unique perceptual world with different sets of rules and constraints. But the 19th Century physiologist Johannes Purkinje was onto something when he said: “Deceptions of the senses are the truths of perception.”

In the past 50 years, scientists have become aware that the sensory abilities of animals can be radically different from our own. Visual illusions (and those in the non-visual senses) are a crucial tool for determining what perceptual assumptions animals make about the world around them.

Laura Kelley is a research fellow at the University of Cambridge and Jennifer Kelley is a Research Associate at the University of Western Australia. They are the co-authors of the paper ‘Animal visual illusion and confusion: the importance of a perceptual perspective‘, published in the journal Behavioural Ecology.

Bringing together significant work on all aspects of the subject, Behavioral Ecology is broad-based and covers both empirical and theoretical approaches. Studies on the whole range of behaving organisms, including plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, and humans, are welcomed.

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Image credit: Duck-Rabbit illusion, by Jastrow, J. (1899). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.<
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10. Is the past a foreign country?

By Eugene Milne


My card-carrying North London media brother, Ben, describes himself on his Twitter feed as a ‘recovering Northerner’.

In my case the disease is almost certainly incurable. Despite spending a good deal of last year in cosmopolitan London — beautiful, exciting and diverse as it is — I found myself on occasions near tears of joy as my feet hit the platform at King’s Cross.

“I need to know I can be at the coast or in miles of open countryside within 20 minutes,” I told Ben.

“I need to know I can get Vietnamese food at 3.00 a.m.,” he replied.

While mine is clearly the healthier individual craving, the gulf in population health outcomes between the North and South of England, or, perhaps more accurately, between the provinces and the capital and its South Eastern sprawl, remains as wide as ever.

On examining the distribution of age-standardised mortality for Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics regions, the United Kingdom remains the most starkly unequal of European nations. This is starkly illustrated in our new analyses of the North South divide in England, when compared with the experience of East and West Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall. After that great political upheaval, notably for women, life expectancy in East Germany began to climb rapidly. Twenty years on, it is indistinguishable from that of the former West Germany.

In contrast, the gap between the North East of England and London, which in 1990 was similar to that between East and West Germany, remains just as wide in the most recent figures. Of course, life expectancy has risen markedly in both countries and their regions; modern North East English life expectancy is significantly higher than that which obtained in 1990 for West Germany. But the English failure to narrow its inequality gap despite overt national efforts signals that those efforts are simply too light-touch to be effective.

600px-Angel_of_the_north,_Gateshead

As Johan Mackenbach has commented, in reflecting on the English strategy from 1997-2010:

“it did not address the most relevant entry-points, did not use effective policies and was not delivered at a large enough scale for achieving population-wide impacts. Health inequalities can only be reduced substantially if governments have a democratic mandate to make the necessary policy changes, if demonstrably effective policies can be developed, and if these policies are implemented on the scale needed to reach the overall targets.”

Of course, fundamental to this problem is economics. The wealth of London and the South East in comparison to, well just about anywhere else in the UK, is now extraordinarily stark. London now feels more alien to my Northern sensibilities than much of Europe, and the reason is not people but cash.

The difference is illustrated rather well by the contrasting artistic expectations of the South Bank Centre — close by the Waterloo offices of Public Health England, for whom I worked last year — and the Culture budget of the City of Newcastle — for whom I now work as Director of Public Health.

On consecutive days in 2013, the Guardian and BBC reported the Southbank Centre’s unveiling of its £100m redevelopment plans (6 March), having made a successful first stage bid for £20m from the Arts Council, and Newcastle City Council was reported (7 March) as having cut its £2.5m culture budget by 50%. This comparison could equally be drawn in many other ways: for transport and infrastructure, investment in business, development of academic institutions (why did the Crick Institute need to be in King’s Cross?). And it all matters because, despite the cleaner air and wide open spaces, the English provinces and in particular the North, are losing out — on culture, mobility, urban environment, jobs, and crucially on health.

The English North has many charms, both for its natives and many who come upon its joys by accident (see this delightful, recent New York Times piece). For too many, however, it remains a place of shorter and poorer lives. The German experience suggests that it need not be so.

Prof. Eugene Milne became Director of Public Health for Newcastle upon Tyne earlier this year, after working nationally for Public Health England as Director for Adult Health and Wellbeing. He is an Honorary Professor in Medicine and Health at the University of Durham, and joint-editor, with his colleague Prof. Ted Schrecker, of the Journal of Public Health. He has research interests in health improvement, inequalities and ageing.

The Journal of Public Health invites submission of papers on any aspect of public health research and practice. We welcome papers on the theory and practice of the whole spectrum of public health across the domains of health improvement, health protection and service improvement, with a particular focus on the translation of science into action. Papers on the role of public health ethics and law are welcome.

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Image credit: Angel of the North, Gateshead, by NickyHall5. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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11. What are the most important issues in international criminal justice today?

While human history is not without crime and slaughter, it is only in the twentieth century, especially following the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, that people sought justice in the name of all humanity. To mark the World Day for International Justice we invited our authors and editors to answer the question: What do you consider to be the most important issue in international criminal justice today?

“The impression that international justice is a tool of powerful States directed against smaller, weaker, poorer, and more isolated countries and peoples is the greatest challenge to international criminal justice today. Some of these large, powerful nations are themselves guilty of terrible abuses that go unpunished. For example, the United States enthusiastically joins in efforts to prosecute Hissène Habré in Senegal under the Torture Convention, yet its administration has promised impunity to American leaders and military officials responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. Until international justice satisfactorily addresses this double standard, there will be little satisfaction in more trials of the likes of Taylor, Lubanga, and Mladić. For this reason, the most inspiring development of the past year was the decision of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to undertake a preliminary examination of the conduct of British forces in Iraq.”
William Schabas, Professor of International Law, University of Middlesex, and author of Unimaginable Atrocities: Justice, Politics, and Rights at the War Crimes Tribunals (2014)

“In my view, it is time to begin to question whether the International Criminal Court will ever play a major role in the fight against impunity. This is not an issue of bad management, poor decision-making, or anything else epiphenomenal and potentially fixable. Instead, it’s a question of institutional design: it is simply unclear whether the Court, by aiming to keep watch over both the victors and the vanquished, will ever be able to muster the kind of international support – from states, and most importantly from the Security Council – that it needs to conduct credible investigations and prosecutions. There is reason for scepticism, given the Court’s inability to prosecute both rebels and government officials in even one conflict. Indeed, it’s difficult to avoid wondering: for all its flaws, is victor’s justice the only international criminal justice possible? Is selectivity an inherent part of an international criminal tribunal that works?”
Kevin Jon Heller, Professor of Criminal Law, SOAS, University of London, and author of The Hidden Histories of War Crimes Trials (2013)

International Criminal Court (ICC) Haagse Arc. Photo by ekenitr. CC BY-NC 2.0 via 46774986@N02 Flickr.

International Criminal Court (ICC) Haagse Arc. Photo by ekenitr. CC BY-NC 2.0 via 46774986@N02 Flickr.

“States need to overcome their alienation from international criminal justice. After the euphoria that allowed for the ‘Pinochet Saga’ to happen and led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court, states’ priorities, unfortunately, seem to have shifted – hardly surprising in times of financial crisis or mass surveillance. However, states still are and will ever be the backbone of the international criminal justice system – and this explicitly includes the so-called ‘third’ or ‘bystander’ states acting on the basis of universal jurisdiction. It’s in particular their role within the international criminal justice system that needs to be redefined by determining the parameters for complementarity and subsidiarity.”
Julia Geneuss, Dr. iur., LL.M. (NYU), Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Hamburg, and member of the Editorial Committee of the Journal of International Criminal Justice

“International criminal law has long chased the dream of permanence. Its foundations at Versailles and Nuremberg and its revival in the 1990s were acts of ad hockery, and in those contingent acts the failings of justice ad et post hoc were apparent; a permanent court, we though, might fix them. We have now had a decade and more of permanence, and with it a severe testing of that hope. Courts for Sierra Leone and Lebanon, and calls for more (like David Scheffer’s recent proposal for a third-party court for Syria), show that ad hoc, hybrid incentives did not disappear with the Rome Statute. The challenges to ICC jurisdiction in Kenya and Libya – and the increasingly assertive objections of African leaders – have exposed the illusion that we have devised a unitary, homogenous justice system suited to the varied needs of a notional international community. Global justice is ad hoc – permanently so.”
Timothy William Waters, Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, and editor and co-author of The Milosevic Trial: An Autopsy (2014)

“Over past decades, international criminal justice has produced diverse political and social effects in the countries and communities where it intervened, either directly through investigations and trials or indirectly through the threat of investigations. But the international system is still at the beginning of a new era of interaction between domestic and international justice. International interventions remain contested because they are removed from broader socio-political concerns that are at the heart of societal priorities in conflict and post-conflict settings. Fundamental dimensions, such as the process of internalizing international concepts in the domestic realm, and most fundamentally, the ‘translation’ of justice into local concepts, language, or culture remain underdeveloped. There is need for a better nexus between three core dimensions in justice strategies: ‘institutional response’, ‘translation’, and domestic ‘reception’. Criticisms relating to selectivity, Western agendas or implicit biases of international justice are too easily discarded by quantitative justifications (e.g., gravity calculations), resource problems or formal notions of consent. This has created a push for new initiatives and responses at the domestic and regional level (e.g., criminal jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights). International justice remains vital but needs to be re-thought. Core challenges include: (i) the need to devise accountability goals and models more carefully in light of their impact on local interests and realities of conflict, (ii) greater care in assessing the practicability and possibility of burden-sharing with domestic institutions, (iii) greater sensitivity to the empowering and disempowering effects of ICC intervention in situation countries, and (iv) the need for a better nexus between justice intervention and development strategies.”
Carsten Stahn, Professor of International Criminal Law and Global Justice, Leiden University, and Editor of The Law and Practice of the International Criminal Court (2015), and Jus Post Bellum: Mapping the Normative Foundations (2014)

“The central issue confronting international criminal justice today is: at what level of governance should issues of global justice be decided? This question is confronted by the International Criminal Court but also more broadly as a global matter where there are evolving norms of universality which mean that serious crimes can be prosecuted in a number of jurisdictions, domestic, i.e. where the crime may have occurred but also in other countries where there are other ties, such as the nationality of victims, etc., or another nexus.

