Thursday, November 27, 2003

'Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought'

An invitation to the palace to accept an New Year honour... you must be joking. Benjamin Zephaniah won't be going. Here he explains why...more...

A Decade of Criminal Justice Transformation

An important national conference for people involved in criminal justice and crime prevention work in South Africa. The conference titled ‘A Decade of Criminal Justice Transformation – Reflecting on the past to shape the future’ will be held at Spier Estate, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, from 13 to16 July 2004.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Rugby Boot Camp

The Mail and Guardian reports on an urgent meeting involving top national rugby bosses and Minister of Sport and Recreation in South Africa Ngconde Balfour will most likely take place on Wednesday, the sports ministry said on Monday. Balfour called for an urgent meeting with the rugby bosses on Sunday after extraordinary details of a training camp the Springboks had been subjected to before the World Cup became public. Newspapers have been reporting since last week that the players attended a training camp where they were stripped naked and deprived of sleep and food. The team was further ordered into a lake to pump up rugby balls underwater while guns were pointed at them. The ignominy was compounded on Monday with newspapers running a picture of the Boks, with exposed backsides, crawling through the veld. The camp took place as part of the preparations of the Springboks for the tournament, which they crashed out of in Australia.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

100 Best Novels according to The Guardian

1. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has entranced readers for centuries.

2. Pilgrim's Progress John Bunyan The one with the Slough of Despond and Vanity Fair.

3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe The first English novel.

4. Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite the savagery of Swift's vision.

5. Tom Jones Henry Fielding The adventures of a high-spirited orphan boy: an unbeatable plot and a lot of sex ending in a blissful marriage.

6. Clarissa Samuel Richardson One of the longest novels in the English language, but unputdownable.

7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne One of the first bestsellers, dismissed by Dr Johnson as too fashionable for its own good.

8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos An epistolary novel and a handbook for seducers: foppish, French, and ferocious.

9. Emma Jane Austen Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy.

10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley Inspired by spending too much time with Shelley and Byron.

The rest of the list....

Gacaca court system

Special report on hopes for reconciliation under Gacaca court system. A constant update on this grass-roots "courts" process in Rwanda. More...

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Jim Clowes, an inspiration

A story about Jim Clowes' last lecture, a colleague and friend who I met in Northern Ireland, and I have been assisting his students in Belfast. Jim is from the University of Washington and has cancer. He is an inspiration...more...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Continuing Collateral Damage: Iraq

The war on Iraq and its aftermath exacted a heavy toll on combatants and civilians, who paid and continue to pay the price in death, injury and mental and physical ill health. Between 21,700 and 55,000 people died between March 20 and October 20, 2003 (the date on which this report went to press), while the health and environmental consequences of the conflict will be felt for many years to come. See the Continuing Collateral Damage Report.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Judge Skeptical Over Apartheid Suits

A federal judge suggested on Thursday he might dismiss litigation seeking to hold a long list of corporate defendants liable for aiding the violent South African apartheid regime. More... [but remember, for those of you following this there are two cases. One headed by Ed Fagan, who has now been fired apparently by those he is representing - to which the above headline refers. The other case is by Khulumani and went more favourably largely because of its more specific focus. This is explained in the article].

US offers two million dollar reward for Charles Taylor

Read today that United States has included a two million dollar reward for former Liberian leader Charles Taylor in its 87.5 billion dollar special budget for Iraq and Afghanistan. Tricky one when you agree with bringing someone to book but wonder about the motives of those offering the it me, or is the world becoming more and more like the Wild West? Wanted, Dead or Alive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Reparations: An Interdisciplinary Examination

The Department of Philosophy and the Forum for Philosophy and Public Policy at Queen's University in Canada are pleased to announce a conference, "Reparations: An Interdisciplinary Examination of Some Philosophical Issues", to be held on the Queen's campus from February 6-8, 2004. Coming from five continents, the well-known group of speakers will draw on their diverse expertise and experiences as economists, lawyers, philosophers, political theorists, psychologists, public policy specialists and
representatives of NGOs to examine a range of philosophical issues pertaining to four different reparations cases: reparations for victims of war, reparations for indigenous peoples, reparations for victims of colonialism, and reparations for victims of slavery. 

For more information, visit the conference website ( or contact the conference organizer, Jon Miller (Department of Philosophy, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada; phone: 613-533-2182; email:

Friday, November 7, 2003

South Africa: Special report on widening poverty gap

South Africa has made significant gains since the advent of democracy in April 1994. However, the country still faces serious problems. The most significant one - apart from the impact of HIV/AIDS - is the lack of economic and social rights for a large sector of the population. Research undertaken by a project team in the office of President Thabo Mbeki, assisted by the Department of Social Development, has attempted to capture the essence of the problem. Their report, titled "Towards A Ten Year Review", seeks to quantify the performance of the state in its constitutional obligations to its citizens, and its progress in redressing apartheids injustices. While the government's performance in provision of health, education and other basic services has been commendable, the report notes that "two economies persist in one country". More...

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Flying flags of fear

I have just made available a copy of one of my lastest papers, entitled "Flying flags of fear: The role of fear in the process of political transition", which I presented at a conference in Jordan recently. The paper begins..."As tension mounts during the build up to the Orange Marching season in the summer each year in Northern Ireland the streets of many of its cities and towns are festooned with flags. The proliferation of Union Jacks, Irish Tricolours, Ulster flags, and paramilitary flags that adorn the streets symbolise loyalty and are sectarian markers of territory. In July 2002, however, something unusual happened. As if from nowhere, Republicans started hoisting the Palestinian flag alongside their Irish Tricolours, and in neighbouring Loyalist areas the Israeli flag fluttered happily alongside the Union Jack and paramilitaries flags. It is difficult to analyse the reasons for this..." The essay posits some reasons for this by mainly focusing on the concept of ‘fear’, more...

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Biko: 'Killers' not prosecuted

Heard today that the five policemen who were accused of killing anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in 1977 will not be prosecuted, justice ministry officials said on Tuesday. The unit found that there was insufficient evidence, in part because there were no eyewitnesses to the killing, to support a murder charge. Charges of culpable homicide and assault were also considered, but because the killing of the black consciousness movement leader occurred in 1977, the time frame for prosecution had lapsed.