“The principle of ‘complementarity’ is appealing because it offers guidance in the general rule of the priority of the local, where the international plays a gap-filling role; namely in the language of the Rome treaty, contemplating international intervention only where the relevant state ‘is unwilling and unable’, i.e. where capacity to apply justice is unavailable and/or no will exists. In the words of the Rome Treaty Preamble, its aegis ‘shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions’, which is defined later on to mean that cases would be inadmissible internationally ‘unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution.’

“But the simplicity of the rule as stated belies the complexity of the normative question. Hence, recent illustrations raised by, for example, the referral of the Libya situation and case of Saif Quaddafi shows us that willingness without capacity for a fair trial can result in risking an international imprimatur on sham or show trials; and by contrast in the case of ICC prosecutions relating to Kenya’s post election violence, where capacity exists, without related willingness, in light of regime change, may well require dynamic evaluation of the timing of international judicial intervention. So long as there are no ongoing human rights violations.

“When it comes to global justice, what makes for institutional legitimacy may well be a relative matter, requiring a nuanced analysis in both law and politics.”
Ruti G. Teitel, Ernst C. Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law, New York Law School, Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics, and author of Globalizing Transitional Justice: Contemporary Essays (2014), Humanity’s Law (Hardback 2011; Paperback 2013), and Transitional Justice (Hardback 2000; Paperback 2002)

Oxford University Press is a leading publisher in international law, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, latest titles from thought leaders in the field, and a wide range of law journals and online products. We publish original works across key areas of study, from humanitarian to international economic to environmental law, developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. For the latest news, commentary, and insights follow the International Law team on Twitter @OUPIntLaw.

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12. Inequalities in life satisfaction in early old age

By Claire Niedzwiedz


How satisfied are you with your life? The answer is undoubtedly shaped by many factors and one key influence is the country in which you live. Governments across the world are increasingly interested in measuring happiness and well-being to understand how societies are changing, as indicators such as GDP (gross domestic product) do not seem to measure what makes life meaningful. Indeed, some countries, such as Bhutan, have measured national happiness for many years. In the World Map of Happiness below, the countries in green (such as Sweden) have the highest satisfaction. The blue countries are less happy than the green, followed by the pink and orange, and finally the red countries (such as Russia) have the lowest satisfaction. The map conjures up all sorts of interesting questions, like what would the map look like if only older or younger people were included or does happiness vary much within a country?

World of Happiness map

A U-shaped relationship between age and life satisfaction is often reported, meaning that people are happiest in their 20s and their 60s. But what are the factors that help older people achieve high life satisfaction? Research in this area is particularly important as a result of increasing life expectancy and growth in the proportion of older people. Measuring average well-being is only one side of the story, however. Countries which have high levels of overall life satisfaction may have large inequalities between the richest and poorest in society.

What type of country fosters a more equitable distribution of well-being? This is the focus of our paper recently published in Age and Ageing. We studied the influence of socioeconomic position on life satisfaction in over 17,000 people aged 50 to 75 years old from 13 European countries participating in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). To measure socioeconomic position, we used a number of different measures that reflected their position in society at different stages of their life. By looking at their relative position in their own country’s social hierarchy, we created a scale that enabled comparison between countries and across the life course measures. From childhood, we looked at the number of books people reported they had when they were aged 10 years old, a measure of the family’s cultural and economic resources. Education level was used as a measure of early adulthood social position and current wealth was taken as a measure of economic position at the time of the survey. We grouped countries into four categories based on the characteristics of their welfare policy and looked at whether socioeconomic inequalities in life satisfaction varied by the type of welfare state a country fits into.

Intriguingly, we found that Scandinavian (Sweden and Denmark) followed by Bismarckian countries (Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, and France) had both higher life satisfaction and narrower differences in well-being between those at the top and bottom of society. Scandinavian countries are traditionally characterised by their high levels of welfare provision, universalism, and the promotion of social equality. Bismarckian countries are characterised by welfare states that maintain existing social divisions in society, in which social security is often related to one’s earnings and administered via the employer. Southern (Greece, Italy, and Spain) and Post-communist (Poland and the Czech Republic) countries, which tend to have less generous welfare states, had lower life satisfaction and larger social inequalities in life satisfaction. The number of books in childhood was a significant predictor of quality of life in early old age in all welfare states, apart from the Scandinavian type, and the relationship was particularly strong among women in the Southern countries. On the whole, however, inequalities in life satisfaction were largest by current wealth across the majority of welfare states.

Our findings have important implications, especially given the welfare policy changes taking place across Europe and the growth in wealth inequalities. It raises questions about how future generations of people are going to experience their early old age. Will average well-being and inequalities between the richest and poorest change as less welfare support is available? What will be the impact of increases in the retirement age? It is clear that these are urgent questions which affect us all and that the policies governments pursue are likely to shape the answers.

Claire Niedzwiedz (@claire_niedz) is a final year doctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing and is part of the Centre for Research on the Environment, Society and Health (CRESH). They tweet at @CRESHnews. She is the author of the paper ‘The association between life course socioeconomic position and life satisfaction in different welfare states: European comparative study of individuals in early old age’, published in the journal Age and Ageing.

Age and Ageing is an international journal publishing refereed original articles and commissioned reviews on geriatric medicine and gerontology. Its range includes research on ageing and clinical, epidemiological, and psychological aspects of later life.

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Image credit: Satisfaction with Life Index Map coloured according to The World Map of Happiness, Adrian White, Analytic Social Psychologist, University of Leicester. Public domain via Wikimedia commons

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13. Schizophrenia and oral history

Photo credit: Painting by Alice Fisher, a SOHP narrator.

Photo credit: Painting by Alice Fisher, a SOHP narrator.

By Caitlin Tyler-Richards


It’s been awhile, but the Oral History Review on OUPblog podcast is back! Today’s episode features OHR contributors Drs. Linda Crane and Tracy McDonough answering OHR Managing Editor Troy Reeves’s questions about the Schizophrenia Oral History Project and their article, “Living with Schizophrenia: Coping, Resilience, and Purpose,” which appears in the most recent Oral History Review. This interview sets the record for our shortest podcast, clocking in at 9 minutes, 30 seconds. But what it lack in quantity it makes up for in quality!

Professor Emeritus Lynda L. Crane, PhD, and Associate Professor Tracy A. McDonough, PhD, are in the Department of Psychology at the Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Over the last several years, they have created an oral history project of life stories of persons with schizophrenia. Their website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed are all ways to learn more about and connect to their work.

The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview, like them on Facebook, add them to your circles on Google Plus, follow them on Tumblr, listen to them on Soundcloud, or follow their latest OUPblog posts via email or RSS to preview, learn, connect, discover, and study oral history.

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14. World Cup puts spotlight on rights of migrant workers in Qatar

By Susan Kneebone


As recent demonstrations in Brazil around the staging of the FIFA 2014 World Soccer Cup show, major sporting events put the spotlight on human rights issues in host countries. In the case of Qatar the preparations to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup are focussing worldwide attention on the plight of migrant workers. It estimated that the country needs an extra 500,000 migrant workers to build stadiums and other infrastructure such as a metro system in the lead up to the World Cup. But a report by the International Trade Union Commission (ITUC) predicts that 4,000 migrant construction workers will die in Qatar before the start of the game.

As for much of the Gulf States region, Qatar is heavily dependent on migrant workers. It has the highest ratio of migrants to citizens in the world, with migrant workers making up approximately 88 per cent of the whole population. The majority of migrant workers come from South and South-East Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. A series of reports has revealed poor working conditions for migrant workers in Qatar particularly in the construction industry and in domestic workplaces and a lack of enforcement of existing protective legal mechanisms.

This situation highlights the global issue of exploitation of low and unskilled temporary migrant workers, also labelled as “foreign workers”. Currently, there are about 232 million migrants globally, of whom it is estimated that 105 million are migrant workers who are displaced by necessity in a labour market which reflects the increasing disparity between rich and poor countries. Unskilled temporary migrant workers are vulnerable because they have no choice but to migrate to work. Such workers are constructed in laws and policies as lacking connection to the host state but rather the responsibility of their home state. They are discriminated in the host state on the basis of their culture and identity, and often regarded as ‘export’ labour at home.

Builders at Work: There are close to one million migrant workers in Qatar, mainly from South Asia. The majority work in construction. Photo by WBUR Boston's NPR News Station. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via wbur Flickr.

Builders at Work: There are close to one million migrant workers in Qatar, mainly from South Asia. The majority work in construction. Photo by WBUR Boston’s NPR News Station. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via WBUR Flickr.

The Kafala sponsorship system which operates in Qatar is a symptom of such vulnerability. The Kafala system reduces migrant workers to the status of slaves or indentured property in host country. This system is used to regulate the relationship between employers and migrants, with a work permit linked to a single person, who is often the sponsor. The law provides power and authority to sponsors to prevent migrant workers from changing employers and from the leaving Qatar.

As the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau summaries:

The kafala system enables unscrupulous employers to exploit employees. Frequent cases of abuse against migrants include the confiscation of passports, refusal to give “no objection” certificates (allowing migrants to change employer) or exit permits and refusal to pay migrants’ plane tickets to return home. Some employers do not extend residence permits for their employees, often because of the fees incurred. This leads to migrants ending up in an irregular situation, with no valid identity card, despite the fact that they are regularly employed. [7]

The recruitment process and charging of excessive fees are other critical issues. Recruitment fees are forbidden by Qatari law, but the reports found that many migrant workers had taken out substantial loans to pay the fees in their home countries and were in long-term debt. Contract substitution is also a huge problem, as the terms of contracts signed in the home countries are often different upon arrival in Qatar, usually with a lower salary and different job description. As migrant workers cannot easily change jobs without the sponsor’s approval and often have recruitment loans to repay, they become highly vulnerable to abuse and less likely to report such violations. In many cases, such practices will amount to human trafficking for labour exploitation or forced labour as the Amnesty International Report, “My Sleep is My Break” explains (pp54-60).

The exploitation of “foreign” migrant workers suggests that we have created a new global form of ‘indentured servitude’ or slavery in which others exercise property-like powers or control over individuals. The irony is that the development of individual rights to free and decent working conditions in the nineteenth century ran parallel to the anti-slavery movement. Qatar 2022 offers an opportunity to Qatar to show the global community the need to recognise collective responsibility for migrant workers in a globalised economy, and to put pressure on states and non-state actors to respect the rights of migrant workers.

Dr Susan Kneebone (PhD, MA (Asian Studies), Dip Ed, LLB), is a Professor in the Faculty of Law, Monash University, Australia. She is the author of many articles and book chapters, including author \ editor of the following: Transnational Crime and Human Rights: Responses to Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion (Routledge 2012) (co-authored with Julie Debeljak) ; Migrant Workers Between States: In Search of Exit and Integration Strategies in South East Asia 40 (4) Asian Journal of Social Sciences (2012) ; “Transnational Labour Migrants: Whose Responsibility?” in Fiona Jenkins, Mark Nolan and Kim Rubenstein eds, Allegiance and Identity in a Globalised World (Cambridge University Press, 2014 – in press) Chapter 18. Recent publications include: “ASEAN and the Conceptualisation of Refugee protection” in Abass A. and Ippolito, F., et al eds., Regional Approaches to the Protection of Asylum Seekers: An International Legal Perspective (Ashgate 2014) Chapter 13, pp295-324 ; “The Bali Process and Global Refugee Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region” Special Edition of the Journal of Refugee Studies on Global Refugee Policy, 2014.

Interested in learning more about the issues facing migrant workers? Oxford Journals has created a special World Refugee Day virtual issue with a selection of free articles.

Oxford University Press is a leading publisher in international law, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, latest titles from thought leaders in the field, and a wide range of law journals and online products. We publish original works across key areas of study, from humanitarian to international economic to environmental law, developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. For the latest news, commentary, and insights follow the International Law team on Twitter @OUPIntLaw.

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15. The #BringBackOurGirls rallying point

By Isaac Terwase Sampson


The Boko Haram (BH) terrorist group, responsible for the abduction of over 200 school girls in north-eastern Nigeria, has been Nigeria’s prime security threat since 2009. Although the group has carried out innumerable acts of terror in Nigeria since 2009, its abduction of more than 200 girls at Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, on 14 April 2014, outraged the world and gave it reinforced international currency. The global and Nigerian Muslim community has since distanced itself from Boko Haram’s violent ideology. In the face of current cosmopolitan campaign to rescue the Chibok girls, which is christened #BringBackOurGirls (#BBOG, #BBG), the question that dominates public discourse in the aftermath of Chibok abduction is whether #BringBackOurGirls as an isolated phenomenon, or the increasing de-legitimisation of Boko Haram’s extremism by Muslims generally, would serve as a rallying point against violent extremism in Nigeria, or rather reinforce the historic sharia question that has threatened peaceful co-existence in the country since independence in 1960. For those unfamiliar with Nigeria’s religious politics and relations, the following cursory background would suffice as clarification.

Hudreds of people gathered at Union Square in New York City on May 3 to demand the release of some 230 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria. Photo by Michael Fleshman. CC BY-NC 2.0 via fleshmanpix Flickr.

Hudreds of people gathered at Union Square in New York City on May 3 to demand the release of some 230 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria. Photo by Michael Fleshman. CC BY-NC 2.0 via fleshmanpix Flickr.

Boko Haram in the Context of Nigeria’s Religious Politics


In most parts of northern Nigeria, Islam and sharia predated the post-independence Western-secular system that was bequeathed to a unified Nigerian state at independence. Uthman dan Fodio’s jihad of 1810, which captured the Hausa states of northern Nigeria, brought about the establishment of an Islamic central authority under the Sokoto caliphate. Since dan Fodio’s jihad was aimed at establishing a theocratic state, Islam inevitably became a state religion in these captured Hausa states. Although the British colonial authorities protected the theocratic political order they met in these emirates for reasons of imperial convenience, they nonetheless introduced a legal system that modulated the sharia order. Notwithstanding this interference, Islam and sharia survived colonial invasion in these states. Although the sharia legal order was relatively modulated to protect the British and other European merchants, its application on the natives remained significantly strong. This arrangement remained so until it became obvious to the British that an Islamic political/legal order would not serve the commercial interest of Western merchants, particularly after independence. With this concern in mind, the British orchestrated a reversal of the sharia order, and cajoled the Muslim north into accepting a relatively secular system at independence, an arrangement that was christened “the Settlement of 1960”.

The settlement of 1960 was a pact between the British colonialists, as arbiter, the northern and Southern Animist-Christians on the one hand, and the Muslim north on the other. It was aimed at establishing a secular legal order side by side a modulated Islamic legal regime. It is intriguing to note that whereas the Christian community initially opposed this settlement for the fear of a covert Islamization agenda, the northern Muslim community was at first supportive of it. But the respective positions of the Christian and Muslim communities were to be reversed shortly after independence. The Christian community turned around to favour the settlement of 1960 while the northern Muslim community became avidly antagonistic to this arrangement.

Although many factors account for northern Muslims’ opposition to the settlement, the most significant factor is the sharia debate that ensued during the constitution-making process of 1976-78. At the constitutional conferences, there was considerable mobilisation by northern political and religious leaders for the entrenchment of sharia in Nigeria’s legal system. Unfortunately, the Muslim north suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Christians in their quest for the establishment of sharia. This bitter defeat meant that northern Muslims had lost most of the incentives that made the Settlement of 1960 attractive to them in the first place. Among other consequences, the sharia debate marked the beginning of vigorous and sustained activism by northern Muslims for an Islamic state, or much less, an Islamic legal, economic, and social order within the Nigerian state. This activism has taken both liberal and radical approaches. Whereas the intellectual and political classes continue to pressure the state for Islamic determinism, the Islamists and rustic northern Muslim folk often express this quest in violent ways.

The Islamic revivalism that followed the sharia debate of 1976-8, inspired the emergence and proliferation of radical Islamic sects and spurred the influx of radical Islamic clerics from neighbouring states and Senegal, into northern Nigeria. Within this period, acts of religious violence were often encouraged or ignored by state authorities in northern Nigeria. Consequently, religious violence became a common feature in this part of the country, as Christians became objects of religiously-motivated attacks at the least provocation, either directly or vicariously. For instance, the US invasion of Iraq in the 1990s led to pervasive attacks on Christians and their worship centres in northern Nigeria. In 2003, a Danish newspaper cartoon, which allegedly disparaged Prophet Mohammed, led to mass killing of northern Christians and destruction of their Churches and property. In the aftermath of 9/11 bombing in 2001, Muslims celebrated in Northern Nigeria and vandalized Churches in the process. More recently, Christians in northern Nigeria were subject of attack from Muslims, when US planes attacked Libya during the Arab Spring. The Boko Haram sect emerged in the context of this continuum of Islamic activism, which endorsed violence as one of its operational tools. Its ideology was therefore weaved around the establishment of an imaginary puritanical state governed by sharia. Fortunately or unfortunately, Boko Haram’s interpretation of kafir (heathen) transcends the simplistic description of “non-Muslims” and encompasses those Muslims who don’t subscribe to its fundamentalists brand of Islam.

Would #BringBackOurGirls Reverse this Tendency?


Paradoxically, Boko Haram which emerged as an ‘Islamic sect’ has taken its defence of Islam overboard, killing in the process moderate Islamic teachers, preachers, and other Muslims who deprecate its fanatical brand of Islam. Its indiscriminate attacks over the civilian population also do not distinguish Christians from Muslims. Specifically, Boko Haram’s policy of targeting moderate Muslims has become a significant paradox of sorts, given that it is a product of the overarching sharia struggle in northern Nigeria. With the unfolding of its extreme and caustic brand of Islam, the group has not only denounced the legitimacy of the Islamic leadership in Nigeria, it has declared them and other moderate Muslims as kafir and enemies of Allah. As #BringBackOurGirls draws global attention to Boko Haram specifically, and violent extremism in Nigeria generally, the global and Nigerian Islamic community have continued to condemn their activities, describing their activities as criminal un-Islamic. Both the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the President of Nigeria’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs have said so. However, many questions have been asked of the recent de-legitimisation of Boko Haram by the Muslim community: Is the condemnation of Boko Haram by Muslims inspired by a genuine concern over violent extremism or borne out of its indiscriminate attacks against Muslims? Would Muslims in northern Nigeria, continue to condemn the activities of individuals or groups who express extreme and violent tendencies in the name of Islam? Would any attack on Christians and their property be condoned or ignored in the future?

In the aftermath of the #BringBackOurGirls, two schools of thought have emerged.

There are those who opine that Boko Haram insurgency is a prelude to greater religious upheavals in northern Nigeria, if northern Muslims are neither allowed the liberty of having an Islamic state nor practicing sharia in its orthodox fashion. Those who hold this viewpoint argue that the Muslim community would not have genuinely distanced itself from Boko Haram, if its targets were solely Christians. They also contend that the general discord between liberal and fundamentalist Islam in the Middle East has not deterred the support for an age-long global Islamization agenda that is funded from this region. Relating this to the Nigeria situation, the logic is that Islamism or violent extremism would not deter the historic sharia activism in northern Nigeria hence the need to revisit the sharia debate.

Persuasive as these arguments may sound, I hold a contrary view. In my estimation, the Boko Haram and Maitatsine Islamic sects have clearly demonstrated that Islamism (rigid and extreme adherence to Islamic tradition and its violent expression) is totalitarian and provides no room for liberal adherence to Islam. Secondly, due to its anti-modernisation character, no state desirous of progress tolerates violent extremism. Saudi Arabia, which is the cradle of Islam, has zero tolerance for it. Moreover, the northern elite, who supported Islamic activism in the past, has become its biggest victim. As the northern economy crumbles under Boko Haram’s campaign of violence, the elite who hold the highest stakes in the economy are equally the biggest losers. They have also realized that there is no ideological discipline for men in arms, as they are bound to resort to violent crime for economic reasons. It is in realisation of these facts that the northern Governors admitted in their meeting in February 2014, that Boko Haram has destroyed the north economically, socially, and politically.

For these and many other reasons, I hold an optimistic view that #BringBackOurGirls would not only lead to the rescue of the abducted girls, it marks the beginning of the end of Boko Haram insurgency — but most importantly, the end of religious intolerance and violent extremism in northern Nigeria. #BringBackOurGirls presents an opportunity to Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria to rally against violent extremism by treating the indiscriminate killing and destruction of property as criminal acts and not acts of religious deference. I believe these two religious communities would embrace this opportunity as was recently demonstrated in the city of Kaduna, where they united to wade off Boko Haram attackers.

Isaac Terwase Sampson is the author of “Religion and the Nigerian State: Situating the de facto and de jure Frontiers of State–Religion Relations and its Implications for National Security” (available to read for free for a limited time) in the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion. He is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Strategic Research and Studies, National Defence College, Nigeria. He joined the Centre in 2006 from the Ministry of Justice, Kogi State, where he served as a Senior State Counsel.

The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion publishes a range of articles drawn from various sectors of the law and religion field, including: social, legal and political issues involving the relationship between law and religion in society; comparative law perspectives on the relationship between religion and state institutions; developments regarding human and constitutional rights to freedom of religion or belief; considerations of the relationship between religious and secular legal systems; empirical work on the place of religion in society; and other salient areas where law and religion interact.

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16. Poetic justice in The German Doctor

Film is a powerful tool for teaching international criminal law and increasing public awareness and sensitivity about the underlying crimes. Roberta Seret, President and Founder of the NGO at the United Nations, International Cinema Education, has identified four films relevant to the broader purposes and values of international criminal justice and over the coming weeks she will write a short piece explaining the connections as part of a mini-series. This is the final one, following The Act of Killing, Hannah Arendt, and The Lady.

the german doctor

By Roberta Seret


One can say that Dr. Josef Mengele was the first survivor of Auschwitz, for he slipped away undetected in the middle of the night on 17 January 1945, several days before the concentration camp was liberated. Weeks later, he continued his escape despite being detained in two different Prisoner of War detention camps.

He made his way to Rome, a sanctuary for Nazi war criminals, where he obtained a new passport from Vatican officials. Continuing to Genoa with the help of the International Red Cross and a Fascist network, he embarked on the North King ship in 1949 to Buenos Aires under the alias of Helmut Gregor.

President Juan Peron had 10,000 blank Argentine passports for the highest Nazi bidders. Buenos Aires became their home; there Mengele lived, respected and comfortable, until 1960 when Eichmann was kidnapped by the Mossad just streets away. Afraid he’d be next, Mengele decided it would be safer for him in Paraguay with the support of the pro-Nazi dictator, Alfredo Stroessner. He stayed in Asunción for one year.

The Argentine film, The German Doctor (2014), takes us in media res to 1960 Patagonia and Bariloche, a beautiful mountain oasis in the Andes that reminds Mengele of “home.” This fictional addition to his biography, serves as a six-month stopover before he escapes to Paraguay.

Lucia Puenzo, Argentine filmmaker, has adapted her own novel, Wakolda, for the screen. She adroitly mixes fiction with history and truth with imagination in a tight, tense-filled interpretation that keeps us mesmerized. Yet, as we watch the scenes unfold, we wonder which ones are based on fact and how far should poetic justice substitute for historical accuracy.

The director takes advantage of our “collective conscience” of morality and memory regarding the identity of Dr. Mengele. Despite not once hearing his name, we know who he is, although the characters do not. The director uses our associating him with evil to enhance tension and catapult plot – a clever device that works well.

What is biographically accurate in the film is that Mengele continues his experiments on human beings in order to create the perfect race. The director uses this premise, then extrapolates to fiction and sets the stage with a family that Mengele befriends. The doctor sees an opportunity to experiment with charming Lilith, the under-developed twelve-year-old and injects into her stomach growth hormones that work for cattle. He also gives “vitamins” to the girl’s pregnant mother, Eva, once he realizes she is carrying twins. When the babies are born, he continues his experiments by putting sugar in the formula for the weaker of the two. As the infant cries dying and Mengele studies the reaction, we shudder that the Angel of Death has once again achieved Evil.

The experiments on people that Mengele is obsessed with in the film, is a continuation of his sadistic work at Auschwitz with pregnant women, twins, and genetics. His lab experiment on a mother who had just given birth was notorious. He taped her lactating breasts while taking notes on how long the infant would cry without receiving her milk. When he left for dinner, the distraught mother desperately found morphine for her dying baby.

Mengele was also known to inject dye into the iris of prisoners’ eyes (without anesthesia) to see if he could change the brown to an Aryan blue. He documented his results by pinning each eyeball to a wooden board.

And there were more experiments on thousands of human beings.

Josef Mengele, from 1943-45, appeared each day at Auschwitz’s train station for Selektion. Wearing white gloves, polished high black boots, and carrying a stick, his evil hand pointed Left and Right to order more than 400,000 souls to leave this world through chimneys as ashes. His crimes against humanity can never be forgotten.

After living more than 30 years undetected in South America, Mengele died in 1979 of a heart attack while swimming in the warm waters near São Paulo. This peaceful death for such a monster reinforces his ultimate crime. Film director, Lucia Puenzo, would have been well-inspired to have finished The German Doctor with this horrific and true scene.

Roberta Seret is the President and Founder of International Cinema Education, an NGO based at the United Nations. Roberta is the Director of Professional English at the United Nations with the United Nations Hospitality Committee where she teaches English language, literature and business to diplomats. In the Journal of International Criminal Justice, Roberta has written a longer ‘roadmap’ to Margarethe von Trotta’s film on Hannah Arendt. To learn more about this new subsection for reviewers or literature, film, art projects or installations, read her extension at the end of this editorial.

The Journal of International Criminal Justice aims to promote a profound collective reflection on the new problems facing international law. Established by a group of distinguished criminal lawyers and international lawyers, the journal addresses the major problems of justice from the angle of law, jurisprudence, criminology, penal philosophy, and the history of international judicial institutions.

Oxford University Press is a leading publisher in international law, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, latest titles from thought leaders in the field, and a wide range of law journals and online products. We publish original works across key areas of study, from humanitarian to international economic to environmental law, developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. For the latest news, commentary, and insights follow the International Law team on Twitter @OUPIntLaw.

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17. You can save lives and money

By Paul Harriman


There is a truism in the world that quality costs, financially. There is a grain of truth in this statement especially if you think in a linear way. In healthcare this has become embedded thinking and any request for increasing quality is met with a counter-request for more money. In a cash-strapped system the lack of available money then results in behaviour that limits improvement. However, as an ex-colleague once said “we have plenty of money, we just choose to spend it in the wrong places”. This implies that if we were to un-spend it in the wrong place we would have plenty of spare cash.

The problem in healthcare, as in most service organisations, is that the system that delivers client value (in this case healthcare to patients) isn’t visible to those working in it. Indeed the only person that see’s the invisible system is the patient receiving that care. Our first task is to make the system visible and we can do this by producing a process map; a series of boxes describing the various activities all linked by one or more arrows. These maps can range from very high level to extremely detailed; the trick is to choose wisely and to look at the process from the patient’s perspective. Having produced your map the next step is to put some data onto it. Once you understand the process you can then start to hypothesise a different way of undertaking the work. Ask yourself;

  • would pay your own money for a particular step; if not, then question why it exists
  • are the steps in the right order?
  • do they require roughly equal amounts of resource
  • are there any bottlenecks?

Some four years ago, supported by a grant from the Health Foundation, we started to ask ourselves some of these questions in relation to the delivery of care to frail elderly patients. The answers were, in some cases, completely counter-intuitive. We found that some elderly patients stayed in hospital for many weeks after they could have left. There were many and varied reasons for this but none of them were related to acute hospital care. It was the wider disjointed system with its multiple hand-offs and traditional organisational rules that governed this. It was no-one’s fault, yet it was everyone’s problem.

So like eating the proverbial elephant we decided to start somewhere. It needed an individual clinician to put their hand up and take that first step. That first step was to try something different for one day; if it didn’t work then nothing was lost. The step was tried and the world didn’t end. Instead we found out that changing our normal system of “batching emergency admissions together so that they could all be seen the next day thus maximising consultant efficiency” to “let’s see them as they come in” meant that we reduced the time from arrival to senior specialty review by half. We also found opportunity to remove potential harm.

Having repeated this three times a few other consultants chose to take the trip with us and we repeated the same test over three days. That worked. So we tried for a full week. That also worked. By this time, and we were now almost six months into the journey, a range of staff including consultants, nurses, therapists, ambulance staff, managers and secretaries had all been involved in the tests and had all in their own way contributed to testing the new design and delivery.

The next steps were profound. A suggestion from the clinical director that all the consultants should change their job plans (on the same day) to deliver the new service was met with no dissent. A first in my experience. The physical manifestation of the change, the birth of the Frailty Unit then followed a few weeks later.

What was the cost of this? In terms of real life spend very little. The physical reconfiguration was largely cash neutral. Yes we spent some real money on service improvement support and staff invested their time; in the great scheme of things this was petty cash. But did it really change anything? Some hard metrics showed that we increased the number of patients who were discharged within 48 hrs from 18% to 24% and we reduced the number of total specialty beds by almost a quarter. We didn’t increase our readmissions and our biggest surprise was that we decreased our in-hospital mortality. In softer terms we now see many patients on the day that they arrive; we know how to potentially change our outpatient service and the staff on the Frailty Unit have become masters of caring for Frail Elderly patients.

Involving staff + Improvement science = Better outcomes + Lower Cost

Paul Harriman MBA, TDCR, FETC, HDCR, DCR(R).  Paul originally trained as a Diagnostic Radiographer at the Middlesex Hospital qualifying in 1977. He worked in a number of hospitals and obtained his HDCR and TDCR qualifications before coming to Sheffield in 1986. Whilst working as a Superintendent Radiographer at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, he undertook an MBA and was also selected to join the General Management Scheme. He has since held a number of posts within the Trust working both within clinical directorates and corporate functions.

Paul has major interests in system thinking, improvement science, the use of data for decision making and has been working with Statistical Process Control charts for over 20 years. The main focus of his current work is supporting Geriatric and Stroke Medicine, to understand, analyse and challenge the current work processes.  He and Kate Silvester were part of the Flow, Cost, Quality programme sponsored by the Health foundation. He is a co-author of the paper ‘Timely care for frail older people referred to hospital improves efficiency and improves mortality without the need for extra resources‘ for the journal Age and Ageing.

Age and Ageing is an international journal publishing refereed original articles and commissioned reviews on geriatric medicine and gerontology. Its range includes research on ageing and clinical, epidemiological, and psychological aspects of later life.

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Image credit: Blue tone of beds and machines in hospital. By pxhidalgo, via iStockphoto.

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18. The significance of gender representation in domestic violence units

By Norma M. Riccucci and Gregg G. Van Ryzin


Does increased representation of women in government agencies result in policy outcomes that are beneficial to women? Does it increase women’s confidence in those government agencies? These questions are at the core of democratic accountability: the ability of government to represent and serve all members of its citizenry.

Domestic violence The prevailing research demonstrates a number of important outcomes of gender diversity in public organizations. But does gender diversity also influence how the general citizenry judges the organization’s performance, trustworthiness and fairness? To get at this question, we designed a survey experiment in which we varied the gender representation and performance of hypothetical police domestic violence units (DVUs). Domestic violence is a problem that persists globally, and gender diversity in the units responsible for its eradication is imperative. In the United States alone, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women, and women between the ages of 18 to 34 generally experience the highest rates of domestic violence; 75 percent of the perpetrators are male. On average, more than three women are murdered a day by their husbands or boyfriends.

Our experiment showed that increased representation of women positively influenced people’s trust in the agency and views of its performance, independent of whether the agency’s performance was high or low. This finding is important because the more citizens view the police as legitimate and trustworthy, the more willing they may be to report domestic violence and other crimes to the police. They may also be more likely to cooperate in follow-up investigations, which can lead to improved law enforcement outcomes.

While the US Congress renewed the federal Violence Against Women Act in February of 2013 — expanding coverage to offer protections to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender victims of domestic abuse, as well as to immigrants and American Indian women assaulted on reservations by non-Indians — if the crimes go unreported, the laws and policies will be ineffectual.

The research thus far shows that the policy domain within which bureaucrats work must be linked to the interests of those being served (for example, women seeking child support or veterans seeking benefits). Even police departments that are racially diverse are seen as more legitimate than those that are not, regardless of police practices. But, would diversity or representativeness matter if the mission or outcomes of agencies were not tied in any way to gender, race, ethnicity, or shared identities (e.g., veterans)? For example, would increasing the representation of women officials in local governments’ recycling programs encourage women to increase their recycling behaviors? This issue is yet to be explored, and would contributed greatly to research on the benefits of representativeness or diversity in government.

Norma M. Riccucci and Gregg G. Van Ryzin are the authors of “Representative Bureaucracy in Policing: Does It Increase Perceived Legitimacy?” (available to read for free for a limited time) in the latest issue of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. Norma M. Riccucci is Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University, Campus at Newark. Professor Riccucci has published extensively in the areas of public management, affirmative action, human resources and public sector labor relations. Gregg G. Van Ryzin is associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey. He is an expert on surveys and methodology, and conducts empirical research on a range of topics, including housing and community development, citizen satisfaction with urban services, nonprofit organizations, performance measurement and evaluation, and comparative public opinion about government policy and institutions. Prof. Van Ryzin is widely published in scholarly journals in public administration, policy analysis, and urban affairs.

The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory serves as a bridge between public administration and public management scholarship on the one hand and public policy studies on the other. Its multidisciplinary aim is to advance the organizational, administrative, and policy sciences as they apply to government and governance. The journal is committed to diverse and rigorous scholarship and serves as an outlet for the best conceptual and theory-based empirical work in the field.

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19. Hannah Arendt and crimes against humanity

Film is a powerful tool for teaching international criminal law and increasing public awareness and sensitivity about the underlying crimes. Roberta Seret, President and Founder of the NGO at the United Nations, International Cinema Education, has identified four films relevant to the broader purposes and values of international criminal justice and over the coming weeks she will write a short piece explaining the connections as part of a mini-series. This is the second one, , following The Act of Killing.

hannah arendt film

By Roberta Seret


The powerful biographical film, Hannah Arendt, focuses on Arendt’s historical coverage of Adolf Eichmann’s trial in 1961 and the genocide of six million Jews. But sharing center stage is Arendt’s philosophical concept: what is thinking?

German director, Margarethe von Trotta, begins her riveting film with a short silent scene — Mossad’s abduction of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, the ex-Nazi chief of the Gestapo section for Jewish Affairs. Eichmann was in charge of deportation of Jews from all European countries to concentration camps.

Margarethe von Trotta’s and Pam Katz’s brilliant screen script is written in a literary style that covers a four-year “slice of life” in Hannah Arendt’s world. The director invites us into this stage by introducing us to Arendt (played by award-winning actress Barbara Sukova), her friends, her husband, colleagues, and students.

As we listen to their conversations, we realize that we will bear witness not only to Eichmann’s trial, but to Hannah Arendt’s controversial words and thoughts. We get multiple points of view about the international polemic she has caused in her coverage of Eichmann. And we are asked to judge as she formulates her political and philosophical theories.

Director von Trotta continues her literary approach to cinema by using flashbacks that take us to the beginning of Arendt’s university days in Marburg, Germany. She is a Philosophy major, studying with Professor Martin Heidegger. He is the famous Father of Existentialism. Hannah Arendt becomes his ardent student and lover. In the first flashback, we see a young Arendt, at first shy and then assertive, as she approaches the famous philosopher. “Please, teach me to think.” He answers, “Thinking is a lonely business.” His smile asks her if she is strong enough for such a journey.

“Learn not what to think, but how to think,” wrote Plato, and Arendt learns quickly. “Thinking is a conversation between me and myself,” she espouses.

Arendt learned to be an Existentialist. She proposed herself to become Heidegger’s private student just as she solicited herself to cover the Eichmann trial for The New Yorker. Every flashback in the film is weaved into a precise place, as if the director is Ariadne and at the center of the web is Heidegger and Arendt. From flashback to flashback, we witness the exertion Heidegger has on his student. As a father figure, Heidegger forms her; he teaches her the passion of thinking, a journey that lasts her entire life.

Throughout the film, in the trial room, in the pressroom, in Arendt’s Riverside Drive apartment, we see her thinking and smoking. The director has taken the intangible process of thinking and made it tangible. The cigarette becomes the reed for Arendt’s thoughts. After several scenes, we the spectator, begin to think with the protagonist and we want to follow her thought process despite the smoke screen.

When Arendt studies Eichmann in his glass cell in the courtroom, she studies him obsessively as if she were a scientist staring through a microscope at a lethal cancer cell on a glass slide. She is struck by what she sees in front of her – an ordinary man who is not intelligent, who cannot think for himself. He is merely the instrument of a horrific society. She must have been thinking of what Heidegger taught her – we create ourselves. We define ourselves by our actions. Eichmann’s actions as Nazi chief created him; his actions created crimes against humanity.

The director shows us many sides of Arendt’s character: curious, courageous, brilliant, seductive, and wary, but above all, she is a Philosopher. Eichmann’s trial became inspiration for her philosophical legacy, the Banality of Evil: All men have within them the power to be evil. Man’s absence of common sense, his absence of thinking, can result in barbarous acts. She concludes at the end of the film in a form of summation speech, “This inability to think created the possibility for many ordinary men to commit evil deeds on a gigantic scale, the like of which had never been seen before.”

And Eichmann, his summation defense? It is presented to us by Willem Sassen, Dutch Fascist and former member of the SS, who had a second career in Argentina as a journalist. In 1956 he asked Eichmann if he was sorry for what he had done as part of the Nazis’ Final Solution.

Eichmann responded, “Yes, I am sorry for one thing, and that is I was not hard enough, that I did not fight those damned interventionists enough, and now you see the result: the creation of the state of Israel and the re-emergence of the Jewish people there.”

The horrific acts of the Nazis speak for themselves. Director von Trotta in this masterpiece film has stimulated us to think again about genocide and crimes against humanity, their place in history as well as in today’s world.

Roberta Seret is the President and Founder of International Cinema Education, an NGO based at the United Nations. Roberta is the Director of Professional English at the United Nations with the United Nations Hospitality Committee where she teaches English language, literature and business to diplomats. In the Journal of International Criminal Justice

, Roberta has written a longer ‘roadmap’ to Margarethe von Trotta’s film on Hannah Arendt. To learn more about this new subsection for reviewers or literature, film, art projects or installations, read her extension at the end of this editorial.

The Journal of International Criminal Justice aims to promote a profound collective reflection on the new problems facing international law. Established by a group of distinguished criminal lawyers and international lawyers, the journal addresses the major problems of justice from the angle of law, jurisprudence, criminology, penal philosophy, and the history of international judicial institutions.

Oxford University Press is a leading publisher in international law, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, latest titles from thought leaders in the field, and a wide range of law journals and online products. We publish original works across key areas of study, from humanitarian to international economic to environmental law, developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. For the latest news, commentary, and insights follow the International Law team on Twitter @OUPIntLaw.

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20. New questions about Gustav Mahler

For many years, scholarship on composer Gustav Mahler’s life and work has relied heavily on Natalie Bauer-Lechner’s diary. However, a recently discovered letter, introduced, translated, and annotated by Morten Solvik and Stephen E. Hefling, and published for the first time in the journal The Musical Quarterly, sheds new light on the private life of the great composer. New revelations about various relationships, including Bauer-Lechner’s romantic involvement with the composer, sketch out his personal character and provide a more nuanced portrait. We spoke with Morten Solvik and Stephen E. Hefling about the impact on Mahler scholarship.

Gustav Mahler, photo of the etching by Emil Orlik (1903), in the Groves Dictionary and New Outlook (1907). Collections Walter Anton. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Gustav Mahler, photo of the etching by Emil Orlik (1903), in the Groves Dictionary and New Outlook (1907). Collections Walter Anton. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

How will the publication of this letter affect the current body of Mahler scholarship?

Natalie Bauer-Lechner is the primary witness to roughly 10 years of Gustav Mahler’s life; biographers and historians have continually relied on her accounts to shed light on Mahler’s works and thoughts, especially during the 1890s. In this letter, three main topics are discussed in ways never before documented in Mahler studies: (1) Mahler’s various romantic involvements before his marriage to Alma Schindler in 1902; (2) the role of Justine Mahler, the composer’s sister, in his personal interactions with these women; and (3) Natalie Bauer-Lechner’s two brief periods of sexual relations with Mahler, at the beginning and at the end of her 12-year relationship.

The implications go beyond the merely biographical, as it reveals the author in a liaison – long-suspected by some scholars – with the object of her recollections. How, then, do we evaluate her writings? How trustworthy is the information they claim to provide? Since Bauer-Lechner has heretofore been considered absolutely reliable, the ramifications of a revision of this stance could have far-reaching consequences.

How was this letter discovered, and what kept it from being published for so long?

The letter had been in private hands until it appeared in the shop of a Viennese rare books dealer and was sold to the Music Collection of the Austrian National Library in the fall of 2012. The authors first became aware of the document in the spring of 2012 when it became known that the owner had attempted (unsuccessfully) to sell the letter through the Dorotheum Auction House in Vienna in May 2011. How the letter ended up in this person’s possession has not (yet) been determined. Its authenticity is firmly established.

Does the publication of this letter vindicate, or just as equally cast into doubt, any previously published writing on Mahler?

This depends on one’s perspective. Some will conclude that Bauer-Lechner’s romantic interludes with the composer precluded any objectivity in her recollections of him and that her accounts must therefore be called into question. Others will point out that Bauer-Lechner’s diaries include much factual information corroborated by many other sources and that there is little reason to doubt the authenticity of her “Mahleriana” as a whole; indeed, her degree of objectivity is all the more remarkable given her emotional involvement. For discretion’s sake she declined to reveal the extent of her intimacy with Mahler in the pages of her diary that she intended to publish. But that Bauer-Lechner manipulated or fabricated information seems a contrived conclusion; that she was unable to avoid a certain partiality or missed certain details should hardly strike us as surprising.

Does the letter pose any new questions for future Mahler scholars?

The most imposing and immediate challenge that emerges from this letter is the need to collate all extant materials that Natalie Bauer-Lechner produced in her lifetime in connection with Gustav Mahler. The present authors are in the midst of precisely this project in an attempt to present the most complete account possible. This will facilitate a better informed evaluation of the value of her narrative, the extent of its objectivity, its shortcomings, and no doubt more information regarding Mahler. In particular, the content of the letter clearly indicates the need to reevaluate Alma Mahler’s claim that at the time of their marriage, Mahler “was extremely puritanical” and “had lived the life of an ascetic.”

Morten Solvik and Stephen E. Hefling are the authors of “Natalie Bauer-Lechner on Mahler and Women: A Newly Discovered Document” in the Musical Quarterly. Morten Solvik is the Center Director of the International Education of Students (IES) Abroad Vienna where he also teaches music history. Stephen E. Hefling is a Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University.

The Musical Quarterly, founded in 1915 by Oscar Sonneck, has long been cited as the premier scholarly musical journal in the United States. Over the years it has published the writings of many important composers and musicologists, including Aaron Copland, Arnold Schoenberg, Marc Blitzstein, Henry Cowell, and Camille Saint-Saens. The journal focuses on the merging areas in scholarship where much of the challenging new work in the study of music is being produced.

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21. How to prevent workplace cancer

By John Cherrie


Each year there are 1,800 people killed on the roads in Britain, but over the same period there are around four times as many deaths from cancers that were caused by hazardous agents at work, and many more cases of occupational cancer where the person is cured. There are similar statistics on workplace cancer from most countries; this is a global problem.  Occupational cancer accounts for 5 percent of all cancer deaths in Britain, and around one in seven cases of lung cancer in men are attributable to asbestos, diesel engine exhaust, crystalline silica dust or one of 18 other carcinogens found in the workplace. All of these deaths could have been prevented, and in the future we can stop this unnecessary death toll if we take the right action now.

In 2009, I set out some simple steps to reduce occupational exposure to chemical carcinogens.  The basis was the recognition that the overwhelming majority of workplace cancers from dusts, gases and vapours are caused by exposure to just ten agents or work circumstances, such as welding and painting  (see chart). Focusing our efforts on this relatively short priority list could have a major impact.

Many of these exposures are associated with the construction industry. Almost all are generated as part of a process and are not being manufactured for industrial or consumer uses, e.g. diesel engine exhaust and the dust from construction materials that contain sand (crystalline silica).

The strategies to control exposure to these agents are well understood and so there is no need to invent new technological solutions for this problem. Use of containment, localized ventilation targeted at the source of exposure and other engineering methods can be used to reduce the exposures. If further control is needed then workers can wear personal protective devices, such as respirators, to filter out contaminants before they enter the body.

There are also robust regulations to ensure employers understand their obligations to employees, contractors and members of the public, both in Britain through the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health  (COSHH) Regulations and in the rest of Europe via the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive.

We know that as time goes on, most exposures in the workplace are decreasing by between about 5% and 10% each year. This seems to be true for many dusts, fibres, gases and vapours, and it is a worldwide trend.  There is every reason to believe this is also true for the carcinogenic exposures we are discussing. This means that over a ten-year period the risk of future cancer deaths is may drop by about half.  If we could increase the rate of decrease in exposure to 20% per annum then after 10 years the risk of future disease should have decreased by about 90%.

However, during the five years since my article was published, very little has been done to improve controls for carcinogens at work. Recent evidence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the regulator in Britain, shows widespread non-compliance at worksites where there is exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Most people are still unaware of the cancer risks associated with being a painter or a welder and so no effective controls are generally put in place. There have been no effective steps taken to reduce exposure to diesel engine exhaust, or most of the other “top ten” workplace carcinogens. What is the barrier preventing change?

In my opinion, the main issue is that we don’t perceive most of these agents or situations as likely to cause cancer.  For example, airborne dust on construction sites, which often contains crystalline silica and may contain other carcinogenic substances, is considered the norm. Diesel soot is ubiquitous in our cities and we all accept it even though it is categorized as a human carcinogen. In my paper I complained that there were ‘no steps taken to reduce the risk from diesel exhaust particulate emission for most exposed groups and no particular priority given to this by regulatory authorities.’ Nothing has changed in this respect. We need an agreed commitment from regulators, employers and workers to change for the better.  Perhaps we need to consider requiring traffic wardens to wear facemasks and encourage painters to work in safer healthier ways. At least we should take a fresh look at what can reasonably be done to protect people.

We know that since 2008 the number of road traffic deaths in the United Kingdom has decreased by about a third and downward time trend seems relentless.  Road traffic campaigners have envisaged a future of zero harm from motor vehicles. Similarly we know that the level of exposure to most workplace carcinogenic substances is decreasing. Can we not also consider a future world where we have eliminated occupational cancer or at least reduced the health consequences to a tiny fraction of today’s death toll? It will be a future that our children or their children will inhabit because of the long lag between exposure to the carcinogens and the development of the disease, but unless we act the danger is that we never see an end to the problem.

As a first step we need to have en effective campaign to raise awareness of the problem of workplace cancers and to start to change attitudes to the most pernicious workplace carcinogens.

John Cherrie is Research Director at the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) in Edinburgh, UK, and Honorary Professor at the University of Aberdeen. He has been involved in several studies to estimate the health impact from carcinogens in the workplace. He is currently Principal Investigator for a study that will estimate the occupational cancer and chronic non-malignant respiratory disease burden in the constructions sector in Singapore. In 2014 he was awarded the Bedford Medal for outstanding contributions to the discipline of occupational hygiene. He is the author of the paper ‘Reducing occupational exposure to chemical carcinogens‘, which is published in the journal Occupational Medicine.

Occupational Medicine is an international peer-reviewed journal, providing vital information for the promotion of workplace health and safety. Topics covered include work-related injury and illness, accident and illness prevention, health promotion, occupational disease, health education, the establishment and implementation of health and safety standards, monitoring of the work environment, and the management of recognised hazards.

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Image credit: Graph provided by the author. Do not reproduce without permission.

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22. Oral history through Google Glass

By Juliana Nykolaiszyn


It was late in the day when a nondescript package arrived at my office. After carefully opening the box and lifting off the lid, there it was: Google Glass. And yes, it was awesome. Initially, the technology geek in me was overjoyed, but the oral historian soon took over as I raced through potential uses for this wearable technology in my daily work.

Google's augmented reality head mounted display as glass form. Photo by Ted Eytan. CC BY-SA 2.0 via taedc Flickr.

Google’s augmented reality head mounted display as glass form. Photo by Ted Eytan. CC BY-SA 2.0 via taedc Flickr.

I have found Google Glass provides unique challenges to and opportunities for conducting oral history, from interviewing to access. Worn like a pair of glasses, Google Glass allows users to take a photo, record video, get directions, send messages, search the Internet, make phone calls, and more with a simple voice command, “Ok Glass.” Google made this innovative piece of tech available to a limited audience of beta testers or “Glass Explorers” in 2013. Google Glass is easier to obtain today, cost remaining the most prohibitive factor. A lower cost consumer model is in the works, and is expected to be released later in 2014. This may dispel the social stigma that has developed around the wearable technology.

Over the last few months, I have put Google Glass through its paces with oral history in mind. I’ve learned that in an interview setting, Glass can be awkward for the narrator and the interviewer, and thus negatively impact the overall exchange. In fact, I was downright distracted while attempting to record with the unit, even in brief stretches. Maybe it is because I am not accustomed to wearing glasses, but there were other factors at play as well. First, you cannot zoom in while recording video, which limits framing the shot. And though Google Glass captures video in 720p, the battery limits recording time to approximately 43 minutes. Similarly, there is only 12 GB of usable memory. Another major downfall of Google Glass is the built-in microphone. The mic can easily and clearly record the person wearing the unit, but struggles to pick up other voices, such as narrators stationed at a comfortable distance. Furthermore, the mic is not omnidirectional, lessening the overall quality of recordings.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Here is an example of conducting an interview with Google Glass.
Credit: Oklahoma Oral History Research Program

Despite the technical shortcomings, I still see promise for using this type of wearable technology to gather oral histories. Google Glass can be used in instruction training tool. It provides a unique perspective for analysis, helping interviewers understand their connection to narrators, and to monitor head movements or gaze during a recording session. Another potential area of growth is access. Exhibits utilizing Google Glass are starting to emerge in several cultural institutions, including the New Museum in New York and the UK’s Manchester Art Gallery. Third-party applications are also being developed, which will only add to one’s ability to use Glass to enhance public displays. Finally, Glass may provide oral historians the ability to share interviews across geographic boundaries. Interviews can be live streamed via Google Hangouts, allowing for real-time access and interaction, perfect for connecting groups inside or outside the classroom.

At the end of the day, oral history is complimented by technology. While we have seen shifts and changes through the years, technology is still very important to recording, preserving, and accessing oral history. Google Glass may not be as robust as it could be for the purposes of documenting and preserving the history around us, but I am betting this type of wearable technology will move past these shortcomings sooner rather than later. As for its role in oral history, my initial experience suggests only time will tell how we will use it.

Juliana Nykolaiszyn is an Associate Professor/Librarian with the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at the Oklahoma State University Library. She serves as an interviewer on several oral history projects, including the Inductees of the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Centennial Farm Families, O-STATE Stories and the Spotlighting Oklahoma series. In addition to interviewing, Juliana is involved in making materials available online, primarily through CONTENTdm and other web-based efforts.

The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview, like them on Facebook, add them to your circles on Google Plus, follow them on Tumblr, listen to them on Soundcloud, or follow their latest OUPblog posts via email or RSS to preview, learn, connect, discover, and study oral history.

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23. The Lady: One woman against a military dictatorship

Film is a powerful tool for teaching international criminal law and increasing public awareness and sensitivity about the underlying crimes. Roberta Seret, President and Founder of the NGO at the United Nations, International Cinema Education, has identified four films relevant to the broader purposes and values of international criminal justice and over the coming weeks she will write a short piece explaining the connections as part of a mini-series. This is the third one, following The Act of Killing and Hannah Arendt.

thelady

By Roberta Seret


When Luc Besson finished filming The Lady in 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi had just been released from being under house arrest since 1989. He visited her at her home in Yagoon with a DVD of his film as a gift. She smiled and thanked him, responding, “I have shown courage in my life, but I do not have enough courage to watch a film about myself.”

The recurring tenet of the inspiring biographical film, The Lady, is exactly that: one woman’s courage against a military dictatorial regime. Each scene reinforces her relentless fight to overcome the inequities of totalitarianism.

Aung San Suu Kyi was born the third child of General Aung San, leader of Burma during World War ll and Father of Independence from British rule. He was assassinated in 1947 before he saw his country’s sovereignty in 1948. His daughter has dedicated her life to continue his legacy – to bring democracy to the Burmese people.

The film, The Lady, begins in Oxford 1988 where she is a housewife and mother of two sons. After setting the stage of happy domesticity, she receives a phone call from her mother’s caretaker in Burma that the older woman is dying. And so begins the action.

After 41 years, Suu Kyi returns home to a different world than she remembers. The country’s name is changed from Burma to Myanmar, Ragoon has become Yagoon, and a new capital, Naypidaw, has been carved out of a jungle. Students are demonstrating and being killed in the streets of Yagoon while General Ne Winn rules with an iron fist. Suu Kyi is soon asked by a group of professors and students to form a new party, the National League for Democracy. She campaigns to become their leader.

French director, Luc Besson, was not allowed to film in Myanmar. Instead, he chose Thailand at the Golden Triangle, where Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand merge in a beautiful mountainous landscape. Most of his interior scenes, however, take place at the Lady’s house on Inya Lake in Yagoon, which Luc Besson recreated with help from Google Earth and computers. The Chinese actress, Michelle Yeoh, plays Suu Kyi, with perfectly nuanced facial and body expressions that are balanced with a subtle combination of emotion and control. But the Burmese, who were initially not allowed by the government to see the film, resented a Chinese actress portraying their icon. Even the police chased Ms. Yeoh from Myanmar when she tried to pay her respects to the Lady.

The film adheres closely to history and biography, which are inherently compelling. The director did not need to borrow from fiction to enhance his portrait of a brave, self-sacrificing woman. Luc Besson is a master filmmaker, and we see in the characters of his strong women, like Nikita (1990) and The Lady, the power of will and determination that go beyond limits to become personality cults.

The film depicts how Suu Kyi wins 59% of the votes in the general election of 1990, but instead of leading Parliament as Prime Minister, she has already been forced and silenced under house arrest by the Military where she stays for more than 15 years and three times in prison until 2010.

The Lady is a heart-breaking story of a woman’s personal sacrifice to free her people from the Military’s crimes against humanity. In 2012, once free and allowed to campaign, she won 43 seats in Parliament for her party, but this is only 7% of seats. She will campaign again in 2015 despite the Military’s opposition and a Constitution that has already been amended to block her from winning.

In Luc Besson’s film, we see a beautiful woman of courage and heart, a personage deserving the adulation of her people. “She is our hope,” they all agree. “Hope for Freedom.”

Roberta Seret is the President and Founder of International Cinema Education, an NGO based at the United Nations. Roberta is the Director of Professional English at the United Nations with the United Nations Hospitality Committee where she teaches English language, literature and business to diplomats. In the Journal of International Criminal Justice, Roberta has written a longer ‘roadmap’ to Margarethe von Trotta’s film on Hannah Arendt. To learn more about this new subsection for reviewers or literature, film, art projects or installations, read her extension at the end of this editorial.

The Journal of International Criminal Justice aims to promote a profound collective reflection on the new problems facing international law. Established by a group of distinguished criminal lawyers and international lawyers, the journal addresses the major problems of justice from the angle of law, jurisprudence, criminology, penal philosophy, and the history of international judicial institutions.

Oxford University Press is a leading publisher in international law, including the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, latest titles from thought leaders in the field, and a wide range of law journals and online products. We publish original works across key areas of study, from humanitarian to international economic to environmental law, developing outstanding resources to support students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide. For the latest news, commentary, and insights follow the International Law team on Twitter @OUPIntLaw.

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24. What test should the family courts use to resolve pet custody disputes?

By Deborah Rook


This is my dog Charlie. Like many pet owners in England and Wales I see my dog as a member of my family. He shares the ups and downs of my family life and is always there for me. But what many people don’t realise is that Charlie, like all pets, is a legal ‘thing’. He falls into the same category as my sofa. The law distinguishes between legal persons and legal things and Charlie is a legal thing and is therefore owned as personal property. If my husband and I divorce and both want to keep Charlie, our dispute over where Charlie will live would come within the financial provision proceedings in the family courts. What approach will the family courts take to resolve this dispute? It is likely that the courts will adopt a property law test and give Charlie to the person who has a better claim to the property title. This can be evidenced by whose name appears on the adoption certificate from the local dogs home or who pays the food and veterinary bills. Applying a property test could mean that if my husband had a better property claim, Charlie would live with him even if Charlie is at risk of being mistreated or neglected.

Charlie the dog. Photo courtesy of Deborah Rook

Charlie the dog. Photo courtesy of Deborah Rook

Property versus welfare

Case law from the United States shows that two distinct tests have emerged to resolving pet custody disputes: firstly, the application of pure property law principles as discussed above; and secondly, the application of a ‘best interests of the animal’ test which has similarities to the ‘best interests of the child’ test used in many countries to determine the residency of children in disputes between parents. On the whole, the courts in the United States have used the property law test and rejected the ‘best interest of the animal’ test. However, in a growing number of cases the courts have been reluctant to rely solely on property law principles. For example, there are cases where one party is given ownership of the dog, having a better claim to title, but the other is awarded visitation rights to allow them to visit. There is no other type of property for which an award of visitation rights has been given. In another case the dog was given to the husband even though the wife had a better claim to title on the basis that the dog was at risk of severe injury from other dogs living at the wife’s new home.

Pets as sentient and living property

What the US cases show is that there is a willingness on the part of the courts to recognise the unique nature of this property as living and sentient. A sentient being has the ability to experience pleasure and pain. I use the terminology ‘pet custody disputes’ as opposed to ‘pet ownership disputes’ because it better acknowledges the nature of pets as living and sentient property. There are important consequences that flow from this recognition. Firstly, as a sentient being this type of property has ‘interests’, for example, the interest in not being treated cruelly. In child law, the interest in avoiding physical injury is so fundamental that in any question concerning the residency of a child this interest will prevail and a child will never be knowingly placed with a parent that poses a danger to the child. A pet is capable of suffering pain and has a similar relationship of dependence and vulnerability with its owners to that which a child has with its parents. Society has deemed the interest a pet has in avoiding unnecessary suffering as so important as to be worthy of legislation to criminalise the act of cruelty. There is a strong case for arguing that this interest in avoiding physical harm should be taken into account when deciding the residency of a family pet and should take precedence, where appropriate, over the right of an owner to possession of their property. This would be a small, but significant, step to recognising the status of pets at law: property but a unique type of property that requires special treatment. Secondly, strong emotional bonds can develop between the property and its owner. It is the irreplaceability of this special relationship that means that the dispute can’t be resolved by simply buying another pet of the same breed and type. This special relationship should be a relevant consideration in resolving the future residency of the pet and in some cases may prevail over pure property law considerations.

I argue that the unique nature of this property — the fact that it has an interest in not suffering pain and the fact that it has an ability to form special relationships — requires the adoption of a test unique to pet custody disputes: one that fits within the existing property category but nevertheless recognises the special nature of this living and sentient property and consequently permits consideration of factors that do not normally apply to other types of property in family law disputes.

Deborah Rook is a Principal lecturer in Law at the School of Law, Northumbria University and specialises in animal law. She is the author of ‘Who Gets Charlie? The Emergence of Pet Custody Disputes in Family Law: Adapting Theoretical Tools from Child Law’ (available to read for free for a limited time) in the International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family.

The subject matter of the International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family comprises the following: analyses of the law relating to the family which carry an interest beyond the jurisdiction dealt with, or which are of a comparative nature; theoretical analyses of family law; sociological literature concerning the family and legal policy; social policy literature of special interest to law and the family; and literature in related disciplines (medicine, psychology, demography) of special relevance to family law and research findings in the above areas.

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25. The unseen cost of policing in austerity

By Megan O’Neill


It will not come as news to say that the public police are working under challenging conditions. Since the coalition government came to power in 2010, there have been wide-ranging and deep cuts to the funding of public services, the police included. This was the institution which once enjoyed a privileged position as the “go-to” service for political parties to improve themselves in the eyes of the electorate by being “tough on crime” through ever increasing police numbers. Numbers of police officers and staff rose year on year from 2000 to 2010, an increase of 13.7%. All that has now changed, and the most recent statistics show that the police service has now reduced in size by 11%, and is roughly equivalent to where it was in 2001. While police officers themselves cannot be made redundant, vacant positions are not being filled when officers leave or retire. Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs) can be made redundant, and this has happened in a few areas, as well as vacancies not being filled. What does this mean for being “tough on crime”?

Well, to be honest, not much on face value. As any good first year Criminology student should be able to tell you, the overall crime rate has been falling more or less steadily since 1995. This drop in crime started before police numbers rose, and occurred in other countries as well where police numbers may not have changed to the degree they did in England and Wales. The cause for the drop in crime is the subject of much debate, and will not be pursued in depth here. However, what is clear is that the sheer number of police officers in a police force does not have a direct link with the amount of crime that area experiences. What is more important is what is done with those officers, and this is where my concern with the current state of policing lies.

UK police vehicles

While the last Labour government regularly pumped up the number of officers to redress their image of being soft on crime, they also made two significant changes to policing practice. One was the introduction of PCSOs in 2002 and the other was the national roll-out of Neighbourhood Policing in 2008. While both may have been derided in the beginning as being more for show than of any real substance, I feel both have made significant changes in the relationship of the police to many local areas and with this has come a reorientation to the police occupational culture itself. Research I have conducted on partnership work and PCSOs suggests that these changes have made some sections of the police more open to working with those outside of their organisation, has enhanced the commitment the police have to crime prevention and long-term problem solving, and has led to better information sharing and relationships between the police and local residents.

To be clear – I am not arguing that all is fine and well in policing. However, the situation we have now is far better than what was the case in the 1980s and 1990s. Rather than “community policing” referring to police officers in panda cars whizzing through residential areas, going from job to job, we now have officers and staff who walk their beats, get to know many of the people and places within it and have the time to attend to the “small stuff”. By this I mean the anti-social, low-level crimes and incivilities which may not set performance targets on fire, but which mean a great deal to the daily lives of thousands of people. Officers, usually PCSOs, can take the time to find out about these concerns and either address the matter themselves or find the most appropriate partner agency to do so (the staff of which they know by name and often have their numbers programmed into their mobile phones). In return, residents start to build trust in their local neighbourhood team, which may develop over time into information sharing of interest to constables and detectives.

However, all this is now in danger of being eroded. The budget cuts mean that the officers and staff who remain in neighbourhood teams have much heavier workloads, including the PCSOs. It is far more difficult now to attend to the “small stuff” and to conduct visible patrols. Partner agencies are also facing severe budget cuts and this will impact on their ability to work collaboratively with the police as they have fewer resources to share. This means that the police lose opportunities to make connections in their local communities and build valuable social capital. Residents are not getting the attention they desire from their local police and so will have fewer reasons to trust them. In addition to these losses to police practice and community relationships is a much less visible but no less significant loss – the reorientation of the police occupational culture. Police officers became more open to working with partners, PCSOs, residents and to consider long-term problem solving once they had experienced the benefits of doing so. Many of the traditional hostilities towards the “other” were reducing noticeably among the neighbourhood officers with whom I have conducted research. This widening of the police world view will, I fear, also be lost in the current budget structures. This is not a savings for policing – it is a very high cost indeed.

Dr Megan O’Neill is the Chair of the British Society of Criminology Policing Network, and a lecturer at the Scottish Institute of Policing Research, University of Dundee. She is the author of “Ripe for the Chop or the Public Face of Policing? PCSOs and Neighbourhood Policing in Austerity” (available to read for free for a limited time) in Policing.

The full article will be available this June in Policing, A Journal of Policy and Practice, volume 8.3. This peer-reviewed journal contains critical analysis and commentary on a wide range of topics including current law enforcement policies, police reform, political and legal developments, training and education, patrol and investigative operations, accountability, comparative police practices, and human and civil rights

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Image credit: UK police vehicles at the scene of a public disturbance. © jeffdalt via iStockphoto.

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